Depression Took Over Me: The Friendsters self-titled 7 inch reviewed


While there’s plenty of immediate appeal to the songs of The Friendsters (a Sydney trio comprising Roberta Stewart, Sally Pitmann and Liam Kenny), the ragged qualities of the band (dreary delivery, sub-standard gear and murky recordings) are unlikely to gain them mass appeal. Regardless, these qualities are an appropriate guise for what they represent. The Friendsters, and their new self-titled 7 inch, personify all-encompassing hurt, depression and pain set in a relatively pleasant sounding world. Like feeling down in good weather, your mood can only be mildly improved by the blue skies.

The saccharine veneers tacked onto the band’s first 7 inch are flimsy and superficial, but no less powerful. Stewart’s lyrics are ridden with persistent depressions and stained by a struggle to cope, but they’re sung with such self-aware brutality that it’s actually charming. It’s an odd sensation to find yourself smiling at a line like, “drain my blood / leave me for dead,” but even though these songs are ostensibly downers, there’s a sense of joy in them. By virtue of being a recorded piece of music, these sorts of lines exist with a level of comedy because they look back at dark days having passed. That’s not to take away from the power of a song like ‘Shark Bait’ though. If it ever feels as though the Friendsters have been freed from their internal trials, the fact stands that they’re laid out for you to empathise with.

There’s an intangible quality to this recording where everything feels just out of reach; it sounds as though the band are playing with their backs to you. This sound matches the flatness and dejection in words and delivery. Stewart’s vocals can sound disinterested (but never uninteresting) even when shouting, but it’s forever contrasted by excitable guitar lines and ambitious key changes. It’s an unusual quality for a band of this kind to possess, to be thrusting their music outwards but still feel relatively distant.

Listening to the Friendsters can feel like staring at an open bedroom door with a completely able body, but being too heavy in the chest to move an inch towards it. At other times, it’s like finally pulling yourself out of bed at 9 pm and violently grinning your way through social interactions to mask the fucker of a day you just survived. I feel like it could be a pretty important recording for anyone who has felt these things before.

My favourite parts on this 7 are the extremes. Whether that lies in obscuring the moping with big guitars on ‘Shark Bait’ or comedic affirmations like “I’m gonna kill you” on ‘Revenge is the Best Revenge,’ it gains just as much affection in the peaks as it does the troughs. It’s full of small internal victories and both the acceptance and denial of personal flaws. It goes from utterly dejected to maniacally triumphant, which is as broad a spectrum as you’ll ever get from a three-piece rock band.


The Friendsters’ 7 inch is out now on Matt Kennedy’s Brisbane label, Eternal Soundcheck.

(Featured Image: Andrew Gove)

New Music

Listen: Fig. – Here Comes the Bird

Fig. Live at Real Bad

It’s a bit of a golden era for anyone interested in post-Deadnotes, post-The Lost Domain weirdness from Brisbane. Fig. consists of Leighton Craig,  Eugene Carchesio and Sandra Selig. Craig and Carchesio have both played with the Deadnotes and The Lost Domain, while Craig and Selig only last week released an excellent debut LP as Primitive Motion, which is out now through Bedroom Suck.

‘Here Comes the Bird’ will feature on a forthcoming 7 inch due through Eternal Soundtrack later this month. It’s the first for Matt Kennedy’s label, which also doubles as an online store. On the evidence of this track and what I’ve heard before (ie, the trio’s contribution to this Brisbane tape), Fig. specialise in a skeletal and technique ambivalent post-punk. It sounds a bit loose at first but the organ eventually seizes on a pattern when the vocals kick in and Fig.’s ability to pen a decent half-tune becomes apparent. It’s harried and colourful; manic rather than menacing. The 7 inch will be a run of 50, so pre-order at Eternal Soundcheck if you’re keen.


Watch: Deadshits 2010 festival documentary


Here’s a charmingly rough and candid documentary about the inaugural Deadshits festival, an annual Brisbane event run by Joe Alexander of Bedroom Suck records. The video at hand was directed by media magnate Matt Kennedy, operator of Eternal Soundcheck which includes a label, radio show, video blog, and soon-to-be webstore. He also plays in Kitchen’s Floor. The doco features a recurring conversation with Everett True, who played on the day with the Deadnotes, as well as footage of Young Romantix, Bitch Prefect, Meat Thump, Cured Pink and more. The latter artist puts in a sterling performance. Check out that hundred yard stare.

Here’s what Kennedy has to say about it:

“‘Deadshits’ was a small music festival held in Brisbane on the 5th and 6th of November, 2010. This footage was thought to be lost but was recently found in a damp box and compiled into this short documentary. It is incomplete in that only four of the bands that played the festival are featured and I would not call it a complete representation of the event.”