New Music

Watch: Thhomas – Heat Wave

There are few facts on the ground re: who Thhomas is, though I gather he’s from somewhere in North Melbourne and he also plays in a group called 30/70. His debut solo cassette is now available from Canberra-bassed cassette label Moontown Tapes label, which has also issued recordings by Enderie Nuatal (of Cured Pink fame) and Sewer Side.

This self-titled cassette is quite diverse, ranging occasionally bluesy instrumental hip-hop laden with samples, through to ‘Heat Wave’, which for mine is the highlight. It starts off in early Aphex Twin ambient territory before picking up pace, gaining a swing, and blossoming with some sad Satie-esque piano and synth melodies. The full tape can be streamed and purchased here.

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New Music

Listen: Velvet Whip – Bronze Medallion

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Velvet Whip exist in a realm of excitable catharsis and distorted reference points. Fronted by the shrieks and flaying hair of NUN‘s Hugh Young, the Melbourne four-piece are one of many recent punk and hardcore acts increasingly embracing the psychedelic realms in their otherwise direct shots of bitterness and distaste. It’s space-punk for the common nihilist.

‘Bronze Medallion’ appears on Velvet Whip’s second cassette on Cool Death Records. Young sounds like an unethically programmed android here, and his fierce backing gives way on multiple occasions to stretched passages of flanging nonsense. It’s a rush that matches their previous cassette on the same label and resulted in one of the more chaotic sets at last year’s Maggotfest.

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Velvet Whip’s Bronze Medallion tape can be purchased from Repressed or your favourite online distro.

(Photos: Sigourney Ormston)

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New Music

Listen: Italianz – Xanax Flavoured Kisses

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Italianz are the Melbourne duo of Ben Taylor (Ebola Disco, Chrome Dome) and Rob Curelli. There’s not much information available about them online, which gives an accidental mystique to the band that suits them. For Italianz, there seems to be as many weirdo noise elements as there are more direct song-writing and dance aesthetics. I’d hazard a guess that it’d be hard to know what to expect of a live show.

Describing his band in a recent email, Taylor said Italianz had: “No real boundaries. Just a bunch of Saturdays.” The embedded digital version of their cassette released back in April reflects this. A playfulness is present, but the sordid exists just as often. If it was recorded every Saturday it takes on the various moods that can ravage a weekend. Like a casual Saturday night bender that gradually loses its innocence as the pleasant bars close and you’re driven to seedier territories by necessity.

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Italianz are due to release a new 120 min cassette imminently on Magic Crowbar.

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Features, Reviews

Ignorance is For Toys: Eastlink’s Mullum Mullum Reviewed

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This country is headed in a bad direction. Let no amount of boredom distract you from that truth. Eastlink’s new record Mullum Mullum could be depressing but is inspiring instead. It’s that rare LP that sounds like it has conviction. The first notes of ‘What a Silly Day (Australia Day)’ come on like a lot of guitar bands you’ve heard before – the difference is what it locks into. This is ‘hip shaking’ music. It has ‘swagger’. It sounds like the drummer plays the snare with a shaker – you can’t not nod your head. A few bars later someone fills in the major chords. It’s not all new but it’s being done a lot better. The first lyric arrives from Al Montfort’s familiar voice: “They busted up your brain for an idea.” Later: “What a silly day”. What an understatement from one of the masters of that art. “You’re supposed to have fun – what a joke” / “I’m supposed to get down”. No one will ever write a better song about this disgusting day.

The other perfect song on this record starts the B-side, sung by Johann Rashid. Don’t let the video clip for ‘Overtime’ stop you from hearing the tune. Again it’s the groove, it’s the boogie. It’s the feeling that this group believes their own rhetoric, is behind their own message and inside their own sound. “It’s cement and fuckin’ plaster”. It could go for half an hour without changing. “Overtime is justified.” As with the line, “what a silly day,” it’s not really the words that are the key, it’s the space between them. It’s what they don’t need to say. To fill in those spaces, read the lyric sheet, look at the pictures in the sleeve. Read your tabloid. See the pictures of Hawke and Keating – the “sellouts,” according to Eastlink. I don’t know if I fully agree with that one, but maybe I should.

The opinions and convictions and sentiments of this record are an inspiration. This is a protest record, whether the group would want to call it that or not. It’s a humanist record. It’s that rare record that seems to care about what happens to people. It’s about the things that have gone wrong and the things that will keep going wrong. It doesn’t have solutions; it’s just one of the best sounding lists of the problems I’ve ever heard. Four of the tracks don’t have lyrics. The five that do aren’t exactly essay length, but it’s all there. “You’re supposed to have a little bit of fun […] you paid for the gun / I paid for the baton.”

I can’t think of many other groups that work with the dance rhythm Eastlink does. That drum sound on ‘Spring St’ reminds me of glam. It all sounds like T-Rex to me, but it also sounds like a group of young Australian people who don’t like much of what they see around them. There’s real power in this record. There’s power in the sentiments that plug into the practice amps inside it. It’s also relentlessly clever. Smart people made it; people with a sense of humour and with a sense of right and wrong. The sound of the young man screaming, the delay on the four guitars. Tom Hardisty has done another service to the community in watching over this LP – recording another group the way they truly sound.

Eastlink has done a service to Australia with this album. It’s a milestone in the ‘culture’. If there’s a message, it could be to pay attention to what goes on. Just because you can’t fix it, doesn’t mean it isn’t hideously broke. As Montfort recently put it in a piece for Mess & Noise, “Yes we need to get on with it… but ignorance is for toys.” Mullum Mullum isn’t.

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Mullum Mullum is out now through In the Red Records.

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New Music

Listen: The Backstabbers – 2002

From the Backstabbers – a duo of Dick Diver’s Rupert Edwards and School of Radiant Living’s Amy Hill – comes a band that creates hypnotic investigations of simple formulas. With the absence of a drum kit or protective coat of mid-song wig-outs that usually accompanies their songwriting in their respective bands, The Backstabbers brand of folk becomes quite stark and unforgiving. Despite this, they still deal with surface humour, labelling themselves “the king and queen of dole rave,” even though the winner of those titles hasn’t been announced yet.

‘2002’ is from The Backstabbers’ recent cassette ‘SHAME,’ released on tape label Hideotic. Some of the songs seem forgettable at first, but are almost always emotionally striking by their end. That’s not to say they’re inherently emotional though. On the embedded track ‘2002,’ Edwards doesn’t get around to saying anything at all really. You tend to fill the spaces with your own experiences. Other tracks on the tape like ‘Internet Friends’ dabble in a strange ’60s lounge vibe. They could just as easily accompany a lonely shot of Peter Falk considering his feelings on an episode of Columbo.

Acoustic/folk bands don’t seem to be on the agenda of most people interested in underground music (unless it’s written by reformed punks in the case of someone like Lower Plenty). Maybe because it’s not as blatantly confrontational or enjoyable as something with intended gusto. I feel like this straight-out expression of ‘feelings’ that The Backstabbers convey here is more confronting than having someone yell in my face for half an hour though. The Backstabbers sound more likely than anyone to play unsettlingly to an empty room.

The ‘SHAME’ cassette is out now on Hideotic and is available for purchase from the Eternal Soundcheck and Distort distros (and record stores as well.)

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