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

 

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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

Reverie – S/T 7″ (2014)

a1242685864_10

A new label based in Brisbane > ‘NeverHomeRecords’ have just put out a stunning debut release from fellow Brissy based 4 piece ‘Reverie’. These guys play a super sad and melodic blend of 90’s emo/indie rock but the material is slower paced than most and at times even leans a little toward post-rock. All the better for it. This method worked for a lot of bands IN THE ACTUAL 90’s..so it’s great to see old tricks turn new again!

This is going to resonate strongly for fans of TWIABP/Joyce Manor/Modern Baseball/Basement etc etc. It’s that melodic sad and likeable sound that grabs you in the guts and breaks your feels! You could easily imagine a band like this opening for <insert favourite Topshelf/NoSleep/Runforcover band> if you catch my dirft.

The guitars are beautiful here, reminiscent of Sunny Day Real Estate circa ‘Diary’ era or Jimmy Eat World circa ‘Clarity’ era. They use some beautiful tones and often let the chords just ring out without relying on heaps of distortion to sustain them. The bass plays some great parts, noticeably opening the EP with a wicked bass part that starts the song and demonstrates some solid musicianship. Drums are tasteful and sound really roomy and live..fitting for this style but i noticed some clever hat-work and fills that compliment the space given by the guitars. Sometime it’s not what the band plays but rather what they DONT do that makes an impression. Such is the case here.

Another great quality..is the mix and production: it’s absolutely spot on. A good performance, no matter how well played or emotional can always be let down by a poor engineer and this release has everything going for it. Front man ‘Mitch’ has a raspy singing voice which conveys heaps of feeling and sounds honest. The melodies are simple and lyrically it’s personal heartfelt content eg. “Always been movie extra, un-focussed background figure”… Love that line!

Overall .. huge thumbs up from me, go get it from one of the links below and lets get behind new bands..and the labels behind them!!

Physical copies of the 7” available here:

http://neverhomerecords.limitedrun.com/products/530944-reverie-s-t-7

Stream/download here: http://neverhomerecords.bandcamp.com/album/reverie

Fourteen Nights At Sea – Great North (2013)

great north

This is an instrumental/ambient post rock band from Melbourne. They have released two LP’s through the awesome Hobbeldehoy Records (Adelaide) and this one titled ‘Great North’ is the latter of the two. I’ve never seen or heard of them before as I am only just getting my bearings around the instrumental scene in Melbourne..but upon being rewarded with a free d/l of the album I thought I’d give it a spin.

This is hauntingly beautiful music. Some bits feel hopeful and uplifting. Other bits feel downright heavy and dark..but not at all in a metal/post metal way. More like the chords are sad and the weight of the emotion makes it feel heavy. The guitar tones are drenched in reverb/delay and more delay. It’s a wall of noise when it all builds up to the peak moments but still it’s very soft and easy to listen to at the same time. When both guitars go full scale in the big bits and the stereo effects sway from left to right, it creates a bit of a spacey/ethereal kind of feeling. Very cool but easy to get a little bit emo and sad along with it.

Drums are thankfully dead centre and sound just roomy enough to be live and clear enough to have been well recorded…and sounds perfect for this. The cymbals particularly carry well with the guitars at their peak and the bass drum sits spot on with the bass guitar helping the ears to follow along with the timing.

It’s not complicated music to follow though, it’s just that I get distracted and carried away and without the presence of drums/bass I’d have no idea where we were!

The tracks are pretty lengthy..around the 8 minute mark for some and they use every bit of that time well. The hightlight for me was last song on the album. It opens with the loudest and biggest stuff on the release. It’s a massive minute and a half! Then the distortion fades out and the gorgeous clean guitars start and delays feedback and resonate into ambience with the boomy drums pulsing slowly and brushes tapping on the rims. It’s incredible to say the least.

What an album.

http://hobbledehoy.bandcamp.com/album/great-north

http://www.fourteennightsatsea.com/

RIYL: This Will Destroy You, Godspeed, Explosions in the Sky, Lights and Motion

Ever Rest – Inauguration EP (2013)

ever rest

These Melbourne lads do the intense and furious modern hardcore blend pretty bloody well. Note: this genre is getting tired, so I’m only lifting the bands that really grab me at this point and I’m adding these cats to the list after catching them at a recent local show.

The EP opens with it’s title track and this song has like..so many different twists and bits that it’s really quite impressive. It’s pretty up tempo for the first minute before finding familiar ground in the half time grooves and build ups and it’s from there that the surprises start. There’s a great spoken word/almost slam passage in the middle, keys and breakdowns, build ups and double kick..snare rolls and holy flat packs Batman…I can hear the bass! Dirty low end is present throughout the whole release and he even does stuff!! Hell he even closes out the EP. Rad.

Highlight track #3 ‘Resolve’ gets really busy with loads of double kick and syncopated guitars. Has a nice big chorus that incorporates some melody, great catch lines and is instantly recognisable. This one stood out above the rest..just for its instant appeal.

After that..it’s all just gravy 🙂

Guitars on this release are really clear and not too over the top. NB: there’s also some crazy good leads/delay trickery and ambient tones that add depth and variety. Drums are crisp and punchy in exactly the way I’d expect but feel very centred…not over playing.There’s quite a few cool little stereo effects and what I assume are samples in parts which stand out with headphones on..(track #4 Harbinger has these swirly swooshy flanger sort of sounds in the middle that tripped me right out!)

Vocals have a fair few different things going on too. Most of it is screamed and that balances well between high’s and lows especially during breakdowns and more metal moments and then at other points (usually choruses) during the EP there’s really solid cleans as well. I really like the added spoken word/urgent yells in sections on this EP too. It’s not something I’d expect in a typically metal core outfit. Overall it’s a great example of a band not settling for one idea as a style but messing with it and coming up with some clever and engaging music.

In closing there’s some really good material in here, a few fresh ideas and it’s well worth seeing live as with a number of the newer heavy acts i’ve featured here (Void of Vision, Dead Poets, Love Alone, Left to the Wolves etc)

RIYL:  melodic hardcore..seriously..im not listing all the bands you already listen to, get clicking on the link.. >

http://ever-rest.bandcamp.com/album/inauguration-ep

 

Void Of Vision – Life//Blood – single (2014)

blergh
blergh

 

Void Of Vision are a very exciting new Melbourne band at the moment, practically clawing their way to the attention of everyone in the local hardcore/heavy scene across Melbourne and the broader east coast.

This track is the first taste of the bands next release, set to drop later in the year with tours which will be followed by more tours I’m sure. Before this release was let loose, they had a growing collection of songs all put up for free via bandcamp. Each subsequent track/demo released allowed us to hear the band progressively honing in on what they’d eventually nail down as ‘the sound’. It’s been enough so far just for the kids to learn the words, time their kicks and windmills to the grooves and breakdowns..you know how it goes. But only now is this group starting to sound like something NEW and with that maturity builds momentum. The more you hear, the more you want. It’s as simple as that.

The opening to Life//Blood begins with a screamed ‘..welcome to my dreams..’ and double-time drums setting up a great start to a really energetic and instantly likeable song. The tempo drops back a bit..then even moreso into a heavy groove, then back up…and back down. Essentially working to build up to these peak moments of huge riffs/syncopated rhythm patterns and just yeh..solid br00ts and heavy bits. It’s smart song writing for a style that is essentially aimed at hardcore & metal audiences.

The vocal layering and backing vox are all spot on, Jack does a great job of balancing the urgent screams, guttural lows and trademark ‘blergh’ amongst clearly executed vocals. The guitars are immense, the multiple layers here are effective and tough as nails but the tone of the melodic lead that reappears over the top of these huge chuggah/dun dun moments really cuts through. It’s awesome.

As is sadly the case quite often… the bass may as we’ll be played via guitar hero controller for all the good it does. The guitars are tuned so low..sometimes it must be hard for a bass guitar to retain any clarity or definition at that pitch. Time to get inventive or face being replaced by baritones Matt!

It has to be said that having the songs on your phone doesn’t get you close to what goes on live. Nowhere near it. BUT regardless, this song is sick and over too soon! Don’t take my word for it though, go see em live.

But learn the words first. It helps.

http://voidofvision.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/voidofvision

 

Braves – Surgery (single) / 2014

Single cover...
Single cover…

Braves – Surgery / single (2014)

‘Braves’ are a 5 piece alt/pop punk group from over the pond in New Zealand who’ll be visiting our shores really soon. They recently released a new single online that caught my attention through a few mutual band-friends posting about it and it’s turned into one of those awkward song-obsessions for me!

‘Surgery’ makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I get chills and it stirs up memories and all kinds of things. When the guitars open up..it’s like a late 90’s grunge flashback…the gravelly vocals that start it off compliment this perfectly. The backing vox/shouts and harmonies are pure gold and early indicators that these lads have listened to a lot of Citizen/B&C etc. Drums are well placed in the mix (sounding great too) and the drummer does quite a good job of shifting the momentum up and down when the guitars are pretty much just doing the same thing for awhile in some sections. It winds down to a vocal/guitar section mid way…builds back up to huge half time chorus…with amazing vocals and a melody that’ll stick with you…it sounds huuuuge..guitars are massive..and then it winds down again. Dynamics like this are highly effective in keeping a listener engaged and the ears fresh..rather than adjust to 3mins of the same thing. Surprise guitar noodling with guitars take it out to a close..and once it’s over..I hit repeat.
But seriously. I’ve jammed this…76 times accordingly to the ‘most played’ playlist on my phone. Love. It. How this band isn’t signed yet…I don’t know. It’s the sort of thing you’d expect from Topshelf/No Sleep/Runforcover or one of those other US indie punk labels.

If you follow the links below you’ll find your self directed to their bandcamp where you can get up to speed and grab their 2013 demo too which even though it isn’t the focus of my write up here ..is heaps worth a spin.

http://www.bravesnz.bandcamp.com

The band has the single up for purchase..or you can have at it for free…

RIYL: Citizen, Balance & Composure, Make Do And Mend

Stalk em here > http://www.facebook.com/wearebraves

Bear The Mammoth – Yamadori (2014)

 

So good..!
So good..!

Instrumental bands have a niche scene but it’s a growing one too. A lot of alternative/indie, post-rock and progressive bands are dabbling, sharing the stage, touring together and often signed to the same labels as instrumental bands. Largely thanks to some serious ground breaking by the infamous ‘explosions in the sky’ to name one such band (go google it later) this stuff is gaining exposure and earning new followers!
So here’s one such artist from Melbourne who have just dropped their first full length titled ‘Yamadori’. (Japanese word for a small wild tree like a bonsai)
Here’s my breakdown from the first listen through. It’s 6 tracks but don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a short trip. Nup.

Track #1 ‘Cloverlea’ is an ambient intro that feels sort of spacey..until you hear the guitar slide up and down shifting in-and-out of its sustained note/feedback. Then I realised it was a guitar and not some keyboard/synth thing..very clever.

Drums come in and it’s track #2 ‘What’s Yours Was Mine Is Never Leaving’ and it’s more of that roomy/reverby guitar stuff until the bass comes in all dirty and carrying rhythm and melody with it. I’m hooked at this point. At around the 3 minute mark things turn sort of dark and the guitars start strumming instead of picking and the drumming gets a little Tool-ish. Not in complexity..but in feel. Rhythms continue, band follows, pattern builds momentum and this is getting all kinds of wonderful!
Now an interesting thing occurs at about the 5 minute mark. It seems the band has stopped and then there’s a 4-count on the hi hats and they start up again but with what sounds like a whole different song. A proggy one. A nearly 8 minute journey ends with a high and a bit of a surprise. Did not see that coming.

Track #3 ‘The Bonding Leech’ plays with some nice delays on the guitar to start. Great with headphones btw. Drums and Bass enter the fray and it’s tight syncopated stuff, very cool and rhythmic. This track has a much more immediate and instantly likeable feeling to it. Could easily find it’s way onto a sound track for an indie film…that sort of thing. It winds back the energy at the 4 minute mark and begins the build up all again. Towards the end the guitars find the spotlight and the focus is on this cool lead-part that plays with delays and finds very emotive ground. Plus the gain is up a bit, the bass and drums are in full swing and it’s solid. Favourite track by a mile.

By this point in listening I’m feeling reminded of artists like ‘Because of Ghosts’, ‘Sleep Makes Waves’ and the obvious ‘Explosions in the Sky’ with all these beautiful guitar tones and effect laden notes ringing out in the background against interesting rhythms.

Track #4 ‘Glycine’ is back with familiar ambient tones and occasional booming blows from the drums. Very relaxed but honestly a bit boring…I was about to skip it..but at the half way point the snare rolls and bass juts back and it starts moving with a brooding kind of feel. I swear it’s the bass and drums that hold all this together and my attention along with it. So patience yields rewards..cos the next 3 1/2 minutes are freeking rad. Just…so good. Reminiscent of ‘Russian Circles’…super fun times. (You know you need to go google them after reading this right? Ok good.)

#5 ‘Heironymos Bosch’ is another straight into it track, thankfully leaving the ambient noodling for a while. This gets a little mathy and proggy again and I’m beginning to understand that they don’t go for the big heavy/loud dynamic but rather the busy riffing and contrasting sounds. Ironically this track gets about as heavy as you’ll hear on the album..and even then it’s just dramatic rather then heavy. Another standout track for me.

#6 ‘Molly’ is a 9 minute epic. It’s more of the same..beautiful music and melody played out over big build ups, slower quieter bits and a great wind down. Each wave or..I dunno..section gets it’s time and it’s got to be said once again..it’s really well written music.

Summing it all up…
It’s a beautiful album with dynamic characteristics that reappear across the course of the 6 epic tracks. It all feels connected and like it belongs together. The mix lets it down a little at times when I really wanted the guitars up front and in my face…but they stayed buried or just too peripheral and never really come up out of the mix. But that’s about it for complaints. The sounds are all great, the performances are all brilliant. Muso’s will lap this up. If you have the patience then this will reward you big time

RIYL: Explosions In The Sky, Russian Circles, Lights and Motion, beautiful music, proggy music, guitars, delay pedals, reverb, music…feelings ha ha!

http://www.bearthemammoth.bandcamp.com

 

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