Surrender – Dark Wings, Dark Words (single) 2014

welcome back to the game boys..
Dark Wings, Dark Words

Surrender have unleashed the first taste of their upcoming sophomore album with this blast called ‘Dark Wings, Dark Words’.

For those new to the band the story goes like this: they independently recorded and released a brilliant melodic/hc punk album a few years back titled ‘One Day’ which turned out to be a very rewarding slow burner! They relocated from one side of the continent to the other..and more or less started over. From there the story goes much like the others…gigs, more gigs, plug the album..go quiet.

Present day: they’re back and armed with new music to stir up floors and pits with, the aggression and energy is present and most noticeably the production is a big step up on this!

David’s vocals are hoarse and scratchy like Chuck Ragan on a bad day, very well suited to the melodic and driving punk/rock angle at work here. I think the time is right for stuff like this with the international spotlight on bands like Trophy Eyes, Paper Arms, Smith Street Band. Hopefully we can add Surrender to that list!!

https://surrender.bandcamp.com/track/dark-wings-dark-words

f/b -> http://www.facebook.com/surrenderaus

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Love Alone – Zero (single) 2014

...dem feels...
Zero

Melbourne 5 piece and sad-boiz club members ‘Love Alone’ have released a new track ‘Zero’ which follows up their insanely good split w/ ‘Hindsight’ (SA) from earlier this year.

This blast of emotionally charged and expertly crafted music lasts just over 3 minutes and touches on all the key elements that has made this band a standout in 2014. There’s the ambient bits at the start, fast punk bits, screamy bits with punchy stop start moments, slower melodic bits..and the production is just what you’d want, all the instruments are present, the mix is balanced and powerful, vocals right on top, drums dead centre and guitars typically enormous. Lyrically this ones a tad on the sad side, gets you right in the feels.. you have been warned.

The band is offering it up for FREE/PWYW on bandcamp:

http://lovealoneau.bandcamp.com/

Sincerely, Grizzly – Kafkaesque (single) 2014

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Power-trio from Adelaide ‘Sincerely, Grizzly’ dropped this 9 minute epic back in February. Sadly it’s taken me this long to get onboard..and just as im getting my head around this incredible song, I learn there is a full length headed our way in November titled ‘Halves’ handled by Black Night Crash Records. Frickin rad.

The band has a dynamic and powerful approach to song writing not often heard in the current wave of post-genre-screamo. The attack and urgency of the opening minutes lean towards early LaDispute/Touche Amore but as the song relents and unwinds the guitars back off, drums and bass carry for a while and semi-spoken word vocal delivery and noodly-guitar parts balance it out. It makes for a really memorable piece of music. The closing line which is repeated over the final moments of ‘Kafkaesque’ is an eerie little mantra ‘I wish I could wish you well/But I hope you go to hell’  and is bound to grab folks attention and set crowds into a manic chant full of mic grabs and chest bumps.

This is awesome! Bring on November!

FREE D/L via bandcamp…

http://sincerelygrizzly.bandcamp.com/track/kafkaesque

http://www.facebook.com/sincerelygrizzly

Kiri – Self Titled 7″ (2014)

yup.. Kiri
yup.. Kiri

Brisbane based skramz crew ‘Kiri’ are about to drop this self-titled debut containing 4 tracks, some very cool art and some intense sounds!! Physical distro for the 7” will be via the champs at Lacklustre Records and online through the various bandcamps attached.

This female fronted/4 piece is possibly named after a brand of cheese..or a character from Mortal Kombat..or even less likely after a small community within the Congo. Honestly…i dont know. In lurking about the internets trying to source tidbits of information on this band i discovered all of manner of fascinating trivia…like how they refer to themselves as zion dance party/ gabber music? Other things included how guitarist Uda is the mastermind behind the Eunoia Collective (http://eunoiacollective.com/) and also how vocalist Tessa Fox is a rather talented writer and photographer… you’ve possibly read or seen her work without knowing it if you’re a Brisbane native! See for your self > http://tessafox.com

About the music though…

As the opening guitar noodling of ‘Above The Earth’ kicks things off, the surprising clarity of the mix and authenticity of Tessa’s vocals all hits home in an instant. You can hear every instrument and yet it’s not super compressed and tight. There is a liveliness present but it’s far from being lo-fi! I havn’t heard stuff like this since ‘The Bare Arms’ (NSW) from a few years ago who sadly called it quits. Not to harp on about it..but I think there’s something great about the way a woman’s voice carries in this style of music (see also: Outright) and i would love to hear more of it! Obvious things aside though.. the purely Australian accent is in tact and the energy is really high in this music!

The guitar work ranges from clean, math-noodle inspired riffs to jagged, harsh and discordant!! In short they hit all the trademark nails on their heads and it’s a quite a bit of fun to listen to. Even the awkward bass lead in the opening moments of ‘Chatter in the Skull’ has a playful feel to it before exploding in blast beats and raw sensational noise! Clearly this band has intended to have as much fun as they can whilst maintaining some integrity and seriousness through it all.

EP closer ‘Highbrow’ has this awesome bass/drum intro as Tessa screams over the top. 30 seconds in it gears up a notch and starts to sound similar to ‘Off Minor’ with the furious drumming (blast beats and fills and noise!!) and guitars just screaming! The songs never running long enough to get bored or consider skipping. The 4 tracks fly by all too quickly and it’s easy to just hit repeat and do it all again!

All up: a great debut from some talented people, hopefully this is just the start and we get to hear some more soon!

RIYL: Off Minor, Lilith, Beau Navir, Love.Like..Electrocution etc

https://www.facebook.com/apeykiri

http://lacklustrerecords.bigcartel.com/

 

Rat Filth – Today Feeling EP / 2014

that's Tim in the picture..looking filthy.
that’s Tim in the picture..looking filthy.

Rat-Filth is a brilliant two-piece free-jazz-post-punk mess. It’s awesome music for its complexity and ambitious boundary pushing energy. It’s jarring, angular, chaotic and yet somehow still manages to make sense!

The guitar/organ/vocals are recorded by Tim (Timothy and the Wilderness) way down south at his home in Tasmania. He then sends the tracks to the ridiculously talented Noah (Great Earthquake) back in Melbourne who then drums over the top. They work by correspondence bridging the rather large expanse of water between them and the result is this 5 track EP/collection titled ‘Today Feeling’.

It’s largely instrumental stuff, the music is at times insanely busy and intense as the guitars jangle and jolt, strings bend and the gain breaks up resulting in an oddly Fugazi feeling guitar sound and the drums blast and roll away. The recordings are all of a modern lo-fi standard, this isn’t a studio treated recording and by the sound of it..likely all recorded live. I have recollections of listening to The Mars Volta, Off Minor, Mice Parade and other progressive/arty bands when I listen to this. It’s pretty fun to follow along as in some parts the songs sound like they’re about to completely fall apart into an utter train wreck and then suddenly it all resolves, tightens up and it’s back on track. Bloody remarkable…or pure fluke. Can’t decide!
Love it though!

It’s worth noting that these two guys have done nearly half a dozen other incarnations/bands together over the years and so if you ever heard: Lions Light, Great Earthquake, Timothy and the Wilderness, Light Lions, Flag and Forget… Then this more or less fits right in with the collection!

Free/Paywhatyouwant download from here:
http://www.ratfilth.bandcamp.com

 

Sierra – Reality Redefined EP / 2014

This is the swan song from Sierra, a 5 piece group hailing from Mt Gambier (NSW) of all places! They’ve been an interesting group who many labelled as ‘one to watch’ for some time as they shifted gears from early punk/hardcore roots into a more mature modern post-hardcore/emo style we’re familiar with. Unfortunately the band recently announced that they’ll be hanging up the name and moving on to other things..but not before letting their last offering loose upon us. A five song release that shows off the bands many facets and range with excellent production values, great performances and all for free/pay what you want download.

Bye Bye Sierra..
Bye Bye Sierra..

Lead single ‘Suburban Fame’ had a video clip up online which gathered a few hits and shares and hinted at the quality release that was to follow. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BdVJ1XEtcbQ (look here)

The mix is spot on and you can hear every instrument evenly and clearly. The extra layers of guitar wailing and reverby lead parts don’t get too over the top and add just the right amount of texture and colour. There’s an intelligent amount of space in between the instruments especially between bass and drums who work well together, no member over plays or outshines another and leaves plenty of breathing room for guitars to ring out or chug along. It’s a damn shame that a band like this one..who is genuinely hitting their groove and reaching this point of refinement is at the end of their journey. Track #4 ‘Memoirs’ has this brilliant lull at like 1:15 where percussion comes in, clean guitars pick notes and there’s the screaming over the top. It’s stuff like that which made me really take notice of how far this band has reached beyond their beginnings and brought something really creative to pass on this EP.

Lyrically this material is powerful, heartfelt and positive. There are undeniably uplifting themes throughout the 5 songs making this different from the standard sad-boiz-club soundtrack. The opening track ‘Bittersweet Youth’ has the standout lyric ‘..lately I’ve learnt that it’s alright to not be okay’…and if it doesn’t stick with you after the first listen…check your pulse. This will resonate with fans of ‘Being As An Ocean’ and ‘La Dispute’ for the combination of clean guitar work, passionate vocals and heavy hitting drums.
As I said earlier, it’s a damn shame they’re packing it in.
But….what a hell of a release to go out on!

Get it from here: http://www.sierrahc.bandcamp.com

 

Miyazaki! – Thank You. Fuck You. Goodbye. (2014)

Yup..Miyazaki..
Yup..Miyazaki..

This Melbourne based three piece has put together a quirky and charming collection of indie rock songs complete with Star Wars references, self depreciating lyrics, witty song titles and refreshingly honest music. On first spin I couldn’t shake the ‘The Might Be Giants’ comparisons. But with less silliness and more rock.

The production is clean and clear with all instruments sounding just as live as they should. In fact there’s more than a few sloppy moments captured for a touch of reality. There is minimal studio trickery employed here..it’s not one of those recordings where everything is trimmed/slammed and squashed into perfection. It’s honest and accurate of what this band actually sounds like! How sad that this almost passes for novelty in this age of technopoly in music. Anyway….I digress…

Luke (guit/vox) singing reminds me of a young Billy Corgan or even ‘Placebo’s Brian Molko. It’s mostly just him on vocals though sometimes there’s a tasteful little harmony behind him … but only occasionally. It might have been a good move to have used some doubling/layering in places to enhance a chorus or two..here or there..but that’s just taste.
The guitar and bass work together really well, there’s some great tones coming out of that axe..I’m not sure what gear they used, but I love the sounds! We get jangly, twinkly, reverby and most of all overdriven rock sounds..but all so well executed, you know they’ve spent time of this element of the band.

Maybe the weakest link here is the lack of memorable choruses or hooks that last beyond the songs 2-3 minute lifespan. It’s not forgettable music by any measure, it’s definitely worth a spin..but each time I turn it off I have immediate trouble remembering how any one song went. One notable exception is at the end of #7 ‘Ain’t no ring on this finger (baby)’..there’s a closing section with Luke singing ‘there’s something missin’ from my life / there’s somethin missin from my life’ coupled with another vocal behind it and a sweet build up from the band. It’s a good moment. The kind I wanted more of and luckily there’s some other great build ups and surprises in other songs too…loads of clever lyrics and feel good jams. The album closer ‘Smells Like Teen Pregnancy’ might be one of the strongest songs on the whole thing, a shame it appears so late in the game..def’s worth listening to sooner rather than later.

In conclusion, this is an honest album, that sounds really good, warts and all. The band are not crafting pop songs or catchy tunes to sell jeans/phones/whatever, it’s subject matter contains a share of social commentary and reflects a bit of realism seldom heard from indie bands who these days are often more concerned with crooning over girls or sooking over them.

Click on here to go check it out!

http://miyazakisucks.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/miyazaki.now

 

Anchors – Bad Ju Ju / Poison City Records

LP cover

Ok, in a nutshell..this is a hugely melodic and anthemic punk record. It’s also really reminiscent of Wilhelm Scream so one can expect busy guitars, triplets and riffs and very fast persistent drumming and hoarse/screamed vocals. Check, check, check and check.

At the start of 2010…the band dropped a three song demo online, got buzz almost instantly, gigged everywhere and released an EP whilst chipping away at material for an album and dropped it before Christmas. The vinyl followed shortly after in 2011 for a US release. Talk about a busy year!

The resulting album was 9 tracks long..though it’s really 10 cos there’s an equally cool hidden track after a few minutes of annoying silence. At least that’s how it is on the CD, on the vinyl they just get straight to it! The first and second track are essentially one song…and it’s a blast. Gang vocals ‘don’t let it end like this’ will be replaying through your head with any luck afterwards.
From then on it’s a really entertaining mixed bag of mid paced, fast and riffy melodic punk. It’s furious and pissed off to the utmost extent that vocalist Owen NEVER lets up on his intense delivery for a second so there’s no clean singing, no quieter moments. The band plays with some clever tempo changes and sometimes gets a little complex with the tricky bits..it’s actually heaps cool to hear more than just power chords and harmony octaves all the time which is pretty standard for a lot of melodic punk bands.

It was a goose-bump moment in the albums closing moments to hear the return of the gang vocal which appeared right at the start of the album and is accompanied an incredibly moving outro which just makes me wanna bounce off the walls!

The band is putting it up for free/PWYW D/L on their bandcamp page so I highly highly suggest you get on it! The vinyl is the way to go though, you can pick that up from the friendly gentlemen at Poison City Records in store/online.

As with many others, they’re playing at TapeDeckFest so if you have not gotten off your arse and bought a ticket…pfft!

http://www.anchors.bandcamp.com
Or be elite:
http://poisoncityestore.com/estore/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=865

 

 

Racoon City Police Department – Night Life EP (2014)

rcpd

RCPD are a 5 piece band from Adelaide who play emo/skramz/punk music that reminds me an awful lot of ‘Off Minor’. With that said..I could probably leave the review right there and you should have more than enough reason to warrant checking them out. But wait…there’s more.

Featuring 7 tracks the ‘Nightlife’ EP is only the second release from the band and has proven to be quite a popular one since it dropped back in May. The band put out the CD, Annoy and Destroy put out the tape and soon I believe they’ll be producing a 7” to complete the collection! PLUS the band was offering it for free d/l (until they ran out) so obviously this music is making an impact and people are lapping it up! Luckily Age Crisis Records have copies of the CD for those who missed out on getting a copy during the bands recent tour.

The production is superb on this release and sounds really full!! Instruments are crystal clear, drums are punchy as hell and the vocals carry amazingly well above it all in the mix. Overall the band plays melodic/mathy/aggressive emo that will resonate with fans of Piano’s Become The Teeth/Tiny Moving Parts/Calculator/Caravels etc

There are ambient/reverb laden post rock moments, heavy-crust/hardcore moments, blast beats and impressive guitar noodling..in fact there’s more packed into these 7 tracks than a lot of bands i hear attempt across a whole album. It’s ambitious if nothing else!

Lyrically it’s really got some potency, loaded with metaphors and personal stuff like ‘i guess what im trying to say / its hard to watch a loved one slowly fade away / with every breathe you take / brings death closer this way’ on the opener ‘Lungs’. Wether born from personal experiences or stories, the words seem very personal and are delivered with passion and urgency.

This is  CLEARLY AND EASILY in my top-releases of the year. I am smashing this one on repeat. And i dont even like Resident Evil.

Buy it from the band for $1 at: http://rcpd.bandcamp.com/

Or buy the CD from the fine folks at Age Crisis Records

http://www.storenvy.com/products/8273823-raccoon-city-police-department-nightlife-cd

Or by get Tapes / Vinyl through the crew at Annoy & Destroy http://annoyanddestroy.bigcartel.com/

Or D/L from them..

https://annoyanddestroy.bandcamp.com/album/nightlife-2

Lyrics available on their web site..worth read, totes emo and shit.

http://www.raccooncityband.com/

Thesis – Holiday Home 7″ (2014 Lacklustre Records)

thesis rock
cover

Thesis are a 4 piece act from Sydney who play a raw mix of melodic pop punk with emo and indie elements mixed in for good measure. This is the bands 2nd release BUT first through the awesome crew at Lacklustre Records who offer it as a free download via bandcamp as well as handling vinyl orders. This business model of ‘free d/l + vinyl’ is really growing into a legit way of operating for independent labels across the indie/punk/hc scene in the wake of the digital revolution and the demise of CD sales. Can you believe that..ha ha.. not that long ago it was tapes dying off..and before that it was vinyl..! Now that they are both coming back would it be fair to say in a few more years we’ll reflect on the passing of the CD & mp3? Hmm..ponder that.

Back to the music..*ahem*..

Musically Thesis are pretty consistent with the current trend amongst bands in this scene. They blend lightly overdriven guitars with jangly power chords and harmonies/octaves over the top. Drums are straight forward, no double time or anything like that..it’s a mid-paced affair but to be fair it’s a very solid performance especially with some of the fills and rolls in the opening track ‘no love lost’! The bass sits pretty much square in the middle and just does the job without any real flair..BUT it all works well together to create a mature and melodic take on the pop-punk sound. Think early ‘Citizen’ or ‘Make Do and Mend’ for comparison.

The thing which is going to set this band apart from the rest is the vocals. It’s also going to polarise audiences into two camps: 1) those who like it for being different or 2) those who wig out and don’t get it. As a reviewer I should try and be impartial..but honestly I swung quite a bit on this point. At first I didn’t like it. Nope. It grated against my nerves in the same way i remember Hot Water Music used to get under my skin! The gruff/slightly off key and very Aussie delivery began to sound more and more fitting as listened to the EP over a few times..and as you may have guessed .. I like it now. Quite a bit 🙂

These lads will be at Tape Deck Fest if you were lucky enough to get tickets to that and have also been touring around with the likes of Trophy Eyes, Basement and others.. no doubt in a few years they’ll be one of those bands you get to say ‘oh i saw them when they played dot dot dot..’ or in this case ‘oh i’ve got their first vinyl they put out back in 2014!!’

It’s a grower. Get onto it 🙂

Digital here:

http://lacklustrerecords.bandcamp.com/album/holiday-home-2

Or get the physical 7” here:

http://lacklustrerecords.bigcartel.com/product/thesis-holiday-home-7

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