Heavy and Weird – Anniversaries – 1977 – Albums Turning 40 – January, 14 1977 – “Low” by David Bowie

When it comes to David Bowie, “The Berlin Era” is quite a monumental piece of his discography. Two of those albums were released in 1977 and are turning 40 this year. The first album released in the trilogy was the album “Low”

There is pain, there is passion and although it unfolds in a very minimal way the music on “Low” engulfs every part of your being. On a dark highway driving it will open your heart to the swoon of the ache, lying flat on your back with the lights turned off in your room and the headphones on it will take you deep inside your mind and help give you the space to answer some deep philosophical questions. It will haunt you and fuck, it will make you shiver. 

The best part of all is that it will keep you wanting more and you will reach to press repeat on the stereo over and over again. Like all good trilogy’s it is the perfect introduction to the drama. When I listen to this album I hear how influential it has been to so many different artists.

Favourite Track: Warszawa

By: Dan Newton 

Listen to the album on the following link:

Heavy and Weird – Anniversaries – 1967 – Albums Turning 50 – January 4, 1967 – “Self-Titled” by The Doors

This is the debut release from The Doors who would go on to be one of Rock N Roll’s most unique and influential bands of all time. Aesthetically their are lots of firsts on this record, little pockets of sound that would inspire generations of artists. 

At the core of the album however was a heavy blues sound that was given new life through the unique Filter of each player in this band. Of course Jim Morrison is the star but his poetry is given purpose and added drama by Densmore, Krieger and Manzarek. 

It was an odd combination of influences but the chemistry of the band helped birth a new sound that added a new kind of darkness to the psychedelic rock movement. No one had ever gone this deep before and the fact that the album was a hit demonstrates a lot about that era in that new radical sounds were embraced and celebrated by a mainstream audience instead of being delegated to the underground. 

To my ears, this album was the birth of Punk, Metal, Prog and Psych Rock. The Doors were the very epitome of Alternative Rock and responsible for the decades of art or avant-garde inspired rock music that was to follow. 

Favourite Track: The End

By: Dan Newton

Listen to the album on the following link:

https://open.spotify.com/album/1jWmEhn3ggaL6isoyLfwBn

Heavy and Weird Presents: Collapse Into Now – Volume One – Artist Announcement – Jackalpac

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Heavy and Weird Presents: Collapse Into Now – Volume One

A night of new Progressive, Experimental, Psychedelic and Pop music from Brisbane and Beyond – true future music

Thursday 8th December 2016 – 6:00pm at the Bearded Lady – $10.00 entry fee

Artist Announcement:

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Jackalpac

Jackalpac has an eclectic sound, featuring melancholic vocals over atmospheric guitars, synths and heavy grooves. This production-focused group draws influence from artists such as Kashmir, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley and The Smiths.

After a hiatus, Dan Huey has recruited a new line up in the current members. Jackalpac re-emerged and the group is currently working together on producing new music in their project studio, to be released in 2016 and beyond.

Jackalpac’s live shows are raw and powerfully energetic with a cohesive sound reflecting the driven group dynamic in the band. They’ve supported the likes of John Steel Singers, Sherlock’s Daughter, The Big Dead, Skinny Jean and been played on a variety of radio stations, including Triple J and 4zzz.

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/jackalpac/
Bandcamp – https://jackalpacmusic.bandcamp.com/

Heavy and Weird Presents: Collapse Into Now – Volume One – Artist Announcement – Captain Cake

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Heavy and Weird Presents: Collapse Into Now – Volume One

A night of new Progressive, Experimental, Psychedelic and Pop music from Brisbane and Beyond – true future music

Thursday 8th December 2016 – 6:00pm at the Bearded Lady – $10.00 entry fee

Artist Announcement:

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Captain Cake

Captain Cake is a Comedy laptop musician from Brisbane in the tradition of anti-Comedian Neil Hamburger. Captain Cake’s unique brand of comedy has thrilled and repulsed audiences but due to it’s surrealist nature it always guarantees hardcore happiness to erupt after his set has concluded. Imagine Freddy Got Fingered via Tim and Eric with the pop sensibilities of TISM and you’ll get close to the unique must see entertainment extravaganza that is Captain Cake aka Brisbane’s Greatest Living Comedian and Australia’s first ever Psychedelic Comedian.

Check It Out His Total Godhead New Single “Good Father”

 

Useful Links:

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

Heavy and Weird Presents: Collapse Into Now – Volume One – Artist Announcement – Papperbok

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Heavy and Weird Presents: Collapse Into Now – Volume One

A night of new Progressive, Experimental, Psychedelic and Pop music from Brisbane and Beyond – true future music

Thursday 8th December 2016 – 6:00pm at the Bearded Lady – $10.00 entry fee

Artist Announcement:

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Papperbok

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. We’re 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.

Imagine Pink Floyd only with more shoegaze aesthetics and post-rock drama then mix it with all of the great British mood bands of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s then you’ll get close to what makes Papperbok special. For every pop hook there is a moody interlude swaying in and out allowing there music to move along like one big track. All of the players in the band are masters of their craft and know the perfect time to be silent but also attack. This makes their 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 and The Beatles but they don’t steal or replicate, they re-invent these established dynamics to help create their own unique sonic dialogue.

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Papperbok
Bandcamp – https://papperbok.bandcamp.com/
MySpace – https://myspace.com/papperbok
Triple J Unearthed – https://www.triplejunearthed.com/artist/papperbok

Heavy and Weird Presents: Collapse Into Now – Volume One – Artist Announcement – Galapogos

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Heavy and Weird Presents: Collapse Into Now – Volume One

A night of new Progressive, Experimental, Psychedelic and Pop music from Brisbane and Beyond – true future music

Thursday 8th December 2016 – 6:00pm at the Bearded Lady – $10.00 entry fee

Artist Announcement:

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Galapogos

Galapogos are purveyors of everything and nothing favouring the sweet release of pop skills soaked in the energy of the moment in order to birth an explosion of hushed harshness dripping with cinematic nonsense that is in debt to all of the vibrations that connect with humans on an emotional level.

Established in 2010, Galapogos have managed to become one the most prolific and best kept musical secrets in the country. In the past five years the Galapogos live shows and album releases (Established Ghosts (2011), Feel Or Suffer (2013), Strange Species (2014) and An Emptiness (2015)) have become legendary with a heavy focus on improvisation, pop skills and a lot of noise nonsense experimentation. It has the capacity to be quite an intense journey that travels the full gauntlet of emotions both known and unknown.

The uneducated have labeled Galapogos many things but the band simply refers to their intense noise meditations as Progressive, Psychedelic and Experimental – a beautifully rapturous sound designed to summon the true aliens among us. Despite their funny coloured feet people seem to like what Galapogos do and in return they love them back. Galapogos are always happy to wear the claws if you’d like that.

Dadaism – Surrealism – Noise – Pop Art – Sprechgesang – Free Atonality

Yoko Ono and Kim Gordon

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/galapogosbrisbane
Bandcamp – http://galapogos2.bandcamp.com/

Heavy and Weird Presents: Collapse Into Now – Volume One – Artist Announcement – VOIID

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Heavy and Weird Presents: Collapse Into Now – Volume One

A night of new Progressive, Experimental, Psychedelic and Pop music from Brisbane and Beyond – true future music

Thursday 8th December 2016 – 6:00pm at the Bearded Lady – $10.00 entry fee

Artist Announcement:

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VOIID

There was a quote from Kurt Cobain at some point during his life where he said that the next great rock revolution would be lead by a woman or something like that. Whilst we don’t want to get too political we think it’s a relevant stance because in this godforsaken local music scene known as Brisbane, the only relevant music being made and the only music that resonates is the stuff driven by Female Human Beings. Make of that what you will but you know, there is only so much “hell fuck yeah” we can fucking take and we feel like VOIID might be the antidote to all that white middle class macho rock bullshit that is swelling both above and below ground at the moment.

VOIID make smart music and we’re big fans of what VOIID is communicating. We get the feeling that in 12 months time they’ll also be everyone else’s favourite band as well but for now, keep them as your own little secret before you have to share them with the rest of the world.

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

Heavy and Weird Presents: Collapse Into Now – Volume One – Artist Announcement – Quintessential Doll

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Heavy and Weird Presents: Collapse Into Now – Volume One

A night of new Progressive, Experimental, Psychedelic and Pop music from Brisbane and Beyond – true future music

Thursday 8th December 2016 – 6:00pm at the Bearded Lady – $10.00 entry fee

Artist Announcement:

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Quintessential Doll

Quintessential Doll is one of the first real 21st Century artists to light a path to the new sound of now. As an Artist, she is fiercely original, mysterious, a master communicator and the true evolution of psychedelic music. Existing somewhere between pop music structures and hip hop dynamics, Quintessential Doll presents her music as art and uses every inch of the creative dialogue – the audio and the visual – to showcase her fearlessness. Everything she creates moves in a hypnotic unison hooking you in, taking you deep beneath the drama beating at the centre of her music’s turmoiled shining light. It flattens you to the point of being totally breathless and haunts long after the experience has finished. There is an exhaustion and real high that comes on once the music finishes, almost like an endorphin release. It’s a fucking soul drenched experience that rips open your heart, makes you want to weep but at the same time you want to just fucking run and get the fuck out of what ever bad situation you find yourself in. In 2016 and beyond Quintessential Doll’s music deserves to be the new national anthem for those human beings who have graduated from teenage angst to adult pain and who still seek the emotional rush of a good pop song when it comes to finding a remedy for trying to feel some kind of “I’m not alone” resolve.

Pure Fractured Perfection – Quintessential Doll is an intoxicating experience that combines the exotic search for understanding in a world that continues to function within the boundaries of rules and regulations.

Useful Links:

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

 

 

SINGLE OF THE WEEK: “Baby” by Angharad Drake

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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. Now Brisbane based, Drake grew up on Australia’s famed Sunshine Coast, where she began writing music during her early years of high school, and scoring gigs at small local venues. She later went on to study a Music degree at Brisbane’s QUT. Influenced by the stylings of Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Laura Marling and Bon Iver, she began to develop her own individual style during her University years and recorded a self titled debut EP in 2010. Since then she has completed two more self-­produced EP’s (2013’s ‘Lay Down’, and 2014’s ‘Swing’), all in preparation for her debut full ­length album, ‘Sword’ which was released in 2015.

The genius of Drake’s music comes down to the mood and how she approaches the melodic structure of her songs. Drake saturates each song with darkness and a spooky whisper and it becomes hard not to be pulled into her psyche. It is real journey-person material and you can hear that Drake has lived every inch of pain contained within her lyrics. There are also pinches of resolve and hope swirling in and out of the music 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 channeling. 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.

Today we are very proud to be premiering Angharad’s new single “Baby” which is from her forthcoming second album which is due out in early to mid 2017.

 

Once again we see Angharad digging deep and delivering a beautiful slice of melancholy sweetness that feels autobiographical in terms of the story she’s telling. The melodic changes that swing in and out of the verses and choruses of this song are so heavy emotionally and you get dragged into the drama of it all. This is perfect pop music that is communicated with such beauty and grace. Production wise we see a few stylistic changes helping to provide the song with some interesting dynamics. These new additions sonically don’t spook Angharad’s delicate and almost whispered playing style or take away from the poetically somber tone of her music. This is music for those of us who need the rush of a broken heart in order to give purpose to our creative muse.

All in all Angharad Drake proves once again what an important up and coming artist she is. Her music is the secret weapon against this fast paced need for technology to swoop in and strangle the pure musical experience. Her voice will haunt you and her songs plant themselves deep into your existence. She will help you understand that the best art comes from those who communicate honestly and with a sense of bravery. With “Baby” we glimpse just how powerful and emotionally violent a hushed heartbroken whisper can be. It’s truly fucking “stop what you’re doing” stuff and utterly flawless.

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Download the song for free from JJJ Unearthed:

https://www.triplejunearthed.com/artist/angharad-drake

Do the right thing and support the artist – visit Angharad’s Bandcamp and buy her stuff:

https://angharaddrake.bandcamp.com/track/baby

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

 

Heavy and Weird’s Daily Mixtape – Volume Two – Happy 50th Mike McCready

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On the 5th April 2016 Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready turned 50 – a milestone that has inspired me to create another daily mixtape in order to pay tribute to the great human that he is. Throughout his 25 plus year career as a musician McCready has lent his other worldly guitar skills to not just Pearl Jam but other outside projects like the one of a kind gem that was Mad Season.

You instantly recognise the McCready sound when he lends his lead guitar skills to any song. When it comes to lead players he is one of my favourites because beyond being able to fucking wail he can use his skills to take a song to another level emotionally. He is also an accomplished songwriter in his own right and has been responsible for some of Pearl Jams more interesting tracks. He always brings a moody and deep feel which when filtered through the Pearl Jam machine provides some godlike moments.

 

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With this playlist we wanted to collect 20 of those moments when McCready has totally transformed a song. A lot of these tracks are ones he had a hand in writing but a few of them simply showcase his amazing guitar skills. So here we present to you, 20 of our favourite Mike McCready moments:

 

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Big Love

Dan Newton xo

 

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

SINGLE REVIEW: “Glow” by Amanda Merdzan

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The brand new single from Amanda Merdzan is called “Glow” and it is a masterpiece of a song that combines the ethereal dream pop skills of artists like Cocteau Twins and Julee Cruise with a modern electro / hip hop aesthetic. The end result is a slow moody dirge which beams with a beautiful rush of winter sunshine. Lyrically the song touches on many different emotions with the main melodic gallop of the track fixating on the idea of escapism and the thrill of being immersed deep inside the suffocating stillness of the blank canvas. Naturally there are all sorts of links to heartache and heartbreak but all good songwriters find the time to bury these kinds of aches in their music despite the tempo.

Amanda Merdzan once again proves that she is an artist to watch – it personally excites me because her music has always had a deep personal connection. It’s like she’s singing directly to your environment and circumstance and there is nothing better than feeling like an artist you admire is somehow swirling inside the same kind of spiritual and physical chaos that you are.

 

With “Glow” Merdzan may be singing about the damaged life she has experienced but lucky for us, the music she delivers in order to communicate her pain is without any imperfections or defects, it is true perfection – clear, unblemished, unmarked and beautiful.

By: Dan Newton

 

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Useful Links:

https://www.facebook.com/amandamerdzan
www.amandamerdzan.com
www.amandamerdzan.tumblr.com
www.myspace.com/amandamerdzan
www.twitter.com/amandamerdzan
iTunes/amandamerdzan
www.noisetrade.com/amandamerdzan

 

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/

 

HEAVY AND WEIRD’S END OF YEAR LISTS – 2015

I’ve been waiting until Christmas eve to post this list because I wanted to give the full scope of 2015 time to play out. I also wanted to rush through some reviews that I’d been sitting on for the past few months. I must apologies to all the artists who have sent me stuff in 2015 – I have been listening and enjoying a fuckload of what you have all sent me but the stuff I’ve reviewed and featured in this list is stuff that’s stuck with me beyond just the review stage. These are artists and songs that haunt me and have left me feeling changed and renewed.

So without further ado let me present to you the HEAVY AND WEIRD END OF YEAR LISTS:

Artist Of The Year

Sophie Lowe

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I don’t mean to blush but I’ve been a fan of Sophie Lowe’s acting ever since I saw her in “The Slap” which lead me to her other films including “Beautiful Kate,” “After The Dark” and “Adore” – all of them are vital pieces of cinema and it is quite evident that Sophie is destined to make the big jump to Hollywood stardom. When I recently discovered that she was transitioning to music I was fucking ecstatic. As an actress Sophie is world class, a true artist and her skill for tackling highly complicated and emotional characters spills over into her music.

In 2015 Sophie released EP1 and EP 2 and when combined they weave together 12 delicious tracks that showcase pop music built on smart songwriting skills and deep emotional drama. With EP 1 and EP 2 we find Lowe venturing into sparse instrumental landscapes with her vocals delivering context to all that haunts her. It is real and incredibly raw commanding your attention. It is no doubt part of Lowe’s creative DNA that both EP 1 and EP 2 are cinematic in their presentation with the music allowing you to paint your own visuals when you shut your eyes and ease into the sound of her voice.

The music of both EP’s have a steady electronica vibe throughout and aesthetically is in debt to the swoon and slide of 1990’s trip hop pioneers Portishead. The sonics are stark and bare with Lowe utilising the space to really stretch out her vocals covering every inch of these tracks with her disciplined ache. Lyrically there are varying degrees of hurt, loss and despair circling the authors need and desire to be understood by those who share planet earth with her. On the surface it sounds like break-up songs but the plea for a mutual sharing of respect spreads itself to so many other possible scenarios where the dread of being misunderstood occurs.  This is music for the late night descent into heartbreak nostalgia and it does a fantastic job of framing all that is painful and all that is joyful about love.

As a singer, Lowe sounds uniquely beautiful and is able to balance the hushed dynamics of a crooner with the sweet shine of a pop singer. Combine this with her ability to experiment with different textures and moods and slowly you start to hear the rumblings of a true visionary who knows the perfect way to mix above and below ground rule books in order to communicate vital pieces of art. That is what makes both EP 1 and EP 2 so great and I just love every inch of it.

It’s no secret that there was a girl who stole my heart long ago and whose shape remains inside the soul of every yearning filled encounter I have with other female humans. Sometimes the fantasy is more pure than the reality and it is because of this that my mind remains her hostage with no real ransom available to dull the ache and set me free. It may be ridiculous to the non-believers but a muse can be murder especially when you search for the face of your yearning and some kind of remedy for sleepless Sundays. When love disappears, every brand new day is yours to fear with a grief so strong your eyes can’t hide it and as a result you build many walls around you to shield yourself from it all. Regardless of how much life I live in the meantime, she’ll hang in my heart forever. This yearning has a language that is heard only by the spirits with total belief that all this pity frames a scar and that in the end it will always remain as faith for the man and a kiss for the friend.

When I listen to Sophie Lowe as the vocalist I tend to slip into that place where that memory of love lost comes rushing back to me. The moment EP 1 and EP 2 on the stereo and plugged in my headphones I felt the sweet embrace of the chaotic emotional journey that is the sting of distant heartache memories. The music of Sophie Lowe provides the perfect soundtrack to this ache soaked journey.

This music is purely nocturnal and will always communicate more clearly between the hours of 9pm and 4am. Like the shadowy pulse of ex-lovers whispering into your ear there are memories of yearning (past, present and future) hiding inside the songs on EP 1 and EP 2. The darkness of it all allows you to trade your fetish for fiction and replace it with new kinds of motion and sequence. You’ll find yourself musing on the lifelong debate of flesh versus the spirit and as you try ever so hard to attach yourself to some innocence. No matter how hard you try that funeral march will continue to trickle down your belly.

The mystery present on songs like “Dreaming” and “Please” from EP 1 and “Pink Flowers” and “Breathe” from EP 2 pushing you to explore that shiver and all of that spooked out bliss she uses to suffocate your mind. You simply have to listen to the lyrics to see that Lowe is once again using very specific metaphors to illustrate her feelings and to allow your imagination to swoon and swing between joy and heartache. In the heat of the summer night Sophie Lowe uses her unique sonic language to penetrate all your angst as you hang spacious from the clutter of your hurt and safely drift away.

One of the real treats of this record is “Like I Do You” from EP 2 which presents a scene of catastrophe with a mood that balances what a monumental picture of hurt existence can be. Although peppered with a dense dark mood, “Like I Do You” still has a bright spark weaving in and out of it. The joy that is the satellite in your heart is what connects to this song, especially the “Like I Do You” refrains – that line gives meaning to the constant quest to transmit to all of those secret faces.

When you’re looking at life through innocent eyes it seems love and desire are quite simple, but sometimes it wounds and it’s so very smooth. That is when music like Sophie Lowe’s sounds best, when you are wounded yet optimistic. This is the kind of music that fires up your romantic imagination making you feel like that somewhere out there he or she waits and that 84 will be worth living for.

 

Band Of The Year

Full Flower Moon Band

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I understand that on the surface people will only hear the sounds of a dusty lo-fi psychedelic pop band, but dig deeper and you’ll hear that Full Flower Moon Band managed to make the first real modern classic with their debut EP “CHINATOWN EP.” I was not present when bands like Slint and My Bloody Valentine released their landmark records (“Spiderland” and “Loveless”) and I came to Slayer long after they released “Reign In Blood” but I have no doubt that “CHINATOWN EP” will not only be as influential as those records but that people will come to see that Full Flower Moon Band destroyed, erased and improved (to steal a Meshuggah line) music as an art form.

The reason why these above bands are important to me illustrating the importance of “CHINATOWN” is because the albums these bands released allowed for music to be presented in a different light. A record like “Spiderland” by Slint for instance is a truly mysterious record and over time has become incredibly influential to evolving how humans hear and perform rock music. The same can be said about “Loveless” by My Bloody Valentine and “Reign In Blood” by Slayer. These albums presented new ideas on how to make the simple amalgamation of guitar, bass, drums and vocals work and in the process birthed such genre titles as post-rock, math-rock, shoegaze and thrash metal. I don’t think I’d be too foolish for saying that Slint, My Bloody Valentine and Slayer changed the game totally and offered new sounds and dynamics to the rock n roll text book.

In 2015, Full Flower Moon Band became the first band in 20 years to release an EP as life changing and important to the evolution of music as the above mentioned artists (and countless others of course). What “CHINATOWN EP” represents is how music, at least rock n roll, should have evolved. There is nothing retro or throwback about the music played by Full Flower Moon Band and over the course of 5 songs they manage to showcase a brilliant understanding of emotionally fueled psychedelic guitar rock.

 

Album Of The Year

“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.

 

EP Of The Year

“Dynamics Of Disobedience” by Michelle Xen

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Michelle Xen makes beautifully violent music about the absolute destruction that occurs when someone you love breaks your heart, it is pure ache. If you listen to any of her songs you can hear the blood all over the tracks. She is bleeding every inch of herself into the music and as a listener it is an exhausting and overwhelming process listening to it. The music itself is so incredibly confronting that if you’re not prepared for it, it can take your breath away and leave you confused. Michelle is a powerful communicator and you have to erase all distractions when you sit down to listen to her music.

So with this in mind, when I sat down to listen to Michelle’s latest EP “Dynamics Of Disobedience” earlier this month. I took some time off work and locked myself away with this beautiful piece of art for a few days in order to get immersed in every inch of it.

The results were positive from the get go. I fell in love with it on impact and connected to the loneliness nestled at the centre of each new song. These weren’t break up songs; this was a roar and a plea for someone to please understand just who you are. The rawness of it all can really cut deep and when you start musing on the lyrics you find yourself drifting deeper into your memories to remember every person who has ever broken your heart.

Musically, the minimalism approach of this EP is spot on and the focus on rhythm almost gives it a hip hop quality. The drums and percussion along with the synths add to the violence of Michelle’s emotional delivery. It makes for a wonderful journey.

After spending a good part of November addicted to this album, I had to disconnect because it started to haunt me just how intense these songs could be. This EP became an obsession and it started to influence every aspect of how I myself wanted to create. I already put Michelle Xen on a pedestal but with this EP, I escalated to full fan boy and honestly felt that unless I made music like the songs found on “Dynamics Of Disobedience” then I wasn’t making pure emotional music.

Luckily I pulled the plug and realised that I was under the spell of Michelle Xen – she gets me every time – and that of course you can make emotional music any which way you want. That all being said I still think that Michelle Xen makes the purest and rawest sounds ever and this EP is the perfect horror movie for anyone still suffering the spook of past lovers.

Michelle Xen is 100 per cent perfection and I love her music more than I can put into words.

 

Single Of The Year

“Matter” by Amanda Merdzan

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In 2013 I had the pleasure of reviewing an EP by the incredibly talented Amanda Merdzan. In my final paragraph of that review I wrote the following:

“Sometimes you love to have your world challenged by music and other times you just want the music to help give purpose to your own pain. Amanda’s music falls in to the latter category for sure and while it may not be dynamically weird or envelope pushing music stylistically, the music itself is carried and ignited by Amanda’s deep emotional world and that is what is put on full display with “The Map Has Been Redrawn.” This EP is a perfect glimpse of an artist who has just uttered her first musical communication and I feel after both personal and musical growth we’ll see Amanda combine her world class songwriting with some intense experimentation to birth a sound that is unique to her muse.

I can’t wait to see what comes next from Amanda Merdzan and I’ve got a feeling that she’ll do some very interesting things making beautiful future music that goes deeper and weirder.”

After following her career with a feverish desire to know “what will come next” I was absolutely blown away when she sent me her new single “Matter” which was released digitally earlier this year. Instantly I was blown away by the creative leaps taken and although we can talk about the aesthetic changes made, the real joy of this new song is the emotional performance that comes through in Merdzan’s vocals and melodic delivery. We finally hear Amanda finding her own voice and although her debut EP provided the significant vehicle for her stories to be told, on “Matter” she truly sounds comfortable and like she has settled on a sound that better communicates all that haunts her.

The simple lyric refrains of “Matter” explode with a sullen sigh that wrap around your own sadness and amplify’s that desperate need for human connection. This is a song about the true sting of loneliness and that simple plea we all carry inside of us to be understood and loved unconditionally by another human being. To issue a degree of sacrifice and surrender in order to truly commit to love.

The music of “Matter” slithers with a spooky degree of late night malaise almost sounding claustrophobic in its attempt to be spacious. The minimal electronic pulses wonderfully give a modern context to an old world pain. It all collides together to create a timeless piece of escapism that gives the listener the opportunity to apply their own meaning to the song. I just fucking drift away to so many places when I hear “Matter” and my life has been enriched beyond belief because of this song.

It’s quite obvious that Amanda is on a new journey of self-discovery. Her music has taken on more meaning as a result and taking genre laws out of the equation the real victory of “Matter” is that she is finding a way to be more direct with the complicated emotions that she is drawing from for inspiration. I’m honestly so excited about this song and what the future holds for Amanda Merdzan.

 

Top Eleven Bands / Artists Of 2015

  1. Sophie Lowe
  2. Michelle Xen
  3. Amanda Merdzan
  4. Full Flower Moon Band
  5. Angharad Drake
  6. Alanna Eileen
  7. FOREVR
  8. Major Leagues
  9. Ayla
  10. Eves The Behavior
  11. Avaberée

Top Eleven Albums / Singles / EP’s of 2015

1. “Sword” by Angharad Drake
2. “EP 1” and “EP 2” by Sophie Lowe
3.  “Dynamics Of Disobedience” by Michelle Xen
4.  “Chinatown EP” by Full Flower Moon Band
5.  “The Haze” by We All Want To
6. “Electrical” by Eves The Behavior
7.  “Someone Sometime” by Major Leagues
8. “Stallin” by Airling
9.  “Vice” by Grrl Pal
10. “Demonstration” by FOREVR
11. “I Don’t Feel So Alive” by Gabriella Cohen

This was the music that dominated the Heavy and Weird stereo and the music that made that most impact.

In terms of my own personal top eleven albums of 2015 well here they are:

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Number One – “Sol Invictus” by FAITH NO MORE

This was probably the easiest decision of my whole list – I think this album was always destined to take out my number one spot. I’ve been a life long fan of FAITH NO MORE and I’ve waited every inch of that 18 years for the moment when they may re-enter the world with a new album. The reunion that began back in 2009 was exciting enough but I was less curious in the nostalgia of a live show and more interested in what the band might be able to offer creatively. In that 18 years we got a whole new generation of Mike Patton related projects that helped enrich the lives of people, like myself, who adored his creative genius. As fulfilling as those projects were, it always made me wonder how he’d attack a new FAITH NO MORE record if given the opportunity.

On Friday the 15th May 2015 I got to have those questions answered and the results exceeded my expectations. It took me two listens before I truly locked in with the genius of “Sol Invictus” and once I let it in there has been no record released since that can match it. The band managed to make a modern rock masterpiece that showcases just what seasoned creative professionals they are. All of the familiar aesthetics are lent on but we now get 18 years of new creative dialogues seeping into the mix helping elevate the music to new territory.

Despite having one of the most influential discographies in the history of rock music, FAITH NO MORE’S previous albums weren’t without their flaws. As a fan I adore each and every one of them but I can understand the complaint that on occasion their albums may have lacked cohesion with the creative schizophrenia of each record causing some lag in proceedings. I always put this down to a band striving to figure itself out and always being in a transitional state, searching for the ultimate sound that best expresses the talents of each individual within the band. With maturity FAITH NO MORE have conquered that youthful defect and manged to deliver 10 flawless tracks and scientifically and spiritually the best FAITH NO MORE album to date.

All in All, my personal resonance with this band is so extremely over the top that it could have been an experimental album full of nothing and I still would have rated it above everything else. I just think and believe that whether this album allows for the band to continue making music or not doesn’t really matter because with “Sol Invictus” we finally got to glimpse once again what a special band FAITH NO MORE are and how despite their widespread influence on the rock music aesthetic that they never really got the respect for it. While other artists are content at attempting musical re-invention through nostalgic building blocks other artists are actually trying to avoid that and are trying to find something unique to say. FAITH NO MORE are the band you can rely on to at least try and make future music.

FAITH NO MORE were never allowed or invited to the party so that is why when you let them in they are free to shit all over your carpet and when they shit on your carpet there is nothing you can do about it because only true artists get the privilege of dipping their assholes onto your floor and ruining your understanding of the universe.

May they live for a million years

 

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Number Two – “Purple” by BARONESS

This album is an incredible collection of rock music – I thought the band had made their masterpiece with 2012’s “Yellow and Green” but I was wrong, “Purple” is that album. An extreme collision of all the aesthetics that make BARONESS one of the most important rock bands of our modern era. Those who have heard it know just how powerful this album is. I sincerely hope that this record allows for BARONESS to be elevated to some higher levels in terms of mainstream success because this album deserves to be soaked up and celebrated by stadiums of human beings.
Let me say again, I don’t know why or how the whole “rock is dead” mantra is allowed to be paraded around because there are such a strong group of modern rock bands like BARONESS who are taking the genre to some extremely “right on” new places.

“Purple” is a flawless masterpiece

 

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Number Three – “Higher Truth” by CHRIS CORNELL

This is the solo album longtime fans of CHRIS CORNELL have been waiting for since “Euphoria Morning.” Although CORNELL has attempted re-invention with his solo career (as heard on 2007’s “Carry On” and 2009’s “Scream”) it has never made so much sense as it did with the 2011 release of his live acoustic record “Songbook” which showed that CORNELL is at his best when its just his voice and his acoustic guitar. I’d even argue that my own personal desire for a more acoustic driven CORNELL release stems back to the song “Seasons” from the soundtrack to 1992’s premiere Grunge era couples film “Singles.” On “Higher Truth” CHRIS CORNELL delivers 12 tracks of acoustic driven rock music that beautifully showcases what a master songwriter he is. The inclusion of Brendan O’Brien as producer helps give the record the direction it needed although I was interested to hear that prior to settling on O’Brien CORNELL was working with Alain Johannes. Perhaps that material will surface at some point but for now we have a brilliant record from one of my personal heroes.
This album provided comfort to me during an incredibly dark time of 2015 when my own mortality was challenged. In those moments, only great voices and human beings like CHRIS CORNELL will suffice and for that reason alone “Higher Truth” will be a life long musical companion.

 

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Number Four – “New Bermuda” by DEAFHEAVEN

This band makes the kind of music that I dreamed about back when I was a teenager in the late 1990’s – in short, believe the hype. This is the band who showed the world that they are not trying hard enough when it comes to the composistion of meaningful future music. I know the purists hate it but the purists are flawed by their own limitations. This album is something you need to experience on your own with a good pair of headphones. I suspect that the best is still yet to come from DEAFHEAVEN and in 20 years time they will also be the band your children will wish you were cool enough to be a fan of.

 

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Number Five – “No Cities To Love” by SLEATER-KINNEY

One of the true joys of 2015 was to know that SLEATER-KINNEY had released a new album. The bands previous album “The Woods” was a life changer for me and stands as my favourite record from their very flawless discography. In a lot of ways “No Cities To Love” goes further and deeper than “The Woods” in terms of re-invention. In 32 Minutes and 17 Seconds SLEATER-KINNEY remind the world why they are one of the greatest rock bands to ever exist. In true “reign in blood” fashion the real key to “No Cities To Love” is the way in which it covers so much territory but does it in a very economical way. Yet another reminder of how important the guitar is to the communication of complex human emotions and further proof that SLEATER-KINNEY are rightfully poised to establish their position in not just underground culture but also mainstream culture as the band that can help restore peace to the galaxy.

 

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Number Six – “Luminiferous” by HIGH ON FIRE

There are no words to describe the love I have for HIGH ON FIRE and the sound they make. The best I can do is to say that the band manages to mix the fierce thrash sounds of SLAYER with the harsh sludge experimentation’s of THE MELVINS but even that seems like I’m selling them short. The main creative vehicle for riff magician Matt Pike since 1998 and a band long associated with quality album releases. Those who have experienced the might and power of HIGH ON FIRE’S discography (2000’s “The Art of Self Defense,” 2002’s “Surrounded by Thieves,” 2005’s “Blessed Black Wings,” 2007’s “Death Is This Communion,” 2010’s “Snakes for the Divine” and 2012’s “De Vermis Mysteriis”) understand the extreme rush provided and with “Luminiferous” HIGH ON FIRE deliver another masterpiece. This is heavy metal at its finest from a true master of the genre and as I’ve mentioned further down the page, it angers me that so many shallow minded modern music media website dickcuntstiffyfuckstains are bold enough to announce that rock is dead. How can you fucking say that when a band like HIGH ON FIRE continues to exist and churn out quality record after quality record. I look forward to 2035 when I’m 52 years old and I get to say to all the new school hip brigade “I WAS FUCKING THERE YOU YOUNG USELESS CUNTS” when they all pretend to be HIGH ON FIRE aficionados. This is the band that people will talking about in 20 years from now and this album is a modern classic.

 

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Number Seven – “VII: Sturm und Drang” by LAMB OF GOD

“VII: Sturm und Drang” is Lamb Of God’s seventh studio album and could quite possibly be their best. I know this is a bold claim considering that Lamb Of God are responsible for some of the new millenniums greatest metal albums but on this record the band manages to finally rise to the occasion and become the superstar Metal group they have always been hinting at. The band finally embraces melodic vocals and I think this is a dynamic that could be explored on a deeper level on future releases from here. I think my love of Pantera is what fuels my love of Lamb Of God and because sometimes metal needs a mainstream voice and with “VII: Sturm und Drang” Lamb of God remind us why they have been that voice for the past 20 or so years. This record is just so enjoyable and such a re-birth.

 

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Number Eight “Repentless” – by SLAYER

This is the first time I’ve enjoyed listening to a new SLAYER album since 2001’s “God Hates Us All” and even though 2006’s “Christ Illusion” and 2009’s “World Painted Red” were solid records they didn’t have the special ingredients needed to make a SLAYER album a true classic. In a lot of ways both “Christ Illusion” and “World Painted Red” had a lot in common with the bands 1990’s output (1994’s “Divine Intervention,” 1996’s “Undisputed Attitude” and 1998’s “Diabolus In Musica”) in the sense that it was just a band sticking to the formula with 1996’s cover album “Undisputed Attitude” being the most diverse sounding record of the aforementioned trilogy. In a lot of ways “Repentless” sticks to the formula but this time round it seems to work and sound more energetic and more SLAYER than ever. The band has been able to move swiftly into the future despite the horrific passing of the bands leading creative force Jeff Hanneman. I adore SLAYER and at this point of my life, I’m just happy to hear the band release new music. Perhaps Hanneman’s passing gave the remaining members reason to go deeper and perhaps that is why “Repentless” is such a special record. Either way, listening to this album has been a daily ritual since its release and whether or not this is the full stop to the SLAYER story or a bold new chapter doesn’t really matter because at the end of the day this band has no more reasons to reinvent a genre they helped create. Just having them still be here all these years later is a blessing and any year that SLAYER releases a new album is set to be a good year.

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Number Nine – “High Country” by THE SWORD

After four flawless albums of heavy metal THE SWORD continue their quest for world domination and deliver us their most diverse record to date, the unbelievalby good “High Country.” This album marks a change in musical style with the band experimenting with their doom / sludge roots shifting their sound to a more classic hard rock sound. This will no doubt alienate long time fans of the band, but I personally love the new direction and realistiaclly they have been hinting at this sound ever since 2010’s new modern classic “Warp Riders.” A lot of the new tunes have a melodic southern rock vibe similar to to that of seminal hard rock bands Thin Lizzy and ZZ Top. Ultimately the album has everything from folk to pop to boogie to straight-up rock and it never leans on the nostalgia, if anything these older styles help boost the bands sound to more dynamic places and gives them room to grow from here. Considering every dickbagstaincunt writing for websites like FasterLouder and all those other clickbait modern music media sites across the world are quick to write such think pieces like “rock is dead” it makes you wonder why or how they miss albums by bands like THE SWORD who are clearly making vital rock music for the 21st Century. In short, although rock music may not be as popular in the mainstream sense there is still a lot of interesting guitar music being made – with “High Country,” THE SWORD go back to basics and help give their second decade as a band an interesting new twist.

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Number Ten – “Money Shot” by PUSCIFER
All of those fools complaining about no new music from TOOL really need to take a few steps back and reflect on the fact that once you make albums like “Undertow,” “Ænima,” “Lateralus,” and “10,000 Days” and in the process create a whole bunch of new rock music aesthetics that lesser humans rip off to this day then you can sit back and take as much fucking time as you want to create more music. Maybe if more of you TOOL fanboys spent more time actually attempting to be original instead of ripping the band off then we’d have some newer bands who match the intellect of what TOOL provide the rock music landscape. Instead, you’ll all no doubt jerk off over your odd time signatures and because you lack any sense of humour you’ll continue to miss the point of why TOOL are just as much about Comedy as they are Spiritual Awakenings. That’s the only negative thing about no new TOOL music – in the interim we have to fucking put up and tolerate all of these unoriginal dick stain rich boy rejects starting another TOOL rip off band whilst sitting there attempting to educate the world on how important it is to “wake up” – we get it, but look a bit deeper and you’ll start to realise that they were only fucking with you and it’s all a big elaborate dick joke – but I digress. As long as PUSCIFER exist I am content. Once again Maynard James Keenan celebrates his humanity through a strong collection of music continuing the story of 2011’s “Conditions Of My Parole.” There is nothing more healing than hearing Maynard James Keenan croon over these spacious electronic grooves. The minimalist approach helps give focus to his voice and as always its fucking flawless. The voice of Carina Round also blends beautifully to help create some “other world” type atmospheres with the production skills of Mat Mitchell giving life to Maynard’s vision. A beautiful record for people who understand that the trick to making meaningful and intense music is to have a good sense of humour
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Number Eleven – “Meliora” by GHOST
GHOST’S music has been categorised in many genres from heavy metal to doom metal to hard rock, and to a lesser extent progressive rock and psychedelic rock. I’ve always felt that they were just a great rock band that lean on all of the wonderful aesthetics previously mentioned. Whilst the band is framed by old school cliches and imagary the main thing that makes this band special is their ability to write great pop music. Despite it being all hard and heavy the true delight of “Meliora” are all those glorious melodies. At a time when bands attempt to be heavier through aggression it’s nice to hear a band go deep and dark and heavier with the use of sweet pop melodies. This was a record I found hard to remove from my stereo because it is just deliciously infectious. A lot of the time musicians will try and re-invent the wheel which always has various results. Sometimes the best music just does the simple things right and GHOST do just that. Great hooks and Great Riffs. For fans of great pop music and great rock music.
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 That’s all I’ve got for 2015 – look forward to sharing more music with you in 2016. My prediction – 2016 will be all about Emma Louise and Deftones – and perhaps, just maybe I’ll fall in love xo

All words and music experienced by Dan Newton

 

 

 

 

 

 

SINGLE REVIEW: “Doubt” and “Can’t Get You Off My Mind” by Avaberée

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The music of Avaberee is an incredible cool breeze that saturates your existence and stains you with shivers and sighs. A collective of intelligent songwriters who are melodically flawless with pop music being their main vehicle, but its more than bubblegum and fairy floss, this is the kind of pop music that has been birthed from a collective scar. Both “Doubt” and “Can’t Get You Off My Mind” are delicious little heart-breakers about all the complications of love, distance and the eternal need for the unrequited rush of yearning for some kind of escape. It is all bliss and beauty from a band who are poised to conquer the world with their refined other worldly shiver pop anthems.

8 Cassette Tapes Out Of 10

By: Dan Newton

https://soundcloud.com/avaberee/master-tomopr-doubt-upload-sage-audio

 

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Useful Links:

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

VIDEO PREVIEW: PEPA KNIGHT RELEASES ACCOMPANYING DIY VIDEO FOR ‘EVENTUALLY’

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Following on from the release of his dreamy ambient take on Tame Impala’s ‘Eventually’, Central Coast-based musician, Pepa Knight, has just unveiled the accompanying music video, which features outstanding visuals documenting his recent travels in Morocco.

The video was shot and compiled as a complete DIY effort; all taken on the enigmatic musicians iPhone. Pepa explains how the clip came together –

“I was working on the final touches of the cover when I was in Morocco for a month. I covered a lot of ground from Casablanca to the all-blue-town Chefchaouen, the Sahara Desert, Taghazout and everywhere in between.

There was a lot of time to think on these jeep rides and trains from place to place, and it became really therapeutic for me working on this song while these landscapes were rolling by.”
– Pepa Knight

The Jinja Safari songwriter / multi-instrumentalist released his first collection of songs titled ‘Hypnotized Vol.I’ in 2014 and received exceptional support via worldwide blogs, triple j and other tastemakers such as Rolling Stone.

Pepa’s cover of ‘Eventually’ precedes the forthcoming release of ‘Hypnotized Vol. II’ – the anticipated follow-up to his debut EP release. The record will be released in early 2016.

‘Eventually’ music video is now available to view on YouTube

Stay tuned for our review of the song xo

SINGLE REVIEW: “Someone Sometime” by Major Leagues

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Major Leagues have existed since 2012 and in that time they have managed to position themselves as one of the more interesting slacker pop bands to graduate from the Brisbane music scene. After one EP the band is back with a new single titled “Someone Sometime” and it is truly and honestly one of 2015’s best singles thus far.

As a song “Someone Sometime” is a Malkmus Milkshake served dripping with the kind of critically acclaimed under the radar explosive self-expressionism that Yo La Tengo was renowned for. The slacker aesthetics are in full bloom but it is the pop skills of Major Leagues that gets full marks. Lyrically the song hangs onto the boredom of young love and the kind of long distance relationship that can survive courtesy of our social media decorated lifestyles. It’s about the celebration of connection and disconnection and is bound to resonate with just about anybody who loves life from Thursday Night until Sunday Afternoon and who knows the importance of 11:30pm Sunday night shopping at the local super IGA, not quite Kangaroo Point and not quite East Brisbane.

The guitars ring with atmosphere and dream pop economics ensuring that the bubblegum hooks have increased float giving the listener even more reasons to lay back gently and just drift away into the freedom of unwashed bed sheets. Nothing is overdone on “Someone Sometime” which gives the song an appropriate pace and enough time to feel like a progressive step forward without sacrificing society’s need for musical nostalgia. The strength of Major Leagues is the hypnotic sway buried inside their musical dialogue. There is a lot of mystery surrounding this song and it feels that the author is both willing and reluctant to go deep resulting in suggestions as opposed to announcements. This gives the song a strong emotional quality and is the real centerpiece for why it connects so deeply when you listen to it and it’s the reason you press play again and again. You want to know “who” or “why” and you secretly hope that the glimpses of deep longing that you spy when hearing the track is not simply purely there for aesthetics.

There is enough raw emotion haunting the vocals to suggest that for all of its sweetness there is an incredible darkness swirling inside “Someone Sometime” and that it feels rather limiting to view this as just a pop song. A true student of the pop song will collide misery and joy in an attempt to serve the sometimes spiritual and sometimes scientific headspace required to make significantly timeless music. In the space of 4 minutes and 3 seconds Major Leagues do that and more with the true power of “Someone Sometime” being the mysterious dirge that rumbles its sunshine soaked refrains.

Truly and Honestly, Kool Things

9 Cassette Tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

 

 

Useful Links:

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

 

VALE – JAY CURLEY (Tumbleweed)

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There are a lot of things I could say about the importance of Jay Curley and the music he made with TUMBLEWEED but I think other humans will say it better. I’d like to keep this tribute simple by quoting something I wrote about TUMBLEWEED’s 2013 release “Sounds From The Otherside” which goes like this:

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

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

All of these dynamics helped set them apart and really made them pioneers of a sound that so many celebrity hungry young 21st Century Humans try to replicate.  When Tumbleweed released their last official album “Mumbo Jumbo” in the year 2000 it felt like the band was coming to a bittersweet end. Since 1995 the band had gone through multiple line-up changes with only Richie and Lenny being the only real original members left by the time the band called it quits in 2003.

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

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

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

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

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

May they live for a billion years”

I always thought the band were invincible and to me they were like superheroes who I fucking idolised beyond belief. It always sucks when someone you admire who had a part in shaping your understanding of yourself passes away. Considering I never personally met Jay Curley I felt I learnt a lot about him purely through the music he made.

So for now, all I can say to Jay Curley is “thank you” for all the music you were part of making and for being one of the many humans who changed and saved my life.

Rest In Peace

Big Love

Dan Newton xo

P.S. Turn this fucking song up loud and rock the fuck out xo

ALBUM REVIEW: ‘Feel Or Suffer’ by Galapogos

Here at Heavy & Weird, we feel there’s not enough nepotism in the Brisbane music scene.  With that in mind, we’ve decided that Clint should review Dan’s band’s latest album, ‘Feel Or Suffer’. We also recognise that the rating’s system we’ve employed over the last year has mostly given bands we like ’10’ and bands we don’t like ‘1’, therefore we’ll be dispensing with ratings this year and telling you to either buy the album or save your money.

Of course, if you couldn’t tell that was sarcasm, you should be reading Rolling Stone.

Nonetheless, Clint will be reviewing the latest Galapogos release, not because he wants to give the band a leg up, or an unfair advantage, but because he genuinely likes their music and feels compelled to write about it. Take that as you will.  And now the disclaimer is out of the way, onto the review itself:

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Do I think this album is good? Yes. Do I think it’s perfect? No. But perfection is not what this record is about.

‘Feel Or Suffer’ is the most interesting artistic statement made by a Brisbane band in 2013. It is a bold step away from the alt-pop of Galapogos’ first album ‘Established Ghosts’ into ambient jammy weirdness. That they never fall into wankery is a miracle in itself, but this album is stunningly good on its own merits. Just listen to the epic ‘Parakeet Parachute’, or first single ‘Lisbon’:

What makes this even more of an achievement is that the entirety of ‘Feel Or Suffer’ was improvised live in the band room, with Dan Newton ad-libbing lyrics over the top; all recorded & mixed by guitarist Luke Koster. The result is one continuous movement of music, wholly unique, and utterly beautiful. I don’t know what the fuck Dan is singing about most of the time, but by god I believe it, and perhaps that’s what communication via music is all about? There is nothing plastic, no imitation, and no fakery involved, it stands up and forces you to listen intently and take a journey with the band.

This record is Jim Morrison saying ‘fuck you’ to his sex-symbol status, losing the leather pants and getting off on Patti Smith poetry, with backing from Slowdive. It is a singular vision from 5 guys on the periphery of a music scene they don’t fit in to, unable to be categorized, and uniquely compelling.

It won’t be a hit and it won’t make you cool, but it will change your life.  Go and find a copy.

Rating: 9 parakeets out of 10 parachutes
(I would have given it a 10, but I think this band is only going to get better)

By Clint Morrow

LIVE REVIEW – The Gin Club 10th Anniversary with Shifting Sands & Orphan Ann – Black Bear Lodge 13/12/2013

I’m writing this review through a hangover.  It’s a combination of end of year work drinks and a blazing live performance from Brisbane’s finest music collaborative, The Gin Club.  I was already fairly intoxicated by the time I arrived at Black Bear Lodge.  It’s a fitting venue for the band’s 10th anniversary show, having been their spiritual home since it was known as The Troubadour.  I’ve always thought that The Gin Club are a band you get drunk with; every show is like a party with old friends, and even if you haven’t seen each other for a while you pick up where you left off and have a great night.

Orphan Ann had just started when I walked in.  They played a solid set of competent folk tunes.  The early punters sat along the edges of the room, or stood up the back near the bar, just as they did for opening bands in the old Troubadour days.  Unfortunately none of their songs seemed to stand out enough to drag people away from their conversations.  While they didn’t excite me I wouldn’t be adverse to seeing them again.

Shifting Sands did what Shifting Sands do best – downbeat world-weary introspective pop.  Geoff Corbett & Danielle Golding traded beautiful harmonies about sex, booze and depression.  Corbett’s deep, rasping rumble is perfectly suited to this stripped-back style of music.  Shifting Sands may be what his whole career, from SixFtHick to the Tremors, has been building towards, and if this set is anything to go by, their debut album will be one of the best records of 2014.  If you’ve ever felt like cutting yourself Shifting Sands are your soundtrack.

By the time The Gin Club took to the stage a capacity audience had piled into the venue and seemingly filled every available space.  In all my years of going to their shows I don’t think I’ve ever heard ‘Bats’ played live, and it was only fitting that they began a set heavy on first album songs with this seldom-aired gem.

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It’s rare to go to a show by a local band and have everyone in the audience know all the words to every song, but The Gin Club have achieved cult status in Brisbane.  It was truly akin to a religious experience with the band leading their devotees through everything from the raucous highs of ‘Drugflowers’ & ‘Wylde Bitch’, to the anthem for jaded 30-somethings ‘Gas Guzzler’.  People hugged in jubilation.  I saw men shed tears.  One or two may have rolled down my own cheek.  It seemed that the only things missing were Ola Karlsson & Angus Agars, but it’s so rare to have the whole collective on the same stage together this is a minor complaint.

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There may be many imitators, but there is only one Gin Club.  The quality of their back catalogue is unparalleled amongst their peers.  Who else could play a nearly 2 hour set and have to leave out songs as good as ‘You, Me & The Sea’, ‘Gabriel’ & ‘I Was A Young Boy’?  Last night was a fitting celebration of their contribution to our music scene and their song’s influence on our collective psyche. Here’s to the next 10 years.

By Clint Morrow