EP REVIEW: “Heart Slice” by Go Violets

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It’s finally here, the debut EP from Brisbane Kool Things GO VIOLETS and it is called “Heart Slice” and it is packed full of summer sweetness and totally blissed out bummer pop. I suspect that everyone will call this lo-fi and for the most part they’d be right but there is so much pop music shine framing the lo-fi aesthetic on display. Taking all of the science out of it, what you’re left with is an exquisite set of songs that are confident and ready to be big hit machines.

What makes a band like GO VIOLETS so special is the way they collide the pleasure and the pain. There is some real sadness swirling in and out of these songs lyrically and that is what I find fascinating about the music this band writes. There is a deep visceral roar waiting to explode from the sweetness of it all and part of the charm is the way the band balance the dark and the light. Some hearts were seriously broken for these songs to be written.

The real highlight of the Heart Slice EP however is the third track “Beside Me” which just explodes with all kinds of teenage angst and ached confusion. The intense backstory fuelling the sweet shine swoon of the song just destroys me every time I hear it. I found myself listening to the opening vocal sigh over and over again. There was some heavy hurt shaping that melodic communication and I felt like it really opened up some deep emotions inside of me, I know the exact kind of pain that went into make a song like “Beside Me” and it is without a doubt the standout track.

When I reviewed the band’s latest single “Wanted” I highlighted that dynamically GO VIOLETS music is heavily in debt to Kim Deal and if they wanted to classify their music as a genre then they should simply call it “Kim Deal Pop Music” because that really sums up what the band does. I also outlined that Carole King was the other artist that automatically comes up in my mind when I listen to GO VIOLETS and after listening to the band’s debut EP “Heart Slice” non-stop of the past 24 hours I’m convinced that Kim Deal and Carole King are still a big part of the reason why GO VIOLETS resonate with me. What the fuck that means to you I have no idea, I’m talking about my resonance.

I’m incredibly excited about the future of GO VIOLETS and “Heart Slice” is a perfect collection of pop songs for confused post teenage weekend hangover warriors and of course well-adjusted but occasionally unstable non-drinking adults like myself. The most exciting part about GO VIOLETS is where the future may take them. I personally wish for it to go to some deeper and darker places with totally washed out noise guitars and those wonderfully divine vocals weaving in and out of it.

GO VIOLETS are very now but they draw their sound from their own nostalgia for eras of music long since gone. There are glimpses on this EP of a band who’ll break free of the early twenties uncertainty to discover the joy of annihilating their pop skills with total guitar noise freakout weirdness. For now though, GO VIOLETS are an incredible pop band that are on a direct path to being full blown rock stars.

The beauty of “Heart Slice” is in all of that intense darkness swaying underneath the sweetness and it will be the evolution of that darkness that will keep me interested in the totally right on sounds that GO VIOLETS communicate as a band.

10 Cassette Tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

ALBUM REVIEW: “She Beats” by Beaches

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The second album from BEACHES is called “She Beats” and I am severely upset that I’m late to this audio revolution. There is so much joy dripping from this record and the lo-fi sunshine that is communicated is pure stoke every time I have this record playing through my headphones. This is pure soul drenched psyche rock n roll. The triple guitar attack gives BEACHES a totally righteous drone that washes each song with a heavy mood and atmosphere providing totally other worldly landscapes for you to escape into.

Not that I like to get too deep into geography when it comes to humans who play music but my first instinct was to hear an Australian take on My Bloody Valentine but instead of the dreary cold European paranoia running in and out of the sound you’ve got that Australiana boredom and disappointment fuelled by the absolute despair of a summer heatwave. Fuck I hope that made sense, either way fuck it, this music has some serious right on drones pushing the pop skills down the lo-fi super highway, it is fucking sublime.

Although dynamically the album is awash with layers of guitars and a thumping rhythm section the music itself doesn’t descend into clichéd rock n roll. There is way too much beauty in the way this music is communicated for it to be “just” rock n roll. The hum of the vocals underneath each track is where the yearning and heartache resides with the pure bliss release of the fuzzy guitar landscapes acting as the perfect vehicle for carrying the ache of each song deeper and deeper into your soul as you get lost in the world BEACHES are creating for you.

As an album “She Beats” is an extreme exercise in divinity and as the album stretches out you find yourself hypnotised by the messy swoony ached dynamics of each song and you just bliss the fuck out waiting for that late night breeze to save you from all of this despair. This is some truly stunning guitar noise and unlike the science of other current psyche rock humans this music is totally free with the improvised moment being the pivotal instrument in orchestrating such soul power.

Fuck, this is the band that should be worshiped instead of all of that indie hype machine psyche rock trash agenda being pushed by more popular outlets of radio and media. All of that hype machine psyche rock trash misses the soul power and BEACHES are way more fucking divine in the way they communicate musically that I find it difficult to put words to how beautiful it is.

Don’t waste time on the popular vote, invest now in BEACHES and do everything you can to source a copy of “She Beats” and make sure you fucking pay top dollar because BEACHES deserve all of your love and your money.

I may be late to the party but I’m sure as fuck not going to be leaving any time soon because BEACHES make the kind of noise that I love to get lost in.

10 Trillion Cassette Tapes Out Of 10

By: Dan Newton

Album of the Week (30/09/2013) – ‘1965’ by The Afghan Whigs (1998)

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Tracklisting:

1. Somethin’ Hot
2. Crazy
3. Uptown Again
4. Sweet Son Of A Bitch
5. 66
6. Cito Soleil
7. John The Baptist
8. The Slide Song
9. Neglekted
10. Omerta
11. The Vampire Lanois

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This year there have been a few bands that have been on very heavy rotation on my stereo.  The Afghan Whigs are one of these bands.  I’ve had Congregation, Gentlemen, and Black Love for a while, but recently got my hands on their 1998 album 1965.  What an album it is – Motown for the alternative generation.  It snaps, fizzes and pops, it grooves, it’s even funky, but above all it rocks – hard.  Greg Dulli’s lyrics pack all the emotional punch of his earlier work, delving into his inner turmoil and twisting it inside out to become possibly the horniest man in rock & roll.  Like Marvin Gaye, this is music to have sex to.  Just check out opener “Somethin’ Hot” if you need more proof that Dulli just wants to get high and get down:

What I really love about this album is the way The Afghan Whigs have used Stevie Wonder-esq keys and female backing vocals on everything, so despite the fact the guitars are heavier and louder, their take on black soul music feels authentic.

Even the horn section in “John The Baptist” never feels out of place, and I usually hate horn sections:

Basically, throughout The Afghan Whigs’ recording career, 1965 is the album they’ve been building towards.  Their earlier Sub Pop albums were typically abrasive and noisy affairs, with only a hint of the soul they would later develop.  Their best known record, Gentlemen, was where the band’s ambition really exploded – utilising melody and groove in ways no other alternative band had done before.  My personal favourite is Black Love, where The Afghan Whigs took a major step towards the soul they would find on 1965.  Dulli’s lyrics on Black Love are incredibly dark, and his fantasies twisted.  It’s both torrid and exhilarating to listen to.

So why have I picked 1965 as album of the week?  Because, unlike anything I’ve heard in recent memory it makes me want to dance.

By Clint Morrow

SHOW ME YOUR RIFFS – Volume Nine – Seja Vogel

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Earlier this year I got the chance to interview one of my favourite Brisbane artists, the amazing Seja Vogel. I’ve been a fan of her work for years and it was a real thrill to interview her about her creative process and career thus far. Here is how it all went down:

H&W: There is a darkness swirling around your playful pop sounds, what kind of emotions and experiences have gone in to funding your music?

SV: I think all of my songs are made up of a million different feelings and experiences. I was joking with my friends recently that I should call my new album ‘so many feelings’ because I love talking about feelings so much. It’s probably one of those jokes you would regret later though. A lot of ‘feelings’ definitely go into my songs lyrically, but they are sometimes purposefully vague or disguised to a certain extent to ensure that people can interpret them in their own way.

As far as melodies go, I tend to feel much more affected by a beautiful melody than a beautiful lyric. Especially when songs go somewhere you weren’t expecting them to go musically, or when a melody reminds you of something that has had an emotional impact on you in the past. I quite often find that the first few songs I listen to in the morning always have a huge effect on me, as though I’ve never heard music before in my life, so I am much more likely to be inspired to write at this time of day, or take inspiration from a song I’ve listened to first thing in the morning.

I definitely find myself having some glorious unconscious moments of genius when I’m just playing around on a synth.  Other times the parts that I find most meaningful or the parts people have talked about the most on my records have been incredibly premeditated and almost over-thought. My first album was definitely full of those ‘oh my god’ melodies and synth lines because ultimately it was all one big experiment. All those songs were demos which were released almost entirely as is. The new album (All Our Wires) I took the opposite approach where I didn’t leave too much up to chance.

There are many songs about confusion and joys and bummers. You have to get that stuff out somehow right? Might as well be in a giant synth jam and released out into the world

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H&W: Escaping the need for genre classifications how do you describe the music you make?

SV: I try not to describe it if I can help it. Or I am profoundly vague so people can search it out and make up their own minds. I generally say something like ‘girlie vocal synthie pop songs’. Very articulate

H&W: As an artist, what was the spark for you, tell me the musical story?

SV: I went to a Steiner School in Germany and Melbourne so there was always a lot of emphasis put on art and music from an early age. I played piano and violin for a long time. It wasn’t until my brother bought a synthesizer in 1994 though, that I started being interested in those kinds of sounds. Then I got obsessed with bands who were very analogue-synth-heavy like Devo and Kraftwerk, and wanted to know how exactly they made all those cool noises. I think that was the beginning for me. After my brother and his friend Simon bought synthesizers, they asked me to play some songs with them for fun in our bedrooms, which eventually turned into Sekiden. I never really had aspirations of being a performer really; I sort of just fell into it.

H&W: As a female musician, do you find it challenging to escape the expectations of a male dominated music industry? Are you attracted to elements of feminist culture? Do you feel like there are certain unwanted and unfair expectations lumped on a female musician that deals in stereotypes? How do you deal with a society who in general view rock n roll as a man’s business?

SV: I try not to market myself as ‘special’ because I’m a ‘female musician’. I think that’s bullshit. On the other hand, I think it’s important to keep fighting the fight because a lot of people don’t agree men and women are equal in this field. I’d like to think that I contribute to showing people that girls can be just as good at stuff, or be just as nerdy and interested in the technical aspects of making music as boys.

It’s nice to see a lot more girls on tour these days. When I first started playing in bands it was very common for me to be the only girl on tour with 10 other dudes. Now it’s quite rare that I am the only one, which is nice. When I was younger, I remember being very excited by the idea of strong front-women in bands. People like Kim Gordon, Kim Deal and Kathleen Hanna. I certainly had ambitions of being part of it back then, but I was a pretty shy kid so it took a while to become brave enough to get up in front of people and play music. Stereotypes are always going to be thrown around if you are in the public eye, regardless of whether they are talking about your gender, your musical style, or your achievements. It’s inevitable.

People love to classify things and put them in boxes. I don’t mind being put into the ‘female musician’ box if it means being amongst other local artists that I look up to. People like Kellie Lloyd (Screamfeeder), Kate Cooper (An Horse), Patience Hodgson (The Grates) and many others make it a pretty sweet box to be in.

H&W: A lot of my major influences in life and as a musician are female related artists, people like Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, Beth Orton, Sleater-Kinney, Kim Gordon, The Riot Grrrl movement and Tori Amos. These are musicians and bands that eclipsed the stereotype of “well what gender are you?” and proved the music industry standards and marketing machines wrong, that you can have strong and progressive musicians who are female. To quote Patti Smith, it goes “beyond gender” and any strong artist or human being has equal masculine and feminine rhythms. I find with the above artists they got the job done and took the focus off their gender. It was a lesson in true individuality. I also place you in this category, so I’m interested who are some of your reasons for picking up an instrument and making noise, both music and non-music related?

SV: That’s a very nice thing to say, thank you! I guess a lot of those women were my role models as I was growing up, especially Kim Gordon. There were a lot of bands I loved as a kid that had great female role models in them that also weren’t necessarily referred to as ‘girl bands’. I was really into bands like Cibo Matto and Stereolab; girls that seemed to know how to play their instruments well, understand technology and come up with great, quirky songs. There were certain artists who inspired me with their layered vocals and beautiful harmonies like Elliott Smith and Enya. I think those two in particular made me more interested in what melodies and harmonies I could create by making my own choir-type arrangements with my voice. Then there are just your usual juvenile-type inspirations, like wanting to be as cool as Debbie Harry or Nirvana or The Kinks. Also my brother was a massive reason for wanting to play music because he is one of those freaks who can pick up any instrument and be able to play it, and I suppose I wanted to be able to do that too.

H&W: Belonging to the Australian music community, how do you see your music fitting in with the varied sounds being offered? Who are some of your favourite local bands?

SV: I’m not sure I ever really think about how I fit in, but I am a fan of a lot of Brisbane bands: Texas Tea, Violent Soho, Gentle Ben and his Sensitive Side, Keep on Dancins, Little Scout, Undead Apes, Tiny Spiders, and No Anchor

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H&W: What is bad music to you?

SV: Unimaginative drivel

H&W: What is good music to you?

SV: Anything with meaning and passion

H&W: Digital vs Physical, what do you favour and will we ever see the end of the physical album?

SV: I favour vinyl. I hope we don’t see the end of that ever.

H&W: First record you ever bought?

SV: I think it was East 17s It’s Alright single. I still know how to play the piano intro…

H&W: First live concert ever attended?

SV: Dinosaur Jr, Magic Dirt and the Melniks at Festival Hall 1994 or Salt n Pepa at the Entertainment Centre. I think they might have been in the same year…

H&W: Favourite band or artist of all time?

SV: Devo

H&W: Favourite album of all time?

SV: Beck – Mellow Gold

H&W: Favourite album of 2013 so far?

SV: Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II

H&W: A band or Artist you’re looking to get into in 2013?

SV: The solo projects of all members of The Byrds

H&W: Biggest musical regret?

SV: Ummmm maybe East 17?

H&W: Slipknot or Slayer?

SV: Slayer cause it rhymes with Seja. Also because they’re a really good band…

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SEJA’s fantastic new album “All Our Wires” is out now

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

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

ALBUM REVIEW: “All Our Wires” by SEJA

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The music made by SEJA is incredibly beautiful, an exquisite journey full of pop music swoon and late night heartbreak. The power of SEJA’s delivery is the way she invites you deep into her world and as was the case with her previous album “We Have Secrets But Nobody Cares” SEJA’s brand new album “All Our Wires” is an exercise in pure escapism.

The creative history of SEJA is legendary, especially if like me you have (and still do) participate in the Brisbane / Australian music scene. Her very unique pop skills have always outshined everyone else and if her new album proves anything it is that she is continuing to establish her unique dialogue of experimental synth heavy pop music, fuck it is such a glorious noise that she makes. I hear so many other humans attempt to be as amazing as SEJA but the fact remains she is and always will be a true original.

I could listen to “All Our Wires” for days and believe me when I say that I have. There is a considerable amount of intensity swirling in and out of the sunshine pop. All of the songs carry those hits of late afternoon sun and surround you with their warmth. There is however a degree of emotional chaos inside the warmth and the album itself never lets you rest easy. This is clearly pop music made by a broken hearted human for other broken heart humans who at the best of times feel misunderstood by the world around them.  The sadness all throughout this record is overwhelming and the deep heavy ache that I hear in every song is a thing of beauty. There is no agenda to this music other than honestly expressing the rawness of being open to other humans in the hope of being loved back.

The real highlight of this album though is the wonderful fifth track “Imaginations In Hyperspace” which is just such a right on piece of pop music. I’m fairly certain all of the other humans reading this will understand what I’m talking about when I say that I want to marry this song and live with it forever. There is nothing more amazing then when you have a song just hit you and it flows through every inch of you and heightens your emotions to a point where you feel this kind of yearning that almost makes you want to burst it hurts so much. That is the kind of song that “Imaginations In Hyperspace” is and it just takes me away man, far far far far away from the absolute chaos of this fucked up world and I love that, more than I love anything else in the world. To have a beautiful piece of music just transport me away like a fucking spaceship to some other dimension where I can breathe in something more beautiful than the mediocrity of this place called earth that I have to share with these animals known as humans is a healing experience indeed and “Imaginations In Hyperspace” provides this kind of escape. This is by far one of the most beautiful songs of 2013 and you’d be a fucking fool to ignore it.

At the end of the day that is what the whole album does to me, it just acts like fucking rocket ship that takes me so far away from myself and you have no idea how beautiful that feels as a human being who struggles to feel like they belong in this ocean of chaos known as life. That is the power of a great song and a great album and “All Our Wires” does that to me and then some.

Believe me when I say that your decade will be improved once you listen to the wonderful sound that is “All Our Wires” by SEJA who remains to be one hell of an amazing artist that deserves all of your time, money and love because we need her music in this world.

10 Cassette Tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

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

ALBUM REVIEW: “Peace” By Vista Chino

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I have a very biased love towards any band that births from the Kyuss dynasty. If you look at my record collection you’ll see so many bands / artists from this family tree scattered throughout and quite often I’m of the opinion that this little community of artists are responsible for some of my favourite music ever. Those who know me are already aware that my favourite album of all time is “Welcome To Sky Valley” by Kyuss and this decision to place this album in such high esteem speaks volumes about my love of the whole desert scene and Kyuss in particular.

This brings me to VISTA CHINO and their debut album “Peace” which was released earlier this month. Being the devout fan I am I was there when the record store opened to secure my copy and for the past few weeks it has been all I’ve listened to. As mentioned above, I have an extreme bias towards this type of sound and the humans that make up the VISTA CHINO band. There has however been an incredibly confronting backstory to all of this that for a small period of time affected how I viewed and interacted with what has finally become VISTA CHINO. I’ve debated whether I wanted to get into the ugliness of this but I think for the purpose of this review it is vital to document just what level of hell I went through as a fan in terms of being divided over whether I’d end up loving this new entity known as VISTA CHINO.

I’ll be perfectly honest with you; I was not a believer in the whole KYUSS LIVES vehicle but being such an empathetic person I was also heavily conflicted. I found myself becoming one of those fans I despise, the types that don’t evolve with their musical heroes. My emotional attachment to Kyuss is quite intense, so much so that when I found out about the whole KYUSS LIVES thing, I started behaving with such a level of fuckheadedness that I started to scare myself. I hate that purist “the fan dictates the path” type of attitude. My rational brain understood that John Garcia, Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri resurrecting a band and catalogue of music that they were all a part of was a positive thing but the knowledge that they were going to create new music under that name did not sit well with me. There are many reasons for this and lot of them have to do with the Homme and Reeder sized hole that was left.

For those who don’t know, I think there is a bit of history that gets left out of most press releases when it comes to the Kyuss story. I am in no way associated or friends with any of the humans attached to Kyuss, so my information is just as diluted as the next media source but I do have a fairly healthy understanding of the Kyuss timeline. I want to delve a little bit into that before I get to my actual review of VISTA CHINO because I think it is vital to understanding how I reached a point of satisfaction. I want you to know my journey with this band so you understand just how important this debut VISTA CHINO album is for me.

The best place to start is a point I mentioned above, the KYUSS LIVES vehicle. When it was first announced I felt a bit uneasy because for me the core creative dynamic of Kyuss was Homme, Bjork, Reeder and Garcia. I know that Oliveri had is hand in the first two albums but for me Kyuss was always about the magic energy that Homme, Bjork, Garcia and Reeder had. When KYUSS LIVES became a reality I was quite comfortable with the band touring and playing those amazing songs but I knew that it would no doubt lead to new material that would be forever judged and attached to the already flawless legacy that the band established with its four albums.

As a Human, I always believed that the beauty of Kyuss was the diversity in the writing and the creative minds behind that. Brant Bjork always provided the soul to the proceedings and is responsible for some of the bands best known material. Josh Homme was the heart of the band and he brought a unique creative style to the power of the riff. Scott Reeder gave the band the progressive dynamics which really helped expand the already solid sound established on “Wretch” and “Blues For The Red Sun” and John Garcia gave a voice to all of the heavy bummer emotions swirling in and out of each of the humans in Kyuss. As a singer John Garcia was the perfect person to communicate what Kyuss felt and what Kyuss believed. The magic scattered all throughout “Welcome To Sky Valley” is a tribute to this creative chemistry and although Brant Bjork was not present for the creation of the bands final album “…And The Circus Leaves Town” his spirit and sonic template loomed large over the sound of that record.

As a discography, “Wretch,” “Blues For The Red Sun,” “Welcome To Sky Valley” and “…And The Circus Leaves Town” is perfect and the natural end point of the band was vital for their legacy. Some bands say all they need to say in short period of time and the joy of being a fan is having that sonic legacy intact for your listening pleasure. The bands and solo projects birthed after Kyuss ended further strengthened the legacy and birthed a wonderful family tree full of interesting rock music that carried the original spirit that was birthed inside the Kyuss sound. I always appreciated that the band never felt the need to re-unite and that each member attached to Kyuss had moved on to more interesting places creatively.

As an exercise of nostalgia the KYUSS LIVES vehicle was a positive one and although I don’t regret not seeing the band live I do honestly believe that it would have been an amazing experience to witness. When the ugliness of the legal battle became a reality, you know the whole Homme and Reeder VS Garcia and Bjork thing, it started to really bum me out how the legacy was turning out. My great dilemma was that I saw a group of amazing musicians fighting over something I held dear. It was incredibly selfish of me to be as upset about it as I was because I saw the positive and negatives of both sides of the story. Ultimately though I just didn’t want a new Kyuss album unless it had Homme or Reeder (fuck it, even Oliveri) playing on it and even though the mind can wonder about what that would have sounded like I realistically didn’t want it to happen at all.

What I did want to happen was for Brant Bjork and John Garcia to rekindle their creative relationship and in the process have the guitarist of KYUSS LIVES – Bruno Fevery – included so that they could create new music as a band and move forward with a new name and a new hunger for making great rock music of the stoner variety. When all the drama passed and it was announced that KYUSS LIVES was now becoming Vista Chino I was a lot happier as a fan but I still wrote it off for some reason and I feel like a prime fuckhead for doing that.

I did the same thing to Alice In Chains and they proved me wrong, I felt like a fuckhead in that situation as well and regret heavily that I didn’t have more faith in the humans of that band. They have now made two fantastic records and I kind of forget why I was so upset about them continuing. I do know that I still from time to time feel like a fuckhead for being so purist about that situation. Now with the release of “Peace” by Vista Chino I am in another situation where I have once again proved to be a faithless fuckhead and instead of being a purist asshole I should have trusted that what the band was going to do creatively would be worth my time as a fan.

Even when the whole thing became Vista Chino I doubted it would thrill me, I was on some Josh Homme is god trip at the time and the excitement of the new Queens Of The Stone Age record took over my life. Moving back to the trust thing, I should have yes; trusted Garcia and Bjork because I’m an absolute devotee to all of their post-Kyuss work and seeing Brant Bjork live twice as a solo artist has been some of the most life changing live shows ever. I proved once again what a fuckhead I can be and I was so disappointed that I didn’t just trust from the beginning that Garcia and Bjork would do the right thing and in the process craft one of the best rock records of 2013. Fuck I am a complete piece of shit sometimes when it comes to the purist nature of musical legacies.

The real healer in this situation was the album itself and as a rock record “Peace” by Vista Chino is absolutely fantastic. From the moment I pressed play I was on the journey with the band and totally in love with every inch of what was on offer. As I have mentioned so many times before, sometimes I just get really excited by a good rock record and “Peace” is a masterpiece of rock n roll.

The beautiful part of this album is how much it reminded me the importance of John Garcia and Brant Bjork as creative humans. They are two of the finest rock song writers on the planet and to see them back together making such incredible music once again just thrills me beyond belief. The other star of this record is the bands guitarist Bruno Fevery who showcases an understanding of the dynamics that Garcia and Bjork pioneered with Kyuss but also adds his own flavour. This album is the perfect first record for a new decade of creativity for all parties involved and I for one am incredibly excited about the future of Vista Chino.

I have listened to “Peace” every day since it was released and I can’t begin to put into words the amount of joy it brings me. It does share a similar spirit to Kyuss but it is also going outside of that and evolving those dynamics. What excites me most about “Peace” is not the nostalgia it offers but the fact that it is a brave step forward for Garcia and Bjork and is the creative vehicle that both of them needed for the new decade ahead. The creative genius of Brant Bjork is one that I once again worship and I absolutely fucking regret every second that I doubted it, like I’ve mentioned I am a fuckhead for doing that. Garcia, Bjork, Homme, Oliveri, Reeder and Hernandez are all wonderful creative human beings and anyone out there in the music world is foolish to doubt just how important each and every one of them are, I know I love them all deeply and equally.

Where Vista Chino goes from here is what I’m most thrilled about and I’m just so grateful that they exist as a band. With “Peace” Vista Chino have delivered a progressive piece of stoner rock that will help establish them as the new pioneers of the sound for however long they choose to make music together. I personally hope its forever because Vista Chino deserve a legacy all of their own and unlike Kyuss before them I have a feeling that the Vista Chino story will be about longevity and mind expanding music as opposed to youthful glimpses of brilliance and I can’t wait to see the rest of their story written.

So let me be the first to apologise to John Garcia, Brant Bjork and Bruno Fevery for being a fuckhead about the whole thing. I truly regret not believing in you all from the moment this all began but let me just say thank you for making music and thank you for doing justice to the evolution of rock n roll music and helping establishing a new legacy to invest in.

10 Cassette Tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Clint’s Three-Quarter Time Awards Ceremony

I’ve heard a LOT of great music this year, and seen a LOT of really good bands.  After seeing Swervedriver play Raise this week at the Zoo, I started thinking about all of the great music I’ve been lucky enough to witness over the last 9 months and decided to write a list (because everybody loves lists, right?) of the best music I’ve heard so far.  Here are my picks:

Best New Record: Adalita – All Day Venus
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   Notable mentions:
   Baby Animals – This Is Not The End
   Steve Kilbey And Martin Kennedy – You Are Everything
   Butcher Birds – Butcher Birds EP
   Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away

Best live act: You Am I
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   Notable mentions:
   Swervedriver
   Dinosaur Jr
   My Bloody Valentine
   The Superjesus
   Swans
   Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
   Adalita

Best Brisbane band: Hits
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   Notable Mentions:
   We All Want To
   The Halls
   Galapogos
   Silver Sircus
   Sabrina Lawrie

Best Brisbane Venue: The Zoo
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   Notable Mentions:
   Beetle Bar
   The Hideaway

Comeback of the year: Baby Animals
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   Notable Mentions:
   The Superjesus
   Black Sabbath
   Underground Lovers
   Suede

90’s Nostalgia Central: Soundwave 2013 – The Offspring / Blink 182 / Garbage / Kyuss / Metallica / etc.
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Reissue of the year: You Am I – Sound As Ever / Hi Fi Way / Hourly Daily
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   Notable Mentions:
   Nirvana – In Utero
   Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness
   Mad Season – Above

Gone but not forgotten: Chrissy Amphlett, may your music and your memory live forever.
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By Clint Morrow

ALBUM REVIEW: “Sounds From The Other Side” by Tumbleweed

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It’s no secret to those who know me that Tumbleweed is a pretty big deal for me. They are a band I’ve worshiped for the past 18 years of my life and courtesy of my brother I was given a copy of “Galactaphonic” on cassette tape for Christmas back in 1995. The music of Tumbleweed changed me and shaped a big part of my musical identity. In 1995 I had no perception of what “stoner rock” was and at that point I don’t even think that genre itself was a term that people used. Perhaps it was, fuck, I was only twelve years old at the time. All of that aside, one thing that I knew that I loved about Tumbleweed was how fucking heavy it all was.

With Tumbleweed, there were always riffs galore that were wonderfully pushed along by the swagger of the bands rhythm section giving the music an incredible amount of groove. With all of this heaviness you’d expect that most humans would apply angst and attack vocally but Tumbleweed were blessed with having Richie Lewis as their singer. The wonderful part about Richie’s voice is that he brought a melodic approach that mirrored the Beatles more than it did Black Flag or anything punk rock. There was a degree of intense escapism through his lyrics and whilst there was pain and heavy emotion flowing in and out of the songs they had a wonderful narrative with sprinklings of fantasy scattered all throughout the lyrics.

All of these dynamics helped set them apart and really made them pioneers of a sound that so many celebrity hungry young 21st Century Humans try to replicate.  When Tumbleweed released their last official album “Mumbo Jumbo” in the year 2000 it felt like the band was coming to a bittersweet end. Since 1995 the band had gone through multiple line-up changes with only Richie and Lenny being the only real original members left by the time the band called it quits in 2003. The unfortunate part about this part of the bands history is that a lot of people overlooked the genius of their final album “Mumbo Jumbo” which I’m quite a big fan of.

As an album “Mumbo Jumbo” is the place Tumbleweed were always meant to evolve to with the riffing, the psychedelics and of course those amazing pop skills. It is criminally underrated and for all the sentimentality that I have (and lot of fans have) for the early material, the artistry of “Mumbo Jumbo” is undeniable. 

For all the praise and love I have for “Mumbo Jumbo” I can’t deny just how important that first era of the band was in terms of establishing the sonic identity of Tumbleweed. When the band announced its return in 2010 I was way beyond excited. From 2003 to 2010 the world had seen the rise of terrible clichéd rock music in the form of Jet and Wolfmother with the “retro rock” sound being mined and replicated and sold to the highest bidder. It was an incredibly dark time for rock music, especially in Australia because for all of the fancy dressing up and worldwide success that these bands attracted they just didn’t bring any new ideas to the creative expression that is alternative rock n roll. It just all sounded so false and insincere with the pursuit of money over art feeling like the overall goal. That’s not to say great music wasn’t released from 2003 to 2010, but overall – and perhaps I’m speaking for myself in this situation – it felt like all of the pure souls of the 90’s alternative nation were no longer present in these young hip business conscious rock stars. It personally fucking disgusted me and on a shallow level the music just flat out fucking sucked.

Once Tumbleweed re-united in 2010 and after proving what a killer live band they still were the inevitable question loomed of whether we would see a brand new album or not. Like the band, I was looking for evolution not just an exercise in nostalgia so when Tumbleweed announced they were working on the first new album of original material in over a decade (almost 18 years considering it was the original line-up) I was both excited, nervous and incredibly willing to surrender to whatever they chose to communicate as a band circa 2013.

So I guess the all-important question is, what do I think of “Sounds From The Other Side” the first Tumbleweed album in 13 years and the first album with the original line-up in 18 years.

I’ve lived with this album since Monday evening when – through the joys of a pre-order – the album arrived in the post. I’ve studied this album inside and out and listened to it non-stop since I received it and there has been an epic amount of joy in hearing the band I love so dearly making music together once again.

Look, I’m not going to dissect this album scientifically for you because it doesn’t deserve that. What this album deserves is for you to buy it, put it on your stereo and to turn it up very loud and let the worries of the world pass you buy. I know that in 2013 every one is busy talking about how great bands like Violent Soho, Dune Rats, Bleeding Knees Club, DZ Deathrays, John Steel Singers, Cloud Control and Tame Impala are at making alternative rock n roll that is linked to all things stoner, psyche, pop and rock. I just don’t have time for those bands because they just don’t have it, all of those bands are like a collective weak handshake compared to Tumbleweed.

Believe me when I say that Tumbleweed still have it and then some. On “Sounds From The Other Side” Tumbleweed prove that their return is not an exercise in Nostalgia, this is about the evolution of the riff and the evolution of all things great about psyche drenched rock n roll. From start to finish this album is a journey that showcases a band whose maturity has lead them to make a sound that is familiar yet still about pushing the boundaries of their original dynamics. This album is about the amazing chemistry that the original line-up of Tumbleweed had and still has; this is unfinished business and a totally mature take on the already flawless sound created by the band between 1990 and 1995.

There is a new progressive spirit rolling in and out of the mountainous riffage with more focus on the psychedelic side of things with Richie’s brilliant melodies giving so much beautiful emotional direction to the behemoth guitar riff orchestras on display. On top of the riffage there is an amazing swagger from the rhythm section with that beautiful Jay Curley Bottom End giving an ugly yet soulful intensity to the sludge of the guitars.

For a very long time I thought that “Mumbo Jumbo” represented the natural evolution of where Tumbleweed had to go as a band. After sitting through “Sounds From The Other Side” it has become quite clear that this is not the case because the music made by Tumbleweed circa 2013 is more intense, heavier, and weirder and covered in a hell of a lot more psyche and prog dynamics than Tumbleweed circa 2000. What “Sounds From The Other Side” represents is the natural evolution of the Tumbleweed sound circa 1995. Much like the re-united Dinosaur Jr whilst the band leans on the spirit of their formative years (1990 to 1995) the creative growth the band illustrated post Galactaphonic (Return To Earth and Mumbo Jumbo) is still on full display even though only three of the five members were present during this era.  

Career Logistics aside, the main point to focus on is that this is not about Nostalgia and it is the first new steps of a new path for Tumbleweed. There were always going to be similarities stylistically to the bands older material but like Soundgarden did with King Animal, there is also a new mood for a new decade of progression. The importance of “Sounds From The Other Side” is in the fact that it re-establishes the band right back where it belongs, making incredibly vital alternative rock n roll.

As a fan of Tumbleweed I get chills every time I press play on this record. I am literally flawed with how brilliant the album is and I feel blessed to have Lenny, Jay, Steve, Paul and Richie back together making noise once again. When I first heard Tumbleweed, the term Stoner Rock was not something that existed in my vocabulary, but as the years progressed I started to understand that the love I started to have for “that sound” all started 18 years ago with Galactaphonic. In 2013 I feel like I’m a bit of a Stoner Rock fiend even though I hate the genre term myself but I guess I just love “that sound” which it’s attached to. To hear one of the pioneering bands of that sound making something so vital and so progressive in this current climate of mediocrity is so fucking refreshing.

I am in love with this album and I’m still discovering it which thrills me even more. There is longevity to this album and I feel like it will take me months to fully find all of the wonderful little nuances of each and every track. I may be a fan of lot of different genres of music but nothing gets me off like a really great rock record and “Sounds From The Other Side” is a fantastic and totally exquisite piece of rock n roll.

I can’t wait for the next ten years of Tumbleweed history, thank fuck they are back.

May they live for a billion years

10 Cassette Tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

ALBUM REVIEW: “You Are Everything” by Steve Kilbey & Martin Kennedy

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‘Shoegaze’ is not a term that most musicians associated with the British early 90’s movement are particularly fond of.  Much like ‘grunge’, it’s lazy and contrived.  Since the horse has bolted though, ‘shoegaze’ is the best single descriptor I can come up with for You Are Everything, the new album from Steve Kilbey (The Church), and Martin Kennedy (All India Radio).  If you can imagine The Underground Lovers and Slowdive making an album together, then you’re getting close to the epic atmospheric sweep that Kilbey & Kennedy have created on this record.

Opening track ‘I Wouldn’t Know’ announces the album’s intentions right from the start, with a lazy acoustic guitar coupled with tasteful string sounds and Kilbey’s instantly recognisable voice evoking visions of a Sunday drive with the top down.  If you watch the video, however, you’ll see visions of a different kind:

The album’s standout is without a doubt the sweeping pulse of ‘Lorelei’, which mixes Slowdive’s atmospheric sensibilities with an epic grandeur that seems almost impossible to fit into the space of a four minute song.  (Disclaimer – my girlfriend Red Devotchkin is in this video):

Another album highlight is the stunning ‘A Better Day’, which in places feels like it wants to nick the ascending riff from the verse of Eurogliders’ 1984 hit ‘Heaven (Must be There)’.  It never quite goes there, but in a twisted way I almost wish it had.  I know, I’m sick.

I could go through every song on this record individually and talk about the merits of each, but I’m not going to do that.  I want to listen again without having to exhaust my vocabulary thinking up variations on ‘grand’, ‘atmospheric’ and ‘beautiful’, words that apply to every song.  What I will say is that there’s not a bad track on the album.  You Are Everything is moody, mature, and epic in scope.  Martin Kennedy’s ethereal instrumentation is a perfect match for Kilbey’s vocals.  You probably won’t hear it on the radio, but this record might be the best work Steve Kilbey has released since ‘Under The Milky Way’, and it’s certainly his finest artistic achievement.

Rating: 9 celestial bodies out of 10

By Clint Morrow

ALBUM REVIEW: “Loud City Song” by Julia Holter

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The music of Julia Holter is exquisitely constructed and over the course of three full length records she has managed to carve out one of the truly original sounds of the new decade. Her music exists outside classification and is the honest reflection of an artist who understands the power of using truth and originality when undertaking self-expression through art. The other hypnotic factor attached to Julia Holter’s sound is just how dark, moody and intense it all is – Julia Holter makes music for loners and it deserves to be consumed and worshiped in the privacy of your own little universe on a brilliant pair of headphones.

On her third album “Loud City Song” Julia takes another creative leap forward branching out and going deeper to deliver one of the most original and finest records of 2013 thus far. I really have to thank my brother for discovering her first because without his discovery I wonder if I would have ever discovered the amazing healing power of Julia Holter. Now is not the time for the what if’s though, now is the time to focus on what makes Julia Holter so important to the future development of pop music.

The term “other worldly” gets thrown around quite a bit when other humans talk about what music does to them and although I don’t want to slip into redundant clichéd critical wank I do think that “other worldly” best describes the appeal of “Loud City Song” and how it plays out as an album. This is not a new dynamic for Julia Holter the difference this time is the intense confidence and artistic growth and how it is all communicated. There is still darkness and still intense heartbreak spilling out of the speakers but now there are also hints of joyful noise bouncing in and out of the songs that help crescendo each song to new heights of emotional power.

As mentioned earlier, this is the perfect soundtrack for the true loner aliens out there in the world who know the power of seclusion and the freedom of not being out there doing normal human things from Friday to Sunday; you know when all the confident human animals make a real go of social interaction and fruitless / empty relationship quests. This music is not for those humans, it is for you and it feels so incredibly personal when you listen to it, like every note was expressed just to match your feelings of isolation, desperation, heartache, yearning and of course disappointment.

When I entered into the world provided by Julia Holter on “Loud City Song” I was transported so deep inside my imagination that I managed to wake up out of the listening situation with a sense of creative desire I haven’t felt in a long time. It just made me want to be a better musician, a better artist, a better writer and most of all a better human. The songs may be dark and deep and designed for the loner but that doesn’t make it any less inspiring and motivational after you hear it. The sequencing, production, song dynamics and overall instrumentation are just exquisite with a big focus on space and silence. All of that space and silence allows for the music to rise and fall with a dignified level of intensity that relies on the mood of the track as opposed to just flat out attack, attack, attack. This kind of spooky atmosphere haunts you long after the record finishes and I haven’t even begun to speak about how beautiful and amazing Julia Holter’s voice is.

There is so much sincerity and beautiful swoon in the sound of Julia Holter’s voice. Lyrically and melodically she has such a brilliant imagination and it is always on full display but when she sings she communicates with such divinity that it’s hard to think that you aren’t plugged directly into some kind of Angel dialogue, it is as I’ve suggested “other worldly.” The only other artist I can compare it to is the amazing Elizabeth Frazer from Cocteau Twins but that is just so you can get a glimpse of the power of Holter’s voice because she is only similar in spirit. The tone, the expression and the overall delivery is supremely original and washes out with so much heavy emotion. A great singer will allow for the melody to surround you and bury you in the emotional message of their song as opposed to using just the words. The words give light to possible meanings but it is the emotional delivery of a melody that will always sell the drama better than anything else and Julia Holter is a master communicator melodically.

The triumph of an album like “Loud City Song” is the fact that in this current climate of money hungry bottom line indie music humans that we finally have new pioneers and new brave humans willing to make such beautiful art as opposed disposable hip radio fodder. The success of “Loud City Song” is that it is an exquisite piece of art communicated with a confidence and intensity that is just not found in the current climate of modern music makers. This is not music you play to impress your friends, this is music you keep to yourself and worship and when you find people you trust who get you and get what great art is about then you’ll share Julia Holter with them. It’s undeniable that she’ll become star and although I welcome that I hope she can remain my best kept secret musically for a least a few more years because right now it feels like she’s making this music just for me and that is a special feeling to have as a fan.

I only wish when I get asked at my day job about what I did on my weekend that I could reply with “I got lost deep inside the brand new Julia Holter Record called “Loud City Song” and I think I honestly heard the most divine sound you could ever hope to hear” instead of the standard loner alien response of “yeah, you know, not much” – it’s their fucking world we’re living but thank fucking god we have artists like Julia Holter who make it an easier place to exist.

10 Billion Trillion Cassette tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Julia-Holter/153196178042232

ALBUM REVIEW: “All Day Venus” by Adalita

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From the early days of Magic Dirt, all noisy, feedback drenched, piss-your-parents-off-through-the-bedroom-wall volume, through big studio major label pop fuzz, to the self-managed follow-the-muse later era of the band, Adalita Srsen has always written and performed glorious music.  Her career arc is infinitely interesting, and since the curtain was prematurely drawn on Magic Dirt with the tragic passing of bassist and best friend Dean Turner, Adalita took an unexpected u-turn with the surprisingly mature Hot Air EP and her self-titled debut album.  The slow-burning beauty of those first solo records, coupled with some mid-period Magic Dirt pop inform Adalita’s new album All Day Venus.  It’s an inspired pairing.

I cannot express enough just how majestic this record is.  Adalita Srsen is an achingly talented, beautiful musician.  From the opening strains of ‘Annihilate Baby’ through to the closing notes of ‘Rolled In Gold’, All Day Venus hit me in the gut and clawed at my heart.  The melodies, musicianship and songwriting take me back to a time before I started writing music myself; a time before I analysed songs and pulled them apart to figure out how they worked.  This is an album I just want to absorb in its entirety.

I recently saw Adalita perform a number of these new songs without a backing band at Black Bear Lodge in Brisbane.  She held the audience in the palm of her hand for the entire set; never letting go of the moody, sultry atmosphere, and displaying a real vulnerability through her performance.  All of this drips through the speakers as you listen to All Day Venus.  It’s an album that demands you sit down and truly listen, rather than letting it become background noise.

Listening to Adalita’s All Day Venus makes me feel like a teenager falling in and out of love again – with all the innocence, beauty and heartbreak that entails – and that’s probably the biggest compliment I can give to an artist.

Rating: 10 bruised hearts out of 10

By Clint Morrow

LADYFEST – WOMEN IN THE ART’S PANEL DISCUSSION

Thoughts From Jas

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LADYFEST – What does it mean to be a woman in the Arts?

-Written by Jas Swilks

“Women in The Arts: What difference does it make?” was an afternoon of discussion and laughter hosted by LadyFest at Brisbane’s Zoo bar. Throughout the afternoon we were introduced to a group of amazingly creative, unique and passionate women who work across the Arts, including Green’s candidate/Bollywood dancer/writer Rachael Jacobs, musician Seja Vogel, prosthetic limb artist Priscilla Sutton, erotic writer Krissy Kneen, tattoo artist Aureole McAlpine and screenwriter Michelle Law. Leading the discussion panel was the vibrant and bubbly Marlin Othman from LadyFest.

The panel was a great mixture of inspiring advice, hilarity and honesty; delving into both the challenges and triumphs associated with being a woman in creative arts. Over the span of 2 hours, the six women shared deeply about their lives as female artists, and the choices which have…

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SHOW ME YOUR RIFFS – Volume Eight – Melissa Tickle from Little Scout

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Little Scout are a Brisbane institution and remain to be one of the most exciting pop bands in our long history of exciting pop bands. Over the years, I’ve seen the name and sound of Little Scout develop from a by the numbers Indie Pop band to an incredible dream pop outfit who collect all kinds of spooks and shivers to communicate some incredibly deep aches. The band’s 2011 debut album “Take Your Light” is an essential piece of music that showed incredible growth and artistic integrity from a band who I originally had not connected to. It was deep, it was dark and it had an array of very smart pop skills, it made me a fan instantly. I have feeling it was all those Cocteau Twins references that made me connect with it and of course the fact that Little Scout offered something different to what was happening in our town at the time.

The bands second album “Are You Life” has just been released and it showcases a new level of confidence. It is quite clear upon first listen that Little Scout have once again gone a bit deeper into the history of music and come back to communicate a movement of music that is clearly superior to their debut album. There is a new sense of fire and lots of rock n roll creeping in and out of the dream pop landscape that the band once indulged in. It allows the songs more freedom to shine and shiver with the end result being a more cohesive piece of communication for the band and on a basic shallow level, it’s got a bit more swagger which always adds a million hits of light to classic pop skills. The album also boycotts but embraces the whole “psyche” sound that is creeping in to most modern indie human rock pop bands, but these small peppering’s of psyche once again have more to do with Cocteau Twins than they do Tame Impala.

Earlier this year I got the opportunity to interview one of the creative forces behind Little Scout, Melissa Tickle. The main thing I wanted to discover was just how the band arrives at their sound and what kind of emotional landscapes are they harvesting in order to build such vital dream pop music.

Here is how the interview went down:

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H&W: What kind of emotions and experiences have gone in to funding specifically the lyrics and melodies of the music?

MT: I suppose we hope that people decide that the songs are about whatever they like. Lyrically some of the songs do include themes of the ups and downs of relationships, but primarily the songs are observations. I’m fascinated by reality and perception, and how hard it is to differentiate between the two when you start to involve the uncertainty of human behaviour. I write a lot about what I see in the news and in current affairs, and about characters in books I’ve read. We try to push the boundaries musically and lyrically while maintaining those natural pop sensibilities.

We’re all very happy and comfortable people, but there’s a lot in there about middle class guilt, over-thinking and the fear of growing old and forgetting the things that make you happy – the reality of being a conscious person with an evolved brain. Monkeys have it so easy…

H&W: Escaping the need for genre classifications how do you describe the music you make?

MT: Well, the new album is a bit of a departure – it’s a lot louder. I have absolutely no idea how to describe it. When you hear it, I would love to know where you think we fit in terms of genre. I’m not very good at describing our work.

H&W: As an artist, what was the spark for you?

MT: My parents always played great records when I was a kid, and I started listening to good music because of my high school friends. I was a bashful kid – I still blush when people ask me to sing, so I secretly recorded demos and sent them to my friend Pat in my first year of uni. The rest is history!

H&W: As a female musician, do you find it challenging to escape the expectations of a male dominated music industry? Are you attracted to elements of feminist culture? Do you feel like there are certain unwanted and unfair expectations lumped on a female musician that deals in stereotypes? How do you deal with a society who in general view rock n roll as a man’s business?

MT: This is a loaded topic. I personally haven’t experienced a lot of sexism in the industry. I’m surrounded by a great group of men and women who are very supportive of each other and work as a big team. I’m a feminist in the traditional sense that I firmly believe in an equal playing field for men and women. There are certainly reviews written about musicians that focus solely on what they’re wearing and how they look – men and women. I’ve seen a few and they just make me feel a bit disappointed… I want to know if they liked or hated the live show/album, and read some constructive criticism. Get an idea about the atmosphere of the show, you know?

On another note, I’ve realised that sexism within the music industry is usually a side effect of the typical asshole with a low IQ. If someone’s an asshole, they’ll be pissed off about a lot of things for no real reason, and sexism is usually one of their favourite pet hates. They’ll be dicks to everyone about everything, not just girls.

Good music supresses the need to identify music by gender. And I’m not sure that we can control what we connect with musically, I think it just happens.

H&W: Belonging to the Australian music community, how do you see your music fitting in with the varied sounds being offered? Who are some of your favourite local bands?

MT: I love The John Steel Singers. We’ve been sharing a practice room and recording studio with them and I’m consistently in a state of wonderment over the sounds they produce. Other Australian bands I’ve had on high rotation recently are Cloud Control, The Drones, PVT, Bearhug, Tame Impala, Pond, Crowded House (shut up NZ, they’re ours), Tinpan Orange, Sarah Blasko, Deep Sea Arcade, Abbe May, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Grinderman, Songs, Kylie Minogue – I find this really difficult and feel a bit anxious because there’s about 150 more I could mention.

H&W: What is bad music to you?

MT: It doesn’t exist. You either connect with it in a positive or negative way. There’s a lot of music I hate that other people love. What can you do?

H&W: What is good music to you?

MT: The shit that takes you on a rollercoaster ride and makes you feel elated, all the while challenging you. Sometimes simple is best, too. I don’t know – if there’s a good connection then great job!

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The fantastic new album from Little Scout is called “Are You Life” and is out now in all good record stores and online.

To read our review click here:

https://heavyandwierd.wordpress.com/2013/09/08/album-review-are-you-life-by-little-scout/

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

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

Live Photo Courtesy of Alexander Sheko http://www.flickr.com/people/phillipsandwich/

ALBUM REVIEW: “Are You Life” by Little Scout

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The brand new record from Little Scout is a collection of life affirming pop music aptly titled “Are You Life” – as far as second albums go this is a fantastic step forward with the band delving deeper into the history of music to give some beautiful new dynamics to their dream pop sound.

There is an excitement to this record, the kind of excitement that exists on a Sunday morning when you wake with a satisfied mind. The album washes over you with a gleam of sunshine but still resonates with that part of you that sighs with melancholy over your morning chai tea. The mess and dilemmas of life have given you a day off to reflect so that you can resurrect and summons some kind of strength to face the week ahead. There is total escapism rolling in and out of each groovy swoon and each song connects to your disappointments but also your heavy optimism. There is something incredibly cinematic about this record and it is best consumed on your headphones just so you can pick up all of the subtle little flourishes of sound that help give maximum volume to the emotional sway of the vocals.

Lyrically and melodically this album is sublime, with every little note moving in and out of the songs like a beautiful breeze of melancholy and sweet summer afternoon sunshine. The joy and the pain all intertwines to give a very distinctive narrative to each song selling the drama of a late twenties crisis in faith and how sometimes there is satisfaction in confusion. The beautiful part about the lyrical journey is although it is quite obvious that these songs have stories and meanings behind them they still remain so open for you to adapt it to your own life. All great songwriters draw from the deep sigh swirling inside of them but in doing so they birth a resonance in the listeners through not being direct but by being mysterious. This process can be both conscious and unconscious on the artists behalf but regardless of the writers intent it is the mystery that gives the music the spook to send that shiver down your spine and to connect directly to your own emotions so that your only response as a listener is to inhale and then silently exhale the murmured response of “I know exactly what they are talking about.” This is when music provides a rush unlike any other human experience and on “Are You Life” Little Scout provides this on quite an epic scale.

One particular song that I found myself returning to over and over again was “Day” which is soaked in so much beauty and heartache that I become so intrigued as to what was fuelling this beautiful pop song. The song rises and falls like a fractured relationship and carries the sound of two humans drifting apart when they still feel so fond of each other. I have no idea what this song was meant to be about but I totally connect it to the sound, that terrible silent sound of human relationships falling apart and a communication once filled with love now being peppered with bitterness and emptiness. The sentimental sway of disconnection as you question just how important is love when it hurts so much to participate in it with another human being. A very powerful song that will be featured on a lot of my upcoming mix cds for other humans I hope to connect with, the sign of a good song and a great record.

In the end, “Are You Life” is an album proper with a journey that takes you through many different emotional landscapes. When the final notes ring out on “Don’t Teach Me To Sing” you know you have experienced something quite special from a band who value the craft of songwriting over the need for fame and celebrity. This record is an important addition to every serious music fans collection because it so beautifully crafted and emotionally deep to the point where I don’t think I’ll be leaving the house without in the next few weeks.

I’ve labelled a lot of bands as “Shiver Pop” over the last year, it is a term that I invented in order to catalogue all of the spooky pop music that I love to listen to and when it comes to Brisbane, Qld, Straylia I think it is quite clear that Little Scout are the humans who best embody all this genre tag represents and with “Are You Life” they have made a Shiver Pop masterpiece.

Fucking Flawless

10 Cassette Tapes Out of 10

By: Dan Newton

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

SINGLE REVIEW: “Straight Through The Sun” by Spiderbait

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The brand new SPIDERBAIT single “Straight Through The Sun” is a beautiful piece of psychedelic pop music and like the brand new TUMBLEWEED song “Mountain” it is 1 million times more refreshing than anything offered up by the modern youth humans.

Perhaps I’m just old and remember a time when alternative guitar bands sounded convincing or perhaps, just perhaps, SPIDERBAIT have released one of the best local singles of 2013. I’m going with the latter because upon repeated listens the joy and genius of this song just jumps out at me again and again.

What makes this song so beautiful is the interplay between the drums and guitar. The drums roll forward like some kind of psychedelic motorbike or legless nightmarish man on a skateboard with the guitar providing this rush of blissed out fuzz that perfectly frames the emotional high maintained through the beauty of escape in the psychedelic fast lane.  There is nothing retro about the way SPIDERBAIT are communicating the joy of psychedelic rock and that is what makes it so fucking right on.

On a really basic level and my own wankerisms aside, the song just flat out rocks and it makes me want to bang my fucking head and go out and have a really good time with a bunch of people I love. It reminds me big time of why I love this band so much and why this new album will be such a joy to finally witness.

Thank You SPIDERBAIT – it was worth the wait

10 Billion Cassette Tapes Out Of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/spiderbaitofficial

SINGLE REVIEW: “Wake Up” by Foxsmith

WAKEUP

The brand new FOXSMITH single “Wake Up” is a stunning piece of pop music covered in all kinds of melancholy swoon and deep hidden wounds. I’ve lived with this song for quite a while trying to determine where it sits in my life and why I found myself haunted by certain lyrical passages in the song. I know that pain being emoted and I understood all of that confusion that was exploding from the vocals. The beauty of a song like “Wake Up” is that the science of how the instruments interact is not the most vital part of the song, it is how the emotion is communicated and there is a deep heavy sigh at the centre of this song.

I love the vocal texture of the song; the down tempo drawl gives this song a maturity level that connects it directly to a band like The National with a very small hint of Ian Curtis mixed with the explosive excitement of Karen O. The whole point of this song is that it is a vehicle to help communicate a specific emotional experience and I think the pop song background matches the wonderfully sombre tone of the vocals.

“Wake Up” is a spectacular display of why FOXSMITH are so amazing. I initially fell in love with the bands ability to write great sombre pop music that had hints of sunshine and Kim Deal Koolisms and as the journey of their sound goes on I’m becoming increasingly attracted to the creative risks the band are taking through the pop music medium. I can’t really say what I was expecting from this single when I first heard of its pending release but when I finally heard it I was surprised, excited and totally moved by what I heard. I cheered for what a great creative leap the band had taken and it has made me crave a full length album because I can just imagine how wonderful this song would sound amongst a full movement of music. I really hope we get that full length sometime soon.

FOXSMITH are the band I’m excited about most when I talk about modern Brisbane music and “Wake Up” is a prime example of why I am so in love with what this band creates. It is also a pleasure as a music writer to write such a joyous critique of what this band creates because it is always absolutely flawless.

Go on the journey and find space in your schedule to fall in love with FOXSMITH too.

10 Cassette Tapes Out Of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Link:

FOXSMITH – www.facebook.com/foxsmithmusic

ALBUM REVIEW: “Ayahuasca: Welcome to the Work” by Ben Lee

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I think Ben Lee is a pretty amazing songwriter and although he has the capacity to cause humans either great joy or intense frustration his talent for writing forward thinking pop music cannot be denied. I’ve tuned in to Lee’s career on and off for the past 14 years with his album “Breathing Tornados” being my entry point back in 1999. I remember being quite obsessed with “Awake Is The New Sleep” when it was first released and still feel it was one of his finest moments as a songwriter. I am however a casual observer and if it wasn’t for my brother being a fan I wouldn’t have sampled the albums released since.

This brings me to Ben Lee’s new album “Ayahuasca: Welcome to the Work ” which I must admit was low on my radar of things to review or even purchase. My whole attitude changed however when my brother sat me down to show me the album and just quietly I was blown away by what I heard.

Let me set the scene, Ben Lee is still writing pop music only this time round it is way more intense and soaked in psyche rock dynamics with almost prog rock undertones. Songs go from a glorious hymn of praise to a blissed out collection of drones and sometimes this can happen within the same song. There are no real hit singles on this album but I suspect that Ben Lee was not setting out to make a popular record or a collection of “hits” with this album. I like this new direction, it is a lot darker and the most intense Lee has ever sounded. He has only ever hinted at this darkness and intensity on previous albums. To hear it fully explored and expressed via these new songs is refreshing and I think this is by far the best thing he has done.

I’d describe the album as a psyche pop album with heavy prog influences. I think he’s done a better job than Tame Impala at making interesting psyche based pop music. This may be due to his experience as a songwriter and ability to truly push not just his sound but his own personal creative philosophies.

I can’t recommend this album enough and I truly believe that anyone currently pushing a “psyche” agenda with their musical tastes needs to listen to this record and hear a master songwriter really do the psyche thing well.

10 Cassette tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

ALBUM REVIEW: “Heartthrob” by Tegan and Sara

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I’ve been a big fan of Tegan and Sara since the release of “So Jealous” and although my love affair as a fan has gone from an obsession to a merely causal relationship, it doesn’t affect just how much I love these two amazing humans. To see the rise of the Tegan and Sara over the past decade has been quite thrilling and after years of touring and recording they have finally reached a more mainstream audience with their music. This is well deserved because Tegan and Sara write some of the best pop music in the world.

On their new album “Heartthrob” the twins take a further dive into the electronic side of their sound. This album is saturated with synths and all kinds of electronics but the one thing that is still at the centre of it is a great collection of songs. I like hearing Tegan and Sara in this almost disco setting, it suits their pop skills and I feel quite nostalgic listening to this album. It reminds me of all the drama and entertainment of degrassi high.

Do I love this album? Not as much as their previous albums, but I do get a real good time out of it when I listen to it. Tegan and Sara are at the point where they can pretty much do anything and I’ll find a way to enjoy it.

8 Cassette Tapes Out Of 10

By: Dan Newton

ALBUM REVIEW: “All Re-Mixed Up” by Puscifer

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Fans of Puscifer know how exciting it is when the band releases the re-mix component to their more established full length albums or ep’s. From the very beginning of the bands history this was a process that each song, each EP and each album was subjected too. These re-mixes help give new light to the already flawless songs and stand alone as important pieces of evolution in terms of the band’s sound. Sometimes the strength of the re-mix can steer you to favour these re-interpreted versions more than the originals.  It is an incredible artform and when it is done well it can provide a brand new album out of an already established and familiar movement of music. As is the case with all of the work Maynard James Keenan has done, you often find that the emotional intensity of the songs are taken to all new levels with the re-mixes.

The re-mix companion to Puscifer’s 2011 release “Conditions of My Parole” is called “All Re-Mixed Up” and is a total reinvention of the sounds found on the original album. As an album “Conditions of My Parole” was already incredibly strong and one of my favourite Maynard James Keenan releases. The album was a brilliant evolution from “V is for Vagina” and saw the birth of Puscifer the band as opposed to the solo project. Ideas and dynamics originally glimpsed on the debut album where now fleshed out and fully realised on “Conditions of My Parole” giving the overall sound a reinvention and a new level of magic. “Conditions of My Parole” is already a very special album for me personally so to hear the album re-interpreted through these re-mixes is very exciting.

Upon first listen I was surprised at just how different the album now is. As one movement of music, the album still plays out with an incredible amount of consistency. You do indeed hear familiar sounds that link it back to the “Conditions of My Parole” album but through the re-mix process the songs have transformed into completely new vehicles of emotional communication. It is this transformation that helps establish “All Re-Mixed Up” as a standalone album in its own right.

As was the case with the original album, my highlight is the re-mix of “Oceans” which sees the song transform from an electronica mood piece to an organic swoon. This showcases the strength of the songwriting but also the way that the re-mix process can totally heighten the emotion already present.

The re-mix process has helped the original vision reach a final destination. As a lot of the press for this album has instructed, each re-mixer was told to imagine that each song was only half written and their job was to write the other half. I can safely testify as a fanatic of Puscifer that this has indeed happened. This is a brand new album and has given new life to an already flawless movement of songs. I am honestly having trouble deciding which version of the album I prefer.

In the end, this is about evolution and Maynard James Keenan has once again provided us a unique musical vehicle for us to sample the amazing emotional intelligence he uses to express himself.

“All Re-Mixed Up” is an absolutely fantastic album

10 Cassette Tapes Out Of 10

EP REVIEW: “Donkey Punch The Night” by Puscifer

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Maynard James Keenan is one of those human beings who just knows how to do life right. Sure he may be full of his own personal flaws that are unique to him yet unknown to us but at least in terms of his creative output, Maynard is all class. It doesn’t matter which creative vehicle he’s using, the man knows how to balance depth and humour framing everything he does with an intensity that very few humans reach. He is an original, creatively and philosophically, and he’ll be remembered as one of the most vital creative humans to ever walk the earth. I feel like I’ve quoted this a lot recently but you either love him or hate him. He makes the kind of art that creates those two clear divisions; there is no middle ground or fence sitting when it comes to Maynard.

Puscifer is the solo vehicle for Maynard (although it’s starting to turn into more of a band experience) and is slowly becoming my favourite part of his career. I like the way this project mixes Maynard’s humour with his delicate and intense vocal lines with the focus being more on electronica than organic rock music. This suits Maynard’s voice beautifully and the sheer volume of work released so far via EPs, Albums (two full lengths) and Remix EPs / Albums has been overwhelming with all of it being of a high quality. The new EP “Donkey Punch The Night” which was released earlier this year is no exception, quality wise, and further showcases the ever evolving sound of the Puscifer project.

The two covers (Bohemian Rhapsody and Balls To The Wall) are both cool but the real shining stars of this EP is the original material (Breathe and Dear Brother) along with the remixed versions of these songs. Both of these original songs are the perfect example of what is so great musically about Puscifer. The way in which these two songs are communicated is just perfect with the nice mix of the organic and the electronic with the vocal work from Maynard being divine as always. The worst part of this EP is the fact that we only get a small batch of songs to indulge in but the quality is enough for me to walk away satisfied.

A perfect companion to the bands 2011 release “Conditions Of My Parole” and hopefully a small teaser of what’s to come with Album number three.

10 Cassette Tapes Out of 10

By: Dan Newton

ALBUM REVIEW: “Sequel To The Prequel” by Babyshambles

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In a former life I spent hours upon hours immersing myself in the music of The Libertines; poring over lyrics, reading the sordid tabloid stories, and losing myself in the fucked-up romanticism of it all.  Ten years on, we’ve all grown up.  I no longer listen to indie Brit-pop, read Q Magazine, or ride a skateboard.  The Libertines no longer exist, and their resident poet/needle bin/supermodel handbag, Pete Doherty, is now the frontman of Babyshambles, the band he started when Carl Barât kicked him out of The Libertines for basically being shit at life.  Though I may have grown out of that phase, I’ve still purchased every single Doherty release I could get my hands on over the years, being particularly blown away by the last Babyshambles album Shotter’s Nation.

I’ve been looking forward to Sequel To The Prequel since news of it surfaced earlier in the year.  The album gets off to a rip-roaring start with ‘Fireman’, the rawest and most Libertines sounding song on the record.  It’s a short lived reminder of past glories, however, as the excellent ‘Nothing Comes To Nothing’ picks up where Shotter’s Nation left off.  It’s a brilliant piece of pop songwriting, with Doherty sloppily drawling the last ‘baaaaaby’ of the chorus as if he no longer gives a shit about the person in question, or the song.  It’s far more charming than I make it sound, and it’s moments like this that have made me continue to buy his records over the years, regardless of his (very) uneven output.

The soaring chorus of ‘Farmer’s Daughter’ comes as a complete surprise, and is probably Doherty’s finest moment on record.  He makes the somewhat shocking lyrics of “He knows where his daughter goes / Across the rape fields / To where the sunlight hits the snow” sound romantic, beautiful and inviting, utilising a surprisingly great singing voice, that otherwise goes missing when he sounds like he’s mumbling through a mouthful of socks.  It’s simultaneously the most fulfilling and frustrating song I’ve ever heard and begs the question: Why don’t you sing like this all the time?

Unfortunately the album meanders towards the middle, with a couple of skiffle and vaudeville type numbers, along with the ridiculous reggae of ‘Dr No’, taking some of the band’s influences to their obvious conclusions.  On the whole though, it’s a fairly strong record, placing it somewhere between their unfocussed debut Down In Albion and the very good Shotter’s Nation in their discography to date.

This would have been the soundtrack to my year in 2003, unfortunately my 29-year old self has moved on musically and mentally.  I want to like this record a lot more than I actually do.  The main problem with the album is that Doherty is still the laziest singer in Brittan; something he got away with in the racket of The Libertines, but that comes to the fore in the cleaner production and more pop-oriented songs on Sequel To The Prequel.  While occasionally charming (See ‘Nothing Comes To Nothing’), it mostly just ruins otherwise good songs.  That said, Sequel To The Prequel has enough high points to satisfy any former Libertines or current Babyshambles fan, and will show the current crop of upcoming indie guitar bands how to utilise melody, rather than relying on noise.

Rating: 7 Prequels out of 10 Sequels

By Clint Morrow