Monday, July 4, 2011

Thee Oh Sees - 'I Need Seed'

If there’s one thing San-Franciscan, garage pioneers Thee Oh Sees are not short of its albums. Since 2007, the band has churned out L.P after L.P, documenting the bands evolution from a psychedelic, noise experiment to a well-rounded garage rock band. ‘I need seed’, the first single off the band’s latest release ‘Castlemania’ is another stylistic step forward as front man John Dwyer adopts a sonically cleaner approach. Nonetheless, at its core, it’s still very much an embodiment of the defining sound of Thee Oh Sees. A fantastic video too.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pear Shape - 'Righteousness'

It may not be the best time of year for fruit in Australia, but pears are certainly ripe and ready to be sampled. Sydney-Siders, Pear Shape continue to parade their own brand of infectiously joyous pop-rock on the track ‘Righteousness’. Set upon the backdrop of a Sydney Indie music scene saturated in brooding experimentalism and ambience, Pear Shape provides a refreshingly accessible alternative. Calling on their 60s predecessors The Kinks and The Zombies, Pear Shape embodies the happy, carefree spirit of the decade through their catchy melodies, jangly guitars and angelic vocals. Uncomplicated, jovial tunes are what this youthful quartet is all about.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The New Brigade - Iceage

In a society dominated by synthesizers and Macbooks, it has become progressively difficult for contemporary punk bands to flourish and still endorse the spirit of traditional punk rock. Nowadays, it seems as though the only punk bands that can still make a name for themselves are those that infuse it with thick layers of noise, jovial 60s surf rock or 90’s slacker alt rock. Despite the fact that Copenhagen quartet Iceage heavily utilize the thick reverb of modern noise rock, these teens have captured the recklessness, rebellion and apocalyptic chaos of what punk rock was traditionally founded upon. Quoted as “having the makings of greatness” matching up to the likes of punk heroes No Age and Fucked Up, Jacob, Elias, Dan and Johan are only in their late teens and have already exhibited blatant signs of weathered musical chemistry which shines on their debut release ‘New Brigade’. Embracing the guts of mutinous punk rock, the greatness of this teenage act lies in their ability to capture the perfection of imperfection. Manic guitars paraded out of tune, drums clamorously played at a high velocity and a wealth of reverb over inaudible vocals showcase the bands stylistic sophistication promoting a unique, raw post-punkness which Iceage manage to nail. I briefly caught up with the raucous teens to chat about the Danish punk scene, macbooks, their recent LP ‘New Brigade’ and keeping well away from meaninglessness.

GC: When was Ice Age born and how did you guys meet?

IA: Some of us met in grade school, I think you call it that, many years ago. Johan and Dan met each other when they were six years old; I got to know them when I was about ten. We all go pretty way back.

GC: I here you guys are on the bill for the Roskilde festival in July. How’s it going to be playing alongside acts like ‘Weekend’, ‘PJ Harvey’ and ‘Iron Maiden’?

IA: Well we’re probably not gonna be playing the same stage as Iron Maiden and stuff. We played there before; last year actually, it’s really fun… Such a big stage.

GC: How does it compare to playing a smaller, quainter venue like what you guys are used to?

IA: Yeah it’s a lot different – you don’t feel as close to the audience, you feel like you’re on television or something like that

GC: A large proportion of the garage and new wave punk scene in Denmark is pretty Danish sounding. I guess one of the things that stands out in your music is your choice to sing in English. Was this a conscious decision or more of a natural progression?

IA: Yeah more natural, we don’t really enjoy writing in Danish. I don’t know why…it sounds weird. I mean, I think it can be good too in that it can be very direct, it depends how you want it.

GC: I guess this has probably aided your international recognition too…

IA: Yeah I think so, definitely

GC: Having been here for around three months now, it’s hard to find much wrong with this city or country, aesthetically and politically. Is Danish punk focused primarily on things like protest and rebellion? Do you look inwards to Denmark for inspiration or outwards?

IA: Well, there are also quite a few political bands…not so much right now. A couple of years ago it was very radical, left wing and anarchical…but it seems like that has kind of faded a bit. I don’t think we look to other countries for inspiration, you can find a lot of it in Denmark. I dont like our government either, thats just not what we´ve chosen to make songs about. Probably because we dont see a chance at changing a thing.

GC: This brings me to the lyrics in your songs. A lot of them are quite hard to understand in the way that you can’t actually hear the words being sung. Was this done for stylistic purposes? To maybe give it that raw edge…and what are you guys mainly singing about?

IA: Well first of all I don’t try to sing like you can’t understand what I’m singing…that’s just how it sounds. We do have the lyrics with the record. And yeah what are we singing about? Very different things, personal issues mainly. We are not supposed to explain exactly what all of our songs are about. They are in the sleeve of the record so people can make of them what they want. we write about stuff that affect our lives like brotherhood, sex, love, pressure, trying to stay away from meaninglessness and feeling like shit, but also more abstract issues.

GC: Having listened to quite a bit of your music, it’s really got that quintessential, post-punk rawness, a sound that conveys so much about the band to the listener. What does DIY mean to you and how important do you think it is in an age of macbooks?

IA: Well, it’s something I appreciate. I don’t like it when people make a scene and then on the first page they’ll have this propaganda about how they did it themselves. It’s just something you should do. You
shouldn’t promote it. It gets annoying if you keep telling people that you’re doing this yourself. It should be more of a natural thing.

GC: Given the fact that you guys are still quite young, do you feel that it's easy for your success to go to your heads? Is their now a greater ambition for you guys to produce another record? Also, how do you think your song writing has matured or changed as you have grown older?

IA: I don’t think it will get to our heads. It’s just a matter of knowing what you and your music is and is not instead of believing what people tell you you are. That and not being a idiot.

As for the next record - of course we have great ambitions for it - but not ambitions to free some kind of expectations from the outside world. The next record will be what we want the next record to be and now we are working on making it become that.
It’s hard to tell how the songs we have written since new brigade differ from the old ones yet, but I think some of them might have a heavier and sometimes more vulnerable feel.

GC: On a global basis, It’s quite hard these days for punk bands to break into the ‘indie’ music scene. Artists like Jay Reatard, No Age and Weekend prove that punk/post punk acts need to have something special in order to do this. You guys have been compared to these bands quoted as having “the makings of greatness”. How does it feel to be compared to bands of this magnitude?

IA: It’s really weird getting all these emails all the time with people offering you crazy shit…it’s hard not to get carried away with it all. You don’t really know how much of it will happen and how much is real, because at the end of it, it’s just emails.

GC: Yeah, and you guys mentioned before that your potentially going on a tour with ‘Fucked Up’ in Europe

IA: Yeah I mean it’s not 100% sure; we got a list of potential countries. But it was weird that they had heard of us…I mean they’re not really an idol band of ours but it is cool to be recognized by a band like ‘Fucked Up’…to be honest I’ve never really listened to them. But I have no fucken idea how our music gets heard by these people. It’s crazy.

Check out the first single and video off 'New Brigade'

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fucked Up - 'The Other Shoe'

It was never going to be easy for Fucked Up to match their genre defying, 2008 release “The Chemistry of Common Life.” Regarded as one of the best “hardcore punk” albums of the last decade” Fucked Up managed to combine genial flutes, tribal bongos, heavy distortion and a front man with a voice that may have been attained through eating shards of broken glass. This superbly executed, unique concoction earned the band the 2009 ‘Polaris Music Prize’ for “The Chemistry of Common Life”. The first single “The Other Shoe” off their upcoming album “David Comes to Life” is perhaps the band’s most pop-driven song to date. However, the playful bar chords and angelic female vocalist are shrouded by front man Damian Abraham, belting his own brand of powerful, gritty vocals as he always does. ‘The Other Shoe’ proves that Fucked Up certainly have the potential to eclipse the benchmark set on ‘The Chemistry of Common Life’. Mark down the 7th of June in your calendar when the album ‘David Comes to Life’ is released through Matador records.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

'Yuck' - 03/03/2011 - Loppen, Copenhagen

It really shits me when a band produces a well-crafted; captivating album that is followed by a sub-par, lackluster concert. If you’ve already musically and emotionally invested in a band, an average or shitty gig can often be a deflating experience, feeling as if the band has inadvertently betrayed you in some weird way. Such is the case with 90’s revivalists Yuck, as they took the stage at the quaint ‘Loppen’ in Copenhagen last Thursday. After having the album on immediate rotation since its release in early February, I won't lie, I was pretty psyched to see these guys live.

The night began with UK solo act Porcelain Raft whose lonesome stage presence was shrouded by an abundance of atmospheric noise that bounced from one graffiti-stained wall to another. Despite the lack of crowd atmosphere, the sound was pretty good and he proved to be a decent warm up act, wetting the appetites of the few Yuck fans in the venue. At around 11pm, the headliners sauntered up on to the tiny stage, picked up their instruments and launched straight into their lead single ‘Holing Out’. Rather than acknowledging his surroundings, a possibly stoned Daniel Blumberg stood there lifeless, hunched over his microphone, murmuring the lyrics to the songs off the Yuck self-titled debut. The thing that annoyed me the most about this concert was not even the band’s reluctance to interact with each other or the audience, but rather the image they might have been trying to invoke by doing this. That ‘too cool’, aloof pose of 1990’s grunge bands - and where seminal acts like Sonic Youth and Nirvana may’ve been able to pull that off, it didn’t work all that well for Yuck. With that, there was little for the crowd to feed off as an unsettling silence and stillness filled the venue between tracks. However, for what the band lacked in stage presence and sociability they made amends for in the quality of sound; the rich, penetrating distortion of Blumberg’s guitar and the undeniably infectious melodies that captured that quintessential 90’s alt rock sound of the recent album. The highlight of the show and incidentally the album too was the closing track ‘Rubber’. Admittedly, I thought the band would have struggled with the live performance of such a finely produced track, but I was proven wrong. It even had Blumberg, bassplayer Mariko Doi and guitarist Max Bloom moving about the stage. The 8 minute song, followed by an extended slur of noise emanating from the guitar’s amplifiers closed the show. The band walked off stage without so much as a glance toward the clapping audience and didn’t bother to return with a song or two more. Perhaps I’m being rather harsh on the four-piece, but it’s always nice to know that the band appreciates the fans support as much as the fans value the music.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

School Knights - 'Fuck The Beach'

I don't think School Knights were striving for originality when they wrote this song. By naming this track 'Fuck The Beach', one gets to thinking that this Colorado act are more than aware of the genre they fall into. But despite the song's generic prowess, god damn, it really is a lot of fun to listen to. Much like the fuzzy pop-punk sound of the second Wavves album,'Fuck The Beach' follows a similar, but certainly effective formula - the echoing 'oohs oohs', the abundance of cymbal thrashing, the distorted bar chords. It only seems appropriate that the album be released in the summer (American) of this year..check it out yo,

School Knights - Fuck The Beach by Music For Your Mind

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Yuck - 'Yuck'

It’s all well and good to imitate bands from the 90’s. Throw a bit of Malkmus slack in with some Thurston Moore distortion, add a dash of J Mascis wah-pedal and you’ve got the perfect combination for a sweet sounding, yet essentially uninspiring ‘garage’ band. That’s not to say that I don’t like this type of music, or even to say that it doesn’t dominate most of the play time on my iTunes. Some of the time however, it fails to recreate that poignant inimitability characterised by garage heroes like Jay Reatard and Japandroids. How do these bands manage to define their sound in a world where all modern music, in essence sounds pretty damn generic? Ask multinational band Yuck and I’m sure they’d be able to shed some light on the situation. Their self-titled debut, which is now out via Fat Possum records, presents itself as an accessible microcosm of the defining sound of 90’s alternative rock. From the beginning, the opening track ‘Get Away’ reveals front man, Daniel Blumberg’s (Cajun Dance Party) infatuation with bands like Pavement and The Wrens. – the slackened fuzziness of Blumberg’s guitar, the tinny treble of Mariko Doi’s bass line, the wail of Max Bloom’s lead guitar trills are embodiments of the sound Yuck have produced on this album. The greatness of this band however doesn’t lie in their ability to imitate bands from a certain decade, but rather in their emotionally provocative melodies, coupled with their utilization of distortion and fuzz that adds a 21st century complexity to their music. It’s interesting to compare Yuck to Blumberg and Bloom’s original band Cajun Dance Party. Stylistically, they’ve certainly matured from Kooks-like British indie to create an album with a strong musical and lyrical foundation. You get the sense that Blumberg may’ve considered this when on the track ‘Sunday’ he sings “I’ve got a choice now; I’ve got a voice now”. The album reaches its climax on the last track ‘Rubber’, showcasing Blumberg’s song writing ability. Despite its repetitiveness over its 7 minute lifespan, the song captivates it’s listener from the first second as the warm distortion penetrates the eardrum, slipping in to the depths of human thought. The 90’s may be over, but Yuck are just beginning.