Columbus – Spring Forever


This review was originally published via Speaker TV and is available here

Sombre introductions welcome listeners into Columbus’ highly anticipated first studio album, Spring Forever. This calmness, just like the album artworks’ electric shock of pastel orange, is quick to transition into a rupturing energy that effortlessly combines the earnest sultry tones that swell beneath with an infectious strength. This strength – steeped in curiosity and power – gains its momentum from the careful of highs and lows; a symbolic game of emotional cat-and-mouse that quickly unveils itself. Offering forward the best Australian punk-pop to emerge out of this decade, Spring Forever is a record that unapologetically charms and delivers.

From its hugely celebrated predecessor, Home Remedy, Columbus return with 12 tracks of tight, visceral sound; the kind that is not simultaneously riddled with the often over-saturated conventions that often pollute the punk-pop genre. Through this, Columbus creates and maintains a shifting progression track-to-track, hallmarking all the elements that first solidifies a person as a fan of the genre. However, it doesn’t stop there; each track simultaneously delivering new, exciting undertones that quickly set Spring Forever as unforgettable with each subtle note pairing, each lyric and each swirling breakdown.

Track ‘Daffodil’ is a vigorously high-energy instrumental reframe, permeating through each pause to grasp listeners by the throat. It’s quick, it’s harmful – it’s an emotive force of a limited express train thundering through East Richmond Station. This song reaches into your chest and claws at every feeling of insecurity you have – and boy, who knew how many there were listening to these lyrics – the bumps of every relationship crawling into pluck those wounds right back open. Putting the listener into visually tantalising story as the main character, Columbus don’t shy away from the delicacy and shaded feelings that can be the nature of a real relationship.

 

If you’re a daffodil, maybe I am making you wither / Yellow petals in the summertime, I know you want some piece of mind / But if you’re a daffodil, maybe I’m the snow and the winter.” 

 

As ‘Daffodil’ continues, each peak encircles the lyrics: “I’m falling apart no matter how hard you hold me, please let me go you’d be better without me.” Marked with a deep red stamp, the open invitation for listeners to immerse themselves into the record comes easily, just in time for the first single dropped from the album, ‘Raindrop’. ‘Raindrop’ opens with the same audiovisual imagery that curated ‘Daffodil’ so successfully, inundating listeners with an ever-present pounding rhythm that is accompanied by the careful balance of artistry and style. Just as there’s no rainbow without the rain, the same can be said about this record: moments of sadness overscored by rich and colourful soundscapes and moments of pause.

As a whole, the release rises incredibly smooth, the concluding track on Spring Forever being as powerful as it’s predecessors. In an intimate and honest arrange of affairs, the debut positions listeners to the soft emotional unravelling, hooked by every word; the plush feelings of self-doubt and self-reflection hollowing out ‘Nervous Wreck’ and ‘Learn To Swim’. Within Spring Forever, Columbus toy carefully through these enormous levels of fluctuating energy, utilising their earnestness to capture that, in the simplest sense, you cannot necessarily fully appreciate what is good until you’re facing adversity – that you cannot have spring without the harsh cold of winter.

Spring Forever is out now via UNFD. 

9/10 

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Hellions – Opera Oblivia


This review was originally published via Speaker TV and is available here

Ambient beginnings mark the newest release from Sydney’s coveted quartet Hellions, but the transition that follows this isn’t necessarily what fans might have expected. Distinguishable from their past body of work, ‘24′ offers a choir-like infusion of the Hellions that made enormous waves among the Australian hardcore scene – Opera Oblivia promises fans a little more than a predictable album to album progression. Spritely foreign overtones inundate the song which are quickly accompanied by a fusion of self-aware clean vocals; the track concludes with a ballad like chant leaving fans of the collective apprehensive for what kind of sound exactly lays ahead.

Jarringly, the choir-like progression of ’24’ is followed with the familiarity that is Hellions signature sound. Containing the harsh elements of Punk vocals channeled with a flow reminiscent of rap music – ‘Quality Of Life’ emphasises the careful balance captured within Opera Oblivia as a whole – offering forward a final product that juxtaposes an infectious harsh and fast flow with smooth rhythmic hooks. This rise and fall structure continues across the release as an entity, as ‘Quality of Life’ fades into the third track, ‘Thresher’. As the listener transitions through the album they are greeted with an immense aural density that somehow offers a plethora of different sounds that piece together offering forward a wide spectrum of fast and slow, ambient and punchy while managing to not alienate longtime fans.

Groovier guitar tones take a strong hold, as effortless blending of punk and ballad-like vocals unveil ‘Lotus Eater’. In what I would go so far to deem as the most intriguing track of the release, the Sydney band have somehow managed to identify the sound and energy that first sold me and others like me, on them as a collective. Emulating this energy and sound Hellions go on to fuse it with an infectiously fast punchy pace, simultaneously not sacrificing the intriguing smoothness introduced through the choir like progression within ’24’. ‘Lotus Eater’ brings together the enormous spectrum of sound explored within Opera Oblivia.

Opera Oblivia works together, each track building on the last to offer listeners an immersive journey that tugs you in right from choir like tones of ’24’ and refuses to release you until ’25’ rings out. Consciously utilising the contrasting tones within tracks to create a third studio album which is simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar to any sound they have produced before.

Opera Oblivia’ is out now via UNFD / Rise Records.

8.5/10

Violent Soho – The Forum – 14/05/16

This review was originally published via Speaker TV and is available here

Nothing seems more appropriate than writing this review two years to the day since I first saw Violent Soho live – ever since that fateful One Night Stand performance in my home town of Mildura my adoration for their live presence was solidified – reiterated only further by their performance at The Forum. When the announcement of this tour first came to light I could not contain my excitement due to it seeing three of my favourite Australian alternative acts converge together on what quickly became a sold-out national tour, however, foreseeably so when you announce a tour with the all Australian heavyweights Violent Soho, DZ Deathrays and Dune Rats.

For what was a sold-out show the intimacy felt like that of a house show; the certain kind of intimacy that comes along with each band on the line-up was present from the get-go. The Goochpalms infectious combination of sultry tones entwined with their infectious energy amping crowds up for a lineup riddled with bands infamous for their live performances. Bursting onto the stage, Australia’s most hyperactive and simultaneously loveable bong-lords among men were met with enormous levels of excitement; continuing to float through track-after-track. Opening their set with ‘Dalai Lama Big Banana Marijuana’the audience effortlessly were pulled by Dune Rats into a smoke haze of unity, taking shape in the gentle sway that greeted ‘Lola’ and continued through to the overwhelming demand for them to play their latest single, ‘Bullshit’. From the beginning to end of their set the three-piece captivated their audience with their DIY aesthetic, continuing to ride a wave of huge success both nationally and internationally.

When one hears the term two-piece, often you permissibly become sceptical of the ensemble producing more than a glorified acoustic cover of ‘Wonderwall’. However, DZ Deathrays proved to be apart of an exclusive club of artists who stick it to that stereotype. Picking right up where their comrades Dune Rats left off, DZ’ offered forward to audiences a phenomenal amount of strength through their sound, easily making all those in attendance forget that there was in fact only two people on stage producing it. This was especially evident through their song, ‘The Mess Up’.

Following on from what arguably is one of the best line-ups I have played witness to in a very long time, the audiences peaking excitement was greeted by the red glow of Violent Soho’s WACO graphic, illuminating the venue. As anticipation continued to grow, Mansfield’s favourite sons took to the stage amidst a sea of eager applause. The night greeted by fans as the first opportunity to witness Soho’s latest aural lovechild WACO come to life. ‘So Sentimental’ setting the tone for the electrifying set that laid ahead – which welcomed the perfect combination old and new material seeing fans engulfed in their set for its entirety – waves of excitement greeted the new material while old favourites like ‘Saramona Said’ and ‘Neighbour Neighbour’ pulled audiences close like an old friend.

The night quickly drew to a close as fans stumbled their way respectively to swamp the merch tables; discarded cups of beer dropping over as people filed out of the venue. Once more the overall vibe of intimacy hung in the air, however, The Forum was at maximum capacity: it truly felt like you had just come from some kid’s lounge room in the outer suburbs after his house party to which Dune Rats, DZ Deathrays and Violent Soho just happened to also be attending. It truly was a performance for a room full of extended friends.

Violent Soho – Waco

 

This review was originally published via Speaker TV and is available here

After the enormous success of Hungry Ghost, Violent Soho have not shied away from the giant challenge they set themselves. Stepping up to the plate and offering forward their latest aural lovechild Waco; a record that will quickly riddle its way into the hearts and heads of rock fans nationally and only further reiterate the need for our national anthem to be indisputably changed to a Violent Soho ballad.

Warm twanging guitars open and unveil the much awaited fourth studio album from Australia’s coveted chrome doting favourites. When the drums start and make their debut, you find yourself in a short frenzy of shrieking vocals of Luke Boerdam ear shrieking vocals as you’re more than certain ‘Soho are back.  ‘How To Taste’ offers forward a progressive beginning, transitioning from mellow twanging rapidly into the crashing intensity the Mansfield favourites are renown for.

‘How To Taste’ shows a sonic reminiscence of pre-Hungry Ghost material, spun with all the attributes of its successful predecessor that solidified it as arguably one of the most defining rock albums to emerge from Australia in the last decade. From the very first track, Waco steps up to the legacy set by Hungry Ghost, exhibiting the tantalising pace and vocals that have Australian fans irrevocably hooked; showcasing their consistently that allowed them to travel sold-out tours while infusing it with a little more self-awareness and growth.

Amping up the pace for the second song of the album ‘Blanket’, Violent Soho flaunt an organic maturing, retaining all the infectious rhythmic pace changes that flawlessly entwine with the natural rise and fall of vocals. With these elements in mind, their humour continues to combine into what is sure to be one of the hidden gems of this release. Playfully toying with an alternating pace – added to by a rhythmic bass line that swirls together with building guitars – the instrumentals peak into a sing-a-long inspiring chorus; ‘Viceroy’ remaining headstrong and bold in the first uttering of the chorus “King of the Viceroy!” 

In a similar anthem-like inspiring fashion to ‘Viceroy’, Violent Soho dish out a killer ‘Like Soda’. Comparable to track ‘Blanket’, ‘Like Soda’ showcases a warmer and more playful experimentation with pace and is juxtaposed against the somber sounds of slower tracks like ‘Sentimental’. First dropped last October, the band had amassed such widespread popularity that it hadn’t just been sitting idle and riding the success but instead, was amazing audience nationally with it’s equally experimental music video.

Enormous and diverse sound is abundant on this release as Violent Soho are heard not only experimenting with pace, but also a new sense of self-awareness. Especially evident through a fuller sound, careful multilayering in ‘Slow Wave’ and ‘Evergreen’ see the four-piece move away from prior tracks on Waco, trading in warmth for an overall thicker and more constructed end product.

With anticipation captivating fans leading up to the release of Waco, March 18th will see their excitement greeted with a hug from an old friend, offering forward a new body of songs that provides track after track of “Hell Fuck Yeah” moments. Organically moving forward, the enormity that swarmed Hungry Ghost will now be reiterated and celebrated as they “were not defeated”.

Waco is due for release this Friday via I Oh You. 

8/10

Luca Brasi – If This Is All We’re Gonna Be

This review was originally published via Speaker TV and is available here

Bombarded with an overwhelming energy right from the opening bar, Luca Brasi welcomes you warmly into their highly anticipated LP, If This Is All Were Going To Be. Written between overcoming the hurdles that come with living in different parts of the most forgotten Australian state of ye’ old Tasmania and attempting to fit in time to tour, the record breathes slowly. Being arguably the most loveable quartet to ever have called the sleepy apple isle home, Luca Brasi offer forward the dynamic final product that forms their third LP.  ‘Aeroplane’ initiates the release with infectiously warm fast paced instrumentals setting up the organic rise and fall of pace and tone throughout the LP in its entirety.

If This Is All We’re Going To Be snatches listeners into the release from the very first bar of the first track – tantalising; taking them on a developmental journey – right until the final track of ‘Count Me Out’, where rawness resonates,  “If this is all were gonna be, I have developed a taste for defeat” slowly fades it all to a close.  An especially strong sense of continuity emerges within this release in each track, regardless if they were written over a space of two years. They fit miuch together like a sonic puzzle, exhibiting a new level of dynamics for the collective.

The second track follows on in the footsteps of ‘Aeroplane’ while building upon its fast paced nature. ‘Say It Back’ utilises drums as a leading point, swirling together with progressive guitars as they bridge together with captivating lyrics delivered in a controlled manner. These chords fluctuate between mesmerising cleans and a carefully placed abrasiveness; the lyrics anchoring  a sense of vulnerability within sentences. The development from the beginning right through to the end creates a complete body of work that, when listened to, is an entity that matures alongside the listener. Punchy tones, high and low fluctuation of energies are all combined with new hits, articulated well within ‘Treading Water’ as it breathes“I can still smell your perfume when I’m so far from home.”

Warm combinations, alongside a certain reminiscent punk-punchiness, create a careful balance of melody and continuity. Throughout the record, each track draws together into one cohesive aural body of work that exhibits maturity in Luca Brasi’s sound.

If This Is All We’re Going To Be is available April 29th via Poison City Records.

7.5/10

Will Wagner Interview

This interview was originally conducted on behalf of and published via Speaker TV and available here 

Following a distant weekender in our mainlands and the lesser loved Tasmania, I found myself tired as I picked up the phone. It was a pleasant morning and an excitement had gotten the better of me, pacing back and forth before picking up the phone. Within three short rings, I was suddenly deep in discussions with Will Wagner; a name practically synonymous with the Melbourne music. Better known as the driving force and vocalist behind The Smith Street Band, Will and friends had recent been packing and traveling across Australia for their St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. Discussing plans for the music festival between shows, we found ourselves chatting about life off tour and the overarching sedative powers of FIFA.



So Will, when you’re not on tour what are your typical morning rituals?

Not much really, sort of hang out at home drink a lot of coffee play a lot of guitar, play a lot of video games. Nothing all that interesting when I am not on tour – I probably should get more of a social life but I am usually so fucked from the tour; day to day pretty much is just hanging out with my girlfriend and playing video games.


What are your favourite video games to unwind with?

I play a lot of FIFA – I find it really meditative in a weird way. That and Far Cry.

In the rare amount of downtime you do have, what is your favourite local venue to see bands at?

The Rev or Old Bar. I visit both of those like once a week when I am home. But again neither of them offer FIFA facilities so…

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What is your favourite place to eat when you’re home in Melbourne?

Well, I live in Footscray, so there’s a real population of recent immigrants which means there’s so much good food. I love eating at The Rev they have some really good stuff. Sapa Hills is this really good Vietnamese place in Footscray.  Smith and Daughters and Smith and Deli are two really good places in Fitzroy/Collingwood amidst that area just near Brunswick Street – they’re totally vegan and just incredible places – Smith and Deli opened last year and it’s like a New York style deli that does all vegan food. The first time I went there I bought a sandwich – the buffalo tofu chicken thing while I was doing a seminar thing across the road, and I just sat out the front and ate it and I was like I think I need to go buy this again to eat for dinner it’s so good. The whole aesthetic of the place is just so awesome, they really nailed it.

What are three things you cannot live without?

A guitar nearby at all times, I am quite a fidgety person and it’s pretty much the only thing I can stand still and focus on. Coffee at all times I seem to need like 15 cups to stay alive throughout a day and embarrassingly my Phone; I really like to listen to podcasts it’s another thing I would really struggle with if I wasn’t able to put my headphones in tune everything out and listen to two brattish people talk about soccer for an hour and a half. It calms me down in a way that music kinda doesn’t now. they would be my three things.

“I like listening to something that I have no idea how the fuck they managed to put this beat [and entire track] together…” 

 

Evidentially, some of your Tasmanian fans have likened The Smith Street Band to likes of the Foo Fighters. Who would you identify to be some of your biggest musical influences?

Bruce Springsteen is kinda what made me want to start and Against Me both are probably like the biggest influences on my life and my music – Both bands continue to be amazing and inspiring in so many different ways. I also listen to a lot of hip-hop. I find good hip-hop that’s not just like “I’ve got guns, I’ve got cars.” Good hip-hop that’s got a story to tell is very fascinating, it gives a really cool insight into growing up in an environment where I didn’t grow up in. For this I love artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Run The Jewels – them and Kendrick are like my two favourite things to listen to at the moment. Astronautalis is also great. I find interesting storytelling hip-hop fascinating. I really like listening to that kind of music because I have no idea how it was made – listening to punk rock is sick but you can hear – oh, that’s this kind of guitar and that’s this kind of amp – but I like listening to something that I have no idea how the fuck they managed to put this beat together with this sample from an old soul song and how this old Knarl Rodgers guitar lick. All this stuff that they can smash together to make something so cohesive. 

You were asked to sign a car a while back. What is some of the strangest things fans have asked to have signed?

The car was pretty good, I don’t know it’s always just like t-shirts and ads, I don’t know if anything can quite stick out as much as someone just asking if they can pull their car around the back. I’ve written things on people which they’ve then got tattooed on them which is pretty crazy  Like written things in my handwriting and they’ve then gone the next day and got it tattooed on them which is pretty fucking insane – that would probably be the other thing that stands out.

I remember this one time a girl wanted me to write this big thing on her arm and the only thing we could find was a really big fat sharpie and i felt like I fucked it up- like aw fuck do you want me to do it again like we could wash your arm and start again – then she got it tattooed and it looks cool. It’s always a lot of pressure like halfway through writing something someone’s like I’m going to get this tattooed on me tomorrow, like fuck why didn’t you tell me this beforehand; what if haven’t spelt anything right?

Is there a mental process you go through in the lead up to such intense stints of touring such as your upcoming USA tour?

Not really, there probably should be, but it’s pretty much still just jam continuously. We’re writing a new album at the moment so pretty much every day we’ve been home rehearsing that and rehearsing for Laneway’s set. Trying to write songs for the album, we pretty much just try to do that everyday cause we all kind of organise everything ourselves; we’ll just spend too much time texting each other trying to get all this shit together and sort everything out, but we probably should go on some kinda like spiritual retreat before we go on tour.  You know, not talk to each other for a few days before we spend every single waking second sitting in each others pockets.

With such lyric based music what are your means of countering any writer’s block you may face?

I think sometimes you can write and sometimes you can’t. Like my thing is I try to write every day even if it’s just generic and really crappy dribble – which I am sure some people say abut all my songs, but I try to just get something out every single day just so you have a bit of momentum when you do have a good idea. Once you start saying I can’t write anything you can’t write anything: then you actually can’t write anything. I’ll try and churn out lyrics constantly and then even if I write every day for two weeks and there’s one phrase in there that’s usable then cool; I got something out of that two weeks of writing.

While sometimes you write a song and it’s done in like five minutes – like ‘Surrender’, you know, the songs that got played on the radio that just fell out in 10 minutes –  then you sit there with a guitar and are just like “where the fuck did that come from? Why can’t I do that again?”


What acts are you most excited to catch at Laneway?

Royal Headache and Battles are probably the two bands I am most excited to see but haven’t seen.  Royal Headache are a band I like and have loved since their first record came out; I have never got the chance to see them and they’re supposed to be like phenomenal. I am also looking forward to seeing High Tension and Violent Soho, it’s going to be great to hang with them and watch them all across the country – they’re both some of the loudest, impactful bands in Australia so they’ll both be great to see as well as Fidlar and, of course, Purity Ring.

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“At this point staying sane is pretty much my goal for 2016.”

 

How do you think 2016 will compare to 2015?


I think it will be a bit less hectic, we would have done nearly 200 shows, with lots of big chunks. We’d be on tour for like four months, doing Australia straight into America straight into Europe which was cool but we really needed to take a bit of time away from each other and a bit of time off. We’re just finishing that now and we’re going to try to write, record and release an album hopefully this year- if not at the start of next year.

We’ve got some more Australian and European touring in the pipelines for later in the year but we’re going really try and bunker down for a few months and go somewhere nice and spend a big chunk of time recording – that’s sorta my favourite part of being in a band and is something I’m really looking forward to doing. But yeah, hopefully in 2016 we’ll try to stay chill but knowing us we’ll probably just say yes to everything and end up playing a bunch of shows. At this point staying sane is pretty much my goal for 2016.


And finally – What can fans expect from your new album?

In my head, it’s like heavier and darker, but that’s what everyone says when they’re writing a new album like, “yeah it’s louder heavier and darker than the last one”, and then it sounds the exactly the same, so… probably it will sound exactly the same (laughs). But I don’t know – my goal for the record is that I want extra instrumentation, I want to work with a composer and have songs where it’s like no one in the bands playing and it’s just a string section and piano and work on that kind of dynamic. Just make it a bit more interesting and less like guitar driven by adding bits with string sections and horn sections and orchestras by themselves – knowing us however it will be like ‘Throw Me In The River’ again and hopefully people will like it.