In-Frequencies #9: Lakes, Bad//Dreems, Mad Nanna
Our irregular round-up of some new-ish cassette, CD-R and vinyl releases featuring Ghastly Spats, The Galaxy Folk, Bad//Dreems, Mad Nanna and the best punk band Australia has produced in ages, Helta Skelta. Words by TIM SCOTT.
We're Breaking Through the Hymen
(EP, Heinous Anus Records)
Two dudes and two gals who break out smeared mascara and chipped black nail polish rock. It all sounds kind of feral. The music that a Hollywood production company would use for the soundtrack of an apocalyptic film shot in Marrickville. 'Sordid' has a pulsating and droney vocal chant/mumble while 'Kid' is ominous and decrepit basement dirge. Good live band too. Check them out if you get a chance.
The Galaxy Folk
The Galaxy Folk
You could call it “honest bedroom psych folk pop”, but singer Angus calls it “self indulgent acid pop”. I'm just going to say it's damn good. From the more jangly 'Who or Are You' to the wispy and introspective 'Picnic at Hanging Rock', which seems to feature pan pipes, The Galaxy Folk is a quality release from a guy that’s dabbled in music, art and film. The album is split between “Full Band” and “Bedroom” sides. The best song here, 'Play Your Thought', has a sombre and hazy feel. Music to listen to alone.
If you've ever been as unfortunate to walk around Adelaide in the midst of a summer heatwave you’ll know how stifling and suffocatingly dry the place can be. Just like ‘Chills’, the A-side here, it makes you want for rain, winter, darkness and coolness. This bittersweet pop song with the matter-of-fact vocals by Ben Marwe sounds like it could have come off a Slumberland or Flying Nun release. And when Marwe sings, “This heats a bitch and it's melting my mind/Take me away where the sun don't shine”, it sounds like he's looking for the cooler climes of DC/Oakland or Dunedin. He may be yearning for the dark and dreary, but this is just sparkling and excellent pop. Produced by Children Collide’s Johnny Mackay.
(Digital EP, independent)
Raging hardcore from Brisbane. Just about every song has this seething anger both in musical delivery and in the lyrical department. Actually the lyrics are something that homicide detectives would find pinned to a dorm bedroom wall after a US college campus massacre. Probably better spelling though. And from Brisbane. This is a free download but the band are asking for donations so they can hopefully release a physical copy sometime in the future.
I Hit a Wall
This follow-up to the excellent ‘I've Been Talking’ single of last year is a woozy four minutes of strummed pop from Michael Zulicki and co. Low fidelity? Yeah, real low bro. Vocals are a barely audible fuzz under a simple drum beat and guitar line but it’s a big part to the song’s charm. I can hear snippets, something about a “Seinfeld DVD”? At about the 2.15, it sounds like the song has hit a wall like a marathon runner halfway through a race. But the beat continues and even though it may be fatigued it manages to lurch forward. The untitled B-side has a more menacing tone. Highly recommended for total bedroom DIY enthusiasts.
Some of the Geelong punk kids including Jake from the Frowning Clouds blast out some amazing weirdo punk that brings to mind the spazz of bands like The Spits, The Intelligence and Devo. This shit is not fashionable in the least but totally rips. Only 33 tapes were made but each comes with an individual “message” by Jake. For example: “I lied to your sister. I really do have AIDS.” 'All Talk' has some really simple but great synth, while 'Aumutant' is primitive punk thud. Banging stupid, puerile, retarded punk from outer space. The best kind!
Repetitive rhythms and stark guitar add a clinical precision to the sound of this Sydney-based three-piece. It's pretty “post rock” but not the type that bores you senseless. On songs like the opening 'Kids in Place' and 'Epica', the trio of Vivian Huynh, Charles Daaboul and Trischelle Roberts are able to tread the line of interesting over hideously abstract. Although they don't sound totally like them, a lineup of No Art, Absolute Boys, HTRK and My Disco would be pretty killer.
(7”, Nihilistic Orbs)
Dark and dramatic synths from one of the more interesting outfits coming out of Melbourne at the moment. “Cold”, “clinical” and “calculated” get bandied around when describing music like this, but the B-side 'Safe Side' has bubbly synth, with icy deadpan vocals. I expect Forces to “blow up” (Pitchfork-style, rather than literally) in the next little while. Also kudos to Nihilistic Orbs for once again putting out a quality release.
Of the releases in this column this is by far the oldest (released back in the autumn of 2011) but deserves coverage for the opening song 'Grown Out' alone. With its chanted “can we grow on”, snappy drumming and melody it brings to mind mid-’90s US Mid-Western bands such as Penfold and Cross My Heart, as well as acts on the first “Emo Diaries” comp. 'Untangle/No Flag' – influenced, it seems, by a Howard Zinn quote, “There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people” – questions the notions of nationalism, “We still sing an anthem/With words that we don't know/We still align to a monarchy/ But we scoff at the throne.”
Tangle - Untangle//No Flag by Mess+Noise
Get Used To It
Wow! This is a cool record. This Brisbane band made up of members of Skyneedle and Brutal Hate Mosh lash out a punk and funk pop that brings to mind Grass Widow/ESG/The Avengers and I'm not just saying that because they feature women – it's the combination of fun and punk that makes it stand out. 'Cake Roll' has the kind of drum beat and synth with shrieky vocals. 'Pop Song' is just that: a great punky pop song. Julia Norris, Sarah Byrne, Drea Lam and Katie Martin play with the same chanty grooving bass lines which made Mika Miko so fun. Move quick this is almost sold out.
One Shot Salute
The guys of One Shot Salute claim to be about “talkin shit doin noise”. Not sure about the first half of that plan of action but they nail the second. The Brisbane hardcore band's debut recorded by Geordie Stafford (Teargas, Dick Nasty) is a flat-out doozy of flying spittle and punk thrash. Check the guitar solo on ‘Suicidal Survival' before it all falls down again into furious screaming. Listening to 'No Point' I'm thinking of a potential video featuring a collage of YouTube clips of cheerleaders getting thrown in the air and landing on their heads.
Crossed With Leaves
Sean Bailey has been changing things up a bit recently. His latest record is released not on his own InvertedCrux label, but Quemada, the Queens, New York, champion of Melbourne indie (Mole House, Mad Nanna). Also, in the live context, he’s been joined on stage by Lee Parker and Simon Taylor to add another level to his drone-y, dark folk. Of course some thing's won't change – Bailey's dark and deep timbre and a haunting and heavy instrumentation that’s mesmerizing to say the least. This single, recorded by Melbourne’s Jack Farley, includes the beautiful B-side 'Night Lark', which features simple drums and Bailey’s weary voice.
I'm just going to come out and say it. These Perth guys are one of the best punk bands going around at the moment. They mix just the right amount of gnarly hardcore and punk rock with an emphasis on “rock”. Their self-titled LP comes out fast and frantic and with plenty of gruffness on the opening 'Son of Man'. They cover hometown heroes The Victims ('Disco Junkies'), but make it their own with some slowed down and weirded-out parts. The closing 'I Am Shiva, God of Death' is gold! I imagine they would kill it live. Best punk band Australia has produced in ages.
Rule of Thirds
(Cassette, Major Crimes)
Self-described “goth-pop” out of Adelaide, which is a brave style of music to be playing in the City of Churches, but this five-piece are quite good at the smoke/strobe sound and mood. Taking their name from a Death in June album kind of gives it away, and while you can tell that they've heard a Naked on the Vague album or two – especially on the track 'Mother/Master' – others such as 'Total Disappointment' and 'Stuck' make the doom and gloom their own.
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