Album Review – Broken Social Scene, Forgiveness Rock Record

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After being occupied by aboriginal people for thousands of years, the country of Canada was settled by both the British and the French in the 15th century. With a population of around 34 million people, it is made up of 10 provinces and three territories. The most populated of these provinces is Ontario, the capital of which is Toronto. Toronto is Canada’s most populated city, with an estimated population of over 2.5 million people – all of whom are members of Broken Social Scene.

And some how the masters of BSS, Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning, have managed to coordinate all of these lovely, talented Torontonites (?) to produce yet another record, their forth in nine years.

Now in a country like Canada, where the main exports include genius music, maple syrup, double denim and marijuana, you need to make sure you have a consistently high quality of product leaving your borders in order to maintain your country’s good name. And obviously the Canadian FAMCS (Fucking Awesome Music Control Service – kinda like the Mounties) have been cracking down on BSS and its CEOs, ‘cos there isn’t much wrong on their new album, Forgiveness Rock Record.

Opener World Sick is aptly epic and fires the LP off like I’d expect your bowel movements would explode after a long night of eating the Canadian national dish, poutine (hot chips slathered with gravy and cheese curds).

This is then backed up by the surf rock guitars, Kraftwerk beats and syrupy sweet strings of Chase Scene. Meanwhile Texico Bitches sounds like an off cut from BSS’s classic 2002 album, You Forgot It In People, with it’s quirky production and disco beats.

Other stand outs include the lead single, Forced To Love, which stars all of Tontonto cutting sick; the beautifully lady-voiced, All To All, which mix masters a tremolo guitar and electronica tickle fight to perfection; and Sweetest Kill, a song that cuts through heart strings like a Saskatchewan lumber jack. I won’t go as far to say that Forgiveness Rock Record is a classic in the same vain as You Forgot It In People, but it does have classic moments, and maintains BSS’s Wayne Gretzky-like high level of consistency and performance.

Originally published on Polaroids of Androids

Album Review – The Vasco Era, Lucille

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Fuck yes! The Vasco Era! I fucking love the Vasco Era! I was at a gig of theirs once and as I put my lips to my glass of beer I discovered my beverage had transformed into a testicle milkshake! That’s how fucking hard the Vasco Era rock!

Okay, time to listen to their new record, Lucille. Am I ready? I’ve got my under 16s cricket kit on. I’m hidden behind this sturdy brick wall. Okay.

PLAY.

What the fuck is that? It sounds like Snow Patrol? Did I leave one of my ex-girlfriend’s awful fucking CDs in the stereo tray?

EJECT.

W.T.F!!!! This is the Vasco Era???

PLAY.

What the fuck is this piano shit? Why is Sid singing like he’s K.D. Lang and I’m wearing a vest? What’s this pop build up shit and windmill guitar chords?

SKIP.

Ahhh, okay. Track 2. This is better. This the Vasco Era! Wait, who the fuck is that chick singing in the background? Why is she there? Ohhh, it sounds like when they try to get women to commentate the footy!

SKIP.

Track 3. Here we go again! This is the Vasco Era! Ballsy guitar rock, drum skins getting K.O.’d, bass strings getting choked out like David Carradine. Ohhh, who the fuck let that piano back in the room again? Oh and it’s brought a fuckin’ organ with it! For fuck sake!

SKIP.

Is this a cover of the Choir Boys?

SKIP.

Marimba?

SKIP.

Ohhh yeeeaaaahhhh booooiiiiiii! This is the Vasco Era! Tear my balls off with yah voice Sid! Ted’s playing the wrong bass notes, but that’s cool. Solid chorus, awesome guitars. The vocals sound a little like Feeder, but I’ll let it slide.

Track 7. Okay, another power ballad. Still sounds like Feeder.

SKIP.

What’s that weird reverse choir sound? Oh shit, the piano’s back in. Sid’s singing like a pussy again. Where’s that scratch in his voice that rules so hard? “From my father I got these blue eyes and the knowledge that I’m stuck here.” Wow, these lyrics actually taste like a testicle milkshake.

SKIP.

Oh yeah! Scream it Sid! Sick build up! Vocals went a bit lack lustre. Chorus time – ahhhh, the chick is ruining it again!

SKIP.

A slow number… Probably building up to something fucking awesome! Here we go… What? More Snow Patrol guitars? More sing along, power ballad vocals?

STOP.

What a waste of fucking time. I’m just gonna wait till they tour again.

Originally published on Polaroids of Androids

Album Review – Otouto, Pip

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My first introduction to Hazel Brown and her sister Martha was at the now infamous Casiotone For The Clinically Depressed And Suicidal gig at the Wombarra Bowls Club. I had rocked up a little early and was polishing off what would soon be revealed as a not completely cooked chicken schnitzel, when a tour van rocked up. Like a clown taxi at the circus, Lord Casiotone The Well Girthed himself exited the vehicle, as well as what I assumed were a couple of label mates, some tag alongs and some smokin’ hot indie babes (the aforementioned Brown sisters). I distinctly remember it, because as I sliced through the pink middle of the chicken breast, I laughed out loud at the fact that a fat, hairy guy that played shitty keyboards to crowds of middy drinking locals at the Wombarra Bowls Club could still get groupies.

It wasn’t until I wandered into the dining room/salmonella factory/performance space of the club, that I realized these hot indie chicks were actually the opening act. The Browns, along with Kishore “Fuck The Drums I’ve Got Kitchen Utensils” Ryan (also of the excellent Kid Sam) formed Otouto. And quite frankly, they were fuckin great! In fact it royally pissed off Senor Casiotone when I reached right past his layers of vinyls for sale and grabbed a copy of their single Sushi (I bought a couple of CFTPA buttons to keep him from holding his breath till he passed out).

Like the gig, the single was fantastic. Hazel’s smooth vocals, stuffed full of Aussie vowel pronunciation, worked really well with her baritone guitar, her sister’s slightly drunk keyboards and Kishore ruining his mum’s new Scanpan.

The only off putting thing was the song contained some of the strangest lyrics in the Solar System: “I mistook a man eating sushi / For a man putting on a fake moustache / The rain makes it sound like there’s someone else around / The rain makes it sound like there’s someone else in the house / It rains on my heart as it rains on the town / On the corner I thought I dropped something / It was just a bird landing.” Hazel Brown be trippin’, yo!

But that didn’t matter, because the sound of the actual band was the key to Otouto and they tickled my ears like I was having maple syrup drizzled on my eardrums. And that sickly sweetness has carried over to their debut LP, Pip.

The bat shit crazy lyrics are still there, but the whole record sounds beautiful and innocent, like it was recorded by 12-year-olds using things in their dad’s back shed to make a song because it’s raining and they can’t go outside and play.

It’s also totally unique sounding, which in this day and age is a fucking hard task. The whole record isn’t perfect, but it’s always pushing to be different and I think that is the perfect approach that bands (particularly Australian bands) should be aiming for.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to openly apologise to the Brown sisters for being a male chauvinist pig and assuming you ladies were a couple of groupies, because in my opinion your band is one of the most wonderful and interesting musical projects in Australia today.

Originally published on Polaroids of Androids

Interview – Twin Sister

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Floating out of Long Island, NY, Twin Sister make dreamy, experimental pop that’s so good, you can hardly believe they make it all in their bedrooms and basements. Roving, radical reporter Rav, caught up with the band’s bass player Gabe D’Amico to talk about their latest EP Color Your Life, giving up on promoting yourself through MySpace, and why the band decided to sign with Aussie label Pop Frenzy.

How did you guys meet/start playing music together?

The five of us are all from Long Island. We played in several different bands while we were growing up and we kind of met each other playing music with different bands. As time passed we started playing more and more with each other in kind of an informal way and then two years ago it started becoming a little more serious and a little more official.

Where does the band’s name come from?

Andrea made this painting for Eric years ago. It was these two sisters around this big fish and then Eric wrote a song about it called Twin Sister and then we were having a really hard time naming our band and that one was just kind of the least offensive. Nobody disliked it so it stuck.

Who would you say are the band’s major influences or did you have common influences that brought you guys together?

There’s definitely common ground for bands that we all like, and each of us all have our individual tastes. A couple of those that we share would be bands like Cocteau Twins, Stereolab, we all like Japanese pop from the 80s like Yellow Magic Orchestra and the people they worked with. Those are a few of them. And of course we’re kind of exploring music. In the last year we’ve been listening to a lot of Kraftwerk and been getting more into electronic music.

How would you describe your own music?

Our ‘go-to’ term when we get asked that is usually ‘experimental pop’ and we’re very attached to making songs that have lyrics and are usually between two minutes and five/six minutes. We’re not doing anything crazily conceptual but within the bounds of that we do like to try different things.

Obviously you guys are garnering a bit more media attention and general interest in the band of late. Was there a point when you guys were playing together where you felt that you were on to something good or something you hadn’t experienced in other bands?

Yeah, especially making music on Long Island, sometimes it starts to feel like you’re putting things out there and nobody is listening. There are so many bands that make music and people get inundated with Myspace friend requests and like “Come to my show” posts.

At a certain point we’d given up on promoting ourselves in that way and it had just become us casting songs off to our friends or just acquaintances and keeping it kind of small and it kind of just grew from there.

There was definitely a point where we’d see people [at shows] we don’t know. We’d keep seeing somebody writing something online and from places we’ve never been. That was probably the point where we were like “Oh wow, for whatever reason the stuff we were doing was having some kind of impact.”

What’s the song writing process within the band? Do you guys collaborate or is there a chief songwriter?

It changes from song to song. Usually what happens is one or two of us have kind of like a little seed of an idea and it sits around for a while. And then someone else will come along with an addition and eventually we’ll get to a point where all five of us are really liking the direction of it and then we kind of feel like it’s close to being done because everybody’s happy.

On Color Your Life, All Around And Away We Go started as a demo that Eric and Andrea recorded together and then Bryan and I recorded a couple of things on top of that demo and then we completely changed the feel the song a few months after it had been written originally while we were just rehearsing. And then the song kind of grew out from there. So everybody at some point in the process gets their hands into the song but it doesn’t always start in the same place or end in the same place. Like for the sake of simplicity we just split the songwriter credits five ways, which isn’t always accurate to the song but it goes through so many cycles and changes that by the end of it, it is kind of unrecognisable from how it started.

What can you tell me about Color Your Life?

We put it out on our website in March of this year and then it got pressed and released a couple of months later in the US and then it’s gonna be put out in Europe and Australia. But it was recorded a year before. We started recording in February or March of 2009, and then we finished pretty much a year later. It took a really long time mostly because we weren’t living very close to each other and we had other things that we were doing like jobs and school and things like that. So the whole process was broken up. There was lots of breaks and time in between. And we made it all pretty much in our bedrooms and our basements. We didn’t do anything in a studio or anything, we just self-recorded the whole thing. It was kind of an intimidating experience, particularly being stressed out for so long toward the end. We were all going a little crazy because we’d been listening to all those recordings for almost two and a half months.

I heard you guys had a few labels chasing you, what made you guys sign with Pop Frenzy?

They actually just approached us and our only hesitation with signing to a label was doing something where we had options of doing things in the future. We always wanted to have the record out in as much of the world as possible. But we also didn’t want to do something where wanting to make that happen meant that the next few things we did after that would be set in stone. We’re pretty early in the process of understanding what it means to be a band and trying to figure out what we want do, so we didn’t want to have too many constraints placed upon us. Pop Frenzy was nice enough to just say “Hey, we’ll just license this release and put it out without any strings attached,” and that was pretty much an ideal situation for us, so we jumped on board.

So what’s the next step for Twin Sister?

We’re just finishing a tour right now with this Canadian band called Memory House. We get home in September and we’re taking all of September to just rehearse and flesh out some ideas that we’ve had over the last few months and then we have a couple of tours in October and November but after that we’re gonna take a few months to make a record and we’re really excited about because we’ve all quit our jobs so we can spend all day everyday making music which is very new to all of us. We’ve never had that opportunity before. So it should be really fun.

So are you looking at 2011 as the big year for Twin Sister?

Oh yeah, well as far as just being able to do music full time is pretty amazing and we’re hoping to make the most of it. You know, we don’t know how long this kind of thing can last and how far it can go but while it’s here we’re going to try and capitalise on it and make as much music as possible.

 

Originally published on Polaroids Of Androids

Album Review – Kill Devil Hills, Man, You Should Explode

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Dripping with sweat, testosterone, and balls-and-all fuckin’ awesomeness, Man, You Should Explode is a great Australian rock and roll album. It stands proudly alongside the recent tremendous work of The KDH’s ‘swamp rock’ contemporaries, The Drones and The Mess Hall. And after listening to it just one time, I checked my nut sack to discover I’d grown three extra testicles.

This is a “smash a chair over the back of a cunt ‘cos he looked at you the wrong way during a game of Texas Hold ‘em” kinda record. Album opener It’s Easy When You Don’t Know How screams and rolls around the room a like mad man. It kicks your teeth in and announces that The Kill Devil Hills are here and they fuckin’ own this town.

Cockfighter, (although it maybe a taboo reference these days, now that they’ve moved on to be U2-wannabe-cum-stains) recalls early Kings Of Leon records with a gun belt full of swagger and filthy, drawling guitar string bends.

And then BAM! The album takes the lead horse by the reins and makes a left into slow burner town with the country ballad I Don’t Think I Can Take This Shit Much Longer. An unexpected manoeuvre, but this bunch of desert hell raisers don’t play by nobody’s rules.

Other standouts include the piano bar sing along Words From Robin To Batman (not a confession of gay love, if that’s what you’re thinking… not that there’s anything wrong with that), the eerie When The Wolf Comes, and the boot scootin’ rocker Siam.

And at the end of it all, the tender Lucy-On-All-Fours lulls you to sleep like your resting your whisky soaked head in the warm, loving arms of a gold-hearted whore.

When you’ve finished listening to Man, You Should Explode, you’ll feel like you’ve been kissed by a stick of dynamite.

Interview – Kill Devil Hills

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Rav fires 10 ‘hot ones’ at Brendon Humphries of Western Australian band The Kill Devil Hills and he politely returns serve with some responses that give a lil’ insight as to what peeps attending shows on their upcoming national tour should maybe expect.

1. Describe The Kill Devil Hills in five words (swearing permitted).

Brendon, Steve, Alex, Steve, Ryan.

2. What kind of cocktail should one consume while attending a KDH gig and can you supply a recipe?

Claret mixed with Emu Export, never fails.

3. Why does Freemantle kick the shit out of Perth?

Most places kick the shit out of Perth, it’s not that hard.

4. How many Kill Devil Hills does it take to change a light bulb?

We’ve got road crew for that.

5. Which Aussie artist would you like to collaborate with / give a squeezer to?

Not quite sure what a squeezer is but we would like to collaborate with Icehouse.

6. Do you want longer lasting sex?

What, more than 3 hours?

7. Vampires are all the rage at the moment, what’s with that?

It’s a good way to market jeans I guess…

8. I really like this girl at school, but every time I try to talk to her nothing comes out. What should I do?

Stalk her with your mobile like all your friends do. Or you could turn into a vampire and then she’d want to fuck you.

9. What’s the secret to growing a rollicking good beard?

Longer lasting sex.

10. What surprises can audiences expect from The Kill Devil Hills’ February national tour (eg have you added samplers and floor toms to the line up)?

We’ve got a choreographed dance and light spectacular now, with 250 people on stage… no miming either.
Originally published on Polaroids of Androids

Live Review – The Decemberists

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The Decemberists @ The Virgin Mobile Metro Theatre
19/01/2010

I rocked up to The Decemberists’ Virgin Mobile (shudder) Metro gig, just in time to catch the end of Bridezilla’s support slot. They seemed to have the audience in rapture with tracks from their tops new record, The First Dance. I caught a sweet sounding Heart You Hold, before they awkwardly maneuvered from the stage.

Thirty minutes and $13 for two cans of VB (FARK!) later, The Decemberists made their way on stage, lead by a bearded Colin Meloy. Now, I wasn’t the biggest fan of their 2009 album, Hazards Of Love, and was a bit apprehensive that their Virgin Mobile (shudder) Metro gig’s set list would be dominated by it. But to my surprise the band opened with the two opening tracks from their phenomenal 2006 album, The Crane Wife – The Crane Wife 3 and The Island: Come And See, The Landlord’s Daughter, You’ll Not Feel the Drowning.

For the rest of the night, the band waltzed their way through a ‘best of’ set list that featured tracks from The Crane Wife and 2005’s Picaresque. In fact the only song they busted out from Hazards Of Love was a ball tearing rendition of The Rake’s Song, clearly the standout piece of the night.

However, the most intriguing element of the evening was the sheer list of instruments the band went through, including:

a lute
an acoustic guitar
a 12 string acoustic
a hurdy gerdy
a banjo
a mandolin
2 keyboards
4 electric guitars
a 12 string electric guitar
a piano accordion
2 xylophones
a melodica
drums
2 extra floor toms (apparently everyone’s fucking doing it these days)
a bass
a double bass
a tambourine
shakers
I have to say though, changing electric guitars two or three times during a song is fucking excessive. Jog on guys.

Despite this wankiness, Colin Meloy kept the audience of indie kids, Josh Pyke fans and dudes that had been dragged there by their hippy girlfriends happy with jokes and witty banter.

To finish off the night, the band played a polite, but unrehearsed rendition of the Go Betweens’ Bye, Bye Pride, before sending us onto the streets of ol’ Sydney town with a singalong of Sons And Daughters.

All in all it had been a fun night. But seriously… $13. Fuck off.

Album Review – The Mess Hall, For the Birds

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Burke Reid poos gold and jizzes rainbows. I’m not sure what his sexual preference is, but I can tell you this much – the guy’s a fuckin genius at fiddling with knobs.

Not only did he produce what is arguably the greatest Australian album of the last decade (The Drones’ Havilah), as well as a number of other great local releases in recent years, he’s now whipped out his magic wand and gone *POOF* all over The Mess Hall’s latest LP, For The Birds.

I’ve never really been into The Mess Hall. I just thought they were part of the whole ‘blues rules/bass blows’ crowd. But I had a throbbing rager goin’ when I heard that Optimus Reid had produced their latest effort. That coupled with my first listen to the lead single, Bell, clued me onto the fact that The Mess Hall had made a major sonic shift since their previous recordings.

Like a couple of notable American two pieces before them, The Mess Hall have decided to move on from their simplistic guitar and drum set up, and to incorporate moody keys and organs to alter their sound.

And what a fucking amazing sound it is. The whole album is a deep, dark and twisted groove session. Delta blues, funk, soul, swamp rock and every other badass, swaggering kind of sub genre of music you can think of has been rolled up, beaten over the head with a 2×4, run over, soaked in bourbon and set alight – all to produce a sound that has been done so many times before, but for some reason still sounds totally fresh here.

This is where Burke Reid’s influence kicks in. There always seems to be twelve instruments playing at once, but none of them ever take the limelight over the others. The album’s also been mixed in a way so that when you sit there with phones on, it sounds like shit is being thrown at you from all side of the room. And that shit sounds rad.

Fuzzed out guitar; percussion that sounds like it’s been chewed up and spat out; haunting backing vocals; throbs of organ; reverbed hand claps; tickles of piano; all serve to reinforce Jed Kurzel’s slacker vocals. He never bothers to try and show off his singing skills, because he doesn’t need to. Just the tone of his voice is enough to make you think he’s packin’ a 12 inch wang.

My only critique is the two slowed down and stripped back numbers Marlene and Swing Low. I can understand that they were going for a change of pace with both, but I think the album would’ve have been much tighter and ‘complete’ without them.

In the end I could go through each song on this record and tell you how fuckin’ good it is and come up with a bunch of shitty metaphors and similes to try and describe them to you. But quite frankly, that’d just be wasting time that you should actually be listening to this album.

So just drop whatever you’re doing, go out and get it. NOW!

Note: You may also want to purchase some towels and a mop or something to clean up the mess you’ll make after you blow your load over how good it is.

Originally published on Polaroids of Androids

Album Review – Spoon, Transference

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It’s pretty obvious that Britt Daniel got an extra dollop of charisma when they were buttering the cool cunt sandwiches. The man may as well be Arthur Fonzarelli jumping a tank of sharks on a motorcycle.

I once saw him stare down and pick up the only hot chick ever to have visited Canberra, mid performance. She was already tonsils deep on his utensil before he’d even left the stage. And ever since Girls Can Tell, this extreme level of being fucking awesome has translated through to his band Spoon’s albums.

That’s no different for their latest effort, Transference. The lead single Written In Reverse was released just before Christmas and had all the band’s fans frothing on what the new album would have in stall for them in the new year – myself included.

So when I finally got my hands on a copy a few days ago, I imported it to my trusty Pod, fingered repeat, and let her go. And in the days since, where I’ve literally listened to nothing but Spoon, I have to admit… it’s disappointingly predictable.

Like I said, the cool is still there. As is the sparse, driving rhythms; thumping keys; chaotically exploding guitar licks; and gravel torn vocals that posses more soul than most white boys can dream of – all of which combine into that sound that is so identifiably Spoon.

But the hooks, those incredible pop hooks that shook you like an infant on Way We Get By, I Summon You and Don’t Make Me A Target, just aren’t there.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t some kick ass spinners. Written In Reverse makes you wanna stomp a hole in the dance floor with your dirty Texan heels. The Mystery Zone has one of those unidentifiable elements that makes you love it more and more every time you hear it. And Got Nuffin, towards the end of the LP, pounds like a Catholic school girl when her parents are out.

But there are no surprises, no twists or turns. I remember catching I Turn My Camera On for the first time and thinking “What a shit song.” But as I heard it over and over again, it clawed and wrenched its way through me until I grasped the unbelievable appeal of that disco hook – the same hook that pervades so many amazing Spoon songs, no matter how much they break it down, or swell it up.

But on Transference, Britt, despite his ability to fix jukeboxes with a well timed punch, seems to have bent the Spoon too far.

Originally published on Polaroids Of Androids

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