Volumes 2016 Mixtape

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Last year, Sydney got a huge leg up in the form of Volumes Festival, a multi-venue event that put a spotlight on all the fan-fucking-tastic music we get to call our own in this city, as well as a 11/10 show from Blank Realm. Even the piece of shit writing this sentence had a pretty good time!

Which is why I’m really happy that Volumes will be returning for another year! Not only have the team expanded to include an extra day and the Burdekin Hotel amongst last year’s venue collective of The Oxford Art Factory, Brighton Up Bar and Cliff Dive, but they’ve delivered a lineup that forces even a chode like myself to concede a gasp of “Wow…”.

The full lineup and tickets can be scored here, but if ya want a pick of the best of the bunch, read on below:

BV

Formerly known as Black Vanilla, the Friday night headliners will be bringing their ferociously dark party to Volumes for a night of hedonism. In their own words: “No once cares how well you move, so just move”.

FISHING

The last time I saw FISHING, they rapped in French, and then brought up the Al Wright from Cloud Control for a song that sounded like the spiritual successor to Underworld’s “Born Slippy”. I don’t know how the hell they’ll be able to top that, but after months away, honing new material, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that FISHING’s return to the stage will see a truly crazy performance.

Rainbow Chan

Rainbow Chan is definitely the best thing in electronic music right now. Every time I see, hear or even think about her music, the words “jilted pop perfection” brand themselves into my brain. Her debut album will be out by the time she hits the stage for the first night of Volumes, so make sure you get a good spot early, because you’ll be one of the thousands clamouring to catch the biggest sensation of 2016.

Donny Benet

It’s been far too long since the ripple of Donny’s smooth and sensual touch has been felt. The sophisticated lover will be sparing no expense on the Saturday night, enrapturing all those who dare to feel the heat. Fuck, I’m licking my lips just thinking about this.

Unity Floors

I’ll take any excuse to belt out “Nice Fit” and all the other classic hits these guys have made over the years. UF’s second album Life Admin should be out by the time Volumes hits, so there’s plenty of time to learn the lyrics to all the new classics as well.

Rolling Blackouts CF

Someone once called Rolling Blackouts CF “…the best band ever…”, and that someone is me.

Scott and Charlene’s Wedding

Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, the third best Neighbours-themed band from Melbourne, hardly make the trek to Sydney anymore, so any opportunity to see them should not be missed. Besides all the classics like “Rejected”, “Lesbian Wife” and “Jackie Boy”, they also do a killer cover of the Go-Betweens’ “Karen”, so make sure you’re front and centre when they tear Brighton Up Bar a new one.

The Harpoons

I’ve sorely missed The Harpoons’ R&B-tinged synth pop – it’s lip-biting, misty eyed stuff, and I’m filled with anticipation at the mere thought of swaying along with hundreds of others to “Unforgettable”.

Summer Flake

Summer Flake’s Hello Friends has been my ‘Album of the Week’ for the past three months – I’m a lazy shit who keeps forgetting to update that section of the website, but there’s also a hint of truth to my mistake. Summer Flake’s disarming honesty, golden guitar and harrowing voice makes her the perfect recipient of such a prestigious award. Can’t wait to catch Steph Crase and co. when they swing through Sydney again!

 

Volumes 2016 takes place on Friday the 25th and Saturday the 26th of August, all up and down Oxford St. Once again, tix and full lineup here.

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New: Unity Floors – Moving to Melbourne

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Gus Hunt and Henry Gosling were two of the first people I met in Sydney who were in a band. Actually, not even just a band – they were in Unity Floors, one of the coolest and funnest bands that exists in this city. This was the same band that wrote deadset hits like “Nice Fit” and “Holy Hell”. And they were really cool in person as well! Fuck, my 18 year old head was spinning faster than when I downed my first tequila shot a week prior.

Fast forward two years and many Unity Floors shows later, and my heart is in my mouth when I see that the new single from the band’s upcoming Life Admin record is called “Moving to Melbourne”. Piss off! No way! What? Why? Is Sydney seriously about to lose two of its’ biggest legends/best songwriters? Just because the rent is astronomically high and Circle Pit broke up? C’mon, think about all the money you could win at the casino!

Actually, “Moving to Melbourne” has more to do with the cliche of moving to AUSTRALIA’S ROCK CAPITAL™ than the actual decision to move there. It’s that rash move that accompanies recent pain and/or heartbreak, and deciding to fuck it all off and start afresh.

Luckily, Unity Floors aren’t actually pissing off to embroil themselves at nights at the Tote and debates on flat whites vs. espressos, and will be sticking around with their GBV-inspired songs for a few more weeks. Catch ’em playing for free at The Union on May 28th, with Us the Band and Abigail and Daisy, or June 1st at Rad in Wollongong with Solid Effort and Abigail and Daisy.

R.I.P The Lansdowne Hotel, and Why That Shithole Made Me A Better Person

“Oi, fuck mate, what’s happening tonight?”

“Nah man, I’m absolutely fucked, got no clue”

“Lanny?”

“Fuckin’ Lanny”

The amount of times this conversation has passed between mates and myself runs into the hundreds. We had just left high school, and were loaded with dumb, naive views of how the world and society operated. Getting drunk every night seemed like a feasible option. Punk bands who’s imaginations stretched to minute and a half diatribes felt like genius. Our jobs in retail left us with little to no option but to opt for the cheapest morsels of food. For us, The Lansdowne was able to deliver all of that, and so much more.

Located halfway between the boiling commercial cesspit of the city and faux hippie-laden, over-priced Newtown, The Lanny was a bastion of hope for a bunch of kids who wanted the simple things from life. I say was because, as of yesterday, the historic venue has been sold and will be replaced with a fucking performance arts school. The same place where I, and thousands of others, have stumbled out of after an incredible night of eardrum-excavating rock ‘n’ roll, is being replaced with some NIDA-lite shit.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that the Lansdowne’s history begins and ends with my experiences within it – it’s been one of the biggest champions of rock and roll music in Sydney for a looooong fucking time, and I’m simply one of the many teenagers who have happened through its doors, from its early days in the 1920’s, to the glory days in the 80’s and 90’s. But wasn’t there for that, and this article isn’t about how great the Lansdowne was back in the day when the The Hard-Ons played every second week. I wish I was there, but alas, I wasn’t, and therefore, it feels wrong to come at this obituary from a point of view that isn’t my own.

The first time I stepped inside the Lansdowne, sliding across piss-stained floors, eased past slouching couches, and sidling up to the protracted, splintered bar, it was approximately two weeks after my 18th Birthday. One of my favourite locals Step-Panther were playing a free show, to celebrate the re-opening of the venue after a 2013 fire severely damaged the hotel – I was absolutely fucking pumped. Step-Panther??? At the pub??? Free??? What does that even mean? What the fuck was I about to witness? SOMEONE GET ME A BUCKET, I’M GONNA SPEW!

Actually, the result, especially upon reflection, was pretty void. Step-Panther played well, but there was almost no-one at this show. The Lansdowne cavern remained black and hollow – my best mate and I drank heartily with the band, and it was an exciting time, one of many opportunities I’ve had to split a drink and share my appreciation for my favourite bands after a show. But when the hangover subsided, there didn’t feel like there was any real reason to head back to the corner of George St and City Rd. I returned to more traditional 18 year old activities – Goon of Fortune and unsuccessfully hitting on girls.

About four months later, a guy called Simon Parsons e-mailed me asking if I’d like to DJ at the Lansdowne. He was starting a brand new Thursday night called The Mess Up, and Yes, I’m Leaving and HANNAHBAND were playing. Fuck, of course I was gonna DJ! I rocked up, but the place had completely changed from the abandoned crypt it was before. There were more people there, there was a sense of community, and the whole room felt charged. Maybe it’s looking back through a mirror of nostalgia, but there was definitely a sense of rejuvenation in the saggy bricks that night.

The year that followed from there was the best year of my life, only rivalled by my first year of existence during which people loved me simply because I was a cute-as-fuck baby and I could shit myself at any point without fear of repercussion. Every week, without fail, I was at the Lansdowne. By myself, with mates, it didn’t matter – I was fucking there. There was always a show on, and it was almost always good. From the splashy slackjaw of Unity Floors, to the paranoid vitriol of Constant Mongrel, to the down and out gruel pop of Mope City, there was always something interesting gracing the stages of The Lansdowne that was ripe for discovery. If any band, either local or interstate, asked advice on somewhere to play, the Lanny was the first venue to escape my lips. I was addicted to this shithole.

Soon enough, major draw cards began to befall the crumbling venue – Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Straight Arrows, Palms, TV Colours and The Ocean Party all played incredible sets there. SPOD and Richard in Your Mind played an insane double bill. A bleeding foot stopped a Peep Tempel show, whilst nudity spurred on a Gooch Palms one. Vibrancy, diversity and discovery soon became standard practice at Sydney’s favourite pub. It was an incredible few months that culminated in the MATES Festival in late January 2015. Every single one of my favourite bands in Australia played a series of blistering shows that showered The Lansdowne in sweat and beer. That day still sticks in my head as one of the most brilliant things that has happened to me – an absolute treat!

Then, The Lansdowne bit the hand that was shovelling delicious canapes down its throat with fervour. They let go of their booker Jo, essentially believing that, well, now the people are here, they’ll just keep coming. The gravy train won’t ever stop! Fuck, these kids, they love it here at the Lansdowne! We can hike up the prices a few cents here and there, and no one will notice (believe me, there was outcry when the jugs went from $10 to $10.50). As for booking a pub, how hard can it be? The day they got rid of their booking team was the last day I went to the Lansdowne.

Actually, that’s not entirely true – I went there one more time. The band that the owners had picked for the night was absolutely fucking atrocious. Whereas a Friday night at the Lansdowne usually provided a band like Day Ravies, Alex Cameron or Donny Benet, this headline band was stirring up some absolutely abominable tropical pop shit. I learnt two things that night – that I hate tropical pop music, and that booking venues is incredibly hard. But Jo, Simon, and the rest of the crew behind the Lansdowne bookings did their jobs with jaw-dropping gusto, enthusiasm and knowledge. They knew the ins and outs of Australian music, who played a good show and who played terribly. They knew that to keep a band happy, you actually needed to pay them, which they did gratuitously. They knew that free entry only brings in so much – that maintaining high quality lineups was what brought the savages, not the door charge. And most of all, they knew their audience, and their venue: the average punter who wanted to go to the pub and see some great fucking music. The extent to which they provided all of this is disembowelling.

People don’t seem to appreciate how great pub venues are – they allow bands to play without pretension. The worst show can be a learning curve, whilst the best show can cover the walls and floor with a thick layer of sweat and grime. A casual night can turn into the inspiration for someone in the audience starting a band, who in turn get their first show playing a support slot on the same stage that sparked the discussion in the first place. It’s this aspect that venues like The John Curtin and The Tote achieve so well in Melbourne, and probably explain why there’s such a healthy band scene down there. The bookers actually interact with the local rock groups, and reflect that in the awesome bookings that go on there. Who knew that booking a pub with rock bands requires a knowledge of rock music? It’s a self-fucking-perpetuating force!

Don’t get me wrong, Sydney still has plenty of great venues: Blackwire Records is Ground Zero for punk, experimental and amateur music, and I urge anyone who hasn’t been there to attend immediately. The Vic, The Marly Bar and Waywards are also great venues in Newtown, and GoodGod and Brighton still provide some fairly decent rock shows every now and then.

But in terms of a central pub that wore disgusting on its sleeve, The Lansdowne was unrivalled; a mess of putrid, shit covered bathrooms, smoke-choked beer gardens and chicken-schnitzel that was suspiciously cheap and delicious, this place had it all. From the gorgeous, burned out aesthetic, to the pungent aromas that coated each room, to the sprawl who littered the pavement for lung cancer injections, it was the final bastion of pub rock in central Sydney, and now, it’s gone. It sucks, it really fucking does, but I’m glad that it burned bright for the time it did, and that I was able to slot into the rite of passage that so many teenagers before me have. Even when those welcoming doors have shut, it’ll be nice to remember the constant year of fantastic shows that accompanied me growing up a bit, and realising I wasn’t the hot piece of shit that I thought I was. The Lansdowne is pretty much solely responsible for easing my transition from know-it-all, acne-splashed wanker fresh from high school, to the wide-eyed dipshit who’s finally learnt to shut up and enjoy the good music and people that Sydney has to offer.

Now grab ya 40, and tip one out for the best pub that was.

New: Unity Floors + Chook Race – Cheap Split 7″

Ahhh, normcore, where would I be without you? Where bands who like to talk about girls and getting drunk, strung together with a few nice, jangly chords and a flannel, can be called geniuses. That’s the dream, right?

Anyway, two completely underrated bands have joined forces from alternate universes, like Han Solo meeting up with Indiana Jones, and released a split 7″. The result is a band from Sydney and a band from Melbourne creating the perfect soundtrack for living in this half-awesome, half-shit dole-bludging, VB-sculling, beard-indulging community we call the Australian suburbs.

Unity Floors’ contribution is typically legendary, with “Hold Music” talking about lime, coconuts, mixing shit up, and frantic and triumphant distortion. It’s the kind of thing you put on when you feel like shit, and are ready for them to get a bit better. Also, the abbreviation of ‘CBF’ is used pretty well. That’s gotta count for something.

Meanwhile, Chook Race put in a bit more of a subdued effort, arresting in their own way. It’s a little Twerps-y, with the jangle-levels hitting a solid 9 on the CVB-S (Camper Van Beethoven Scale, the official scale to rank a band’s jangle output. Look it up). It’s a happy, bouncy and addictive number, small in size but big in heart, and sure to worm its way into your vast iTunes selection. In fact, Chook Race have probably chucked a U2 and penetrated their way into your Library without your consent. #SorryNotSorry

 

Unity Floors & Chook Race will be launching their new 7″ at The Standard Bowl this Friday, with Community Radio tagging along for ultra-good-fun-times. It’s free, and there’s cheap-ish beer!

Top 5 Records w/ Unity Floors

Old mates Unity Floors are one of the best things that Sydney town has. They’ve got these awesome tunes that are like junkyard pop, weird pop songs constructed from rusted guitars and tin can drums. They’re a ramshackle band that write some of the best tunes to listen and dance to, like if Paul Westerberg if he’d grown up in the suburbs of Sydney, and listened to Pavement.

Now, although Gus and Henry are pretty similar in that they’re friendly guys with steady knowledge on how to write a good song, their musical tastes are wildly different, apparently. So, I asked them to show me the Top5 Records that they could agree upon.

Also, these bloody legends are playing The Standard Bowl on September 12th, with other bloody legends Chook Race and Community Radio.

 

Top 5 Records That Gus and Henry Both Like:

1. CAN – Delay 1968

 

2. Grauzone – Welt Rekord 7″

 

3. The Jesus & Mary Chain – Hate Rock N Roll

 

4. Captain Beefheart – Safe As Milk

 

5. The Cramps – Bad Music For Bad People

Video(s): Hockey Dad + Unity Floors + UBK + July Days

So, for the first time in quite a while, I’ve kind of caught up on the good music shit I need to spread to the people on the Internet who drunkenly stumble onto my website whilst looking for instrument-related porn. Hey, I don’t judge. But, instead of clicking back to the Google page so you can find a video of a bassoon going into a place it probably shouldn’t, check out these other awesome videos first, and then return to your quest of finding that rare copy of ‘Violinists Gone Wild Vol. 4: Uncut’.

Hockey Dad-Lull City

Hailing from the illustrious town of Illawarra, its the knights of fuzz and good-times, Hockey Dad. Y’know those fathers that stand on the sideline of five year old rugby games and scream, shout and fight with other like-minded dads until there’s at least a gallon of blood on the field? Well, Hockey Dad are the kids that had to put up with that shit, and grew up to make a badass band making awesome surf rock.

Their new single ‘Lull City’ sees the teenagers rock out in a room, as most up and coming bands are want to do. However, the difference between these dudes and your average stoners that own guitars, is that Hockey Dad know how to fucking shred, and that becomes very,very obvious on ‘Lull City’. Catchy as fuck hooks, a simple extended note, ‘wooo’ chorus, and enough fuzz to kill the average FIDLAR member, Hockey Dad are about to break onto very, very big things.

Don’t believe me? Check out/download previous single ‘Jump the Gun’ here, and wallow in a pit of surf rock-inspired despair, that you’ll never accomplish anything as great as this band.

Unity Floors-Once in a While

No prizes for knowing that I’m a big fan of Sydney slacker-duo Unity Floors. And you should be too, because they’re really fucking great. And if you even have a sliver of doubt, well check out the video for the single ‘Once In A While’. The song itself switches between catchy, head-bopping verses and a full-blown, self-doubting chorus that rings just a little bit too true for most of us.

As for the video…well the record is called ‘Exotic Goldfish Blues’, and these guys do play the best kind of slacker rock. What did you expect besides parades upon parades of goldfish?

UBK-I Got You

It might surprise you to know that UBK is actually a project from Isreal. Hell, I certainly didn’t expect that from the Franz Ferdinand-y pop/rock power riffs and damned delicious choruses that were made to strut to. But, the real gem here is the video. Beautiful women dressed in far-flung indigenous costumes, performing torturous rituals on our hero. Put that unique and captivating concept on top of a stark and post-apocalyptic background, then splash UBK’s riff-ready, Black Keys-inspired blues rock badassdom, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

July Days-Photos

The opening shot for the new video from July Days’ clip ‘Photos’ is of a phone booth, so its obviously taking place in Melbourne. I’m pretty sure that’s the last place in the world that still has public phone booths readily available. What follows is a long single shot following the band around the inner-North of Melbourne. Whilst the band mostly try to keep to themselves, it seems that the whole world is out to ensure they never reach their final destination, wherever that might be. There are more fights in this video than the average bout of WWE. Set to the pretty cool indie rock track of ‘Photos’ the video takes The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ and Aussie-fies the fuck outta it.

Album Review: Unity Floors-Exotic Goldfish Blues

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Do you hear that? Over the crest of yonder hill? I believe it’s coming from the Inner West. Yep, its the sound of Unity Floors’ debut record. ‘Exotic Goldfish Blues’ is the kind of album that stops its complexity at the title, and invites even the most brain-dead of people to bop their heads enthusiastically.

Unity Floors are a duo thathave been kicking around Sydney for a while now, chucking out a slew of EP’s and 7″, but unfortunately, they never really gained the recognition that they most definitely deserve. Their brand of slacker-pop is about as feel-good as a down-n-outer can get, strutting along the well-worn Sebadoh line along with their contemporaries Woollen Kits, Chook Race and Boomgates.

Case in point: the tracks,‘Day Release’, ‘Just For A Minute’ and ‘Gettin On’. These tracks cement themselves with a catchy-as-fuck riff that never slows down, smudging your brain with the pelter of Newtown-rainsoaked guitar. Another great feature of Unity Floors is their stoner-garage wisps, a ‘niche sound’ that doesn’t seem all that dissimilar from Parquet Courts. as seen in  ‘Holy Hell’ and ‘Petrov’s Cloud’.  Furious but quiet guitar that razes all in its path, whilst earnest, half-shouted vocals accompany the blazing trail of noise. Fuck, you can almost see the joint-smoke curling itself outside the granny flat/recording studio as Unity Floors banged out this slacker masterpiece.

However, Unity Floors save their best shit for last. The album builds and builds like the intensity of the flashing light that means you have to change the oil in your 2004 Toyota, and then there’s this giant crash of half-relief, half-snideness on ‘Crash Cars’. Although all the songs on the album are brilliant, and will put you in the sort of risk-taking mood that says  ‘fuck it, let’s try Vegemite’, ‘Crash Cars’ encapsulates the dole-bludging, crooked-smile-owning, Marrickville-born-‘n’-bred legend that every teenager worth their salt inevitably becomes. Oh, yeah, and the finishing guitar solo that sounds like J Mascis was just decapitated by Mad Max after his fifth schooner of XXXX? Yeah, that’s pretty cool as well.

Overall, Unity Floors not only put out the album that we were all expecting them to (a brilliant one that takes its queues from the 90’s, and then re-invents that for a modern audience of slackers) but they’ve also done it in a fashion of nonchalance that you’d think they did it between bong hits. Little do you know, shallow reader, this is a band of utmost genius, who’ve created a fantastic album that takes them above and beyond the pond of teenage disobedience and fucking around, and turns them into bonafide slacker heros.

If you’re one of the few in Sydney’s local music scene that still hasn’t gotten around to seeing Unity Floors (they play all the fucking time, what is wrong with you?) then lucky you, the album launch is on December 7th at the Factory Theatre. Fucking see you there.

New: Unity Floors-Day Release

Fucking finally, there is some more material from one of the best local Sydney acts, Unity Floors. ‘Day Release’ is the 2nd single (? Where the fuck was the first?) from the bands upcoming debut record. ‘Day Release’ is interesting because it swaps out the usual stoned n slacker vibes for some serious jangle. Like, Twerps kinda jangle, but mixed in with vocals that cough and splutter just after a bong hit. ‘Day Release’ manages to be harsh and smooth at the time, incredibly amateur but professional enough to warrant you to turn your head and peer through the murk and cop a geez. So, Unity Floors are basically the cooler, local version of Yo La Tengo? Yeah. Basically. Whatever man, who gives a fuck about your comparisons.

‘Exotic Goldfish Blues’ comes out on November 15th through Popfrenzy!