Album Review: Wireheads – Big Issues

a0242313477_10The album cover for the second Wireheads record features a painting of a horse that looks like it’s been savagely beaten. Waitasecond…are you tryna say what I think what your tryna say? That Wireheads are beating a dead horse? That they’re flogging the same old concept over and over again? Is that what you’re tryna say, is it, HUH PUNK? Well, you’re dead fucking wrong, yeah, because that’s one crime that Wireheads have yet to commit. You can get in a huff about their lo-fi recordings, their inability to play on a stage that can only hold the average sized band, or even their Adelaide origins (why you’d get pissed off about the place where you can find both fuck off giant sharks and WOMADELAIDE is beyond me). But accusing them of rolling out the same tired tricks is simply not something that Wireheads are capable of.

Their debut, ‘The Late Great Wireheads’ was certainly interesting, but ‘Big Issues’ articulates the strangeness and unique abilities of the band far better. First off, getting Calvin Johnson of K Records/Beat Happening fame to record the album was a 10/10 idea. That man is pretty much the reason that oddball lo-fi reached the lounge room stereos of the globe, especially a place as far flung as South Australia, where that label seems to have, at least partially, inspired a similar scene that includes luminaries like Fair Maiden and Bitch Prefect. But back to ‘Big Issues’; getting Johnson to record Wireheads  has allowed more focus, the random intrusions of their unorthodox breathing more easily between the usual battle cries of frontman Dom Trimboli.

From the second track in, the band establish a triple threat avalanche of mope-pop which makes for the first showcasing of the great musical sensibilities of Wireheads. “Boys Home” is a salad days reflection paired with niggly guitar parts and detached percussion; “Glass Jaws” paints a brief, strung-out, harmonica-led Garfield comic come to life. And “Crooked Cults” features a chorus that manages to sling together a Star Trek reference and bullying in a couplet: “Beam me up Scotty/Gimme ya church money/It’s not your fault but I’ve got no one else to blame”. Which leads to a very serious question: what the fuck is church money? Is that a thing that only exists in the City of Churches? Is it a replacement for lunch money? Is that why the kids in Adelaide are so thin – they’ve been giving all their money for sandwiches to the Church? Tracey Grimshaw, you’ve got your work cut out for you on the next episode of A Current Affair.

Wireheads play the cards of diversity, moving from their stringy guitar shredding and onto pleasant country being beaten to death by squalling No Wave (“The Frisco Tracks”), a supremely impressive punk bombing (“Year of the Horse”) and a starry eyed Americana twirl (“Victorious Hermit”). There’s plenty to be sink into here, and all of it is loaded with a ramshackle sandpaper quality.

Wireheads are hilarious, morbid, and an incredible product that could have only been sourced locally. But best of all, they’re interesting; there’s no chance of getting bored with what Wireheads have to offer. They’re a strange breed, an almost octopus that live in a weird town, and produce weirder records, providing a perfectly skewed alternative to the slicker produced popularity of Twerps et. al.  ‘Big Issues’ might have a dead horse on the cover, but Wireheads are far too engaging to fall victim to that, or any, cliche.

‘Big Issues’ is out now on Tenth Court. Melbourne folk can catch ’em at the Tote this Friday, with Old Mate, The Shifters and Great Outdoors. Grab the album over at the Tenth Court Bandcamp here.

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New: Wireheads – Holiday

I’ll wire your head in a second mate, what with all these good choons coming straight from your bloody Soundcloud. What starts as wiry, chiming guitars turns into something actually kind of like the actual late-period Wire.

The band have semi-retracted the ferocity that has permeated previous Wireheads releases, and instead ingested a country-solo being shoved through a trash compactor-vibe, using their seven minutes of prime-time recording space to completely envelop the soul with a whole manner of regurgitating noise. It’s music made on the outskirts of reality, something that Hunter S Thompson would’ve really enjoyed when he was sitting in the desert, neck deep in opiates. So, pretty much modern day Adelaide. No wonder these blokes are keen for a getaway. Postcards, what’ve you got?

New: Old Mate – Requesting Permission

‘Old Mate’ is hands down the greatest expression of all time. Like, I mean, ever. It can be used as a genuine expression of devotion, a solidification of friendship, or it can be used as a sardonic barb to kill self-esteem. I think Old Mate (the band/solo project of Bitch Prefect member Pat Telfer) combines a little bit of both. Their single “Requesting Permission” combines both a sense of dread with the uniquely Australian emotion of being down and out, and being okay about that.

Lazy guitar strums, intergalactic alien warbles and scratched snares provide the background for Telfer’s incredibly morose lyrics. “Requesting Permission” aesthetically sits somewhere around Kitchen’s Floor and Twerps , mushing the two together for the ultimate I-feel-like-shit song.

But by far, the greatest thing about this track is its natural narrative build. “Requesting Permission” starts as a morbid mumble, grows in strength, and then bursts on the line “Every now and then I find, I am going out of my…”, before spiralling downward with the help of a shockingly good guitar solo. The mantra of “Every day I go away” is the perfect way to close the song, almost like its showing a guy that has lost complete and utter faith, but has only now come to a conclusion of hopelessness.

Just like the band name Old Mate, this song is a tale so aligned to Australian culture, of being kicked when your down, and becoming utterly used to it. The fact that Old Mate manages to take that story and turn it into something completely understandable to the average human being, makes this track something worthy of being ‘Song of the Year’.

 

New: Wireheads + Velociraptor + Fraser A. Gorman + Diesel Dudes + Turbo Fruits + Monicans + HUNCK

Witty introduction that will suck the reader into a hypnotised state of frothing excitement over the resulting music.

 

Wireheads-The Way It Is

It’s hard to point out what’s so great about this song, because there are so many awesome parts that tie it together. ‘The Way It Is’ starts with a drawling The Clash-meets-backyard-cricket guitar riff, before bouncing into harmonica territory. Then a sliding Bob Dylan-esque vocal that’s had too many durries and been kicked in the groin with cynicism one too many times resounds through. By the time it gets to the chorus, you’ll either be laughing or crying, depending on when your last breakup was. Wireheads have that ability to make the truth sound really good, and on ‘The Way It Is’ it spills out harder than the guts of an extra in The Walking Dead.

 

Velociraptor-Ramona

Velociraptor are essentially the go-to guide of Brisbane bands. I say guide, because all twelve members are involved in some way with about a million of the other amazing Brisbane projects going on, such as DZ Deathrays and Jeremy Neale. You’d think because of the sheer amount of members that Velociraptor would never get anything done. But between members kicking their own goals, the group got together to release ‘Ramona’. It’s a traditional slice of Velociraptor garage-pop-lot’s of guitar, some waxing poetic and shrill cries bounding throughout. Although the track is taking on a distinctly Jeremy Neale x loudness feel, but as long as the riffs retain their potency, and the overwhelming fun keeps booming out of the speakers, it’s hard to have beef with the Velociraptor crew.

They’re playing at Easy Tiger on April 17, fucking be there, aye!

 

Fraser A. Gorman-Book of Love

Fraser A. Gorman is signed to Milk! Records, which means he’s amazing by default. But don’t let the label stereotype convince you, check it out for yourself! ‘Book of Love’ unveils itself in a smooth and gallant way, like a knight of Brunswick. There’s delightfully laid back piano, caressed guitar and a gentle voice drowning out the whole song, so much so that you’re left in a cocooned like state of infinite love for Mr. Gorman. Sure, the song shares its fair share of similarities to label mate Courtney Barnett, but there’s no complaints here.

 

Diesel Dudes-Spot Me While I Lift (Watch Me Take A Hit)

Diesel Dudes have always had a propensity for being into weird, weight-lifitng titles like ‘Muscle Memories’, ‘Dumbbell Lifter’, and “Wrestling Team’, but ‘Spot Me While I Lift’ takes that shit to a whole new level. It starts out with a droning note, before quickly escaping into super-charger territory. Think of an 80’s montage that’s being sung by the devil. Instead of thinking ‘Yay, I can do it!’, you sink further and further into an un-reputable hole of blackness soundtracked by strangely hunky Californian guys with access to synthesisers. Is this what heaven looks like?

 

Turbo Fruits-Dreams for Sale

More darkness, albeit from a place you’d never thought it could come from…Nashville’s Turbo Fruits. These guys are usually balls-to-the-wall party dudes, but this time round they’ve got a grumpy, sneering, leather-jacket wearing tune by the name of ‘Dreams for Sale’. It’s got a pretty similar vibe to the Velociraptor tune above, but with a little more putz and dirty strut, like if Bass Drum of Death were throttling the song through its entire existence. Whatever, it works well, and the sinister vibes get my loins in a twist.

 

Monicans-New Horizons

Well isn’t this track absolutely lovely in so many ways. It’s indie rock, but it’s got a big hefty hook in there that’s more powerful than a turkey slap from Rocky. This ensures that it struts ahead of the pack of bands that are resigned to just strum a chord and sing about how great Interpol were in the early 2000’s. ‘New Horizons’ is a sticky, bold and beautiful mess of a song, get amongst it.

 

HUNCK-Toy Trucks

This one has been around for about a month, but the galvanising shoegaze patterns that reverberate across its chest ensure that I both vomited in gagged amazement, and had to share it around. ‘Toy Trucks’ shifts between deceivingly morbid lyrics, dancing key strokes and hauntingly tall guitar/vocal harmonising. The song reaches out to all sorts of places, in a mix of Yuck, The Horrors and MBV. Also, Jonathan Boulet plays drums on this track, and that’s too awesome to not mention.