New: Witch Hats – Deliverence

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THEY’RE BACK! They said it couldn’t be done, but new Witch Hats has landed in our laps, and fuck me, doesn’t it sound great? Although they’ve mellowed since their earlier noise offerings like “Ma Birthday”, this new stuff still has plenty of kick and snarl to beckon your attention.

“Deliverance” pulsates with power, starting small before unleashing the fireworks at the end. It’s got an irrepressable swagger, the kind that you’d find adorned on the blemished, bruised but never beaten bloke at the back of the pub who’s obviously got a few stories under his belt. Every time that chorus comes round, there’s another blow to the chest, a flick behind the ears, an electrical shock to the pleasure centres in the brain. When that final boom is heard in the last few moments of “Deliverance”, aided by the usual Witch Hats cacophony, you can’t help but want to detach your jaw so you can sing just that little bit louder and bawdier.

Deliverance will be coming out on July 1st on Behind the Beat Records.

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Top 10 Things That Happened in 2013

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.

3. Debuts

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.

New: Witch Hats-Fiction

Like a fucked-up ball of heroin swagger comes Witch Hats, marching in with their deranged tunes guaranteed to get you in all sorts of mental trouble. If you plan on listening to a Witch Hats record and maintaining sanity, well then you have an entirely new thing coming.  If Screaming Tribesman ate out the members of Lubricated Goat mid-nudity performance, the resulting cacaphony would probably sound like Witch Hats at their best.

I’ve been a big fan of these guys for some time, but it has been a while since any new material presented itself. Well, the wait is over, as they have released a compilation of sorts to fund a trip to China, including three new tracks. ‘Fiction’ is one such track, and although it doesn’t pack as much of a wallop as songs like ‘Ma Birthday’, it certainly carries over the Cruella Deville meets Nick Cave vibes that everyone adores. ‘Fiction’ wallows deep in a mirky mire, like the creature from the trash compactor in Star Wars, and just like that monster, it’ll occasionally pop up its head to try and take on a fucking Wookie.

Support one of Australia’s greatest bands by checking out ‘A China Selection’, and their other shit, and maybe buying it if you’re so inclined. If you’re down Melbun way, you should definetely go to The Curtin this Saturday to catch Witch Hats in the flesh, along with East Brunswick All Girls Choir and Footy.

 

Album Review: Pikelet-Calluses

ImageWell, holy dicks on a firetruck if this isn’t the most amazing thing that Pikelet have pulled from the orifices that they possess. Not only is this a hypnotic masterpiece of Einstein scientific proportions, but the scientific nature of execution in the music shows that Pikelet could damn well be a cultural zietgiest in the next few weeks. I’m just saying, if Pikelet become the next Radiohead, you heard it here first.

‘Calluses’ is an album with a gross name and gross sonic textures. That’s a pun utilising the grammatical technique of a homphone. Don’t say you don’t learn shit when you read my reviews, because you totes do. Another thing you’ll learn whilst perusing my reviews is that Pikelet reflect the exact opposite of their simple name. Whilst the name recalls the delicious carbo-loaded treat, the band come at you like a temptress from Medieval Persia. Their sounds wrap and contort, synth-pop tap-dancing on ambient electro’s broken carcass, whilst psychedelica gnaws on AE’s sckull. It’s such a fucked up and beautiful mix that I couldn’t even spell skull right, or it would dilute the artistic integrity of my explanation for Pikelet. To say you won’t be a different person after listening to ‘Calluses’ is an understatement; to try and deny such a statement would be daring fate to face-fuck you with the genius of Pikelet. Go on, try and listen to the record from a cynic’s point of view, you’ll end up with chunks of brain plasma all over your sofa, from the logical incongruency that this questioning of musical virtuosity you dared defy.

Enough of this babbling. Right off the bat, Pikelet deliver a sonic palette of sound, naive Bjork-ish vocals chugging plaintively against askew guitar swirls. From the first track, you, the listener, is about to realise just how great  a voice Evelyn Morris has (she is main brain behind Pikelet). She can shift, chameleon-like, in her delivery. Accusatory turns to a red lounge-room seduction, and the music follows suit. ‘The tongue is hanging out of the side of your mouth’ she cries in opener ‘Electric Gate’, before a fling of 60’s psychedelic splashes in the puddles of her innocently disturbing chanting of ‘It’s as big as my hand, it’s as dry as the sand’. This theme of the music and lyrics follows through in the rest of the album. Everything seems to be shouted without a care, and it’s weird and colourful exuberance can only be described as off putting, like the first time you watched Alice in Wonderland.

But Ryan, you scared little marmot, Alice in Wonderland wasn’t that cray-cray. Okay, well buckle up for some more stellar examples of wicked talent. ‘Must stay so humble/must stay high’ she cautions on the circus freak ‘Festivas’, zanily tranquil sounds grinding quietly against a manic harpsichord riff. ‘Pressure Cooker’ has Tribe Called Quest beats with a jilted and harrowing synth line that slowly spirals out of control, a six minute orgy of strangeness. ‘Combo’ reads like a lost Fuck Button’s track, abrasive electronica that slants into the Deerhunter ‘nocturnal pop’ side of things more than a couple times.  If that doesn’t freak you out in the slightest, you’re wrong.

It might seem like I’m deriding this album a bit with all the negative connotations that inspire from my descriptions of Pikelet’s music. I assure you, it is the exact opposite. A listener can only sit in silent, slack-jawed wonder. How can such a mesmerising voice be the key to such a kaleidoscope of sound? How can Pikelet’s music morph and shape itself from looming meth beast to cozy peace within a song? And how is it done all so well? I guarantee, you have never heard a record like Pikelet’s ‘Calluses’ before. It’s more than damn good. It steps into the realm of Gandalf riding a T-Rex good.

Pikelet’s ‘Calluses’ is available on Chapter Music, and you can grab it right fucking here. Don’t be that dude that everyone reckons is scum of the earth because they haven’t heard the new Pikelet record. Also, Pikelet will be wearing Sydney like a glove on Friday the 13th of September (OOOH! SCHPOOKY!) at Good God. You should go. It’s probably the last place Jason Voorhees will look for you, and the first place you’ll get to see a cool band called Pikelet. Jus’ sayin…that’s logic.