7″ VINYL REVIEW: “Prelude to Debut” by Pale Earth

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I feel sorry for people in Brisbane, Australia and the World who don’t know the healing power of Benjamin Thompson and his amazing music. You may not know his name and if you don’t then you clearly don’t respect music enough. You should probably go back to your business plan and not even bother because you fail. Sorry to sound harsh and elitist but if you’re going to be a successful local scene dude you may want to invest in the history of your town and in Brisbane no one makes music cooler than Benjamin Thompson. Okay, so the name still doesn’t ring a bell you fucking thundercunt, well let me do the hard work for you – Benjamin Thompson played in the most radical band of the past decade, they are called “The Rational Academy” and before you move any further please go and visit this bandcamp page and buy everything:

http://therationalacademy.bandcamp.com/

You haven’t done it yet have you? Your laziness has gotten the better of you and you think you have heard all that is cool about cool guitar music. Let me tell you that you are wrong, now go and visit this link:

http://therationalacademy.bandcamp.com/

I’ll only tell you twice

Moving forward, I was thrilled to be sent an advanced link to the brand new Pale Earth 7 inch titled “Prelude to Debut.” The songs contained on this release are beyond fantastic. To divert for a second, I better let you know that Pale Earth is the latest creative vehicle for Benjamin Thompson, you know, that Kool as fuck dude who I mentioned above. I’ve loved everything that he has released so far under the Pale Earth name and “Prelude to Debut” is no exception.

There is so much hurt and loss buried inside these electronic mood pieces and it is perfect doomgaze. I can just relax into these songs, with the lights turned off and just be lulled into all kinds of landscapes. I can feel the beauty and ugliness of life all at once but I can also taste the regret dripping from these songs. It’s the kind of regret that one suffers in times of loss, regret for the suffocation of time and our lack of it. Considering the music is largely instrumental and basically two pieces of moodgaze electronic fuzz it is amazing how lyrical the noise is. Thompson’s manipulation of noise is where the story is told on “Prelude to Debut” – it speaks louder than any words and you can hear the pain pouring out of him even as you sink inside the rather blissfully cold electronic fortress that is surrounded by a halo of funeral drones. These passages of sound are drenched in loss, it is beautifully overwhelming how these two pieces of music send your imagination crazy with an inundation of life’s best and worst memories.

It goes without saying that Pale Earth is a very important project and one that I am following with a feverish fascination. Considering the amount of rapture shaped drones being communicated by Pale Earth it still affects and stays with me like great pop music. This music stays with me and is the special kind of top shelf stuff that I only share with very special human beings. Pale Earth deserve to be worshiped and Benjamin Thompson deserves his own chapter in the music industry textbook so that all of the little children can understand how to be an artist as opposed to a musician (trust me, there is a big difference).

The new 7 inch from Pale Earth “Prelude To Debut” is vital listening for those of us who respect music. If you don’t enjoy this, then I’m sorry, you are just into music for its entertainment value as opposed to the emotional release it can provide. I feel sorry for you, but you can always learn, this 7 inch is a good start.

10 Million Cassette Tapes out of 10

Listen and Order on the following link:

http://paleearth.bandcamp.com/album/prelude-to-debut

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Official Website – www.paleearth.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/paleearth
Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/paleearth

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SINGLE REVIEW: “Shallow Water” by Sports Fan

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The new single from Sports fan is called “Shallow Water” and it is a very cool pop song and just like the bio states, it has that Ben Folds flavour. This is very well executed music and when the quirky verse explodes into the moody chorus things become all the more interesting and tasty. I also hear a whole bunch of Blur on this song, when Blur indulges in sunshine pop. It does however lack that beautiful English cynicism that Blur do so well and instead opts for the Folds 101 wordplay. This song is of course perfectly framed by the appearance of Jen Boyce (Ball Park Music, Little Planes Land) who is all class and performs beautifully.

A song like “Shallow Water” is ready to go and is bound to put Sports Fan that bit closer to being next year’s Triple J darlings. Overall this is too sickly sweet for regular rotation on my stereo but the excitement and conviction of Sports Fan is the infectious part. Sure, you could argue it’s the pop skills but the song is hardly progressive in terms of its structure and dynamics. It sticks to the plan of verse, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus etc etc and there is a reason why this kind of structure exists. If you stick to it you can’t really fail but reading the map is one thing, learning to explore without it is another and I’d love to see more of that from Sports Fan. This is however a minor piece of criticism on my part because as I mentioned, the band’s conviction and passion is what shines through when you listen to their music and regardless of genre it is important to convince people you mean it and I believe what Sports Fan have to say.

8 Cassette Tapes out of 10

Have a list to “Shallow Water” right here:

https://soundcloud.com/sportsfanband/sports-fan-jen-boyce-shallow-water

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sportsfanband
Bandcamp – sportsfan.bandcamp.com
Twitter – twitter.com/sportsfanband
Youtube – youtube.com/sportsfanband
Instagram – instagram.com/sportsfanband
Soundcloud – soundcloud.com/sportsfanband

SINGLE REVIEW: “Endless Drain” by Major Leagues

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I am absolutely in love with the new single from Major Leagues. It is called “Endless Drain” and it is a wonderful illustration of summer pop framed by all of the joy and release of lo-fi shoegaze. It just makes you feel good and showcases Major Leagues respect for combining experimental guitar music with pop skills. I can hear the nods to Sonic Youth, Pixies, My Bloody Valentine and Yo La Tengo on “Endless Drain” but I also taste the delicious AM sway of Carole King.

It’s great that Major Leagues make such brilliant pop music but I really hope they stretch their legs on a full length sometime soon and really freak the fuck out on the noise side of things. That would truly rule. More reverb, delay and fuzz, totally let the pop skills suffocate underneath the blankets of screaming noise.

All that shite aside, I love it and it reminds me hardcore of the healing power of Yo La Tengo and that is an important influence for any indie pop music humans to indulge in. Fuck, it sounds so damn good. I’m about to press play again, this is the kind of song that saves lives and brings humans closer together for awkward park bench kisses, ah the joy of the crush.

8 Cassette Tapes Out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

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

EP REVIEW: “This Town” by Release The Hounds

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Release the Hounds are a very traditional DIY punk rock band from Brisbane and their wonderful second EP “This Town” has just been released and it is a beautiful no frills movement of music. There is no bullshit with Release the Hounds and it is very clear that this band is a pure exercise in integrity and the joy and cathartic release of playing intense punk rock music. That will always get big marks from me due to my appreciation of the entire history of punk rock.

On this EP the band doesn’t really break any creative boundaries or push any envelopes musically but with the kind of sound the key to communicating successfully is your use of intensity and dynamics to make the straight ahead feel resonate. Release the Hounds do a perfect job of that and are brilliant in the way they mix the aggression and song structures to keep you interested. They sound like a band that has spent years studying the Melvins and Black Flag handbook but I also hear Fugazi and The Nation Blue as well.

Look, bands like this will do two kinds of things to people – it will either make the closed mind non-respecter of music history go “it all sounds the fucking same” or it will appeal directly to human beings fed up with clean and neat music who want some fucking intense release. If you fall into the latter category you’ll end up following this band every step of the way because that is the kind of rapture Release the Hounds demand and reward their fans with and that is fucking exciting.

I loved this EP and it helped sell me on the DIY attitude of Release the Hounds and for that I’m glad. I’m so pleased to see young bands be so dedicated to the ethos of actually doing it themselves instead of competing in the dirty rotten pyramid scheme known as the music industry. Fuck it thrills me beyond belief.

If you’re young pissed off and in search of a band to be your saviours then Release the Hounds are the band you’re looking for, do your best to listen to their amazing second EP “This Town” it is all kinds of brill.

8 Cassette Tape Out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links

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

SINGLE REVIEW: “Lost Track Of Time” by MTNS

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Don’t read this just go and listen to the brand new single from MTNS immediately, oh fuck it is so great. This is the kind of electronic swoon that I love and over the course of 2 minutes and 56 seconds MTNS deliver one of the best things I’ve heard all year. It’s got the perfect ingredients in terms of what I desire when I listen to music – a heavy mood, an atmosphere saturated in all kinds of aches and a deep yearning – and when you slip deep into the late night sway of “Lost Track of Time” you just fucking float away. I don’t care that I’ve heard this kind of song dynamically and stylistically before a million times over, that doesn’t matter at all because I’m a sucker for this kind of sound. I’ve just played this song for the 50th time since I heard it and I still get that good time vibe from that bummer sunshine radiating from every inch of it.

Fuck, MTNS know what they are doing and how they want to communicate their emotions through music and that will always make me sit up and take notice. They call this Chill Wave, fuck it, I do but I don’t really know who or what kind of music that refers to. This is just plain old shiver pop to me in the Cocteau Twins and Boards of Canada tradition.

Stop teasing me with singles MTNS I want a fucking full length – I can’t wait to hear how they travel over a full length. As long as it makes me swoon like “Lost Track of Time” I’ll be a very happy human being.

You get top marks from me, but release an album asap please.

Listen to the song here and do it now:

10 Cassette Tapes Out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mtnsmusic
Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/mtnsmusic

SINGLE REVIEW: “Heavy” by Hannah Karydas

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There is something refreshing about the debut single from Hannah Karydas which is called “Heavy” – for a start it boycotts any standard pop song or sunshine agenda and communicates a deeper kind of hurt with a wonderful percussive gallop and vocal atmosphere. There is some serious heartbreak being discussed on this track with a reflective focus on the anger of teenage disappointment. It has some serious intensity which remains restrained which showcases the talent of Hannah’s songwriting. A lot of artists with this much angst would have found a way to reach some kind of distorted crescendo, but on “Heavy” we only get the subtle fuck you which is so amazingly fresh. Hannah is clearly a student of the “less is more” theory and this song is a clear example of when it is done right.

“Heavy” sounds like it is part of a bigger piece of communication though, a single in terms of its ability to resonate with you on a direct level but I can’t help but predict that Hannah’s upcoming debut EP will be a wonderful journey of youthful intensity and pain. I personally have become a massive fan just from this song and I can’t rave enough about the intelligence of Hannah’s writing. Underneath the atmosphere and strums of the acoustic guitar you can hear how much joy and pain relief Hannah gets from communicating through music. I also hear an artist that is giving us a small glimpse at her desire to experiment with sound, not just song structures but with the dynamics and atmospheres and moods of her compositions. Much like the amazing Emma Louise, while all the other humans in Australia spend time trying to write obvious radio fodder, Hannah Karydas will resonate with a larger audience by boycotting that path and creating music that is heavy on emotion and thick with sonic experimentation and “thank fuck for that” is all I can say.

I’m going to say that you’d be foolish to ignore Hannah Karydas because she’ll be a star. I hear so many awesome sounds in her song “Heavy” from M.I.A. to Patti Smith with hints of Radiohead and other right on artists like Emma Louise. That is just on the surface, as I’ve mentioned I’m convinced that Hannah Karydas is an intense disciple of music because from this song alone you can tell how much she respects music and how much she wants to honour her eclectic influences.

This song is perfect and if you don’t understand why then I guess you are one of those humans who believe in the power of coming first in a band competition, you fool.

Do your best to track down Hannah Karydas and invest now.

10 Cassette Tapes out of 10

Check out “Heavy” by pressing play

P.S. check out this song as well – fuck, talk about a swoony little heartbreaker of a tune, so much ache

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/han.karydas
Youtube – http://www.youtube.com/hannahkarydas
Soundcloud – www.soundcloud.com/hannahkarydas

ALBUM REVIEW: “Everybody Loves Sausages” by The Melvins

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The Melvins don’t need to be put under critical analysis by any music reviewer. The Melvins exist outside the agenda of the demands of the music industry in terms of publicity and praise. They have and always will be the coolest band to exist on the planet. This is just a simple fact and you either understand this or you don’t. I feel sorry for you if you don’t because you are missing out on some of the best music ever written.

I’ve adored this band since I was 13 going on 14 and like most humans it was the whole Seattle thing that led me to them but you know fuck that piece of history, The Melvins were better than all the bands from that town before it happened, while it happened and after it happened. They didn’t need to attach themselves to any of the hype or “scene” that was happening. They just did as they have always done, make forward thinking rock n roll.

“Everybody Loves Sausages” is the bands 19th studio album (with their total discography now reaching 51 if you include EPs, Compilations, Live Albums and Collaboration albums) in a career that has been running for 30 years. This is a covers album with lots of both known and unknown artists featured. I mean fuck there is a Scientists cover and anyone playing in a sophisticated guitar band in Australia who don’t know who The Scientists are need to fucking start respecting music and go and discover the bands discography.

Like every Melvins release, it just gets better and better with the most satisfying part being the sheer consistency of the bands release schedule proving that we won’t have to wait to long for more Melvins music and that makes me incredibly happy. It was about time that we saw The Melvins release a full covers album and you’d be foolish not to indulge in this album.

Look, the name heavy and weird is just a tribute to The Melvins because when anyone ever asks me what kind of music I like I always like to say “stuff that’s heavy and weird, you know like The Melvins” so this band will always get a perfect score from me.

I hope The Melvins live forever.

10 million cassette tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/melvinsarmy
Official Website – http://www.themelvins.net or http://www.melvins.com

ALBUM REVIEW: “Allerton Place” by Rawr Vanity

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I must admit that I’m not really a fan of the debut album by Rawr Vanity called “Allerton Place.”  This music is way too calculated and way too clean for my tastes. I sat down and attempted to find things I like about it but there was just nothing that grabbed me however judging from the bands achievements and resume / biography I don’t really think I’m the target market. I was sent this album to review however and review it I will.

Rawr Vanity makes pop music but not in a forward thinking manner, in the literal sense. This is an album full of clichéd dynamics that have helped many popular music artists in the top forty charts sell a product and that is exactly how this band comes across, as a product. That probably works for them but I much prefer to hear something a bit exciting and envelope pushing even when it comes to making pop music. The band sounds like they are auditioning to be rock stars and that works I guess but by the end of the album I could start to predict where they dynamics of the album were going with each song. It just felt like a big collection of “please sign me” demos which again are fine but when the songs don’t offer anything beyond the pop music formula it causes boredom as a listener.

The redeeming quality of this album is the talent each member has for their chosen instrument. They are all incredibly skilled players and this music obviously means a lot to them and again judging from their biographies it means a lot to other people as well. This band will achieve success regardless of what I think and I suspect that a lot of the heaviness and weirdness I desire and love about good music is not at the front of Rawr Vanity’s minds when they write. Production is clean and crisp and recorded at all the right levels with the appropriate radio mixes on display. It sounds stellar going through any of my stereo systems.

All in all, this is not for me but it may be for you if you enjoy simple straight up pop music with a dirty edge. Think the Veronicas and you’re in the ball park.

My opinion matters nothing though because Rawr Vanity are clearly lovely people with a clear goal in mind. I wish them luck with that journey.

5 Cassette Tapes Out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

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

EP REVIEW: “Sugar” by Columbia Buffet

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I love Columbia Buffet and their EP “Sugar” is a damn fine listen. This is sophisticated guitar music for those of us who understand the relevance and power of R.E.M., The Replacements, Lemonheads, Sunny Day Real Estate and Husker Du. The brilliant thing about “Sugar” is the way the band showcases a healthy understanding of Punk Rock but instead of attack they favour pop skills in terms of communicating their rather emotional songs.

I can’t help be swept up in these songs the way I am with one of my favourite bands Sunny Day Real Estate who helped pioneer this brand of emotional guitar rock music. The uneducated would label it pop-punk but that doesn’t serve the sound because yes there is punk rock attached to it along with wonderful slabs of infectious pop music but it isn’t as direct and clean as what most mainstream audiences would label as pop-punk. This is pop-punk in the Husker Du tradition where traditional hardcore meets world-class songwriting and Brisbane has a long tradition of producing bands who deal this kind of sound.

I also had the pleasure of having the band send me some new songs due for release very soon and they take the template of what’s on display on the “Sugar “ EP and evolve it to both darker and more expansive levels without losing that pop edge. Both collections of songs mean a lot to the people playing them and as is the case with sophisticated guitar music that passion is infectious as a listener. These songs give me the same feeling of calm that “Summer” by Buffalo Tom does and I yearn for this kind of rock music.

A band like Columbia Buffet has the potential to be underground heroes but they also have the kind of quality songwriting that may see them crossover to more mainstream audiences. Either outcome is a positive one because they are a band who mean what they sing and that’s all I care about regardless of what level they rise to.

8 Cassette Tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Listen to the “Sugar” EP on the following link

http://readrecords.bandcamp.com/

Useful Links:

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

SINGLE REVIEW: “Go Where It Takes You” by Ghost Notes

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The brand new single from Ghost Notes “Go Where It Takes You” is one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard all year and the perfect song to be playing through my headphones on this cold July afternoon. This music is all class and has the swoony instrumental ache of a band like Dirty Three. I feel ashamed that this is my first interaction with Ghost Notes because this afternoon they have become one of my favourite things about Brisbane music.

A band like Ghost Notes restores my faith that outside of all the ridiculous pyramid scheme bands of our town there exists a community of artists committed to making challenging and progressive sounding music. Of course this is post-rock and we all know the power of post-rock but it is so much more than that in fact it has more in common with the late night sway of a band like “Bohren & Der Club Of Gore” than it does Sigur Ros. Once my pay cheque clears this week I’m going to be purchasing all of the bands current discography to get me through until they launch their new album which appears to be coming on the 1st August 2013.

There is nothing to critique about this song, it is perfect just the way it is. The production has a lo-fi dust and the song itself is communicated brilliantly. The way each instruments holds its position to allow for drama, tension and emotion to build is just fantastic. It has the capacity to relax you into a sense of yearn soaked calm, putting you into a position where you float deep inside yourself to catch the meaning of what’s important about breathing and existence and all that big deal stuff. Even the cover art matches the mood and feeling of the song and it makes sense that this was recorded at Brisbane’s greatest breeding ground for meaningful art music the Waiting Room.

Look, there is a lot of hype given to lots of really nothing bands in this town and some of them deserve it and others really don’t. Ghost Notes deserve hype to be thrown on them because they actually live up to their press release and deliver music worth investing in.

I’ve given out a lot of perfect scores today and Ghost Notes will be getting one for their single “Go Where It Takes You” because like the other bands who managed a perfect 10 they are a band who respect music and it is such a joy to indulge in the sounds they make.

10 Cassette Tapes Out of 10

Listen to the song here

http://ghostnotes.incrementalrecords.com/track/go-where-it-takes-you-single

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Bandcamp – http://ghostnotes.incrementalrecords.com/music
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GhostNotes

ALBUM REVIEW: “Vanishing Point” by Mudhoney

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During the 2000’s everyone went on about the wonder of rock n roll and indulged in all kinds of nostalgia. It seemed that everyone wanted to be in a seventies guitar band, it started to get fucking tedious watching all the young humans packing themselves into all sorts of expensive outfits for the purpose of retro rock outs. The sad part about so much indulgence in nostalgia is that the bands that did it rarely did anything new with the sound. There were a few shining stars and all that but fuck it became suffocating in the process and a little bit sickening to see so many fuckwits choose style over substance.

One of the bands who did rock n roll well during this period of time was Mudhoney who had already established themselves as one of the best bands in the universe. The material the band released from 2000 to 2013 has been some of their best material, all it dripping with straight ahead slabs of psyche infused punk rock n roll. After 25 years of being spectacular the band has now released their ninth full length album “Vanishing Point” which is another solid movement of rock n roll.

What you have to understand is that I’ve been a fan of Mudhoney since I was 13 years old and their albums “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge” and “Piece Of Cake” were vital in helping me survive my small town experience. There was a sense of humour to the angst and the older I’ve gotten; the more I’ve appreciated that sense of humour. So when it came to reviewing “Vanishing Point” it was an easy task because I’ve never been disappointed by a Mudhoney record.

So what’s new and what’s old and what’s good and what’s bad about this record?

Who fucking cares, Mudhoney are good enough to not need such an analysis. You either love this band or you don’t and if you don’t I feel sorry for you. If you do however fancy yourself as a bit of a guitar rock enthusiast and you don’t own Mudhoney then fucking get out of your chair and buy some. Don’t be lazy and stream or download it, fucking buy it all on vinyl. This new album “Vanishing Point” is a good start.

It’s nice to know that in 2013, after a decade of having useless thundercunts making retro rock that the band who still rocks harder than all of the hyped horseshit is Mudhoney who were here before the hype and will be here long after the hype. Stop being a fucking useless fan of music and buy a Mudhoney record.

10 Million Cassette Tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mudhoney/120610017957082
Official Website – http://www.mudhoneysite.com/

ALBUM REVIEW: “Asymmetry” by Karnivool

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There is something so incredible about the new Karnivool record “Asymmetry” and having been a fan of the band since their 2005 debut album “Themata” I feel like indulging in clichéd journalist wank and saying that this is the album they have been building to their whole career. To put it into context I’ll say that I was impressed by “Themata” and then totally flawed by “Sound Awake” but the sound of “Asymmetry” is just a whole new level of musical achievement for Karnivool and it is an incredibly satisfying album.

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

After listening to the album for the past 24 hours I have been struggling to find the accurate words to sum up why I’m so impressed with “Asymmetry” as an album. I think the first thing that stands out is just how introspective the songs are. This is the most internal and reflective I’ve ever heard the band. It sounds like there has been a lot of personal loss influencing the mood of the music because there is this spooky reflection on the power of mourning someone no longer here. These songs are way too deep to be just about the loss involved with relationship breakdowns although there are peppering’s of this kind in a few of the tracks. Whether it is romance or death doesn’t really matter because the mysterious swoon of each track sways with a hushed hypnotic hurt stemming from some kind of internal yearning for something or someone.

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

The perfect example of this is the amazing back half of the record that starts with the seventh track “Asymmetry” and ends with the albums haunting closing track “Om” which stands as the perfect end credits to all of the spook swoons communicated prior. The pace and mood of this part of the album showcases a new level of artistry that Karnivool had only hinted at on previous albums. Depending on why you clicked with the band in the first place you’ll either see the value in the new sounds on display or you’ll be passionately against and confused by it. I love it because it is the type of sound I always knew the band would reach and a sound that favours art over the often redundant dynamic requirements required when playing rock and roll.

I think the final track “OM” deserves a special mention because it is such a beautiful track that was the perfect choice for closing the album. It may not be the track that gets the most attention based simply on the fact that it is some very sparse piano chords mixed with some spoken word samples but I think that everything good about “Asymmetry” – from its reflective mood to the drama, the darkness and overall emotion – is on maximum display with “OM” and that goes to show you the power of the bands songwriting because there is not a distorted guitar in sight during this track.

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

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

10 Cassette Tapes Out Of 10

By Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/karnivool
Official Website – http://www.karnivool.com.au
Myspace – http://www.myspace.com/karnivool
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/karnivool

ALBUM REVIEW: “13” by Black Sabbath

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I’m a “first four albums” kind of guy when it comes to Sabbath. Though I can appreciate and rock the fuck out to Dio era Sabbath and even sport a copy of the Tyr album on vinyl that gets the occasional spin, my bread is buttered by those first four immortal documents of Brummie doom and gloom. This is as close as it looks that we will ever get to that era Sabbath doing anything together again, and by god it’s a blood pumping, affirmation of all that is good in the world.

Instantly familiar, the band ooze into the album after a triumphant “WE ARE BACK” riff on The Beginning Of The End, with two menacing numbers cut from the cloth of the original Black Sabbath song. With commanding, menacing portent they open into head banging affairs that instantly set the head nodding. Both are probably a little overlong, and the outstanding Brad Wilk is solid and hard hitting, but a lot “straighter” here than Bill Ward, Ward’s jazz influence a vacant presence. Loner is a vintage Iommi riff, and I’m still in constant awe of this man, able to come up with singular, idiosyncratic guitar passages for 40-plus years. Iommi’s riffs and those familiar nasal vocals of Ozzy Osbourne are a match made in heaven, the unpredictable Osbourne slipping comfortably across the slabs of solid guitar Tony throws around effortlessly. If this is the last Osbourne Sabbath album it’s a glorious end to it all. Zeitgeist has already been compared by all and sundry to Planet Caravan, and I can’t really add much to the critical appreciation of this glorious, tranquil sojourn through the cosmos. Age of Reason is built again on a bed of Iommi’s powerful, bluesy riffing and Live Forever is a slamming number with a stuttering, juttering central riff and a great vocal from Ozzy. Damaged Soul lays down soulful grooves and soloing, a towering highlight of the album where Wilk finally stretches out a little. Dear Father brings the cycle full circle, with thunder and the tolling bells taken from that distant, brilliant debut albums opening closing out this highly enjoyable record.

There’s a rush to place this album among the prime Osbourne catalogue, but I’m happier to keep it as a stunning, majestic statement of these men now, today as dominant musical forces. Geezer Butler as always is busy all up and down the fretboard, a true virtuoso playing in and around the heavy riffing, his lyrics still focused on good and evil on both human and cosmic scales. As mentioned, Tony Iommi is still God of Riff Town, not even cancer can shake the man from chasing the ultimate guitar hook (despite already having written a good number of ultimate guitar hooks). Ozzy handles his duties with aplomb, his notoriously patchy live performances belied by a commanding display, and Brad Wilk fills the biggest shoes in heavy drumming and acquits himself beautifully holding a rocksteady groove with Butler(check The Loner for a powerful statement),  leaving Iommi’s guitar room to breath, rattle and shake. From 1970 to 2013 it’s been a glorious journey and this album begs the question is this the beginning of the end?

By: Roger Killjoy

ALBUM REVIEW / TRIBUTE: “The Lovin’ Machine” by Johnny Paycheck

lovin machine

Back in early 2012 I was in a fucked up personal place and thought I wanted to be alone and away from my lady. Around that same time I came across Johnny Paycheck’s The Lovin’ Machine on a blog I found online, and instantly fell in love. The ache, sorrow and conviction in the 14 songs that make up that album embedded itself into my life and perfectly matched the feelings I was dealing with.

Johnny Paycheck is far from the character of ‘Take This Job And Shove It’. He made his name playing some of the purest, hardest honky tonk music ever made. Slide guitar virtuoso Lloyd Green the sole musician credit on his classic releases with the Little Darlin’ label, his performances there are all tour de forces of the art of putting your heartbreak to music. Sure he would ride the country outlaw gimmick in a series of overly sheened soft country releases with Epic but the man’s credentials forever sealed his legitimacy. The Lovin’ Machine is his masterpiece from this era. It is his masterpiece period.

The title track is upbeat honky tonk at its best, a confusing lyric blurring his lady with his ride and a storming, incisive performance from Green on his pedal steel. ‘Miller’s Cave’ is a great twist-ending tale, a trope Paycheck would often return to of lovers revenge gone fatally astray, a key theme in this period. ‘Florence Jean’ is a longing bar room weeper, a lament for the scarlet woman he must leave behind. The idiosyncratic delivery cutting to the core of the emotion of each word, the pain twisting every syllable with that rich, sonorous tone can send chills up my spine. ‘Hang On Sally’ is a vulgar tale artfully told, another of his lyrical strengths, the line “the sweetness of the drippage from her lips needs tasting” always brings a rye smile to my lips. He returns again to the weeper with ‘Is That All I Meant To You’, classic heartache from the disposed in a relationship gone wrong, the ache and the hurt so evident in his rich voice.

‘(Pardon Me) I’ve Got Someone To Kill’ is the signature song from the Little Darling catalogue, and is a sublime tale of desperate murder, love and revenge set to glorious honky tonk piano and an almost offhand delivery from Paycheck as he boasts of his gun buying back “all the pride they took” from him. The restrained delivery enhances the menace, and this is classic dark country, black to the bone. Paycheck’s upbeat take on friend and mentor Merle Haggard’s ‘Swinging Doors’ is a rip snorting good time for the man who chose his beer and freedom over the woman at home, a song I can beat out on an acoustic guitar with gusto at the slightest invitation. ‘We’re The Kind Of People’ is autobiography of Paycheck as the fan of songs of sorrow and personal loss, a dedication to the craft he practices with such precision here. Revenge sits front and centre again in ‘The Johnson’s Of Turkey Ridge’, one of the most rollicking good times ever had killing a neighbouring family for having years earlier dispatched your own father. ‘Between Love And Hate’ is a sublime take on the man back on his feet after being cheated yet again by a woman, the haunting instrumentation an inspired choice and the song will resonate with anybody who has walked that line. ‘Don’t You Say Nothin’ At All’ is all bar room bravado and an untouchable delivery, and the final two tracks are fine rounders to the album (a shock deviation from the 12 son standard of the time, in my opinion they could have stuck with that convention and dropped them without damaging the album one bit).

This is easily a desert island album for me, an artefact from a time when country music was where social misfits went to tell their story and a rip snorting good time.

By: Roger Killjoy

 

 

 

ALBUM REVIEW: “BE” by Beady Eye

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Beady Eye, much like Oasis, seem to be a frustratingly inconsistent band.  Their debut album, Different Gear, Still Speeding, was a brilliant slab of Beatles / Oasis / Velvet Underground sounding tunes, and while not overly original (hell, there’s some blatant pilfering in places) it was the most rockingly enjoyable thing either Gallagher brother had put out since Be Here Now.  It really broke the mould of what a lot of people expected from Liam Gallagher after Noel stopped writing his tunes, and Beady Eye established its own identity.

The second Beady Eye album, BE, alas does not hold up as well as the first.  The biggest disappointment is that the songs lack any great hooks.  BE is a really interesting listen, without any memorable songs or melodies.  There’s nothing that grabs you by the scruff of the neck like ‘Four Letter Word’ or ‘The Roller’.  The songs on BE blend into each other and become the background to what you’re doing, rather than demanding that you sit up and pay attention.

On closer inspection, there are some interesting things going on.  There are subtle electronica influences in ‘Soul Love’, and ‘Flick Of The Finger’ has spoken word guest vocals from actor Kayvan Novak.  ‘Don’t Brother Me’ (see what they did there?) is very obviously aimed at Noel Gallagher, asking him to ‘be a man’ and ‘give peace a chance’; if the music press is anything to go by Liam would usually be the one throwing the barbs, not offering the peace pipe.

I was really looking forward to the band expanding on what they’d established with Different Gear, Still Speeding, but BE unfortunately hasn’t really done that.  It isn’t a bad record, it’s just not as good as some of the records the band members have released in the past.  Don’t forget these guys were in Oasis, and Andy Bell was also one of the song writing forces in Ride.  The quality of the lyrics really doesn’t help these songs penetrate; every second line reads like a cheap throw-away cliché, and Liam Gallagher’s vocal phrasing rarely varies throughout the record.  Oasis’s lyrics were sometimes described in the same way, but Noel Gallagher wrote such amazing melodies that it often didn’t matter.

BE is a pleasant sounding record, but given Beady Eye’s collective musical history I doubt they’d be satisfied with that as an assessment – I’m sure these songs will have a lot more teeth live, but the production here pulls them towards a more laid-back, AOR sound.  Maybe it’s a grower?  I hated Heathen Chemistry when it first came out, but it ended up being one of my favourite later-day Oasis albums.  Then again, if you’re not already a Beady Eye fan you might be better off starting with Different Gear, Still Speeding.

Rating: 6 out of 10

By: Clint Morrow

SINGLE REVIEW: The Reversals – Long Night / Michelle

The Reversals

It’s a strange feeling hearing these songs again after so many years.  Back in 2007 or so I played bass in a local band called The Westminsters.  Whilst essentially a solo vehicle for Martin MacDonald, the live band also featured Scott Maynard on drums and occasionally Nathanial Hubbard on keys, both of whom were also in another fantastic Brisbane band, The Reversals.  I can’t count the number of Reversals shows I saw or even participated in during that period, but eventually The Westminsters turned into Son Of Sea and The Reversals slowly faded from view.

You may have heard of The Reversals before.  If you don’t remember them by name, you might recall their minor Triple J hit during the Australian Federal Election of 2007 – ‘Cotsello (Drunk At The Wheel)’.

But this isn’t about that song, it’s about what The Reversals have been doing since then.  I’ve been out of touch with the band for the last 5 or 6 years, and the debut album they had written and were in the process of recording all those years ago looked like it would never surface.

But here, in 2013, are the first two singles.

So has it been worth the wait?  On first listen these tracks wrapped around me like the embrace of an old lover after years apart; a little older, a little wiser, and better for the time spent growing up.  ‘Long Night’ is a steady, melancholy tune featuring Nathanial Hubbard’s beautiful croon over a guitar-heavy backing track.  The real surprise is the trumpet solo at the end, perfectly capping off a song that makes me want to sit alone in the dark with a candle and a bottle of red wine reminiscing…  “It’s been a long night / temptation setting in / It’s been a long night / look at the state you left me in”.

You can hear ‘Long Night’ here:

http://www.triplejunearthed.com/artists/view.aspx?artistid=14309

The latest single ‘Michelle’ is told from the point of view of an older man looking back fondly on a relationship from his youth.  The song begins with violin, before giving over to a pretty acoustic guitar figure, while Hubbard again shows off his impressive vocal range.  The track builds steadily throughout its length and features some intricate violin work in the bridge before falling away to a single strummed acoustic in the outro.

Michelle

Looking back seems to be a common theme running through both of these songs, echoing my own feelings while listening to them.  The band have always walked the line somewhere between rock and folk, sounding like a more versatile version of Bernard Fanning’s ‘Tea & Sympathy’ than anything else.  If the world was a fairer place, The Reversals would be just as much of a household name.  They may not set the world on fire in 2013, but The Reversals will touch everyone who takes the time to get to know their music, and in the end that means a lot more.

Rating: 8 mended hearts out of 10

By: Clint Morrow

Relevant Links:

http://www.thereversals.com/

http://www.facebook.com/thereversals