AUSTRALIA & NZ - MUSIC REVIEWS
Due to the fact that we're about to drop two themed issues over the next couple of months — The Brazil and The Photo Issues — and that we're being stubbornly true to these themes, we're not going to be running regular music reviews in a printed issue until August. So, in the meantime, we'll be running reviews of the CDs, that are currently piling up around our desks, online, right here on the blog.
Dinosaur Jr 7
Have you ever had an old friend that some reason you drifted apart from but whenever you think of them you kind of smile and reminice about being on the dole in your first share house and eating baked beans every day but having the time of your life? And whenever you see them at a party you realise your not really into the same shit anymore but they still remind of bangin times and you ignore everyone at the party while having this amazing time slamming shots and talking about when so and so got so drunk that they shat themselves and hey, we were listening to dinosaur jr when that happend! This album makes me feel just like that.
The Night Terrors 10
Back to Zero
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
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.
I'm sure I'm not the only donkey who thought when Eels released that Novocane song back in the 90s that they were some sort of Beck soundalike cash-in attempt destined to disappear faster than you could say 'two turntables and a microphone'. So I figured out I was wrong a while back now, and while you're less likely to see Eels on Video Hits these days, seven consistent studio albums is a legacy not to be sneezed at. Consistency is the operative term here. E's carry-over-champ concept character Dog Faced Boy is back, but he's grown up and is gagging for some lady company by the sounds of things. Twelve songs about desire are bound to include some quiet ballads, but that's where the strength of this album is, the highlights being The look you give that guy, and the Dando-esque My timing is off. But the werewolf's shackles are released from time to time, Fresh Blood being way more up the Souljacker alley than the rest of the album. With some bands, more of the same can piss me off. With Eels, it's fine.
Dirty Projectors 6
It's always really difficult to review an album thats full of pretentious turgidity (yes that's pretty much the same word twice) but has one amazing song in the middle that sounds like TLC through a kaleidoscope, what kind of score are you suppose to give it? But then I thought about how if you met a girl that was pretty average except for an amazing set of sparkling, beautiful white teeth, you still wouldn't find her attractive. You might sleep with her a couple times and string her along but that's about it. I think Dirty Projectors have some hot friends, so could be worth it.
Iron and Wine 3
Around the Well
When i mentioned to my friends that I was reviewing this record most of them said they 'hadn't heard Iron and Wine but lots of people love it.' And the words 'important' and 'influential' were thrown around. I investigated this rumour and found that it was started by some guy who was talking about something different that was actually good but his douche friend got confused and went on to start the rumour that 'somebody loves this record.' When i listened to this record I found this to be an impossible truth and started my own rumour replacing 'important' and 'influential' with 'boring' and 'why the hell are we even talking about this?'
Set 'em Wi ld, Set 'em Free
Well, hasn't my head been under a rock? I knew nothing about this band before I put the album on. By the end I'm a virtual Akron/Family aficionado, having scoured the web and sucking up any juice I can find like a very thirsty sponge. I wanna see this band. Real bad. This is really good shit. At one stage on this record they've managed to somehow record the sound of the end of the world. And it sounds fucking awesome. Their embarrassment of musical riches sticks out like the proverbial canine penis, and it made me blush. So this reviewing thing is all about comparisons. In the most obvious sense it's about comparisons to other music, so to be blunt and lazy about that, it's a little bit Animal Collective, a little bit Fleet Foxes, blah blah. It's new and it's good. But in another sense it's about comparisons other stuff you're reviewing at the time, and when you listen to an album that makes you think about going back and marking everyone else's score down by one, you know you're onto something good. Akron/Family is your new favourite orchestral/campfire/guitar noodle/apocalyptic fuck-party flavour.
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.
LYLE GEORGE CHELMSFORD III
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.
DM Smith 7
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...
New Pants 6
No doubt about it, New Pants have some nice sounding synths. The majority of this album is sung in Mandarin. I'm not a lyrics guy anyway, and I always like the sense of the exotic, which is added to music in which you don't understand the words. It lends you a sort of freedom to come up with your own imagery, even if the band is only singing about the same old indie-boy insecurities. The album begins with a Kraftwerk-esque rip, before settling more often into guitar/synth-pop territory which makes New Pants sound like something of a Chinese New Order. Mr. Director is a shitty pap low point, but they immediately make up for it by following with the daft vocoder dance thrill of Double Happiness. It's not amazing, but it won't ruin your day.
Hatchet Dawn 4
Faith in Chaos
There are 30 bands that sound exactly like this just in the practice space I use alone. So multiply that by 20 practice spaces in Melbourne, plus add Sydney Brisbane, Hobart, Canberra and Adelaide, that means there is a serious epidemic of At The Gates / Entombed biters in Australia. What is it with slick, precise Melodic Metal that resonates so deeply with young men in this country? Are they getting ready for when oil runs out and each community will need It's own Melodic Metal band? If anyone knows email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Thermals 6
Now We Can See
Kill Rock Stars
It's that really coming of age part of the film where that guy from Garden State and Scrubs has just come out of a really emotional experience like asking a girl out or quitting his job and he walks down the street in slow motion and a song from this album booms out in it's all American, ain't life funny in an indy kind of way glory. If you're into these moments then this album is for you. These moments usually make me want to spew right in the middle of the lounge room but I found a few nice pop hooks here and there that kept lunch down and came out of the experience relatively unscathed.
Manchester Orchestra 2
Mean Everything To Nothing
Oooh, grungy. Maybe I'm just too old for this whining drop-D riff-rock muck. It starts promisingly enough, but before you know it the Manchester Orchestra are unrelentingly chugging away on the same super-earnest chord progressions, without for a moment pausing to provide any instrumental or lyrical highlights. And then they start to remind you of Collective Soul. Remember? Yeah. And the other thing that keeps nagging away at me is the singer's voice. It's like if Conor Oberst had a shouty younger brother; there's a constant worried wiggle in the back of his throat. Why so worried? Well the hint is in the suitably vague album title. Maybe he's concerned we'll notice there's no substance here. Oh yeah, and guess what? The fuckwits make us wait at the end of the album for a secret track. Oooh, grungy.
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.