The album I’ve decided to choose for the heavy and weird album of the week is the third album from ISIS which is called “Panopticon” – the reason I chose this album is because I believe this album is one of the first real classics of the modern era. In fact I think considering the rather uninspiring decade we just came out of it is no wonder that some of the best and most forward thinking music from 2000 to 2013 came from Metal bands, a genre that continues to thrive and evolve regardless of the demands of modern youth culture.
Being a well adjusted music fan in the last ten years has been challenging but if you’re committed to the cause you’ll dig deep into all areas of the music world to find something to move you. ISIS is one the bands that renewed my faith in music. Everything about ISIS is amazing. They really are one of a kind and I have to admit that after trying to become a post-rock fiend I found that I much preferred what ISIS did and I still believe they are a million times better than any post-rock band.
I could have picked any album from ISIS because they are all brilliant but I went with “Panopticon” because I’ve been listening to it quite a bit lately and it always changes my life when it is playing through my headphones.
This album puts a smile on my face and each day is made 100 per cent more awesome when I get to listen to ISIS on my stereo.
This week we are visiting the heavy and weird archives to bring you an interview we did with Emma Walton from Foxsmith late in 2012. Emma is an important artist who will help write some future shiver pop anthems, we felt it was vital for us to include this interview in our “Show Me Your Riffs” series:
It is no secret how much I love Foxsmith. If you read my initial review (https://heavyandwierd.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/review-foxes-demos/) of the band at the end of last year you would have read how much I fell for their music. As I described in my review, they are an incredibly kool thing and they make a beautiful sound that is like a mix of dream pop, slacker, rock n roll roar, angular slintesque rhythms and a whole lot of Kim Deal cool. It is music that is funded by heartache and a really good time. The music is that late Friday night movement from party queen to “what does it all mean” melancholy. It is soaked in cool and is pop music that is covered in all kinds of dreams and schemes designed to destroy all of your emotions and to make you swoon. Much like my other band crush The Halls, Foxsmith are a band who I define as making shiver pop.
Late in 2012 I got the chance to sit down with Emma Walton (bass / vocals) and talk about music and of course the Foxsmith story.
Foxsmith started with an initial Jam session between Emma, Charlie (guitar / vocals) and Laura (drummer). It wasn’t until late 2011 that the band got things rolling and started playing gigs and in 2012 the band (then under the name of Foxes) entered into RICS exposed competition. After receiving a fevered response through their live shows, the band decided to make it a more full-time thing. During this period of time the band welcomed in Kassie (keys / vocals) and in between playing shows has been recording a bunch of material for an EP that they hope to release in 2013.
Anyone who has had the pleasure of listening to the Foxsmith knows just how much “ache” is at the centre of their music. Lyrically the songs themselves hint at the bummers and celebrations of love with a darkness swirling around the playful pop sounds. This was a key part of my discussion with Emma when I discussed the motivation behind the sound and emotions funding the songs:
“Heartbreak and disappointment certainly are at the centre of it, whether it is relationships or career or just other life cycles. It is all over our music for sure. We share the singing and writing of the songs and a lot of my stuff is about reflecting back on times that have passed and just writing about those experiences. I find that it is more genuine to write about difficult things that have transpired in my life. Everyone can connect to that. We go about writing our songs from many different points of view and whether it is from a jam or a fully fleshed out idea, I think the one thing that ties it all together stylistically is that feeling or that ache. Sometimes it can be fun to just ride a riff or a cool groove and to layer it as a band but ultimately it has to come back to how that piece of music makes us feel. It has to mean something at the end of the day.”
The music of Foxsmith has a way of transporting you away to a shiver like landscape and it reminds me of the joys and bummers of the early twenties lifestyle, where you are dealing with the confusion of growing up, the complication of sexuality and the concept of love. There is youthful and angsty confusion at the centre of the sound. When discussing my feelings about how her music has affected me, Emma again reflects on the importance of having that ache at the centre in order to make a song a worthy piece of communication:
“As I discussed earlier, anytime there is uncertainty in life there is a song. For me, whenever I’m musing or reflecting back on those moments I feel the songs come and it is the prime moment of motivation to pick up my guitar and to write. You need to take that time out to think about life because it is so complex and bizarre and I love the process of being able to express those uncertainties and all that frustration, fear and heartache. Every inch of those emotions goes into the music. Stylistically Charlie may write a different kind of song but at the core of it, the emotions and motivations for writing it are the same. That is where our sound is birthed from and where our band may get that shiver you described. I mean there is no real word to describe what we do and we haven’t really sat down to think about giving it a title genre wise but some people have called us indie rock space jam pop which I essentially interpret as meaning we sound eclectic which is accurate because as a band, influence wise, we are. We just love playing music as a group of people. We don’t have a political agenda or anything like that. We are just here, playing music and first and foremost it is about the music that is what is most important. We don’t brand ourselves. ”
It was at this point that our conversation turned to the topic of the media and public perception of being in an “all-girl band.” As I explained to Emma, one aspect of music journalism 101 that I was passionately against was the lazy kind of reporting that happens by both journalist and punter when it comes to describing an all-girl band and how I feel that when anyone writes about any kind of female musician there is always a peppering of “yeah, they are pretty good at this considering they are girls” which is incredibly sexist considering that we don’t treat all male bands or musicians with the same kind of attitude. Emma was quite open about discussing the focus of both Foxsmith and how these kinds of issues affect her as a musician:
“Our personalities aren’t about having the mindset of being an all-girl band. For us it is solely about the music. This is not a marketing tool, I just love playing music as do the rest of the band and this is an exercise in playing music you love with your friends as opposed to having some kind of political agenda. There are times when you explain to someone that you play in an all-girl rock band and people almost roll their eyes and from that very description assumes so much about who you are as a musician both stylistically and politically. Then they actually come along and see the band live and they are totally wowed by the experience. I’ve found that a lot of people in their assumptions think that by coming to see an all-girl band that hands down it is not going to be that great and of course there is a certain kind of judgement that people apply to it. We can back it up though and have smashed that assumption and judgement people have entered the room with. You of course get the backhanded compliments and it can be frustrating but ultimately we put the music first and focus on being amazing musicians and songwriters. Each of us of course have a different individual relationship with the idea and philosophy of feminism but we as a band have no political agenda stylistically. We all believe and strive for equality but ultimately that is something that I’m pretty confident most people push for whether they are a musician or not. Equality should be important to everyone.”
I left my chat with Emma feeling changed and totally inspired. As I’ve explained in past blogs, Foxsmith are a very smart group of songwriters and a total godhead band. They adhere to the two simplest and most right on aspects of great pop music, emotion and sonic freakouts. Add a rhythm section who balances all the maths of the “post” genres with a funkadelic sense of fun and you have the perfect coin.
Foxsmith are a band who deserves your attention immediately. It is important that you see them live as soon as you can and to make sure you grab copies of all the music they have available online. I’m of the belief that this band will grow into one of the most important groups in Brisbane and will be a vital leader in the new decade of interesting pop music.
I’ve tried very hard to like the music that Foals release. Ever since their debut “Antidotes” in 2008 I’ve remained committed and attempted with each album to settle into the sound of the band. Each album has provided me short term enjoyment but when the inital excitement of it all subsides it is pretty characterless music. A very neat and tidy version of different musical scenes and bands that have come before them. If the band does indeed stand behind the “math rock” and “dance punk” genre tag then I can safely say that their music does fit those descriptions perfectly, all style and no substance. For every great song that the band has there are terrible “vodaphone” mobile telephone commercial music songs. When they enter that realm of “indie” it becomes frustrating for me to listen to the band.
Now you may think that I’m being harsh on the band, perhaps. I want it known that I still like this band a lot and the idea of their existence makes me happy. I just wish I was 15 years old because I have a feeling that then it might make more sense to me but perhaps it wouldn’t have, I could see my 15 year old self hating this. All that being said I like what Foals are all about and “Holy Fire” is the best thing the band has ever done.
Besides the terrible song “My Number” this album is fucking brilliant, full of darkness and interesting song structures. I feel like after the wankery of past releases the band has finally put a bit of soul into the science. I believe these songs a lot more and I think it is that angst that gives this album life. The whole album (minus that fuck awful song “My Number”) plays out like a well orchestrated episode of “Skins” – brilliantly dramatic and full of complicated emotions. This is the first time I’ve actually been emotionally moved by the bands music. You could claim that the genius of this album is the talent of the band and I’d agree with about 70 per cent of that claim, for me though I think Producers Flood and Alan Moulder are the real stars here. They seemed to pull something out of the band that was lacking previously which was the ability to be soulful and mathamatical all at once. This gives the band massive crossover appeal but more than anything gives them a platform to showcase what great songwriters they are.
I may be a harsh judge of a band like Foals but I feel they deserve it because I came to their music expecting amazing life changing experiences but all I got was a slippery rhythm that polluted my soul and frustated my mind. It was all too neat and tidy to make any kind of emotional impact. I stuck with the band because I still feel excitement at what they were hinting at and on “Holy Fire” the band finally delivers. The band finally convinced me that they have something meaningful to offer and I look forward to the future music released by Foals.
The brand new album from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is called “Specter at the Feast” and the band has a scored a ten out of ten review from me based solely on the power of the albums opening track “Fire Walker” – the song is just so amazing and when it kicked in I was floored. It doesn’t surprise me though how strong of an album “Specter at the Feast” is. For the past 15 years BRMC have been one of the best and most consistent rock n roll bands ever. I always thought that they were way more creative and dynamic than the bands who were their peers. So basically what I’m saying is they have made better records than Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Dandy Warhol’s and The White Stripes. While these bands may have had some kind of star power the key reason why BRMC is and always will be better is because of the mystery and the darkness that funds their music. Add into this the fact that they actually created their own piece of the rock n roll language (instead of blatantly just paying tribute). All of this is just chest beating egoisms on my behalf, plus I love pointing out to Brian Jonestown Massacre fans just how unimaginative their leader and saviour Anton is, in short he should have kept Peter Hayes in his band. He may have written some better music as a result.
So what makes this album so great?
For me it comes back to what has always made BRMC albums great, the darkness and mystery of it all. It is an album that is funded on loss and it has a Funeral March dirge to it but it doesn’t bum you out at all. It allows you to be reflective and it still gives you the platform to grieve. The whole album feels like it is channelling the cycle of grief with the reflective and more spacious moments balanced out with some angsty rock n roll. The album never descends into cliché’s however and it is still dripping with a sexy mysterious ache. I’ve always found the music of BRMC to be incredibly hypnotic with the rhythm section displaying an anti-swagger groove. BRMC flirt with that wonderful shoegaze philosophy that My Bloody Valentine use to surround you. It draws you in slowly until finally you are trapped inside its sway.
“Specter at the Feast” is a joyous rock n roll journey and continues to strengthen the amazing body of work from BRMC. BRMC are still making rock n roll music for the future while still reminding us what was so great about previous generations of rock. If you proclaim to be a disciple of rock n roll in 2013 and you don’t own any albums by BRMC, time to do the right thing and purchase “Specter At The Feast” – you won’t be disappointed.
Digital Natives make a sound that I would link directly to a band like Helmet. There are riffs galore, complex rhythms, intensity and punk rock skills along with massive nods to heavy metal and art rock. All in all it is more at the alternative end of the metal world.
Digital Natives debut EP “Future Reflections” does a good job at paying tribute to bands like Helmet who take up a unique place in the heavy metal genre. While I know that Digital Natives themselves wouldn’t class or identify themselves as a Heavy Metal band it does indeed come across in the way their music is presented in this debut EP.
The EP starts with “Permanent Record” which is a busy rush of post-hardcore riffage shaped by modern surf rock vocal dynamics. It stands as the perfect introduction to what you can expect from the rest of the EP. Second track “Acid Wash” sees the band in palm mute overdrive and the song itself hints at early Grinspoon. When the song takes off it has a modern buzz buried inside of it with a slacked out stoner rock chorus. There are bizarre sprinkles of Kings of Leon in the way the chorus of this song is delivered, although it is only fleeting as the song is framed quite nicely by harder riffage. The band takes the pace down for third track “Reality Blues” which has a “freakshow” era Silverchair vibe in that “Pop Songs for Us Rejects” kind of way. There are lots of Siamese Dream big muff cream riff wise with this song. Only downfall of this song is the way the track goes fast for no real reason at the end. It doesn’t lift the song at all dynamically and it feels very lazy from a songwriting standpoint like the band ran out of ideas in terms of finding some kind of creative resolve or endpoint with the song itself. The final track “An Endless Drone” feels like a song the band spent a lot of time on to make the “epic” of the EP. The song itself is a beautiful blend of Shihad, Mark of Cain, Grinspoon and Helmet providing the perfect ending to what has been a very tight sounding movement of music.
As a debut EP the band have done their job and delivered a selection of songs that give context to the bands beginnings and also what they are like in the live arena. The main bummer of the EP is the songwriting itself. While I enjoyed the EP I did feel like there were not a lot of memorable hooks or experimentation to really set the music apart from anything happening at the moment and at times the production and the songs had the capacity to sound dated. The songs need more space in order for the drama and the riff to truly make an impact. Its okay to slam riffs together but there still needs to be a solid pop skill bringing it all together melodically in order to avoid it sounding like wankery. All the instruments, vocals included, are coming at you at once and you don’t have time to soak it all in. It’s an incredibly busy movement of music that needs more spook in order to sell the drama of it all. It can start to sound incredibly cold after a while which is a bummer because the EP is a great bunch of songs, but they just need some more tender love and care before they are amazing and life changing songs. If the band is serious when they list artists like Queens of the Stone Age, ISIS, Sonic Youth and The Stooges as influences then I reckon they need to listen a bit harder and a bit deeper to those bands in order to unleash the one thing that “Future Reflections” lacks, simplicity and emotion. All of the above bands use simplicity and emotion over science when it comes to crafting their music and aren’t afraid to build music off simple chord and vocal movements. What makes their music sound complex to us as listeners is the way these bands ride that simplicity and use different dynamics to tell the emotional story. It is these dynamics that are missing in “Future Reflections” and that is what lets it down overall.
The future is bright for a band as enthusiastic as Digital Natives but they have to dig deeper and understand how the songwriting process works best when it adheres to the less is more theory. I enjoyed listening to this EP but I’m hoping for something more from the band as they continue to evolve.
I don’t know who “Greys” are or where they fucking came from but Jesus Christ, they make beautiful music that I want to hear more of. I had the pleasure of hearing the first single “Data Meta Theta” from their upcoming debut album “Lyre Bird” via a YouTube link sent to me by the band. Greys make beautiful sounds and the visuals to match the song are just perfect. The song plods along with a blissful gallop and the whole thing makes you fucking float away from your comfortable space into a higher state of consciousness. This song connects you back into the soul power of music and it such a simple composition yet it is incredibly powerful. It just washes over you and the only disappointing part is that it ended. I wanted more and it has made me very excited about the possibility of where the bands debut album will go. This song feels like a small piece of a bigger puzzle. Thank you for making this music whoever you are and believe me when I say that “Greys” deserve every inch of your attention.
For those of you out there who feel personally afflicted by the lack of satisfying music in circulation, or have feared that maybe, you did indeed wake up in hell because its been an eternity since you’ve resonated with an artist who wasn’t from the 90s, well fear no longer, because salvation is here and it takes form in Perth duo Broken Royale. Straying not too far from 90s equivalents The Kills, Garbage and Nine Inch Nails, Broken Royale’s single SinCity will see the overturn of any musical celibicacy endured. Blending a wild cocktail of electro/rock with a little indie/punk zest Sin city is energy driven start to finish. Opening with a hard hitting reverb drum beat followed by a very ‘peachy and beachy’ guitar riff , and then cut through by the harsh spitting vocals of Germaine Jones as if to say “You Will Shut The Fuck Up And Listen Until I Am Done!” gives this track the texture and allure that is absent in music today. What is much loved about the track is the staged musical aggression vs. the vengeful lyrics and its delivery, the two components bleed a very bitter and vindictive song, whereby the chorus’ mantra “You’ve got your world, did you ever find, did you ever find yourself…In sin city” challenged by a fat-bass drone, is nothing short of icing on this bitter/sweet cake. With a conveniently radio-friendly time of 3 minutes 20 seconds the ‘thank you, drive through’ nature of the track has the potential to lull listeners into a false thought of electro-pop innocents, however peeling back the many layers of this piece has exposed that all but innocents is buried within it. This is something I personally love in music, the use of sound as a coercively deceptive tool; cheating on its own audience…it’s just brilliant, feisty and makes me thirst for me. If Sin City is any indication of Broken Royale’s future, big things are ahead, the only proviso is breaking the Australian Music Industry curse; we await the approval of our neighboring Europeans and Americans to deem our own talent as worthy (I’m convinced our Industry is terminally deaf, its the only logical explanation for industry naivety). Despite this major obstacle, Broken Royale deliver a sound that is tunefully tasty and ear-tastic giving them every potential to break into the popularized electro/indie rock circuit akin to CSS and The Killers.
“On the Boat” is the debut single by Sunshine Coast band Hope Springs. The song is a promising indication of what we can expect from the band. The song stylistically reminded me of bands like Thursday and Glassjaw although I could also hear how they band may also enjoy the sounds of Fugazi as well. This is classic 90’s alt-rock and musically it is a definite love letter to that period in time. The song does its job of showcasing the talent of the musicians who make up Hope Springs. The song does feel disjointed and it has the capacity to roll along like a confused teenager never really knowing who it wants or is supposed to be. I feel that potentially that for all of the introductions, bridges, pre-chorus’, outro’s etc etc the band didn’t take the time to sit down and work out what they wanted to communicate emotionally with this song. The honesty of the lyrics and the meaning of it all get lost in its long drawn out instrumental passages making it hard to connect to the song.
All in all the song is young and will find its audience. I’m looking forward to seeing how the band evolves from here and I will be interested to hear a full length or EP sometime soon.
In my impressionable late teenage years and early twenties I bought a series of records that probably haven’t been played since. As an avid reader of Q Magazine at the time, and through the influence of very hip girlfriends, I convinced myself that these albums were somehow important, and that I needed to own them. They meant something, man.
In reality they did not, and continue to mean nothing. They are mostly shit. To reappropriate from Meat Loaf – these albums are lemons and I want my money back. At best, some of these records had one good single. In fact, I couldn’t even put a whole album together using songs that I like from these records. These are the albums I wish I’d never bought:
Albums I Regret Buying
Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
Insipid, boring hipster music for hipsters. An ex-girlfriend of mine was obsessed with ‘Skinny Love’ and in my quest to please her I convinced myself that this album was somehow relevant and not just the ramblings of a heartbroken hermit with crappy recording equipment (like me).
The Strokes – Is This It / Room On Fire / First Impressions Of Earth
Ahh The Strokes. Saviours of rock & roll! With the exception of a couple tracks off ‘Is This It’, their output has been predictable and repetitive. And Julian Casablancas really can’t sing. No amount of burying him in the mix hides the fact that his monotone drawl completely ruins most of the songs. Still, I did go and see them at Boondal with an ex-girlfriend, probably in an effort to get laid.
The Killers – Hot Fuss
Despite being the hottest hyped band since The Strokes (ha), their 80’s pop tribute shtick was completely lost on me. With the exception of one really good song (Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine) and a couple of catchy numbers (Mr Brightside, Somebody Told Me), the rest of the album was filler. Thanks Q Magazine for wasting $20 and 40mins of my life. I actually prefer the band’s second album, where instead of doing 80’s dance pop they rip off Bruce Springsteen and U2.
The Thrills – Let’s Bottle Bohemia
Along with Bon Iver, this album was a major catalyst for the idea of this article. I think I might have listened to this all the way through once. Having put it on again now, it annoys me far less than most of the other records in this list. Still, it’s not inspiring me to put it on high-rotation. As far as bottling bohemia goes, The Dandy Warhols did a far better job.
Kasabian – Kasabian
Song titles like ‘Club Foot’ & ‘Processed Beats’ probably should have raised alarm bells, but alas, Q & NME once again lead me astray. It’s not all bad though, ‘LSF’ kicks along nicely… Actually, that’s about it.
Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
Silent Alarm would have been more enjoyable if it had been 40 minutes of actual silence. I’ve never been as disappointed with an album in my life as I have with this one. Comparisons to the first Franz Ferdinand album turned out to be completely inaccurate. There is nothing about this album that I like. Its only redeeming feature is that it ends. The British music hype machine has a lot to answer for.
Kaiser Chiefs – Employment
Beginning with the most annoying keyboard sound ever recorded, followed closely by the most annoying vocals ever recorded, the album only gets worse from there. Every day I love you less and less. Indeed.
Franz Ferdinand – You Could Have It So Much Better
Franz Ferdinand’s first album was great. ‘Take Me Out’ is absolute genius songwriting. Alas, there is nothing comparable on this cookie-cutter bore-fest.
Kings Of Leon – Aha Shake Heartbreak
It’s really no ‘Youth & Young Manhood’. The beginning of a spiral into hipster oblivion for a promising young rock band.
The Datsuns – Outta Sight/Outta Mind
The album title is apt. Listen to Appetite For Destruction instead.
You might have noticed a bit of a theme occurring as far as genre goes; not everything I purchased around this time was terrible though. Here are some absolute fucking gems that I still love today:
Records From This Era that I Don’t Regret Buying
The Libertines – Up The Bracket / The Libertines
Hard drugs and poetry. Doherty and Baràt are the best British songwriting team since Morrissey & Marr. Neither Babyshambles or Dirty Pretty Things come close to the magic The Libertines produced before (and while) they imploded in a haze of drugs, physical assault and burglary.
Hard Fi – Stars Of CCTV
I never thought I’d still enjoy lad music for party lads. But when it’s this catchy and unpretentious who gives a shit? Recorded in a bedroom somewhere in England.
The Darkness – Permission To Land
80’s hair metal with Queen-sized vocals and tongue firmly planted in cheek. All the best parts of Spinal Tap, without the exploding drummers.
Razorlight – Up All Night
Former Libertines bassist forms his own band and gets off on pretending to be Dylan or Morrison. Catchy, insistent, and very fucking good live.
Of course, you every right to disagree with me, but if I could have that 200 odd dollars back to spend again I’d rather buy the Led Zeppelin & Neil Young albums I’m missing.
ALBUM OF THE WEEK (March 21st 2013) – ‘Rust Never Sleeps’ by Neil Young and Crazy Horse Release date: July 2, 1979 Label: Reprise Records
1) My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue) – 3:45
2) Thrasher – 5:38
3) Ride My Llama – 2:29
4) Pochahontas – 3:22
5) Sail Away – 3:46
6) Powderfinger – 5:30
7) Welfare Mothers – 3:48
8) Sedan Delivery – 4:40
9) Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) – 5:18
“It’s better to burn out than to fade away”
As these hauntingly beautiful words filter into my ears, I find myself drifting back to the days of my childhood. I’m sitting in the family lounge room listening to Neil Young sing to me as my father takes another drag of his cigarette. Beneath the rays of the sun or the sparkle of the stars, my father would play his collection of Neil Young records to my younger sister and I.
‘They could see the thrashers coming, and the water shone like diamonds in the dew’.
Released in 1979 on the back of his ‘Rust Never Sleeps’ tour (launched in the fall of 1978), Neil Young created one of the most memorable and influential albums of his time. The significance and power of some of these tracks really hit home with me recently when I had the privelege of seeing the man himself perform live with Crazy horse at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
‘Shelter me from the powder and the finger, cover me with the thought that pulled the trigger’.
Tracks you can never ever grow tired of listening to include:
– Thrasher; Powderfinger; My My, Hey, Hey (Out Of The Blue) and Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black).
Why have I chosen ‘Rust Never Sleeps’ for Album Of The Week?
The record encompasses the best of both worlds. Filled with delicate acoustic songs and hard rockin’ electric rampages, Young’s fourteenth career album is one of the most thought-provoking statements on artistic integrity that has ever been set to music. Built around his conviction that ‘the alternative to creative growth is stagnation and irrelevancy’, listening to this record leaves me confident that Young’s ever-relevant and intimate lyrical content will eternally resonate in the hearts of many. As Neil Young himself says:
‘It’s better to burn out ’cause rust never sleeps’.
In this episode, we will explore the master of shock rock, the one that cannot be killed (no matter how hard they try), ALICE COOPER. Alice has a very special place in my heart, as his was the first indoor concert I attended, and he was also one of the first identifiable rock starts thanks to seeing him on The Muppet Show. He’s the ageless, timeless rock n’ roll rebel, and wrote the book on how to entertain a crowd. Back when Ozzy Osbourne was walking about barefoot, Alice was being taught how to drink by Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin, and ‘tearing chickens apart onstage”. Kiss modelled their entire gimmick on Alice after seeing him on his Killer tour. Marilyn Manson’s act is a dumbed down version of what Alice has been doing since the summer of love. Innovative, yes, but also a damn good song writer; I’m Eighteen, Under My Wheels, School’s Out, Billion Dollar Babies… and they all were released before the mid-seventies! 26 Studio albums, 10 live albums, 46 singles, and several long form videos have given fans of Alice Cooper quite a bit to digest, and each album contains so many great songs.
In 1964, a Vincent Furnier and some pals from the high school track team decided to get together and play some music, and after a few name changes, they finally settled on a lineup and an band name: Alice Cooper. Cooper created the persona of Alice based on the idea of a wholesome girl smiling with a big butcher’s knife hidden behind her back, and has been shocking audiences and parents the world over ever since. The first album, Pretties For You, is a strange foray into Psychedelic rock, and didn’t quite work, as Alice Cooper was a band of drinkers, not trippers. The follow up, 1970’s Easy Action, was a move towards a more coherent rock sound. Both were released on Frank Zappa’s label, and neither was very successful. All that would change on the third outing, an appropriately titled “Love It To Death”. This LP spawned the instant hit anthem of teen angst “I’m Eighteen”, and the epic live favourite “The Ballad Of Dwight Fry”. More focused, and showing a genuine talent at creating music that inspires nightmarish rebellion, Love It To Death is the first in a string of classic rock albums. Killer followed, as did School’s Out. But it was 1973’s Billion Dollar Babies that put the Alice Cooper band at the top of the charts, literally becoming billion dollar babies. It was around this time that the Alice Cooper group’s live shows were at their most violent and shocking, with dolls and mannequins being hacked up on stage, boa constrictors used as props, and a variety of executions carried out on Alice (the gallows, electric chair and finally guillotine), outraging conservatives the world over. The following album, Muscle Of Love, was unable to capitalise on the success of Billion Dollar Babies, and amid band tensions, Alice puts the band on indefinite hiatus and goes solo, delivering the masterpiece that is Welcome To My Nightmare. This fully realised concept record and stage production tells the story of Steven, a young boy who has a nightmare, and is so unhinged by it that it damages his mind, and he eventually becomes Alice Cooper. Featuring giant spiders, a Cyclops, dancing skeletons, and narration by horror film great Vincent Price, Welcome To My Nightmare was unlike anything the rock and roll world had ever seen. Watching the live recording of a performance in 1975, one is bombarded with vaudevillian theatre of the macabre variety, where Alice loses himself in the role of Steven. It is a testament to the little realised fact that Alice Cooper, the man, is the greatest actor in rock and roll, one that could hold his own against any of the Hollywood hacks of today. Billy Bob Thornton even went as far as describing Alice as the Lon Chaney Snr of rock.
Following the universal success of Welcome To My Nightmare, Alice’s second solo album, Alice Cooper Goes To Hell didn’t quite meet the commercial or critical success as WTMN, but it featured songs such as Go To Hell, I’m Always Chasing Rainbows, and the ballad I Never Cry. I Never Cry was an alcoholic confession, Alice addressing publically his alcohol abuse, and the effect it had on him. The following year saw the release of Lace And Whiskey, where Alice drops the sinister character and portrays a hard drinking private investigator. A less hard rock approach was taken with this album, and its results were mixed, Almusic giving it 2 stars out of 5. Alcohol was taking its toll on the singer by this point, and it was after the King Of The Silver Screen tour that he was institutionalised for his addiction. His experiences while in rehab lead to the concept of the next album, From The Inside, and its tour, Madhouse Rock. Characters such as Nurse Rozetta came alive onstage to further torment Alice, and eventually become his victims. Vincent Price returned for this tour, lending his voice as the narrator/ hospital administrator. The newly sober Alice closed up the 70s by experimenting with contemporary sounds, as can be heard on 1980’s Flush The Fashion. Synthesisers, drum machines and a distinctly new wave sound featured prominently on tracks such as Clones (We’re All), which was the albums lead single. Clones was also backed by a conceptual music video, at the birth of the MTV generation. The music video was a format that Alice pioneered several years earlier with Elected, and then The Nightmare, a TV special starring Vincent Price as Alice/Steven’s dreamscape tormentor. It was at this time that Alice fell off the wagon and began drinking again. His next three albums (Special Forces, Zipper Catches Skin and Dada) are referred to as his “blackout albums” as Alice reputedly cannot remember writing, recording or the single tour during this period. His health in shambles, personal life strained and a succession of albums that failed to have any chart impact at all, the 1980s began as a trying time for our hallowed shock rocker. But impending tragedy was turned into creative success towards the second half of the decade. Next time I will look at the blackout albums, and Alice’s return to mainstream success with Constrictor, Raise Your Fist And Yell, and the chartbusting Trash.
Alice Cooper Top Picks 69-80
Billion Dollar Babies
The Black Widow
Go To Hell
The albums Billion Dollar Babies and Welcome To My Nightmare are essentials for any rock enthusiast.
It’s another Friday night in the depths of Fortitude Valley. The place where beats are pumping and feet are shuffling. Tonight, I’m on my way to check out Brisbane’s trendy new Queer Friendly dance party ‘Cheated Hearts’ which is being held at ALLONEWORD. The clock is about to stike 9 o’clock. Before I reach the entrance, I’m met by this cute, bouncy little lady with delicious looking pink hair. It’s one of the hip leading ladies, Sophia De Marco. “I’m ready for a big night. Let’s see if we can reach capacity again”, she says.
Walking through the doors into ALLONEWORD, I feel like I’ve been transported into a fancy Persian lounge room. There’s velvet booths lining the wall to my right, framed by golden tassels. These booths are definitely ready for some lovin’. Venturing outside, I find the DJ podium. Covered in white ‘shagadelic’ fur, I couldn’t help but have a little giggle to myself as the words, ‘stroke the furry walls’ popped into my mind. Quite a fitting moment I realised when I looked around a few seconds later to see a giant mural of Russel Brand painted on one of the walls.
Kicking off the night are the two trendy ladies from ‘Dotwav’. It’s their first gig around town and a small but rowdy crowd of party people have gathered in front of the DJ desk. Pumping out an array of electro, trap, dub step and hip hop beats, they even dare to take us back to the ‘Thong Song’ days of Sisqo himself. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of these funky ladies spinning their beats around town.
Next up to take the DJ booth is ‘DJ Mikey’. Cruising in with a kool swagger, she’s reppin’ a N.W.A shirt. With one of her signature caps resting casually on her head, she spins a groovy mix of indie/crowd favourites, including the greatly received ‘Love Me Or Hate Me’ by Lady Sovereign and ‘I Fink U Freeky’ by the outrageous zef rap-rave South African duo Die Antwoord. I glance up from my Gin and Tonic to find that the place has suddenly become more occupied. There’s a colourful mix of party people packed in nice and tightly. Ladies and gents. Straight, gay and even those in between. There’s smiles all around as people lose their inhibitions and dance together to the sound of the beat.
The party is really crankin’ by the time super stylin’ DJ ‘Jane Doe’ (aka: leading lady Roxy Burt) takes to the DJ stand. Spinning a tantalizing mix of hip-hop, dance, electro and dub-step, the enthusiastic crowd aren’t shy to let out screams of approval. ‘Thrift Shop’ by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, feat Wanz blasts through the speakers. Things are getting hot and heavy out on the dance floor as partygoers get frisky with one another beneath the stars.
The night has rolled over into the early hours of the morning and the wild crowd is showing no signs of calming down. In fact, they seem only to get more exuberant when they see the final DJ for the night ‘Frankie Trouble’ taking her place behind the DJ desk. Starting out in early 2009, ‘Frankie Trouble’ has spun beats all around town for the likes of Pistol Whipped, Qsesh, Show Your Bones, Glass Ghost, Head vs Heart and at a variety of fashion and art shows such as The Plank, The New Scum Show, Faster Pussycat and Turpentine. Building a reputation for being ‘outside of the mainstream, she doesn’t disappoint tonight. Treating the party people to an eclectic mix of Indie, Hip Hop, Dub step, Remixes and Mashups.
Two hours later and I finally manage to crawl into bed. My party feet are worn out from all the shufflin’. Oh what a night! There was definitely no shortage of love, smiles, dancing, great beats and crazy party shenanigans. Until next time Cheated Hearts!
Party people quotes of the night:
“How good is this? Finally a popular queer alternative night. Brisbane has been aching for this.”
“Cheated Hearts is a brilliant event! So many friendly faces, it’s always a great night out!” – James Brian Love
I had a rather uplifting experience earlier this week while I was listening to the debut album from Emma Louise. The total bummer of being stuck in a day job crisis, love life hell and just overall mid-week blah was torn apart and destroyed as Emma’s music surrounded me and ushered me into a journey of beauty and grace. It was a beautiful breeze of bliss that not only moved me but haunted me and after the album finished serenading me I found I wanted more and within seconds I was chasing the shiver, the ache and the swoon of “VS Head VS Heart” lying flat on my back headphones on and the world tuned out.
You see, that is all you want good music to do regardless of genre. You want it to save you, to lift you up and to help you escape. You want the sounds to usher you closer to some kind of resolve and purpose but at the same time you just want it to understand and allow you to relate to it emotionally. Sometimes it may not be an answer you want from the music, on occasion (in fact pretty much all the time for me) you just want to sink into and get lost, taken away to imaginary landscapes of beauty. Through this process of total world tune-out you want the music to give you the platform to feel and on some occasions you want it to do the crying for you so you can witness some kind of emotional redemption. You want it to make you believe in love while helping you celebrate loss. You want the music to be the friend who doesn’t talk back, you just want them to listen and to be there at your lowest and also your most high. You want the music to help you pick yourself up and once the dust of emotional hell has passed give you the chance to plug back into the world you so desperately wanted to disconnect from.
This is all I ever really require from music and as I’ve mentioned I really couldn’t care less what genre or what sonic circumstance provides this, I just know I want that escape and that spook.
Emma Louise has provided this escape and this spook on her debut album “VS Head VS Heart” and for that I am glad.
When I sat down to write this review I didn’t want to follow the wankery of your usual “album review” shtick where I talk about each track and say things like “Well This Song Certainly will be a big hit” and go on to compare Emma to this artist and that artist, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. I mean really, fuck that process, I’ll leave that for the scientists to do for you. What I wanted to do was paint to you how I interacted with this music and what it did for me.
This album is lost in a sea of sadness, a beautiful collection of sadness that is looking for hope and redemption to rescue the beats of a broken heart and in the process help birth a brand new face. It dwells on a history of scars giving them space to mourn all of those ex-lovers. When I listen to this album I feel like regardless of whatever happy endings have been sourced and celebrated in Emma’s life there is still darkness and one face, one muse that is haunting her over and over again. Perhaps it is a personal experience or an exercise in the unrequited, either way the pain and ache of it all is scattered all over the songs and it is saturated in hurt. The hurt is not framed by angst, it is the kind of hurt that comes from having to find the strength to muster a brave face at a time when you feel your most desperate. There is the pain of youth nestled inside of the sounds of each song and a degree of disappointment in the responsibilities that come with adult life. There is also loneliness to the music, a deep sense of isolation and a sigh. It feels like Emma is someone who understands the pain of isolation and whether that comes from her small town beginnings or the loneliness of touring as a musician, the fact remains that she is plugged into the importance but also the emotional damage that this kind of lifestyle can breed. It’s clear that she misses someone quite deeply but most of all she potentially misses the innocence of her life prior the responsibility of being who she is required to be now. There is also a great sense of joy exploding out of each song and when you mix this with the darkness it helps the music soar. It is the vital ingredient in helping you surrender and escape. This is a truly powerful movement of music and every inch of it is important, singles aside this is an album proper and has been constructed with care. It is a gigantic leap from Emma’s early beginning’s and is the kind of pop music that I will always endorse.
Thank You Emma Louise for being brave and making a wonderful Shiver Pop masterpiece that will not only make you a star but one of the most important artists of the new decade.
I’m looking forward to this series of blogs because heavy metal is a genre that I love quite a bit. I find it to be the most honest and fulfilling genre of music ever. It contains within it some of the most forward thinking and pioneering musicians /artists ever. Considering most people like to define good music by the emotional impact it has on them it puzzles me why so many people are against or indeed not into the artistry of heavy metal. Heavy Metal is pure emotion and every inch of it is pushed and funded by the idea of being progressive and radical not in just the agenda of who can be the “heaviest” but how the artists attached to the genre can make the art form of being heavy interesting and different. I’ll be using this series to put a spotlight on a lot of my favourite Heavy Metal bands and to help catalogue what it is that I love so much about this radical genre of music.
I believe that is worth noting that my journey into Heavy Metal began at a young age and although bands like Guns N Roses and Ugly Kid Joe may seem juvenile by today’s standards they changed my world when I was aged between nine and eleven years old. All of the characteristics of heavy metal lay in the blueprint of certain dynamics that these two bands had. When I first heard songs like “Civil War” and “Estranged” by Guns N Roses I fell in love with the complex dynamics and epic nature of it all. I experienced something emotional when I listened to these songs and it was my first exposure to how music can really be the portal to tranquil escapism. I had certainly experienced these types of emotions with music earlier in my life and I’ll always list the sounds of Bryan Adams and John Farnham as responsible parties in helping me understand what I love about music. Back to the point though, if Guns N Roses made me feel emotional then Ugly Kid Joe plugged me into the idea of the Riff, The Chug and the brutality of all that. They were the band who introduced me to the idea of headbanging and they provided the perfect songs to do that to. It sounded brutal then but sounds like cheese now, regardless that music meant a lot to me at that period of time. If these two bands were the starting point then I would have to credit Metallica and Pantera as the next stepping stone. I was lucky enough to get into both these bands before I was thirteen years old. Although I tend not to credit one over the other I still believe that it was the opening notes of Pantera’s 1996 album “The Great Southern Trendkill” that truly made me a devotee to Heavy Metal.
I was already alienated and comforted by the sounds of Seattle but when I heard the title track (and first track) from “The Great Southern Trendkill” my whole world changed and I plugged into something that still moves me to this day. It was way more cathartic than any form of music I had ever heard and this was the sound that helped set me free and unfold a discipline for living that I still adhere to in 2013.
I think it’s wise for you to take time to listen to the song in question because I list this song as one of my top eleven songs of all time based on the extreme impact it had on my life:
Pantera – The Great Southern Trendkill
This song is just perfect and a wonderful example of what I love about Heavy Metal. This song is my anthem and regardless of the many different genres of music that I like, this song will always be the one that sells who I am and what I believe as a human being. I think it’s important for me to share the lyrics of this song with you:
“It’s wearing on my mind, I’m speaking all my doubts aloud You rob a dead mans grave, Then flaunt it like you did create
If I hit bottom and everythings gone In the great Mississippi, please drown me and run
It’s digging time again, you’re nurturing the weakest trend
Those with the heart and the brain to get past this Can spot a pathetic without even asking
Fuck your magazine, and fuck the long dead plastic scene Pierce a new hole, if Hell was “in” you’d give your soul
THE GREAT SOUTHERN TRENDKILL That’s right, THE GREAT SOUTHERN TRENDKILL
Buy it at a store, from MTV to on the floor You look just like a star, it’s proof you don’t know who you are
If I hit bottom and everythings gone In the great Mississippi, please drown me and run
It’s bullshit time again, you’ll save the world within your trend
Those with the heart and the brain to get past this Can spot a pathetic without even asking
Politically relieved, you’re product sold and well received The right words spoken gold, if I was God you’d sell your soul to…
THE GREAT SOUTHERN TRENDKILL That’s right, THE GREAT SOUTHERN TRENDKILL”
Fucking beautiful stuff.
There have been so many life changing bands throughout the years and I can’t write an introduction without mentioning one of the most influential, Sepultura.
Sepultura saved my life and it was all because of this amazing song and film clip that I saw in 1996:
Sepultura – Roots Bloody Roots
I am still a massive fan of Sepultura and I’m one of the rare few who have loved their career post-Max. I’m quite a big fan of Derrick Green and have loved everything he’s been a part of in terms of the Sepultura discography.
As you can see this is just the beginning and I don’t want to waste too much time in this blog covering every revolutionary band from the Heavy Metal genre because it would defeat the purpose of this series. Over the coming months I’ll be writing about an individual Heavy Metal band each Tuesday. Like everything I do I will be going quite in-depth and doing my best to sell you on the artistry of all the wonderful heavy metal that exists in this world.
The first band I’ll be writing about will be Killswitch Engage who are releasing their brand new album on the 29th March 2013. I felt this was a good place to start as I have been listening to them quite a bit over the past month.
Here is the first single from their new album “Disarm The Descent” which is called “In Due Time” – have a listen:
Spiderbait are seriously one the greatest bands that I own and quite frankly I have no idea why they aren’t a band I talk about more. They are the embodiment of everything I love about music from their heaviness to their weirder and experimental moments and of course the glorious pop music they are so great at. They are a band who came from a unique period of Australian music where every band offered something different and had their own voice.
My entry point to Spiderbait was due to my Brother Ben and it occurred in 1996 when the band released their “Buy Me A Pony” single. My Brother was in love with that song and I remember being jealous because I loved it as well. When Spiderbait’s third studio album “Ivy and The Big Apples” was released my brother was one of the first people in Mackay to own it. I remember recording a copy of it onto a blank cassette tape. I so badly wanted to own that album because it was so fucking cool. From the moment it opens to the moment it closes it is just an unreal movement of music. It covers so many different sounds and was incredibly eclectic.
After my family moved to Bundaberg not long after this me and my brother had the pleasure of catching on late night RAGE one evening a live special that Spiderbait did for Recovery. A blank VHS tape was put into the video player and we taped it. We spent so many of our weekends watching that VHS tape and I remember just becoming even more obsessed with the band.
Luckily I was able to find this live special on YouTube so before I go any further I reckon it’s pretty important for you to sit through it:
There is a lot to love about early Spiderbait and that period of time. So as luck would have it I eventually got my brothers copy of “Ivy and The Big Apples” and that same year I also brought the bands second record “The Unfinished Spanish Galleon of Finley Lake” and it is safe to say I became a bit of a super fan. By the time the band released their next album “Grand Slam” I wasn’t listening to them as much and my tastes weren’t as geared towards the band. The same thing happened when the band released their fifth album in 2001 which was called “The Flight Of Wally Funk” and again same reason I was too busy freaking out on “Echolalia” by Something For Kate to notice. That all being said, I still kept an interest in the band and I knew that at some point they’d come back around to be an important band in my life.
This managed to happen briefly in 2002 when my I borrowed my brother’s copy of “Grand Slam” and holy shit, did I fall in love with that album. It was such a great record and expanded on the weirdness of their early material. I think that is such an important record in terms of the advancement of Australian Alternative music. So much of the quirky indie pop bands that came later pale in comparison to the sounds Spiderbait were making on “Grand Slam” and I can’t write a Spiderbait blog without sharing my two favourite songs from “Grand Slam” which are called “Glockenpop” and “Stevie” – have a listen:
So as you can hear they were becoming quite an amazing pop band and the bliss of both tracks always puts me in a good mood.
It wasn’t until 2004 though that I fully became devoted to Spiderbait once again. This was the year they released their sixth album “Tonight Alright” (you know the album with Black Betty on it). Although it was impossible to escape the first single “Black Betty” at the time it wasn’t this song that got me addicted once again. It was their next single “Fucken Awesome” and again for your viewing and listening pleasure here is the official video for that track:
Yeah I know I tend to favour the songs that Janet sings but regardless of that favouritism from my angle I still reckon the above song is fucking so great.
So I took my pay cheque that week and re-brought the whole discography in one moment of retail therapy. I spent the rest of 2004 incredibly addicted to Spiderbait and this spilled over into 2005.
Every year since 2005 I’ve had a period of time each year where I will listen to nothing but Spiderbait and every time I listen to them I fucking enjoy it. Why do I enjoy it? Well quite simply it is just great pop music in that Pixies tradition. The music allows itself to be experimental without straying too far from the confines of standard pop music dynamics.
Sometimes I just like really good pop music and Spiderbait make really good pop music. Sometimes I like a band to rock incredibly hard and honestly and Spiderbait rock incredibly hard. Spiderbait are a band who experiment and a band who have their own sound and for people who weren’t there back in 1996 when they exploded it’s hard for me to explain why they were so radical. Regardless of whether modern youth culture likes them or not is beside the point, I like them and that is all that matters.
I’m very much looking forward to hearing the band’s new album and just for something different I will share with you one of the highlights from “Ivy and The Big Apples” called “When Fusion Ruled The Earth” – enjoy.
Last week, for the third time in a row, I found myself at the hot mess Ric’s Bar has become on a Thursday night. It’s safe to say, the evening’s offer of three dollar basic spirits has transformed what used to be a fairly standard turnout into the event of the week in The Valley. Getting in and out of the bar with ease by the end of the night would have required some kind of magic tazer. And with bouncers at Ric’s now patting everyone down on the way in, violent weapons are sadly no longer an option. (Just kidding…sort of. There’s only so many times you can avoid getting shoved by someone in an ironic hat, without getting a little ragey).
But I digress. I dragged my tired ass out to see Thirteen Seventy, supported by Slow Riots, last week, and I’m happy I did.
“Come in from outside!”, Slow Riots’ singer and guitarist, James, urged the scattered Ric’s crowd, as the alternative trio took to the stage. Their first track, Smoke Signals, began with an addictive riff and a long, instrumental intro. It’s immediately clear that this is a band with a sound so big, Ric’s can barely contain it. The band’s combination of shoegaze, post-90s alternative rock and elements of prog is pretty delicious. James effortlessly switches between rhythm and lead guitar moments, holding his own against Slow Riots’ crazytight rhythm section (with Shannon on bass and Jacob on drums).
Slow Riots’ entrancing musaks and confident stage-straddling helped the crowd fill out, with a small group gathering to sit on the floor in front of them by their next song. I really dug the vocals in the second track, and the way that the creeping, mysterious, quieter moments of the music opened up to satisfyingly heavy grungegasms. Slow Riots know how to construct a piece of music to keep it engaging for the listener, while mostly eschewing traditional song structures.
I’m taking a wild guess that James was kind of drunk…perhaps he shouldn’t have joked about bashing up Rics’ security guards…but, hey, that’s rock ‘n’ roll. (Well, according to Axl Rose). However, as mentioned earlier, the new policy of security pat-downs at Ric’s gets kind of tiresome when you’re walking in and out a lot.
Paddy’s Place was a standout track to me, an instrumental the band has recently released as a single. I genuinely like this piece of music, but question whether it was too early in the set to play such a chill song. The track following it was the vocal highlight of the set for me, with a very 70s, Black Sabbath/Zeppelin feel.
Slow Riots tinker with different guitar effects really well. James has an expansive pedal board, but Shannon’s is nearly as large (which is unusual for a bassist). My favourite track of the night was the band’s newest song, North Korea. With tons of dynamics, it had me alternating between moments of emotional resonance, and the urge to headbang wildly.
The only criticism I can make is that James’ voice seems to have trouble cutting through Slow Riots’ epic music, except when he’s cranked up to a yell. He uses a lot of drony vocal melodies that often get a little lost. Then again, this may have had something to do with the venue. Ric’s is notoriously hit and miss with sound (it’s just the nature of its space, though I love the joint dearly).
The next song put the ‘slow’ in Slow Riots – a very leisurely jam indeed, and the most emotive of the night. Taking the audience on an epic journey, it created a wonderfully spaced-out atmosphere. This is a band happy in their own world, that isn’t hung up on pandering to crowds or trends.
I must commend James on mentioning Slow Riots’ name a bunch of times and pointing out the merch desk – so many bands forget to do this, running the risk of being forgotten (you can get the limited Paddy’s Place EP for only $2 at a show).
Longitude Latitude was the last song of the set, and one I really loved. It featured a phasy, plucked intro, engaging chord changes, and some pretty exciting, heavy moments where all the band members synced up. Jacob is a skilled drummer, able to complement the quieter moments of the set, while also knowing when to crank it up to 11.
I think there is a great deal of passion beneath the slacker, stoner-ish veneer of Slow Riots. Sure, the band is maybe a bit silly between songs at times, but music is about having fun – and there is true depth and maturity in the music they’re making. When the band’s heavier moments explode, they really get into it, with Shannon’s sways and James’ hyperactive spasms making it hard for the audience not to move along. Towards the end of the set, James jumped into the crowd with his guitar and thrashed around, to the approval of the fray.
By the end, it was clear that Slow Riots had gained some new fans, with several gig-goers swarming the band as they packed up. Apart from the vocal issues, and a few overdrawn ‘rock and roll’ endings (these always annoy me, for some reason), I genuinely enjoyed this set. This is a fucking great live band, and they’re getting better all the time. You should go check them out, so you can be all, “I knew about them before their infamous bouncer-bashing jail debacle”. (Yeah, I called it first.)
Slow Riots’ next show is Thursday 21st March at The Elephant Arms, with Trip Sinister and The Androgyny.
Only two-thirds of Thirteen Seventy were able to play Ric’s on Thursday (Maybe I should re-christen them Nine Thirteen for this review?…sorry. Math joke.) With the band’s bassist, Tony, calling in at the last minute with a violent sick-attack, singer/guitarist Clint and drummer Fi bravely took to the stage as a two-piece to play their show.
Despite this setback, they did a damn good job. The band began with a great opening riff, showcasing their post-90s alt, and slight 80s Aust-garage rock, sound. Fi is a very able drummer, and compensated well for the lack of bass guitar. I can only imagine how tight her drumming would sound with a bass to lock onto. The missing piece of this trio was only occasionally noticed in the songs’ choruses, where some bottom end could have helped fill out the sound. In any three-piece, you are going to notice a missing member pretty strongly – so, really, these two did a commendable job. Clint has some fantastic vocal hooks, and is a charming frontman. His personable, calm, confident-but-not-cocky stage presence is lovely to behold.
After Thirteen Seventy’s first song, Clint explained Tony’s absence to the attentive Ric’s crowd, quipping, “But, as Freddie Mercury said, the show must go on…”. Thirteen Seventy’s second track, Rubble, featured a strong grunge influence in the guitar sound, and a slow, steady build in the song’s dynamics. For some reason, I couldn’t get the idea of a heavier Hanson out of my head for this track – but I think maybe I was just mesmerized by Clint’s magnificent blond mane, and something in the song’s melody. Transitioning next into a ripping, fast-paced track, Thirteen Seventy flipped the coin and showed their range, as echoes of Motorhead and Guns N Roses flicked at my ears.
Thirteen Seventy know how to combine catchy, but atypical, chords together with solid dynamic structures. I get the sense that this is a band who enjoy the art of writing ‘a song’. I could identify which parts of their tracks were verses, and which parts were choruses, pretty clearly, and that’s becoming rarer and rarer these days, with many alternative bands’ broad experimentations becoming the default. Audiences and radio have always enjoyed music they can grab onto, so I think this quality could prove a strong point of Thirteen Seventy’s.
Mid-set, Fi took to the mic, her vulnerable vocals beautifully accompanying Clint’s phasy guitar licks. The ethereal melody of this song carried through, entrancing the crowd – I was reminded of The Cranberries – until an unexpectedly heavy riff erupted. I actually saw someone near me jump at this moment; hooray for surprising the crowd!
Clint clearly knows his way around gear; another frontman with an impressive pedal collection. Shifting adeptly between sparkling clean tones, reverbs, phasers and chunky distortions, he kept the guitar sounding interesting throughout the band’s set.
I enjoyed Thirteen Seventy’s fifth song a lot. With an engaging vocal hook, and the verse’s picked guitar riff, I was reminded of Alice in Chains – particularly during the epic, passion-filled chorus. Clint has an impressive vocal range, proving able to hit hoarse, heavier moments, as well as clear, soulful melodies, with conviction and ease.
This set was a good mix of mid-tempo, ballads and heavier numbers. Fi was hitting hard in every heavy moment, truly working overtime to drive things home. I really dug Thirteen Seventy’s seventh song, though of course bass would have added more dimension. There was this catchy vocal hook in it that grabbed me; a magic moment that was repeated only a couple more times. I love sparse highlights like these in songs. It’s the kind of phenomenon where you’d listen to a record for that one part again and again, until suddenly you know the track off by heart, and love the whole thing.
In Medusa, I found another highlight; an epic rock ‘n’ roll mid-section that sounded like an ending (though I’m not sure if this was because there was no bass). Guitar fuzz crackled and seemed to be dying, hanging in the air for a superlong pause – until the band unexpectedly launched back into the song’s chorus. This bait-and-switch is the kind of moment that works really well live, playing with the crowd’s expectations and turning them on their heads.
Clint thanked the crowd before the band’s last track, Exit – a stripped back track that tumbled into some lushly heavy moments. All in all, I enjoyed Thirteen Seventy. It was cool to experience what must have been a unique show for the band. This was the first time I’ve seen them play, and I’m eager to experience them again as a three-piece. It’s difficult to review a band that you know is missing an important component, but I truly applaud them for playing a tight set. If a band still sounds good missing a third of its membership, and commits to playing a show even in the face of that, then it’s a band that cares about what it’s doing.
Thirteen Seventy’s next show is also Thursday 21st March, at the Beetle Bar, with Dameena and Trash Queen.
It’s raining torrentially outside and me and three friends are directing ourselves to Tall Poppy Studios in an industrial area outside of town. After ten minutes of pointing and saying ‘I think it’s over there’, we enter a spacious yet intimate venue that’s full of what I can only describe as’ hardcore kids’. I was disappointed by the first few bands – they had a good vibe, tight sound and a fun outlook but their sound lacked originality. One band didn’t even notice the speakers were off for their entire set. That being said, the audience seemed to enjoy themselves, dancing that ridiculous dance that makes people look like they are trying to take off by flinging their arms around in circle. The only supporting band that impressed were Irukandji and, not being familiar with them, were a nice surprise. Convinced I was going to have another dull night Dark Relic more than made up for all the indiscretions.
Since I first saw them almost a year ago at the rock school challenge – which they won – Dark Relic has risen in popularity, and gotten even better. Their stage presence outshines almost every Brisbane band I’ve seen. Interactive and lovable, Dark Relic just released their EP ‘Succubus’ and, understandably, they like to make a big deal about it.
Ryan’s impressive vocal range compliments not one but two lead guitarists, something the band takes advantage of by having a rock off (although the crowd seems to like both guitarists equally and the end result is an awkward pause going into the next song).
Dark Relic already has a devoted following – Ryan regularly passes the mic to people in the audience who clearly know the lyrics. ‘Whoever moshes the hardest,’ says Ryan, ‘wins an an EP.’ Props to the the BF for my copy.
The band finishes up their set with a crowd favourite ‘Succubus’ which is the song that defines their new EP. Dark Relic is a mighty force that will plod through the charts of Australian metal and into our hearts.
Dark relic’s EP is a great listen and if you want to support your local scene and you love metal, pick this one up. I recommend seeing these guys live as they are a talented band that sound even better live. There are some things you just can’t capture on a recording. Go see them on their EP launch tour and pick up ‘Succubus’. Trust me.
If you love your metal epic, then you’ll fucking love Dark Relic.
The first time I heard Screamfeeder was late 1996 / early 1997 during the school holidays. I was 13 years old at the time and living in Mackay but was about to move to Bundaberg. One morning (feels like it was potentially a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday) I was waiting in the car at Canelands Shopping Centre listening to Triple J. A song came onto the stereo that floored me and I’ll never forget how cool the opening line of “I’m going to build a radio with Static from the Stars” was. From here the song exploded into one of the most perfect rock songs I had ever heard. The song I’m of course referring to is “Static” from the amazing Screamfeeder. I remember going home that day and writing down the name of the band and song in my Diary. I added the band to a list I was compiling of bands / artists I must buy. It was not long after this that I saw the film clip for “Static” on RAGE. This was the first time I saw the band in a live context and it was a film clip that was made up of footage from when they played on Recovery. Here is the clip:’
I fell in love with this band and thought they were one of the coolest things I had ever seen. I was even more blown away when I found out that they were from Brisbane. That just blew my mind that a band this good came from Brisbane. At this point I was already into Powderfinger (who had only just released Double Allergic) Regurgitator (who had just released Tu-Plang) and the amazing Wollongong band Tumbleweed (who had just released Return To Earth). Screamfeeder had something else though and they were like fucking rock stars to me. When I finally moved to Brisbane in 2003 at the ripe old age of 20 bands like Screamfeeder, Regurgitator, Powderfinger and Not From There were bands that I still had up on very high pedestals. Like I said, these people were like Rock Stars to me and when I would see Tim Steward or Kellie Lloyd out in the Valley I would be absolutely star struck. I was always too scared to talk to them because I admired them so much. The first time I did get to meet them was backstage at a Brisbane Sounds gig in 2009 and Tim, Kellie and Dean were three of the nicest people that I could have ever met. They also rocked the fuck out live and still remain one of the greatest live bands from Brisbane. So in 2011 when I got the chance to have Tim Steward produce the debut album for the band I play in (Galapogos) I was once again very star struck. Through this recording process I got the chance to become friends with Tim and for that I feel blessed as I value his music and wisdom. This was also the period in time where I also got to meet and know Kellie Lloyd a bit better.
Kellie is someone I admire deeply and I think it started when I first saw that “Static” film clip. She was just so fucking cool and she rocked a mean bass guitar. I also loved her voice and the songs she contributed to Screamfeeder. I also loved that beyond being a musician, Kellie was also a film maker and she did a lot of film clips and other art related projects. As a fan of her music and lyrics I always connected to what Kellie was saying in her songs and felt that she understood the pain of alienation and what it felt like to be different. I also felt that Kellie knew the power of saying “Fuck You” and rebelling against the world and how sometimes that drive and that against the grain attitude can yield positive creative results. If I got star struck when I was around Tim Steward then multiply that tenfold when I first met Kellie Lloyd, she was a rock star to me. Having Kellie open for Galapogos at our “Established Ghosts” album launch back in 2011 is still one of my career highlights as a musician.
So when I sat down to plan this new interview series for Heavy and Weird the first person who I approached was Kellie Lloyd. To have her accept the invitation was unreal and I was excited for days and looked forward to getting the chance to sit down and have a chat with Kellie about her career and just about life and music in general.
The main thing I was interested in discussing was what motivated Kellie’s music and to discuss her history as an artist. Here is what Kellie has to say about that:
“I’ve always been interested in things that are darker. When I was growing up and even before I was a teenager I was interested in that darkness. A lot of young girls would make scrap books about what they wanted out of life. All my friends had scrapbooks and they would put photos in there of dresses and photos of what they wanted to wear at their weddings and all that kind of stuff. I was a little bit different as I put pictures of punks, guitars, Sid Vicious, Siouxsie and the Banshees and other music related stuff. I wasn’t dreaming about getting married I was dreaming about playing in a rock n roll band.
When I entered my teen years I became aware that I was a loner and prone to depression and that I wasn’t like the other girls. I fit in and felt more comfortable with the boys because I shared their interests when it came to films and music. Musically I liked things that weren’t popular and you know, darker stuff from punk to goth and I wanted to be different and didn’t want to be like everyone else. When I started playing an instrument I wanted to play better than everyone else and I had a competitive edge. At the same time though I didn’t want to be the person at the front of a band. I wanted to be the person who was responsible and was in charge but I didn’t want to be at the centre.
When it comes to my Lyrics, I read a lot as a child and teenager so as a result I would spend a lot more time on lyrics as they are very important to me. That is something that both Me and Tim prided ourselves on, writing really great lyrics. That is what I loved about Husker Du, they had two songwriters that competed but their music was explosive and joyful and alive but the lyrics were usually about the politics of personal stuff, it was about loss and that really resonated with me.
In terms of writing songs, to me it is never really a conscious process; to me every song feels like a miracle. I mean you can sit with your guitar and come up with little different things but when you put it all together it just feels like this little miracle is happening in front of you. I tend to make things hard for myself when it comes to the songwriting process because I get bored with the standard things so that is why I love to play around with different tunings and also take on the challenge of learning a new instrument. I did that with my last solo album (Magnetic North). Me and my housemate had just brought a Piano so I was learning to play it and through that process I discovered a new way to write songs, it was a challenge but also incredibly freeing. Every song that I write though is still a surprise to me and like I’ve said a miracle. That is the joy of making music.
I also think that writers block and being blocked creatively is also part of the creative process. I’ve certainly had periods like that and when I’ve moved out of them I’ve written some stuff that I’m really proud of. I took a year off once, from songwriting and being a musician and I just worked a 9 to 5 job which itself was still attached to the music industry, so I guess I really wasn’t too separated from the music lifestyle, anyway I just wasn’t writing anything. I didn’t participate in that lifestyle. It wasn’t until I went to a songwriting conference and saw a keynote speech from Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance) and this just changed me and reminded me of why I loved doing what I did. It was after this that I wrote my last solo album.
When I think about it, writing songs and playing music is all about self-expression and communicating what beats from your heart and brain and as I get older I feel like I’m getting better at it and through those years of doing it, it has made me a better person to.”
Being a part of such an important time in the history of Australian music and having bands like Regurgitator, Powderfinger , Custard and Not From There as her peers in the early 90’s I was curious to know what the scene was like back then compared to now:
“When we started Screamfeeder, everything was fresh and new. It was an exciting time in the music world. When we released our first album in 1991 we had labels interested in us and we were supporting international bands. There was a lot of interest in what we were doing and we got a lot of support from the industry but we also did a lot of stuff ourselves and were always touring outside of Brisbane. Back then Triple J was a new national entity and it was finding itself and all the bands that were coming out at that time were all finding themselves as well so to have all of us finding ourselves collectively allowed for a bigger sense of community and also risk in the music we all made.
All of those things though were part of that time. As our band got older we started to move away and work nationally and we were away from Brisbane a lot. So when you are away from people’s eye line they tend to forget about you and only focus on what’s new and in front of them. It’s not like we stopped working as a band though, we worked quite hard and still released albums and did a lot of national and international touring.
It is a lot worse now though. It seems like in this modern climate, a band will release an album and tour it and it feels like they are hot for like five minutes and then people forget about them. In this day and age, if you don’t watch your back or keep your audience engaged you’ll get moved over. It’s like a fucking conveyor belt and it feels different to how it was when I started. It didn’t feel like that back then. I don’t go out or participate in the scene like I did in my early days so I can’t comment to heavily on it but that is what I’ve observed in the past few years and it can be a horrible process for a band who have worked hard and achieved some success and then all of a sudden be yesterday’s news. I don’t think people understand just how heartbreaking that can be and not on an ego level either, just on a human level. It can be terrible.
I think it’s important to keep reminding yourself why you play music and to make sure you have fun doing it and play regardless of all that pressure.”
As our conversation expanded and we related about music and life I came to the question that I have been eager to ask Kellie for a number of years. My favourite song from Kellie’s discography is the first track off Screamfeeder’s album “Rocks On Your Soul” which is called “Stopless.” This song always destroys me emotionally when I hear it and I am happy to admit that it has pushed me to the point of tears. I relate to so much of it, from the sway of the music and dream pop swoon of it all. It just floors me every time. My favourite passage of lyrics from that song that I relate to deeply is the following lines:
“and all the energy I’d burned / on all those stupid boys that I thought / were worth my time and I would die for / I’d lose my head and when my heart felt / I’d add to my life’s list of disappointment / he sounded good on the phone / I’d walk at night on my own / I knew that it was worth it / and I’d never have to do it again
I’ve been having weird dreams again / I just wanna have the one where I win / all the times they’ve said this job’s for you / some dss guy wouldn’t have a clue / of what I will achieve in my life / it’s not some 9-5 thing or a house wife / not that any of those things are bad / it’s just never been a dream the I’ve had / I’ve got a dark ambition in me / I will be independent and free / and all the stupid things I’ve done / i’ll never have to do them again”
I can’t begin to explain how many times I’ve sat and listened to this song and just got lost in those words and how they relate to my life from the confusion of my twenties to the brave uncertainty of my 30’s and the new decade ahead of me. Whenever I sell how amazing Screamfeeder are I always play this song and it has ended up on a bunch of mixtapes and cds over the years. I also think it sums up why I am such a big fan Kellie’s songwriting and the music she makes. So I was interested to discuss this song with Kellie and to see what it means to her:
“I think it is my defining song and I don’t think I’ll ever write a song that will sum me up as well as that one did. A lot of the lyrics were taken from my personal diary, there is an awful lot of me in that song and when I play it live I get transported somewhere else. It says everything I want to say, and despite its darkness I still believe that it is a very hopeful song. There is definitely hope attached to it with the conclusion being that you have to make mistakes. It is about the road forward. I wrote that song in my late 20’s and some of it was left over from a period of time where I had been in love with someone but was then dumped. So there is a lot of left over residual shit from that that was channelled into that song because it fucking sucks to be the one who is dumped and that can really hurt. A lot of people through the years have responded to that song. I remember getting a letter sent to me from a fellow who had heard that song on the radio and he had to pull over his car until the song finished because it connected so deeply with him. He explained in his letter how it reduced him to tears. That was really special to hear and I’m always glad to hear that something I’ve written has resonated with someone on a deep level.”
Kellie Lloyd is my hero and I was so glad to get the opportunity to spend time chatting with her. I left the conversation changed and even more inspired not just as an artist but as a human being. Regardless of whether you know who Kellie is or not I think the time is always right to discover music that she’s been a part of because it is timeless stuff. It stands up and connects with you regardless of what decade you’re in. I recommended getting all of it and immersing yourself in it. I’m looking forward to all the wonderful music Kellie will release in the future and I am always honoured to speak with her and spend time in her presence because I always learn something and walk away even more inspired.
Thank You Kellie Lloyd
Your Heart Is A Hunter from Kellie’s Solo album “Magnetic North”
Your Heart Is A Hunter (live version)
We are Made Of Stars from Kellie’s Solo album “Magnetic North”
By: Dan Newton
P.S. if you’re a modern Brisbane Musician who has not seen this amazing film clip or heard this amazing song then it is time for you to push play
“I don’t limit the idea of myself to gender I’ve always fought against that. On “Horses” it says “beyond gender” because I don’t think of myself as a “female singer” or as a “female artist.” A lot of people think it’s a strong feminist point of view to say you’re a female “this” or a female “that” and to me that is really confining. I mean you don’t say “A Male Painter.” You don’t say “Picasso, white male painter” you know, he’s Picasso, he’s an artist. So I don’t really like to confine myself with gender. To me, when it comes to the strongest people you don’t even think of their gender. A lot of the great performers both male and female are strong because you can feel both their masculine and feminine rhythms.”
This quote best illustrates the feel of what I hope to discuss with my “Show Me Your Riffs” series.
This series is focussed on all of the wonderful human beings who have influenced me over the years and further strengthened my understanding and desire for gender equality. Throughout this series I will be interviewing a lot of artists who I admire and whose music I have loved for a great many years. I’ll also be interviewing a bunch of newer artists who are also currently inspiring me and whose music I currently love.
Riot Grrrl is at the centre of my beating heart. As a male, my connection to Riot Grrrl music occurred because I could not stand or tolerate the male ego that exists in the rock band landscape. For my whole life I’ve felt fairly alienated from modern male culture and the definition of what being a man is. So when I discovered the sounds of Riot Grrrl it just flawed me. It connected with me deeply and changed my whole perspective on what musical expression could be. It was raw and about equality and it plugged me into feminist culture and that is something that I care deeply about to this day. All of my influences as a musician are female and they extend beyond just the riot Grrrl scene. It all started with my mother and her love of Carole King. Carole King was the first time I heard that roar and Tapestry is a Riot Grrrl classic if you ask me, essential to the history of the roar. I know a lot of people talk about Bikini Kill who is important to the history but for me my favourite Grrrl band was “Heavens to Betsy.” This was Corin Tuckers first band and they were a two piece that only ever released one album that was called “Calculated.” It is in my top eleven albums of all time for sure, just a vital piece of art. It is so incredibly raw and just flat out rocks. Corin remains one of my heroes in life and I still believe that Sleater-Kinney is the greatest rock n roll band ever. This whole series is named after a phrase she coined.
Part of my fight and mission is to make sure that we have gender equality in this world, especially in the music industry, which is where I do the bulk of my work. So this is about opening a dialouge with a range of artists that I admire to get different points of view and to discuss quite deeply, the art of making music.
At the end of the day, I just want to be Patti Smith and Kim Gordon. They are my musical heroes and they have taught me how be the best artist I can be. Patti taught me how to be a poet and Kim taught me how to sing and play guitar. I love them both deeply. Through this series I hope to understand a bit deeper why as a male artist I take my creative influence from primarily female artists.
I look forward to sharing these interviews with you over the coming months.
2. Covered In Bruises
3. Eye For An Eye
4. Will, There’s A Way
5. American (I’ll be One)
6. White Flag (hidden track)
A couple of years ago my old house/bandmate greeted me as I walked in the door after work one day with a CD in his hand, saying ‘Clint, I’ve been going through my CD collection and I’ve found something you need to listen to, I think you’ll really like it’. It was Big Heavy Stuff’s 1995 EP “Covered In Bruises’. Regardless of the recommendation, this is one instance when the cover image itself invited further investigation. The stark photograph, framed by the handwritten title could be the poster for a horror film:
At this stage I hadn’t even heard of the band. I was really too young to be into them at the time, and by this point all of their output was long out-of-print. What struck me as the first song ‘Birthday’ played, was just how good the dual guitar interplay is. There are only two guitars in the recording, panned hard left and right, but they sound so much heavier than they should. Every instrument has its own space and nothing is muddy. The mix is quite incredible, it’s dry, almost in a lo-fi way, but also incredibly rich. The song itself is catchy as fuck, and the chorus is instantly memorable:
“You can’t doll me up / Just like a queen / Don’t call me ‘cute’ / That’s not my name / You’re not popular / But all that will change / When Sonic Youth play at your birthday”.
Second song ‘Covered In Bruises’ is built on a quirky ascending bassline. When the chorus falls into place it’s C-A-T-C-H-Y:
“There’s a gun in my hand as big as a wound / With a four-letter word becomes a tattoo / ‘Til some genius decides what to do / We can walk on our hands / Get covered in bruises”
‘Eye For An Eye’ is a lumbering, brutal, monster of a song. The music is creepily matched by the lyrics:
“I saw a light through a window that was wound down / An eye for an eye / You could see that they were brown.”
The stalker-ish lyrics song perfectly marry up with the stark cover.
‘Will, There’s a Way’ is a beautiful acoustic tune, with the heavy rhythm section backing off only slightly from the full throttle punch of the earlier songs.
The last billed track, ‘American’, is another lumbering sludgefest of a song. It’s amazing that the songs sound this monstrous considering the cleanness of the production. The guitars and bass are only slightly overdriven, and there’s no fuzz in sight.
The hidden track is actually two songs back to back; a very lo-fi electric guitar and vocal track, followed by the band run-through of ‘White Flag’, which rivals ‘Birthday’ for the best song on this EP. The verse lyrics are mostly gibberish, but the chorus of “Sleaze bag / don’t hold that against me / This is a white flag.” should strike a revealing chord with any chauvinist guy after a few drinks.
Why is ‘Covered In Bruises’ the album of the week? Because it fucking rules. Call yourself a fan of ‘grunge’ music? This is better than a LOT of what came out of Seattle in the early 90’s. The EP has been out of print for a while, as has all of BIG HEAVY STUFF’s material. I was lucky enough to score a copy off ebay last year. If you can find it on CD, snap it up. You won’t regret it.
The new David Bowie album “The Next Day” could very well be the greatest album released in 2013. I’ll go one better and say it could very well be one of the best albums released by David Bowie ever. Resorting to the usual music journalism cliché’s for just a moment let me say that a musician this deep into their career shouldn’t still be this revolutionary. Bowie much like Neil Young is one of the few musical survivors from the era when Rock N Roll was about risk as opposed to bottom lines who still makes strong and visionary musical statements. His longevity is testament to what an intense and creative soul he is. The music contained on “The Next Day” is the only example you’ll need in order to prove that statement. Across the course of 14 tracks (and three absolutely delicious bonus tracks) Bowie unfolds new excursions whilst collecting all the dynamics from his history to give us a well-rounded, very disciplined and vital slice of rock n roll.
The first thing that strikes me about “The Next Day” is how much freedom there is coming from the sounds. It is as if Bowie entered the creation of this album with a new sense of enthusiasm after taking time out to re-imagine the magic. This also feels like the beginning of a new prolific era, something about the way this album was released and promoted has my suspicion highly plugged into the idea that Bowie has hatched a new Trilogy and as opposed to the tour circuit he is going to release more music to us. If you listen closely to the album you can hear a new narrative being tied together and even the awesome artwork of the album leads me to believe that there is something deeper going on with Bowie’s return. I could be reading to deeply into it all but that is my feeling because this album plays out like it is part of some bigger unfinished picture.
So what makes this album so great?
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.
I’ve listened to nothing but this album over the past week. I’ve found that the joy of it all is what keeps me going back. 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.