New: Shining Bird – Helluva Lot

Shining Bird

Friends, comrades, lovers, enemies. Come together. Sit down, have a beer. Have two beers, you cheeky bastard. Chatter amongst yourselves – “How’s Suzie? She must be in primary school now, yeah?” – catch up, reminisce! But when I press play, you had all better shut up and focus every single one of your five senses on this new one I got for ya. Because this…this is a hit I tell ya, and if you’re not paying attention, then the only person who misses out is you.

This is a band removed from the Big Smoke, and you can hear it. There’s not a hint of the city smog in frontman Dane Taylor’s vocals that otherwise rattles throughout that throats of suburban bands. There’s a density in the music that recalls the thick of the Australian bush, a stronghold of eucalyptus guitars and synths that sparkle like the sun peeking over the Three Sisters. That’s an image that couldn’t possibly be perpetrated by some suit-clad city-slickers.

“Helluva Lot” gives you pause, as it sinks into your skin. It’s a refreshing blast of energy, but not like a manufactured caffeine hit – more like the graze of scorching dose of Vitamin D followed by a skinny dip in a secluded bath out in the middle of fuck knows. It’s a sound that hasn’t been this refined and powerful since The Triffids and The Church were doing it. Stoke the campfire, keep the laughs flowing, and hit repeat on this absolute gem.

Shining Bird play Newtown Social Club on June 8th, tix are here

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New: Hockey Dad – So Tired

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Let’s be real – your mates Hockey Dad were always going to be a bunch of superstars when they decided to name themselves after a ridiculously obscure Simpsons reference. It’s a shame they didn’t go with Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge, or they would’ve been a surefire contender for the biggest Aussie rock gods since Bon Scott had an unfortunate chuck up.

Top notch pop culture nods aside, Hockey Dad continue to be favourites because they write damn fine songs. Cruisy, carefree, but never crude, it is easier to get swept up in the charm and riffs of Hockey Dad than it is to draw dignity.

Case in point: “So Tired”. It’s the first single from their debut album “Boronia”, which promises to feature crisp white buns and garage pop goodness in equal measure. They’ve thrown the song out a few times during their near constant touring, and it’s always proved a winner, so it’s good to see the recorded version has lost none of its ability to get a smile on ya dial.

Video: The Pinheads – I Wanna Be A Girl

Besides making top-fucking-notch twangy rock ‘n’ roll about how kickass ladies are, The Pinheads seem to have un-restricted access to Satan’s prop department. Bowling pins, bug eyed sunnies, and masks that will have religious fanatics hissing and throwing up the sign of the cross. Makes for very deranged and disturbed garage rock ‘n’ roll that’d have Lux Interior cacking in his dacks.

New: Hockey Dad – Can’t Have Them

I’ve seen Hockey Dad at least 40 times in the past year, and only 38 of those times were transparent attempts to ogle at Zach and Billy’s heads. Fuck, they’ve got a couple of good heads. Like, really great heads, the kinds of heads that make you wanna give up all your ambitions and follow with unbridled passion. Hockey Dad have got the Pied Pipers of heads.

But those other two times, I was paying a shitload of attention to the fact that Hockey Dad have songs that are really something else. Fantastic is the word that comes to mind. They’ve been romping through this new one “Can’t Have Them” for a fair while now, and it’s always been a set highlight. Now in the recorded format for all the other punters out there who were too busy jacking off over Hockey Dad’s heads and actually see a show, “Can’t Have Them” sounds tighter and more anthemic than ever. An uproarious mixture of teenage hormones and longing, bolted down with some damn fine rock ‘n’ roll to boot. Get around these boys, they might be young and handsome, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be brilliant fucking songwriters as well.

You can catch them (believe me, you wanna catch them) at Brighton Up Bar on the 6th of Joon.

Gig Review: Farmer & the Owl Festival

Saturday 14th March @ University of Wollongong

Wollongong is only an hour away from Sydney, and yet I have never been there. How Sydney is that? Staying in one’s own little bubble is as much as part of the Shitney lifestyle as overpriced coffee that you’ll insist is delicious, and getting coward punched in the Cross. Whether you live in Bondi, Newtown or the Northern Beaches, there’s an adverse reaction to leaving for anything more than a 15 minute bus ride away from your front door.

But with Farmer & the Owl Festival, now in its second iteration, the lineup was too good. A short ginger simply needed to sack up, brave the train ride and seek adventure down South, armed with only unconventional but nonetheless solid good looks and an iPod loaded with the latest Dead Farmers record.

Despite the train trip being pretty bluddy beautiful, that shit is longer than a turd after $2 taco night, and it forced a few unfortunate misses of fantastic acts. However, having bore witness to the pleasant pysch-pop sedation of Sunbeam Sound Machine and Richard in Your Mind many times before, for those who haven’t managed to catch them thusly, get off your thick backside, and buy a goddamn record. Spookyland was the first act to be ingested into the soul, and they were as good as any goddamn paleo diet that I’ve ever tried. Look past the sheer pop prowess of “The Silly Fucking Thing”, and stare on in wonder as Spookyland shred a potent mixture of The Birthday Party meeting Tom Verlaine and The Reid Brothers darkest fantasies. “Blood In the Rain” is particularly demented in the live setting, and when Marcus Gordon looses the shrill cry of “…with that gun in your hand!“, an eel of excitement involuntarily worms its way through your soul.

The Peep Tempel follow up on Spookyland’s brand of eschewed rock with a set that makes it feel like they could be the last real pub rock band in the world. It’s basic stuff, delivered with nonchalant snarls, stirling guitar veneer, and a glittering meanness that would make Scar from Lion King say, “Hey, woah fellas, chill out“. A tighter band couldn’t have been wrought from the slobbery floorboards of The Tote if they tried. A crowd slowly started to gather and build steam towards one of the standout sets of the day. But it still felt like punters didn’t deserve, or at the very least “get” the sheer greatness of a band like this. One dickhead went about his broken tape recorder routine of asking for “Carol” at the end of every single song in The Peep Tempel’s 40 minute set. Fuck, you know, this band has more than just one song, right? In fact, they have an entire catalogue of music, which they have kindly and strategically sorted into a setlist. If you shut the fuck up for a second, shit, you might even get to discover your new favourite song, like “Big Fish”, or “Vicki the Butcher”. God knows we don’t deserve The Peep Tempel already, and deadshits soured the experience.

Luckily, the deadshit factor was kept to a relative minimum, or at least, was herded into the DJ tent for the rest of the festival.  From herein, punters only lapped up the goodness that was served to them at a hurtling rate. There was Jeremy Neale (more like Jizzemy Neale, amirite), ever the showman, lashing up the love with his token mixture of 60’s pop reverie and an ability to make every audience member feel just a little bit loved. Combined with his throat-puncturing performance with Velociraptor (in its smallest form yet, a mere 5 piece), Nealemania is sure to become a hashtag of the future. Then there’s Hockey Dad, who are truly in the midst of their own lil’ Beatlemania replication. Sure, they were on hometurf, but this kind of horny reception was something that would make Ron Jeremy red with rage. Actually, it is understandable, because when you toss two good lookers up on a stage, and then allow them to blast through an EP of surf-rock nuggets that would make any self-respecting mammal with a working pair of ears wet between the knees.

At this point, old mates Big Dick and Brad had sat down with this ginger nutjob to enjoy the lush soak of Shining Bird. Y’all heard this band? Prepare to be casually buttfucked by brilliance. These guys know their way about a pop song, but what’s more, they can extend it past that radio friendly 3 minute mark, and still keep you interested. How many other bands can do that? Yo La Tengo? Stereolab? My Bloody Valentine? That’s about it right? Well, Shining Bird did their hometown proud, as “Stare Into the Sun”, “Keep Warm”, and a laced concoction of others spiralled through the lazy arvo. But that kind of melting haze can only last for so long, which is where a packed room of Los Tones fans made the difference. Do yaself a bloody favour, and go see this band. Strong fucking riffs delivered with an off-kilter craze from a couple of blokes that probably moonlight as whiskey connoisseurs between their day jobs as Lux Interior proteges. Their loud and vivacious brand of medicine bag garage took full-flight in the dingy sideline of the “Thrash Room”, a pleasure to watch, and a pleasure to boogie to. Pro Tip: bring earplugs. Step-Panther are as loud as they are awesome.

As mentioned before, the Raptors killed it. Straight up. You’d think that being stretched to a meagre, suffering 5 piece would dilute the mania that is so core to Velociraptor shows, but they remained pinnacles of party professionals, screaming and raving through keytar laden, guitar solo saturated, shout-along ready renditions of “Ramona”, “Cynthia”, “Sneakers” and more. This kind of party merely acted as a precursor for one of Wollongong’s ultimate treasures, Step-Panther. Fuck, what a band, what a treat. If you want yourself some garage-throttled goodness from a band that just happened to put out one of the best records of last year, then look no further than these guys.

Remember when it was mentioned that The Peep Tempel might be the only remaining pub rock band on the planet? Besides that being an obvious lie, Bad//Dreems ensured that any love for draught-soaked belters isn’t being abandoned in the near future. The crowd was thriving on the pounding anthems that seem to come so fluently to the Radelaide natives, jostling to get in the best position to shout “Caroliiiiiiiine, you do it to me eveeeerrrry tiiiiiiiime!” like it was a goddamn war cry. But who can blame them? Baddies slayed it, happily decapitating punters with scything riffs made from years of studying the bible of rock ‘n’ roll. Cold Chisel, AC/DC, Eddy Current Suppression Ring – any band with a riff, a beer, and a prerogative to unleash unholy rock and roll oblivion. That’s who Bad//Dreems remind you of, and there’s no one doing it quite as strongly as they are either right now either.

By this point, night has settled upon the ‘Gong, and the rambunctious are thirsty for some action. Luckily, the final four bands were in no state to dissapoint. There was Bass Drum of Death, from the USA, who combine the leather jacket cool of The Strokes with the fuzz of a Ty Segall record, and double down on the batshit insane, high velocity appeal of Evil Knievel. It’s hard to keep a single limb still during a set that includes “Bad Reputation”, “Crawling After You”, and “Get Found”. Shit, its hard to keep your limbs attached to your body – a set in the pit of a BDOD show is basically succumbing to the fact that you’re coming home minus a few fingers. That lunacy was abruptly followed by a rare performance by The Mess Hall. By this point a band that has reached “classic rock” status, it comes as a huge surprise that The Mess Hall don’t play more frequently, as they have punched through a tight set of hit rolling into hit. Their set was sufficiently stuck in the part zone, an onslaught of crowd-pleasers for a surprisingly small lawn of attendees. However, those who did make it along will be forced to admit that the rough-hewn blues rock of “Shake, Shake”, “Lock & Load”, and “Pills” were just as prime for as they were when they were served to us on a steaming platter all those years ago.

Watching DZ Deathrays, you can’t help but marvel at the fact that this has to be one of the most hard-working bands in existence, and yet they play as though they’re fucking Metallica. That’s meant as an adoring compliment, by the way. Three guys, onstage, prowling and growling with the kind of stage presence that no one has anymore. DZ have graduated beyond mere hometown heroes – they’re bonafide rock gods. They play as though they’re in Wembley Stadium, but they’re in the car park of the University of Wollongong. They treat each stage diving lunatic with a wry grin, and scuttle down their fret boards with the same enthusiasm as when they only had an EP to their name. Oh yeah, and they continue to lay down sicker riffs than an ebola quarantine camp. They’re mental, and the crowd reacts thusly. You’ve never seen kids mosh the way they do at a DZ Deathrays show, hurling themselves at each other with the kind of reckless abandon that can only be brought on from the thundering, lock jaw inducing, brain seizures of “Less Out of Sync”, or “The Mess Up”. There are plenty of bands worthy of seeing, but DZ Deathrays transcend that – they’re a band that you need to see.

Farmer & the Owl Festival feels like what Big Day Out would be like if it were held in the real bush instead of Homebush. From the stage setups that were tiny replicas of the famous Orange and Blue stages, to the rock dog-centric lineup, it was a comfortably small throwback to what I’m sure BDO felt like. This was felt most strongly with the headliner of Jebediah, a band more 90’s than a love for Marilyn Manson that isn’t somehow ironic or attached to guilt. Despite playing to a lacklustre crowd, Jebediah still served up some meaty hits that were made when I was still shitting myself. Is there really any better way to click past midnight than with the powerful punches of “Harpoon”, “Leaving Home”, and “Fall Down”?

Look, the ‘Gong might be a little while away. But the place is loaded with royalties that you can’t get in Sydney. A coastline where the Southern Cross tattoos are minimal, cheap beer, and the great bands are just a few of the reasons to make the voyage. And when there’s a festival that can make a tiny, grumpy ginger loaded with cynicism travel an hour down the coast, and bust out white moves whiter than Bill Clinton eating gluten-free brunch, then that should be enough incentive to head down. Drop the act, Sydney, Wollongong is more than dreads and tye-dye t-shirts. It’s all a lil’ bit alright. Make sure you’re there whenever the next Farmer & the Owl fest goes down.

Video: Step-Panther – It Came From the Heart

A couple weeks back Step-Panther released a bonafide masterpiece, one of the finest records to have graced the ears of us mere mortals. I could go on, but the main gist is that a couple of shredders who love to play music ended up creating an honest document of what it’s like to have your life crumble around you. It was a diverse, progressive step for one of my favourite bands, and I was genuinely blown away by how great they sound. Right now, Step-Panther are like our down-to-earth version of Parquet Courts.

They’ve gone ‘n’ done a video for their track “It Came From the Heart”, that’s half-haunted house ride, half-shlock B-Movie drive-in genius. Vegetarians rejoice, you’ve got nothing to worry about. For the rest of you, just…just don’t fucking walk into an abandoned house, practice for a bit, and then devour the greasy remains of a chook. Because a giant beast will stab you and let your disembodied head wander around space and time for eternity. Actually, that’s a pretty fucking rock and roll way to go. Turn the sound off, and Step-Panther turn from scuzz heroes to Wollongong replicas of the self-destructive likes of Motley Cru and KISS. Devil Horns!

New: HOON – Enigma

Similar vibes to Chicks Who Love Guns and Doc Holliday Takes the Shotgun, Wollongong’s HOON are all-caps, which means they want everyone to know how loud they are. A loud band needs a loud name, and if Year 11 Standard English taught me anything, it’s that CAPS LOCK is the way to separate yourself from the pack.

They’ve also got a swag of tunes worthy of the caps-lock grace, including this bad-boy “Enigma”. Loud, proud and scummy as a month old used nappy, “Enigma” is the kind of thing you want to play when you’re all out of Metallica, but want to keep up the beer shotgunning vibes. Listening to this makes it that much easier to pour the world’s shittest beer down your throat. A chaser if you will. A chaser of balls to the wall rock ‘n’ roll.

Album Review: Step-Panther – Strange, But Nice

Hey man. I heard your girlfriend just broke up with you. That sucks, bro. Really, I can empathise. Ain’t nothing worse than getting your heart shat on. So, where do we go from now, hombre? We can either a) drink until we puke b) take acid and try to fuck some leprachauns, until we sober up and realise they’re garden gnomes, or c) play some Step-Panther. In all seriousness, Step-Panther might have just taken over Twerps in terms of providing the ultimate break-up soundtrack. Sure, the person that you used to bump uglies with may be feeding your emotions through a tree-shredder, Fargo-style, but at least there’s Step-Panther providing the bonafide album of the year.

Going into ‘Strange, But Nice’, there’s the immediate notion that Step-Panther have altered course. Whilst some unimaginative dickknobs might call this ‘maturing’, it is most definitely not. It’s the sound of a band that are stretching themselves out, exploring new territory, diversifying themselves from their original roots. About 70% of the time, this ends in disaster. But Step-Panther have completely pulled it off, and taken their sound in a new direction, propelled by a momentum that I honestly thought had been lost from music. Step-Panther have built on the direction they hinted at on tracks like “Bad Mood” and “Dreamcrusher”.They intricately mix their previous excellence at shredding with songs that blossom into incredibly personal and hurting testaments from frontman Stephen Bourke. The result is an album that is both complex and beautifully simplistic.

The album starts off incredibly strongly, chucking a bit of a Palms, and opening up with a solo acoustic number that almost tricks the listener into thinking that they might have cracked onto the next Elliot Smith. But then there’s a double-whammy of “Nowhere” and “User Friendly”, irreverent and insanely fun tracks that point to Step-Panther’s origins as a band that loves to strap on a guitar and beat the shit out of some riffs. “Nowhere” is especially potent, swelling like that chick from cult horror movie ‘Slither’. It feeds itself, ballooning into a goddamn masterpiece of headbanger heaven. This vein of excellence is continued later in the record on tracks like “Namor”, “Zombie Summer” and “Something Must Be Done”, speedy, semi-doom laden riffs skating over bass-gods and wicked drum twacks that threaten to split your head open like you’re a 12 year old with greasy hands climbing a jungle gym.

But the real beauty here comes from Step-Panther’s ability to lay it all out, baring themselves to the world with some of the best songcraft to come from this smouldering island that is Australia. “Parallel” is a complete and utter standout, something that gives me (and everyone else) shivers whenever it comes on. It’s like if Bob Dylan had grown up in the ‘Gong and was exposed to radiation. It’s quaint but weird, heartbreakingly honest, and the little quavers in Stephen’s voice when he hits the chorus causes my own mouth to shake uncontrollably. “Don’t cry,” I whisper to myself. “Don’t be a pussy. Put on some Metallica or something. C’mon. Who’s a big boy? You’re a big boy”. But, just like the protagonist, I’m going to wish that phase goodbye, and sink into the rest of ‘Strange, But Nice’.

This. This album. It’s got everything. Star Trek, swamp monster and retro-video game references, Big Scary’s frontman on production duties, and the perfect duality between decapitation-shredding and lyrical/musical prowess to tear your heart out through your chest. Fuck, it’s an underdog story about loss, repulsion and the faint hope of moving on. There’s not a whole lot more to say here, other than that you need this record in your life. Pronto, now, immediately. Andale andela! Arriba Arriba! Record of the year, right fucking here!

New Punk Rock: BRUCE! + The Nuclear Family + Mighty Boys + Rat King/Sewers + Killa Kung Fu Wolf Bitch

Some of these albums have been stewing in the review-pot for yonks now, so it’s time to unleash the hellish-hounds upon this unsuspecting world via a nice review of 250 words or less.

BRUCE!-BRUCE! THE EP

If you’re keen for some metal, then there’s nowhere better to look than old mates from the ‘Gong, BRUCE! These four fearsome guys know how to thrash the shit out their guitars, wringing out a sound that comes damn close to a sludgier version of Anthrax or Judas Priest. Similar to I Am Duckeye, who are some Sydney dudes who also don’t give a fuck, BRUCE! excel at making heavy shit that you can play around your mates that are a little more inclined to listening to shitty music. I mean, you don’t introduce someone to demon-summoning music with Possessed’s ‘Seven Churches’, you go with a de-tuned riff-fest courtesy of BRUCE!, full of fucking sick guitar solos and wailing sounds. This is maiden-saving music, man, and when you’re speeding down a highway at 110 km on your way to the ‘Gong, you’d be an idiot not to chuck “Captain” or “Sludge” into the HIGHWAY 2 H3LL MIX, between “Raining Blood” and “Seek And Destroy”.

 

The Nuclear Family – The Nuclear Family

If you’re angry, and are sick and tired of listening to Metallica or Black Flag as a means of translating aggression, then chuck on The Nuclear Family. I’m no psycho-analyst, but playing stuff like “Mindless” or “Disposable Razor” makes me feel like 110%. I feel like I can take on the world, or at the very least, bring the bins in from outside. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll actually go outside, and face the demonic being known as ‘sunlight’. Although it’s hardly as demonic as these guys. They absolutely shred, turning their instruments into a barking Cerberus that absolutely loved listening to ‘Bleach’ by Nirvana as a teenager. The sounds are guttural and revolting, churning like the wheels of a train bound for hell, carrying a platoon of the Seventh Circle’s most violent scum.

In all honesty, The Nuclear Family are one of the best noisy punk bands to come into existence since Zeahorse. Their songs are original, visceral, and completely dominating of one’s attention. If A Nuclear Family track comes on, you listen the fuck up. When the finale of “Mindless” announces itself, a chainsaw bass/guitar duel decapitating whoever is on vocals, and as helicopter blade drums crash in all directions…that’s the kind of exhilarating rush that has been missing for a little while. Seriously, do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of this band’s EP before they ascend to Valhalla.

 

Mighty Boys – Dole Cheque and Kabana

Mighty Boys are a band that immediately recall Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Ausmuteants and The UV Race, and in the best way possible. Whilst some bands can’t really succeed past employing all the traits of their heros, Mighty Boys add this weird aggression and subtle humour to their music that seperates them just enough from their idols, and lets their debut breathe a little more comfortably. However, that’s easy enough when your band has created an album so chock full of amazing songs. These tracks just fucking pound and enthrall in the same way that Clowns do. They’ve got an irreverent side (“Hippy Shakes”, “Sexpo”), and a focused side that zeros in on political dissent and fucked up shit (“Deniliquin”, “Schoolgirls”). But overall, when you’re listening to ‘Dole Cheque and Kabana” the main thing that arises is that you’re listening to a supremely fucking fun record, one that would kick ass in a live setting. So, hopefully they’ll make their way to Sydney soon, and  we can all yell about copping free black dildos together. AND ACHIEVE WORLD PEACE!

Rat King/Sewers – Leather

And now for something completely and utterly fucked up. If you can’t name a Swans record, then you’re probably not going to be into this near 15-minute ode to lo-fi noise and disturbing the peace. Rat King (Brisbane band, not the hip-hop group) absolutely plunder the senses with their contributions “Browood” and “Sick Pills”, the latter being an especially pungent carcass of goodness. Meanwhile, Sewers unleash “Chinese Tommy” and “Japanese Train Driver”, two songs of hectic, hurtling and unhinged punk of the gutter variety, like a modern day Germs. If Robert De Niro’s character in Taxi were in a punk band, it’d be Sewers for sure. A mutilation of the senses, ‘Leather’ is a keen fix if you’re into the noisier, despicable side of things.

Killa Kung Fu Wolf Bitch – Why Not Both EP

This is probably closer to straight up rock and roll, but the amount of fuzz and lo-fi quality points to an ultimate DIY approach, so fuck it, this is my blog, I’ll do what it want. But anyway, this one-man band outta Sydney who happens to like the amazing Boondocks series has some fucking great songs on display. It’s about as redundant and teenage as they come, but they’re rock and roll jams to make regretful decisions to. All three tracks on here are distinctly great, like B-sides from an early Descendants period. Like other young Sydney spunks Bachelor Pad and Claire & the Cops, KKFWB hits me right in the sweet spot for rock and roll ultra fun times yeah!

 

New: Step-Panther – It Came From the Heart

Step-Panther are renowned for being slackers with a commanding knowledge on HOW 2 SHRED. Well, it seems our boys have grown up and gone down some weird route of shrugging breakup guitar rock. A little more jangly than what we’re used to, the new Step-Panther still has their trademark bummer vibes that reach out to anyone who’s been through a shitty breakup (aka everyone). Regardless of the slower pace, Step-Panther have never sounded cooler or more confident, trapped in a place somewhere near The Ocean Party’s “Quarter Life Crisis” and Palms’ “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again”. If you ask me, that’s a damn fine place to be stuck – if only we could 127 Hours this joint, and be jammed into this jam for a couple days/