TUESDAY EDITORIAL: Why Amaya Laucirica Is One Of Australia’s Most Important Artists

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I recently had a discussion with a group of friends about the difference between an artist and a musician. The discussion itself stemmed from an argument about Yoko Ono with the room divided on her relevancy in terms of the music she’s created. I’ve always maintained that Yoko Ono is one of the most important artists of both the 20th and 21st Century. A true pioneer who has pushed the boundaries of what both visual and audio art can be. To quote Thurston Moore, she is the Queen of Noise and is responsible for cutting a path for those who choose to sprinkle their pop music with the dynamics of avant garde composition. Her music is still relevant, potent and forever forward thinking providing some of the most unique movements of music ever. She is the epitome of what a true artist is and her music is head and shoulders above everything because she approaches it like an artist as opposed to a musician. Her work is timeless and her influence is felt through all forms of self-expression.

Great music is always shaped by artists. The musician interprets the art whereas the artist breaks the rules set in place for the musician to follow. In the modern landscape we see a world littered with musicians and to lean on Mike Patton’s philosophy that is what remains to be the problem with music, it’s played by musicians. The artist has no time for the rules or the science of music. For the artist it is about pushing the idea of sound to new and interesting places and to avoid formula and clichéd rules. An artist will always harvest their deepest most intense emotional landscapes in order deliver to the world a unique sonic dialogue that is built out of pure imagination as opposed to meaningless corporate agendas. The artist wrestles with extremes and pushes their understanding of both the darkness and the light to new levels of discovery. There is no quest for popularity inside the artist’s agenda and although it may not be an instant connection the artist will always ensure long term commitment. The essence of an artist is that they avoid being a hit and run lover, they stay with you for the long term and forever challenge you. An artist’s success lays in their ability to consistently release interesting and timeless material that accurately represents individuality and will live on forever because of its unique level of communication.

I’m extremely confident in saying that Amaya Laucirica is an artist with music being the main vehicle for her creative dialogue. Since 2008 Amaya Laucirica has built a career out of being a forward thinking artist desperate to soak everything she does with a unique take on what pop music in the 21st Century should be. On her earlier releases Amaya demonstrated through her music that she was a restless emotional romantic who had a knack for crafting slow dream pop dirges that stylistically remained linked to artists like Mazzy Star and Cowboy Junkies with the ethereal flourishes and heavy ambient atmosphere of Cocteau Twins. It was quite clear from the beginning that she had an original voice and a unique imagination that was both open and mysterious. There was a heavy ache at the centre of each song communicated which is what allowed for her music to resonate so deeply with everyone who heard it. Like all great artists Amaya Laucirica has built a career and with each new release she’s pushed herself to deeper and more intense places allowing for the listener to grow and evolve with her and to learn more about the pulse of the universe. Being invited into Amaya Laucirica’s world is a journey of both relaxation and dislocation that can be simply described as pure escapism.

On her new album “Sway” Amaya Laucirica has reached an intense new level. Having the pleasure of listening to this album over the past seven days has been a true life changing experience. When I was preparing this week’s Heavy and Weird edition I had about 20 or so reviews along with 3 or 4 other articles that I had written ready to be published. After I heard “Sway” by Amaya Laucirica I had to put a hold on publishing these reviews and articles because Amaya Laucirica deserves a whole edition of Heavy and Weird dedicated to her. After months of being sent music that simply mimic’s the pioneering sounds of forward thinking artists – you know, music made by musicians – it was refreshing to hear something that was created with a degree of care, depth and intensity. It finally felt great to have my whole world changed by an album because that is why I love music and that is what I live for. I’ve been in a daze of happiness as a result of the music made by Amaya Laucirica on “Sway” and I’ve been doing my best to talk about my passion for this album to anyone and everyone.

In 2014 the rise of apathy and the big corporate agenda of the indie music machine have caused music made my musicians to be the focus. The landscape is littered by brand aware humans who favour style over substance. These brand aware teams have caused so much noise that it is hard to find the true art underneath it all because for some reason people are under the illusion that these humans are the voice of the underground. Unfortunately, those of us who are well adjusted enough and in touch with our emotional intelligence know that this version of indie music is simply mainstream dreams manufactured for fame and TV commercial syndication in the hope of going viral. Underneath all of that there are the artists who these aforementioned musicians replicate and dilute in order to achieve success. It is so refreshing hearing Amaya Laucirica because she is in a class all of her own. She is above all of this because she makes art as opposed to music. A lot of pointless hype is lumped upon hip nothing music that is just empty calories in your emotional diet. What Amaya Laucirica is, is something beyond that and for that I thank her. It is a brave move in 2014 to be this honest and truthful with your music. To choose depth over fashion and to make art as opposed to music.

In 2014 Amaya Laucirica is the only artist you need to watch because she has made one of the best – if not the best – album of the year. If you like to think of yourself as a patron of the arts then you will do yourself a massive favour and go out and buy and support the healing power of Amaya Laucirica’s music. I only hope it changes your life the way it has changed mine.

Big Love

Dan Newton xo

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/amaya.laucirica
Official Website – www.amayalaucirica.com
Bandcamp – http://amayalaucirica.bandcamp.com/
Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/amayalaucirica

Upcoming Tour Dates:

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The New Album “Sway” On Sale Friday April 18th

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ALBUM OF THE WEEK (15th April 2014): “Sway” by Amaya Laucirica

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Over the course of the past week I’ve had two very particular hits of nostalgia. One of my favourite television shows of all time “The Wonder Years” has started to be repeated on ABC from 10:00am to 11:00am from Monday to Friday. The depth of this comedy drama has reminded me just how complex this show was and how it used a strong use of character and story in order to relate so deeply to your own existence. The second hit of nostalgia has been the echoes of “Twin Peaks” on the DVD player as my brother successfully watched the entire show from start to finish. The spooky shivers of the theme song howled through the house at all hours of the day connecting me directly to the warped yet beautiful landscapes that only David Lynch can create. What makes both of these experiences so emotionally effecting is the way in which both of these television shows avoided being limited to any particular place and time. They are timeless pieces of art that continue to offer comfort and emotional release every time you interact with them. These shows were both incredibly original vehicles of self-expression and as a result they remain relevant and effecting no matter what decade you find yourself navigating. The quest to be timeless is what drives all great artists to create and very few manage to arrive but for those that do, it will ensure that longevity and their long term influence remains.

The brand new album from Amaya Laucirica is called “Sway” and it is a timeless piece of art carefully crafted and communicated to ensure that all of your emotions are beautifully serenaded to a place of extreme relaxation and dislocation. Each song is a personal and very warm invitation into the world that Amaya creates for you and although the album is awash with personal and very relatable experiences it is the stylistic swoon of the dream pop genre that allows you to engage with her landscape but to also instil your own imagination and to arrive at a place of pure escapism. This movement of music is very open and as a result it provides you the ability to become tangled in your own ache stained sighs for the one you love / loved with the only logical resolve to hit repeat on your stereo in order to sail deeper into the beautifully delicate yet emotionally raw sound of Amaya’s music. It is no secret to those that love Amaya’s music that this album will not just become the most trusted pain reliever but also the early morning rush of a sunrise after spending an evening of discovery in the arms of someone you hope will learn to love you back.

Considering the amount of empty hype that is placed on lesser artists it surprises me that Amaya Laucirica isn’t higher up on the lists of so called “tastemakers” because on “Sway” it is clear that Amaya has made one of the best albums of 2014. The power of “Sway” lays in its ability to move like a full album, which in 2014 is a glorious thing to behold. I don’t like using the word “concept” but in the context of explaining the emotional dialogue of “Sway” I think it’s important to lean on this word because there are certain themes of loss and despair framed within the total blissed out relaxation of each song. On the surface it may not appear to be music that would be defined as typically raw but there is heartache injury all over this album. It is Amaya’s ability to be so direct and poetic with a storyteller pace that allows for the concept of “Sway” to jump out at those of us who have ached and shaked inside the embarrassment of feeling too much in a world that favours apathy over empathy. The way in which Amaya’s openness weaves and interacts with a haze of mystery is also what draws you deep into each song. There is this sense that you are aimlessly following this feeling the whole time the album is playing, the kind of feeling that you are unable to muster the courage to describe because you prefer to wrestle with all of the joy and pain it is providing you. It is a very powerful experience as you are led down a path of memory stained atmosphere with the unsettling nature of it giving you multiple reasons to feel haunted and wonderfully reborn.

The most life affirming moments of “Sway” occurs during the last three tracks “This Morning’s Blue,” “Ocean Wide” and “Falling Out Of Time” which gallop home with the slow breeze of resolve and wonder never really settling but edging closer to the desired rhythm of a satisfied mind. These three songs act as the end credits to a saga traced and soaked in a cinematic kind of swooned blue with all the fear, rage and pain evaporating into the ether and then trickling down like some kind of divine shiver designed to accurately infect and hypnotise your understanding of time and space. It opens your heart and soul up in a way where you just want to hug strangers and although these songs are just as damaged and emotionally frail as the rest of the music on “Sway” there is a degree of bravery that comes alive and provides you with a million hits of light that allows for maximum reflections on all the important things in life and the ultimate components of love, distance and sacrifice. The simple repeated phrase of “I’m falling out time, I’m falling out of time – with you” in the final track “Falling Out Of Time” gives meaning to the album’s title “Sway” and the overall theme of the album as well as providing the most effective description of what happens when human relationships breakdown. The fact that it is done with such raw elegance is what makes it so powerful and the perfect ending to a flawless piece of art.

There is a very famous lecture that Nick Cave gave about the importance of the love song that I’d like to quote in order to conclude this review. The following quotes are important to understanding what Amaya Laucirica communicates as an artist and what makes “Sway” so important:

“Though the love song comes in many guises – songs of exultation and praise, songs of rage and of despair, erotic songs, songs of abandonment and loss – they all address God, for it is the haunted premises of longing that the true love song inhabits. It is a howl in the void, for Love and for comfort and it lives on the lips of the child crying for his mother. It is the song of the lover in need of her loved one, the raving of the lunatic supplicant petitioning his God. It is the cry of one chained to the earth, to the ordinary and to the mundane, craving flight; a flight into inspiration and imagination and divinity. The love song is the sound of our endeavours to become God-like, to rise up and above the earthbound and the mediocre”

“We each have a need to create and sorrow is a creative act. The love song is a sad song; it is the sound of sorrow itself. We all experience within us what the Portuguese call Suadade, which translates as an inexplicable sense of longing, an unnamed and enigmatic yearning of the soul and it is this feeling that lives in the realms of imagination and inspiration and is the breeding ground for the sad song, for the Love song is the light of God, deep down, blasting through our wounds.”

“The love song must be born into the realm of the irrational, absurd, the distracted, the melancholic, the obsessive, the insane for the love song is the noise of love itself and love is, of course, a form of madness. Whether it be the love of God, or romantic, erotic love – these are manifestations of our need to be torn away from the rational, to take leave of our senses, so to speak. Love songs come in many guises and are seemingly written for many reasons – as declarations or to wound – I have written songs for all of these reasons – but ultimately the love songs exist to fill, with language, the silence between ourselves and God, to decrease the distance between the temporal and the divine.”

This accurately describes what Amaya Laucirica has done with each piece of music she’s released. On her new album “Sway” she takes a deeper plunge into the abyss of her hurt shaped experiences in order to clean her wounds and create an incredibly divine movement of music. The safety of pop music is not on the agenda here and whilst this music has hooks it is the overall atmosphere of loss and despair that lets it hang inside your heart and soul. You carry this music with you and it buries itself deep inside of you long after you’ve listened to it. The songs of “Sway” haunt you and wrap themselves around you like a warm blanket. It is a diverse trick to be able to make great pop music that sticks for all the right reasons and this is exactly what happens when you are invited to the world of Amaya Laucirica. Like all great pieces of art it is not an instant or easy communication to digest but this is not music designed purely for the beat of major label consumerism. This is music created by someone who has loved and who has been damaged by the madness of it but who also uses heavy optimism to communicate just how much joy she gets from the rush of rejection and connection.

On “Sway” Amaya Laucirica proves that depth, intensity and atmosphere are more important to the successful communication of pop music than the emptiness of one hit wonder world domination. I feel privileged to be able to review this album because it provided me with so much personal comfort and I’ve only lived with it for seven days. I look forward to what long term listening will do and how “Sway” will soundtrack the many more adventures I plan to take into the landscape of broken hearted disco dancing and new romancing. This is a flawless album from a true artist who has successfully entered the realm of being one of the few modern contributors to the timeless dialogue of beauty, honesty and truth.

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/amaya.laucirica
Official Website – www.amayalaucirica.com
Bandcamp – http://amayalaucirica.bandcamp.com/
Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/amayalaucirica

Upcoming Tour Dates:

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The New Album “Sway” On Sale Friday April 18th

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SINGLE OF THE WEEK (15th April 2014): “Running Out Of Time” by Amaya Laucirica –

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The new single from Amaya Laucirica’s new album “Sway” is called “Running Out Of Time” and it is a wonderful excursion into the swoon of all that is on offer inside the sonic dialogue of Amaya’s new album. I love when pop music is moody and atmospheric as opposed to being sticky and obvious. That’s exactly what “Running Out Of Time” is, a moody masterpiece that connects due to its darkness as opposed to its sunshine. It takes an artist to be able to be this direct and deep. What “Running Out Of Time” illustrates is the importance of a solid and consistent groove in order to build the atmosphere and mood of a song. The simple drone of the bass and drums give “Running Out Of Time” the direction it needs to unfold with the array of keys and synths flowing over this with a Twin Peaks spookiness with the guitar erupting enough Cocteau Twins via Sonic Youth orchestral tone to provide the ethereal frame. This is a pure dream pop masterpiece and the kind of song that belongs on a mixtape for someone you are secretly crushing on.

The vocal performance and lyrical direction of “Running Out Of Time”is a simple ode to the desperate pulse of loss and I know it’s a typical thing for me to search for in most music but I think it is a musing on the power and turmoil of death. It may be masked inside the rhythm of a break-up song but I think at the core of the song lyrically is an ode to the angst of loss and the claustrophobic fear of aging in a world that prefers to move quickly as opposed to being a slow cheetah. Regardless of the muse it is clear that Amaya is yearning for escape from the crippling sting of routine and for an extreme new experience to help her feel comfort and satisfaction with the moment as opposed to the dense haze of being stuck in the fear drenched cycle of feeling powerless and unable to stop the motion of time.

This theme is repeated on “Sway” with the word “Time” creeping in and out of each song and on “Running Out Of Time” it is clear that Amaya is feeling the pleasure and pain of all that is good and bad about this existence. The real joy is the way it connects and relates with your own personal experiences and provides the ultimate pain relief from your own life dilemmas.

As a song “Running Out Of Time” is perfect poetry and a wonderful piece of pop music.

By: Dan Newton

Watch The Film Clip For “Running Out Of Time” Right Here:

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/amaya.laucirica
Official Website – www.amayalaucirica.com
Bandcamp – http://amayalaucirica.bandcamp.com/
Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/amayalaucirica

Upcoming Tour Dates:

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The New Album “Sway” On Sale Friday April 18th

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ALBUM OF THE WEEK (1st April 2014): “The Future’s Void” by EMA

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I’ve been waiting for the third album from EMA for quite a while now, ever since I had my life changed by her amazing second record “Past Life Martyred Saints” which was one of the first real classics of the new decade. Like her previous work, EMA’s new album “The Future’s Void” continues her commitment to avoid genre and to simply communicate a vast range of influences with her music. Depending on which glimpse of “The Future’s Void” you’ve heard first, it can be hard to describe exactly what kind of music EMA makes beyond labelling it some of the best pop music of the modern era.

Like so many forward thinking artists that came before her EMA demonstrates on “The Future’s Void” that she is poised to make her big leap onto the world stage. My first listen propelled me to picture a 2014 where EMA will dominate the world of pop music. The music of “The Future’s Void” is more focussed but still loose and flawed and it tangles itself in enough polish to shed its lo-fi dust but it never becomes a victim of the big pop sheen payoff. There is a synergy of emotion and humour sprinkled inside each song with enough nostalgia to satisfy those who thirst for the old via the new. It is this humour that makes these rather emotional songs so poignant and it is what sets EMA apart from her peers. Add to this EMA’s ability to go deep and parade an intensity that is equally as poetic as it is full of nonsense. The little reflective moments on both her own personal life and the world around her give an accurate snapshot of the complexities of living in the warmth of old world yearnings in the digital age.

I’m reluctant to steer you to a particular song because the journey of “The Future’s Void” lays within its diversity stylistically but the swoony pulse of “3Jane” is a fine example of when EMA does the melancholy singer / songwriter storyteller with a degree of modern fragility that it’s hard not to be sucked into the sway of it. You can then listen to a song like “So Blonde” and hear the humour and playfulness mixed with the serious and the sublime to paint a unique picture of what EMA communicates as an artist. The lazy lo-fi vocal strum of “So Blonde” has an almost rehearsed sleaze that plays into the stereotype of the subject matter and this is what makes this song such a middle finger to all that is glorified in the modern pop world whilst also embracing it.

I think EMA is fucking brilliant, she is pure class and has a million levels of talent and outshines everyone and everything happening at the moment. I’m confident that this will be a very important record for not only me but a lot of other people in 2014 and although I’m reluctant to let what I’ve felt was my own “best kept secret” out to the wider listening public, I’m also excited that EMA will finally start to get the praise she deserves.

The new album from EMA is called “The Future’s Void” and it is a truly flawless musical odyssey.

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cameouttanowhere
Official Website – http://emathefuturesvoid.net/

EP OF THE WEEK (1st April 2014): “On For You” by Michelle Xen

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I’m disappointed I didn’t feature this back when it was released in November 2013 but no time like the motherfucking present to direct you to the healing power of Michelle Xen’s music via her newish EP “On For You” which is a celebration of all that is glorious about music. Beyond the incredible discipline on display with the overall arrangements it is the emotional journey of “On For You” that draws you in and takes you deep into the imagination of Michelle Xen. There is an incredible ache that swirls in and around the mechanical pulse of each track.

I think it’s worth mentioning that this is a truly original sound and one of the most soul connecting experiences I’ve had with a local artist in a very long time. This connection heightened the joy of my interaction with the music. I fell deeper in love with it as each listen hypnotised me with its emotional dialogue. Despite the theatre and wonderful visual aesthetic that Michelle Xen puts out there with her music, it’s quite clear that underneath that there is a deep sigh she is tapping into and wrestling with in order to deliver the music she has. Lyrically, “On For You” illustrates a very personal side to Michelle Xen and for all the futurism it strives for the simple rhythm of heartache and general disengagement with the ordinary and mediocre is blushed by pure imagination and fictional space flight yearnings to escape herself and the cruelty of the world around her. This music is about discovery and although it remains open to your own interpretation you get the feeling that Michelle didn’t want to make this music, she had to. It was vital to her overall existence that she communicates all of this swoony angst in order to build a new vehicle of survival and in the process finds a new safe place to land.

There is warmth to this largely electronic affair and it borrows dynamics from influences as diverse as modern hip hop and artists as timeless as Bjork. These are merely reference points however because Michelle Xen is a true original and people would be foolish to ignore the intense level of energy she puts into her art. This is a shiver pop classic designed for the loneliness and dilemma of modern disconnection where artists quite often struggle with the choice between art and pure commerce. With her EP “On For You” Michelle Xen illustrates that she is not only a master of making very viable modern pop music but she also can use the many stylistic influences of a wide range of art movements to communicate what an intelligent and vital artist she is.

I’ve long lived by the ethos that there is a big difference between being a musician and being an artist – Michelle Xen is an artist and her music may not be the instant hit of commerce you need to style your existence with but she is the warm hug that lasts long into the night and takes you on an adventure full of imagination and shivers.

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/michellexen
Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/michellexen
Official Website – http://www.michellexen.tv

SINGLE OF THE WEEK (1st April 2014): “Prettier Than Sound” by Amaya Laucirica

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The moment the chords open up on Amaya Laucirica’s new single “Prettier Than Sound” you relax into the groove of this amazing little heartbreaker. It swoons and aches like a late afternoon connecting directly to that part of your eternal sigh for a better place. This song is pure perfection and beautifully ethereal, I just fall deep inside of it every time I hear it and it becomes a glorious explosion of escapism that is heightened ever so magically when those “ooohhs” weave in and out like a cool breeze. It’s like being caught in a divine shiver and it just takes over your body and you get fucking elevated to some truly righteous places.

This is the greatest single of 2014 so far and I’m pretty confident that Amaya will release one of if not the best album of 2014.

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/amaya.laucirica
Official Website – www.amayalaucirica.com

ALBUM REVIEWS (1st April 2014) – Featuring – Wolfmother and Neil Finn

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Wolfmother – Album – “New Crown”

It’s painful to watch a band trying to remain relevant when clearly they were only meant to last a short distance. It’s not a new critique of the band but it’s one that has been leveled at them since their second album and for the third time round Wolfmother prove that their creative vehicle is running on the smell of an oily rag. Considering all of the money that has been wasted on promoting the disgusting music of Wolfmother for the past decade, it really wears thin that this band are still trying to push an agenda of revolution when all they represent is nostalgia and redundant rock n roll dynamics.

For their third album, Wolfmother have decided to cash in on the guerilla album launch campaign in order to garner some kind of hype. It certainly worked from the angle that it sent certain parts of the music world in a social media spin. I wouldn’t say it made the dint that artists like Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine or Beyoncé did but it was still enough to grab headlines for a rather slow news day culturally. The promotional campaign itself has had about as much thought put into it as the albums front cover and I could describe the blandness in which Wolfmother communicates on album number three by simply pointing to the front cover. If this album does anything, it tears away just how much studio trickery was used on previous albums to push the band to epic proportions.

On “New Crown” we get to witness just how amateur this band really is and how underdeveloped Andrew Stockdale is as a songwriter. It was always fairly evident that he lacked any kind of originality but in this bold yet predictable attempt to return to his “roots” we see sloppiness and a creative fatigue pepper fairly standard rock n roll songs. Even Andrew Stockdale seems tired of this formula but he remains committed to pushing brand Wolfmother and fails miserably with every song presented here.

An artist like Andrew Stockdale is not only careless but incredibly irresponsible considering the amount of success and fame he garnered from Wolfmother’s debut album. Even though that album was terrible it provided him a launch pad to explore and evolve what he established but instead of finding new ways to communicate the rock n roll language he chose to keep harvesting all of the dynamics and creative ideas of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and Jack White in order to deliver the same sound over and over again. To have that kind of power and to waste it on being a formula writer is no new thing but considering how famous he was there for a while, it disappoints me to think that so many people believe that what he communicated with Wolfmother is what Australian Music is all about, pure artistic plagiarism. For the most part people would be right to assume that because a lot of our modern and most popular bands are simple clones of more popular American or European artists but overall Australia has some brilliant music underneath all that and Wolfmother have damaged the reputation of that.

I’d be very disappointed if Wolfmother make it to album number four because after listening to “New Crown” it’s quite clear that Andrew Stockdale never had a voice or an original idea worth expressing and I’ve always felt he’d be more successful and comfortable being in a Led Zeppelin / Black Sabbath tribute band that could tour the RSL and local Pub circuit across Australia. That is where a band like Wolfmother would at least be believable because once again they have proved just what an epic waste of time their input to the global creative dialogue has been.

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/wolfmother

 

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Neil Finn – Album – “Dizzy Heights”

On his third solo album, Neil Finn illustrates that he has now managed to supersede Lennon and McCartney in terms of his extreme knack for writing some of the best pop music ever. Already known for his radio anthems courtesy of his days with Split Enz and Crowded House, on “Dizzy Heights” we get to witness Finn’s commitment to experimentation and for those who have stuck with him through “Try Whistling This,” “One Nil” and the recent Crowded House reunion albums “Time On Earth” and “Intriguer” you will once again be rewarded with a movement of music that is a timeless take on modern dynamics.

The one thing that stands out with “Dizzy Heights” is the production of Dave Fridmann who is most famous for his work with The Flaming Lips and Tame Impala. When Fridmann’s production is applied to Finn’s songwriting you get to hear a darker and rawer sounding version of the Neil Finn pop standards. There is a funk and ferocity to how this record is communicated and as is the case with an artist this deep into their career, there are the obvious reflections on mortality. For that reason alone this album contains some of Finn’s darkest songs. The sound of Finn’s voice and his ethereal melodies always connect to that deepest sigh in all of us and there a lot of spine tingling moments across “Dizzy Heights” were we are reminded why Neil Finn is so supremely regarded as a pioneering force in the pop music world.

I love the mood of this record; it is so fuzzed out yet soaked in bliss with a heavy dose of deep funk inspired grooves that push each song into psychedelic territory. It was bound to happen that if you paired Finn with Fridmann that you’d get music this deliciously infectious yet bizarre. Each song links into the next with a warm degree of still consistency allowing for a world of Finn soaked imagination to spread out and allow for maximum connection. There is a real mystery in the way that Finn can sing to your deepest wounds but also elevate your most beloved and joyous memories of existence. I imagine it is why so many people are fans of his music because it is hard not to make a deep connection to what he communicates as an artist.

From start to finish “Dizzy Heights” reminds the world of the relevance of an artist like Neil Finn and how he still has the ability to evolve his already strong creative dialogue by immersing himself into the modern landscape as an observer and then coming out the other side as a revised revolutionary who has once again re-invented a sound he helped shape. This album is a flawless illustration of experimental pop music from an artist who has nothing left to prove. The very fact that Neil Finn still pushes his sound this deep into experimental territory signals that his best work is still lingering in the atmosphere somewhere, waiting for him to patiently summons it through his muse. For now, just having “Dizzy Heights” is a gift that is soaked in pure divinity and an education on how to communicate music successfully.

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/neilmullanefinn

All Reviews By: Dan Newton

EP REVIEWS (1st April 2014) – Featuring – Nana Vigilante, Smoking Martha and Ultrafeedy

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Nana Vigilante – EP – “Foreign Land”

I recently had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Nana Vigilante and I have to admit it was one of the most refreshing experiences I’ve had playing live in recent times. It just felt like everything that Nana Vigilante was communicating was coming from a fresh new place and that punk rock had found a new place to shoot from. Yes on the surface Nana Vigilante creates hip hop laced electronica that balances a fine line between the experimental and the accessibility of pop music but if you dig deeper you’ll hear so much more than the limitations of genre tags on a piece of paper.

In 2013 Nana Vigilante released the beautifully lo-fi glitch EP titled “Foreign Land” and perhaps it is my extreme love of M.I.A. but fuck godamn this EP moved me. It was great to hear something so different to the usual “Hey Dan, I play lo-fi guitar music” shtick that I usually get sent to me. The production is moody and the rhymes are delivered with a hushed malaise never really raising to a scream and never really staying still inside the whisper. There is so much for Nana Vigilante to explore as an artist and on “Foreign Land” she’s only glimpsed the genius and talent that she possesses. I know that Lindsay is a creatively diverse individual who has many creative outlets but I think that Nana Vigilante is her strongest example of self-expression.

Nana Vigilante is the first real underground hero of 2014.

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nana-Vigilante/472677446096192

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Smoking Martha – EP – “Self-Titled”

The debut self-titled EP from Smoking Martha is all about rock n roll. The album was produced by Ian Haug whose production skills provide an even balance of raw yet slick tones to give life to the songs presented here. I imagine this band sound great live when there are a bunch of beer soaked punters in the palm of their hands but the recorded material sounds like a simple yet wonderful tribute to all of the aesthetics provided to us over the years by rock n roll. It’s not everyone’s intention to re-invent the wheel creatively and this clearly isn’t the agenda of Smoking Martha so what they lack in substance they make up for with their style.

The strongest part of Smoking Martha’s sound is the vocals of lead singer Tasha D who manages to weave flourishes of intense emotion across proceedings. It bears repeating that it is Tasha’s sincerity that makes her performance and her band feel authentic and like you want to believe it. The clash of colour and pop skills is only fleeting however as the distortion pedals drown out what are some very strong melodies. The band are tight musically and being a tight band is important but it also brings with it certain restrictions and rules that make the emotion and feelings of the music get lost amid the solid clichéd song structures. This tightness can distract you from enjoyment as it can descend into feeling like the music is way too scripted as opposed to an exciting and fresh new idea. Even the most recycled ideas musically can sound exciting when played with a looseness and fragility that connects purely on the soul power of what’s being communicated.

The strongest song here is without a doubt the lead single “Sweet As Honey” which sums up Smoking Martha in just less than four minutes. This song swings with a stadium swagger bringing to mind the good time anthems of Motley Crue and Warrant with pepperings of 1980’s era Ozzy Osbourne. These nostalgic qualities of “Sweet As Honey” are linked to a very now look stylistically linking the band to the recent boom in all things guitar rock.

The appeal of Smoking Martha’s debut self-titled EP all comes down to what kind of rock fan you are. If you like a real good time where you get to dance and drink a lot of beer and just take on the night like you own it, then yes Smoking Martha is for you. If you require a little bit more art, intensity and depth to your rock music then Smoking Martha probably isn’t for you. Either outcome, Smoking Martha prove they are the perfect house band for any mindless good time and will no doubt win over a lot of punters with this infectious sound.

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/smokingmartha

 

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Ultrafeedy – EP – “Self-Titled”

You’ve probably heard me go on a lot about the idea that sincerity is the key to authenticity and in the case of Ultrafeedy’s debt self-titled EP this is quite true. What the band lacks in originality they make up for with their earnest and taunt ode to 1990′s guitar driven rock n roll. I believe this band and you can hear that the songwriters involved are fans of a wide range of music. An obvious textural love of Queens of the Stone Age guitar tones mixes with tense post-punk rhythms to build exciting but very traditional Big FM radio rock.

I’m a phenomenally massive fan of the Kyuss family tree and it sounds like Ultrafeedy are as well but it is the flourishes of the golden era of post-hardcore (think Jawbox and Sunny Day Real Estate) that really excites me when I listen to this EP. So many of the songs ease into a surprisingly different journey only to return to that straight up Homme riff chug which is always going to be more rewarding than a Wes Borland “fuck yeah” riff. This is music that hasn’t been accurately captured in the studio because I feel these songs would explode and really change lives in the live arena.

A band like Ultrafeedy has the ability to escape the standard dynamics involved with traditional rock n roll. This is evident all over this EP but you can also hear the struggle of wrestling with so many genres in order to create simple pastiches of punk infused rock. That confusion stained desire is what I find myself connecting with here because Ultrafeedy’s EP carries with it the typical sound of a band who through that exploration of diversity and influence will one day stumble across their unique voice.

Overall I think that Ultrafeedy are a band to watch because they have illustrated enough interesting ideas dynamically on this EP to suggest that they could just make an impact on the rising 1990’s rock revival scene happening in Brisbane at the moment.

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Ultrafeedy

 

All Reviews By: Dan Newton

LIVE REVIEW: Alithia, Balloons Kill Babies, Charlie Fingers and Alpha Omega (March 7th At The Beetle Bar)

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I did the typical reviewer thing and arrived late so I missed Alpha Omega’s set – from what I’ve heard online and from what the other “punters” told me, it seemed like they played a traditional psyche rock set. I’m sure I’ll catch them next time.

The first band I did manage to witness was Charlie Fingers who are rooted in the industrial metal vein. They are a one trick pony who do their trick quite well. A lovely cliché of a band that use all of the stylistic tricks of the industrial metal trade in order to communicate their sound. What this band lacks in creativity they make up for with enthusiasm and that is what makes them entertaining to watch. All in All Charlie Fingers are more of a tribute act to the Marilyn Manson, NIN and Ministry Shtick. It all becomes like watching theatre after a while that makes me laugh in a “fuck yeah” kind of way more than it makes me want to connect to the (sigh) pain these guys are trying to prove they feel. The posing for the photographer snapping shots during their set shows just how far goth rock industrialists have come since the days of Einstürzende Neubauten and shows that in the social media age, being fucked up and misunderstood means having great photos on facebook. The best part of the set was the Mark Of Cain cover and the guitarist, bassist and drummer rocking the fuck out at the end of set on that big payoff riff. This was the least clichéd part of their set and excited me quite a bit. In five years time at least two members of this band won’t be playing industrial metal music anymore.

Main headliner Alithia are a Melbourne based band who describe themselves as ASTRAL SPACE CORE which reflects a philosophy to embrace the exploration of the unlimited possibilities of the mind. This philosophy sounds amazing when your trying to find clever ways to sell albums and describe why your lemonade is more unique than everyone else’s but in the scheme of truth and your ability to connect to people I think it falls a little short considering my experience with Alithia tonight.  The most exciting part of Alithia’s sound is the instrumentation. That is when I connected with this band the most, when they were just locking in and sourcing an array of crazed psychedelic sounds and rhythmic fusion to showcase what talented songwriters they are. It is fucking bombastic and explosive but is then unfortunately let down by the vocals which sound way to “hillsong” for me. It was the vocals that had the capacity to ruin the instrumental passages which were so strong and so dynamic. There were passages that reminded me of …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead with heavy lathering’s of The Mars Volta but then the vocals would take me back to Christian Rock and it was disappointing because I reckon as an instrumental band Alithia would be fucking amazing to watch. I spent the morning listing to the bands album and the same problem jumps out, incredible songs in the prog rock vein but those damn vocals just seem to be funded by the healing power of Jesus Christ more than the exploration of the unlimited possibilities of the mind. All in all I think that Alithia are a pretty fucking awesome band who are hella tight.

The final band of the night were Balloons Kill Babies who played an amazing set of prog inspired post-metal. By far the most exciting band of the night and the most engaging which is an amazing feat considering they don’t have a singer. Perhaps it was the weak display of vocal skills leading up to their set that caused me to be suffering from vocalist fatigue or the fact that Balloons Kill Babies music were supremely better than the other bands. This is all a matter of opinion really, but there was something instantly refreshing about this band after the previous onslaught of vocalist driven guitar rock.  Live, Balloons Kill Babies channels the crunch of Isis and mixes it with the divinity of Mogwai providing an incredibly cinematic experience. This is the kind of music that allows you to drift away and is an experience in total escapism. My only small criticism of the set is the stopping in between songs. I reckon this band should just plug in and play for 45 minutes and not stop. That would be the ultimate Balloons Kill Babies experience. I think this band will go on to be one of the best bands you’ve never heard of.

All in all it was a great night of progressive music that proved that interesting and forward thinking music is alive and well. If there is one victory to be taken way from this evenings gig it is that there are bands still willing to push the boundaries of what rock n roll music can be.

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Alithia – https://www.facebook.com/alithiaband
Balloons Kill Babies – https://www.facebook.com/BalloonsKillBabies
Charlie Fingers – https://www.facebook.com/CHARLIEFINGERSMUSIC
Alpha Omega – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alpha-Omega-Australia/106021259495295

ALBUM REVIEW: “Self-Titled” by +++ (Crosses)

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It’s no secret that there was a girl who stole my heart long ago and whose shape remains inside the soul of every yearning filled encounter I have with other female humans. Sometimes the fantasy is more pure than the reality and it is because of this that my mind remains her hostage with no real ransom available to dull the ache and set me free. It may be ridiculous to the non-believers but a muse can be murder especially when you search for the face of your yearning and some kind of remedy for sleepless Sundays. When love disappears, every brand new day is yours to fear with a grief so strong your eyes can’t hide it and as a result you build many walls around you to shield yourself from it all. Regardless of how much life I live in the meantime, she’ll hang in my heart forever. This yearning has a language that is heard only by the spirits with total belief that all this pity frames a scar and that in the end it will always remain as faith for the man and a kiss for the friend.

When I listen to any album with Chino Moreno as the vocalist I tend to slip into that place where her face and that memory of love lost comes rushing back to me. The moment I put +++ (Crosses) debut album on the stereo and plugged in my headphones I felt the sweet embrace of her undertow once again with the music presented providing the ultimate soundtrack to the chaotic emotional journey that is the sting of distant heartache  memories. I flirt with a heaven when this girl comes and visits me, I taste the meaning and I understand all of my believing. The music of +++ (Crosses) provides the perfect soundtrack to this ache soaked journey.

This music is purely nocturnal and will always communicate more clearly between the hours of 9pm and 4am. Like the shadowy pulse of ex-lovers whispering into your ear there are memories of yearning (past, present and future) hiding inside the songs on +++ (Crosses) debut album. The darkness of it all allows you to trade your fetish for fiction and replace it with new kinds of motion and sequence. As the cover art suggests, this music will have you remembering the time she removed her clothes to reveal a graveyard underneath ensuring that desire remains the theme. You’ll find yourself musing on the lifelong debate of flesh versus the spirit and as you try ever so hard to attach yourself to some innocence. No matter how hard you try that funeral march will continue to trickle down your belly.

The mystery present on songs like “This Is A Trick,” “Bitches Brew,” “Nineteen Ninety Four” and “Option” pushes you to explore that shiver and all of that spooked out bliss she uses to suffocate your mind. You simply have to read the lyrics to see that Moreno is once again using very specific metaphors to illustrate his feelings and to allow your imagination to swoon and swing between joy and heartache. In the heat of the summer night, a band like +++ (Crosses) use their unique sonic language to penetrate all your angst as you hang spacious from the clutter of your hurt and safely drift away.

One of the real treats of this record is the albums final track “Death Bell” which presents a scene of catastrophe with a mood that balances what a monumental picture of hurt existence can be. Although peppered with a dense dark mood, “Death Bell” still has a bright spark weaving in and out of it. The joy that is the satellite in your heart is what connects to this song, especially the line “I’ll Follow You, Into the Light” – that line gives meaning to the constant quest to transmit to all of those secret faces.

When you’re looking at life through innocent eyes it seems love and desire are quite simple, but sometimes she wounds and it’s so very smooth. That is when an album like +++ (Crosses) self-titled debut album sounds best, when you are wounded yet optimistic. This is the kind of album that fires up your romantic imagination making you feel like that somewhere out there she waits and that 84 will be worth living for.

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/CrossesMusic
Official Website – http://www.crossesmusic.com/

ALBUM REVIEW: “Dream Reverb” by aheadphonehome (Dan Newton’s Review)

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The title of the brand new album from aheadphonehome is “Dream Reverb” and it accurately describes what kind of world you’ll descend into when you hear it. This is music soaked in the kind of lo-fi heat that could only belong to a Brisbane band birthed from the lofly label. At the heart of all of these dreamscapes is one our towns finest Singer Songwriters Phil Laidlaw who uses his talents for constructing amazingly spacious melody lines to infect the rather minimal sounds with a degree of hushed explosion that leaves you totally immersed in blue sunshine.

The strength of this album is the way in which underneath all of the sonic experimentation there lays very simple pop songs. Without directing you to far from what this album sounds like I think it is important for me to highlight that I’m confident that you could strip away all of the sonic’s and you’d still have a wonderful collection of strummed acoustic folk songs that could stand alone on their own as examples of how music should be communicated directly to your soul.

This isn’t a collection of folk songs however; this is a movement of blissed out shiver pop rooted in the sonic mechanics established by genres like post-rock, electronica and of course shoegaze. It’s easy for anyone juggling these genres to slip into cliché but with “Dream Reverb” aheadphonehome have escaped cliché and let their own unique dialogue spill into the genre dynamics they are influenced by. This is a band without an agenda and who play because they have an intense emotional desire to communicate to the external world about all of their complex internal emotions.

An album like “Dream Reverb” is a rare commodity in 2014 in the sense that it borrows so heavily from the past but pushes sound and the idea of weird pop music deep into the future, it truly does go beyond fashion. This music sounds like it should be everywhere and inside everyone’s music players and distributed worldwide as an example of what we should broadcast to the aliens when they finally visit us. We can debate about the relevance of who is making the boldest and most forward thinking statements in our town and if you visit Lambda on a Thursday night you’ll probably be tricked into thinking that the young and the beautiful souls with their manicured sounds and vision are doing their best to push music into radical directions. Unfortunately they are doing nothing more than taking up space and becoming the face of the future “Who?” and for that we should be grateful because in the future people will remember a band like aheadphonehome more than what is current and modern.

The listening experience of “Dream Reverb” took me back the simple revolution of an “In Rainbows” era Radiohead or Tortoise when they informed us that millions of us living will never die. It is a place where the darkness of it all consumes but also leaves a satisfied smile on your face. I believe that aheadphonehome are good enough to take on the world and in 2014 I think it is important that we have more bands like aheadphonehome who are willing to bathe in mainstream obscurity in order to allow for their future legacy to be imprinted on the cultural lexicon.

No matter kind of future you find yourself stuck in or pining for, “Dream Reverb” is a perfect record and a true and pure listening experience. In 2014 that is the rare glimpse of hope that the true believers get, that maybe all of these underground heroes are our future saviours and the key to peace being restored to the galaxy.

Listen to the album here -  https://aheadphonehome.bandcamp.com/album/dream-reverb

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Bandcamp: https://aheadphonehome.bandcamp.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aheadphonehome
Tumblr: http://aheadphonehome.tumblr.com/

ALBUM REVIEW: “Collider” by Roku Music

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The debut album from Roku Music is called “Collider” and it is a fantastic movement of music. I’ve enjoyed every inch of the listening experience and rejoiced at the wonderful escapism it provided.  The hazy fuzz and washed out production instantly produces a diverse array of beautiful melancholy related feelings. This is a band who understand the power of navigating darkness in order to produce dramatic blissed out rock music. It’s the kind of album that just allows you to float deep inside yourself with an equal mix of hurt and heartache bouncing round and round your still existence.

I found the best listening experience to be while I was either lying flat on my back in a dark room with a good pair of headphones or late at night while I was driving my automobile. This is how I always choose to consume my music and it takes a great band and only the best music to be able to make me soothe and swoon. Regardless of your genre, music should be an exercise in an artist showing you their soul and with “Collider” despite the occasional obvious dynamic and stylistic tribute to all things Shoegaze, Roku Music are a band who mean it and whose sincerity allows for them to be beautifully authentic.

This brings me to the music contained within “Collider” – those who read this blog know I’m not a big fan of giving you the standard “song by song” review experience. I’ll leave that to the more “sponsored” types to bore you with. I’m much more interested in illustrating to you what this music made me feel.

So here I go – if I was to describe and review “Collider” by Roku Music to an alien who has just learnt about the complicated emotional intelligence attached to the unrequited frame attached to yearning and that “ache” that I talk about so frequently then my review would be as follows.

Sleep will always translate those female friends into lovers, the kind of mysterious hurt that is reserved for the secret unspoken love that cuts deeper than any sort of physical pain. These thoughts and that face, I wish I could sell or trade or just transplant the memory, but when I’m asleep I can translate all of those complicated secret entanglements and forays into a silent affair. These are the celebrated thoughts disguised in the noise of all the music that resonates with me. A beautiful release of music that mirrors that deep burning ache will always make me shiver even deeper in that hurt. The music will explode inside me and wrestle with and finally serenade all of the angst to a place of pure imagined relaxation. This kind of escape is reserved purely for the collections of fools who choose to devour the extreme sound experience and who reject music’s entertainment value. All of the music and sound that goes beyond being just fashion allows for your survival and provides you new ways to cope with daily oxygen consumption.

All the way down, that is where this music goes – right to the core of all that is tender and beautiful about your invisible wounds.

I can’t speak of Roku Music’s goals or agenda as a band, I can only speak of my own personal resonance and upon multiple listens of “Collider” this album has hit me directly in the “feels” as all those cutesy modern fashion fucks would say.

The album is called “Collider” and the band is Roku Music and they are releasing this album on the 3rd March 2014 (via Sonic Masala) and I reckon you’d be rather foolish to ignore this record – the first vital Brisbane record to be released this year.

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – www.facebook.com/rokumusic
Official Website – www.rokumusic.com

Roku Music are touring throughout Australia in March and April 2014 (see their website for details)

SINGLE REVIEW: “Collider” by Roku Music

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The brand new single from Roku Music is called “Collider” and it is a beautiful breeze of all that is lovely about emotionally charged guitar music. With heartbreak swoons and a delicate level of smooth blissed out angst, “Collider” rewards you with each new listen transporting you further away from the dull cruelty of existence. Escapism is essential to all great music and Roku Music lay down some sensationally picturesque landscapes for you to nestle into allowing you to just drift deeper and closer to some kind of blue soaked divinity.

This song definitely pays tribute to all that is golden about shoegaze and to those that respect music you’ll be yearning to know where this song takes you in the context of an album. That is what I felt during the course of listening to “Collider” – that this a small part of a bigger sonic story that will no doubt unfold all kinds of emotions (known and unknown) and will cement Roku Music as one of the best bands happening in the world.

It is the heavenly scent sprinkled within those vocals that win me over. The guitars and drums and bass are all playing within the mechanics of the genre but it is the vocals that give this song colour and a true ache that brings me back for repeated listens. There is a mystery to the melody and I want to dive deep inside the fuzz to chase it and find out everything about it and try to locate the meaning of why there is so much joy yet so much pain spilling out of the speakers.  It makes me want to fall in love but it also makes me want to spend some time alone thinking about those two or three girls that you meet in your life time that shape your understanding of heartbreak and all things unrequited.

A song like “Collider” rings out with a nocturnal loneliness that reminds me of the sting of endless Friday nights spent staring at the ceiling trying to find ways to reform my desire to disconnect from the real world modes of fun and living but finding myself stupidly sinking inside a brand new sound that sums up the ache pounding deep inside me. If it wasn’t for finding new sonic examples of that ache and that yearning I’d probably a very happily married man doing very dull things like buying houses and caring about the bottom line. Instead I live for that feeling of isolation with new pieces of sound that best capture that god shaped hole in my soul and my desire to be a totally failed romantic cynic.

In short, support the fuck out of Roku Music – they are beautiful and pure.

By: Dan Newton

Listen to “Collider” by Roku Music on the following link:

http://soundcloud.com/sonic-masala/collider

Useful Links:

rokumusic.com,
rokumusic.bandcamp.com,
rokumusic.tumblr.com,
twitter.com/Rokumusicband
https://www.facebook.com/Rokumusic

 

SINGLE REVIEW: “Bull At A Gate” by Hawkmoon

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If Hawkmoon were a band from the Seattle Grunge Movement they’d be The Posies for sure. What this basically equates to is that instead of the angst, punk rock, heavy metal, psychedelia, Minor Threat / Black Flag infused hardcore and classic / hard rock hat tips that the big seven illustrated (Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, The Melvins, Mudhoney, Alice In Chains and Screaming Trees), Hawkmoon favour power pop. That’s not to say that Hawkmoon sound or have pop skills like The Posies but it does give you a good starting point as to the spirit that is alive in their music.

The band has just released a new single called “Bull at a Gate” and it is a straightforward slab of Australiana flavoured power pop. The sound and mood of this track harks back to the mid to late 90’s and early 00’s where bands like Powderfinger, Custard and You Am I dominated that youth demographic of 18 to 24 and served as the soundtrack to a summer spent doing wonderfully pointless things in New Farm Park whilst fighting a “three bottles of wine” hangover and trying ever so hard to impress girls named Emily and Jill and Beth who are more interested in ecstasy culture as opposed to rock guitars now that they have returned from London.

That’s not to say that “Bull at a Gate” is totally suffocated by Nostalgia; there are modern flourishes in the dynamics that inch themselves towards bands like The Black Keys and Kings of Leon with textures and tones that show a heavy amount of hero worship towards anything and everything Homme. This is indeed a song in its more traditional sense with adequate verses, chorus’, bridges and appropriate reprises that is kept together with a rhythmic swagger and healthy yet all too familiar melody.

As a song it works but in terms of sonic evolution for the history of music and Hawkmoon themselves (compared to their first EP) it falls short but as I always maintain, sincerity is the key to authenticity and Hawkmoon communicate with an excited sense of glee allowing for the overall vibe of “Bull at a Gate” to sound convincing. It is that conviction that allows those thirsty for nostalgia and meat and potatoes to eat this song up.

My tastes are more geared towards weirdness within the pop music and rock n roll formats so it can be hard for me to get overwhelmed by “Bull at a Gate” as a song but I think that as previously mentioned, it is its sincerity that makes me believe that with time Hawkmoon will find their way to that weirdness and find their own unique way to communicate pop music to the world.

The new single by Hawkmoon is called “Bull at a Gate” and it is a power pop adventure with a rhythm and blues swagger framed nicely with a pure Brisbane melody. All in All a solid illustration of songwriting and 1990’s rock n roll fury.

By: Dan Newton

Listen To “Bull at a Gate” via the following video:

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Hawkmoon.music
Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/hawkmoon-1
Triple J Unearthed – http://www.triplejunearthed.com/Artists/View.aspx?artistid=47803

 

EP REVIEW: “Red Bridge” by Slow Riots

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There is a quote from an amazing article I read about the heavy music scene earlier this week (click on this link to read it http://www.invisibleoranges.com/2013/12/dont-listen-to-everything/ ) that best describes how I feel about Slow Riots and their new EP “Red Bridge” and it goes like this:

“There is too much music and too many musicians, and the amateurs are often good enough for the public. This is healthy for culture, not so much for aesthetics, and shit for musicians. Musicians in the early ’90s were already feeling the pressure of competition from CD reissues of old stuff; here in the future, you can get almost anything that has ever been digitised for free and listener time is the precious commodity.”

There was also something I wrote in my Tape / Off review (you can read that here: http://heavyandwierd.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/single-review-pedestal-fan-by-tape-off/) which also applies here and it is as follows:

“There are a lot of really nice human beings making fucking terrible music in the Brisbane Music Scene at the moment. As a reviewer it is hard because you want to like these bands / artists purely on the merit of how great the humans in the bands are but you can’t because they make shite music that has no artistic value. Sure they may be the triple j darlings or the underground heroes but bad music is bad music and friends should never let other friends make bad music, but I’m always just a loose acquaintance so I guess I can shit on that carpet.”

In this instance I’m a loose acquaintance for sure but I know that a lot of the friends / family / fans of Slow Riots will hate me for what I’m about to write, but you can’t adjust how something resonates with you, you either feel it or you don’t and in the case of “Red Bridge” by Slow Riots I just don’t feel a thing, but heavy and weird were asked to review it so here we go.

The most positive thing about the brand new Slow Riots EP “Red Bridge” is that it is made by humans and is all original material. Full marks will always be awarded to any human being attempting to create original music. I must admit though, that is where the positives begin and end for me and despite attaching all the right genre tags to their music in order to reel me in, the music just failed to impress.

Where Slow Riots win is that they have indeed evolved from their first EP. There is more confidence in the playing and they sound a lot more comfortable in their own skin allowing for the songs to sound well put together. Dynamically and aesthetically these songs are flawed in so many ways and whilst you could dismiss these flaws as a simple exercise in the lo-fi DIY shtick, there is not enough dust or dirt in these songs to lean on that excuse. The songs sound way too structured for the genres and bands Slow Riots are attempting to align themselves with and it sounds more Nu-Metal than it does 90’s Alternative, Math Rock or Shoegaze.

I must commend the rhythm section because they sound incredibly tight and they deliver a very inspired performance. There is something a little Nu-Metal about the way bass and drums of Slow Riots lock in; in that Incubus / Karnivool kind of way but there are distant peppering’s of Helmet for sure. The rhythm section have set a solid foundation here and show an intense discipline is at play but a little bit more looseness may have allowed for these songs to sound more emotional and alive, overall though – a killer rhythm section.

The guitar lines are intricate and well-structured but they lack emotion and meaning and sound re-hashed. There is nothing original about the execution of the guitar riffs and whilst they demonstrate that James Hilan has great technique and skill it says very little about his creativity and if anything showcases a lack of it. I rarely comment on this type of thing in my reviews, but the overall tone of the guitars suffer from that disgusting “frogstomp” or “battle of the bands” curse where they sound incredibly dull and lifeless. Adjusting the tones and experimenting with different guitar textures may have helped save some of these songs but unfortunately they remain flat lined and uninspiring. Even in a lo-fi DIY setting you can still make your guitars shine with divinity (80’s Sonic Youth, 80’s Dinosaur Jr., Early Helmet, Shellac and Sebadoh).

Vocally James is attempting something he is unable to pull off and it is a bummer because he has the right idea but just lacks the skills melodically to make it work. Even with the style of vocal delivery James is attempting it is important to understand how the melody of it all fits in with the structure of the song because if it isn’t applied with care then it sounds clumsy and lacks impact. It all sounds like a rushed after thought with all of the lyrics sounding like they are trying way too hard to be clever and art school casual. The words in these songs are way too calculated to be clever or art school casual.

The most inspiring part of this EP is how it is pieced together like one long song, yes each song has the same basic dynamics but as a whole piece it works together if you imagine it as one very long song. Perhaps that is how the band intended it to be communicated and big marks to them for attempting such a progressive challenge. With a better producer the band could have really taken these songs to some “out of this world” places, instead we get a good demonstration of what great mathematicians Slow Riots are.

I totally understand what kind of band Slow Riots are attempting to be and I really hope they reach that place eventually but on “Red Bridge” they fail to capture the excitement, energy and emotion of the genres they claim to be influenced by. This is great music for the young and the beautiful and will no doubt have them exploding with joyful bliss but for the old and the ugly it just sounds like a poor attempt at genre flattery.

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/slowriots
Bandcamp – http://slowriots.bandcamp.com/
YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/user/SlowRiots
CD Baby – http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/SlowRiots
Soundcloud – http://soundcloud.com/slow-riots

CASSETTE TAPE REVIEW: “Coral Corral” by Pale Earth

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Towards the end of 2013 and during the first week of 2014 a lot of the more “funded” publications were publishing their “bands to watch in 2014” lists and fuck, it’s pathetic. I’d like to believe that the people running these publications aren’t sinister enough to believe that their audience is so stupid that they won’t read between the lines and see it for the promo fist fuck that it is, you know the little dance that happens between publicity companies and just about everyone in the industry who’ll afford them hype for the right price. It makes me want to vomit in my hands and smear it all over the dumb fucks gullible enough to celebrate it and share it on their social media pages like it is some kind of “surprise” or “shock” that their band or “client” got chosen.  There is no fucking justice in this industry and these lists should not surprise or shock anyone, it’s all about whose sent the best fruit basket or fist fucked with the right asshole. Scratch my back and I’ll fist fuck yours.

One band who should have been on that list but wasn’t was Pale Earth and it disgusts me on so many levels that all that neatcore “made for TV” music succeeded, fuck it, all of the bands on those lists are simply todays hipsters / tomorrow yuppies and I’m sure their children Theodore and Imogen will grow up and hate them and at least play with a bit of fucking angst.

Believe me, there is a review coming – so yes, Pale Earth are one of the bands you should be watching in 2014 but fucking won’t because it won’t afford you any kind of social fortune and it won’t let you go home and fuck the prom queen on Friday night. Part of me is happy about that because the sinister music snob that lurks somewhere between my obesity and real world empathy believes that “you wouldn’t understand” just how great Pale Earth are.

The name of Pale Earth’s recent release is “Coral Corral” and it is a sweet slice of divinity.

First of all, I was so stoked to finally have an artist send me a cassette tape to review – my life as a music fiend started with the sweet shine of cassette tapes and while all you modern posers try to fake some authenticity with your praise for vinyl I still believe that the Cassette Tape rules all and if I had my way it would be how I’d listen to all my music, fuck I still do on occasion.

The music contained on “Coral Corral” is another evolutionary step forward that sails on a majestic drone that shivers like ancient heartbreak. There is something otherworldly about this music and I for one pray and hope that Pale Earth finally release a full length movement of music because they are the soundtrack to a modern evolution in sound.

I’m just looking at the Pale Earth facebook page and notice that only 139 people like this page, you people make me fucking sick. Stop wasting your time on pointless sound that has a rehearsed agenda and jump inside the Pale Earth spaceship and take a ride to the future where all of the aliens and humans have learnt how to live in peace and harmony without the need for the strangulation of Social Media and People who listen with their eyes.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed “Coral Corral” and wish there was more Pale Earth for me to listen to because the world is a brighter fucking place when this music is coming through my headphones.

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Listen and Buy “Coral Corral” here – http://paleearth.bandcamp.com/album/coral-corral

Bandcamp – http://paleearth.bandcamp.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/paleearth

SINGLE REVIEW: “Pedestal Fan” by Tape / Off

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There are a lot of really nice human beings making fucking terrible music in the Brisbane Music Scene at the moment. As a reviewer it is hard because you want to like these bands / artists purely on the merit of how great the humans in the bands are but you can’t because they make shite music that has no artistic value. Sure they may be the triple j darlings or the underground heroes but bad music is bad music and friends should never let other friends make bad music, but I’m always just a loose acquaintance so I guess I can shit on that carpet.

Tape / Off are not one of those bands, they are a great bunch of people who understand and respect music and in return make totally badass sounds as a result. So in short, my kind of band – people I like who make great music that resonates with me. The band has just released a new single which is called “Pedestal Fan” which from their soon to be released debut album and it is a total fucking bliss jam that communicates itself perfectly in less than two minutes.

All of those more fortunate publications will employ some writer to apply all kinds of genre tags to this song and or band; I’m not in the business of serving some kind of corporate agenda so I don’t have to tell you that this song is psychedelic, lo-fi and or the perfect execution of modern indie rock. Any thundercunt with seasoned ears and who respects music will pick that up instantly. The real enjoyment when listening to “Pedestal Fan” comes when you dig a bit deeper and hear the more subtle creative aesthetics at play.

First off I just want to congratulate Tape / Off for being original, sure are there influences that jump out at you but this song sounds fucking real and like four different minds working as one to make something that best represents what future punk should sound like. Thank fuck this is not retro, because I don’t think I could tolerate any more fucking Kevin Parkerism’s or Puddle of Mudd hell fuck yeah grunge tributes from local Brisbane or Straylian Rock Bands. I think the reason why Tape / Off will never subscribe to such a weak handshake mode of communication is because of the drums, fuck, the drums are what make this a firm dose of heavy metal understanding with a Slint Vs Fugazi Vs Sonic Youth heartbeat covered in all kinds of Malkmus jizz and jazz with a warm yet thick dollop of Sebadoh lo-fi sheen.

Yes, Tape / Off understand what is great and glorious about dusty and dirty indie rock but they play it with such a futuristic drive, much like Not From There did before them this band will be one of the many ways forward for the Brisbane underground music scene.

Look, I’ll make it simple for those of you who like their communication all modern and petite – “Pedestal Fan” by Tape / Off is a punk rock song wrapped up in psyche rock heartbeats smothered with the charm and delivery of Slayer’s “Reign In Blood” all the while being a total exercise in modern slackerism. It’s real and has the potential to be ignored and misunderstood or embraced and adored, I guess it really depends on whether you respect music or not. This song could also be beaming with all kinds of light due to Benjamin Thompson’s horn noises but you know, I reckon it is the full package and the power of it all can’t be denied.

Listen to the song now you fucking fool – click the link and turn it up loud

http://soundcloud.com/tape-off/pedestal-fan

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/tapeoff
Soundcloud – http://soundcloud.com/tape-off
Official Website – www.tapeoff.net

 

HEAVY AND WEIRD – END OF YEAR LIST – VOLUME THREE – THE HONOURABLE RESERVE ELEVEN OF 2013

Attempting to choose my favourite eleven albums of 2013 is a very intense task and this year I felt it important to honour those albums that had a major impact on me but didn’t quite make it into my top eleven. So that is why I’ve created “The Honourable Reserve Eleven” which are essentially the runners up in my “album of the year” process.

Here are the Honourable Reserve Eleven:

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1. “Self-Titled” by Chelsea Light Moving

“Be a Warrior, love light” – heavenmetal

“A matter of time I can only float with” “A prayer come true” “feminine beauty is awe and all else bows” – Mohawk

I give thanks to the higher realms (you know, the place where all of the gods and angels gather) for delivering us the divine gift of Thurston Moore. A poet, a musical visionary, a guitar noise meditator, a punk rock icon and a rock n roll inside / outside pioneer. The man has been responsible for a lot over the years and in 2013 we need to give thanks and praise to the universe beyond us for the gift of his art.

What / Point?

In March 2013 Thurston released the debut self-titled album from his new band “Chelsea Light Moving” who is a new collection of noise adventurers (Thurston, Samara Lubelski, John Moloney and Keith Wood) dedicated to making some harsh and heavy guitar slime for the new decade. It is a heavenly collision of all of the great moods of rock n roll mixed with some sweet slice poetry and stay at home on a Friday night cool.

This album fucking jams like the clean sheets of a motherfucker. It explodes and unfolds all kinds of grimness and spookiness; it truly is the smoothest movement of horror since the birth of hardcore. There is nothing flawed or out of place on the album at all. There are bummer sunshine beginnings, noise movement freakouts, free jazz sonic circles, poetry about girls, spiritual hums, heavy metal anti-wank, odes to all things Sabbath and Flag, internal searching for Patti Smith and whole lot of fresh guitar soul power.

Albums like this don’t deserve to be reviewed or given critical analysis, they just deserve your worship. Thurston Moore has always been the sound of rock n roll to me. It doesn’t matter what band he’s playing in or music he’s releasing it always carries everything I want and need. With his new band Chelsea Light Moving he has assembled a new group of people who serve his vision and will only add to his already perfect history.

This album is pure rock n roll perfection.

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2. “The Next Day” by David Bowie

It isn’t one song that sells this album because Bowie has made an album in the truest sense. Each song is carefully crafted. Every little subtle piece of sound is placed perfectly and there is never one point where I lose interest. There is sunshine and pop music running through every inch of it but there is also a gloomy darkness that helps give the pop skills a fresh dynamic. Then there are the many different facets of Bowie’s voice that explode from each track. His range and vocal discipline is pure swoon and there is a depth of character to his tone that cannot be mimicked. The way in which Bowie expresses every word with a simple intensity helps the emotion driving each song be communicated on a deep level. You feel every word and even when the lyrics flirt with the bizarre you still somehow relate to it. Bowie writes and arranges music like a classical composer with the purpose of every instrument carefully considered. No one movement or instrumental passage overstays its welcome and it all exists to frame the divine vocal delivery. By the time the album finishes you don’t feel exhausted you feel satisfied and your day carries even more reasons to smile. It inspires you to be disciplined and radical all at the same time and it schools any musician who pretends to understand how great pop music is meant to be presented. Bowie makes the art of music making sound effortless, the sign of a true perfectionist but it isn’t a perfectionism rooted in control there is still room for every artist apart of this album to express themselves honestly. Bowie clearly respects and trusts the people he recorded this music with because you can feel each one of them pay tribute to his vision yet at the same time not losing any of their own personality in the process. This helps it feel even more cohesive as a rock n roll album.

This album is everything I love about David Bowie in one concise album. The fact that this album continues the ever evolving discography of Bowie is proof that the best is yet to come. Whether you’re a casual fan, a passionate devotee or looking for a place to start “The Next Day” is the perfect David Bowie album for you.

Thank You David Bowie for still being the revolutionary alien that you are, it means a lot to hear you still releasing life affirming music in 2013.

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3. “Tomorrow’s Harvest” by Boards of Canada

You could spend decades debating over what to call the kind of music that Boards of Canada make but I simple refer to it as mood pop with a heavy to thick dollop of soundscape shiver. This is the kind of album that helps explain what I love about music. The way it plays out like one piece as opposed to individual songs. As a band, Boards of Canada are like modern new romantic composers whose albums carry deep spiritual and philosophical noise. This is the kind of music that will haunt you deeply and unlock all kinds of emotions. You’ll slip deep into your mind and be reminded of all of the human beings you’ve loved with a unrequited fever and it is the perfect companion for the lonely late night drive when you are trying to search for some clarity amongst the cruelty of existence. If you could emotionally capture the experience of dying with music Boards of Canada would be one of the best bands to do it. There is something so overwhelmingly beautiful about the music this band makes and each album is built like a religious experience providing context to not just the beauty of this world but the mysterious cycle of destruction and death bestowed upon all of us. Boards of Canada do indeed make powerful music.

From the moment I turn this record on I am hooked, I am thrust deep into myself with the outside world being suspended and put on hold for a while as I become hypnotised by my own emotional intelligence and memories of my existence. I thought about human beings who no longer exist in this physical world and I also craved the power and yearn for ex-lovers / crushes who made my world both a painful and beautiful place. I wanted to kiss a stranger and engage in the excitement of a late night stroll with a new lover where you do everything in your power to connect personally, emotionally and physically. The eeriness of this music made me feel like I was surrounded by the spirits and ghosts that I could not see in the room I was situated. I felt like this album had plugged those departed souls directly into my headphones and I slipped into all kinds of past lives both evil and wonderful. When the album reaches its climax and endpoint you feel cleansed with the entire negative bummer residue of this world floating away with the outside world now feeling like a beautiful abyss that demands to be conquered. I feel like I am once again able to love and able to succeed at being a good human being. All of the doubt and all of the uncertainty and all of the fear is erased with the silence of the night now being a safer place to request slumber. This album unlocks my desire to connect with everyone and through my curse of feeling along with everybody I am indeed a lucky and much loved human being.

If someone was to ask what I desire from music I would point them to Boards of Canada and this wonderful album. The band has made important and vital sounding music for the past 17 years under many different guises and “Tomorrow’s Harvest” is just another example of the bands power. This album and band teach me how I want all genres of music to sound and the mood of it all is the perfect example of that eeriness I love to interact with when it comes to both creating and listening to music.

Anyone who has a heart and knows the power and fun of the dark shiver of music needs to buy a copy of this album and go on the adventure it provides. Each time you listen to it you will learn at least 11 new things about yourself and will be able to silence the fear and edge yourself that bit closer to inner peace.

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4. “Oddfellows” by Tomahawk

Mike Patton can do no wrong in my eyes. He is the epitome of what I define as an artist and in terms of vocalists he is incredibly forward thinking and really treats his instrument in a unique and interesting way. I’ve brought almost everything he’s put out and whether it is his extreme experimentations or his more normal rock n roll moments (although there is never really any normal moment when it comes to anything Patton is involved in) he always delivers music that is original and beautiful. Tomahawk was a band that launched itself in 2001 and over the course of the last 12 years they have released some amazing rock n roll music. “Oddfellows” is their fourth full length album and such a joy to listen too. After the experimental turn the band took with the awesome 2007 release “Anonymous” the band has returned to the heavier and weirder sounds that we heard on their debut “self-titled” album and 2003’s “Mit Gas.” Don’t be mistaken though, this isn’t a step backwards it is a clear step forward and helps establish the band for their second decade of evolution.

Tomahawk though isn’t just about Mike Patton, this band is the brainchild of both him and ex-Jesus Lizard guitarist Duane Denison. For anyone who doesn’t know the relevance and importance of Jesus Lizard to rock n roll really needs to go out and consume all of the amazing music they released. Jesus Lizard was so unique and amazing and the guitar playing of Duane Denison is front and centre of the band’s sound. Any young teenager or early twenties rock fan living in 2013 who want something different and unique need to do their best to check out Jesus Lizard (I suggest starting with “Goat” and then buying “Liar” and then just navigate from there). Tomahawk sees that evolution of Duane’s playing and the way in which he creates his guitar chords and mixes that with the solid rhythm sections echoes quite loudly the dynamics found within Jesus Lizard. In 2013 it is nice to hear those echoes of Jesus Lizard in a modern context and over the course of being a fan of Tomahawk I’ve always maintained to my ears that this band is the natural extension of where both Faith No More and Jesus Lizard left off. That however is a history lesson for another day, right now I want to focus on what makes “Oddfellows” so wonderfully unique.

“Oddfellows” is an album that sounds best at night when you are driving your car aimlessly just looking to escape the hectic nature of your own existence. The music has a horror movie creep mixed with a Murder Mystery steam. It is very soundtrack sounding but disconnects you from that standard idea of “movie soundtrack” music because this album is still communicated like a rock n roll record. Perhaps it is a Mike Patton trait that follows him from band to band, but this music is incredibly cinematic. While it remains emotional the music itself is not direct in terms of its lyrical delivery. The lyrics are more like mini-scripts that give the mood of each song a unique beginning, middle and end. It does wonderful things to your mind as you listen to it and you are consumed by every inch of it. Whether it is pure nonsense or something meaningful the surrealist nature of the music contained within “Oddfellows” reminds me, like all of Tomahawk’s music, of a really mind-bending art-house film. In fact if I was to pitch a genre title for the kind of music made by Tomahawk I’d call it “Cinematic Pop / Art-house Metal.” You won’t leave with any of your questions answered, it’ll just drive you to ask more and more questions about “what does this all mean?” and that is a great thing to hear considering the amount of empty calorie rock music that exists in 2013. There is nothing clichéd on this record and it has been meticulously sequenced with all 13 tracks moving together like one big composition.

It swoons, it croons, it rocks, it creeps and it freaks but most of all it continues the unique sonic dynamics that Tomahawk originally laid down in 2001 with their debut. This band and this album are not to be ignored and I thank the higher realms that we are lucky enough to have a rock n roll band like Tomahawk still making beautiful music for us in 2013.

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5. “Welcome Oblivion” by How To Destroy Angels

What makes “Welcome Oblivion” so amazing is its atmosphere. I don’t think it’s clichéd of me to say that Trent’s recent diversion into movie soundtracks has most definitely influenced this album because it plays out sonically like it is attaching itself to something cinematic. It’s a mature extension of what was already a very disciplined and pioneering artist. I enjoy the lack of angst on this album and the fact that it deals in swoons and bliss. It also feels like the closest to pure pop music that Trent Reznor will ever reach. There are some seriously catchy movements on this record and they attach themselves beautifully to the darker corners of this album. I’m never bored and just when the album descends to soundscape music a beautiful dream pop song will intervene and give the album a new atmosphere. This record draws you in and when you relax into it you are taken fairly deep into yourself. Like all good records should, it engulfs you and takes you across many different emotional terrains. The enjoyment I get from this album is hard to explain because I find this music is incredibly private. It deserves to be consumed alone with a pair of headphones. When the headphones are on and this record is playing all the different sounds come alive and hit you. You feel both connected and isolated from the world all at the same time. I like feeling like that and I love the way this album creates a world of its own. It’s a powerful movement of music.

I’m sure many will tell you that this album isn’t worth your time and that it is more of the same. It’s none of my business really that people feel that way but believe me when I say that if you ever want to disconnect and reflect and understand how to re-relate to the world then this is the perfect album to listen too on a nice pair of headphones.

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6. “Mosquito” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

An album like “Mosquito” has the capacity to do more than change and elevate your mood; it will take every inch of your soul and allow it the space to slip into pure swoony relaxation. You won’t know if you’re mourning for ex-lovers or if you’re rejoicing in the bliss of a satisfied mind. Each song allows you the time for reflection and escape but you also are given many specific points of soul soaked grooves to sway with the swagger and get lost in the rhythm of it all.

There is something delightfully cinematic about these songs and the way they are pieced together. By absolute definition you will swoon (to be overwhelmed by ecstatic joy, a state of ecstasy or rapture) for the sound on display here. The real excitement of “Mosquito” is the way it illustrates the bands history yet through simplicity and sonic weight loss it takes us right back to year zero. The music sounds free and wild once again even though a lot of the songs have a hushed whisper compared to a vicious punk roar. The delight of hearing Yeah Yeah Yeahs evolve into one of the most interesting pop bands in the history of music is deliciously rewarding.

This is another brave step into the future from Yeah Yeah Yeahs and once again establishes their skill for revolution whilst still allowing for a consistency to build within their discography. I rarely like to compare one bands legacy to another but I feel in this situation it is important. I truly believe that Yeah Yeah Yeahs are the logical evolutionary step for the art rock / experimental pop music legacy that Sonic Youth established. A lot of bands have attempted to be that next step but after witnessing the beauty of “Mosquito” it is quite apparent that Yeah Yeah Yeahs are the brand new leaders of forward thinking pop music.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs now have that beautiful luxury of being a genreless band, graduating to that unique school of artists whose band name alone signifies what kind of sound they erupt. With “Mosquito” Yeah Yeah Yeahs have taken a graceful step back in order to demonstrate and execute a million creative leaps forward. The eleven tracks contained on this album have the excitement that a new best friend or potential romance will birth in you. You just want to hug every single one of these songs and dedicate all of your waking hours to hearing them again and again.  Only Yeah Yeah Yeahs are capable of making the darkness and the ache of life surround you with a shivery sunshine giving you space to grieve, dance and escape.

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7. “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart” by Sepultura

What is important about Sepultura to me, beyond all the historical legacy and which era you prefer – it is the way the band have provided such emotional healing for me over the years. When I’ve felt the most misunderstood I could have ever felt, Sepultura acted as a saviour and gave me the strength to live on through the pain. On “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart” I find it interesting to see the band musing on the current state of the world as I see it and how it makes them feel angry at how inhumane we’ve become. This is my anger as a 30 year old man as and it is an anger that drives me in order to restore some peace in this world.  When your creative heroes also mirror these feelings there is nothing more satisfying.

When all is said and done I think this album proves just how vital and forward thinking the Derrick Green era of Sepultura have been and to see so many humans in the media claim it as some kind of “return to form” really is a back handed compliment. Sepultura were never out of form, they forged ahead at a time when people were ready to discard them for good. As an album “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart” is a tribute to the bands strength and commitment to the legacy and I believe that anyone who still finds the time to compare the band to achievements made between 1984 and 1997 and judge them solely on that are foolish imposters who are a big reason why our world will never achieve peace and equality.

At the end of the day, fuck the haters “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart” is a flawless piece of metal and I’m fucking very glad that in 2013 I still get to have the thrill of Sepultura releasing fresh new music.

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8. “Walk Through Exists Only” by Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals

So to Phil, I’d like to say thank you for being my number one inspiration as both a human being and an artist. No one has ever come close to matching the level of influence you have over what I do and regardless of what music I’m listening to, you always remain to be the original and the best. Thanks to you I have gone on to discover a world of amazing heavy metal and also found the confidence within myself to be a better human being. When I first started playing in heavy metal bands in High School, you were the person I wanted to be. When I attempted to play folk music as a solo artist after High School, you were the person I wanted to be. When I started playing art rock noise music with Galapogos you were the person I wanted to be. When I wanted to be a person who writes about music, like I do with Heavy and Weird, you were the person I wanted to be. Through wanting to be you I have managed to become myself and for that I feel incredibly blessed. I would not be alive if it wasn’t for you and your music. Your new solo album is hands down one of the greatest things you’ve done and since I brought it I have done nothing but listen to it and get lost in the amazing piece of art that it is. You truly are one of the most pure human beings in this world. Although you play intense, aggressive and dark music it comes from a place of love and because you are out there doing what you love you make millions of people incredibly happy. The amount of positive energy that this generates is what helps so many of us wake up each day to face the world. Without your influence I wouldn’t have woken up to just how cruel this world is but in realising this I’ve also understood how I can rise above it and go against the grain and chase my dreams with an intense discipline and passion. Anytime I have been told how good something is that I’ve done I always think of you and how it has been because of your influence.

So thank you Philip H. Anselmo and once again, you have made an incredible solo album that strengthens your already flawless discography.

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9. “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here” by Alice In Chains

I wish I could explain why the music of Alice In Chains resonates so deeply with me because if I could plug you in to what I’m feeling when I listen to them then maybe you’d understand that they are more than just a “rock” band. There is this this mood and spooky kind of darkness that swirls all through their music and it has a beautiful capacity to heal all that pain and cruelty encountered during the course of your life. There is also the sheer brutality of it mixed with the heavenly sense of melody which frames the riffs with this amazing power. I firmly believe that it is those multi-layered vocal harmonies that give the songs of Alice In Chains their intensity. They act as this choir of doom but through that doom you are elevated to such a beautiful realm of bliss. It just feels so nice having it all wash over you after you’ve been emotionally injured. Perhaps I’m totally wrong but on both of the post-Layne albums there seems to be this intentional space left on each song, almost out of respect to Layne, where he would of slotted in with his vocal. I may just be searching way to deeply in these songs but I firmly believe that whether or not it is intentional or not there is a Layne sized space in each of these new songs. That in itself is a positive thing and again, perhaps I’m searching way too deeply into it but it feels like this weird sign of respect to his legacy with the band.

On “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here” I’m reminded of everything I love about Alice In Chains and how influential they are as a rock n roll band. So many bands borrow the dynamics of this band but few of them rarely reach the depth. I think it is because they lack that special darkness that swirls inside each member of the band (both past and present). The future of this band is set in stone and I can’t wait to welcome more albums from Alice In Chains to the world.

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10. “Asymmetry” by Karnivool

What makes Karnivool such an amazing and respected band is the way in which they take the time to craft such complex yet emotional movements of music. There is equal parts science and mathematics in terms of the time signatures and overall musical arrangements but the players themselves are harvesting all of their collective emotions to communicate their songs with a depth and intensity which allows for an easy resonance as a fan. It is that commitment to making emotionally deep music that helps set Karnivool apart from most of the rock n roll happening in Australia at the moment. Add into this a degree of mystery and the stylistic dynamics of Progressive Rock and you start to understand just how perfect the Karnivool sound is. I understand why people both love it and hate it but I refuse to indulge the people who don’t enjoy what the band offers with my list of defence mechanisms as to why Karnivool are so vital, you either love it or you don’t. I personally love every inch of this bands discography so that should give you a hint as to where this review is going.

With such a reflective record also comes a way darker sound and considering the fact that the band has always framed their music with darkness it sounds refreshing to see this darkness explored in such mature ways with mood and space used over science. It allows for a level of drama to build in the songs giving the album room to open up and build slowly. Each song plays its part in painting the musical landscape and in true Progressive Rock fashion it all feels like one big song split into 14 different parts. That is not to say the band hasn’t previously achieved this it just feels like this time round it is explored and matured further to the point where it has totally reinvented their sound.

When all is said and done I like “Asymmetry” because it is the very definition of what a good album should be. It keeps delivering you something every time you listen to it and no matter how many times you hear it you always find something new. This album favours art and emotion over the cycle of “hit singles” and filler. Karnivool have created something pretty special with “Asymmetry” and by making such a dark and spacious masterpiece they have opened up their sound giving it new dimensions. The most rewarding part is that through the bands commitment to making art this intense is that they may have just released the album that will see them crossover to a larger mainstream audience and that is always positive. It would be a triumph to see music this dark and progressive resonating with the mainstream listener who were previously unaware of the band.

Who cares about that really, for now just find yourself a great pair of headphones and slip into the swoon of “Asymmetry” and see where it takes you.

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11. “Disarm The Descent” by Killswitch Engage

I’ve been a fan of Killswitch Engage for the past eleven years of my life. I was 18 going on 19 when I first got into the band and now I’m 29 going on 30. I’ve loved the band deeply for all of those eleven years and their music has always meant something to me. Regardless of what stage of life I was in or music I was listening too, heavy metal has always remained a constant. I don’t believe in being the kind of jerk-off who has “guilty pleasures” or “I can’t believed I listened to that” moments in my life. I still love and have time for every band or artist I ever got into. Some bands like Killswitch Engage are untouchable however and I think for me the reason I love them so much is because beyond being a heavy metal band, they are just fans of music. I think that’s an important quality to have for a band who strive to make timeless heavy metal, they have to be plugged into so much more than just the history of metal. You can hear that Killswitch Engage respect music as a whole and when they plug in and play they are drawing on so much of it to make their unique blend of melodic heavy metal. With their new album “Disarm The Descent” Killswitch Engage have launched themselves beautifully into the new decade and proved that they will be one of the most important bands in the heavy metal language. I just love them so much and this album is so incredibly satisfying and is the perfect soundtrack to my graduation from my twenties to my thirties. Everyone who knows me understands that a lot of my favourite bands are artists like Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Fugazi, Pearl Jam and Deftones but I think a band like Killswitch Engage is just as important as all of these bands. I don’t base my personality on genres of music, I fund it purely on good and life changing music. Killswitch Engage are one of the bands who fit this bill quite well and “Disarm The Descent” is a fucking triumph and a beautiful piece of art.

By: Dan Newton

All Reviews originally written by Dan Newton from January to December 2013