ALBUM OF THE WEEK: “Girlk” by Papperbok

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On their debut album “Girlk” Papperbok deliver us 33 minutes of the best psych pop music of 2016 and in the process announce their arrival as a real contender to take down the whole Tame Impala empire. Ever since the mid-2000’s Brisbane has been promising to produce a pop band capable of taking over the world and since about 2010 we’ve watched them all fade away, break up or attempt to pathetically move onto the next trend. I’m confident in saying that finally Brisbane has the band capable and it is Papperbok and on their debut album “Girlk” they don’t waste anytime proving why they will ascend to become the new pop music elite. 

 

What makes “Girlk” such a special experience is the way it is sequenced. For every pop hook there is a moody interlude swaying in and out allowing the album to move along like one big track. As isolated tracks, each song is brilliant but for the ultimate listening experience you need to sit and listen to the record front to back. The production is perfect and despite the extreme layering present on each track there is still a lot of dynamics allowing each track the space to breathe and grow without a total saturation of the frequencies. All of the players on this album are masters of their craft and know the perfect time to be silent but also attack. This makes the proggier moments more interesting and the pop songs a more direct punch. It’s nice to hear a band lean on their influences but not get too nostalgic about it. You can certainly hear that Papperbok are disciples of The Flaming Lips, Blur, Radiohead, The Beatles and Pink Floyd (and Tame Impala I’m willing to bet as well) but they don’t steal or replicate, they re-invent these established dynamics to help create their own unique sonic dialogue.

The real star of this album however is Annabelle Bingley whose vocals create such a spooky yet beautiful atmosphere. It doesn’t matter whether she is on lead vocals or providing backing vocals, she is a truly creative force and provides fresh, interesting and dynamic melodic passages that lift these songs to some out of this world places. Her voice is pure escapism and carries with it equal amounts of beauty, despair, angst, heartache, humour and celebration. Any dull rock n roll or pop song cliché displayed by the band is instantly washed away the moment her voice elegantly arrives on any of the tracks. 

 That is not to say that this album is cliched, far from it. In context of the modern music landscape it is a true treasure to behold. As a movement of music “Girlk” is a sublime treat of psych pop goodness that is in debt to all of the great British mood bands of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and although the band has opted for a concept record it’s hard for me not to dig deep into these lyrics and see them as metaphors for the authors own personal pain. Using a bit of fiction to help amplify the deep sigh of modern living works well for Papperbok and it allows for the emotion of each song to be more direct and in the process opening up your own imagination. It’s all very cinematic and as one piece of music it moves like “The Final Cut” era Pink Floyd only with more shoegaze aesthetics and post-rock drama which helps to edge it to sounding like a lost timeless classic. 

 This album may have taken Papperbok a number of years to record and release but I’m confident it won’t take long for the band to receive extreme critical acclaim for the end result. I’m confident in saying that “Girlk” is a definite contender for our end of year top eleven list and I look forward to seeing the rest of the world fall in love with the brilliant, intense and smart song writing skills that Papperbok have shown on this record. 

 An outstanding debut album that is total fucking godhead

 By: Dan Newton

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ALBUM REVIEW: “Post Pop Depression” by Iggy Pop

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There is a great sadness weaving in and out of the new Iggy Pop album “Post Pop Depression” and as satisfying as it is for long time fans musically the fact that this stands as a potential final statement stains the listening experience. It doesn’t hijack the joy of hearing Iggy once again hitting some career best form but if the recent David Bowie loss has taught us anything, no one is safe no matter how immortal we thought they once were.

Perhaps it is my own personal sadness that infects the listening experience with “Post Pop Depression,” still spooked by the madness of what happened with Bowie and the whole “Blackstar” experience, an album which mirrors “Post Pop Depression” at least lyrically in how it highlights the psyche of two creative giants facing their own mortality. Where Bowie may have sounded cryptic with his fear, all reports point to the fact that he didn’t want to die (who does really) and he wanted to just keep making music. In the same way it sounds like Iggy has had an injection or jolt creatively but if you are to believe the lyrics of “Post Pop Depression” this sounds like Iggy is fed up with the struggle and is looking for the next great adventure, death.

The first time this becomes clear is on album highlight “American Valhalla” which puts the theme of death and one’s own mortality front and centre. In Norse mythology, Valhalla is a majestic, enormous hall located in Asgard ruled over by the god Odin. In Valhalla, the dead join the masses of those who have died in combat known as Einherjar, as well a various legendary Germanic Heroes and kings as they prepare to aid Odin during the events of Ragnarok (thanks Wikipedia). It’s a pretty strong metaphor when applied to what Iggy is tackling emotionally in the lyrics to this song.

That’s not to say that “Post Pop Depression” is a funeral dirge affair. Scattered among the sadness are lots of groove laden rock tracks that realistically rival the strength of Iggy’s debut album “The Idiot.” A lot of this comes from the fact that Josh Homme has been one of the first collaborators since Bowie to really push the strengths of Iggy to the front and centre. I’m a strict disciple to Iggy’s full discography and while there have been some high points post 77 across the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s the sounds contained on “Post Pop Depression” outline that Iggy is at his best when he has a collaborator who takes the time to push the intellectual side of his ego to the front. Iggy has always been a great wild rock n roll frontman but his intellect has always been downplayed and misunderstood by both his fans and his critics. Lucky for us Homme has approached this project like a true fan and brought the best out in Iggy.

 

 

On a basic level this is a just a flawless rock record full of groove and glam rock riffage. Not quite punk but not quite rock and not quite nostalgic throw back. That dark desert mood suits the Iggy Pop mythology perfectly. Fans of Homme’s work will embrace the warmth of his production with the music contained within being able to offer a sonic duality where it can be both mournful but still thick with swagger. It makes you realise just what a musical giant Josh Homme is and how with time people may finally catch up and see that like Bowie and Iggy, he is indeed a legend and genius in his own right just as responsible for adding a few different dynamics to the rock n roll and pop singer rule book.

For long time Iggy Pop fans this album will be beautifully satisfying and for fans coming to him for the first time via Homme’s involvement this album will stand as the perfect launch pad. If this is the final statement from Iggy then he has made it a strong one, leaving the way he came in. People will have their various reasons for loving an artist like Iggy Pop – for me I was always in love with his wit and intellect. The way he could be so poetic but so vulgar without ever having to resort to shock tactics. He is the great misunderstood performer who the greater music industry have admired from afar but rarely ever given or paid dues to for his deep influence. Everyone who discovers Iggy Pop has a life changing experience that helps sort out parts of themselves they didn’t know they needed sorting out. He set me free and gave me the confidence that I could be some kind of artist and I’ll always be in debt to his influence.

With “Post Pop Depression” we are reminded that Iggy Pop is, was and always will be the Godfather of everything and anything to do with Punk Rock. The world’s forgotten boy, the one who’ll forever search and destroy.

By: Dan Newton

 

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Useful Links:

https://www.facebook.com/iggypop
www.iggypop.com
https://twitter.com/IggyPop
www.youtube.com/user/iggypop

ALBUM REVIEW: “Incarnate” by Killswitch Engage

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There is something exciting for me about a metal band releasing a new album, an excitement that I’ve been attached to since I was a teenager. For some reason the hype and excitement surrounding a metal band releasing a new album just differs from any other genre that I enjoy. I think it’s because on a sentimental level it drags me back to the complete emotional release that heavy metal has provided me my whole life. As a teenager and early twenties human the cruelty of this world was dulled by heavy metal and the bands that I adored became like superheroes to me, they were these pillars of strength and through their music I was able to survive and find strength in some incredibly dark times.

Heavy Metal helped me graduate from being a confused teenager to becoming a driven and well adjusted adult. As I get older I seem to crave metal more because the sound of it just gets better and better with time. As a genre it never dissapoints and I love the way it can be brutal, emotional yet at the same time there are bands within the genre who experiment with the idea of extremes to some absolutely breathtaking results.

Since 2002, Killswitch Engage have been saving my life. Their debut album “Alive or Just Breathing” is responsible for bringing a massive amount of light to a dark existence and gave me the strength and power to rise and to ask myself the question “am I alive or just breathing?” – it was almost like a religious experience hearing Killswitch Engage back in 2002. I followed the band since then and my love for them has grown deeper over time and I would put them in my list of top eleven metal bands of all time.

To paint a picture for you, in 2002 the metal landscape was still in the hangover that Nu-Metal had caused. The genre had been both strengthened and weakened by aspects of this sub-genre. There was a lot of press given to bands who claimed to be “the death of nu-metal” and a lot of them promised a lot but rarely ever delivered metal to a more pure place. At this point in time my thirst for metal had increased since my high school devotion. I was quite immersed in bands like Meshuggah, Soilwork, In Flames, Opeth, Strapping Young Lad, Obituary, Morbid Angel, Frankenbok, Alchemist, Pod People, Allegiance and Devolved. I was particularly in love with Meshuggah at this point in time and I thought they were one of the most revolutionary bands I had ever heard and to this day they remain one of my favourite metal bands.

In terms of what was coming out of America, nothing really grabbed me as it was all still rooted in that nu-metal template and the only bands from that template that I enjoyed were System of A Down and Korn who both outgrew that terrible genre tag and to be honest never really were what I defined as Nu-Metal. It was also a period in time where bands like Pantera and Fear Factory had split and Machine Head were in a transition between the big nu-metal cash in and a return to their groove / thrash metal roots. I missed having bands of this ilk around and it felt like there was a big hole left in the metal community without them. The only positive thing to come out of the Pantera split was Phil’s new band Superjoint Ritual and his return to Down.

In 2002 I was signed up to the Roadrunner Records street team and subscribed to their monthly fanzine called “Outsider.” I was also quite friendly with a lot of the people in the Australian Roadrunner Records office. I was quite a devoted street team member and had been all through my teenage and high school years. I received the Roadrunner Records fanzine for January and it came with a sampler disc of new music being released that year. The magazine itself put a focus on three of the 14 or so bands on the CD. Those bands were “Five Point O,” “36 Crazyfists” and “Killswitch Engage.”

I really dug all three bands and I brought the “Five Point O” record and although I enjoyed it, the record itself still had hints of rapped vocals and wasn’t quite as fresh as I thought it would be. I brought the 36 Crazyfists album “Bitterness The Star” and I really dug it, it was very similar to Deftones but with a hardcore edge to it. Still, it didn’t revolutionise the way I thought it would but unlike “Five Point O” I remain a fan of 36 Crazyfists to this day. They went on to release some truly amazing pieces of music and they keep getting better with each new release.

Killswitch Engage weirdly were the band I focussed on least when it came to this sampler. Their song “Life To Lifeless” reminded me of Fear Factory with hints of that Swedish melodic death metal sound. As I got deeper into Meshuggah and freaked out on the new Down album I really didn’t pay much attention to the upcoming release from Killswitch Engage.

A month out from its release date I got another little fanzine in the mail, no sampler this time, that once again praised and promoted the upcoming Killswitch Engage release. This time round I was more curious based on the interview and review of the album. I was excited but I invested no expectations.

On Monday the 20th May 2002 I went to Sanity (I was living at home with Mum and Dad in Bundy at the time, it was the only record store we had) at 9:00am and picked up my copy of one of the greatest heavy metal albums of the new decade. I am of course talking about this masterpiece:

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To say that “Alive or Just Breathing” changed my life is an understatement. From the moment I put this album on I was hooked and it was an obsession that lasted for quite a while. There is something inside of this album that just gets me off again and again. Doesn’t matter what era of my life I find myself in, I always have time for this album. Even now, fourteen years later I can still put this album on and find new things about it that thrill me. Going back to 2002, I was finally pleased that one of the bands who were listed as the one to “kill nu-metal” did indeed do just that. I was not prepared for how popular this band was going to become.

The bands beautiful way of mixing the pain of existence with a positive “carry on, be strong” message is always what hits home the most. This band understands the darkness but they want to help direct you to the light and at so many points in my life they have been vital to helping me see that light.

So it was with great joy on the that I took the day off work on the 11th March 2016 so I could get up early and make a journey to the local JB Hi Fi’s to buy the brand new Killswitch Engage album “Incarnate” and to slip into the beautiful sounds that this band creates.

From start to finish “Incarnate” is a re-birth for Killswitch Engage. It is still 100 per cent what we all know and love about Killswitch Engage but there is a new intensity to it all. The heaviness is heavier and the melodic moments are even more melodic. This record soars and unfolds itself beautifully with there not being one moment where I wasn’t hooked. Emotionally the record connects deeply and the band has once again made you apart of the journey and this is just as much a celebration for the band as it is for you the fan.

I have listened to this album quite a bit over the past week and I can’t find a weak moment on it and the joy of it still comes down to the fact that this album has a longevity attached to it. I know the album so well yet each new listen provides a new surprise and a new favourite song. That is the power of a great album, it connects instantly but still gives you the space to grow with it and learn more with each new listen.

The songs on “Incarnate” get stuck in your head and the whole album is quite addictive. Like all great music that I love, I find it hard to talk about “this song” or “that song” because quite simply the album is what needs to be heard. No one song will sell the brilliance of this band, you have to sit down with the whole album and consume it because that is the only way to connect with it.

 

This is an album that was carefully crafted so that every note means something. Beyond the metal of it all, underneath the riffs and the intensity is a great bunch of songs. That is what makes any metal band worth something, the ability to still craft amazing songs, not just riffs and wankery. This album soars above everything else at the moment and proves why Killswitch Engage have been such an influential metal band over the past 17 years and why so many bands line-up to rip them off, but the truth is you can’t beat the real thing and “Incarnate” is the real deal and it strengthens the star power that is the Killswitch Engage legacy.

I’ve been a fan of Killswitch Engage for the past fourteen years of my life. I was 18 going on 19 when I first got into the band and now I’m 32 going on 33. I’ve loved the band deeply for all of those fourteen years and their music has always meant something to me. Regardless of what stage of life I was in or music I was listening to, heavy metal has always remained a constant. I don’t believe in being the kind of jerk-off who has “guilty pleasures” or “I can’t believed I listened to that” moments in my life. I still love and have time for every band or artist I ever got into.

Some bands like Killswitch Engage are untouchable however and I think for me the reason I love them so much is because beyond being a heavy metal band, you can tell that each member involved are just fans of music in general, it goes way beyond just metal. I think that’s an important quality to have for a band who strive to make timeless heavy metal, they have to be plugged into so much more than just the history of metal. You can hear that Killswitch Engage respect music as a whole and when they plug in and play they are drawing on so much of it to make their unique blend of melodic heavy metal.

With their new album “Incarnate” Killswitch Engage have launched themselves beautifully into the new decade and proved that they will be one of the most important bands in the heavy metal language. I just love them so much and this album is so incredibly satisfying. Everyone who knows me understands that a lot of my favourite bands are artists like Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Fugazi, Pearl Jam and Deftones but I think a band like Killswitch Engage is just as important as all of these bands. I don’t base my personality on genres of music, I fund it purely on good and life changing music. Killswitch Engage are one of the bands who fit this bill quite well and “Incarnate” is a fucking triumph and a beautiful piece of art.

By: Dan Newton

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Useful Links:

https://www.facebook.com/killswitchengage
www.killswitchengage.com

 

ALBUM REVIEW: “Waco” by Violent Soho

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Before I dive into the review I must quote a line from one of my favourite Nirvana songs “Serve The Servants” that may give a bit of context to how I feel towards the kind of music that Violent Soho make and that line is as follows:

“Teenage angst has paid off well now I’m bored and old”

This is a phrase that kept ringing in my head the more I listened to Violent Soho because indeed I am no longer too heavily invested in teen angst. I still love intense / deep sounding music that harvests pain but teen angst; it doesn’t really have a place in my life anymore.

The complications and pain of existence as a 33 year old is way more confusing than anything that happened in my teens and early to mid-twenties. So I guess this affects the way I hear modern angst ridden rock n roll. My first reaction is to always default to that Henry Rollins philosophy “Life won’t break your heart it will crush it” and that to be honest is the kind of rush I need from music in 2016. Something that only the other 33 year old single / childless humans will understand.

In 2016  though I will admit that I’m excited that a band like Violent Soho exists. I’m too old and past it to enjoy it but I get really excited every time I see a young human talk about the passion they have for Violent Soho. The reason I get excited is because this band know the art of writing to the point punk infused rock n roll. I guess you could call it grunge but I hear it as being punk infused rock n roll. You can tell that the members of this band are fans of sophisticated guitar music and they do their best to pay tribute to that and also put their own twist on it. The other reason I get excited is because a band like Violent Soho is the perfect “bridge” band for younger human beings to other cool sophisticated guitar bands and Violent Soho have always been humble enough to put a spotlight on those types of bands which is something I can deeply respect.

Violent Soho are the perfect gateway drug and because I view music as lots of different historical artifacts we need the gateway bands like Violent Soho to help usher the new generation of youth culture to the amazing punk infused rock n roll and indeed the whole history of sound that came before them. So in short, Violent Soho is the perfect history lesson for young human beings but also a reminder for cynical old jerk-off’s like me about the healing power of raw as fuck punk rock n roll.

This brings me to their new album “WACO” – who cares what I think and the science behind why it is good and bad, Violent Soho do a great job of playing rock n roll. This is perfect youth culture music for 2016 and it makes me jealous that I’m not in my teens or early 20’s because if I was this would be a band that I would worship. As a 33 year old jerk-off it makes me nod my head in appreciation. The album goes alright and the songs contained within it will be causing riots in many a mosh-pit during the festival circuit of 2016 and 2017.

 

 

As an artistic achievement “WACO” is miles above “Hungry Ghost” and the band has indeed taken their sound to some new places. Despite the production being a bit cleaner and more “world stage” sounding the aggressive nature of the band still has them sounding incredibly tight and sincere. Upon first listen it is quite exciting but the more I pressed play the less impressed I was. When the songs really rock they are angry and full of that teen angst that has fueled young punk rock fused bands for decades. When these dynamics are rinsed and repeated however on later tracks it starts to lack the crunch to resonate.

Humans of my generation who grew up with Silverchair, Jebediah, Powderfinger, Grinspoon, Magic Dirt and You Am I dominating Triple J radio may understand me when I say that Violent Soho are for the people who only ever liked “Frogstomp” and “Freakshow” – I’m more of a “Diorama” and “Young Modern” kind of person but in the grand scheme of things there is no wrong or right when it comes to emotional resonance and music listening habits. I’m sure that the well adjusted humans who read this will understand that I’m purely making an honest claim about a band who makes music that no longer rings the bells in my stomach but to the Violent Soho faithful I’m sure I’ve offended them deeply. Just let me say I’m in no way sorry about that because there was a time when I thought music couldn’t get any better than “Slightly Oddway” by Jebediah but as I grew up I realised that it did. That doesn’t mean I was wrong for feeling the passion for that band back in 1997 it just means that I walked across the bridge and discovered the music and bands that got ignored so that Jebediah could be pushed to the front.

In 2016 there are a lot of great bands that got ignored and overlooked so that Violent Soho could be pushed to the front. There is no one to blame for that because resonance, timing, hard work and a small degree of clever marketing skills will always allow some bands to succeed over others. This is the cruel fate of the music industry and while I believe that a band like The Drones should be front and centre of what modern young humans are listening to the reality is that it isn’t their time or place to be that band.

Right now Violent Soho are the perfect band for modern youth and my excitement regarding their sound purely hinges on the handful of humans in their fanbase who’ll walk across the bridge like I did back in 1997 when I thought bands like Jebediah and Grinspoon were high art, to see that awaiting them on the other side are a bunch of other artists who are equally as talented and hard working who were just a bit unlucky when it came to timing, resonance and the business of art.

By: Dan Newton

 

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Useful Links:

https://www.facebook.com/violentsoho
http://violentsoho.com/

 

 

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: “Full Closure and No Details” by Gabriella Cohen

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The debut album from Gabriella Cohen is called “Full Closure and No Details” and it is a fantastic journey of avant-garde framed pop music full of poetic lyrics and intense emotional stories dripping in heartache and the overall sting of being disconnected from the modern whir of circa 2016 culture. White Middle Class Male Cockheads will say such bullshitery as “She is an old soul” and all sorts of other dick stained opinions but the truth is Cohen makes music for the true aliens and she is not interested in the past or the present, she is all about the moment which will always mean she is 100 per cent authentic and an artist in the truest sense of the word.

 

 

Most humans will only focus on the instant and familiar aesthetics that jump out at them when they hear Cohen sigh and ache throughout this album but if you dig deeper you hear that she is someone who is more in debt to radical artists like Bertolt Brecht, Marcel Duchamp, Hugo Ball, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Laurie Anderson, Salvador Dali, Allen Ginsburg, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and of course the Poetry and Novels era of Leonard Cohen. These revolutionaries provide the heart and soul for what makes Gabriella’s music so special and this is why it avoids the cliches and instead favours pure emotional expression.

This is art for arts sake with all the dust and damage turned up to high in order for Cohen’s imaginary world to explode out of the headphones and to stain the listeners psyche birthing an extreme stimulation of the senses. It almost makes you numb with satisfaction after repeated listens giving your heart and soul some spiritual oxygen to help you suffer through this life with a bit more comfort. It helps remind you that sometimes being the alien is the easiest path to divinity.

Cohen’s music is designed for those of us who swallow the cliche’s and shit out quiet revolutions whilst the white male elite attempt to harvest our gold but never truly understand what true heartache and alienation feels like. Each song in the track-list is the sound of modern anti-music / anti-art designed to destroy the world that continues to make false idols out of white middle class privileged males. I can’t stand to see an album this forward thinking destroyed and buried under the kind of regime that supports that kind of big budget mediocrity.

This is an album that needs to be experienced up loud on the stereo of your speeding car as you are escaping the city late at night when you are exhausted by the weight of existence. Music this powerful can only be consumed alone. Such consumption is sure to breed some unique fans for Cohen because she sings so confidently about the pain of disconnection and yearning. The swoon and shiver of the vocal arrangements all across this record is fucking hypnotising. I found myself delving deeper and deeper into those lyrics, trying to find some kind of meaning to Cohen’s mysterious wordplay. It’s hard to focus in on the words because her melodies and backing vocals are  beautifully constructed. The various vocal effects and arrangements help build a wall of protection around Cohen’s emotions making sure that as close as you try to get you will only merely glimpse the true meaning of what she is trying to communicate with her art. This is what makes the listening experience of this album so exciting, it keeps you on the edge and always eager to press play again after it is all over.

I don’t want to make this a political issue but fuck it, I’m going to – if the white corporate male music elite spent more time putting artists like Gabriella Cohen on the cover of their magazines instead of boring middle class white rock boy nostalgia fiends who offer nothing more to the creative landscape than “hell fuck yeah” then maybe just maybe we’d see peace restored to the galaxy. Unfortunately we don’t live in that world and corporate music magazines still fucking suck but that doesn’t really matter because Cohen is building her own secret history and is going to triumph and trail-blaze without the assistance of the fuckhead rock n roll boys club back slapping and dick massaging.

I don’t want to live in that world, you know the one, the one where we once again have to be subjected to a bunch of stoner fucking idiots playing guitars and riding skateboards – I want to live in a world were Gabriella Cohen has the spotlight because she is willing to go deep and dark in order to scatter some new dynamics onto the table. She lives deep in her imagination and her music is an invitation for us mere mortals to come in and indulge and escape and just for one moment realise that the best pop music is made by human beings who are weird aliens bent out of shape by the suffocating rules of societies and scenes.

Perhaps even Gabriella Cohen doesn’t even realise how vital she is but either way her new record is poised to be the launch pad for a career artist who is no doubt scheduling in more masterpieces for us to devour in the not too distant future.

Gabriella Cohen reminds me that girls invented punk rock and that Yoko Ono will always be my favourite Beatle – in the spirit of Patti Smith, Cohen is about to go beyond gender positioning her as one of the first real new millennial avant garde poets.

By: Dan Newton

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(photo by: danni ogilvie)

 

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/gabriellacohenmusic/
Buy The Vinyl Here – https://dirtypowerstudios.squarespace.com/shop/

 

ALBUM REVIEW: “Sword” by Angharad Drake

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The third record from Angharad Drake is called “Sword” and is the kind of movement of music that I’d define as perfection. It is very simple in its execution but again comes down to the mood and how Drake approaches the melodic structure of each song. Drake saturates each song with darkness and a spooky whisper and it becomes hard not to be pulled into her psyche. This is real journeyperson material and you can hear that Drake has lived every inch of pain contained within the lyrics.  There are also pinches of resolve and hope swirling in and out of the songs but it is more attached to an acceptance of ones weirdness as opposed to anything found in positive thinking handbooks.

As is the case with all good pop music, the intensity is front and centre and Drake doesn’t waste time grabbing your soul and taking you on a journey through the dark and light regions of our existence and the other dimensions she is channelling. Drake makes both very intellectual but also very spiritual music and when you mix the science with the soul you get a beating heart that is well balanced and rooted in purity.

The album kicks off with a trio of songs (Intro, Sword and You) that are a simple gallop of smiles and bummer sunshine. They move around with the confusion of the early stages of a new romance. It has a beautiful innocence and weaves stories that are equally a plea for connection and a yearning for a new bliss blackout and the complication of first kisses and late Sunday night wishes. It shimmers and shines with pop skills and drags you into the elegant world of Angharad Drake.

This initial introduction moves beautifully into my favourite moment “Water.” This is one of those rare songs that comes around every few years and totally changes the genre for which it belongs. A simple pop song at its core, “Water” takes us on a journey giving a full spotlight on the complicated emotions that influenced the song. It takes you away to blissed out landscapes and you find yourself investing in the journey. A great blend of teen angst and early twenties hope and the song stands as both a roar towards past heartbreak and a whisper to the future lover.

The remaining stretch of songs on this album follow a similar trend and I found myself listening to tracks like “Majesty,” “Down” and “Lone” a few times trying to work out if the songs were autobiographical or an observation on the destructive pattern associated with watching best friends descending into relationship drama.  Regardless of whether they are fact or fiction these would be the perfect songs for any coming of age drama movie with that garden state pinch of comedy.

The final track “Nobody Believes” is the perfect closer to this way too short album. It brings everything together quite nicely and is the triumphant final breath to this emotional journey. It makes me feel like I’m travelling in slow motion from the steam of old friendships, old lovers and heading straight for a new kind of sunshine. It’s a “satisfied mind” ending to the adventure and thrill of being a teenager in love. It resolves itself with a youthful optimism and a commitment to a new journey, a new self and a new landscape of shivers.

Angharad Drake is a bright light in an often predictable and redundant landscape of singer songwriters. Her music is dark and moody and is clearly influenced by the many different faces of music. It has a progressive heartbeat in the way that Sarah Blasko did but to my ears it also has something special attached to it the way that artists like Joanna Newsom and Tori Amos do. I’m quite a big fan of this album and I can’t wait to see how Angharad Drake evolves this sophisticated sound on her future releases. I only hope it grows darker in its delivery and we get to experience an even deeper and more intense journey than the one being hinted at on “Sword.”

Music review wankerisms aside, what does Angharad Drake’s “Sword” album mean to me?

When I listen to “Sword” I get tangled in the memory of all of the human beings I’ve have either loved romantically or had an extreme crush on. There is a simple frame of yearning and desire around every inch of these songs but also a hungry desperation that flirts with the notion of being jealous. It isn’t the kind of envy that is cruel or funded on insecurity it is more the kind of jealous nature that exists inside the empathetic and passionate souls who love without of any thought of reward and who need the rush of love, with all of its joy and pain, to feel alive and in touch with their artistic muse.

Love is the kind of emotion that has the capacity to fuel every positive and negative emotion inside of you but that is also the challenge of love, to have the darkness and the light of it infect you to the point where you end up having to accept all of it.

If you listen to “Sword” and you are in love with someone who is also in love with you then the album will sound like a defensive narrative or plea to the outside world to not pollute the dynamic you share with that other human being because there is nothing more frightening than an external world acting in a destructive manner to disrupt the rhythm of your relationship.

If you listen to this album from the perspective of simply being in a “crush” like situation then once again from a narrative point of view “Sword” highlights that you are simply watching that person you have extreme feelings for being taken away from you by weaker human beings who won’t love them in the way you know you’re capable of doing.  This album acts as a battle cry for when you will one day find the courage to strike and make that connection with that human and to give your love an entry point.

Regardless of which category you fall into when you listen to “Sword” there is a loneliness that hangs in both situations. Both of the above life situations provide any human being with a loneliness that is at times suffocating, dripping with all kinds of confused longing and swooned aggression giving you suspended periods of time in the darkness of your own mind. It is in these moments of reflection that you either arrive at an explosive moment of clarity or a cluttered yet hopeless stained generation of silent sadness.

That is the power of what “Sword” communicates as an album in its slacked out bliss and swirls of seductive rage. “Sword” is another flawless example of why Angharad Drake is shaping up to be not just a popular musician but an important artist and trust me we need more artists among the indie pop stars. I am just so glad that finally someone modern took the time to scatter all of this depth and yearning into their music; it makes the world a better place knowing that Angharad Drake’s music exists.

10 Cassette Tapes Out Of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Official Website – http://www.angharaddrake.com
Bandcamp – https://angharaddrake.bandcamp.com 
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/angharaddrake 

HEAVY AND WEIRD RECORDS – TRACK BY TRACK BREAKDOWN – “Bitter Dream” by Thirteen Seventy

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Track One – ENTRY

This was intentionally written as the album opener.  The idea was to start really quietly and build to a crescendo before abruptly launching into ‘Hermits’.  It’s really got no structure, and it’s different every time we play it.  We thought it would be fun to give people a bit of a ‘what the hell is this noise rubbish?’ before the first proper song.  It’s got a lot of bowed guitar on it, which I like using for texture in the studio.

Track Two – HERMITS

‘Hermits’ was almost recorded for our first album ‘Arrest The Slide’.  We had one last 2 day session at Blackbox and we were going in to record ‘Medusa’ and ‘Missing’, but I’d written this new song ‘Hermits’ maybe a month beforehand and knew it was probably better than both of them.  Unfortunately we just didn’t have enough time to bash it into shape for the session, so it became the first song for the next record. I wrote the bones of ‘Hermits’ in our old share house in East Brisbane, just picking little things that would keep happening in the house, like the lights blowing all the time, and using them for a story about someone suffering from depression.

Track Three – BURN

I was listening to a lot of Screamfeeder when I wrote this, so the line ‘why don’t you burn your name on me’ is a little nod to the title of their second album ‘Burn Out Your Name’.  The music and the lyrics in the chorus were there pretty much from the start, but the verse went through a few permutations before we were happy with it.  I had no idea what the final lyrics were about when I wrote them, but reading it now it sounds like someone singing about impotency.

Track Four – INSIDE

As soon as I started writing ‘Inside’ I knew that Fi had to sing lead vocals.  I was only a few lines into the first verse when I realised I was actually writing it from her perspective.  It’s the first time I’ve really tried to write something from inside someone else’s head, but it’s still got that universal quality to it.  The final song is partially from me to my wife, and partially from Fi to Lucinda.

Track Five – ICE

Our former drummer James Lees actually suggested we record this song.  It was written by Lucinda Shaw and Brett Collery in the early days of Silver Sircus.  James played Tony and I a Silver Sircus demo, I think originally with the idea that we would help record a proper Silver Sircus version of the song.  For whatever reason that never happened, but at some point Lucinda and James offered it to us instead.  We spent quite a while in the rehearsal room pulling apart the chord progression and rebuilding it before we were happy with the arrangement.  Our version is quite different to the original, very aggressive and atonal.  I was incredibly nervous when Lucinda heard it for the first time, but thankfully she really likes it.

Track Six – SCENE

‘Scene’ is about bands whose sole purpose is to look cool and get laid.  There are a lot of them out there.  I’m really proud of the line ‘You’re not creating, you’re just masturbating’.  It’s really two separate songs that we’ve jammed together.  Part one is the pop/punk radio-friendly section, and part two is essentially the heaviest, noisiest jam we could come up with to illustrate the ludicrousness of the song.  I guess it’s like merging The Offspring and Slint.

Track Seven – DRY

I really wanted ‘Dry’ to sound like early PJ Harvey.  We originally played it as a band, with ultra-quiet verses, and jarringly-loud choruses.   Something about it didn’t quite work though.  It wasn’t until about 3 weeks out from recording Tony asked me to just play it by myself.  Afterwards he said ‘that’s it, that’s the song there’.  It’s really just a single guitar and some vocals, with a few overdubs.

Track Eight – MIRROR

Lyrically, this is probably the most straight-forward song on the album.  I walked into the bathroom one morning and caught myself in the mirror.  It must have been a big night because I looked terrible, I was wondering where my youth had gone.  I picked up a guitar with the line ‘When I look in the mirror I see an older version of myself’ in my head and the rest of the song just flowed straight out within 10 minutes.

Track Nine – FALLING

This song was written back in The Soundcasters days, although I don’t think we ever played it.  When we were writing songs for Bitter Dream I went back through some old demos and found this one.  It was originally called ‘Falling Apart’, and I think I might have played it at a few solo gigs years ago.  I ended up stripping the second verse out and Tony came up with the time signature changes that we play in the outro.  Other than that it’s essentially the same as it was when I wrote it in 2008.

Track Ten – NOW

This song started life as a simple chord progression using a half capo, leaving the B & E strings droning. An early instrumental-only version was demoed as far back as when James was in the band. I was never able to write a vocal melody for it, so I eventually handed it to Tony to write the vocal melody and lyrics. It marked a turning point in the way we write music as a band. Tony also sings lead vocal for the first time on this track. The album title comes from the line ’A soulless breath that whispers to me / To leave / And kill this bitter dream’. The lyrics for Now are about confronting something sudden, something horrible or dreadful and wishing you had more time to prepare for the news. It’s when you are in a state of shock, thinking you weren’t ready, you could have done something to prevent it, and that maybe, that you were always powerless to do anything about it anyway.

Track Eleven – RUBBLE

Lyrically, ‘Rubble’ is about the ending of a friendship.  Musically, it’s probably the most straight-up grunge song we’ve done, but there’s some Edge-style delayed guitar in the instrumental sections, and a nice little piano melody that Tony overdubbed at the last minute – the first time we’ve put keys on a song.

Track Twelve – WITCH

‘Witch’ is really just a little progression I would play out of boredom waiting for Clint to tune his guitar/s, or find that one cable in his monstrous pedal board that was disconnected. It really is only to eliminate that awkward, attention hogging silence you get on stage, when the eyes are looking and waiting.

Track Thirteen – EXIT

‘Exit’ is about the passing of someone close and how those left behind are affected. Sonically it’s very full-on, and lyrically quite simple, but there’s a lot of emotion in it for me.

Compiled by Clint Morrow with input from Tony Parker on NOW and WITCH 

You can pre-order the physical album and purchase a digital copy via Thirteen Seventy’s bandcamp page – http://thirteenseventy.bandcamp.com/album/bitter-dream

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THIRTEEN SEVENTY will be headlining The Zoo on Friday 21 August to launch their new album

Coming along for the ride for this very eclectic event are GALAPOGOS, SILVER SIRCUS and BALLOONS KILL BABIES

This gig will be presented as part of the 2015 Brisbane Fringe Festival.

Date: Friday 21st August, 2015
Doors: 8:00pm
Advance Tickets: $12.00 (From the bands)
Door Price: $15.00
Photo ID required for entry

Tickets on-sale now. Click below for more information and bookings

http://zoo.oztix.com.au/?Event=53806

Useful Links:

Thirteen Seventy – https://www.facebook.com/thirteenseventy
Galapogos – https://www.facebook.com/galapogosbrisbane
Silver Sircus – https://www.facebook.com/silversircus
Balloons Kill Babies – https://www.facebook.com/BalloonsKillBabies

ALBUM REVIEW: “Aesthesis” by Dead Letter Circus

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You either love or hate a band like Dead Letter Circus – I totally understand why people are for and against what this band offers but because I love this sound I’m a total sucker for all of the dramatics on the bands third album “Aesthesis” and I’m comfortable with being one of the many who loves them. There is an amazing ache spilling out of each song, like the band are searching for some kind of deeper spiritual meaning in this world. The way the band can collectively use pain to birth such dark yet positive sounding music is the real reward. Dead Letter Circus’ music has always provided pain relief and escape from the cruelty of the world but that sprinkling of positivity is what helps elevate it beyond those who use just darkness to communicate their pain. The music takes you deep into your own little world where you get to unlock thoughts, feelings and ideas you never realised you had lurking in your mind. This is incredibly nocturnal music, best digested late at night in bed with an amazing pair of headphones. When you engage the album through this experience you start to discover and when music gives you the space to discover and travel to deep emotional places it will always succeed as a piece of communication.

Just like the band’s debut full length “This Is The Warning” and second album “The Catalyst Fire” Dead Letter Circus once again provide a very consistent journey with each song carefully crafted and connected in the prog rock tradition. Although I feel it cliche to link the bands epic sound to prog rock I think it is a good starting point because although they don’t indulge in long songs or anything in that traditional prog template, the progressive element of the sound is how each song fits into the next. The album itself doesn’t really reveal its power and beauty until you’ve given it multiple spins. I’ve only lived with the album for 72 hours and I’m still discovering. With every brand new listen I indulge equal elements of excitement, confusion and wonder.

When you compare this album to the historical artifact that is music, you can honestly hear how “now” the sound of Dead Letter Circus is. The band makes the perfect music for this era of chaos that we live in. As an album “Aesthesis” soundtracks the dilemmas of navigating the social media framed digital absurdity and how the mechanical gods of technology have pushed us to a point where the soul and the human spirit have been pushed aside. It is safe to say that the music made by Dead Letter Circus plugs you back into your humanity and your spirit and the joy of breathing and living. That is what has always excited me about Dead Letter Circus and with “Aesthesis” they have once again shown how important the history of art and music is to them and the music they communicate and in a modern era of fast food musical hits it is always refreshing to hear a band sound so defined but also so plugged into the importance of making music a truly cleansing and healing experience.

The wonderful thing about Dead Letter Circus is that for all of their surface level alternative rock, metal and prog dynamics the band treat their music like it is art as opposed to some pointless exercise in “rocking out” and this commitment to presenting their music as art is what separates them from so many other alternative rock bands in our country. For those of us who have a heavy investment in this kind of music the two leaders of the metal tinged alt-prog rock sound in Australia are without a doubt Karnivool and Dead Letter Circus. What both bands offer is a wonderful platform for intense rock sounds to peek through into the mainstream and act as the perfect bridge to even more intense examples of the genre.

This is how 21st Century rock music was meant to sound

8 Cassette Tapes Out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links – https://www.facebook.com/deadlettercircus

 

ALBUM REVIEW: “The Haze” by We All Want To

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It’s long been a thing that Brisbane music is linked directly to its cleverly “council approved” slogan of the sunshine state. Every critic both here and abroad has made the bold assumption that everyone that lives here and creates music is in someway a fan of all things sun, summer and sunshine. I’ve always felt like calling bullshit on this because quite frankly the most beautiful part of Brisbane and its atmosphere is between June and August when winter is at full bloom. There is indeed a different kind of sunshine in the sky and the days feel like they have purpose and longevity. You want to be outside in the fresh icy breeze falling in love, collecting new friends all while dining at the sidewalk café where you get your favourite cup of coffee and butter pecan ice-cream cone. I always have the best time in Winter and get so much living done as opposed to the summer when all I want to do is avoid the fucking beach, any local patriotic Australian human being, people in board shorts and thongs, BBQ’s and the tradition of just being a good bloke who likes a cold beer or two. I hate that version of Brisbane and refuse to buy into the summer pop myth and that Brisbane is at its best when we’re reminded that we live in the hottest fucking place on earth, fuck that – give me an air conditioned nightmare any day of the week.

All of that is a rather verbose way for me to correct the assumption that people make about We All Want To and their music. I’ve been a life long fan of the pop music made by Tim Steward and although his voice and extremely right on way of colliding chords on a guitar always make me think of Brisbane, it isn’t the sun, heat or the beach that comes rushing to me. It is all of the amazingly mindless good times I’ve had during a Brisbane winter. All of the hit and run romances, backyard parties huddled around a fire, live music, living in Paddington (when all of the hip cool art humans lived there) and strong human connections I’ve made. That has always been one of We All Want To’s many strong points, the way they could remind me of all that is glorious about breathing oxygen in this location.

On the bands third record “The Haze” We All Want To continue to do that and more. After the emotionally rich “Come Up Invisible” the next step was to always get more economical with the arrangements. It took me a lot of listening for “The Haze” to truly click and it is an ode to the strong songwriting of Steward that it finally settled in and found a place in my heart. There is a lot of looking back on the past lyrically with both wisdom and relief but also with hints of despair and a deep yearning to escape back to the freedom of youthful exploration.  This kind of ache suits my current state of mind where I seem to be both mourning and celebrating the dirge of getting older. The production is once again supremely divine with full marks and all credit going to the dark horse Darek Mudge who proves that he is the only producer / engineer in Brisbane truly capable of making a bands music soar to places it wouldn’t have been able to if it had been captured by anyone else. He truly is the secret weapon to the effective communication of all that is great about We All Want To and their sound.

The “Come Up Invisible” experience was such an intense one that it was always going to be a hard task to follow it up but if anything “The Haze” supersedes it by reigning in its strengths and amplifying those dynamics into shorter more concise movements of music. It is simply just a great rock record that has the ability to soundtrack the isolated moment of reflection or the rapturous moment of celebration with all of the humans at the party. The record is typically Brisbane in all the good ways and as time goes on there is every chance that a new generation of humans will worship We All Want To the way they did The Go Betweens.

It may be called and touted as the perfect “summer record” by all of the other music review critic humans but for me “The Haze” is the album you listen to when you get the tracksuit out and put the flannel sheets on the bed ready for the snug as a fucking bug comfort that is the winter morning sleep in.

8 Cassette Tapes Out Of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/weallwantto
Website – www.weallwantto.com
Bandcamp – https://weallwantto.bandcamp.com/album/the-haze

 

ALBUM REVIEW: “HIKIKOMORI” by HITS

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I’ve attempted to write this review for the past few months but after seeing so many other fine humans say better and more poignant things about the second album from HITS – which is called “HIKIKOMORI” – I started to wonder what was left to say. The problem is there is a lot left to say but what I want to express is hard to document in mere paragraphs because I’ll either overcomplicate it or get tangled in my typical verbose mumblings so I’ve opted to keep it simple.

It needs to be said – and I’m joining the fucking choir on this one – that HITS have made the best rock n roll record of 2014. The joy I feel when I’m listening to this record at full volume is a beautiful kind of catharsis. The fury of it all infects your atmosphere and you erupt into a pure state of being as a result. There is so much cool dripping from this record, the kind of cool that I’ve attempted to reach as a human being and it is the same cool that attracted me to punk rock in the first place. That desire to somehow mimic the soul and the swagger of it all and to accurately express all that is painful with existence through wit and inebriated rage looms large on every track of this album. Each song truly nestles into the power of saying “fuck you” and “fuck the rules” without the need for clichéd fashion statements. I’ve never had the hips for that kind of swagger but I’ve made a career out of collecting that kind of cool and storing it in my soul so that I can at least talk about the passion I feel for artists who communicate all that is right about rock n roll and HITS are master communicators of the rock n roll language.

When I listen to “HIKIKOMORI” I want to be as cool and effective as Stacey and Tamara, the way they kick out the fucking jams remains to be a lesson in what it takes to be a rock n roll star. I’m a biased fool with this band based on my love of the roar that erupts from the guitar playing of these two humans who so accurately shred with passion and rage.

Here I am though doing what I promised to avoid, getting tangled in my mumblings – so I’ll race to the finish line and leave you with this conclusion. The world is full of manicured ideas and soulless empty calories but when you listen to HITS you’re reminded that for every bad example of rock n roll there are those who get it right and who manage to restore your faith in loud guitars and punk rock once again. The world needs more bands like HITS because they are the ultimate tour de force and have the ability to rock the fuck out and in the process they will help restore peace to the galaxy.

God bless the fucking lot of them

10 Trillion Cassette Tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Bandcamp: http://conquestofnoiserecords.bandcamp.com/album/hikikomori
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HITSGALORE

 

ALBUM REVIEW: “The Beauty Of Destruction” by Devil You Know

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The debut album from DEVIL YOU KNOW is a fantastic display of how powerful, melodic, intelligent and emotional modern metal can be. The album is aptly titled “The Beauty Of Destruction” and is an incredibly dark journey through the tortured and complicated mind of Vocalist Howard Jones who soundtracks these rather technical metal landscapes with his unique and rather dynamic vocal performance. The music side of things was composed and conceived by the legendary John Sankey (Drums) and Francesco Artusato (guitar) who prove that after years of dominating the heavy metal underground they are ready to crossover in a big way.

Already known for his work as lead vocalist with Killswitch Engage and Blood Has Been Shed, “The Beauty Of Destruction” has Howard Jones sounding refreshed and delivering a career defining performance. The instrumental side of things on this album and the technicality and riffage are flawless from a composition standpoint but it really is the vocals that create the unique flavour for DEVIL YOU KNOW and in the process helps to separate them from other modern metal bands. The way Howard can rush from a whisper to a scream and then to a delicate croon followed by a tortured aggressive howl is more impressive and more confident on this album than his previous work with Killswitch Engage. It is to the point where he almost sounds more comfortable and more challenged by the material he was presented by Sankey and Artusato which is a sign that DEVIL YOU KNOW has the potential to grow and evolve certain aesthetics showcased across this album.

There is a real side one / side two feel to this record and it is best consumed as one whole piece. Individual songs can give you a glimpse of what to expect but out of context they don’t relay the whole emotional journey that “The Beauty of Destruction” presents. The album has many highlights but the song I continually put forth as my favourite is the second track “My Own” which blends the aggression, darkness and divine melodies of DEVIL YOU KNOW perfectly. As mentioned though, this only tells part of the story because the band uses so many of the established metal aesthetics with the kind of intelligence that comes from humans who see the success of a good metal song being not just its ability to be heavy and technical but also its ability to be catchy, groovy and downright infectious. The fact that the band manages this but makes things so dark and twisted really is the crowning achievement of this debut movement of songs. The production of Logan Mader really deserves mentioning because he has managed to keep things raw whilst still providing a gloss that makes for maximum high definition enjoyment.

Any seasoned appreciator of heavy metal will no doubt find extreme pleasure with DEVIL YOU KNOW who prove that sometimes the most revolutionary step forward for the genre is great songwriting. I know this record ultimately marries the sounds its creators are renowned for but it is the confidence and the sincerity of it that makes it a refreshing and exciting listen. It has an infectious ability to haunt you long after you’ve listened to it and sets up DEVIL YOU KNOW for a very fruitful and successful career of melodic metal.

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Devilyouknowofficial
Twitter – http://twitter.com/DevilYouKnow
YouTube – http://youtube.com/DevilYouKnowOfficial
Instagram – http://instagram.com/devilyouknowofficial

ALBUM REVIEW: “The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas” by Courtney Barnett

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The music of Courtney Barnett is the sound I’ve been waiting for my whole life and it’s taken me the last 12 months of my life to try and find the time to sit down to express as to why. In that 12 months Courtney has managed to do two things, combine both her EPs into one full length release titled “The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas” and also become a worldwide musical sensation. I’m somewhat overwhelmed at how important her music has become to the world because in that same twelve months her music has soundtracked my own little universe and given me reason to feel excited about the future of music. Although I sat and read about her rise to fame and watched her recent US and UK performances via YouTube (including her appearance on Jimmy Fallon) it still didn’t register that it was the same artist I was listening to. I almost felt like she was still my little secret but after having another little YouTube journey watching her most recent performances it finally hit me that the Courtney Barnett revolution is finally upon us.

I’m not quite sure what revolution looks or feels like in the digital age but I know that Courtney Barnett is carrying with her the same degree of excitement that Kurt Cobain did back in 1991 and I think this time around the world is a little more prepared for the cultural re-structure that will follow once she finally releases her proper Debut album later this year. I know most reviews focus on the whole Bob Dylan reference point and all of the lo-fi goodness that artists like Kim Deal had / has but to my ears the music Courtney makes is way more special than that. I’d be confident comparing her to Lennon / McCartney and as I said above, Kurt Cobain. Her music carries that same kind of special energy that balances creative exploration and solid pop song dynamics. A song like “Avant-Gardener” is a fine example of this and for the life of me, after studying it closely, I’m still unable to pinpoint what spooky circumstances make the song haunt me. Whenever I’m in the vicinity of this song I have to just stop what I’m doing and immerse myself in it until I’ve consumed it in full. I am yet to grow tired of it and like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” I believe it is one of those one in a million “Voice Of A Generation” songs that change the way people think and feel whilst also connecting deeply to the pain and angst we all feel in this modern context of life. This does not make “Avant-Gardener” exclusive to now, it is a timeless masterpiece of pop music that will live on and become one of the most influential songs of all time.

This is just one of the many fine examples of Courtney’s creative dialogue and all across this release we see an artist map out the early roots of her unique interpretation of rock n roll. The real power of Courtney’s music lays in the way she mixes her pain and vulnerability with her humour and incredible wit. These songs are real stories that humans can relate to that remind you of the clumsiness of growing up in a confused state of being and the places you are taken in your quest for self-discovery. The world is so starved of honesty these days and have been fed a steady diet of Bullshit for the better part of ten years. The art scenes all across the world have become an incredibly insincere plain of existence so when an artist as stark and as raw and as honest as Courtney Barnett appears on the radar people have no choice but to be hypnotised by the music communicated. It is that honesty that has connected the world outside of Australia to Courtney’s music and it will be both a blessing and a curse because the originality of her sound will no doubt become part of the curriculum for humans with less self-awareness but a better understanding on the quick fix of being a mimic. I guess that’s my smart way of saying that people will think the key to success is ripping her off instead of taking the real lesson of doing your own thing and be honest about the art you create.

I know that the world is in a different place and that a 1991 musical revolution looks different to a 2014 musical revolution. Most of the people reading this will probably stupidly take me literally when I say that Courtney has the power to be to modern youth what Kurt Cobain was to people 23 years ago. I’m not being literal with that, I’m simply saying that Courtney has her own unique pop music language that will change the cultural lexicon and influence the aesthetics of how music is communicated. There will be young humans who start bands as result of her influence and this is the positive part of becoming so popular. This isn’t some manufactured version of reality, it is real and Courtney has the power to make some big waves in the old fashioned way, with music and music only. That is why her sound and presence in the world is so refreshing because for the first time in a very long time I believe it.

In 2014 I promised I wouldn’t hand out scores to albums or music that I review, but in the case of Courtney Barnett I have to say that this album is a perfect 10/10 release. I listen to music because it provides pain relief an gives me the perfect vehicle for escapism and for the last 12 months Courtney Barnett has been one of the artists who have soundtracked these journeys.

We as fans can only rejoice that the rest of the world are now also understanding what is so powerful about Courtney Barnett’s music and I suggest that all serious music fans invest now because this music is on the same kind of revolutionary level as “Horses” by Patti Smith. Fuck, I know I keep saying ridiculous things like this but it is the only way for me to express just how special Courtney Barnett is.

10 / 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/courtneybarnettmusic
Official Website – http://www.courtneybarnett.com.au

 

ALBUM REVIEW: “Indie Cindy” by Pixies

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I didn’t become a fan of the Pixies until much later in my life and for the longest time I was merely a casual observer of the genius that this band possess. In 2010 through to 2011 I threw myself deep into each of their previous albums and became addicted to their unique pop music dialogue and I of course in the process started to understand the extreme influence this band had over the 1990’s version of indie guitar rock music. I graduated to fanatic status in 2013 when the band released EP1 with the EPs lead track “Indie Cindy” totally blowing my mind apart. I was also secretly happy at how much dissatisfaction it caused those purist assholes who typically boycotted it. What this new material represented was a band with age and wisdom on their side with the end results being a delicious mix of healthy nostalgia and evolution. To have the band finally release EP1, EP2 and EP3 as one full length album – titled “Indie Cindy” – was the real reward for my “later in life” fan experience.

The negative flipside to all this is the sentimentality people had for the Pixies and their previous albums. This was bound to ruin the experience of “Indie Cindy” for so many and for a while I almost avoided reviewing the album because I couldn’t handle fielding the bummer energy of those people who are eternally miserable and suffering a yearning for their youth. I much prefer the musicians / artists I admire to grow up and make music relevant to their own current emotional intelligence. I’m extremely comfortable saying that “Indie Cindy” is a worthy entry into the Pixies musical legacy. I am also confident that my credibility will be questioned considering I’ve only been a fan of the band for the past four years of my life.

The logistics of legacy aside, this is a fantastic pop album which shows how important Frank Black is as a songwriter. He’s now gone beyond just being an underground indie hero with it becoming quite clear that he’s entering a beautiful era with this new Pixies material that will position him among the great pop song manipulators. The way he can push a song from psychedelic to brash intense punk to bubble-gum pop in the course of one song has always been impressive but on “Indie Cindy” there is more muscle behind it, giving a stronger almost stadium ready vibe to a lot of this material. The real winner on “Indie Cindy” is the delightful movement from the heartfelt swoon of “Andro Queen” into the infectious gallop of “Snakes” – a perfect example of Black’s brilliance and my favourite set of songs on the record.

On “Indie Cindy” The Pixies are releasing music for music’s sake and that joy beams off of each track. Whether they lose or gain fans is irrelevant because they have already done so much to infect the DNA of independent rock music and shape it for the better. I have to be honest and say that when I’m in the mood for Pixies music these days I put on this record because it gives so much more than the previous discography and picks up where the band left us. The songs on “Indie Cindy” are new classics waiting to happen and with hindsight I truly believe that humans will salute the brilliance of this album. I cannot fault it personally and even with the Kim Deal sized hole in some sections it never becomes boring or lacking. Having Kim’s influence on some of this music would have indeed taken it beyond the stratosphere but at the same time the songs do not suffer as a result and I personally yearn for what Kim does with The Breeders moving forward.

In 2014 it is nice to have one of the innovators of guitar rock return with something fresh, exciting and futuristic that serves the legacy and gives us a glimpse at what is to come.

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pixiesofficial
Website – http://www.pixiesmusic.com

ALBUM REVIEW: “To Be Kind” by Swans

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Ever since I was appointed the world champion of brand aware marketing for DIY indie guitar rock bands I’ve had a dream to be invited to Brisbane’s BigSound music conference to give a keynote speech about my experience in the music scene and how best to succeed. I’m yet to be invited but I have a feeling that if I was I’d give my speech like an avant-garde piece of performance art. The first thing I’d do is provide each member of the audience with a cupcake upon entry to the auditorium so they had something delicious to munch on and then once everyone was seated the lights would go out. The overhead projector screen would then light up simply with the word “This” and one by one the stage would fill with a range of dancers (of all shapes, sizes and gender) who would have previously been fed adequate stimulants to induce vomiting and extreme bowl movements. The dancers would be unaware of this and as they started to orchestrate their dance moves these stimulants would hit them and very slowly they would excrete a range of vomit and faeces with an intensity designed to illustrate an unhealthy mix of pain and pleasure.

The song playing over the speakers for the dancers to act out this rush of deception would be the opening track – “Screen Shot” – from SWANS brand new album “To Be Kind” and once the final moments of this song wind down the words on the overhead projector would simply change to “You are what you eat” and then the lights would go down and then come up again and I’d run out like Tony Robbins and start my seminar as audience members start to realise that those lovely cupcakes were laced with the same stimulants used to cripple the dancers from performing their dance.

Then from here I’d give a two hour speech cataloguing my diverse journey as a world champion DIY indie guitar rock marketing guru and the real test would be to see who could use mind over matter to survive the same fate as the previous mentioned dancers. This would be an exercise in proof pudding illustrating that the key to success is perseverance over adversity and the obstacles that life present you. Who ever remained and survived would win a special mentor session with me and my team of marketing experts.

As a record, “To Be Kind” is a flawless piece of art that is a fine example of how humans need to be making guitar music in 2014 and beyond.

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

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

 

 

ALBUM REVIEW: “Chipper” by Tape / Off

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I was faced with a choice this week, to sit down and review either the brand new debut self-titled album by Stoner Pop humans Dune Rats or the brand new (and debut) album from Tape/Off called “Chipper” both of which were released in the last fortnight. As I sat down to listen to the brand new Dune Rats record I was reminded of a moment I witnessed happening to Thurston Moore in Dave Markey’s 1991 film “The Year Punk Broke” – in this particular scene, towards the end of the film, Thurston Moore is having breakfast and discussing how punk rock has now broken through to the mainstream in new and even more disgusting ways. He speaks about his disillusionment with this new movement of “style over substance” and references that even a band like Motley Crue are singing “Anarchy in the UK” to stadiums of people who just don’t care. The disappointment in Thurston’s body language really describes how crippling it would have been to witness lesser humans, humans with no understanding or respect for culture or history claiming the saving graces of punk rock. This scene accurately describes how I felt when I listen to the brand new album from Dune Rats and it makes me feel sorry for anyone who thinks that this music and this band are in anyway punk rock.

Considering that modern youth culture and Triple J support Dune Rats says a lot about the music world in Australia circa 2014. I think of Skid Row, Motley Crue and Warrant more than I do punk rock. Too much party and not enough arty and I’m sure that I’m just a lone voice with this one but I just get nothing out of this music. The songs are a little bit too squeaky clean to be punk rock or lo-fi and it has more in common with early era Green Day and Blink 182 than something cool like The Stooges or The Ramones or The Saints or even Sebadoh.  Clean neat music for clean neat people, the perfect formula for Triple J airplay and pointless hype. When you look throughout history you can always review the music of specific eras to get a feel for the climate of where a culture was at. When we look back at 2014 20 years from now and see bands of Dune Rat’s ilk we’ll be reminded of just how meaningless the pursuit of self-expression became and how designed chaos and brand awareness was the only way to resonate with an apathetic group consciousness that liked their music to be outrageously unoriginal and ready to soundtrack a night of drunken fun. Equality cannot be achieved whilst music like this exists.

It was a bad decision for me to sit down and review Dune Rats so I didn’t – then I switched over and turned on “Chipper” by Tape/Off and instantly fell into a state of relaxed bliss knowing full well that I had entered an environment that was a lot more accommodating to what I desire from music which is a bit of heart, a bit of soul and a whole bunch of sincerity.

From the opening notes of “Chipper” everything is perfect and a little bit bent out of shape with a hiss of lo-fi dust suffocating the ache and swoon of boredom and post-20 year old angst that has graduated to the real bummerhood of adult life. There is a clear difference between the modern pretenders of slacker rock (see above) and those humans who lived through it and have learnt how to harness its style and use it to communicate in a way that is unique to them. It is the sincerity of each individual member of Tape / Off that drives the emotion of “Chipper” and delivers such an instant classic.

The production has the wonderful claustrophobic feel of all those Fugazi records with enough noise to challenge and excite but also enough space and silence to embrace you like a warm hug. It is that Brisbane warmth that radiates and it is a tribute to the healing power of a band like Screamfeeder that we now have something as right on as Tape/Off existing in our town. These songs are very then but still with a potency of now with the dialogue of 1990’s sophisticated guitar rock informing every moment. I still believe that Tape/Off are bigger than there influences and that you can tell that this is a band who seriously respect a lot of different movements of music with the collective sound of the band reflecting that every time they express themselves.

The real joy of this record is the final track “Another Year” which unfolds like a beautiful ode to the graduation all humans make from 29 to 30 and in doing so ceases to give a shit about the world around them. It is a New Year’s Prayer to all the nonsense that frames our existence and that consumes all of the low ego dwellers who like to put their hands in the air like they just don’t care. It is the perfect full stop on what is a fantastic debut album.

In the 2014 and 2015 financial years we’re going to hear a lot of bands claim to be lo-fi slacker independent rock and there are lot of children running around screaming hell fuck yeah and doing their best to be a rock band. The industry will froth and book all sorts of BigSound showcases for the young, the beautiful and the pointless nu-lo-fi guitar rock bands and Triple J will follow suite like the smug slugs that they are. That’s cool and all that but it won’t mean anything if it doesn’t lead people to find bands like Tape/Off who were making interesting guitar music long before this new batch of designed anarchy.

All of those logistics doesn’t really matter because when all is said and done Tape/Off have made the perfect debut album. It is fractured and has that promise that you desire from a band you love. It has managed to deliver but also managed to boycott directions you thought they may have tapped into. It is an album that requires time to digest and it has the warmth of a band that plan to do this for a very long time. After being stained by professional responsibility and having to sit through lesser rock bands this past month it was refreshing to sit through “Chipper” and to hear a band do it right and to deliver a fantastic piece of modern rock music that is a vital edition to the Brisbane underground movement.

Good music is good communication and Tape/Off communicates incredibly well and with “Chipper” they prove just how important they are to stopping the rise of lesser rock bands in this modern climate of brand building.

God bless the fucking lot of them

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Bandcamp For Album Via Sonic Masala – http://sonicmasalarecords.bandcamp.com/album/chipper
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/tapeoff
Soundcloud – http://soundcloud.com/tape-off
Official Website – www.tapeoff.net
Bandcamp – http://tapeoff.bandcamp.com/

Album Review: ‘Do To The Beast’ by The Afghan Whigs

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The Afghan Whigs have always made soul music sound contemporary and revitalised.  From ‘Up In It’, the punk/grunge record, with just a hint of 60’s Motown, to ‘1965’, a classic black soul album full of heavy guitars and danceable grooves that could stand alongside classics from Marvin Gaye or The Supremes and not look out of place.  ‘Do To The Beast’ continues that tradition.  This is a modern soul album, wrapped in layers of Twilight Singers atmosphere, with just a hint of their 90’s alternia roots.

The first chords of ‘Do To The Beast’ are a dark, heavy blanket of tortured soul falling across the vapid wasteland of 2014’s disaffected indie pop.  By the time Greg Dulli opens his mouth to wail, rather than sing the first lines of ‘Parked Outside’ – “If time can incinerate what I was to you / Allow me to illustrate how the hand becomes the fuse“, you know two things for certain: Firstly, ‘Do To The Beast’ is not going to sound like any other Afghan Whigs album.  Secondly, this is a record that will have you hooked from start to finish.

First single ‘Algiers’ feels like the soundtrack to the nastiest, most brutally realistic spaghetti western you’ve ever seen, something the band obviously noticed as well, if the video is anything to go by:

While sonically it may be more Twilight Singers than classic Whigs, it’s Dulli through and through.  Every song has a way of reeling you in, whether it be the menacing smoothness of ‘Algiers’, or the fragile stark piano of ‘Lost In The Woods’, before delivering an emotional punch to the guts.  It’s difficult to determine whether ‘The Beast’ in the title is an external entity that Dulli is battling, or whether it’s Dulli himself.  Either way it makes for an enthralling listen.

‘Do To The Beast’ should be your new favourite album.

 

By: Clint Morrow

Useful Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheAfghanWhigsOfficial?ref=br_tf
Official Website: www.TheAfghanWhigs.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/theafghanwhigs
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/AfghanWhigsOfficial
Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Afghan_Whigs
All Music Guide: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/p3509
Itunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/the-afghan-whigs/id483354
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Afghan-Whigs/e/B000APYKM4
Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/theafghanwhigs
LastFM” http://www.last.fm/music/Afghan+Whigs
Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/artist/5MZc2eVUWhuJh6L6Eyc0M6?ref=atw
Rdio: http://www.rdio.com/#/artist/The_Afghan_Whigs/
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/theafghanwhigs
Summer’s Kiss: http://www.summerskiss.com/

ALBUM REVIEW: “Self-Titled” by The Unsemble

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The self-titled debut album from The Unsemble is a beautiful masterpiece full of heavy atmospheres and intricate guitar passages with an overall sound that communicates itself in an incredibly unique manner. For those who aren’t aware, The Unsemble is an instrumental trio that is made up of members from The Jesus Lizard, Tomahawk, Einstürzende Neubaten and the Silver Jews. The main ringleader is legendary guitarist Duane Denison whose spooky guitar playing dominates each track of The Unsemble’s debut.

This album feels like the logical sequel to the haunting sounds found on Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks soundtrack. In the same way that Badalamenti was able to create strange landscapes with his spaciously smooth jazz sounds so do The Unsemble with their percussion heavy largely improvised songs. Each piece of music presented by The Unsemble is drenched with a cinematic ache that can force your imagination to escape to a state of pure terror or a numb kind of blissed relaxation. The whole experience is beautifully unsettling and as the album unfolds you are drawn deeper and deeper into the horror. It is perfect late night music for the insomniac haunted by the perils of paranoia but also infatuated with the beauty of dazed escapism.

With their debut album The Unsemble have avoided the cliché’s of instrumental music and have released a focused movement of music that will outlive all that is fashionable and modern. This is a timeless set of songs, the kind of treasured record that you’re happy to keep as your own special little secret. This is the kind of record you hope to find buried deep in a record store. There is risk and there is danger to this music but there is also a sophistication that gives the overall mood such a lasting effect. The music of The Unsemble will resonate with you not because it has an agenda but because it was created to be consumed as a piece of art. This is a very special and extremely powerful album that has haunted me ever since it came out. I have attempted to put into words for so long just how important this record is and although I can lean on all the typical metaphors I think the simplest way to describe it is the age old explanation of “The Unsemble’s self-titled album is achingly beautiful” because it honestly communicates how I feel.

You may have to look harder to find a band like The Unsemble under all the noise and hype given to all of the “style over substance” music being written about but that is a good thing I reckon because when you lose hope in music a band like The Unsemble have the power to restore it and make you fall in love with the power of sound all over again.

By: Dan Newton

 

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Useful Links:

http://ipecac.com/artists/unsemble

 

ONE SENTENCE ALBUM, EP and SINGLE REVIEWS – Sunday June 1st 2014

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Album Reviews

“Black Rat” by DZ Deathrays

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On their second album “Black Rat” DZ Deathrays continue to evoke the soothing sounds of an elevator inoffensively entertaining its passengers on their short journey.

 

“Singles” by Future Islands

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A clichéd mix of electro pop / rock / radio music designed for the boring and the beige and the clever kids who haven’t worked out the difference between great commerce and great pop music.

 

“Built On Glass” by Chet Faker

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This is an album full of music so meaningful it is meaningless with a few new shades of beige added to this borecore classic.

 

“Eagulls” by Eagulls

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Once Eagulls gets past the dynamics of 1990’s indie guitar rock music and find their own voice they will be outstanding but right now they are the brighter side of mediocre.

“DMA’s” by DMA’s

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Wow, this is the most boring movement of music I’ve heard all year. This is so boring I needed to write two sentences to outline just how uninspiring and manufactured this sounds. Now I need three sentences, fuck, this is a new adventure in how far modern youth culture are willing to go to express how privileged and spoilt the internet has made them.

 

“Supermodel” by Foster The People

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The brand new album “Supermodel” by Foster The People is an album built by squeaky clean people for squeaky clean people, an incredibly neat and tidy record.

 

“Atlas” by Real Estate

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This is a fantastic album made by people who respect the float and ache of dream pop.

 

“Oddments” by King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard

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This is very safe music and you can’t go wrong with making watered down 60’s / 70’s psych pop music but in terms of weirdness this music should appeal to the same people who think that “Garden State” was an arthouse film.

 

“Everything’s A Thread” by The John Steel Singers

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I sat and listened to this album over the course of a month in order to find the weirdness and the experimentation but all I ended up finding was a band trying to stay relevant by throwing a few psych and (sigh) jam songs into a mix of rather clichéd indie pop.

 

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EP Reviews

“Apollo / Hung Up On Your Wall” by Sacred Shrines

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A very traditional mix of psych rock with enough weirdness to be an incredibly interesting prospect for those who ache for the future to be soundtracked with droned out pop music.

 

“Harsh Out” by Black Pines

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This is the kind of noise that makes me feel beautiful, a truly haunted mix of experimental guitar noise that showcases what real experimental music should sound like – the rest of you need to take note and start doing a better job

 

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Single Reviews

“Broken Window” by Hawkmoon

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After spending the better part of four years paying tribute to their influences Hawkmoon finally deliver a delicious slice of originality and finally show that they are discovering their own voice and it sounds fucking magnificent, perfect pop music.

 

All Reviews By: Dan Newton

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

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

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

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Wolfmother – Album – “New Crown”

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

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

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

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

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

Useful Links:

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

 

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Neil Finn – Album – “Dizzy Heights”

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

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

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

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

Useful Links:

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

All Reviews By: Dan Newton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

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