Sunday, 7 June 2009

Vice verses

I've been writing a few things here and there for Vice Australia. These are my reviews from the last two issues. A few of these did not make it into the Technology issue, but I have decided to include them anyway. Writing for Vice is an interesting experience. All critiques are written according to the Vice style guide. There is also a Tough Troubles Interview, but you'll have to source a copy for that.

King Creosote 1/10
‘’Flick the Vs’’
Domino Records UK.

A puppy freaks out when it sees it’s own reflection for the first time. It growls, gnaws it’s teeth and lunges back and forth, but on the inside, it’s scared. King Creosote felt similar when they first heard their new record. They cheered, slapped high-fives and jumped up and down, but on the inside, the lads were petrified. A puppy soon learns to chase cats and catch Frisbees. King Creosote seldom leaves the kennel.


Jenny Wilson 9/10
Universal Music Australia

Swedes can be boring when you actually meet them. Their sense of humour revolves around the lighter side of furniture malfunction, the irony of poor design, and the tragedy of regressive social-politics. I’m sure Jenny Wilson chuckled when she accidentally rolled the tape back too far for an overdub. Oh how she laughed (in a reserved manner) when she sang slightly off-key in a two-part harmony. In her open-plan, practically furnished recording studio, Jenny Wilson has produced high-quality, accessible and mature product.

Peaches 5/10
‘’I Feel Cream’’
Remote Control Records Australia

Peaches’ relevance is waning, fast! This particular offering could appeal to the roaming packs of weekend warriors, crawling the Brunzo Street tiles this Saturday night. They’re wearing the same shirts. They’re sporting stubbie holders on their wrists. They’re drinking Bundy Rum. They don’t care much for the hairy-armpit brigade singing, but chicks hell froth over this shit so whatever.

Iron Lung/Hatred Surge collaboration 10/10
Iron Lung Records USA

Neanderthal man cowered in fear the moment he first put his hand into naked flame. Upon second and third attempts, he quickly learned to approach with trepidation, curiosity and above all else, respect. Following this, the constructive and destructive properties of fire became an integral part of his day-to-day existence. In 2009, ‘’Broken’’ is the closest possible case study we have towards gaining an empathetic understanding of early man’s initial journey of discovery.

Spoonbill 6/10
Omelette Records Australia

After reading the words ‘’quirk funk’’ in the promo sheet, I was certain this was file-13 material. However, truth be told, these guys actually make me laugh, ALOT! Spoonbill sounds like a group of mischievous kids snooping around a stainless steel kitchen at night. Every song could have been used as the introduction to the ABC children’s television show- ‘’Lift Off.’’ Indeed, Mark Mitchell could definitely perform a grotesque striptease to this album!

The Night Terrors 10
Back to Zero
Exo Records

Exo Records is good records. Night Terrors music is good music. TNT has a serious Goblin-vibe happening here. They could easily score a horror film set in American Apparel. I could picture tram-loads of Gentlewomen with the same body shape, clothes, opinions and haircuts walking around the racks in a zombie like state, just tripping on all the offensive colours and price tags.

Madder Lake 10
Butterfly Farm
Aztec Records

The Australian psychedelic bands of the 70s were an unruly mob of farm boys, surfers and factory hands, completely armed to the teeth with amplification! They got into communal living for the drugs and the loose sheilas. They didn’t give a shit for peace, love and understanding. They were real men, with real problems, who would punch your head in if you looked at them funny. Along with contemporaries Coloured Balls and Black Feather, Madder Lake played the hostile suburban pub circuit every night of the week. They’re offerings were of an astonishingly high standard, but due to who they were, and where they were from, they never received much international recognition. Maybe this release will see these acid-eaters finally get their dues? Vinyl reissue please.

Dirty York 5
Waiting on St George
Whisky Mama Records

Australian career musicians, aye? I prefer to call them call centre employees. Listen, it didn’t work for Daryl Braithwait, James Reyne or the Tin Lids, so what makes you think it’ll work for you? You live in Melbourne, not New York. This came on when I was watching TV. It caught my attention immediately. So much so, I had to crank the volume on the TV just so I could hear the show I was watching. Eventually, I got up and turned the stereo off and was much happier.

Heirs 9
Exo Records

Drums are unreal aren’t they? You smash the fuck out em’ and it feels good. The drummer from Heirs approaches the drums with anger and frustration. Whether he’s setting them up, playing them, throwing them into the car, or liaising with drum shop employees, this guy is not happy, and it shows. Heirs are fingering the pulse, hard! Now they just gotta leave the melody at home and make the ugliness, uglier.

DM Smith 7
Heavy Ghost
Spunk Records

Ignorence breeds the best music. Robert Johnson didn’t sell his sole to do good at calculus. He done it so he could play guitar like Satan. You shouldent have to be a rocket surgeon to understand music. I wish these guys done a instruction book so I have understand it gooder. Not that I can read or nothin’, but still...

Bellini 3
The Precious Prize of Gravity
Temporary Resident records

If Bellini had distorted guitar, double kicks and screaming, they would be a technical heavy metal band and you would hate them. Their fans would be from outside the city fringe and you would hate them too. Their pants would be too loose and you would refuse to be friends with them. As it stands though, Bellini are non-threatening and angular enough for you and mates to like them. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the sound of progressive minds at work. This is the sound of strong musical ability. This is the sound of paint drying.


Monday, 23 February 2009

I have written Music reviews for a number of publications. Some reviews are better than others. I'll try to post more at some point.

These offerings appeared in Stained Sheets issue #2. Stained Sheets is a fanzine edited by Dan from Straight Jacket Race. The zine features some talented writers from Melbourne. 2009 may become the year of the Sheet.


Clockcleaner play unpleasant music. ‘’Babylon Rules’’ is a revenge fantasy orientated, misogynistic kick up your guts. Their delivery comes across as completely genuine, thus making proceedings even more unsettling. Lead antagonist John Sharkey’s reverb-soaked guitar brings THE CRAMPS to mind, whilst his vocal musings represent more the thought patterns of Lux and co’s audience at Napa State mental hospital back in the halcyon days of ‘78. The ominous low end meandering is not unlike Australian underachievers KING SNAKE ROOST and LUBRICATED GOAT, the latter of which being a comparison the band vehemently refute. The drums are completely unremarkable. Their ability to create a mood via their ‘’skull music’’ phenomena is almost as strong as their ability to write exceptional songs. It makes you wonder, what if the lyrical content were more diluted? What if the band’s on-stage and off-stage persona were less confrontational? Could this band be a world-beater? We may never know? Nevertheless, ‘’Babylon Rules’’ is a tremendous effort, and perhaps the best release of last year. This is a band that deserves everything, both good and bad, that is coming to them.


You see the problem with the Brits is that they’re just so fucking lazy. Noone cares- ‘’I can’t go outside, I’ll catch a chill. I can’t go outside, I’ve not got any sun oil on. I’m dead broke, me.’’ All familiar phrases from our wooden-toothed, pasty skinned, dumpy brethren. To be honest (tbh), you can’t really blame them: The weather sucks, the people are dog-ugly and 99 percent of their bands in recent years have been flaccid. That’s why GENTLEMAN’S PISTOLS are such an anomaly. What we have here are four pretty right-on Northern lads playing hooky trad-rock in the vein of Leaf Hound, Blue Cheer and Lucifer’s Friend. The cheeky lyrical content and energetic playing allows anyone from the 60 year old, bitter R’N’R purist, to the 18-year old girl fucked up on meth at the Big Day Out to get down to The Gents. ‘’The Lady’’ throws you down stair with a sleazy, lounge vibe. ‘’Creamy Lid’’ is hardly about Ski Double-Ups or Yoplait Petit Miam if you get me? The Gents have banged out a well-written, fun record that should help our friends in the mother country to stop complaining about the weather, the muggings and the weather. Bigger and better things for ‘’these’’.


These four young blokes play early 90’s Californian power violence, replete with fast parts, slow parts and some general weirdness. These guys smoke bongs, roll their own darts, work shitty jobs and have occasional bouts of mental instability, possibly caused by excessive marijuana consumption. The hardcore sections don’t really bring anything new to the table, but these days, 99% of this style is like the cat on the chopping block to these ears. Mate, I’ll tell ya, PATHETIC HUMAN are at their best when they drop it down 400 BPM and plummet into a painful dirge. Ugly, ugly stuff. Hopefully subsequent releases will see them experiment with more downers and sedatives. Repeat after me, ‘’Grim reaper’’, not ‘’Cold War’’.


In 1977, the rope that joined Australia and Tasmania was severed in a terrible boating accident. This unfortunate mishap forever plunged most Tasmanians into a life of solitude, servitude and extreme ignorance… Not the four chaps from WITCH HATS though. Never content to waste their lives away in Hobart’s salt mines, cotton fields and chain gangs, the Hats set about procuring as many floatation devices they could, and made the testicle-ingesting journey across Bass Strait, bringing with them their neo-swamp rock. Yep, you can bet that these Melbourne-based sister-fuckers are members of the order of Gordon, dig the sermon of Salmon and live by the gospel of Gracelands. Like their deities, it’s often the Hat’s rhythm section that keeps them afloat, especially through some particularly mundane verses. However, the verses provide appropriate ramp-ups to soaring crescendos and inventive changes. The Hats could delve deeper into the tom-based tribal crawl, but the real pots of gold lay in their clever pop-hooks and catchy choruses. ‘’Cellulite Soul’’ is the maiden voyage, for these fish out of water sailing mightily towards the horizon.


The editor of this publication has been pulling himself silly about this band, and rightly so. DEAF WISH have knocked out a superb local release in the great tradition of the Aussie post-punk sound that everyone is so eager to recreate these days. However, few contemporary artists attempting this style have the ‘’wild men of rock’’ vibe of Ian Rillen or Stu Spasm that appears totally removed from the arty, cerebral, less-threatening sounds coming from old blighty, or the continent at the time. DEAF WISH sit somewhere between the two schools. DEAF WISH are very Melbourne. DEAF WISH sound dirty, violent, and unfriendly at times. How could they not? Their sound is part Flag, part Venom P… yet there is a slight good-time vibe to what they do. Perhaps it’s the samples of rehearsal room tomfoolery that loosens up some of the assault? Perhaps it’s the jerky Minutemen moments? Perhaps it’s the unconventional melodies buried under a mass of drums, guitars and vocals? Perhaps DEAF WISH are onto something, and it’s working well. Perhaps other bands in this one horse town should pay attention?