I know the joke is getting old, but I’ll repeat it anyway: what in the world is going on in Australia to produce all of this incredible punk music lately? Is it in the air? The water? Something in the Aussie diet? Well the correct answer is that this has been going on for nearly 50 years, and the larger world is finally noticing. Hot on the heels of fantastic long players by Stiff Richards and Civic, the fifth album by Melbourne-based Jackson Reid Briggs & The Heaters completes a holy trinity of essential ’20-’21 Aussie punk rock and roll long players. Originally issued in April on Legless Records, Waiting In A Corner will get its European release on Drunken Sailor Records at the end of this month. On these nine tracks, Briggs & The Heaters tear into some powerhouse rock and roll that’s got The Saints and Radio Birdman embedded in its DNA yet still sounds right at home in the modern-day world of garage and punk. This is a timeless sound done right: hard-driving, tough as nails, and crackling with raw energy. The band is on fire, and Briggs’s lyrics profoundly reflect on big picture themes like change, growth, and devastating loss. Waiting In A Corner is bookended by two brief instrumentals, so the meat of the album is the seven songs in between. And each one is totally killer! There’s nothing even close to a sub-par track on this release. I love that “Eaten Alive” and “Too Many Years” — which comprise over a third of the album’s running time — are two of its strongest tracks. Sometimes five-minute plus punk rock songs are novelties; here they are highlights.
In Drunken Sailor’s press release for Waiting In A Corner, Will Fitzpatrick characterizes the album as a “goddamn classic upon arrival”. I could not agree more. Reserve yourself a copy while you still can!
It looks like I have a new favorite EP of 2021! Based in Sydney and London, Nasty Party is a duo consisting of Nasty Simon and Rhys Nasty. Back in December, I reviewed the band’s debut EP to considerable acclaim. The follow-up has proven to be even better! All the qualities that I loved about the previous release remain fully in tact: a classic ’77-style punk sound, irresistibly catchy tunes, and incredible lyrics that opine on contemporary social and political issues. “People On The Street” leans a little more to the punk side of punk/new wave, and two of the tracks reference issues in Australia that the band cares about deeply. The title track refers to the recent “Watergate” scandal which mismanaged the largest river system in Australia. Musically, it brings to mind ’80s Clash with a touch of Wire/Gang of Four. It’s funky and jumpy and sure to get you up and dancing. And if you like a song’s opening lyrics to make an impression, dig this:
The dirtiest mutts on the planet/
Diggin’ up our own backyard/
From Parakeelia to the left wing thugs/
If you think that’s bad grab your popcorn cos/
We got irrigation thieves
Wow! Would you expect anything less from a band that calls itself Nasty Party? Just as passionate is “Locked Out”, which addresses Sydney’s draconian Lock-Out laws of 2014 that devastated the city’s small businesses. On this track, the band rips into some high energy ’77 punk-pop rooted in pub rock. Again, the lyrics are sharp as hell and full of righteous indignation. The title of the EP establishes a clear theme for this release: if your elected representatives are failing you, get out there and demand that they do better! Sandwiched in between the two political anthems is “Beautiful”, which kind of sounds like the Buzzcocks on speed. All in all, this makes for a brilliant EP and a fully satisfying follow-up to one of last year’s most promising debut records. Nasty Party hits a real sweet spot for me, with a sound rooted in the late ’70s/early ’80s and lyrics focused on right now. I can’t wait to hear what this duo does next!
LIVE AFTER LOCKDOWN: A WORLDWIDE LIVESTREAM + LIVE SHOW
On June 20 at 20:00 AEST, Caligula’s Horse are BACK with an internationally live-streamed event with a hometown crowd and a set including never-before-played material from Rise Radiant and a host of fan favourites.
Tickets for both the livestream and the live show can be purchased via https://wildthingpresents.com/ along with new and exclusive merch available (bundles include the livestream ticket).
The Livestream will be available for 48 hours post show.
“This is a very emotional moment for us – Live After Lockdown will be the first time we’ve taken to the stage in nearly two years, a return to the purpose that has driven us forward for the last 10 years, and we’re already overwhelmed with relief and anticipation at the thought,” says singer Jim Grey. “The show will be livestreamed worldwide, reaching people all around the globe, a lot of whom are still in the midst of lockdown and in the thick of the fight against COVID. We’ll be performing a number of tunes from Rise Radiant that have never seen the light of day before, and we’ll be showing the world a little taste of what it’s like to play in our hometown of Brisbane. We can’t wait to see you all again to celebrate the return of live music to Australia, and the return of Caligula’s Horse!”
Karnivool present The Decade of Sound Awake livestream – an exclusive event from the Heath Ledger Theatre in their home city of Perth, Western Australia, May 12, 2021. Tickets are available now at karnivool.com
The one-time livestream event will see the band perform their seminal, platinum selling second album ‘Sound Awake’ in its entirety plus new material and, captured on film properly for the first time, the fan favourite ‘Fade’.
“Diving back into Sound Awake as a complete performance was a sweet reminder of the layers and complexity that make it one of our most important releases.” says frontman Ian Kenny “The music pushes and pulls in complex directions, I continue to find something new when lost in its emotional turbulence.”
Singled out for its incredible contemporary design and unique acoustic properties, The Heath Ledger Theatre, designed by Australian architect & AIA Gold Medal winner Kerry Hill, is named in honour of the actor. The theatre sits in the CBD of Perth, the remotest city on earth and is far more accustomed to ballet, theatre and orchestra recitals – this beautiful room has not seen or heard the likes of Karnivool! The visually stunning performance was directed by Matt Sav, mixed by frequent Karnivool collaborator Jan Kerscher and brought to you by the streaming service behind the incredible Nick Cave ‘Idiot Prayer’ performance.
The Decade of Sound Awake Worldwide Livestream Event takes place on May 12 at 8PM (AUS/NZ AEDT), 8PM (UK GMT), 9PM (EUROPE CET)M, 8PM (US EST), 8PM (SUS PST).
Well I’ve got myself a new favorite album of 2021! The Missile Studs, representing as always for Shitsville, South Australia, have unleashed a firecracker of an LP that you’re sure to enjoy if you’re as obsessed with U.K. ’77 punk rock as I am. With Love From The Missile Studs contains nine tracks — a few of which will be familiar to you if you bought the band’s split LP with Thee Evil Twin last year (and if you didn’t, what’s the matter with you?). This, my friends, is what punk rock ought to be: simple, snotty, and so stupid that it’s brilliant. No song exceeds two-and-a-half minutes, and no fourth chord is required at any point. The album is bookended by two different versions of “Missile Studs Theme” — which by all rights should be Australia’s national anthem. In between are songs with titles like “Brain Damaged”, “Sooo Useless”, and “Kill Me Pills”. I’m sure you get the picture. If Sex Pistols/Clash/early Damned is your sweet spot for punk music, The Missile Studs are the band for you. They even do a killer version of the Buzzcocks’ classic “Boredom”! Whether you’re swilling pints of beer, pogoing around the house, or flipping off anyone within your sights, With Love is the soundtrack to a swell time. It officially releases on vinyl next month on Dirtyflair Record Company, Stamp Out Disco, and No Front Teeth Records. But you can preorder and/or download today!
Oh boy, Australian punk music continues to be absolutely on fire! It would be hard to identify just one band at the top of the current crop of killer Aussie punk groups. But you could sure make a very strong case for Melbourne-based Civic — who have finally unleashed a debut full-length album after knocking us senseless with a handful of great EPs and singles. Out on Flightless Records, Future Forecast builds on Civic’s scorching proto punk/rock and roll output of recent years. The band’s attack remains as aggressive and hard-hitting as ever, yet it adds new layers of complexity and stylistic variety. Much like another fantastic Melbourne punk band Stiff Richards, Civic has utilized the long playing format to take a massive step forward. No doubt, the influence of The Saints and Stooges still rears its beautiful head. But on Future Forecast, Civic sounds like a band that has fully come into its own and is poised to define what punk rock ought to be in the 2020s. On fierce cuts like “Another Day”, “Hollywood Nights in Hamburg”, and the ripping opener “Radiant Eye”, the band rages at full force and smashes anything in its path. Elsewhere, the foursome eases back on the tempo (but not on the power) on more sophisticated slow-burners such as “As Seen On TV”, “Tell the Papers”, and epic closer “Come To Know”. Along the way, the band also flirts with hardcore (“Just A Fix”), strange post-punk (“Sunday Best”), and old school noise rock (“Shake Like Death”). Put it all together, and you’ve got yourself a brilliant punk rock album. Of course it has roots in classic Aussie punk, but this is no rehash of old standards. Civic has got its own thing going on, and we ought to just turn up the volume and enjoy it!
Hailing from Perth Australia, Mt. Mountain are a psych band that deal in meditative expanses of sound on their new album Centre.
2021 is shaping up to be a year that traces back to two key musical movements that defined the late 70s and late 60s. One one hand there is a glut of post-punk bands coming through constantly, forever indebted to The Fall and Gang Of Four, but, on the other hand, those reaching further back are building on and redefining the world of psych. There are those bands like a/lpaca and Slift whose music rockets out in aural blasts, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard with their mystic microtonal influences, and then there are bands like Mt. Mountain. Their style of psych is one of blissful wanderings through gardens of earthly delights, witnessing the connection between space and mass, the fourth dimension entered through slowly opening doors of perception. The trip can be wild or the trip can be mellow and Mt. Mountain certainly aim for the latter on their new album, Centre.
The songs slowly reveal themselves, rising like desert suns on new days, just as the title to the track Dawn suggests. “This is the morning after. This is the dawn.” It’s the musical representation of just that, the dawning of a self-actualisation through introspection. The guitars flit in wisps over a contemplative rhythm. The vocals are sparse, leaving space for reflection as the song gently takes you to another place in your own mind. There are moments, like List, where the band pick up pace a little, but the sound is still pinned back to the light, always allowing for movement between parts where pieces can slot in to make the whole. Where some psych bands deal with the dense exploration of fuzz with paranoic results, Mt. Mountain take the opposite approach to weave together intricate soundscapes that conjure images of natural beauty.
Gently euphoric jams build together, as on Hands Together and Two Minds, until the band find themselves locked in interplay with one another. It’s a progressive and united journey, with them dealing with questions of their own spirituality and assessing their place in the world. Second Home brings shades of United States Of America’s classic eponymous album and sits on a great drum beat that is certainly the protagonist. Songs like Tassels and the fantastic Aplomb bring a more energetic dose, and a touch of Gizzard in the mix, although the decision to put the former as the album opener may lead the listener into a false sense of what the whole album experience will be. That said, it’s a minor point as the song itself is great.
On Centre, Mt. Mountain have created an album that is rich in depth and texture. There is a sense of simplicity that draws you in and holds you throughout. It might not be for those who want their psych music to inspire wild freakouts, but is certainly an album that captures a sense of elation and celebration.
Melbourne’s Blowers have released one of the year’s most essential punk rock long players. Out on Spooky Records (Australia) and Chaputa Records (Portugal), this 15-track, self-titled smasher brings to mind the 1990s heyday of blown-out budget punk trash. This is the real deal lo-fi garage punk sound: raw, rude, and catchy as hell. That may seem like such a simple musical style, but rarely have I heard it executed in such an immensely satisfying way. These tunes will have you tapping your toes, bobbing your head, and extending your middle finger in the direction of everyone who pisses you off. If you find most of the garage punk of today to be sorely lacking in foul language, sick humor, and general savagery, Blowers will fully restore your faith in humanity. An absolutely brilliant debut!
They may be from Victoria, Australia, but Love And The Weather’s debut EP is a delicious slice of Americana. Gordon Rutherford reviews for Louder Than War.
If you’ve ever seen Paris, Texas, that epic Wim Wenders movie, you will be familiar with the opening scenes. Like a man possessed, Harry Dean Stanton walks the ravaged, arid landscape of the Lone Star state. The sky is massive, the panorama never ending. Love And The Weather don’t hail from Texas, they aren’t even American, but their brand of indie-folk/alt-country/shoegaze sounds like the perfect soundtrack to accompany those images.
In fact, the band hail from Barwon Heads, Australia, but their sound bears comparison with the very best of Americana. They recently announced themselves to the world with the release of their eponymously titled, and quite wonderful, debut EP. This six-track collection is a beguiling gem, built around astonishingly mature songwriting by vocalist/guitarist Natisha Sands and outstanding recording and mixing from Casey Hartnett (Sleep Decade, Sui Zhen, Sagamore).
Despite the sheen of the production, the songs feel close and homespun, almost as though the band are present in the room, playing just for you. Perhaps that intimate feel comes about because Love And The Weather is something of a family affair with two Sands’s (Natisha and bassist George) and two Hartnett’s (multi-instrumentalist Casey and drummer Monty). One only hopes that tenor saxophonist Stephen Elsom didn’t feel too awkward.
The other vibe, as referenced at the top of this piece is heat. Intense, scorched, desert-like heat. It’s a collection that feels like the sun beating down from its apogee at high noon whilst a buzzard circles overhead. It’s a cantina located close to the border. It’s late night noir, motel room ceiling-fan pointlessly whirring above. Much of that feeling is created by the intimate feel to the songs. As the music unfolds, it feels like it’s wrapping itself around you. Constantly present are Hartnett’s resonant guitar lines, which bring a Chris Isaak/Ry Cooder feel; one that feels distant yet so close. When listening, you may want to have an ice-cold flannel to hand.
The EP introduces itself with the dreamy Touch You, an opener dominated by Natisha Sands’s reverby vocal. It’s a decent starter which has the mood of Springsteen’s I’m On Fire, but the main course begins in earnest with the second track. Only Star is a faraway-sounding, late night treasure. It is reminiscent of Lady Lamb The Beekeeper’s work on 2013’s brilliant Ripely Pine, particularly Sands’s voice. Her awe-inspiring pipes and intricate lyrics dazzle on this tune, augmented by Casey Hartnett’s laid back guitar twanging supportively. And when Elsom’s sax kicks in, it’s like honey dripping.
Only Star is quite superb, but the best is yet to come. The following track, Coming Back, is the highlight of this collection. It’s Sands’s best vocal performance, and that’s really saying something. Like an indie torch chanteuse, she turns in a smouldering performance, sounding like peak Tracey Thorn. As it does throughout, George Sands’s bass provides a rock solid platform and, again, Elsom’s sax adds an incredible dimension, creating a moody, late-night atmosphere. It feels like a song that has been created to carry the weight of the world’s broken hearts.
Things stall a little with Feel Ya, the most straight-ahead track on the album. It’s not a bad song by any manner of means, it just doesn’t really progress as imaginatively as its peers. No matter, things quickly escalate again with the superb Heart On My Sleeve. The mood is created by Hartnett’s soulfully strummed guitar, laying a path for Sands’s breathy vocal. Sixty seconds in, it takes a shift in dynamic when Monty Hartnett’s drums kick in. The chord structure is so unexpectedly inventive, hooking you right in. Underpinning all of this is an incredible sounding Theravox, played by Casey Hartnett. This synth sounds like a pedal steel guitar, bringing a real sense of the big country. The EP’s closer, Tornado, is a paired-back ballad built around Hartnett’s Ry Cooder-esque guitar. It’s a lovely conclusion to this incredibly enjoyable collection.
If I had one tiny criticism it would be that it’s all over far too soon. Love And The Weather’s debut is an incredibly enjoyable listen, with plenty enough variety between its six tracks to keep you fully engaged throughout. For an EP, there’s a helluva lot going on. The musicianship and production are excellent and Natisha Sands is a sublime musician and songwriter who also happens to possess the voice of an angel. There’s no doubt in my mind that a big future lies ahead for them and if you take my advice you will get on board now before they become unfashionably famous.
Love And The Weather is available on Bandcamp. The band are also on Twitter.
All words by Gordon Rutherford. More writing by Gordon can be found in his archive.
Kirin J Callinan, enfant terrible of the Australian music scene and father of the screaming cowboy meme is back with his new single Dumb Enough.
Following on from Return To Center, his magnificently idiosyncratic covers album, Dumb Enough is another shot of eccentric joy. There’s a low-key country edge to the song, but mostly it sounds like someone’s smartarsed teenage brother tried to write a piss-take of late Eighties MOR rock ballads and accidentally made it good. That’s a compliment by the way.
If Callinan has a trademark it’s sitting right on the line of parody while still keeping one foot in what feels like sincerity. It would be easy to view him purely as a kind of musical shitposter fishing for the next viral spike but he knows when to pull back and let the good sounds win you over too. The backing vocals in Dumb Enough are a perfect example of this – teetering so close to being silly, but ultimately being deliciously melodically moreish.
Lyrically it performs the same sleight of hand, lulling you in with bad grammar and references to the president before serving up the vision of him smiling in a guillotine as “death falls like rain.” Just as this briefly untethers you from the faux-dumbness, you are swept back along on the oh-so-familiar-but-can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-why melody and forget there’s actually something quite smart going on here after all.
Once described by Neil Finn as “a person with a penchant for mischief and exhibitionism” Callinan has had a string of controversies, flamboyant imagery, headline-grabbing quotes and performance art stunts attached to his name. This track definitely feels like, if not an apology, then an acknowledgement of some of his less advisable behaviour. Like the man himself it’s sort of awful, sort of brilliant – and that’s its charm.
Old enough to know better, dumb enough to do much worse.