Taking a note out of Flying Lotus’ “Do The Astral Plane”, Touch Sensitive implements his carefree nature with some expertly chopped vocals and high-pitched snaps ‘n’ crackles with a track sure to dominate every stereo on Bondi Beach this summer. His work as a producer far outshines his work as a bassist in Van She, and Touch Sensitive looks to be pretty damn unstoppable. Listening to “Teen Idols”, you want to break out the shorts, put limes in your Mexican beer and invite everyone you’ve ever met for a huge pool party. Considering I live in black jeans and the only light I bask in comes from the artificial stereo bleeps, as a Yes, I’m Leaving record spins around, getting to feel “DEM FEELS” again is a pretty rare occurence. Damn, Touch Sensitive, I think you’ve cured Loner-itis.
Okay, just to clarify, this isn’t a list about the best shit that happened in 2013 for music. Although most of it is about some of the really, really great shit that happened, some of it is about some of the bad shit that happened in 2013. That is to be expected, so chin up buddy, dry those tears, and think about the sunny day that Violent Soho brought out their sophomore record, and forget about the time that Miley fucked a teddy bear.
10. Chapter Music and I Oh You Records (tied)
This has just been such a fantastic year for both these top-notch Aussie record labels. Albeit on opposite ends of the music spectrum, and drastically varying in age (Chapter celebrating their 21st Birthday this year, and I Oh You celebrating their 4th), they have both released some of the best tunes this year, and rightfully won their place in the music community. Chapter Music released a stunning 15 or so records this year alone, with records ranging from the ‘dole-wave’ world-conquerers Dick Diver and The Stevens, to the long-awaited debut album from Primitive Calculators and another new one from The Cannanes. Meanwhile, I Oh You was out there putting on tours for the likes of Earlwolf, Foals (DJ’s) and getting the one and only Neon Love together for a reunion show. If that wasn’t enough, I Oh You also put out another one of my favourite records of the year, Violent Soho’s ‘Hungry Ghost’, and Snakadaktal’s debut record. They also managed to be a bunch of cockteasers and put out tantalising singles for City Calm Down and DZ Deathrays. If these labels can keep the pressure, there’s no telling how 2014 will end up.
9. New Shit From Bands That Haven’t Released Shit In A While
Beware, I’m not talking about bands that reformed, or broke their hiatus. I’m talking about bands that have never broken up, but have been ‘illin on the fringes of musical society, just waiting to return to form with strident singles. The aforementioned DZ Deathrays, Straight Arrows, HTRK, The Avalanches, Royal Headache, Seekae-just a few of the bands that blew us away with stand alone releases that said, “Fuck you, we’ve still got it.” If you haven’t checked out any of these singles…do it, you unintelligible ape!
8. Shitty Albums That People Thought Would Be Way Better Than They Actually Were
Ooooh, the first hot topic! I’m not just talking about Daft Punk here, there were so many built up albums this year that fell flatter than an ad campaign for Vaginal Warts. Arctic Monkeys, Sebadoh, No Age…just a short list of albums I listened to that I wish I hadn’t had, so I could dedicate more time to wistfully thinking about making sweet love to Robert Pollard. But that’s not even scratching the surface of bands like Cloud Control, Cults, Weekend, Soft Metals, Obits and Franz Ferdinand. A lot of bands that I was expecting to deliver stunning results returned with meagre offerings that either cruised along on the strength of predecessors, or worse, fucking sucked.
7. Solo Projects
For me, the term ‘solo project’ is a bit of a dirty word. Most of the time, they’re warning stories for the over-eager frontmen and women. Just ask Johnny Borrell, Johnny Marr or Noel Gallagher…if your album isn’t awesome, you kind of lose all credibility,and come off looking like a wanker. But luckily, there was a whole swag of Australian artists that went out on their own and wandered out as deadset legends. Nathan Roche, Angie, Kirin J Callinan, Geoffrey O’Connor, and Alex Cameron are just a couple names that released some stellar records this year that only get better with repeat listens. No point getting too much into it, just go fucking listen to them yourself. Trust me, these records are more on the Bob Dylan side of the solo spectrum, in terms of awesomeness.
6. Boutique Festivals
In a year where shit is getting fucked up ALL over the place for major music festivals, whether it be the gargantuan amount of drug related arrests, Blur cancelling on Big Day Out, or AJ Maddah telling people that their favourite bands suck tremendous amounts of horseshit, major festivals are becoming more and more fucked. I can’t tell you how pissed I was when I missed the chance to see Massive Attack, Superchunk, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Neutral Milk Hotel all in the same place for Harvest festival, only to see it collapse before my very eyes. And lets not even touch on hip-hop festivals this year, with Rap City, Supafest, Movement all being cancelled.
However, with the absence of ya boiz 50 Cent and T.I, boutique festivals have continually outshone their counterparts. The ‘original’ boutique festival, Laneway, has gone international, and their 2013 edition was fucking awesome. Japandroids, Divine Fits and POND all left massive dents in my brain, right were the pleasure centre is located. Other festivals like OutsideIn, Strawberry Fields and the upcoming, sold-out Secret Garden festival (which frankly has the most amazing lineup I’ve ever seen) continue to dominate. Oh, and Sound Summit was one of the most pleasurable and unique experiences of my entire life, a smorgasbord of musical delights that will probably never be collected in the same period again. Fuck me, if boutique festivals become a thing, how the fuck will yadda yadda capitalism, Soundwave, Nova 969, joke, haha.
5. Reformations-the fucking shit and the not-so-shit
Firstly, let’s talk about Black Flag. Maaaaan, did they fuck that one up. One of the all time greatest punk bands became a petty squablling bitch fit of the highest order, and at the end of it all, once-stoked fans where left with an album called ‘What The…’, which compromised of a bunch of piss-take ‘punk’ songs and an album cover that looked like ClipArt threw up. They fucking fired Ron Reyes onstage! Black Flag aside, bands that also wanted money to buy that brand-new toaster and reformed included Boyzone, The Backstreet Boys and Girls vs. Boys. It reads like a list of who-gives-a-shit.
However, on the plus-side, Jurassic 5, Philadelphia Grand Jury, and Powder Monkeys all put aside differences and got stuck into some gigs. And by some miracle, the mother fucking Replacements got together again! What! That’s amazing! I nearly blew a load when I heard that!
4. Electronic Music???
Electronic music has had a confusing year in 2013. On the one hand, there has been some absolutely froth-worthy local shit that has gotten tails wagging and genitals exploding. Touch Sensitive, Wave Racer, Cosmo’s Midnight and Hayden James have had stellar years, and underrated labels like Future Classic, Silo Arts, and Yes, Please have all shot to national attention, like synth induced erections. And let’s not even bother to touch on Flume-that guy gets enough deserved praise.
But in terms of mainstream music, the result has been mixed like a cocktail served by a squirrel with Parkinsons. Of course, Disclosure released that pretty killer album. But the likes of hardstyle trap from the likes of Baauer and DJ Snake, and the legions of mindless DJ’s that trample our radio waves that release forgettable single after another dilutes a lot of the mainstream appeal of electronic music. Not even new albums from Jon Hopkins, and Boards of Canada, or the embracing of the genre from indie rock icons like Arcade Fire and David Bowie, could distract from the likes of Knife Party destroying decent music. Although it is undeniable that electronica had a killer year on the local front, its better to forget that other shit happened outside of our shores.
Face it, a lot of debuts came out in 2013, and they all rock me better than a hurricane. International props to the likes of Savages, FIDLAR, Eagulls, HAIM, Jackson Scott, SQURL, HUNTERS and Atoms For Peace. But that doesn’t even come close to the amount of talent that pooped out shining nuggets of debut gold this year in Australia. TV Colours, Gooch Palms, Bad//Dreems, Food Court, Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Zeahorse, Bloods…the list goes on…and on….and on. Batpiss, Clowns, Amateur Drunks, Reckless Vagina! Unity Floors, Day Ravies, The Stevens, SMILE! These are just a couple of my favourites, but you get the idea. There was a fuckload of bands that popped their cherry and the collective music community lost their shit. Blood was everywhere.
2. Miley Cyrus and the Death of the Child Star
Look, I actually don’t hate Miley Cyrus. I think her music sucks, her taste is awful, she acts and sounds like a spoiled brat and is a living cumstain, but she’s actually the perfect pop star that this generation needs. She’s like The Dark Knight of shitty, over-produced music. And good for her for completely shaking off the goodie Hannah Montana image.
But therein lies my point. The Jonas Brothers broke up this year, the Biebs has conveniently spray-painted, prostituted and retired (?) his way into a ‘bad boy’ image, and we all saw Miley nearly fuck Robin Thicke onstage at the VMA’s. Right now, there isn’t really a glistening child-star to sell t-shirts. Even Lorde, the youngest pop star of the moment is more grown up than the majority of twenty year old hipsters that infect her concerts just to say they saw ‘Royals’. She hung out with fucking David Bowie and Tilda Swinton for her birthday party!
Regardless, 2013 saw the Death of the Child Star, a feat that should both cause us to all be thankful, and astonished.
1. Local Garage Rock Hit a Fucking Peak
Garage rock, my favourite genre, has well and truly hit its peak at the moment, and shows no signs of declining. Seriously, attend any bar in any capital city in Australia, and there’s a 1-in-3 chance that there’s a garage rock band giving it 100% and blowing minds.
Not only is the live scene of garage rock well and truly at a high point, but the albums these bands are making are astoundingly good. Palms and The Gooch Palms released underdog debuts that blew everything out of the fucking water like a land mine in a kiddy pool. TV Colours took the usual formula and added dashing synths and samples to create a tale of fucked-up-ness that’ll have you massacring penguins just to get your hands on some more. And Bad//Dreems single handedly resurrected the sound that was left behind where GOD put it.
Outside of debuts, garage bands that have already established themselves continued to push shit further into the realm of amazeballs. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Witch Hats, Ooga Boogas and fuckloads of others continued to do what they do best-ensure that we, the shitstains of musical society, are enjoying their output more than humanly possible.
As if that isn’t enough, there’s new garage bands springing up all over the place, and the sound still hasn’t been tired out. Bands like Doctopus, The Living Eyes, Tiny Migrants and Adults are just a very small handful of the concoction of rock n roll music that is permeating our ears on a local level. If you haven’t done so, check out all of these bands and more.
We are living in a renaissance of the greatest form of amatuer music in all its forms, and the least you can do is contribute in some small way. 2013 was one of the best years for Australian music, garage and rock n roll specifically, because finally, all the years of hard work that these bands have done has started to pay off exponentially in fantastic records and performances. Get along to a show, buy a record, and ensure that 2014 means that local music is better than the last shitstain of a year.
I don’t know about you, but the way I like to spend MY Friday nights is by watching music video after music video before falling into a tear-stained, square-eyed coma for up to twelve hours. Sounds pretty fun right? Well, now you can join in with me as I show off a bunch of music videos that are pretty great. The theme for this segment is ‘awesome’, and there’s the stream of thought that goes from rock n roll party soundtrack, down to the more introspective, and back up to some dastardly thumpers.
The Creeping Ivies-What Would Joey Ramone Do?
The Creeping Ivies are from Scotland, which is why its so damn weird that they sound like an inverted version of The Gooch Palms. Stand up snare? Check! Addictive, amateur guitar? Check! Snarled, simple and badass lyrics? Check, check, check!
Their brand of garage punk is a well-worn path, but The Creeping Ivies do it so damn well, and with such passion, that its better to let it go, and enjoy the flogging of brain cells and encapsulation of awesome that is The Creeping Ivies.
For the film clip, a bunch of old timers in exasperation get all up in arms at the question every punk has asked themselves: WWJRD. Would Joey Ramone piss on that business man minding his own business in the street below? Would Joey Ramone eat four-week old garlic bread? Would Joey Ramone go that Creeping Ivies show at [insert decrepit junkie shit-hole of a punk rock bar here]? Of course he would, he’s Joey fucking Ramone, and you should dare to follow in the footsteps of one of the greatest frontmen in history.
Popstrangers-Rats in the Palm Trees
The video for Popstrangers latest single has arrived, and as expected its as flourishing and hazy as their music. Popstrangers became well-known for their unique brand of fuzz that isn’t quite surf, isn’t quite noise and isn’t dream-pop. Instead, they threw out the rule book and combined all that shit for some gloriously good times. Their track ‘Rats in the Palm Trees’ is more catchy than a case of crabs at a Venereal Disease Convention. As for the clip, you can expect some gorgeous shots that you probably won’t be able to pull your eye away from. In fact, you’ll probably get straight up immersed. Yeah, I went there.
Alex Cameron-Happy Ending
Alex Cameron’s ‘Jumping the Shark’ is the Album of the Week, and hot on the heels of the release comes the video for one of the eight amazing songs on that album. Like the song itself, the video is orgasmically 80’s. Basically, if Kevin Bacon from Footloose became a nervous-wreck, he’d probably turn into the character portrayed in the ‘Happy Ending’ clip. But, true to its title, there’s a happy ending for the protagonist after all, as he shuffles his way to purple-tinted, smoky ecstasy.
Buzz Kull-Bedroom Highs
Finally, someone that agrees with me that sunshine is for freaks! The haphazard, Frankenstein-monster of New Order x The Cure that is Buzz Kull’s new video clip shows a distorted view of what will happen if you lay on a tanning bed for too long. A wheel of colour constantly flickering in the video’s spectrum, and drunken double-images will fuck with the viewer to no end. If this was the latest video clip for Kings of Leon or something, it’d be the final nail in the coffin. But for a doomy, melancholic track from a band at the forefront of the new noise scene, (graduates include The KVB and The Soft Moon) well, it couldn’t be more perfect.
Touch Sensitive & Ego-#VJuke
Look, I’m not even 100% sure what’s going on here, but I’ll try to translate to the best of my ability. I think Touch Sensitive (‘Pizza Guy’) and the visual artist Ego teamed up to create a track based off of submissions from Instagram, all sourced from the hashtag #VJuke. Truly, a sign of our times. But all doubters must be cast aside, as this video is a testament of what can be created once a moustachioed wonder tells you to do it. The product in question is the extremely groovy and danceable ‘#VJuke’, a track that buzzes like a bee on cocaine. As for the video, well, its an audio-visual sensory experience. Who knew that a bunch of morphing, multi-coloured shapes could be so transfixing?
Wave Racer-Rock U Tonite
Finally, one of the most promising up and comers on the Australian dance music scene, its Wave Racer’s official clip for ‘Rock U Tonite’. A ball-busting, hip-thrusting, nail-biter of a track if you’ve ever heard one, ‘Rock U Tonite’ throws its weight around to an extraordinary degree. Basically, you can’t help but dance to this track. And when combined with the disturbing acid-dream regurgitation that is the video clip, the song has already become a staple in your mind. Those trickling beats combined with the pulsating, vibrant nightmare of a video? Too fucking good.
As we draw closer to existential despair and nihilistic oblivion in the form of a month long series of quizzes known as the HSC, the stress and pain reach immeasurably high levels. Hence, with the English exams on Monday and Tuesday, I have prepared thee a playlist to chill you the fuck out for Hamlet. Dude was a whiny prince with daddy issues. I would much rather jam to Jon Hopkins than that. And Emily Dickinson? Fuck her and her spinster ways, go for some Touch Sensitive and Washed Out. That shit’s way better! Anyway, here’s a playlist of slow, bubbling electronica and chillwave to cool ya nerves. If this doesn’t do it for you, then chuck on some James Blake. Sorry I couldn’t meet your needs.
I’d say good luck, but I’m secretly wishing you all fail, and I come first in NSW, and laugh in all your sorry faces. HAHA!
4. DJ Koze-Nices Wolkchen featuring Apparat (thanks for this one Jahra)
10. Washed Out-Soft
14. cLn-Lose Control
18. FKA twigs-Papi Pacify (thank you Clancy)
Saturday 28th September @ Centennial Parklands
If you ever get the chance to go to Centennial Park for a concert/festival, do it. It is one of the most beautiful places to witness live music. That’s where I found myself on Saturday, a wooded glen in the middle of the parklands. To my right was a forest of fake tan, to my left shirtless, tattooed masqueraders shelving pills like no tomorrow, and in front of me was eight hours of EDM. Walking in with mixed feelings, the Listen Out’s debut year managed to be a pleasant surprise.
As the sweltering sun burned my skin to a crisp amber, Yahtzel opened up the day on the 909 stage. The man is insane-2:30 in the afternoon, with only a small contingent gathered to witness him, and yet, he’s playing like he’s headlining Tomorrowland. Yahtzel threw everything he had into the crowd, stunning the contingent with deep bass grooves, and hyping like he was the white Sydney-based twin of Kanye West. A thoroughly impressive start to the day, the greatness of Yahtzel is a mixture of fantastic music (check out ‘High With Me’ here) and over-the-top enthusiasm.
The next to hit the stage was local wunderkid Hayden James, one of the more recent signings to (one of the best labels in Australia) Future Classic. On a label that’s home to Flume and Jagwar Ma, Hayden James stands out like a person with taste at a Riff Raff concert. Of course, you would’ve heard ‘Permission to Love’, a song that gets under your skin and thumps around your skull like an Alien made out of electronic awesomeness, however his whole debut EP is sexy goodness, ready to permeate every inch of your soul with greatness. Whilst the crowd was strong for the beginning of the set, after ‘Permission to Love’ set the crowd alight in a frenzy of electro groove, most dissipated to score a good spot for Triple J stalwarts RUFUS. After ten more minutes of continued sweetness, only the hardcore fans (read: me) were there to witness one of the greatest producers going around right now absolutely kill it on that small stage. Even though there weren’t that many people there, those that got to check Hayden James do his thing bore witness to Stephen-Hawking levels of genius.
Since I’m a conformist with no sense of individuality, I also went along to the RUFUS gig, after Hayden James packed his shit up. RUFUS are a band in the more conventional sense of the word, so it was uncertain how they would perform in a festival dedicated to EDM. However, with a completely sold-out album tour under their belt, and Triple J love pouring in from evry direction, RUFUS had no problem with putting on a gorgeous performance. The three piece engaged a set that had every one in the crowd jiving and twisting, with set highlights coming from massive hits like ‘Take Me’, ‘Desert Night’ and the older but still potent ‘Paris Collides’. When the dreamy ‘Nulla boys finished their set, it was off to Touch Sensitive, another staple of the Future Classic stable. Most will know the young Ron Jeremy doppelganger for his fucking awesome song/clip ‘Pizza Guy’, but witnessing this dude in action is something else. A laptop, touch pad and an assortment of knobs were at his disposal, but Touch Sensitive also slung a bass guitar over his purple tye-dye shirt. And man did he rock that thing-Touch Sensitive brought more funk with that bass than Stevie Wonder on steroids. It was a pleasure to see a guy so engrossed with his craft, and so good at it too, colliding a live element with samples, and delivering above and beyond expectations. Unfortunately, the crowd seemed more into taking selfies and chatting, but those that paid even the slightest of attention became totally entranced with this moustachioed legend.
As the sun began to set, and a purple hue blossomed over the sky, AlunaGeorge took to the stage. Although the whole R&B thing isn’t something I would usually go out of my way to see, AlunaGeorge put on a killer set….killer. Aluna was on fire, working the crowd with sexy magic, a leather-clad R&B wizardess. Whilst on the main stage Azealia Banks threw a hissy fit (for those who remember Azealia’s previous Australian performances, you’ll see a theme emerging…maybe it’s time to accept the fact that she really is a fucking average one hit wonder princess, who should be given the same level of attention as snail intestines?), AlunaGeorge was gaining universal love, twisting the crowd with songs that the internet loves more than cat videos. Major hits came from ‘You Know You Like It’ and ‘Your Drums, Your Love’, with a smorgasbord of a crowd singing back to the band with total love and adoration.
To finish out the night was the much hyped TNGHT and Disclosure. The former were a major, major disapointment-the duo of Hudson Mohawke and Lunice, two incredibly proficent and well respected DJ/Producers, turned into a show of flashing lights and nothing more. Although the duo aren’t to be totally blamed for the horrific set, as their sound levels was majorly reduced to cope with high decibel demands, and a strong wind manipulated their noise level to a middle-aged-dinner-party-background-music level. Still, there was almost no energy coming from the stage, and the blinding lights did acted more of a distraction than as accompaniment. Most people in the audience were chewing their gums in anticipation for Disclosure’s set, and just sort of milling around and chatting with each other…the exact opposite effect that a group, considered to be one of the most explosive and jaw-dropping electronic music acts of today, should have. However, Disclosure made up for what had been lost by TNGHT. As there was no contender on any other stage, every single person still at the festival was in the audience for the Mercury-Prize nominated Disclosure, bringing the overblown festival vibe to an extraordinary high. The crowd pulsated with electricity as hit singles, such as ‘Latch’, ‘White Noise’ and (a personal favourite) ‘When A Fire Starts To Burn’, exploded on stage. The visuals that accompanied the show were intense, and the throbbing crowd screamed for the brothers. When the set finished, a set that felt like the world’s most intense party, if there was a participator not covered in sweat, then they had been watching something else entirely.
Overall, Listen Out’s debut year was a fine start. The music choices were solid and firm, and for the most part the artist delivered amazing sets. Future Classic were the winners of the day, and TNGHT were, without a doubt, the losers. Hopefully the sound kinks will be worked out next year, but Listen Out is a festival that is guaranteed to keep on growing for the years to come.
To introduce the abysmal month of July, there is an adjoining playlist of equally abysmal songs. So, enjoy that, I guess. There’s the addictive Vance Joy, and awesome Touch Sensitive, as well as brand new Pixies, King Gizzard, and No Age. Then I chucked in some classic Twerps, Mac DeMarco and Black Lips for good measure. Oh and if you want to watch a great fucking video, look at no. 20, Big Deal’s-In Your Car, tis insane, almost as insane as these cray-cray winter months.
7. Screen Vinyl Image-Station 4
10. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard-Head On/Pill
13. King Tuff-Lazerbeam
18. METZ-Wet Blanket