Category Archives: Rock

The Human Instrumentality Project – Daybreak on Solstice (2015)

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Here’s what you get when you cross ‘Deftones’ with ‘Explosions in the Sky’!

Heavy ass riffage that feels like it was unwillingly churned up from the depths of a dark and miserable place juxtaposed against melodic and ambient guitar work to lull fairies asleep. Continue reading The Human Instrumentality Project – Daybreak on Solstice (2015)

Surrender – Dark Wings, Dark Words (single) 2014

welcome back to the game boys..
Dark Wings, Dark Words

Surrender have unleashed the first taste of their upcoming sophomore album with this blast called ‘Dark Wings, Dark Words’.

For those new to the band the story goes like this: they independently recorded and released a brilliant melodic/hc punk album a few years back titled ‘One Day’ which turned out to be a very rewarding slow burner! They relocated from one side of the continent to the other..and more or less started over. From there the story goes much like the others…gigs, more gigs, plug the album..go quiet.

Present day: they’re back and armed with new music to stir up floors and pits with, the aggression and energy is present and most noticeably the production is a big step up on this!

David’s vocals are hoarse and scratchy like Chuck Ragan on a bad day, very well suited to the melodic and driving punk/rock angle at work here. I think the time is right for stuff like this with the international spotlight on bands like Trophy Eyes, Paper Arms, Smith Street Band. Hopefully we can add Surrender to that list!!

https://surrender.bandcamp.com/track/dark-wings-dark-words

f/b -> http://www.facebook.com/surrenderaus

Miyazaki! – Thank You. Fuck You. Goodbye. (2014)

Yup..Miyazaki..
Yup..Miyazaki..

This Melbourne based three piece has put together a quirky and charming collection of indie rock songs complete with Star Wars references, self depreciating lyrics, witty song titles and refreshingly honest music. On first spin I couldn’t shake the ‘The Might Be Giants’ comparisons. But with less silliness and more rock.

The production is clean and clear with all instruments sounding just as live as they should. In fact there’s more than a few sloppy moments captured for a touch of reality. There is minimal studio trickery employed here..it’s not one of those recordings where everything is trimmed/slammed and squashed into perfection. It’s honest and accurate of what this band actually sounds like! How sad that this almost passes for novelty in this age of technopoly in music. Anyway….I digress…

Luke (guit/vox) singing reminds me of a young Billy Corgan or even ‘Placebo’s Brian Molko. It’s mostly just him on vocals though sometimes there’s a tasteful little harmony behind him … but only occasionally. It might have been a good move to have used some doubling/layering in places to enhance a chorus or two..here or there..but that’s just taste.
The guitar and bass work together really well, there’s some great tones coming out of that axe..I’m not sure what gear they used, but I love the sounds! We get jangly, twinkly, reverby and most of all overdriven rock sounds..but all so well executed, you know they’ve spent time of this element of the band.

Maybe the weakest link here is the lack of memorable choruses or hooks that last beyond the songs 2-3 minute lifespan. It’s not forgettable music by any measure, it’s definitely worth a spin..but each time I turn it off I have immediate trouble remembering how any one song went. One notable exception is at the end of #7 ‘Ain’t no ring on this finger (baby)’..there’s a closing section with Luke singing ‘there’s something missin’ from my life / there’s somethin missin from my life’ coupled with another vocal behind it and a sweet build up from the band. It’s a good moment. The kind I wanted more of and luckily there’s some other great build ups and surprises in other songs too…loads of clever lyrics and feel good jams. The album closer ‘Smells Like Teen Pregnancy’ might be one of the strongest songs on the whole thing, a shame it appears so late in the game..def’s worth listening to sooner rather than later.

In conclusion, this is an honest album, that sounds really good, warts and all. The band are not crafting pop songs or catchy tunes to sell jeans/phones/whatever, it’s subject matter contains a share of social commentary and reflects a bit of realism seldom heard from indie bands who these days are often more concerned with crooning over girls or sooking over them.

Click on here to go check it out!

http://miyazakisucks.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/miyazaki.now

 

Braves – Surgery (single) / 2014

Single cover...
Single cover…

Braves – Surgery / single (2014)

‘Braves’ are a 5 piece alt/pop punk group from over the pond in New Zealand who’ll be visiting our shores really soon. They recently released a new single online that caught my attention through a few mutual band-friends posting about it and it’s turned into one of those awkward song-obsessions for me!

‘Surgery’ makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I get chills and it stirs up memories and all kinds of things. When the guitars open up..it’s like a late 90’s grunge flashback…the gravelly vocals that start it off compliment this perfectly. The backing vox/shouts and harmonies are pure gold and early indicators that these lads have listened to a lot of Citizen/B&C etc. Drums are well placed in the mix (sounding great too) and the drummer does quite a good job of shifting the momentum up and down when the guitars are pretty much just doing the same thing for awhile in some sections. It winds down to a vocal/guitar section mid way…builds back up to huge half time chorus…with amazing vocals and a melody that’ll stick with you…it sounds huuuuge..guitars are massive..and then it winds down again. Dynamics like this are highly effective in keeping a listener engaged and the ears fresh..rather than adjust to 3mins of the same thing. Surprise guitar noodling with guitars take it out to a close..and once it’s over..I hit repeat.
But seriously. I’ve jammed this…76 times accordingly to the ‘most played’ playlist on my phone. Love. It. How this band isn’t signed yet…I don’t know. It’s the sort of thing you’d expect from Topshelf/No Sleep/Runforcover or one of those other US indie punk labels.

If you follow the links below you’ll find your self directed to their bandcamp where you can get up to speed and grab their 2013 demo too which even though it isn’t the focus of my write up here ..is heaps worth a spin.

http://www.bravesnz.bandcamp.com

The band has the single up for purchase..or you can have at it for free…

RIYL: Citizen, Balance & Composure, Make Do And Mend

Stalk em here > http://www.facebook.com/wearebraves

Bear The Mammoth – Yamadori (2014)

 

So good..!
So good..!

Instrumental bands have a niche scene but it’s a growing one too. A lot of alternative/indie, post-rock and progressive bands are dabbling, sharing the stage, touring together and often signed to the same labels as instrumental bands. Largely thanks to some serious ground breaking by the infamous ‘explosions in the sky’ to name one such band (go google it later) this stuff is gaining exposure and earning new followers!
So here’s one such artist from Melbourne who have just dropped their first full length titled ‘Yamadori’. (Japanese word for a small wild tree like a bonsai)
Here’s my breakdown from the first listen through. It’s 6 tracks but don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a short trip. Nup.

Track #1 ‘Cloverlea’ is an ambient intro that feels sort of spacey..until you hear the guitar slide up and down shifting in-and-out of its sustained note/feedback. Then I realised it was a guitar and not some keyboard/synth thing..very clever.

Drums come in and it’s track #2 ‘What’s Yours Was Mine Is Never Leaving’ and it’s more of that roomy/reverby guitar stuff until the bass comes in all dirty and carrying rhythm and melody with it. I’m hooked at this point. At around the 3 minute mark things turn sort of dark and the guitars start strumming instead of picking and the drumming gets a little Tool-ish. Not in complexity..but in feel. Rhythms continue, band follows, pattern builds momentum and this is getting all kinds of wonderful!
Now an interesting thing occurs at about the 5 minute mark. It seems the band has stopped and then there’s a 4-count on the hi hats and they start up again but with what sounds like a whole different song. A proggy one. A nearly 8 minute journey ends with a high and a bit of a surprise. Did not see that coming.

Track #3 ‘The Bonding Leech’ plays with some nice delays on the guitar to start. Great with headphones btw. Drums and Bass enter the fray and it’s tight syncopated stuff, very cool and rhythmic. This track has a much more immediate and instantly likeable feeling to it. Could easily find it’s way onto a sound track for an indie film…that sort of thing. It winds back the energy at the 4 minute mark and begins the build up all again. Towards the end the guitars find the spotlight and the focus is on this cool lead-part that plays with delays and finds very emotive ground. Plus the gain is up a bit, the bass and drums are in full swing and it’s solid. Favourite track by a mile.

By this point in listening I’m feeling reminded of artists like ‘Because of Ghosts’, ‘Sleep Makes Waves’ and the obvious ‘Explosions in the Sky’ with all these beautiful guitar tones and effect laden notes ringing out in the background against interesting rhythms.

Track #4 ‘Glycine’ is back with familiar ambient tones and occasional booming blows from the drums. Very relaxed but honestly a bit boring…I was about to skip it..but at the half way point the snare rolls and bass juts back and it starts moving with a brooding kind of feel. I swear it’s the bass and drums that hold all this together and my attention along with it. So patience yields rewards..cos the next 3 1/2 minutes are freeking rad. Just…so good. Reminiscent of ‘Russian Circles’…super fun times. (You know you need to go google them after reading this right? Ok good.)

#5 ‘Heironymos Bosch’ is another straight into it track, thankfully leaving the ambient noodling for a while. This gets a little mathy and proggy again and I’m beginning to understand that they don’t go for the big heavy/loud dynamic but rather the busy riffing and contrasting sounds. Ironically this track gets about as heavy as you’ll hear on the album..and even then it’s just dramatic rather then heavy. Another standout track for me.

#6 ‘Molly’ is a 9 minute epic. It’s more of the same..beautiful music and melody played out over big build ups, slower quieter bits and a great wind down. Each wave or..I dunno..section gets it’s time and it’s got to be said once again..it’s really well written music.

Summing it all up…
It’s a beautiful album with dynamic characteristics that reappear across the course of the 6 epic tracks. It all feels connected and like it belongs together. The mix lets it down a little at times when I really wanted the guitars up front and in my face…but they stayed buried or just too peripheral and never really come up out of the mix. But that’s about it for complaints. The sounds are all great, the performances are all brilliant. Muso’s will lap this up. If you have the patience then this will reward you big time

RIYL: Explosions In The Sky, Russian Circles, Lights and Motion, beautiful music, proggy music, guitars, delay pedals, reverb, music…feelings ha ha!

http://www.bearthemammoth.bandcamp.com

 

Bad Girls Of The Bible – 88 Keys/Simple Mistakes 7″ (2005)

7"
7″

Bad Girls Of The Bible – 88 Keys/Simple Mistakes 7″ (2005)

So this band broke up back in 2005 and hailed from Adelaide. They played a really great style of angular/rock with post-punk tinges and sometimes mathy elements. Sounds too good to be true even as I write it now! They released this ridiculously more-ish two track 7″ which was tracked at one of the band members studio and hit the road for more shows before sadly calling it a day a little while later.

I was lucky enough to get a hold of this bands first demo and lost my shit when I heard it. It had this raw Jawbox/Fugazi/Shellac essence just oozing from it…the guitars had this harsh sound to them which I still struggle to explain…kind of gritty but super clean…the drums were crisp and roomy and the bass was hella dirty and locked in with the drums 100%. Vocally the tone is largely a mash of yelling and tasteful harmonies, all of this just has me weak at the knees.

All of it is thankfully well and truly present on the 7″ that followed that demo.
The band offer it for free download via bandcamp and the vinyl is only $8 (comes with a cd copy as well) which I didn’t hesitate to order upon discovering the defunct bands page. I missed getting a copy when it was retailing through local record stores way back when..so I can’t express the joy of finally getting a copy all this time later! Ermagerd it sounds so good too!
Seriously worth a look in.

http://www.badgirlsofthebible.bandcamp.com

RIYL: Jawbox, Shellac, Fugazi

 

The Lost – Self Titled EP

Ep Final

Sitting somewhere between melodic and anthemic rock this outfit goes hard and does so with a sheen and polish that suggests they didnt JUST start playing..know what i mean?! It’s cliche free, slick and sounds rrrreally good.
And..like when i say rock..lets be clear: NOT like Jet/Nickelback/FooFighters. Not Triple M rock.

EP opener #1 ‘Wake Up’ is all business…great energy, huge chorus, high vocals, big guitars and a kind of urgency and melancholy that made me really look forward to listening to the rest!! 10 points for starting off so strong! #2 ‘Weightless’ is a more straight down the line melodic-rock but stacked with huge drums, crazy vocal work and a great pace. By this point i was comparing them to early Anberlin in my head.

It rolls back a gear for #3 ‘I Wont Let you Go’ which allows the vocalist to really carry the song and sentiment without the powerhouse driving it.. by all accounts this is the quietest the band gets on the whole EP. The group vocals towards the end are a nice touch too!

The EP closer #5 ‘Fate Is Not Enough’ hits all the right bits you’d expect by now. Fantastic vocal work and melodies, drums are too good.. (turns our Dead Letter Circus drummer did the job for them!) and of course some very cool guitar work .. especially the little lead/solo but in the middle! Despite all these strong points.. i found the Dead Letter Circus/Built On Secrets/Closure In Moscow comparisons were just too great to ignore by now. It’s not that this is well worn territory for bands who can deliver high calibre performances and songwriting..it’s not the familiarity of material ive never heard before…it’s the frequency of drifting off mid-song to consider which band ‘this bit’ reminds me of instead of being conencted to the music and engaged with it.

The production on this is just awesome too. The sounds and layers and work that must’ve gone into this is evident…I mean turn it up and really listen to it. Local bands > this is what time and hard work will acheive. Save up your dollars.

In closing.. this is a really strong start, the craftmanship is right up there and the sound is tight. ‘The Lost’ have something really good to work with here and i mean..if they can translate this into a live setting…geez…watch out. Melbourne will lap this up. I do think that if there’s anything this band needs to do from here it’s gotta be to branch out and try messing with the formula. Like..really mess with it. That’s what will set them apart from just following the legacy of artists who came before them and turn them into one with a sound of thier own.

Pay What You Want from http://thelost.bandcamp.com/ on May 30th.
Free D/L of single from the same page!
Follow em on http://www.facebook.com/TheLostAU

Set The Score – Two Steps Forward (2014)

The three tracks on offer here sound like they were lifted from an album and put together as a sampler to show the variety and quality on the imaginary full length. I guess in that way, this is a great demo..they’re showing off a whole range of approaches and ideas at work in each of the three songs, the production is simple and the performances are believable. Meaning: theres minimal over playing and expensive studio trickery which you wouldnt expect to hear live.

This is definitely modern pop-punk just with more rock feel than actual punk. Similar to bands such as Pentimento or Wonder Years rock these days. Theres a few passages of double-time fun sure, plus a few deeper halftime moments and even a big chunky breakdown (complete with guest screaming vocalist)..all the typical trademarks of a band trying to fit it and yet ironically wanting to stand out. (u see the conundrum yes?)
To be quite frank..It should be boring. It’s stuff ive heard a hundred times before from a hundred other bands…mostly american ones. However something has got me coming back for another listen…and another listen. The songs arent brief either and lyrically they have some depth too. I cant put my finger on just why.. but i get the feeling that this band will transcend the trappings of ‘local-band-emulating-thier-influences’ to resemble a band that is influential on others.

I hope they can write 7 more of these tunes and then call it an album.

Well done lads.
Free/Pay What You Want – release via http://setthescoremelb.bandcamp.com/
Follow em on f/b > https://www.facebook.com/setthescoremelb

Cat Or Pillar / Signals For Motion

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It’s far too easy to list other bands you might know in order to identify if this record is going to interest you. So…i wont immediately genre-cast the material….

It’s purely an observation of mine that people lately have a low tolerance for waiting even a moment longer than they have to before finding enjoyment. (>skip add in 3 sec<)

Some people wont even read this far because i havn’t yet referenced something familiar about the music. Well kudos to you!  A band can spend months, even years crafting a work which lasts only a few minutes to have it unceremoniously dismissed in seconds as being too this or too that for the listeners tastes.

This hits hard when the artist leans towards anything progressive/post-rock/mathy/ambient or alternative. I’m certain lots of people out there would probably get right into this but simply wont because there’s no chorus at the 15-20 second mark. I’m not saying everyone one who likes pop songs has ADD, but we really are fed highly polished ear candy via nearly every audible medium these days.

This band will expand your ability to appreciate music and the time taken to achieve intense and emotive peaks and crescendo’s. You don’t get that kind of shit on the radio. You don’t get anything of substance out of recycled-sugar coated pop factory off cuts.

‘Signals for Motion’ is a 7 track album which I’ll describe as melodic-progressive post-rock. Songs range from 3-7 minutes long and feature a healthy amount of noodly/mathy guitars dripping with delay & effects. The drumming is superb. It’s tight & super busy but when needed is straight forward. The bass lines that fill out the rhythm section are sublime. The overdriven/dirty bass sometimes steals the attention actually with its own busy lines and complimentary riffing with the guitar but when the drums open up and go big, the bass gets some room to carry riff/chord progressions and the sound is huge. Like.. Muse huge. Like..QOTSA huge. Yeh. And this happens often.

Each track takes the time to establish its foundational rhythm/melody/riffage and builds up to a monumental peak before deconstructing and winding back down to an end. Usually descending into an ambient intro/interlude bit. They don’t sound like Tool .. but consider the way a band like that takes you on a journey. Like that.

Vocally.. this is so next level.. i cant even. Luke’s vocal range is on show in each of his performances throughout the album. He can go high. Really high. This is a point made early on and better yet..it’s used tastefully and with dramatic effect. In equal portion to say.. how a harder band might use screaming. But hey.. he can do that too! So with the concept of dynamics clearly in the bag, the melodies are lush, layers of harmonies and backing vocals are beautiful and overall.. it’s damn hard to fault this material.

Comparisons to other great bands that have a high range vocalist, proggy compositions and noodly guitars are expected. (Closure *cough* Moscow* cough*) However .. unlike so many others .. this is really accessible and not overly complicated. There’s clever off-time stuff, straight up rock passages and then these out-of-nowhere gear changes that leave you going ‘what just happened?’. It’s quite unpredictable but the flow from bit-to bit is never lost.

The album is closed off with an instrumental piece which i can only describe as cinematic. It contains a sample of some guy lecturing/ranting some pretty inspirational stuff whilst the band soars and climbs to a huge ending. The guitars pretty much take this one to its heights..lots of delay and noise.. very ‘Explosions In the Sky’. Very good.

Overall, this is a killer album. The local scene in the Melbourne’s East hasn’t produced something this polished or ambitious in years (House*cough* Hurricane *cough*). I wouldn’t anticipate radio play but if a band like Karnivool can get it, then these guys have a ready made market set to consume Australia’s next offering. Despite all that, I think we’ll be seeing the name on some sweet posters and tour bills if there’s any justice in the world.

RIYL: Closure in Moscow, Russian Circles, Mars Volta, MuteMath, Explosions In The Sky

http://catorpillar.bandcamp.com/