Tag Archives: new music

Live review: BIGSOUND Live – Brisbane – Night two (4/9/19)

Dusting off hangovers, minor/major exhaustion and the shadow of day jobs brings the second night of BIGSOUND back into focus, and with another outstanding line-up of bands to get the teeth into, the appetite is big for night two of the showcase.

First up at Crowbar is Sydney quartet The Buoys, who blast through a high-octane, “emotional rollercoaster” of a set, with frontwoman Zoe Catterall getting among the audience and getting into the mood by snagging a bite from a punter’s Bloody Mary celery stick between bouts of highly impressive shredding.

The Buoys Brisbane Bigsound 2019
The Buoys

Over at Ric’s, Egyptian-Australian Mariam Sawires is impressing in a somewhat more serene fashion; her voice on songs like ‘Together’ – inspired by missing her sister when living in Japan – soars high and marks the nomad vocalist as not only one to watch, but probably deserving of a classier setting than the milk-crate-adorned surrounds of the beloved Valley venue.

Mariam Sawires Bigsound Brisbane 2019
Mariam Sawires

Meanwhile, at The Wickham, Sydney rap queen Lauren. riles up an enthusiastic audience by getting in their face before claiming, “I only smoked one bong today!” to a huge roar of appreciation.

Lauren Bigsound Brisbane 2019
Lauren

At the Brightside, Brisbane’s First Beige have packed out the room and melt into an instantly engaging jam, including a guest trumpeter, while at the Elephant’s crammed back bar, English quartet The Amazons run through a set of polished pop tunes on their first ever Australian gig, and Ainsley Farrell is winning hearts and minds with a classy, lilting and uplifting set at Black Bear Lodge, including new track ‘Dark Spell’.

First Beige Bigsound Brisbane 2019
First Beige

Downstairs at Crowbar, Melbourne metallers Outright are loudly-and-proudly anything but polished, with powerhouse singer Jelena Goluza taking the classic foot-on-monitor stance between explosions of noise, before Sydney post-punk outfit 100 put in a solid and loose shift in front of an appreciative audience.

100 Bigsound Live Brisbane 2019
100

Seeing Mambali – from Numbulwar in the Northern Territory – is the perfect way to finish the evening; the Indigenous collective play an exciting, captivating show to a wildly engaged crowd as the evening draws to a close.

Mambali Brisbane Bigsound 2019
Mambali

Is anyone ready to pass out yet?

For Scenestr

Q&A: Glitter Veils

The Brisbane duo going international with the help of one of America’s most well-regarded record labels.

Glitter Veils

Glitter Veils wasn’t always Glitter Veils. Most recently plugging away on the Brisbane dream-pop scene under the moniker YOU, it was in July last year that Luke Zahnleiter and Michael Whitney (also of The Rational Academy and Nite Fields, respectively) were presented with a persuasive argument to change their band name.

Terrible Records got in touch. It was co-founded by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor and is home to Solange, Twin Shadow, Blood Orange, Moses Sumney and Australia’s Kirin J. Callinan, among many others. Terrible suggested the switch to the more memorable and SEO-friendly moniker. It then went on to release Glitter Veils’ album, Figures in Sight, on its Flexible imprint, which focuses on unique debut releases.

After listening to the album it’s easy to see why. Raw, abrasive, deep and mesmeric, the layers of sound play out like an experiment that may or may not reach a conclusion but will be a hell of a ride either way.

Zahnleiter and Whitney, champions of the album format, explain their processes and how they ended up on Terrible.

Was putting Figures in Sight together a complex process?

Michael Whitney: It started off as a bedroom project for me, and then I wanted to play it live. Then Luke came along and we became really good friends. I guess from that initial period it was about two years of writing, recording, restructuring and going back and forth to the studio.

Luke Zahnleiter: We were pretty fastidious and got a bit obsessive in parts of it, but, overall, we’re happy with how it came out and happy that the overall sound has been getting a good response. We’re kind of relieved in a way.

Was it important the album had an overall sound or feel?

LZ: Michael and I listen to similar music and we have quite a varied taste. I think it’s about the feeling and mood we can create in the music. We could attempt to make a style of music, but [the album is] essentially what came out at that period in time. Whatever was impacting our life was funnelled through that.

MW: Luke and I come from pretty different spectrums of how we play instruments, and I think that is reflected in certain ways. The guitar has a similar sound over the whole album. I tend to like a lot of older pop music and stuff like [American composer] Angelo Badalamenti [best known for his work scoring David Lynch’s films].

David Lynch is often mentioned in your reviews. How does that sit with you?

LZ: I’m happy with that. When people say “David Lynch”, I think they mean the Twin Peaks [theme] song [Falling]. I think it’s more of a mood thing.

MW: That kind of tragic beauty.

Describe the moment you heard Terrible was interested.

LZ: When we finished the album we had no idea what we were going to do from that stage. It’s not like we had been playing live. We just got so involved in making the record that we didn’t have a plan of attack afterwards. We just sent it to a bunch of labels – mainly international labels – and kind of hoped for the best. I emailed quite a few with some early mixes. Then Ethan [Silverman] from Terrible emailed. It was very vague – I think it was a one-line response, something like: “This is cool, I’ll sit on this …”. Then three months later we heard from them again, and he got back to us with another vague message saying they wanted to put out two songs on the Flexible imprint, then we figured out a way to put everything out. We wanted to bypass plugging away at the local scene and getting on a local label.

Why bypass the local route?

LZ: We wanted as many people as possible to hear the album – that’s my main goal.

MW: We were sending it to labels that were probably above our heads, but we tried anyway. I just want to make really great albums. The live thing has almost been an afterthought with this last record.

LZ: We’ve both played in bands before and done local gigs and touring, and it’s exhausting to do that, and you’re not really getting much exposure. It’s usually the same people who come to shows locally, and we just wanted to get a broader audience.

How does it feel to have Solange, Twin Shadow and Blood Orange as labelmates?

MW: It’s a great roster and I love Blood Orange and Solange’s album. It’s something to aspire to – to make albums in a certain way and to push us even further.

LZ: We’re definitely in good company and it’s a great label. I remember that Twin Shadow album from 2010 or 2011 – their first full-length. I used to love that album. To think we’re now with the same company is a really good feeling. There are some great artists on Flexible, too.

Any international touring plans?

LZ: We’ve got a few Melbourne shows coming up, but internationally, we’ll see how it pans out. It’s definitely something we’d both like to do, especially in America. Having Terrible on our side to help is a good position to be in.

For Broadsheet

Record review: Jen Cloher – Jen Cloher (2017, LP)

jen cloher album cover

It’s been four long years since Jen Cloher’s last solo album, and while she’s been far from idle or out of our collective eyeline in that time, it’s bloody good to have her back putting out new material of her own. That’s because 2017, and everybody involved with it, needs a healthy dose of Jen Cloher’s fire, and if you don’t feel like you’ve had a savage, if eloquently-delivered, kick to the pants after a run-through of these excellent 11 songs, then you’re probably not wearing any pants and you should do something about that immediately. When she’s not using Rolling Stones lyrics to weave tales of missing her partner while she’s on tour on lead single ‘Forget Myself’ or meandering in perfectly off-kilter fashion while questioning the Australian dream on ‘Regional Echo’, she’s raining blows on the “feral right” on ‘Analysis Paralysis’, and the over-privileged and (gasp!) music critics on ‘Shoegazers’. It’s all well and truly called-for, and Cloher delivers on every track, while her other half is pretty damn handy on lead gee-tar, too. We should be happy Jen Cloher is on our side. What an outstanding album.

For The Brag

Record review: Green Buzzard – Space Man Rodeo (2017, EP)

green-buzzard-space-man-rodeo-ep-cover-art

*Knock, knock*. Who’s there? It’s 2017 and it’s time to wake up, you lazy cretins. Hammering on the door of chez Green Buzzard with such platitudes would likely bring about at least two reactions. One: scrambling to hit the OFF switch on The Charlatans’ Greatest Hits playing on the CD player, and two: fear on such an unprecedented level that their already-significant desire to die and be reincarnated in the pop landscape of 1995 would be multiplied many times. You see, they are a band so scared of NOW that their brand of indie-pop, although masquerading under the guise of being faithful/respectful/reverent to the lineage, could be tossed into any or all of the piles of irredeemable turgidity floating aimlessly in the cesspools of the mainstream. Ten tracks pass by in a blur of guitar-pop lightness: ‘Tear My Heart Away’, ‘Space Control’ and ‘Hypnotized’ are perhaps the most tedious. While ‘Never Let Me Go’ and ‘IDWK’ have some redeemable moments, the jaw-aching yawns begin with lead single ‘Do You Ever Glow’ and the Buzzard quickly loses it buzz. If postponing the future by suckling at the festering teat of Britpop is your thing, get your sickly, bleeding gums around this.

For The Brag

FEATURE: Kurt Vile

KURT VILE

KURT Vile is no mug.

The Philadelphian singer, songwriter, producer, and purveyor of delectably laid-back indie-folk tunes has been a guest in our country a smattering of times, but he’s got his audience pretty well sussed.

“I think Australians, in general, really feel music,” he says. “It’s a record nerd, gut-level or emotional thing; maybe an obsessive thing, which is very similar to the way I am. But there’s also a ball-busting, bullshit artist type of thing they can tap into, and [they] can have a good laugh. I feel they are really serious about music but also they can just bullshit and bust balls; they’re both equal. You know how to fuck with somebody to show that you love them. I feel a lot of Australians have those kinds of humour and emotions, you know?”

The 36 year-old will tour Australia solo for the first time in February and March, leaving his band The Violators at home. Successful previous sojourns and a recent surge in popularity here mean the idea of playing venues and shows the size of Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Taronga Zoo and Golden Plains Festival doesn’t faze him.

“I’ve been to Australia enough – this will be the fourth time coming up – to feel like it won’t make a difference,” he says. “I’ll be zoning out; kind of in my comfort zone. I’m sort of comfortable over there because, I don’t know, I’m just used to it over there. With The Violators we try to mix it up with keyboards and stuff like that, but [this time] I’ll just be by myself and my acoustic. I’m sure I’ll bring a banjo. Maybe one day I’ll have more of band with more instruments than a four-piece. I like to just go out, zone out, and not try to recreate the record.”

After leaving The War on Drugs, which he founded with long-term friend Adam Granduciel, and releasing his debut record in 2008, Vile has released six solo records and a collection of EPs of top-drawer folk, rock and psychedelia, with each record marking a musical and thematic progression from the last.

“I’m usually most proud of my newest album,” he says. “But that wears off once I start working on a new record. I look back and am proud of them all, but I would say maybe most of all ‘Smoke Ring for My Halo’; all those songs have a similar melancholia in the lyrics – there was a good theme going on there. The next few records obviously had themes going on too, but there is an interesting melancholic tone to ‘Smoke Ring for My Halo’; I can go back and listen to that one. There’s something about it. I wouldn’t say I’m most proud of it, but it’s some kind of statement.”

Not keen to rest on his laurels, and despite 2015’s ‘b’lieve I’m goin down’ not having been played in Australia yet, the hard-working Vile has already started on its follow-up.

“I’ve been in and out of the studio throughout this touring cycle because I feel like the last two records, in particular, took so long out of the touring cycle,” he says. “I don’t want to just get lost in this dark, black cocoon world in the studio. So I’ve been going in and out of the studio between touring for that reason. I probably have about half of the songs for the next record in some form. I think [fans] will recognise the sound; it’s not like it’s a drastically different record, but there’s always evolution. I think there’s a steady American roots thing going on in my music, and I don’t mean that it’s going to come out like ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’ or something too country, but it’ll be some kind of roots scenario. I’ve always been into country and have been getting more into it lately. I read Jerry Lee Lewis’s biography – ‘Hellfire’ by Nick Tosches and George Jones’ autobiography. Since then I’ve basically been out of control reading about nerdy music things; especially Nick Tosches. I guess I’ve been a bit obsessed since my record came out.”

With talk of music nerdiness and an obvious knowledge of music history and lineage, Vile could be assumed to be a hardcore musicologist and collector. The truth is more interesting, however.

“I prefer to not have too many obscure records,” he says. “I have old country, blues and soul records. The stuff I get into is usually popular at one time or another. These days, if I go to the record store the records I want only cost two dollars or something anyways; ‘Country’s Greatest Hits’ or something. I usually space out and don’t even know what comes out in a particular year, but my buddy Luke Roberts put out a record which was great. Heron Oblivion’s record was great. I’ve had my head in the clouds listening to a lot of old music.”

Despite constant touring and having critically-acclaimed albums on his resume, the amiable Vile keeps his feet on the ground. As recently as 2009 he was working in a brewery while recording his third album.

“The constants are my two little daughters and my wife,” he says. “We just moved to a bigger house. It’s not a mansion, although it feels like it because I’ve never had any room my whole life. We’re also keeping our little house so I can go back to my roots and record there. So my everyday life lately has been carting things between these two houses and driving around. I’m pretty comfortable driving around in general, listening to music and zoning out. I’ve also done some little side projects. I did some songs with Courtney Barnett when I was in Australia last time; I’m not sure when they’ll come out or anything. I recorded in Nashville with a bunch of legendary old dudes. I’ve been in the studio with the Violators and I’ve been getting my home studio together, so I’ve kind of got my hands on a lot of different things and it’s all coming along.”

With 2017 mere days away, February comes quickly for Kurt Vile fans.

“The Violators are playing New Year’s at the Fillmore in Philadelphia, and a couple more shows in New York and Boston,” he says. “We have one more tour around Florida late January, then that lines me up to go solo and see you guys.”

Kurt Vile plays Taronga Zoo on Friday 3rd March and QPAC on Thursday 9th March

For Scenestr

Record review: Camp Cope – Camp Cope (2016, LP)

camp cope

There are at least two very distinct sides to Melbourne indie-punk trio Camp Cope. One is bruised and broken, while another is defiant and angry, and it’s this juxtaposition that makes their debut record such a captivating release. Spawned from singer-guitarist Georgia Maq’s musical outlet for social commentary and her take on relationships, misogyny, and the degradation of working life, this eight-track effort delights and demands attention in equal measure. Single ‘Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams’ is a good starting point and could read as an audacious anti-Trump-and-everything-he-stands-for statement, while ‘Lost (Season One)’ finds Maq railing against the middle-of-the-road. It’s refreshing to hear a band making statements rather than platitudes, and the singer doesn’t hold back with her often brutal lyrics. “I could look at you naked and all I’d see would be anatomy / You’re just bones and insecurity, flesh and electricity to me”, from ‘Flesh and Electricity’ is a prime example, but it’s all carried off with a vulnerability that makes you believe she’s trying to convince herself more than anyone else. It’s not all heavy-themed Debbie Downer-ing either; pop culture and television aficionados will find much to enjoy, with sneaky references to X-Files, Twin Peaks and Lost peppered among the barbs. Like a dowsing rod pointing to primo tuneage, Poison City Records have done it again. If all you anxious punks out there don’t get onto this, you’re stupider than I look.

For The Brag

Record review: Emma Louise – Supercry (2016, LP)

emma louise supercry

It’s been three years coming, but Emma Louise’s second album is finally here and there are questions to be answered. What has changed in the singer-songwriter’s world since her first EP in 2011 and debut album two years later? Is the Brisbane-based artist still comfortable laying her soul bare in her songs? And what exactly is a Supercry?

Given the amount of time Australian and international audiences have been appreciating her considerable talents since she won a state-wide songwriter’s prize at just 16, Emma Louise already feels like a veteran of Australian music. Perhaps it’s the timelessness of her indie-pop tracks, again apparent on Supercry, that make her feel like an old-timer in these parts, despite being barely 25. Perhaps it’s the quality and depth of her lyrics, which yet again sound like they’ve been written by someone with decades behind them in the singer-songwriter business.

What’s changed between releases is simultaneously not much and just about everything: her voice is as delicate and engrossing as ever, but the drama is ratcheted up several notches from past releases; no doubt a result of a few more years of life experience.

‘West End Kids’, with a tip of the hat to Brisbane’s left-leaning community south of the river, is sparse and nostalgic, ‘Talk Baby Talk’ is an emotion-charged last roll of the relationship dice, ‘Everything Will Be Fine’ sees the singer in self-assurance mode, as does ‘Illuminate’, which sees her declare “I know I’m braver than this”. The mood is grand and graceful throughout, even if it walks a fine line between triumphant and troubled along the way.

Now, Supercry isn’t Saturday night listening; it won’t get you pumped up for a big night. It will, however, soothe your tortured soul and ease you into a state of transcendence within no time at all. By the end of a first listen it’s still not clear exactly what a Supercry is, but with this collection of songs, Emma Louise has cemented her place as one of Australia’s finest young songwriters.

Supercry is out Friday, 15th July

For Music Feeds

Record review: GL – Touch (2016, LP)

gl touch

Former Bamboos buddies Graham Pogson (G) and Ella Thompson (L) are a band on a mission. The sound of their debut album lies somewhere in the realm of electro/funk/soul/r&B/pop, and while caring about fitting into an easily-defined category is nowhere near the agenda, the duo’s obvious goal appears to be getting people dancing. This generous 14-song collection will most certainly do that and more, as killer track after killer track is revealed and at no point does the quality take a dip. A constant throughout is the ghost of ’80s electronica, albeit strained through a filter of contemporary Australian pop. ‘Number One’ is perhaps the silkiest track here, while single ‘Hallucinate’ brings the funk and ‘Grip’ the bass. Elsewhere, ‘Scully’ introduces a little menace and ‘Cheap Shot’ is Thriller-era pop with better vocals. Thompson must be a contender for busiest musician of the year, having released a record with Dorsal Fins and a solo album in the past few months, and as with anything she is involved in, her voice which steals the show; she could probably sing pages of the dictionary and her soulful delivery would still melt the hardest of hearts. Touch doesn’t sound like much else being released right now and debut albums shouldn’t be this assured. What the GL have these guys been drinking?

For Beat

Interview: Ziggy Marley

ziggy marley

HE’S perhaps most well-known as the son of legendary reggae artist Bob Marley, but seven-time Grammy Award-winner Ziggy Marley is a major musical force in his own right, as well as being one of the nicest guys in the business.

Marley has just released his sixth solo studio album, Ziggy Marley, and explains how the record is not only the latest chapter in his career, but continues to carry the message of positivity fans of his father’s music will recognise.

Congratulations on the new album. How does it feel having just released it?

I feel good. I feel like it’s the record I wanted to release with the words I wanted to say. I think it shows some progress, you know? It shows what I’ve learnt through my whole musical journey. I like it.

Many of the themes are of togetherness and unity. What influences your writing in this way?

It’s because that’s the solution, you know? Why do we never put the solution into what we do? We don’t just want to talk about problems, we want to talk about solutions: love, unity and peace. That’s the only way the world is going to survive. Even though we talk about other things on the record, we always come back to solutions.

Is writing like this a reaction to the many divisive people on the world stage right now, or would you write like that anyway?

It’s a reaction to my reality, which is this world. It’s what I see and what I feel around me. This world is small now; everything that happens affects me. Whether it be something in Syria or in my back yard, I’m affected by these things. I’m inspired to speak and say what I feel about these things. I say what I’m inspired to say and that’s just how it is.

Is it difficult to be consistently positive?

It used to be difficult sometimes. But for this record, I am sure of love being the winner. I am sure of it, I am positive of it. If the guys who want to fight wars and divide people can succeed in their dreams, why can’t we who want peace and love succeed in our dreams? So their actions really show that our actions can succeed. If they can make wars and division happen, we can make peace and love happen. Of course we can make it happen. I know that.

Is there any extra pressure with this album, given your last won a Grammy?

No, I don’t think about the Grammy. Sometimes a critic might say something that shows they understand what I’m trying to say, and then I might think about it [laughs].

How important is it for you to release the record on your own label?

The way the industry is now, it’s the only way I can do it, because the Internet and streaming means I am not selling CDs; most people stream their music now. So I don’t need a big record company to do that for me. I’m satisfied with where I am, and I know what my place is and what I have to say. The freedom to be able to say it is very important, and I’m very happy that we’re independent.

Is there any significance in releasing a self-titled album at this point in your career?

I don’t know the reason. Things happen for a reason and sometimes you don’t know why. Eventually you’ll find out, and I’m still waiting to find out why it’s called Ziggy Marley. We tried everything else and that’s what came up. Who know why that happened? Usually we give it a title from the album; my last album was called Fly Rasta because we had a song called ‘Fly Rasta’. Love is My Religion and Wild and Free [were the same]. Normally I feel those songs fit and I feel good, but for this record, for some reason, none of the names gave the feeling that they fit, you know? So we just went with Ziggy Marley.

Being the son of the most well-known and loved reggae artist of all time: what are the pros and cons?

People love my father and they love me, but I think they also love me because of who I am too and what I’m doing. I hope I’m adding to the philosophy, idea and legacy. We get a lot of love. And the cons? It doesn’t even matter to me. What it is, it is, I get through life and don’t study that. I just deal in love; that’s all I’ve got [laughs].

When can we expect to see you in Australia?

Right now, I’m starting a U.S. and South American tour, but next year we would like to come down to Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii. I’m looking forward to coming down and playing some music for the Australian people.

Would you prefer a festival or your own shows?

I would prefer a festival because you can get to more people. I would prefer to play to more people as that’s how I can get the message across. But we can do it any size, big or small.

Byron Bay Bluesfest could be pretty perfect for you.

Yeah, that’s always nice.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

I’m touring, I’m putting out a cookbook soon, I did some acting on an American TV series called Hawaii 5-0; I might do that again, I don’t know. But mostly touring.

What is the cookbook you’re doing?

It’s a cookbook done by me and my wife and some friends of ours. We’re putting together a cookbook with some Caribbean-infused recipes, you know? It’s organic cooking.

What’s your specialty?

It’s oatmeal, man [laughs]. But I mix up a lot of stuff in there, it’s not just oatmeal.

Ziggy Marley by Ziggy Marley is out now.

For The AU Review

Record review: Summer Flake – Hello Friends (2016, LP)

summer flake hello friends

What a pleasure it is to give an album a spin after enjoying a single, and finding out the whole lot is as good as the individual reason you arrived at this place in the first instance. Such is the case with Hello Friends, the excellent second album from Melbourne-via-Adelaide musician Stephanie Crase (formerly of Batrider). The instantly-familiar ’90s guitar-pop sound of single ‘Shoot and Score’ provides a good indication of what’s to be discovered across ten tracks. At first it all sounds so sunny and warm, but there’s darkness just out of shot at many points, and Crase is often in a scathing mood. Opener ‘Son of a Gun’ finds her in such a headspace, but it’s more contemplative than combative, while ‘Make Your Way Back to Me’ is part Sonic Youth, part dream-pop transcendence. The distortion-driven ‘Wine Won’t Wash Away’ is a highlight, while the slow, gentle guitar lines and reflective lyrics of ‘Tumbling Down’ and ‘So Long’ are no less engaging. Crase’s skill is in making it all seem so effortlessly easy, whether it’s witheringly dissecting those around her, switching from loud to quiet à la the Pixies, or peeling off an epic solo, and there’s a lingering feeling she’s not really taking it all seriously, which only adds to the appeal. The musical reference points are clear, but its Crase’s contradictions which make this such an appealing collection of tracks, and there’s much more here than meets the eye.

For Beat

Record review: Australia – Portraits of People, Places and Movies (2016, LP)

australia the band album

There’s a reason it took until just recently for someone to have the gonads to call their band Australia: it’s a moniker that will invite all manner of cliché and lame comment. It’s a good job then that the Sydney group, formed by core members Guy Fenech, Oliver Marlan and Nick Franklin, have the musical chops to give anyone who hears them something else to consider; mainly that they are an indie-pop band with imagination and talent coming out of their ears. The lead single from their debut album, ‘Wake in Fright’, provides one of the best examples of this. A foreboding bass line, Fenech’s crooning, and distorted guitars make for a track that ticks boxes on many levels. There’s big production to match all the big synth numbers, while things get softer on the more sentimental ‘In My Dreams’ and ‘Not the Place I Know’, on which Fenech does a decent melancholy Bowie for an impressive five minutes. The jewel in the stereotypically-antipodean synth-pop crown is the danceable ‘Love is Better’, which brings the ’80s kicking and screaming into the present with unstoppable momentum and a shout-along chorus. Overall, it’s a lot of fun and it’s clear the band doesn’t take itself too seriously despite the lofty name (their T-shirts read “Australia – the band. Not the country, not a country band”). Tip: for best results, type ‘Australia – the band’ when Googling.

For The Brag

Andrew Innes of Primal Scream: “When you grow up in Scotland you’re a bit more anti-authority”

primal scream

MUCH like a rectangular container filled with assorted sweet confectionery, the best thing about a new Primal Scream album is you never know what you’re going to get.

Since their mid-eighties formation the Scottish band have dipped their collective toes in jangle-pop, acid house, dub, Stones-influenced rock, krautrock and electronica, all while raising enough hell to kill off many a band of weaker constitution.

As the Scream’s eleventh album Chaosmosis is released this month, guitarist Andrew Innes explains that while the band may have left their hell-raising days behind, they are still as experimental and angry as ever.

“We try to keep moving on and trying new things,” he says. “I always buy new bits of equipment, and that’s how the band evolves. We don’t just sit down and write on the guitar we’ve written songs on for ages. Some of the most mental sounds on [the new album] are things [Northern Irish DJ/composer] David Holmes e-mailed me about. He said I should get this fuzzbox because it’s insane and told me to just buy it and don’t even think about it. What people think are distorted synths are a guitar through this crazy fuzzbox. One of the pluggers of the record said ‘What’s that terrible noise at about two minutes thirty? I think it’s a god-damned synthesiser; can we edit it out?’ I e-mailed back telling him it was one of my finest guitar solos in the last ten years. The sound evolved to be quite electronic, and because we’re using electronic synths, the drums are also quite electronic.”

After a dalliance with Byrds-esque pop the band broke big with 1991’s Screamadelica, a masterpiece of acid house and neo-psychedelia. A long period of success and excess followed, and Innes admits writing songs is much easier these days with the benefit of a clear head.

“I think you get better at your craft,” he says. “ Now, the bit that’s inspiration is hard, but the bit that’s perspiration isn’t as hard. Being more together – I mean, obviously we aren’t as crazy as we were in 1993 – means you know right away what’s good or not. We don’t have that thing where you get up in the morning after working all night and don’t know whether it’s good or not; you know right away. Things are a bit less hectic than they used to be, shall we say.”

A constant in Primal Scream albums over time has been the sense the band has its finger on the political pulse. Chaosmosis is no different, says Innes.

“Songs like ‘Golden Rope’ and ‘When the Blackout Meets the Fallout’ [are political],” he says. “’Autumn in Paradise’ is about devastated towns and communities in Britain. Maybe there’s not as much in-your-face shouting about it as there has been in the past, but it’s more subtle. [The British Conservative government] made that promise about making the north a powerhouse and they don’t give a fuck; they really don’t care. As soon as the Tories got a majority they just got on with doing what they want to do, which is making the world safer for their mates, and making the world better for big business. The weird thing is, in the past the Tories would have at least thrown a bone to the middle classes, but they don’t even give a fuck about them any more. That’s how it’s changed; the doctors are on strike for God’s sake, and [the government] doesn’t care. They care about their pals; the big corporations and that’s it. And the sad thing about it is people in the south of England vote for it. People in the old industrial heartlands in the north don’t vote for it, the Scottish definitely don’t vote for it, the Welsh don’t vote for it, and the Irish don’t vote for it. My friend has a good theory that the English had their revolution too early. It was maybe 100 years too early, and then they wanted their king back. They like being subjects, but when you grow up in Scotland you’re a bit more anti-authority.”

Picking top-drawer collaborators is another skill the bad has mastered. This time around, Haim feature on opener ‘Trippin’ On Your Love’, Rachel Zeffira pops up on ‘Private Wars’, and Sky Ferreira duets on lead single ‘Where the Light Gets In’.

“We met Haim on Jools Holland’s show,” Innes explains. “They are lovely girls and we just clicked and liked them. They’ve got this thing that siblings have, because they’ve been singing together all their lives; they’re just good and know what they’re doing. They brought this sunshine to the record, and it was a great honour for us. They were on tour and only had something like four hours off, and they came round to the studio when they could have been having a rest. Then we had this song that we thought would be a good duet, and Sky’s name came up. Luckily we knew someone who knew her, but we thought she might not know who we were because we’re not that big in America, but she was more than happy. She can really sing and as I was recording I got to listen to just how good she is, just like I did with Robert Plant on the last album.”

The band have no immediate plans for an Australian visit, but that could all change with one phone call, Innes says.

“All we need is one of those Australian promoters,” he says. “I’ve been telling people that next January is free, because you can’t beat leaving [the UK] and heading south, preferably for three weeks [laughs]. If there are any promoters out there, we’re just a call away and we’re ready to work.”

Chaosmosis is out now.

For The Brag

Record review: Violent Soho – Waco (2016, LP)

violent soho waco

Possible reactions to the news Violent Soho have called their new album after a Texan town famous for a religious cult siege include (a) Oh FFS, they’re going for the American market, it’s going to be too polished, (b) Please don’t let them be turning into U2, or simply (c) Hell fuck yeah, a new Violent Soho album. Thankfully a first listen reveals the band to be the same Mansfield scruffs they have always been, and most certainly not prepared to switch from XXXX to Budweiser just yet. After the all-conquering success of 2013’s Hungry Ghost, the quartet must have wondered whether sticking with the tried-and-trusted alt-rock formula or trying something different was the right move, and it’s the former policy that has won out here. Shout-along anthems (‘Viceroy’, ‘Like Soda’, ‘Holy Cave’), drug references (‘How to Taste’) and huge grunge-y riffs (just about everything else) are the ingredients long-term fans know and love, while there are changes of pace in slow-burning closer ‘Low’ and Foos-esque ‘Evergreen’. It took eight months for singer-guitarist Luke Boerdam to write the 11 tracks here, and he has kept his subject matter as close-to-home as always: boredom, drinking and smoking with friends, and the expectations of modern life are tackled with honesty and heart. It’s been a long, hard road for Violent Soho to get where they are today, but if Hungry Ghost was their breakthrough, Waco will be the album that cements their place as one of Australia’s best rock bands.


For The Brag

Record review: Big Bad Echo – It Takes A Big Dog To Weigh A Tonne (2016, EP)

big bad echo it takes a big dog to weigh a tonne

Convention, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing, if the excellent seven-track debut EP from Brisbane-via-Rockhampton quintet Big Bad Echo is anything to go by. It’s for this reason it’s such a refreshingly-eclectic release: fuzz-rock, cacophonous drones, spoken-word monologues, off-kilter psychedelia, and a catchy lead single combine to make a record that throws up one high-quality surprise after another. ‘Cannon Fire’ and ‘Half Polyester Sheets’ provide an opening 11 minutes of pounding layers of noise fit for any late-night road trip, while vocalist Mick Reddy recalls Jim Morrison at his most shamanistic. ‘Ice Breaker’ is the obvious single, although its repetitive rumblings and ruminations are far from radio-friendly and all the better for it. “All I ever wanted is to fall at your feet” Reddy sings, amid an outpouring of angst, urgency and reverb. ‘Two Crows Flying’ takes a turn for the weird, as a dismal vocal fights for space with searing guitars and a sinister synth, and closer ‘Blink Your Eyes’ mashes all the aforementioned elements into the type of six-minute, Herculean beast of a track that leaves instruments and musicians alike bruised and broken. Witnessing a band marching triumphantly to the sound of their own – somewhat peculiar – drum makes you hope they can make an album, as all the evidence Big Bad Echo have offered thus far points to something big, and certainly not bad.

For The Brag

Record review: DIIV – Is The Is Are (2016, LP)

diiv is the is are

DIIV’s second album marks Zachary Cole-Smith’s return from the brink of career suicide, having been widely labelled a heroin-addled waster since his September 2013 arrest for narcotics possession with his girlfriend, singer/model Sky Ferreira. The project’s debut album Oshin was a somewhat overlooked masterpiece, and it took the frontman and songwriter to kick his drug problems and re-launch himself into writing for this album to even see the light of day. The result is an ambitious double LP that recalls much of the glory of Oshin while expanding deeper into the realms of indie-rock, dream-pop and prog. Droning, relentless riffs, jangling chord progressions, and the whiff of New York hobo chic are again the order of the day, which provide many moments of majesty, most especially on the title track, first single ‘Dopamine’ and second track ‘Under The Sun’. Ferreira makes an appearance on lead vocals on ‘Blue Boredom (Sky’s Song)’, which never really gets going, while the feeling of ‘Mire (Grant’s Song)’ is, as the name suggests, of a singer wallowing in misery, and ‘Take Your Time’ follows the same formula, albeit with much more sombre tones. Overall, the record’s no Oshin on the whole, mostly due to the feeling that fewer tracks could have made it a more attractive package (point in case: the unnecessary, 17-second ‘(Fuck)’) and too much of the latter half of the album sounds like a single, coagulated mass. Nevertheless, Cole-Smith remains both an intriguing figure and indie-rock creative worth keeping an eye on.

For Beat