JEN CLOHER – In Blood Memory – Album Review


This album is an amazing piece of work, fuck, scratch that it is a flawless piece of art. From start to finish every inch of this record pleases my ears and makes me swoon with all kinds of joy. There is a new flavour scattered throughout the album but it still has that wonderful ache that Jen Cloher is renowned for. The main difference between this album and Jen’s previous work is the more “rock n roll” vibe of the songs.

There is a fierce new focus on display with “In Blood Memory” and I can’t help but hear “The Breeders” every time I listen to this album. That amazing slacker discipline is dripping from every song with all of the simplicity and a whole heap of “right on” swagger. This is the kind of record that Neil Young would make with Crazy Horse, a total blissed out garage rock masterpiece.

I’ve received a lot of rock n roll in my inbox lately and it all makes the same mistake, too much party and not enough arty. That is where “In Blood Memory” differs from the current crop of youth culture triple j elite, this album actually has a bit of soul. In fact the album has the joy and celebration sway of a soul record with each song being like a hymn of praise to the dark and light aspects of love. The music convinces you to believe in something and shows an extreme amount of life in the process. This is the album that will not just reward the faithful fans of Jen Cloher but also a new legion of human beings who are willing to just get lost in the unreal rapture that is “In Blood Memory” – fuck me this album is glorious.

When I reflect on what makes a great album I think about the way an artist attacks all my senses. There has to be an initial explosion from the moment you turn the album on that pulls you in and just takes over your world. A great album will infect you deeply with every inch of it swirling in your head. It will be all you think about, it will consume you to the point of needing to clear schedules just so you can hear it. You’ll arrive to work 15 minutes late just so you can hear that bit more of it in your car stereo. A great album will block out all of the cruelty of the world and in its place create a world of beauty designed by your own imagination. Some albums simply sound great and you can acknowledge the craftsmanship that went into its creation. Other albums, the ones that matter and the ones that are timeless will never need to be explained beyond the way it leaves you changed. An album is merely a piece of dialogue between you and the artists involved, sometimes it can be simple small talk but other times it will erupt years of meaningful conversations and answers to your questions. It will serve as the ultimate imaginary friend and will help you celebrate life no matter the occasion or emotion. A great album will be a timeless artefact that helps give meaning to your life and act as the best voice for that internal yearning that you feel.

That is what happens when I listen to “In Blood Memory” and it is only in its infancy in terms of its release and the time I’ve spent with it. It is the right album for the space I find myself in at this current moment and regardless of what people believe or interpret as “being successful” I know within my own heart and from listening with my own ears that Jen Cloher has made a new modern classic that should be worshiped and ripped off by anyone and everyone looking to make a timeless piece of art.

There is no question, Jen Cloher has made a masterpiece with “In Blood Memory” and you’d be foolish to ignore the power of this record and Jen Cloher as an artist.

So turn the fucking radio off, buy this album immediately and let it soundtrack your winter. You’ll be thankful that you did.

10 cassette tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton




When I started my “Show Me Your Riffs” series Jen Cloher was one of the first people I listed to be interviewed. Being a fan of her music has been one of the most rewarding experiences and I was thrilled at the chance of getting to interview her to speak about her creative process. I have always viewed Jen’s music as a vital piece of Australia’s musical DNA. Jen’s music has an incredible ache at the centre of it and it resonates quite deeply with me as a listener. There is a darkness swirling inside of her songs but there is also a beautiful space and starkness to it all.

When I set out to interview Jen earlier in 2013 my goal was to speak about the emotions attached to her music to try and find where the spark for her music comes from. Our conversation went for almost two hours and delved into so much territory and also became just a natural conversation as opposed to an interview. This made it easier for us both to understand where the other was coming from.

When our conversation started we talked in-depth about My Bloody Valentine who I had just written about and who she had just seen live. This was a brilliant starting point and gave us the room to move into all sorts of discussions about music we loved.

When I asked Jen about what influenced her when she wrote her music, she was quite direct in framing exactly where she draws her inspiration from:

“I am always influenced by what I happen to be listening to at the time. When I sit down to write my music it is always from a personal place. I understand that not a lot of people do that but I find it is the best way for me to communicate what I’m feeling through my music, for me it has to be personal. I can sometimes attempt to make it a bit more universal but it is always a personal experience that will fund it and that has always been quite an interesting experience and perspective to write from.

My last album dealt a lot with grief and the loss of my parents. It was the most personal I had ever been and it was incredibly therapeutic. It was also really tough to write about that experience, but regardless of the challenges of writing about what was happening to me at that point in time it felt like the right thing to do. So many people have approached me since that album (hidden hands) and said how much those songs helped them, so that was in some ways a reward I suppose for being so honest.

I’m a bit of a perfectionist and the last album was a bit layered so I wanted to free myself of that on my new record (in blood memory) and go for a real live feel with the band in the room. I hadn’t really done that before and I think the results showcase a deeper and more honest sound kind of like Neil Young and Crazy Horse or something like that. The music may be a bit more raw but it is still coming from that personal place.”

Being such an independent artist a lot of our discussion turned to her place within the Australian music scene and how she sees herself fitting in both these days and in the past. It was refreshing to her what Jen thought about this topic:

“I don’t feel like I ever really belonged to any scene really, especially in the current climate. What I’ve come to realise however from watching music in this country is that success is longevity. The ability to create consistently and always making sure you create challenging work for people. I mean it is really none of my business to tell people who or what to listen to but I sometimes feel that people want to feel safe when they listen to music. They don’t want to question anything and a lot of the time they want to know there place within whatever they are listening to and if they don’t get it then they reject it. I’m not interested in the listening experience, both as a fan and creative person, being a comfortable one and I like to challenge both myself and the audience.  

If you look at contempory music culture it is hard to find modern artists any more who have that risk in their music and who are making a commitment to longevity. Artists like PJ Harvey, Nick Cave and Neil Young were very young when they came up but they still maintained a very long and fruitful career because they were always challenging themselves and their audiences which is why they are still relevant to this day.  

I think due to a lot of lazy journalism and lazy listening a lot of people are coming into an artist’s career with very little understanding of culture and as a result they are making very broad generalisations about an artist. They don’t dig deeper to get or source the understanding they need, they just want to be comfortable and as I’ve said they want to know their place within the music. The pressure of it all can be tough, especially for artists.

When I released my first album there was this new wave of singer songwriters (Clare Bowditch, Sarah Blasko, Holly Throsby and Missy Higgins) who all made incredible diverse music but as the media and industry tends to do they started to put the whole idea of this so called “sound” in a box it and gave the whole thing a genre tag instead of seeing it as a whole body of work and as a range of different artists making diverse sounds.

Part of what I’m doing on my new album (in blood memory) is a way for me to step away from any potential cliché that was attached to me by the music media and industry as a whole. This has allowed me to express myself quite differently which has been a positive thing for my sound.”


As our conversation travels to other discussion points about the music industry we bring it all back to what makes music so important. I was thrilled to hear Jen have such a spiritual outlook on music, I felt like it mirrored what I love about not just her sound but music in general. I think the best way for me to conclude what was a brilliant two hour chat, is with Jen’s response when I asked her about why she loves music:

“The main thing that I love about music is the physical, spiritual and emotional transcendence that occurs. It is a transcendental experience for sure, that thrill of expressing yourself with your instrument and your voice. There is something about music that allows you to go beyond yourself. It has the ability to change everyone around you and I need to be in that space fairly regularly because nothing compares to expressing yourself through music.

Sometimes it happens rather quickly but other times you have to take your time and just listen which is also very important because during those lulls you get to spend time honing your craft.

Music is so incredibly spiritual and my understanding of spirituality has always been that you are speaking about what’s alive in you. You can find that connection of spirit in anything really. It is all around us and essentially it is the connection we all have to life itself.

Music is like a ritual for so many of us and to have people standing in an audience and on a stage having very personal responses to the sound being made is always one of the most beautiful things ever.”


 By: Dan Newton



The best music is always birthed from some kind of loss and has an ache at the centre of it. The longing or yearning attached to the sound can indicate that an artist is hurting on many different levels and for many different reasons. This hurt and collection of emotive sounds will always resonate quicker with an audience because it is rooted in honesty and truth. You can’t fake hurt or personal pain. The rock n roll corporate machine can certainly manufacture it but when you hear the real thing you know it and you do your best to immerse yourself in it regarldess of how foregin that piece of art is to you stylistically. That feeling of connecting to a great piece of art and having it understand your own emotions is a vital part to the listening experience for not just me but anyone who values depth and intensity from their music.

I’d nominate Jen Cloher’s second album “Hidden Hands” as a masterpiece soaked in all kinds of loss and hurt. Sometimes the emotion of this album is overbearing and that is why as a piece of art it stands as such a charming movement of music. The hurt swaying in and out of the sounds on display charm you and pull you in. This is not angst for angst is rooted in anger and requires a violent kind of dialouge creatively to communicate it, however there is a deep scream at the centre of the album. The kind of loss funding the emotional delivery of this record is some intense real world drama that anyone who is a fan of Jen’s work understands (for those who don’t all I will say is that Jen had to watch both her parents pass away and also suffer quite intensly).  There isn’t teenage love life drama here, this is real adult confusion and you can hear in Jen’s voice and her lyrics the suffering she herself is going through whilst watching her parents slip away. That kind of loss is real and blooms all kinds of questions from your mind while at the same time sees you having to navigate a new history all alone without that family connection present. As I’ve mentioned numerous times, it is a hella intense process to navigate.

This was the album where I became pretty addicted to Jen’s music because of how personal she was on all the songs. There is still hints of joy and celebration framing some of the songs but overall there is some heavy reflection going on with that stream of wonder swaying in and out of each song. It is the kind of music that helps you graduate from the confusion of your twenties to the real world stage of your thirties. There is so much to love about this album and I find that I turn to this record quite a bit in those times of loss just because it understands and articulates the confusion you navigate when you witness the death of a loved one.

The song that sums up the beauty of this record is the final track on the album “Watch Me Disappear” which I think you should all listen to right now:

I think this is a very important album and a vital addition to any serious music fans collection. This album showcases music at its most purest and most honest and that is all I look for when I’m on the hunt for new adventures in hi-fi.

By: Dan Newton



In October 2008 I was madly in love with an incredible artist who I met through a mutual friend earlier in September. She was an amazing human being and our affair was a brief one but it was quite an intense journey. In that rush of post-love blues I turned to a whole array of different sounds to help heal the whole broken heart thing. She was a “one in a million” type of relationship and I often think that you only get a handful of “real love” in your life and she is definitely only one of three that have really turned me on and also have a great sense of humour.

One of the albums that got me through the aftermath of this break-up was the amazing “Dead Wood Falls” by Jen Cloher which was an album that I missed when it was released in 2006 but in 2008 it found its way into my world. This was the point where I started to invest quite heavily in the Jen Cloher sound. From start to finish “Dead Wood Falls” is a late night lullaby to the entire hiss of that post-relationship drama. From the artwork of the album down to the songs themselves everything about this album is soaked in the drama of “why doesn’t she love me” confusion.

There are several moments on this album that really strike me on a deep personal level. The first song to wrap its arms around my broken heart was the opening title track. Its opening notes crashed into my world back in October 2008 and helped relaxed my confused mind. This track provides a perfect example of the swoon at the centre of Jen’s music. There is a nice splice of Bob Dylan delivery with Patti Smith poetry framing the whole thing. The song itself rolls gently like a cool hit of a late night breeze in summer where the art of sleeping is suspended by the heat of the season. It was a song I listened to on high rotation at that point in my life because it seemed that I’d built a little fortress of hurt to sizzle in and when my rage settled into longing this was the first song I reached for. I still have an array of images of that amazing human being I was in love with attack my mind when I hear this song.

The albums seventh track “Rain” is the next song I’d nominate as a highlight and an example of the Jen Cloher magic. The song itself flirts with that storytelling tradition but the song doesn’t slip into the cliché’s that often come along with that creative template. There is still a healthy dose of fiction acting as the safe place for the real hurt of this piece of communication to be buried so that you get the perfect mix of personal pain and metaphors. Regardless of all this scientific dissection the fact remains that the song “Rain” has a powerful dialogue capable of cutting you deep and hitting you directly. When you hear those lyrics you know that Jen lived every inch of them and like all of the classic songwriters of our time it connects to your story and helps give light to both the confusion and conclusion needed to discover that brand new start. That is the power of “Rain” as a song and I can get lost in it when I hear it, a great way to travel back to that 2008 love affair but also a perfect way to imagine future romance, it is a brilliant spark for the creative muse.

The final track on the album “Streetlights Not The Stars” puts a perfect full stop to the wonderful dialogue of “Dead Wood Falls” and serves as the glimmer of hope that love may escape but as the light escapes a new day will rise birthing new opportunities. I’ve often found that this song best describes that joy of staying awake all night and just witnessing the bliss of the night turning into day and the refreshing nature of watching the sun rise. In your fatigued state you almost taste the madness of insanity yet seeing the new day happening right in front of you pushes you to collapse and glimpse a moment of happiness. This brief state of joy is the boost you need to remind you that there is good air to breathe. That is the kind of swoon swirling in a song like “Streetlights Not The Stars” and I just love this song so much.

Those three songs may be my personal favourites but there are so many other highlights on this Australian classic. As far as debut albums go it is quite a strong first statement and sets the scene perfectly for Jen’s next record “Hidden Hands” which I will discuss more in depth tomorrow.

What makes “Dead Wood Falls” so fantastic is its simplicity. It combines honesty and minimal folk styling’s to explode a wonderful collection of songs that showcase a very disciplined artist. Every song is carefully crafted and placed on this album to give a continuity that is vital to helping you the listener connect to all of the stories being expressed.  The honesty of these songs once again speak volumes about Jen’s character as a songwriter and I have to admit that a lot of my favourite performances from Jen occurred on this album but once again that is due to the sentimentality I attach to this record. This album soundtracked a rather difficult period of time in my life but it is music that has a great amount of joy attached to it and it is that cycle of joy that it inspires that keeps me coming back for repeated listens all these years later. I recommend this album to anyone nursing a broken heart; you’ll soon find that joy I’m speaking of.

By: Dan Newton

JEN CLOHER – a Week Long Tribute – An Editor’s Note


This week we are celebrating the music of Jen Cloher ahead of her third album release – In Blood Memory – on Friday.

When I first started Heavy and Weird the aim was to be significantly different from the other Music Blogs. I wanted to have a strict focus on artists that I deem as successful who you may not be aware of.  That is the point of these week long tributes that you’ll be seeing a lot more of. On occasion they will focus on bands and artists you do know and other times they will be focussed on stuff you may not have heard. Music is all about communication and anyone involved in the reporting of it, I guess you call them journalists, should do their best to communicate the accurate history of all the music being made in this world.

Jen Cloher is one of my favourite Australian songwriters and her music is other worldly, a true collection of beauty. The songs themselves are full of all kinds of aches that showcase a very disciplined musician who makes art for art’s sake. Jen’s body of work is not rooted in the desperate attention of commerce driven music, it is incredibly far from that process.

Jen Cloher has the ability to overtake every inch of your landscape with the music she makes. It is beautifully moody and full of many different levels of bliss. You relax into the swoon and sway of it all but it still challenges you on a deep emotional level. It helps answers those questions but also serves as a testament to the life long search of “why?” and over time you see her music adapt itself to every age and stage you navigate. It has a timeless nature, the kind of sound that connects no matter what decade you’re in.

I’m a pretty massive fan of her work and this week long tribute is a labour of love and also a way to say thank you to Jen for being such an amazing artist. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jen a few months back in preparation for this tribute week and what started out as a standard interview turned into a two hour conversation between two people. I think this speaks volumes about the warmth and welcoming nature of Jen’s character. I’ve had the chance to interview a lot of people since then but I think that chat with Jen will remain as my favourite early memory of the Heavy and Weird journey.

Here is a little run down of how the week will run


A full day dedicated to Jen’s debut album Dead Wood Falls


A full day dedicated to Jen’s second album Hidden Hands


Our first interview with Jen as part of my Show Me Your Riffs series


A full day dedicated to Jen’s new album  In Blood Memory


Our second interview with Jen

I’m incredibly thrilled about this week and I can’t wait to share all my articles with you and for those of us who are already fans, celebrate the joy of Jen’s music and for those who are first time listeners, hopefully you’ll have a universe of new music to devour.

The reason I love Jen Cloher’s music is quite simple really, the music relaxes me and puts me in a reflective mood. I like being relaxed and in a reflective mood because it allows my imagination to be fired up and for the creative muse / dialogue to open up. Jen’s music always puts me in the headspace to create and that is always the kind of music that I’ll listen to regularly. Her music also has that ability to calm down the nonsense of the world around me giving me the space to just “be” and trust me, when you’re a deep thinker you need the late night swoon of Jen Cloher’s music to ease you into a brand new day.

Big Love xo

By: Dan Newton

P.S. please listen to the amazing first single from In Blood Memory which is called “Mount Beauty”

SINGLE REVIEW: Avant Gardener by Courtney Barnett


This week I sat down to review a lot of different music that had been sent to me. A lot of it really didn’t resonate on any level at all. It started to really frustrate me at the amount of pure trash that I had to wade through in order to get to something amazing. I decided that instead of wait for it to find me that I’ll go directly to it and the mid-week revelation came when I sat down to listen to Courtney Barnett. It was a fucking glorious moment when I did and the song I became quite addicted to was her awesome recent single Avant Gardener which is all kinds of awesome.

I love this song so very much and I love everything about Courtney Barnett. This is the sound of slacker pop music done right. Everyone else pretending to do this kind of sound in the modern landscape is a careerist pretender in comparison to Courtney Barnett. All the modern slackers follow the business plan and formula too closely; I just don’t believe what comes out of their mouth. Courtney Barnett on the other hand, I believe everything. She makes the kind of music that makes you want to ignore everything else you own and just go out and buy all her stuff and listen to nothing but her music.

Fuck Comparisons, but for those people who need some kind of reference point let me just say that this song is the most right on thing since The Breeders, that is how amazing and great this song is.

I can’t wait until she releases a full length album. Two artists thrill me in this new decade, EMA and Courtney Barnett.

10 Cassette Tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

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INTERVIEW: James Lees of Silver Sircus

James Lees has been hitting drums in a slew of Brisbane bands since the early 90’s, starting out in bands like Milch and Krud, which also featured a pre-Screamfeeder Kellie Lloyd.  If you’re a semi-regular live music goer, you’ve probably seen him behind the kit at some point in time.  These days his main focus is the genre-defying dark cabaret act Silver Sircus, which he formed with vocalist Lucinda Shaw.


My own history with James only goes back a few years, but in that short time we have been in three bands together and lived as housemates for two years.  I would class him as one of the nicest and hardest working people in Brisbane music.  I recently caught up with James over a few drinks to find out more about his career as a musician, and what’s next for Silver Sircus:

Tell us a bit about your musical history.  What bands have you been a part of?

Hmm, let me cast my mind back….  I’ve been in ISIS with Lucinda Shaw, and I’ve been in Chalk in the 90’s, and I played with Tylea for about 3 or 4 years.  Am I missing anyone?…  I’ve also been in The Good Ship and I’ve also been in Thirteen Seventy, and I’ve been in Bertie Page Clinic.  When you asked me that I immediately thought 20 years ago! *laughs*

Well you could go back even further probably, couldn’t you?

I could, but how relevant that would be is another question.

It was more about getting an insight into your history in Brisbane music and how far back that goes.

Well it does go back a fair way, back to the early 90’s.  You know I could list all those names and talk about those bands, but if you looked at all those bands broadly there’s a really great diversity of style across them.   I think that reflects my diverse listening habits and my diverse musical interests.  I listen to everything from strange jazz music to Swans, to Cindy Lauper, to Eurythmics, to Talking Heads, to Lou Reed and back again.  It wasn’t really by design, but all the bands I’ve played with have been very, very different.  So I guess if I look back I would say there’s a huge amount of diversity there, and there continues to be.

So, you’ve worked with a lot of musicians over the years.  Are there any moments that stand out or are particularly special to you?

I think the very first rehearsal I had with ISIS stands out to me, because – and I don’t want to put anybody else’s singing down that came before that – but I went to that rehearsal, and for readers with shorter memories ISIS contained three fantastic female singers.  When I rehearsed with them the first time, which was actually a pre-production rehearsal for a recording, when they all sang it was a revelation to me.  And I just went “OH, they’re really good *laughs* They can all sing!”  That rehearsal occurred in The Zoo, on The Zoo stage fully mic’d up with Magoo in attendance, and that was creating drum parts for the ‘Ooze’ EP which came out in 1995.  And that was my first rehearsal.  So that was a moment for me.  I was also a real fan of the band, so it was actually sort of a fan moment – ‘I get to be in this band!’  I’d say that would be the moment I’d nominate.

Tell us about your history with Lucinda Shaw.  How did Silver Sircus form?

All these stories go back such a long way.  I was a fan of the band and I was writing for Rave Magazine.  I interviewed the band, but I didn’t interview Lucinda, and I was interested in her because I knew at that time she was the main writer of music on that first record.  The way that I got to meet her was by booking the band for a gig that I produced that was Tidus, Rob Clarkson and ISIS at The Capitol, which was at Wooloogabba.  So by booking the band I got to meet Lucinda.  I met her that night and we had a brief conversation.  That was about a year before I joined the band.  So we were friends for a year, and then obviously we did the work with ISIS, and that went for a few years, and when that finished a project called Sugafix emerged out of that and I ended up becoming part of that.  Then that changed its name to Silver Circus (with a ‘C’) and that existed for about 2 to 3 years, ’til about 2002.  Then we worked on a few things together that I musically directed.  Lucinda did a show for the Cabaret Festival and then we did two big Ziggy Stardust shows that I produced and she was a big part of that as a vocalist.  That show featured a range of lead singers, but she was also sort of my confidant through that process of putting those shows together.  There was a lot of discussion that she and I had that extended beyond her being just a lead singer on a few songs.  That recording’s going to be released this year by the way, because Mr Jeff Lovejoy’s mixed it, but that’s another story.

I think the way that the current version of the band started was by me being driven slightly crazy by the body of work that Silver Circus mark 1 had done that had had been played a little bit in embryonic form, but in the intervening years had grown in my mind into being something that I thought could be quite good but had no means to be expressed.  Quite a lot of songs that had no life at all.  So it took two or three years.

‘Sweet Amnesia’ from the Sovereignty EP

So it was your creative desire to finish those songs off?

Yeah, it was very much unfinished business and a lack of closure I guess that really drove me to go, “Why don’t we just do it?”  You know?  I think that came with getting a little bit older as well.  Maybe I was about 34, 35, something like that.  I think when you’re that age you start having a lot of thoughts about ‘you only get to be here once’, and I sort of thought how am I going to feel if I don’t see this project through or if I don’t breathe life into this work in 10 years?  And I imagined myself regretting not doing it.  As soon as I had that thought I picked up the phone and I rang Lucinda and I said to her for the first time in about 5 years, ‘Would you like to be in a band with me?’  And she was slightly taken aback and then she went ‘Oh, yeah, of course, of course.  What are we going to do?’  And I said ‘We’re going to do Silver Sircus, and we’re going to do these songs, and we’re going to make them really good, and then we’re going to release them.  And she went ‘Right!  Okay…’  *laughs*  And about a year after that the Soveriegnty EP came out, and then we did the Dark Back Garden EP shortly after that.  That was only 5 years ago.


A lot’s happened in that short space of time.
Yeah, we’ve made even more music since then *laughs* which is pretty good for a band that moves at the speed of a glacier!  But we did manage to produce an album eventually.

So you’ve just last year released your first full album, which is ‘To The Place That Is Home’.  Tell us a bit about that, the songs were all mostly older?  And then there was some new stuff that you-

From the beginning it was this whole idea of a whole lot of material that was kind of in a queue from oldest to most recent that we had to kind of swat away.  So the Sovereignty EP was the four oldest songs.  DarkBackGarden was kind of an extension of that.  That material was all from a certain period of time.  So what happened after that was that once we had those recordings out of the way in late 2008 we wrote ‘Come Back As You’ and that was the first song that Lucinda and I made, just the two of us.

‘Come Back As You’ from the album To The Place That Is Home

So that’s almost the birth of Silver Sircus now, as we know it?

That’s the beginning song, yeah.  So that started out as a very, very simple little song with the guitar being played on the verandah and turned into the seven minute monolith that’s on the album now.  That song does date back to then, but that was the beginning of the first step of, you know, the way the band is now, and our current way of working.  What we planned to do was record that song fairly quickly and release it as a single.

And what year was that?

That was in 2009.  But life had other plans and what ended up happening was that Lucinda and I both went through fairly cataclysmic life events that took quite a long time to resolve.  So what happened was that that turned into a series of delays.  Actually about 4 or 5 delays.  Now we’re gonna record it, and then this happened.  Now we’re gonna record it, and then that happened.  And then just on and on it went.  What ended up happening is that we ended up writing more songs.  So if we had gone through with our first plan that song would have come out on its own.  In the second instance it would have come out with a B side.  In the third instance it would have come out as a 4 track EP, and the instance after that it would have been a 5 track EP.  For a long time that was a 5 track EP and it sat that way for a while.

Even up to the time where we meet I think you were still talking about putting out an EP next?

Yeah, there was a period of about 6 months where we took the accelerator off the band.  I use the term ‘accelerator’ very generously.

Was that the time when you started playing in every single band in Brisbane?

Yes!  That was in 2010.  The band kept playing, but I guess there was a feeling of frustration as to ‘why is this so hard to make this music?’  And I know why that was, and oddly the reason for that completely informed and fed the final form that that record ended up taking.  It grew up to be a full album, it grew up to be about the reason it took 4 years to come out.

I actually can’t imagine those tracks sitting together any other way.

No, no, it ended up all landing pretty well.  But I think people do look at the band and go: there was this flurry of activity at the beginning, and then a lot of performances, and then a little break, and then all of a sudden this big record and 3 releases in one year, and both EPs re-released in one year.  So 5 releases in one year.  But then I look at Kate Bush and I go, well she took 12 years off, and then she took 6 years off and then released 2 albums in a year.  If she can do it we can do it. *laughs*

But it was a really interesting moment when we kind of realised….when we took what was stopping us and we turned it into the fuel, rather than the obstruction.  As soon as we did that it surged forward and it found its very strong voice.  And then from that point the project took over and we just followed it, and it told us what it wanted to be and what it wanted to do and what it wanted to look like and everything.  And that was very satisfying for finally that body of work to live and to tell us what it wanted to do.  Because we were pushing shit uphill for a couple of years.

So the songs kind of became their own muse?

Yeah, I guess so.  It just became a lot easier.  It was not 100 questions running around in your mind, it became very, very simple.  This is what we do.  It’s going to look like this, it’s going to come out like this, it’s going to sound like this, these are the songs.  It all just slotted into place.  I know that’s a rarefied sort of situation to be in as an artist and I enjoyed allowing that to happen.  It was good to get it out because when we released it, it also felt like I was able to let go of a lot of the content and emotion that was woven into that record.

‘What Is A Witch’

One of the more interesting parts of that song cycle isn’t actually on the record, and it’s a B-side called Sleepwalker-

Oh THAT thing! *laughs*

…and it’s a little bit different to everything else, both sonically and in the way it was written…

That is a track that’s largely instrumental that I wrote and it comes from a very simple piece of music that I wrote when I was 20, and that I plucked out of the past and completely reshaped and completely recast.

When we were living together I heard different iterations of that song for months and months and months before it became what it is now.

I had a strong vision of that piece and I knew that if I gave certain musicians in the band certain instructions they would respond in certain ways and deliver what the song required.  And I knew that the song, being very abstract, was going to be a lot harder for me to convey to them ‘this is what we’re doing.’  It was actually easier for me to go ‘play it like this, play it like this.’

It sounds almost like Jimi Hendrix talking to his band in colours.

Yeah.  Well I totally directed that, and I know particularly with Mark Angel’s guitars, which are very beautiful and very dominant on that track, Mark put his faith in me.  He didn’t know what was going on.  He didn’t understand the piece until he heard the final mix, and then he told me ‘Ah, I get it now!’ *laughs* And I said to him ‘I don’t think there’s any way I could have explained this to you.’  But he put his faith in me and in the song, and in Magoo too, you know.  Even though I wrote it, when we came to record it, it was very much a team effort.  Especially when it came to the strings, just saying to Wayne and Sally, ‘There are 3 chords, there are 12 minutes.  Go.’  And that’s it.  And they’re such open and interesting artists that that’s enough for them.  They just played all this stuff over the top and then Magoo chopped it all up and then I went out and shaped it.  I had this big fear that Magoo was going to really baulk at the length of it, but he didn’t.  He really loved it.  It made me remember that he and Tylea made an 11 minute track that had not a lot going on, so I thought ‘he’s the man for the job!’

‘To The Place That Is Home’ has beautiful dynamics, is this something you put a lot of focus on during the recording & mixing process?

Absolutely!  Yes, every note was agonised over, probably by me more than anybody else.

It would have been just a day’s work for Magoo.

Well that’s the good thing about Magoo, is that he has got a very calming influence and when I take my very complex and overwrought thoughts to him, and my confusion, he has this fantastic ability to simplify and straighten out, and to bring everything down to one sentence and just go ‘Ah…how ’bout we do this?’  And he just does it and then it answers 40 questions in my mind.

I noticed that when we worked together as well, you were really good with pointing out how the song dynamics shifted and working with a producer other than Magoo on similar things.

Yeah, well I think that maybe it’s the drummer’s job to do that, because in my experience there’s this great relationship between the drummer and the bass player that’s very traditional, but there’s actually a very, very, very important relationship between the drummer and the lead singer.  A lot of times the lead singer is also the lead guitarist or the rhythm guitarist as well, and in Thirteen Seventy that’s the case, in Silver Sircus that’s the case.  So if you could imagine, a lot of people talk about your formulaic band being set up with your drummer is at the bottom, then the bass player, then keys or strings, or guitars or whatever.  Then at the top of that is your singer, and so it’s like this pyramid.  This is something that I was taught by my father as a teenager when I started learning drums.  He is also a drummer and he told me this is how a band works.  So I took that on, and I’ve seen that to be true in a variety of situations.  But what it ends up doing is rather than thinking of it like a pyramid, if you think of it like a circle the lead singer and the drummer end up being next to each other, on opposite ends.

Like a big loop?

Yeah!  So it’s almost like the drummer and the lead singer are on a playing field at the opposite ends and you’ve got to connect that, and that’s your real job.  I definitely think since probably the third band I was in, which was Chalk, I saw that as a real responsibility of mine.  Also because James Kliemt, the lead singer of that band, had been a great friend of mine for years, even when we were that young.  By that point we had that connection, that relationship.  I guess I’ve always seen the band with the drummer at the bottom.   If you make all the right choices there, that’s setting you out on the right foot.  Everything else kind of follows on.  I think there’s actually a great responsibility with the drummer.  I’ve applied that in lots of situations.  I applied that with the work that we did.  And certainly I’m in a band with a lead singer.  Lucinda and I are the core duo of the band, a drummer and a lead singer.  So obviously the dynamics are a massive part of that.

How will the writing process for your next album differ from the way you’ve approached your previous recordings?  “To The Place That Is Home” is an incredibly dark and beautiful record.  Will the next one lead us further into the abyss, or pull us back towards the light?

I don’t know, it’s not written yet!  That’s not true…  Okay, so the first bit of that question was is the writing process going to be different?  The writing process is going to be absolutely different.  Absolutely different.  We are a fair way into the writing of the record.  I guess the main difference, right from the outset, is that for the very first time we’re working on a body of work that is all being made before our eyes and ears, right in front of us.  So I’m not having to straddle – here’s a song that’s brand new, here’s a song from 3 years ago, here’s a song from a year ago, here’s a song from 10 years ago and mix them all together.  Which I didn’t mind doing, you know, we wanted to do that, but we have truly cleared the shelf.

So you wanted to start from square one and write a record?

Yeah, we’ve never done that before.  So that meant, in the past we were writing music, but we were also corralling older stuff and assimilating it with now.  That process is completely not happening now.

Some of that would have involved other writers as well, wouldn’t it?  People who have since left the band?

In one instance it did, in all the others, no.  So I guess none of these songs have existed before 2012, which is a really refreshing feeling.  It’s just cast this whole other tone, this whole other feeling over working over a whole lot of music, that we’re working on stuff and none of it actually exists yet.  This is a difference.  The other major difference, and this follows on from that process, is that we are involving some of the other members in the band a lot more intimately with song writing.  We’re asking the people who have something to offer in that way to contribute if they want to, and several of them are.  The point we’re at now is that that is about to happen.  What we’re working on at the moment is a whole lot of words and a whole lot of music that has been music largely written by me, words all written by Lucinda.  So we’ve got quite a few sketches, but we’re going to introduce what I hope will be all these major spanners into the works from the other people, but I want that.  I wanted something really challenging and strange to happen, and given who we have in this band, I have every confidence in them!

And who do we have in the band in 2013?  It’s a completely different line-up to Silver Circus mark 1, and even Silver Sircus mark 1.1, really.

Oh, it’s completely different, yeah.  The main line-up of the band is unchanged over the last few years, so it’s a really nice connection.  Having made this record together, now, that has really unified us quite a lot.  We’ve made this record and we’ve all gone away and listened to it and everybody’s had their own little process of listening to that record later on.  Even though all their roles have been very, very different, that’s sort of….yeah, I guess that’s the right word to use, we’ve kind of aesthetically unified a lot more than we ever have been.  So over the next week I’m going to hear music from 3 other people.  So I’m hoping that’ll be…unexpected.  *Laughs*

The current line-up of Silver Sircus is (l-r) Parmis Rose on piano, Terry Dixon on bass, Lucinda Shaw on vocals, Wayne Jennings on cello, James Lees on drums & percussion, Sally Campbell on violin, and Mark Angel (not pictured) on guitar.  Fi Ellwood also regularly contributes percussion.

So the material that has been written so far, is it going to continue to be quite dark, or is it going to be a little lighter now that those really big life things have moved on a little, and you’ve kind of cleared the decks?

Hmmm…I’ve got a feeling that it will be less dark.  I know there were certainly 2 or 3 moments on the album that we tried to go for something very, very dark indeed, which I think we achieved.  And that was very deliberate.  Tracks like ‘I Am Going To Find You’, and ‘Hold Them Close, Mama’, and probably the little instrumentals that are on the record.  We definitely tried to convey the feeling of an incredible amount of grief and loss and death and you know, all the great things in life. *laughs* I really wanted to express that.  I think there’s less of a drive to express those things so strongly this time.

There are other things informing the new work that are very, very different from that, like polarizingly different from that.  To give you an example, I’ve been looking for lots and lots of things that can provide inspiration from non-musical sources.  I’ve wondered how they can feed into music, how they can feed into lyrics, how they can feed into the atmosphere of a song or a record.  I’ve introduced those things to Lucinda, and she has taken them on quite strongly as well.  So to give you a couple of examples, one of the things that we’ve kind of tried to feed into this record is the story of the female pilot Amelia Earhart, who died in mysterious circumstances.  She was a celebrity female pilot in the early 20th century, and she disappeared somewhere in the ocean.  Her plane was never found.  She was a huge celebrity, and she was a big, early feminist, without actually being a feminist.  She was a very strong female in a man’s world, and she was almost this swashbuckling female pilot with no fear, and she got into these, you know, jalopy old ratbag planes in the 1920’s and 30’s and she flew around the world.  And one day she just vanished.  Of course, you know, there’s 80 years of conspiracy theories about her, but in all likelihood her plane had a fault and she crashed into the sea never to be found again.  So we’ve taken her story as an inspiration, and we’ve made a song called ‘Aviatrics’, which I suppose is going to be about her.

Another really, totally different sort of feed to us is the children’s nursery rhyme drawings of two women from the 1930’s and 40’s who were twins, and became massively famous.  They never took husbands and they lived with their mother.  They became very, very successful.  In the late 70’s when they were around their 50’s, one of the died in a freak household accident from smoke inhalation from a kitchen fire, and the other one, devastated, had to continue with all of the work that they had commissioned at that time, and she could barely do it.  Once she had done all that, she retired because she couldn’t draw without her sister.  They would work on two drawings at once, with their backs to each other, and they would swap drawings halfway through and then they would just keep going.  And so the actual authorship of all of their drawings is genuinely to them both.  They’re incredible.  In the 90’s, the surviving twin went back to illustrating, and for the first time in her life, in her 70’s, started illustrating solo.  So, she died in the early 2000’s.  Their story is incredible.  What’s also incredible is the beauty of the work, and they created all these images that a couple of generations grew up with in children’s, ah, they’re called something like ‘Dean’s: A Child’s Book Of Verse’, all these wonderful old books with these very beautiful, at times very creepy, quite sinister, almost adult kind of cartoon images.  They’re a big part of my childhood, and I rediscovered some books recently.  I researched them and I shared them with Lucinda, who just gasped when she saw them – at their quality and how sinister and strange they were, and how much you could get away with that in the 40’s and 50’s.  Children’s illustrations don’t look like that now.  We love them.  So we’ve written a song about them too.

What plans do you have for Silver Sircus over the next 12 months or so?  You’ve been a little quiet since the record came out.

As per the statement, which is still on our website, we are in the midst of a hiatus from performing.  The reason for this is because life moves very, very slowly in this band, and if we want to make a record, I felt that we could deliver that more quickly if we relaxed the incredible pressure on us to deliver one gig every couple of months. *Laughs*  That’s one thing.  Another thing was, for the same reason, what was happening is that we were doing show after show of the same music.  Some of those songs, even though we love them, are a few years old now, and I personally really needed to give them a rest.  I just think one of the really good things about Silver Sircus is that it’s an incredibly flexible artistic entity.  It can be whatever we want it to be, and if we want to temporarily retire from playing live and completely change the way the band sounds, we can do that!  Really any band can do that.  I think it’s a fairly brave choice, I think there are a lot of bands who would be really frightened by doing that.  They would feel like everybody would forget about them, or that if they did that the whole band would just fall apart.  But having been around the block a few times, I know that those things are not necessarily true.  I feel like it’s more important to be true to myself as a musician than it is to conform to what I think a band ‘should’ do, because I’ve done that and I don’t need to do it again.  So wouldn’t it be good to have a little break and reconsider everything, and actually stop thinking about it for a while?  I think I exhausted myself making that bloody record.

Well you weren’t just devoting brain power to that record.  You were doing so many other things at the same time.

Yeah, I was, I was, but most of my artistic energy was going towards that because I’ve got a much bigger role as a composer/musical director in that band than any other stuff I’ve done in the last couple years.

So, In terms of what’s happening, we have indeed been the very grateful recipient of an Australia Council grant to make a new record.  So this is the first time ever that I have worked with funding.  Every single thing I’ve done has been funded out of my pocket, or partially out of my pocket, or out of the pockets of the people who are leading the projects, like yourself.  So this is quite a different ball game, knowing that we’ve just got money to go and record.  So we’re very happy about that.  What’s going to happen is that there’s going to be two releases.  There’s going to be an EP, and all things going very well, it will be released by the end of the year.  Then the new album will follow in 2014.  The EP’s going to have four tracks.  It’s going to have very full, very rhythmic, very…it’s going to have a lot of heat, where the album had a lot of cold.  So it’s going to have faster songs, it’s going to have much denser arrangements.

Are these all going to be new songs as well?  Because I know there were maybe one or two leftovers from before.

Two of them are new.  One of them is an old song that we’ve hijacked from ISIS, and another song is an even older song that we’ve hijacked – from the sixties!  And that’s ‘Venus In Furs’ by The Velvet Underground, which we’re going to record.  And we performed that in our Velvet Underground show last year.  So that’s an EP that’s going to come out, and then the new album, which will be completely different in tone again, will follow that.  And it’s the album that has the arts funding.  The EP’s a little bit separate from that.  So we’re gonna go hot, then we’re probably gonna go cold again. *Laughs*

‘Venus In Furs’

How do you think Silver Sircus fits into Brisbane’s musical landscape/history?

I don’t think that it does, and I don’t mind.

Well, we have a pretty diverse music scene at the moment.  Are there any particular artists you feel are on the same wavelength?

No.  No, I find it hard to think like that.  I don’t really know what people think about the band.  I know that if we play and if we promote a show properly a decent sized audience turns up.  We did our album launch at The Old Museum, we sold it out.  That was nice.  I just don’t think like that.  For somebody that spends their daytime hours working in publicity and production, I just can’t think like that with the band.  It’s sort of my sanctuary away from all that.  The band was conceived purely as a vehicle for Lucinda and I to, firstly, publish ourselves as composers and songwriters, and secondly for us to further ourselves as artists and makers of music.  They are the only two requirements I have of Silver Sircus.  The intention from even before we played, to today and into the future, is that.  If we recruit audience along the way, and people come and see us and people enjoy us, people buy our record, all of those things are bonuses.  That’s how I regard it.  That’s kind of the key to it as well.

Do you have any musical recommendations?

Do I have any musical recommendations?  At the moment?  Well I think that in the absence of a Silver Sircus record *laughs* coming out any time soon I think that people should listen to the ‘Breathe’ EP…

Shameless plug! *laughter*

…where they’ll hear Lucinda doing a great vocal on the band’s namesake track, and on ‘Breathe’, which I play on too.  Recommended listening?  Do you mean in Brisbane?

What’s turning you on at the moment?

Okay, well I’m really enjoying the most recent NickCave album, Push The Sky Away.  It’s just stunning.  The title track is unbelievably, horribly good.  I’m enjoying the new album by Low.  It’s a really beautiful record, I love that band.  I’m also still listening to the new My Bloody Valentine album, and why wouldn’t you?  And I’m also listening to The Seer by Swans.  But when you come to make a record I often struggle with listening to other music, and I feel like I definitely don’t want to listen to music that I feel might be an influence, or music that I feel I might get really obsessive about or really passionate about, or really love.  So, yeah, I’ve been listening to the new NickCave record, but not for the last month.  I’ve deliberately put it aside.  The beautiful deluxe book is sitting on top of my piano, but I’m not listening to it, because I don’t want to accidentally get too close, or copy something.  These are all the artists that we look up to, like, what are they doing now?  So I’m actually listening to less music at the moment, and that’s deliberate, to try and clear musical bandwidth in my head.

Do you look at music as a business, a love, or something you’re compelled to do?

Something I’m compelled to do.  And the reason that I say that is because about ten years ago I stopped playing music, because I found myself in a situation where I’d put about a decade into several bands, all of which in their own ways had been quite successful.  I found myself not in that situation anymore, and I was a bit confused as to why that was.  And having turned thirty, one voice in my head was sort of saying ‘this is something that you did in your twenties, like a lot of other people, and now you have a career, and now you have a house, and now you have this, and now you have that’ and all these other awfully grownup things.  So I ended up having a break and doing a whole lot of other things.  It took four or five years, and it was sort of the birth of Silver Sircus that made me realise how unhappy I would be if I didn’t continue to be a musician.  I think a mixture of only having expectations for producing work that is to a very high standard and having very low expectations about how much money I might make, and also of being extremely persistent and never giving up, might be a good recipe for having a sustainable career as a musician for the rest of my life.  I think I worked out in my mid thirties that if I didn’t have music in my life in some way, that I would be deeply unhappy, and I would not be able to make sense of the world if I didn’t have that.  So I blame my father.  Again. *Laughs*

So James, tell us about your mother…

Ooooh!  Never again! *Laughs*

In an ideal world, how would Silver Sircus run?  Or is this the ideal world now?  Live work verses recording, digital verses physical distribution…

There’s no ideal world.  There’s no ideal.  There’s just how it is.  There’s just ‘this is what we’re doing today, this is what we’re doing now’.  That’s all there is.  Ideal to me is a ten year old idea, and there is no ‘ideal’.

I know you and Lucinda are supporters of gay and lesbian rights.  Has the recent public focus on the ‘gay marriage’ debate had an influence on any of yours or Lucinda’s new material?

Interesting question.  I will say that we have both been involved in the gay & lesbian community in various ways for quite a long time.  When we were in ISIS we stood for a lot of social and political values very strongly, and this was a big part of the audience that the band attracted as well.  We wrote music about those themes back in those days.  It was really nice back in December 2012, when the very last ISIS performance happened, but for the grace of God *laughs* for The Zoo’s 20th birthday, where we performed our song ‘Messiah’, which has got a very, very, very strong gay and lesbian and human rights message.  So it was really nice to perform that song again, 17 years after we made it, to find that it was as relevant as ever.  That’s not a song that will find it’s way into a Silver Sircus set, but to do that again with ISIS at the end of last year was kind of sobering, but full of joy and really fun as well.  It felt kind of really invigorating to go back into that really strong voice.

‘Pleasing You’ by ISIS

There was a lot of emotion at that show.  I saw Rosie cry on stage.

Did she?  Oh, she had her back to me, I didn’t see!

Yeah, there was a lot of emotion in that show, and you also looked like you were having a lot of fun.

Yeah, well I guess there was, there’s always been a lot of emotion attached to ISIS.  I guess that’s why people, you know, from a certain era love the band so much, including us.  I don’t know what else to say about that… *Laughs*

So is it informing any of your newer stuff, or is it something that’s now kind of an ISIS thing and Silver Sircus isn’t visiting that?

It’s an interesting question because you know, obviously Lucinda has written a lot of political works.  But really the Silver Sircus stuff, the universe that we inhabit is a lot more internal and introspective.  Although having said that I think now would be a really good time to write lots of political songs.  If ISIS were making a record now there would be so much to write about, but I don’t think we’re really doing that.  But we might!  I don’t know…  I’d say we’re about 20% into this record, so who knows? *Laughs*

I only have one last question for you, James: Can you see Silver Sircus growing old disgracefully with you?

Hmm…no.  I don’t think, or see like that.  I think in the past I’ve felt pressure to invest in the longevity of things, especially when you’re in your twenties, bands are so much fun.  You never want it to end, but they do end.  Look at the statistics!

You don’t need to tell me that

Yeah!  So all that’s here is today.  All that’s here is what’s in front of us right now.  We made ‘To The Place That Is Home’ and it was a massive full stop on a body of work, on a way of working, on an era in the band’s life, and I didn’t know what was next.  And I think one thing I’ve learned is to not be stressed or to put pressure on myself about not knowing what’s going to be next – in all aspects of my life.  Particularly with music and with that band, and obviously I hold the band very close to my heart, but at the same time I know it’s not something I’m going to do forever.  And it is quite, sort of, agonising hard work *laughs* in a lot of ways.  Silver Sircus is not a party band.

Well, I won’t invite you to play at my birthday this year then.

Well, if you want lots of songs about death and grief and loss…

That sounds right up my alley.

Great! *laughs*  So I…you want wonderful things to go forever.  But they just don’t.  They just don’t.  And that’s fine, that’s okay.  So instead of worrying about something lasting, or never ending, I think it’s a lot better to worry about what you’re doing right now.  And what we’re doing right now is making a new record, with this great financial assistance, and putting all these new energies in, and new ways of working, and new inspirations into it, and it’s just starting to grow legs, and it’s just starting to work out who it wants to be, and just getting past that toddler stage, which is very satisfying.  But it might be the last thing we ever do.  Or it might not.  I don’t know.  Either way’s good for me. *laughs*

 Silver Sircus_Live

Silver Sircus will be emerging from hibernation this Saturday, 25th May to support Underground Lovers at The Zoo.

By: Clint Morrow


LIVE REVIEW: 100% Silk Showcase – Thursday 16th May 2013


So my friends bitched it and I’d already missed Bobby Browser, so I decided to leave my $4 rum+coke at Rics and head up the seedy side of Brunswick St to experience Room40’s 100% Silk Showcase.

The familiar chill often felt upon hearing really good house hit me as I neared the venue, and it was obvious as soon as I entered that Damon Palermo (aka. Magic Touch) had the intimate-party-sized crowd in a trance. Unloading track upon track of emotive, semi-tech house mixed using some intuitive techniques, Magic Touch still gave off just the right amount of LA flavour to assert his status at the top rank of 100% Silk’s roster.

A few treats later Octo Octa took to the decks in spectacular fashion, beginning with his most popular track, the future deep house classic “Let Me See You”. What followed was one of the best house sets I’ve ever witnessed–the groove was omnipresent, and we barely had time to cool down before another infectious beat took control of the dancefloor. But no-one ever actually wanted to stop dancing, and that’s what made the New Hampshire native’s set so memorable…he banded the small and extremely random audience together with a near-perfect setlist and highly energetic performance.

It was good to see Room40 (which is run by electronic/ambient/soundscape luminary Lawrence English) showcase a trio of amazing house artists who we wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to see. The meagre crowd did show that this particular brand of electronic music is still gaining popularity in Brisbane, but it worked…the atmosphere was unique, and it really did feel like we were a small group of individuals coming together to experience some funky, involving house shit. A great night out, and I recommend coming to Room40’s next event if you’re intrigued.

By: James Hilan

ALBUM REIVEW: Silence Yourself by Savages


This is the single “Shut Up” from the new album from post-punk band Savages:

These are the only two albums Joy Division ever released

The choice is yours

This is EMA – I reckon you should all buy EMA’s 2011 album “Past Life Martyred Saints”

and this is also EMA saying cool things about cool music

2 cassette tapes out of 10 for Savages

1,000 000 cassette tapes out of 10 for EMA

By: Dan Newton

SINGLE REVIEW: Feel by Bleeding Knees Club


This is a new single by Bleeding Knees Club called “Feel” – have a listen

I can’t really find the right kind of words to describe why I don’t like this song or this band but I think this video gives a good outline as to how it makes me feel:

0 Cassette tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton


ALBUM REVIEW: Hex.Lover.Killer by The Delta Riggs


When I listen to this album, this is what I hear:

This is who I’m sure The Delta Riggs want to and think they sound like:

But in all reality, this is how their music comes across to a well adjusted human being:

I guess someone has to fill that void that The Screaming Jets left

I fucking hate it, but I’m sure you’ll all love it

Oh yeah, this is The Delta Riggs

0 Cassette tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

LIVE REVIEW: Deftones – 14th May 2013 at The Tivoli


I don’t think I’ll ever be able to explain why the music of Deftones means so much to me. There is something deep inside the sound that they make that resonates with me more than anything else that I listen to and my existence is made 1 million per cent more awesome when I hear their songs. It has been a 15 year love affair that continues to grow with each passing year and like a lot of my favourite bands they now exist in that very special arena where they remain flawless. They just do the whole making music thing right and whether they are in fashion or out of fashion doesn’t bother me, they are pure class.

Entering a sold out Tivoli last night to finally witness my very first stand-alone live experience with Deftones made me realise just how special this band is to not just me but so many other people. The joy, admiration and passion on display last night from the audience was one of those life affirming moments when you realise that humanity has the ability to be joined together in peace and unity. Every inch of the Tivoli was united last night with love and affection with Deftones providing the soundtrack to what felt like a celebration of not just great music but of how amazing life really is.

After the usual support band shuffle Deftones arrived on stage one by one, I had a rush of emotion as each member took the stage. As soon as Chino Moreno entered the stage with that cool almost rhythmic waltz the crowd went absolutely nuts. I was personally overcome with emotion; again, there is something about the presence of Chino Moreno that just overwhelms me. From when I was 15 years old, one of the human beings I wanted to grow up and be was Chino Moreno. Much like Deftones music, there is something about him as an artist and human being that resonates with me over a lot of others. It is unexplainable and as I gaze at my music collection I see a lot of artists he’s turned me onto as a result of his influence. Simply put, Chino Moreno is a fucking star and I can’t help but applaud his very presence, the man is incredibly iconic in my world. This was one of the many moments during the night where I was thrust into an ultramega “life is fucking amazing” headspace. The emotion of seeing Deftones enter the stage sent shivers down my spine and the band hadn’t even played a fucking note of music. I kept reminding myself, “Just keep it together” and with that thought I start to hear the first riff of the night serenade my ears, that big beautiful riff of “Rocket Skates” and within seconds the celebration of life is in full procession.

There are so many set list highlights to mention but I think I’ll focus on the moments that affected me the most. The first emotional highlight came when those chords of “Be Quiet and Drive (far away)” filled the room. This was the moment where I just surrendered to the moment and let the pure happiness and emotion of that song wash over me. I tried my best to swallow the emotion of it all but this was the first moment where I felt tears come from me. Here I was listening to a song that has been a saviour for me for half of my natural life being played by the human beings who made it famous. Judging from the audience’s reaction I have a feeling I wasn’t the only human totally overcome with emotion in that moment. Inside the sway of “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)” are good memories and bad memories of my life from 15 to 30. All of the times I needed to escape the cruelty of this world or some human relationship I was drowning in. All of the emotion I felt in that moment of hearing the song live pushed me to a point of maximum happiness.

This moment was repeated once again with maximum effect during “Digital Bath” and “Change (In The House Of Flies)” with my tears of joy peaking during the latter song. You have to understand these are songs that have been ingrained in my musical DNA for so long with every good and bad moment of my life being soundtracked by these songs and this band. Hearing Chino hit that moment in “Digital Bath” – my favourite Deftones track of all time – sent a million shivers all over my body and that was the point where I just let the tears of joy flow, fuck man, it was powerful. I thought by this point that all of my emotional energy was spent but once again this cycle was repeated during every note of “Change (in the house of flies)” and by this point I don’t think you could of encountered me in a more happier state of bliss. You could have whispered in my ear after that moment “Dan, unfortunately in the next two minutes you will die” and I would have left my physical uniform and gladly gone into the great unknown of death with a very happy and satisfied mind.

That is the power of Deftones and the music they make and the effect it has on me as a human being. I mean, fuck, that is the power of music in general when it is functioning on a deep and intense level. It has the ability to not just change your mood but elevate it to a place where you can encounter the rush of pure happiness and like a drug that is the rush I’m pretty sure all of us chase with all of the music we listen to on a daily basis. Those moments of pure bliss may be brief but is so powerful and life affirming that it suspends you inside a glow for days afterwards leaving you plugged into the notion that life is an amazing thing to behold. That is when I belive in humanity and that is when I feel blessed that human beings like Deftones exist. They are almost like these divine messengers who have the ability to unite us all even if it is for just two hours on a Tuesday night in May.

Deftones write dark beautiful music that come alive as celebration hymns in the live arena. You can tell they are a band that loves each other and the audience they perform for. Last night proved that Deftones have become a new modern classic rock n roll band who’ll go down in history as one of the most important bands to have ever existed.

I love you deeply Chino, Stephen, Abe, Frank and Sergio for providing such a wonderful and life affirming night of music.

As I like to say in moments like this, last night Deftones reminded me that there is still good air to breathe.

10 million cassette tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton xo


Deftones Brisbane Set List – 14th May 2013 at The Tivoli

1. Rocket Skates

2. Diamond Eyes

3. Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)

4. My Own Summer (Shove It)

5. Lhabia

6. Rosemary

7. You’ve Seen The Butcher

8. Sextape

9. Feiticeira

10. Digital Bath

11. Poltergeist

12. Tempest

13. Swerve City

14. Around The Fur

15. Headup

16. Riviere

17. Change (In The House Of Flies)

18. Bloody Cape


19. Root

20. Engine No. 9

21. 7 Words

LIVE REVIEW: TOOL – 6th May 2013 at The Brisbane Entertainment Centre


This was my second experience seeing TOOL live and weighing up the two experiences I’d have to say that they are both even in terms of the power they communicated. Like TOOL themselves, the live experience evolves and changes each time you see them so to compare one with the other is pointless. As this is my most recent and freshest experience with the band it will no doubt be the favoured experience simply because it is the most recent but I’m convinced that the more I see TOOL live the better and more unique each experience will be.

I’m not one of those human beings who belive in an investment in the whole currency of complaint that this was the second tour of Australia without a new album. I don’t live inside of that “band as jukebox” bubble that so many fragile minds function with. Any year that I get to see TOOL live is an amazing year as far as I’m concerned. New material or not, TOOL are a band that every human being should experience live. Their live shows are the gateway to the divine and I’ll go on record to say that no band in living existence puts on a show like TOOL that is just a fact.

I’m a human being who lives for that intense experience that music can provide. I don’t care for empty calorie music, never have and never will. All the bands I like attack their music with an intensity that matches my own. It mirrors the deep way that I feel and interact with life, it has to dabble in all aspects of the spiritual and of course the nonsense. Equal parts “fuck you” and equal parts “peace and love” with a heavy dose of truth and honesty. I love a good lie for artistic purposes but I think the spirit of that “lie” for art’s sake narrative needs to be shooting for some kind of truth. That is why TOOL reigns supreme in my universe because they are the perfect band on all levels. They know how to teach you about love and also the healing power of saying “fuck you” to the disgusting stain of humanity.

I don’t take drugs at all; I got enough problems to manage in my life without wrestling with the head-trip drama of drugs. Seeing TOOL live is however the closet thing I could compare an intense drug trip to at this stage of my life. The way the music is set against the amazing visuals and light show is hella intense and reeks of the kind of feverish drama that your more mind expanding drugs deal in. The perfect example of this occurred during the intense performance of “Lateralus” which had me convinced at one point that I was indeed leaving my physical body for some kind of afterlife experience, it was fucking intense and I’m a person who loves intensity, but Jesus Christ there were points during this song that I almost felt nervous with the places it was taking me but like every good piece of darkness the end result exploded pure bliss and relaxation.

I refuse to review TOOL by the standard criteria outlined to most music journalist types, because TOOL live outside of this kind of order. I was taken on an intense journey from start to finish that took me to all the different corners of my mind. It is a joy to witness a band who doesn’t indulge in entertainment in the live arena. When TOOL play live they really are taking you on a journey soaked in art, it is hard to explain and document inside the walls of something as impure as music criticism.

When it comes to surviving the chaos of existence everyone has a death coping mechanism which can include religion, spirituality, star signs, atheism, that whole fence sitting agnostic thing and of course science. I nominate TOOL as my death coping mechanism because experiencing them live is like a spiritual experience that plugs me in to the idea of what GOD could be and what my existence may be like once I leave my physical uniform for my next journey after this life ends. That is the power of what TOOL offer both on a record and in the live arena. Some of the human beings who attended simply wanted to bang their heads and that is cool as well, but seeing TOOL live for the second time in my life felt like I was entering some kind of holy place, like a church or temple and the music was being communicated like some ancient text providing the DNA structure for how to survive this ocean of chaos known as life.

The way I see it, TOOL is the divine reflection of all that is wonderful and terrible about our humanity and for that I am grateful. If only more human beings could learn to communicate with such intensity and compassion we may one day restore peace to the galaxy.

10 million cassette tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton


Tool Brisbane Set List – 6th May 2013 at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre

1. Hooker With A Penis

2. Opiate

3. Schism (jam intro)

4. Pushit

5. Intension

6. Lateralus


7. Drum Solo

8. Jambi

9. 46 & 2

10. Aenima

11. Stinkfist

SINGLE REVIEW: “Fishbowl” by The Mercy Beat


Please listen to this track right now, very fucking loud:

Did you listen to it?

I bet you didn’t you lazy fuck, I’m going to only tell you one more time please listen:

So did you listen to it?

Well bad fucking luck if you didn’t, you’re missing out. I’m sure you’re a fan of all that borecore / neatcore trash polluting our musical landscape and find loud rock music disgusting don’t you?

I love THE MERCY BEAT pretty hardcore, they are the best rock n roll band functioning in Australia at the moment and while you all fuss over the latest neat hype music with better haircuts and cleaner pants THE MERCY BEAT will reign supreme. I never really liked or enjoyed Violent Soho, DZ Deathrays or Dune Rats or any of the other rock n roll being offered to modern youth culture, I was always firmly of the belief that THE MERCY BEAT destroyed it all and their brand new single “Fishbowl” proves once again why some people drink pepsi and why some people drink coke because you know, I’ll take the “real thing” over the taste of a “new generation” any day of the week.

I’m not going to use any kind of journalism wankerisms to describe this song, fuck that any day of the week, I’m just going to tell you that if you like important bands like Melvins you’ll dig the kind of noise that THE MERCY BEAT offer. This is fucking brutal stuff but still showcases a brilliant songwriting skill that isn’t a product of all of the “retro” posers coming from our town.

Thank fucking god that THE MERCY BEAT are about to release an album to save us from all of the “brand aware” borecore / neatcore bands who totally destroy the true believers faith in music ever being a place where depth and intensity reign supreme.

Ugly music for Ugly people and the perfect soundtrack for the well-adjusted / open minded music listener.

10 Cassette Tapes Out of 10

By: Dan Newton xo

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Tegan and Sara – Live at The Tivoli

Thoughts From Jas

April was a special month for music lovers, filled with many amazing musical performances; including a visit from the Canadian duo Tegan and Sara. The twin sisters who first shot to our attention in 1999, have just released their 7th album Heartthrob, a collection of songs inspired by 80s synth, power hooks and big electro beats. For those who have followed Tegan and Sara over the years, Heartthrob demonstrates a new direction for the duo, shifting from guitar folk rock to a more mainstream record that mixes past with present. For a duo who made their following from heartfelt acoustic/piano folk rock, such a shift may initially seem a ‘sell-out’, however in many regards nothing has really changed when it comes to ‘who’ Tegan and Sara are. On Stereogum, Liz Pelly writes:

“Heartthrob might sound like a radio-ready dance album to newcomers, but knowing the band’s deep-rooted history in…

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The Beetle Bar Presents Earcandy #2!

Thoughts From Jas

IMG_8488 copy

The decision to see a band play live, as opposed to listening to a CD, is always an adventure. Sometimes we are disappointed by a live performance, and other times, the experience far exceeds our expectations. In my personal experience, last Friday night was a mixture of both.

Heading to the Beetle Bar to review the Earcandy #2 gig, I was curious to see how  the night would pan out. I had made a decision earlier that day not to pre-listen to any of the bands that would be playing that night, because I wanted to experience each artist without any bias.

Walking into the bar, both my boyfriend and I were in a pretty average mood after a hectic work week, and felt like nothing more than curling up in a doona and sleeping for a long, long time. But then something crazy happened. Something enticing, mind triggering and…

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LIVE REVIEW: The Buzzcocks live at the Zoo (Saturday 20th April 2013)


Sometimes everything comes together for the right reasons. In the dawn of punk there was an overwhelming surge of aggressive bands that were there for sex and drugs. The Buzzcocks gave way to that and birthed a new type of angst. When punk was at its roughest the Buzzcocks showed this softer side of punk rock…

I turned up to Bleeding Knees club setting up. The zoo was packed, as you would expect. I knew immediately that I was in for a good time, being a fan of the Buzzcocks since high school I was delighted to see that the crowd was made up of people almost exclusively middle age. Only a truly iconic band could pull this many people away from their families.

Bleeding Knees Club played their entire set squeezed in front of the Buzzcocks drum kit, they didn’t really seem to mind about this however. Bleeding Knees Club put on an enjoyable performance, it was nice to see an Aussie band supporting the Buzzcocks and they seemed perfect for the job. Bleeding Knees Club have seen quite a bit of success in recent times and like tonight’s headliners, Bleeding Knees Club gives off the same “life is awesome” vibe and as a result the crowd responded positively to their music. That being said there’s no denying no one was really there to see Bleeding Knees Club and when the Buzzcocks finally took the stage you could clearly tell the difference between the polite clapping Bleeding Knees Club received and the rabid applause that greeted the Buzzcocks.

The Buzzcocks writing style is incredibly original and they are true pioneers of not just punk rock but sophisticated guitar music in general. Many bands have attempted to imitate it but rarely do any of them come close to the special flavour of the Buzzcocks music. Their music is so raw and honest; every syllable is pure punk with every tune being mellow yet energetic. Each song by the Buzzcocks has a certain romantic quality to it which is a rare quality that is missing from a lot of modern music; even their more outlandish songs like “orgasm addict” easily has four times the lyrical quality of any other bands from their particular generation.

I talked to a lady in-between sets – she was older and clearly an original Buzzcocks fan and was dressed head to toe in black leather. She told me that music was her life and that amongst the punk wave of the seventies the Buzzcocks provided something just as thought provoking and challenging, but softer and easier to listen to, with a positive outlook on life and I completely agree with her. There is something about the Buzzcocks; it is something very English and incredibly charming. The music fills you with a very optimistic energy- putting you into a carefree dimension

When The Buzzcocks took the stage, it was a virtual wall of thick set older men. It took me a long time of squeezing and hasty apologies to get to the mosh pit. I can certainly verify that the Buzzcocks do indeed still rock and most certainly don’t disappoint. They sang a lot of their best and most well-known songs, tracks like “what do you get,” “whatever happened to?,” “sixteen,” “orgasm addict” and “I don’t mind” all of which were meet with a slightly deranged enthusiasm.

Shelley led the crowd to an energetic performance that totally rocked. The set seemed to be over in no time with the layers of sweat, torn cloths and spilt beer pilling up on each other. Diggle didn’t disappoint performing ‘harmony in my head’ to a ravenous crowd. Chris Remmington, on bass, didn’t let the ball drop either responding to the crowd’s enthusiasm. Which leaves Danny Farrant (one of the coolest drummers out there) who played one of the most passionate live sets I’ve seen.

When the band returned for their eagerly anticipated encore the audience was by this stage collectively filled with a crazily aggressive kind of utopia. The Buzzcocks saved best for last including “Ever fallen in love” and finishing with “Oh Shit” which everyone (including the odd stay adult kid that had been dragged along) sang in unison. This inadvertently made the last minute of the Buzzcocks set the best part yet when everyone cried into the air ‘admit admit admit you’re shit.’

It was certainly the best gig of the year and perhaps of my adult existence thus far. If you missed it, you too will probably be yelling ‘oh shit.’


By: Kat Gibson



Hello Beautiful World,

Let me open this week’s editorial by quoting a passage from the liner notes of the recent Soundgarden Anthology “Telephantasm” which is as follows:

“Then someone had to go and wreck it by giving it a label. The word “Grunge” was like talking to someone with bad breath. You could put up with it but you still wanted to distance yourself. In the 80′s / early 90′s, grunge was a wholesale term slapped on every Seattle band like a “My Kid Is an Honor Student” bumper sticker. That Time magazine in October of 1993 – and nearly every rock publication in the world at the time – headlined the shortsighted categorisation meant that they didn’t really get it. Or they just didn’t comprehend the myriad of intensely creative sounds and expressive “I don’t care”-isms. Can’t sell soup without a label.”

This quote is the best way for me to introduce how much I dislike the genre tag of “Grunge” and the way it has evolved over the past twenty years.

Now, let me begin by saying that I know nothing about nothing. I think on that basis alone I am the best qualified person to discuss the myth that is Grunge. Let it be known that a lot of the bands lumped into this Genre Tag – Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Alice In Chains, Screaming Trees, The Melvins and The Smashing Pumpkins (not a Seattle band but most young folk lump them in with the whole Grunge movement) – are some of my favourite bands of all time. These are bands that helped introduce me to punk rock and heavy metal and the basic sophisticated guitar music that came before it. The alternative nation of the 90’s was my entry point to listening to music for its emotional resonance rather than its entertainment value. It started when I was just eleven years old (I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing this story by now) and it hasn’t stopped. All of the musicians in these bands are iconic to me and are people I still idolise to this day no matter what phase of musical evolution I’m in.

Beyond the above mentioned bands, I’ve also spent a good portion of my life exploring all the bands Seattle offered, not just the ones that got popular during the whole “Grunge” movement. I’m talking about bands like The Wipers, Girl Trouble, Pigeon Head, The Posies, The Gits, Some Velvet Sidewalk, Dead Moon, 7 Year Bitch, The U-Men, Skin Yard, Tad and many many more. You see, when the Seattle scene came to my attention at a young age, I became obsessed and instead of just sticking to the surface I decided to dig deeper into the whole scene in order to get the full picture. What you had was an incredible scene of independent bands that drew from all corners of the music world to make some very loud and interesting rock n roll. Like every scene or movement however, a lot of those bands didn’t get the full spotlight and you could argue that this was a positive but it ultimately just highlights how much commerce was involved with the idea of “Grunge.” In short, the bands from Seattle didn’t stop being adventurous and progressive the media and record labels did and instead of investing and digging deeper into some of the more adventurous bands from Seattle, they moved on to the next thing that was going to make the money.

All of that aside, my job with todays editorial is to illustrate why I don’t like the word “Grunge” as a genre tag.

One of the main reasons I have such a dislike for the genre tag, is because of how lazy it is from both a punters point of view and journalist’s point of view. The last two bands I’ve played in over the past seven years have played sophisticated guitar based music. Any band I’ve ever played in has never set out to have a sound or a style or a genre tag. The only goal was to write honest sounding music. It seemed that every time we played a show where someone reviewed it, the first genre tag dropped was the word “Grunge” which ultimately frustrated me to no end. I didn’t mind being compared to the bands from Seattle because god knows I love a lot of them, but to simply refer to what we did as “Grunge” just because we had loud guitars and a bit of intensity and weirdness and did not really give a fuck about image or appearance really didn’t sit well with me.

Now, you could argue that I’m being harsh for feeling this way and for the most part you’d be correct, but let me elaborate why it was so annoying to be referred to as a Grunge band. Quite simply, it doesn’t paint an accurate picture of the pool of influences that each band member is accessing to create our sound. To me it was a sign of incredibly lazy journalism when we got lumped into the Grunge category. It also allowed punters and people who read it to assume certain things about our band and the kind of music we played, which is just incredibly false. Being classed as grunge allows people to assume that you must be a Clone Temple Pilot. That is not the case and let me assure you that although Galapogos have a healthy respect for all of the wonderful music of the 90′s, we’re not a fucking nostalgia act. We believe in making future punk, the same way the bands from Seattle did. Hence the dilemma, you align yourself with a band like Soundgarden who are just simply an awesome Psyche Rock Band and all of a sudden people assume certain things about what you are like as people and as a band. Those bands inspire us because they are all individual sounding and had a lot of character. That is the inspiration we take from them. ‘

This brings me to my next point, the dreaded Grunge revival.

Now, don’t take this wrong because ultimately I’m thrilled that a younger generation of people are getting into all the Seattle bands and are feeling empowered by the emotional connection they are feeling with those bands, but don’t call it a fucking revival. Don’t make it a fashion parade and piss on the legacy by simply wearing flannel and wearing doc martens. Seattle was anti-image and the recent Grunge Revival is all about the image. It plays by the rules instead of breaking them and it produces some of the most pedestrian sounding bands I’ve heard in recent times. It’s more Puddle of Mudd than it is Nirvana. I hate anything retro and to see youth culture slide the Seattle movement or grunge bands (blah) into this realm of cultural consumption is disgusting.

The Basic disdain I have for any human being who indulges in retro nostalgia is the way that they don’t offer anything new to the sound they are trying to mimic. Somehow modern youth culture adopted a rather devolved idea of creative evolution by buying into the idea that in order for something to be psychedelic it has to sound 60’s / 70’s or to sound Grunge it has to mimic the 90’s or to be Shoegaze it literally has to be My Bloody Valentine. Well done humanity, you have successfully missed the point of creative evolution, but hey at least you look great doing it, nothing says revolution like a cool pair of pants and intense haircuts.

Simply putting an old formula into a new era is not fresh or exciting, it is dull and predictable and if it was a colour it would be grey or a really dull beige. It’s incredibly unattractive and is the furthest thing from creative evolution. A lot of bands it seems just pick a handful of groups to mimic and then just do their best to interpret that formula. These are some of the same bands that complain about lack of success from their music and it surprises me that it hasn’t occurred to them as to why. Then there are of course the few nostalgia acts of the recent years that have ripped off an established sound, done it note for note and had it sold to youth culture as the new happening thing. It is a machine that makes me want to vomit all kinds of disgust but you know, I’m just an alien, this isn’t my planet so I’m free to shit on the carpet if I want to.

Bringing back to point, I find it to be an incredibly lazy and a cheap way to cash in on rock n roll history. I don’t believe any era is better than another. I don’t yearn for the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s or 00’s, I just yearn for the moment and what that can provide. No era of music is better than another, each decade has had great above ground and below ground sounds that were influential to the evolution of music. I see the need for genre segregation as the perfect mirror to the equality issue we face in our society. The more we try to segregate what we do the further we drive away from equality. It’s very simple for me, you either make good music or you make bad music. Colour it with any genre tag you like, it is a simple as this. Show me your soul, not how you put a million genres in a style blender to erupt into some new happening thing. I don’t care how popular or unpopular your band is, just show me your fucking soul through your music. Every inch of music no matter where it comes from has that ability to connect and no genre is of more worth than another, it is all fucking equal. Next time you go to sit down and make your genre health shake just remember what damage you are doing to equality, trust me on that one you are either part of the solution or part of the problem.

So, all I’ve done is list my complaints and not offered any real solution. Well, the truth is there isn’t a solution because the strength of the Seattle Sound is forever implanted in the word “Grunge.” I can’t change that and a lot of people will find the time and the words to tear my argument to shreds, you know those reigning world champions of the internet, the keyboard crusaders or as I like to call them, thundercunts. The truth is, I dislike that Grunge is a lazy way for people describe intense or loud rock n roll that isn’t quite indie and isn’t quite metal and isn’t quite punk. In the modern era, I just believe that in the spirit of evolution we should bury the past and move towards making new movements and new ideas. The bands from Seattle detested the way Grunge turned their town into a trend and into a fashion and I agree, because it was a tragedy at the end of the day. Ultimately, it was a cheap way for journalists to refer to one of the most vital movements in music.

I guess it’s all still rock n roll to me.

Fuck, I think at the end of the day I just really can’t stand human beings, where the fuck are the aliens?

Big Love xo

By: Dan Newton