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 – 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

 

 

Heavy and Weird Presents: Collapse Into Now – Volume One

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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

Line-Up to be announced soon

HEAVY AND WEIRD – END OF YEAR LIST – VOLUME ONE – TOP ELEVEN AUSTRALIAN ALBUMS OF 2013

 

It is my favourite part of the year, the time where I get to sit down and work out all of my favourite releases of 2013 and today I want to share with you the top eleven albums released by Australian artists in 2013. There has been an amazing amount of music released from Australia in 2013 and I got to review a lot of it. Here are my picks in terms of the best – please read and enjoy


Top Eleven Australian Albums of 2013

1. “In Blood Memory” by Jen Cloher

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

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

2. “I See Seaweed” by The Drones

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I don’t think I could ever give a bad review to The Drones. I believe that it is impossible for me to ever find a fault with the music that this band makes. It is everything I love about rock n roll and they always explode all kinds of revolution when I listen to them. I don’t mean to sound crude or competitive or “well you just have no taste” but regardless of my “don’t get offended you fevered ego” plea you’re probably still going to take it wrong. Blah, fuck it, I’ll say it – I think The Drones make the entire modern legion of Straylian band’s sound redundant. If that modern legion was a food group they’d be the empty (and very dangerous) calories contained in fast food and The Drones would be a well prepared (possibly fully organic / potentially vegan) feast. You leave satisfied and content, not bloated and full.

Blah blah blah blah blah though, I don’t want to tangle this review up with paragraphs of why “sample a” is better than “sample b” because honestly it is none of my business what music people choose to like. My job is to review the new album from The Drones called “I See Seaweed” – so let me go from the a to the z of why this album is a brilliant piece of art.

Again, like all of the bands previous albums this record is an exercise in making sure that you listen without distraction. Clear your schedule, take the day off work and avoid a Friday / Saturday night of partying to stay inside glued to your headphones and this album. This is a journey album, you hang on every note and you go on the ride. There are some new cosmic touches that are added to the usual dust and crazy horse slacked out guitar noise. The music on “I See Seaweed” surrounds you, it engulfs your environment until you are in a cocoon of nightmarish divinity and stark late night highway swirls. There is a loneliness and spooky feel to it all and somewhere buried deep inside the stories being spun there is a real sense that loss has somehow themed these songs. I always get deeply moved at the way songs flirt with a sense of beauty but then before they get too refined and layered they rip themselves apart and become excursions into pure self-destruction and chaotic bliss. Over the course of eight tracks the band unfolds deep noise meditations that appeal to everything that aches within you. More aftermath than initial detonation, each track creeps then floats then elevates to a preacher screech and within seconds resurrects a haze of space that heightens the suspense and thrill of the chill. It rarely gives you a chance to remain grounded and you’ll unlock new levels of emotion and also wonder what the fuck just happened. Like a foreign injury, your heart and soul will never truly be the same again and when the noise settles and resolves the smile will return to your face. This becomes the moment that you understand the power of sound, more than before and you’ll mourn the fact that there isn’t enough time in your day to listen to this album on repeat. You’ll walk around your house searching for ways not to return to the album and try and throw yourself into something else but while you attempt to be still your mind will be humming every note inspiring you to boycott routine and return to the album, like a hit and run lover. You won’t get answers, only questions and that is what good rock n roll should do.

3. “She Beats” by Beaches

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

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

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

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

4. “All Our Wires” by Seja

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

On “All Our Wires” SEJA opens herself up, as she always does, and shows a degree of vulnerability lyrically that allows you the listener to connect to these songs. Each song illustrates what a master communicator SEJA is as a creative human being and as I continually point out again and again, if you want to be an artist that connects with other humans you got to be a great communicator. Dynamically and Stylistically SEJA crafts a wonderful wall of mechanically aided landscapes through various keyboards and synths but although a large portion of her arsenal is of this nature musically there is a very human element to it and its warmth and sincerity is what allows for the mood of the album to build and rush in and out you, it’s a fucking thrilling experience.

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

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

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

There is nothing more refreshing then hearing and feeling something this real, thank you SEJA for making a fantastic album with “All Our Wires,” you are a star.

5. “Winter Haunts” by The Rational Academy

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So what makes “Winter Haunts” so wonderful and important?

Well the easy answer is the great care that has gone into its creation but I reckon I need to go a bit deeper to sell you the spook. The music has a loose feel but there is also a strict pop discipline pulsating through every track. All of the musical experimentation and noise helps give context to the pop songs lurking underneath. It isn’t about showing off either skill, each song is a meeting place of extreme ideas condensed into smooth pop communications. You can tell that each band member is well versed in the history of music and the way it can influence your sonic dialogue. This is the album the band has been building too for their whole career and even though they have always been unique, the sounds that seduce you on “Winter Haunts” are their strongest yet. The album is a masterpiece of aches and shakes full of hypnotic swirls that take you away to landscapes of beauty and inter-dimensional time travel. This is inside music, to be consumed on your headphones alone, with the lights out as you contemplate every corner of your existence. As the title suggests it haunts and it is clearly coming from four haunted individuals who are collecting all of their internal worlds and through the power of music painting us a picture of their spooky shivers. This is indeed music for people who feel and who need to go deep when they invest in sound. There is not one bad moment contained throughout this album. To reduce it to even simpler terms, “Winter Haunts” gives me the same feeling that I get when I fall in love with a beautiful human being, that feverish feeling of being consumed with that famous Pisces prayer of “I love you so much, it makes me sick,” oh yes indeed you’ll crush hardcore on the sounds of this album.

So what the fuck are you waiting for, move, move, move and fucking buy this amazing piece of art and tell every single person you encounter about it.

6. “All Day Venus” by Adalita

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

7. “Sounds From The Other Side” by Tumbleweed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. “Self-Titled” by Spiderbait

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I’ve found it hard to turn this album off because Spiderbait are incredibly smart with the way they weave pop skills in and out of their music. What really hit me about this album are some of the darker lyrical tones and themes of the record. I felt like I’ve possibly made this point about a lot of bands I’ve reviewed recently but there are some heavy themes of loss and musings on mortality on the brand new Spiderbait record. There are an incredible amount of references to escape and whether it is a heavy dose of fiction or a truthful tale of desire and need for disconnection remains to be seen. There are some truly beautiful moments that erupt as a result of this darkness and although it’s not a new dynamic within the sound of Spiderbait it certainly carries with it the wisdom of age and a maturity of humans who have collectively seen and felt a lot of varying emotions since we last heard from them.

Three songs in particular that demonstrate this darkness are the beautiful intergalactic space jam balladry of “Supersonic” the mournful funeral march sunshine of “Mars” and the kaleidoscopic simplicity of “Goodbye” all of which carry an angsty dirge and reflective pace. Whilst these songs are carefully placed within the brighter rock / pop tones of the rest of the album these are the songs that jumped out at me when I listened to the record as they carried with them a new kind of ache that I hadn’t heard inside the Spiderbait sound before. A terrible sense of loss radiates from these three songs with a heavy sense of sadness.

This mood infects the rest of the album in more subtle ways with lead single “Straight Through The Sun” carrying the same kind of angst but trades sadness for a middle finger and the freedom of saying “Fuck You” to the world around you and just going full speed ahead into the unknown. This punk rock gallop via Motorhead snarl is continued on album highlight “Miss The Boat” which is one of the best Spiderbait songs you’ll ever hear, just balls to the wall rock n roll goodness. To harp on an earlier point, I really must refer back to the brilliance of “Supersonic” which quite frankly is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. It’s no secret how much I love the sound of Janet’s voice and the way she can spin all kinds of beauty with it. On “Supersonic” Janet is in fine form and showcases her flawless talent for being a pop singer with the vintage synth sound and Carole King AM frame of the song separating it as the best thing on this record and no doubt a future hit single.

There is so much I could say about the new “Self-Titled” Spiderbait album but I think the beauty of this record is that it opens up a new decade for the band. There is an incredible amount of evolution present on this album that will allow for another 20 years of music to be made. I love Spiderbait and once again they have proved that the importance to making timeless music is to dig deep into your soul and communicate honestly. The darkness of this record is what thrills me and whether or not the band are musing on loss related to death or just the turmoil of human relationships it suits the band and I look forward to this darkness being explored deeper on the next couple of records.

This is a flawless collection of pop music that bows down to the bliss of rock n roll fury and like all good music, takes you to some pretty intergalactic places when it’s just you  alone in your bedroom with your headphones and your thoughts.

9. “Hidden Horizons” by Ghost Notes

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All of the joy and disappointments pour out of these songs and the lack of vocals add to the intensity because you as the listener have full artistic license to dream up your own meanings and landscapes purely by digesting the emotional performances of each song.

The intense Australian sense of melancholy on display is in line with the stark yet beautiful ache illustrated by artists like Dirty Three and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. I also hear the yearning and swoony late night doom-jazz sounds of a band like Bohren & Der Club of Gore but I also wonder if a band like Boards of Canada didn’t also influence the direction of Ghost Notes sound. All of these comparisons aside, it is safe to say that even though I use the above mentioned bands as a way to compare it needs to be said that Ghost Notes truly have their own sound and “Hidden Horizons” is the perfect example of how unique this band is.

Look, you can be the kind of human who looks to impress other humans by remaining plugged into what hip modern culture sells you as art soaked independent music or you could actually really colour outside the lines and stand behind a band like Ghost Notes. You may not impress the hip modern vultures but you’ll at least have a pure heart and clean soul for rejecting the beige regime of people just playing “songs” and finally engage something truly unique, envelope pushing and genuinely emotional.  When I muse on the power and importance of Brisbane music bands like Ghost Notes are the ones I’m willing to stand behind and be proud to say are from the same music community that I participate in.

Ghost Notes are an absolutely fantastic bunch of humans making future music for those of us who desire something unique. Their brand new album “Hidden Horizons” is a flawless illustration of when art triumphs over commerce and that the most relevant, dangerous, experimental and emotional independent music is being made by the humans completely disconnected from the cocksucking thundercunts of that big indie dollar machine.

10. “This Is Not The End” by Baby Animals

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Suze DeMarchi has possibly the greatest female rock & roll voice of all time.

It’s an absolute pleasure to hear her in front of a virile, muscly rock & roll band again.  Sonically, not much has changed since 1991, DeMarchi is in phenomenal voice throughout the entire record, and the band sounds like the late 90′s and 00′s never even happened.  This is an unashamedly big, stadium rock record, full of Dave Leslie’s guitar solos, a rock-solid rhythm section, and that voice.

That voice also has a lot to say.  The album kicks off with lead single ‘Email’, a volatile stab of anger that sounds like it’s aimed squarely at DeMarchi’s ex-husband Nuno Bettencourt.  Real heartbreak and anger seem to be at the heart of the record, and this means that nothing comes across as manufactured or forced.  The end result is that in this day in age it sounds completely refreshing and new, even if the band is stuck in 1991.

11. “I’m A Bird” by Sam Buckingham

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I have loved listening to this album for the past week, fuck; it is so amazing that I find it hard to find the words to describe it. There is just an amazing quality to the songs and the tales being spun by Sam and the album has been birthed from an intense amount of heartbreak experience.

The other wonderful thing about “I’m A Bird” is the humour sprinkled across these heartbreak tunes. I love the beautiful cynicism of the lyrics, direct and cryptic but full of stories that you can tell were lived quite deeply by its author. I hope she fell in love with her muse after all the drama, I hope it was worth the fight because this album made me want to fall in love, with something, with someone. I found myself yearning for that youthful exchange of asking a human out for a coffee and that “whatever happens” adventure that can occur after that moment, you know where you summon the courage to steal a kiss or two. That is what this album inspires in me when I listen to it, the romantic and the need for a romantic connection with another human being.

I’m sure glad I discovered this album, because it has been the perfect late night soundtrack for standing on my back deck as I sip chai tea, smoke a cigarette and just indulge the silence of late night bliss.

Stay tuned for our Top Eleven Australian Singles / Ep’s of 2013

By: Dan Newton

All Reviews written by Dan Newton except “All Day Venus” by Adalita and “This Is Not The End” by Baby Animals which were written by Clint Morrow

 

 

THURSDAY EDITORIAL: Listening With Your Eyes

Lately I’ve been pondering if people would have cared about certain bands if they looked different. It’s no secret that some humans prefer to listen with their eyes as opposed to their ears and the whole music industry is built on image conscious people with no one being spared. Some great artists have suffered because of the way they look where others have flourished, simply for looking the part and showing up. It is a fickle debate to enter into but my interest in the topic was once again sparked when I heard King Buzzo from The Melvins say something interesting about Kurt Cobain. He mentioned that besides writing great songs Kurt Cobain also looked the part and that was part of the reason why the major labels loved him because they could sell the full product. As King Buzzo pointed out, if Kurt Cobain looked like him or was overweight or ugly in any way that the major label Geffen may not have signed them because they couldn’t have marketed them and that sometimes looking the part is what can win the day. I’d never really put Kurt Cobain in this context before because he was the king of alienation and pain but it did open up some ideas in my head and for the purpose of this experiment let me pitch this to all you humans out there, would have the world brought into Nirvana if they looked like this:

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or this

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If this human was the person singing Smells Like Teen Spirit would have he changed the world

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Would the power of “Nevermind” have been lost if the above humans were the people who released it?

It’s a very confronting question because I bet all of you are thinking to yourselves that the power of what “Nevermind” was would have triumphed and it would have still connected. Would have the major label been interested in just the “songs” if Nirvana looked like the humans above and would have just the “songs” changed a whole generation?

I honestly find this a hard question to answer and I’m sure you do as well, the truth of the matter is I don’t think just the “songs” would have made an impact which is sad because they are great songs but somehow – and this is me be incredibly honest with myself – if Kurt Cobain looked like Tad Doyle the Nirvana revolution wouldn’t have happened. A sad fact of the shallow world we live in and it breaks my heart to be so extreme but I just can’t bring myself to believe that humans were capable of embracing Nirvana if Kurt Cobain looked like Tad Doyle.

So who is Tad Doyle and who is TAD?

Well I suggest you watch this video:

and Listen to this album in full:

All of a sudden that new Violent Soho album doesn’t sound so appealing and fresh anymore does it pussycat?

So what does this all mean at the end of the day?

Well to me this is an issue that plays into the equality debate and how the issue of equality goes a lot deeper than the surface minority related issues. Every inch of our behaviour plays into our relationship with equality and the extreme corporate saturation of every industry, no matter how pure, has allowed for so many humans to be forgotten or overlooked simply because they harbour some kind of different human aesthetic that causes other humans to delve into fear. When this fear is fully engaged, either consciously or subconsciously, you feed the beast that is inequality and that my friends is how we have arrived at such a lack of freedom in this so called free world. Don’t try and argue your way out of it, you may have your left wing or right wing politics brand all worked out but that is surface level stuff really, if you dig into the unconscious way you consciously interact with something as basic as music you start to uncover just how much growth you have to undertake as an individual to be a true instrument of change.

So I ask myself again, what does this all mean at the end of the day?

The music industry is a place I like to call home in terms of career interests. I play in a band, manage that band and engage in all of the “Brand Conscious” activities in order to survive an industry that has become so severely soaked in corporate structure that it is hard for anything truly radical and forward thinking – strictly speaking in relation to the manipulation of sound as an art form – to be pushed and promoted through those wonderful money making channels.

I hear your internal dialogues right now, you all probably think and assume that this “corporate structure” I’m referring to is limited to the mainstream areas of the industry. You’d be correct in assuming that this area of the music industry is full of a vicious cycle geared towards image and making money but that is way too easy of a target to pick on. Every human with an intelligent pulse understands how that system of government works, what I’m referring to when I speak about “corporate soaked” facets of the industry is the underground / independent / DIY scenes of music, the place where I dwell most of the time and the place where the so called alternative is meant to exist.

To return to my initial point for a moment, I want to focus on the question that I proposed which is this, would Kurt Cobain mean anything to you if he looked like Tad Doyle?

The reason I’m so cynical about the people answering “yes, I would have liked the music because I’m all about the music and bro, have you heard how good Nevermind is” is because I’m fairly confident that no one wants to look like an obese human being. I’m an obese human being and I don’t want to be an obese human being. I am constantly on the quest of dieting so I can escape this obese shell. There is no fashion in obesity and I can’t really see a time in history where the whole obese look was a thing young humans invested in to “express” themselves. Further to this point, as is the case with most hits of youth culture rapture, there reaches a point where the revolutionary becomes a sex symbol. Through all that connection and desire to be understood it overwhelms our minds and bodies causing us to succumb to the primal urge to fuck and all of a sudden when we find that human in that celebrity / fame realm who acts as a saviour there is part of us that invests in this very basic / low realm ego response.  We’re only human after all. So again, my cynical side says that no one would of felt a desire or need to engage this primal urge with Tad Doyle, which is upsetting because the guy is one of the most talented humans ever. I guess on a really shallow level from my point, and again this is purely based on my experience, I can’t really see all of those tragic trust fund “Abigail got her pony” female humans that I went to school with who had Kurt Cobain plastered all over their books wishing they could marry him feel that same way if Kurt looked like Tad Doyle. In the same way I don’t think all of the trust fund “Dad’s little Champion” male humans I knew who traded in their footballs and jock lifestyle for a guitar would have done that if Kurt looked like Tad Doyle.

I know that takes it to a really shallow level on my part but I feel that if I engage this question honestly the truth is no one would have cared about Tad Doyle if he was the one who made Nevermind. That really makes me sad because I care about and loved Tad Doyle growing up and I still care about his music to this day. I’ve followed what he’s done since and one day I hope I get the chance to meet him and to thank him for inspiring me. You see Tad Doyle was an equal hero for me, along with Ed Vedder, Mark Arm, Buzz Osbourne, Chris Cornell, Mark Lanegan and Kurt Cobain when I first got into the Seattle sound when I was eleven years old.

You see, music saved my life when I was eleven and the intense sounds from Seattle gave me hope. I wanted to not exist when I was eleven, I didn’t want to die but I didn’t want to live. I suffered at the hands of bullies and kept my pain silent. I reached a point where it was part of my existence. I figured and understood that I was different because of the way I looked. When I muse on it I had some truly heartbreaking things happen to me as a result of the way I looked. Although I’m not one for playing the victim I think for the purpose of this argument I’d like to discuss some of the cruelty I had to endure during my life.

As I mentioned I was an overweight human being and had suffered at the hands of Bullying for as long as I could remember. Ever since I was conscious enough to remember I knew and felt different. From my early years as an innocent young child to now I’ve had people point, laugh and go out of their way to tease and bully. It comes from people you know and absolute strangers. Going out in public from then to now has always involved the cruelty of people staring, laughing, pointing, yelling things at you and judging every single thing you do. The simplest of tasks attracts this ritual of abuse and a large portion of the time it is from strangers who just pass me in the street.

With age I’ve simply gotten better at accepting it and a lot of the time it just rolls of me but it doesn’t take away the fact that it still hurts and cuts pretty deep. My days at school were polluted with these experiences and on occasions it would be elevated to public displays of active abuse from those around me. During my primary school days a daily ritual would include people running behind me and stealing my hat and running off knowing that I did not have the capacity to chase them. In the designated lunchtime periods I would have food constantly thrown at me and advised to “eat it you fat fuck” and I’d also have people run along and steal my lunch as I was eating it claiming “you don’t need to eat that you fat fuck.”

One incident that is burned into my memory is something that happened one morning when I had arrived at school. I was in grade five at the time and when I went to the boys toilets all of the grade six boys were in there and they just cornered me. They then proceeded to rip off my school shirt claiming they wanted to see “what a fat fuck” I really was and then when they removed my shirt they spat on me and flushed my shirt in the toilet. I was beyond terrified by this. Instead of going to the principle and reporting it I stayed in the toilets all day until my shirt dried and simply waited until 3pm and left the toilets.

I told absolutely no one out of fear because I was scared of these people. During my high school years the abuse kept coming with the same types of rituals performed and the same old taunts. The hard part about this was the dedication to diets and weight loss through all of these years and how people even when you were dieting would still bully me. They just didn’t know the hell I was going through in order to better my life and lose that weight. I’ve had positive weight loss stories but that cruelty sometimes is what pushes me backwards. I have incredibly bad body image issues and despite how happy I generally am I fucking hate this part of myself, the part that is obese and that it is all that some people see and judge me on. It is something I want to tackle head on and I can tell you that I reached a point in my twenties where I lost so much weight that I looked like this:

DANTHIN

To quote my good friend David Zorzan, by the time I had reached this point in 2007 the damage was already done. I’d already suffered that life time of being fat and I didn’t have the emotional maturity to deal with that change. I had an incredibly hard time with it and I fell into a depression that caused me to eat my way back to this:

DANFAT

I’m currently planning to remedy this with my diet plan moving forward but for the purpose of this story and the internet warriors I think it is important for me to illustrate that the obese epidemic is not as simple as just “losing weight” and then you’ll be happy. I lost weight, but I wasn’t happy. I still had a hurt and a damage that I was unable to shake. I was still unable to love myself.

Through it all though, for whatever emotional damage it has done to me as a human being it has also birthed a drive and a desire for life. I was never interested in being a victim and those who loved me always were great protectors and encouraged me to achieve everything I wanted in life, they believed in my passion for music. Instead of giving into the bullies and becoming the “fat fuck” or indeed “the victim” I chose to outlearn the bullies and become emotionally and intellectually better. So I read books, watched a lot of great films and documentaries, got into music, learned how to create music, learned about poetry and just threw myself into self-education. Living well is the best revenge and chasing what you love is vital. Through the love and support of my parents, family, friends and the music I started to believe and understand that I was better than them all.

It was the discovery of music as more than entertainment at age eleven when I got into Pearl Jam that really changed the game. An eleven year old shouldn’t have suicidal thoughts but I did and if it wasn’t for the rush of Pearl Jam and the Seattle grunge scene who knows what would have happened. With music I had found my saviour and from eleven to thirty (my current age) a lot of bands and artists have continued to save my life.

So what was it about music that saved my life?

It was the way it sounded, the way the pain dripped off it and how it connected so deeply with me. It wasn’t because of how the humans in the bands looked, it was because of the way they manipulated sound and funded their communications with weirdness and emotion. This music helped me escape myself and it gave me the strength to exist. I didn’t want to make me want to get a better haircut or change the way I looked or what clothes I wore, it simply made me want to escape and to create. Through all of those musical discoveries I was able to learn how to express all of my emotions through sound. I was turned on and educated on the importance of self-expression through art. I felt understood and after a life of idolising comic book super heroes I had real life humans who were almost like super heroes because they sang and played music about the kind of alienation and pain I was experiencing. All of those humans whose music I chose to invest in were responsible for inspiring me to live and as I’ve grown as a human and an artist that is all I wanted to do, to heal people and give them a space to escape through the music I create.

Unfortunately though, as I discovered in my twenties, the music industry does not favour music for music’s sake. Thanks to the money making channels humans found a way to market to that “pain” dollar and instead of just a sound it became an image that has now formed the template for marketing campaigns for young youth culture bands. It’s not a new concept and is a process in the hype machine becoming the focus over the art and instead of humans making art that communicates their honest pain and emotional intelligence we have humans writing and creating music in order to fill a formula. Even in the alternative / indie / DIY scenes you have bands and artists whoring themselves to the radio formula and working on a visual image of themselves in order to have other humans make money of them via the music industry hype machine. That wonderful process of having people connect to music purely for the way it sounds has now transformed into people resonating with music because of how people look. It’s like this constant cycle of bad 80’s glam metal that won’t stop and each year it starts to become so painfully clear that everything and everyone is too fucking brand aware to take the power back.

So how does this link into equality?

Well, every time you find yourself in a position where you have to design your band / music to not only have a commercially appealing sound whilst also maintaining a healthy visual aesthetic you are feeding the inequality machine. What you are saying to the world is that you believe in the corporate structure in place across all levels of the music industry and prefer people to listen to your band via their eyes as opposed to their ears. You are feeding the inequality displayed towards other humans and are no better than the racist, the misogynist, the homophobe and any other measuring stick for inequality. You are putting appearance and fear front and centre of your campaign and while it may work in terms of allowing success to pay you a visit, you’re soaking what you do in absolute bullshit. What you are communicating to the world is that you believe looking good, looking the part and fitting inside the box (when you preach being outside of the box) is more important to you than taking a risk. You are illustrating to the world that you won’t do anything unless you get paid and aren’t willing to do it for nothing before people thing it is worth giving you something for your hard work. You aren’t connecting with people on a soul level, but purely a visual low ego level which acts as an optical illusion to what is real and honest about the art you rip off in order to create your music. Instead of fighting the corporate structure you are giving into its demands and you are the furthest thing from being a radical instrument of change. There is no sincerity or longevity to this plan and you are fucking up our planet.

The same goes for those that consume music aka the fans. As art it is a subjective thing, it can’t be seen as a terrible thing to consume a band simply because they look good because you know what resonates with you. You are fucking fast asleep and are the furthest thing from being free. You see, freedom is wasted on the free and as a result of your indulgence in the visual aesthetic you have tipped the balance of power to the corporate regime and you are feeding that machine as opposed to stopping it. Don’t fool yourself, just because you reject mainstream music and indulge the alternative does not place you in a different spectrum. You are just a consumer being marketed too every second of the day and it is all being cleverly targeted to you. There is a lot of money to be made from pain and because of your willingness to suck Satan’s cock and feed the corporate saturation of music you’ve allowed this to happen and have killed and ignored artists with the depth. The hype machine snuffs out the pure and only delivers you the people willing to be inside the box (whilst claiming to be outside the box). You are buying into the product and you sit comfortably at home with your hi-tech devices and telephone machines and consume, consume, consume without even questioning why it tastes like shit. Quite possibly you’d eat shit, real physical shit if it was marketed to you in the correct way. The new alternative, the new sound and the new voice of pain, will require you to eat shit, fucking yum.

All of this freedom has caused you to fall asleep at the wheel and caused you to be too comfortable and this ever evolving corporate structure that pollutes all facets of the music industry is further proof that we are being controlled and told when, what and where to consume. It is the enemy of freedom and deals in all kinds of inequality that you are feeding by participating and adhering to the corporate structure and responsibilities.

Sounds pretty grim?

Well it does but we created it and we also have the power to destroy it. You don’t need to look good, write radio singles, invest in fashion, have a costume, theme or gimmick to your band or music. All you have to do is learn how to connect with people. That is the secret to real success, because music is sound and music is communication and people receive music through their ears. If you love what you do and are selling that love and communicating honesty, passion and your truth it will resonate with people. That is your only aim, to connect with people. No business plans are required, be prepared to do it for nothing and be radical. We can tear down these inequalities that have become part of the corporate structure if we stop feeding it with our desire to be inside of it. You can’t preach about equality and our need for it if you are chasing fame and celebrity over a real genuine connection with people. To my earlier point, music is sound and was designed for our ears, not our eyes. All of that stuff about people listening with their eyes has been established because we allowed the corporate world to control us and dictate to us what success looks like. This formula treats people like idiots and when you treat people like idiots you breed more idiocy and a great misunderstanding and inequality is birthed because people begin to assume what a band or sound should look like. That kind of behaviour is just way to close to how a racist, misogynist and homophobe behave and I can’t stress this enough, you feed it if you choose to engage this behaviour.

To me there has to be a point and I think in order to illustrate this and save a lot of internet warriors tearing holes in my argument I’ll leave you with the following video. If you watch this video and understand the message and point of it then you listen with your ears, if it confuses you then you have to stop letting the corporate world control your existence and choose love over fear:

I love you all, even if some of you do use your eyes instead of your ears to listen to music.

Big Love

Dan xo

JEN CLOHER – In Blood Memory – Album Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 cassette tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

JEN CLOHER – SHOW ME YOUR RIFFS: Volume Seven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JenCloher

 By: Dan Newton

SUNDAY EDITORIAL: Being Self-Indulgent and Pretentious

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The enemy of art is always going to be the inaccurate reporting of it by both the audience and the critics who line-up to discuss it. It is a double edged sword because both entities need each other to survive. Every artist wants an audience to listen and invest in their communications and also for the critics and art / music / journalists (or reviewers) to accurately describe their interaction with their art. That description can communicate both the positive and negative reactions to the art but it has to be an honest reflection of what was experienced. The fans also, I believe anyway, need to interact honestly with their artists work leaving their hopes and expectations and sentimentality behind in favour of travelling that evolution with them. There is no strict rule on how to be a fan or critic of anything really but there are two phrases that get thrown around by both fan and critics that showcases a lazy understanding of what being creative is all about. Those two phrases are the communicative stain known as being “self-indulgent” and or “pretentious” which are two words thrown around with very little understanding by sum of what the words mean.

When someone ceases to understand something an artist is trying to communicate it automatically becomes “self-indulgent” or “pretentious” which is a nice way to refer to it I guess but in terms of the word “self-indulgent” I’ve never really been comfortable with it being used as a negative phrase to describe misunderstood art.

Examining for a moment the dictionary meaning of being “Self-Indulgent” I don’t see why adhering to this principle, at least in the art world, is peppered with negativity:

Self-Indulgent: Excessive indulgence of one’s own appetites and desires

One would assume that based on the dictionary meaning of the word that every artist no matter their worth in the cultural lexicon is being “self-indulgent” because they choose the excessive indulgence of their own appetite and desire to create art that reflects their emotional world. How this is a negative thing will always bug me considering the amount of human beings who are quick to utter that dreaded business plan of “you got to just create what makes you happy and not the audience.” This is indeed a beautiful theory but so many artists don’t adhere to it. If all artists were truly “self-indulgent” (and for the sake of this argument I’ll lean on the music world) we wouldn’t have a need for that corporate structure of having hit singles, being accessible, radio edits, music awards or chart success. If artists engaged in the excessive indulgence of their own appetites and desires we’d see a lot of great music being released that reflects honestly what beats inside their hearts not an adherence to industry standards. If so many musicians are prone to telling you that they are “doing what they want” then why do so many of them try to write a song suited for the radio and try ever so hard to collect enough chords and melodies to suit that archetypical “single” that you supposedly need to be successful. How is that an evolutionary step as a human being and how is that in the spirit of art? That entire template proves is that you are more invested in the reward of money as opposed to artistic critical acclaim and it is the enemy of creative freedom. So many bands I know or have known strive for this kind of success and although they pass off their “single” as a gateway to their more arty / weirder material it still shows a lack of faith in just making art for art’s sake.

This is what brings me to the idea of being “pretentious” with your art.

If you then look at the dictionary meaning of the word “Pretentious” you will find the following meaning:

Pretentious: Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed.

When you muse on the meaning of the word it actually opens up the extreme disconnect between the idea of being “self-indulgent” and “pretentious” and how a lot of folk use these words incorrectly when describing art. I would define the musician who spends time trying to write a radio single, focusing on their image and how they look and just that overall desire to be famous and financially successful as the kind of artist who is pretentious because they are indeed “attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc, than is actually possessed.” These people aren’t artists, sure they have talent and a creative discipline but instead of acting on their own desires they assume that to have a hit or be successful that they need that hit radio single. That for me is incredibly “pretentious” behaviour because it is the enemy of honesty  and quite frankly puts them in a position where they assume that by writing that radio hit that they will be put into a position that will afford them greater importance or talent than people who choose to boycott this way of creating.

Only because I love Mike Patton and Tool quite a bit I will use them as an example. Quite often I hear both of these artists described as “self-indulgent” like that is a negative thing. They also get labeled “pretentious” which is also again a great misunderstanding from both the fan and the critic. I think the appeal of Mike Patton and Tool lays in the way these artists have created that distance between them and their fans in order to keep the focus purely on their music. People, whether they love or hate Mike Patton or Tool, are fascinated by this and the standard uneducated argument in relation to the distance they create (between fan and band) and the type of experimental sounds they make is that they are “Self-Indulgent” and “Pretentious” as both people and artists. I never understand this argument because I often thought that most serious and good humoured artists would strive for that focus in their career and to chase art over being a celebrity.

Based on the above dictionary definitions of the words “self-indulgent” and “pretentious” it would seem that the human beings who label any artist, Mike Patton and Tool included, as Self-Indulgent are actually, by definition, being pretentious. Mike Patton and Tool aren’t attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc than is actually possessed. Mike Patton and Tool have the talent and a level of artistic discipline to make amazing music by using an excessive indulgence of their own appetites and desires for making meaningful pieces of art. It’s an argument I’m sure that will be pulled apart by people who like to prove that they are better at the internet than me, but when I sit back and think about all of this it is the fans and critics in this situation who are being pretentious and quite frankly a bit daft in peppering the positive nature of the word “self-indulgent” in order to affect greater importance on their point of view or as I see it, a lack of understanding of a piece of art being communicated.

To lean on Mike Patton once more, I want you all to watch this video:

Now listen to this song by Tame Impala

And then listen to this song by Fantomas

You tell me who is being “self-indulgent” and who is being “pretentious?”

I know which one I prefer and that is more about personal resonance than anything else (and of course resonance will always play a part) but I think if you want to be a person who uses words like “self-indulgent” or “pretentious” to describe art that is made then perhaps you should take the time to look up the meaning of the words in the dictionary before you continue the destruction of language and words in order to prove why you are right and everyone else is wrong. I’m sure there is a Dictionary App on your smartphone to help you on your quest to being a better human being and while I’m at it possibly a better artist.

Big Love

Dan Newton xo

REVIEW: “Mosquito” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (by Bec Wolfers)

By Bec Wolfers

It’s been worth the wait: the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have just dropped their latest LP, ‘Mosquito’, after three years of chilltime. Here’s a hint of the experimentation present on this album – Karen O has described ‘Mosquito’ as a “Yeah Yeah Yeahs-style soul record”. Although, on first listen, this might seem like a strange description, I definitely see what she means. The YYY are back in fine form, and here’s what I thought of ‘Mosquito’s eleven tracks.

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Sacrelige
I’m so excited about this song. It’s been in my head for days. Brimming with hooks AND substance, ‘Sacrelige’ is a real corker. The playful high guitar melody oscillates around the delicious falsetto chorus: ‘it’s sacrelige, sacrelige, sacrelige, you say’. Karen O’s signature distorted vocal effect is used on some of her best melodies to date here. What can I say, every vocal moment in this is a winner, from the high squawks of ‘hello’ and ‘in our bed’, to the verse melodies, the unforgettable chorus, and the insane gospel choir, complete with clapping. (The choir! What an inspired choice for a song with religious lyrical hintings). This song weirdly reminds me of Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’; it’s probably the lyrics, choir and claps that do that. ‘Sacrelige’ has grooved its way into my heart, and will remain nestled there as one of my favourite Yeah Yeah Yeahs tracks ever.

Subway
I adore this song! Having used actual sounds from the subway as a loop, this song is, as Karen O put it, an ode to New York. I love the creativity of actually using an iconic part of the city in a song about it. The lyrics are reflective, and as intimate as the restrained vocals. ‘It was metal on the mental/It was somethin’ in my heart/Got on the train and I took a seat/Thought why all these people all watching me?/Caught my reflection in the subway car/Thought look at you, whoever you are’. Hands up, if you have ever had these exact feelings riding a train car. There’s something about traveling alone on public transport that can really inspire self-reflection – maybe it’s because you’re surrounded by strangers, yet utterly alone. The song also hints at chasing a doomed love, which is about one of the loneliest things you can feel; ‘I lost you on the subway car/Got caught without my metro card/I waited and I waited for the express train/Wanna catch up to you , wherever you are/I waited and I waited…’. Sparse, ethereal and haunting synth & guitar melodies transport you right to that subway seat. This is a gem, one of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ finest.

Mosquito
I heard this for the first time during the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ set at Big Day Out this year. Of course, the outdoor festival sound wrecked it a little. I very much enjoyed this on record. It’s a really fun, punky song, with playful lyrics. The ‘I’ll suck your blood/suck your, suck your, suck your blood’ hook was a standout for me at Big Day Out, and remains this way on the recording. What a cool metaphor for a draining person; one who has a hold on you but ends up vampirically stealing your energy: ‘They can see but it can’t see them/They’re hiding underneath your bed/Crawling between your legs/Sticking it in your vein’. Similar in sound to the dance anthems on ‘It’s Blitz!’, this song is really well constructed dynamically, and makes me want to jump around exuberantly every time the chorus hits.

Under the Earth
‘Under the Earth’ sounded instantly familiar during my ‘Mosquito’ album listen, and I realized I’d actually heard it played at Big Day Out as well. Thanks for the album preview, Yeah Yeah Yeahs! The song’s main synth melody is a great reminder of how good this band is at crafting hooks. Every time the melody comes back in, it feels really well placed; you’re itching to hear it again. There’s a really lovely choir effect throughout the whole song…not a gospel choir like in ‘Sacrelige’, but it makes me see what Karen means about this being a ‘soul’ record. With reggae beats, a sireny synth, and tons of delay in the verses, this song is very experimental sonically. I dig it a lot. Karen’s signature vocal hooks sound reminiscent of old YYY songs, particularly the ‘Show Your Bones’ era. I love how the high synth follows the vocal melody of ‘down, down, under the earth goes another…’, and the falsetto ‘run away, run away‘ lyrics.

Slave
‘Slave’ is a great example of effective sound design. The song has a cool swing, and so many sounds in it can be summed up with the word ‘sweeping’. The phasy guitar effects are sweepy, the haunting vocal ‘aaaaah’s swirl epically, and noises that can only be described as ‘electronic birds’ flutter around your head (especially with headphones on). I love the melody of ‘You keep me, keep me your slave’. This song makes me feel haunted in the best way, and its spacious ending leaves me breathless.

These Paths
‘Drum and bass’, ‘lounge’ and ‘trance’ are genres I never thought I would associate with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. But ‘These Paths’ is choc-full of those vibes. There is almost no hint of a traditional guitar-bass-drums band sound here. Everything has been shelved for its electro counterpart – synthy bass, tinkly keys instead of guitar, and what sounds like a manufactured loop, rather than live drums. That being said, I wouldn’t say this is a bad thing; I enjoyed this song a lot. There is a great deal of passion in the vocals and lyrics. ‘These paths will cross/Again, again/These pants come off/Against, against…’

Area 52
There are so many things going on in this album! This song is exuberant and full of manic energy. With a punky start, crazy, electro sweeps, and feedback galore, ‘Area 52’ is a great soundscape for a song with lyrics like ‘I wanna be an alien/Take me please, oh alien’. Karen’s distinctive ‘Noo Yawk’ accent is out in full force in this song, and the vocal distortion adds to the out-of-this-world industrialism of this track.

Buried Alive
This song is a very interesting one. The cool, prowling bassline’s depths, and the vocal delays, actually reminded me of being under ground before I noticed what the song was called ‘Buried Alive’! It makes me wonder how the song was crafted, perhaps Karen wrote the lyrics after the music was already together. The vocals in this song make me fall in love with Karen O even more. Her speak-singing of “I dreamt, dreamt, dreamt, dreamt, dreamt, dreamt…” is a delight. It’s not the first time she’s done vocals in this vein, but it’s something that is unique to her and the YYY.

I must say, I was incredibly surprised to hear Dr. Octagon rapping on this track…I confess, I didn’t even know who he was before hearing this song, so seeing the ‘feat. Dr Octagon’ didn’t ring a bell until I heard it. I didn’t know anything about his history and persona, so this review is purely about the rap in the context of this song, and how it came across to me on first listen. To be honest, the rap didn’t do a lot for me. It reminded me of 90s dance music (which I shamefully love, but mostly for its kitsch and nostalgic value). Dr Octagon’s rap seemed as dated, cheesy and devoid of substance as the 90s dance it reminded me of (Sorry, Dr. Oct).

Also; I’ll just repeat that, in case it didn’t adequately sink in. THERE IS RAPPING ON A YEAH YEAH YEAHS SONG. You must hear this.

With further research, I’ve found that Dr. Octagon is a character invented by New York rapper ‘Kool Keith’ Thornton, and is supposed to be an ‘extraterrestrial time traveling gynecologist and surgeon from the planet Jupiter‘. Dr. Octagon has a fascinating and detailed backstory. It makes sense that the YYY would use him; they’ve always been into art and experimentation, so kudos to them for trying new things. The description of Keith’s creation makes me like him more…but I’m still not sold on his rap. I really don’t want to be among the (probably numerous) jerks who will be dismissive of the rap, just because it’s there, and unexpected. But I just didn’t dig it; it seemed so weird to hear Karen O and then a rapper.

Always
‘Always’ is sometimes heart wrenching, but with a hopeful tone. The song strikes me as a frozen moment in time, as it’s both musically and lyrically quite repetitive. However, the constant subtle changes and growth keep it from becoming annoying. It’s a very soft song, probably one of the softest YYY have ever done. Canned Afrikaans drums and tinkling, glockenspiel-esque synths and pads dance around the reverby vocals. Karen O’s melodies are, on first listen, original and unexpected. I can picture myself floating down a tepid stream to this dreamy, delicious offering.

Despair
‘Despair’ begins with an unrelenting drum sample that wouldn’t be out of place on a Nine Inch Nails album, another mark of the experimentation the YYY have played with this time around. I’m a sucker for truth-filled lines like, ‘If it’s all in my head there’s nothing to fear’. This song is essentially a letter to the emotion of despair (which I think is a great idea) –  ‘you were there through my wasted days’. Despair and fear are wastes of time, we have to learn there’s ‘nothing to fear inside’. This song is a slow burner, gradually building momentum. When the dramatic toms come in, I swoon, as the song grows towards a glorious payoff.

Wedding Song
I love when bands finish an album on a quiet, introspective song. With the bass drum and dark, minimal piano pulsing like heartbeats, this song has a lot of space. Karen’s voice is coated in light reverb, with none of distortion featuring heavily on many YYY songs. Her crystal clear, emotive vocals shine in this track, describing the burning ache of love with poignant grace. The lyrics are some of the strongest on the album…my favourite lines are:

With your name on my lips
The ages fall to bits /
In flames I sleep soundly
With angels around me/

Some kind of violent bliss
Led me to love like this
One thousand deaths my dear
I’m dying without you here

So What Did I Think?
As you may have gathered, I’m pretty enthusiastic about this record. It’s different from all other Yeah Yeah Yeahs albums preceding it, but that’s to be expected from this experimental band. I love a group that continues to evolve, push the envelope, explore a thousand different genres, and play with sound. The great thing about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, is that they don’t do this gratuitously, or in a way that is difficult for fans to access. They have a great way of managing to experiment without sacrificing damn good songs and songwriting.

There’s genuinely something for everyone in this collection of fast, slow, exuberant and introspective songs. The album has a great pace, delivering ups and downs with perfect intuition and timing.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ amazing spirit continues to grow. ‘Mosquito’ is an ecstatic journey; I suggest you take it now!

Fashion, Eggs, Intestines and Gold Lions: Reading the Aesthetic of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

By Bec Wolfers

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are many things: pop, punk, rock, electronic, experimental, soft, hard. But at the core of this band is one thing: art.

I can be perfectly content with a band even if all they offer is amazing music. But the Yeah Yeah Yeahs share an additional body of work with the world. This band, and especially lead singer Karen O, have never shied away from fully expressing themselves visually as well as musically.

I finally got to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs perform this year at Big Day Out, and boy, did they not disappoint. Even from a distance, singer Karen O had a magnetic presence, brandishing her lifesaver-roll mic cord like a whip, and hamming it up onstage.

There is always a great deal of colour and interesting symbolism at play throughout the Yeah Yeah Yeahs art, whether it be: album covers, promotional photos, live performances or music videos. All of this accompanying imagery not only makes the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ works a pleasure to consume, it also adds to the richness and mythology of their band’s story.

The Album Covers

Album art has always been an exciting part of buying a record for me. You can tell so much about a musician’s personality and intention with their choice of album cover – is it humorous, playful, sarcastic, earnest, mysterious, simple, complex, homemade or refined?

The cover for ‘Fever to Tell’, the band’s first LP release, complements the music really well. A raw collage design, it’s boisterous and colourful, speaks of the urban jungle of New York City, and there are a ton of things going on – just like in the music of this body of work.

‘Show Your Bones’, and the single cover for ‘Gold Lion’, show the aesthetic being pared down to a ‘bare bones’ (see what I did there?), simpler look, but  still quite raw and organic – again, similar in feel to the album, with its heavy use of acoustic guitar.

‘It’s Blitz’ has a more stylized and stark aesthetic, and the clean white background and electric-yellow egg yolk hint at a brighter feel. The action shot of a breaking egg is a simple, yet brilliantly effective image – and fittingly, this was the first album where the Yeah Yeah Yeahs really ‘broke their own mold’. The YYY brought in heavily prominent electronic sounds for the first time on ‘It’s Blitz’.

The artwork for ‘Mosquito’ and ‘Sacrelige’ are the most synthetic and basically most computer-generated looking of all of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s covers. This sits really well with the album’s sound; there is a lot of use of drum samples, and some of the songs are bordering on trance. But the imagery for ‘Mosquito’ is still as creative, colourful, playful and experimental as the music.

The Promo Shots

Promotional images show a lot about how a band chooses to present themselves. A photo in a magazine or on a website, for a budding fan who hasn’t seen them perform live, is often the first window into what a band may be like.

I love the fact that, even in their photoshoots, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs show a great deal of creativity and personality. From being wrapped in toilet paper, to wearing fake lips or attaching pegs to Brian’s glasses, there is never a dull promo shot for this band.

The Costumes

Karen, live and in videos, acts as the band’s shaman, channeling the music through her aesthetic and her passion-filled performance. It’s been suggested that clothes make the man, and Karen O’s fashion choices have certainly helped the band garner a lot of attention. Karen O has always dressed in a perfectly wacky balance – not ridiculous to the point of someone like Bjork, but always with a twist, always relating to the music, and never boring. At one of her first YYY gigs in New York, Karen O was reported to have worn nipple pasties onstage and doused herself with olive oil before performing. A Yeah Yeah Yeahs gig is more like performance art than a straight band show. The crazy outfits and stage props (like Karen’s signature lollipop microphone cable) help turn live Yeah Yeah Yeahs shows into real multi-sensory experiences.

Karen O’s fantastic bubble-sleeved, plastic wrapped dress in the video for ‘Heads Will Roll’ was what cemented her as a fashion icon in my mind. Karen met her longtime stylist and friend, Christian Joy, by happening into a boutique Christian worked in, in East Village, New York. Loving the deconstructed prom dresses Christian had designed, Karen asked her if she would make one for her. Their partnership grew from there. Christian is responsible for one of Karen’s most memorable onstage getups – the skeleton suit (image three, above), complete with detachable intestines that Karen could pull out during a performance.

Karen is the Lady Gaga of the alt world. Like legends such as Michael Jackson and David Bowie, Karen’s look enhances the Yeah Yeah  Yeah’s music, and has helped transformed her into a bona fide rockstar and icon.

The Videos

I’ll let the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ music videos speak for themselves. Each one of them has something special about it, whether it’s playing with the fourth wall (in ‘Maps’; acknowledging the fact that they’re making a music video), showcasing out-of-control children (Y Control), delivering delicious visual feasts (in ‘Gold Lion and ‘Heads Will Roll’), or telling a sad, unsettling story (‘Sacrelige’). The colours, outfits and locations of YYY clips always feel very symbolic and carefully chosen.

Y Control
Maps

Gold Lion

Heads Will Roll

Sacrelige

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have created the magic of their own colourful world in their aesthetic, and it’s as multi-layered, creative, vibrant and luscious as their music. I look forward to seeing more from them in the future, and can’t wait to see the rest of the videos for this album’s single releases – I have a hunch the video for ‘Mosquito’ could be a lot of fun!