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 – 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

Horror My Friend – Stay In Do Nothing

 

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

Breaking through the suburban shackles of Adelaide comes a ’90s reminiscent, grittily infectious debut album from Horror My Friend. Combining raw vocal tones and melodically influenced instrumentals, the trio offer forward a memorising collection of tracks, all of which demand those listening to stand up and take note.

From warmer tones present within ‘Easy Going’, through to the smooth vocal stylings in ‘Same Minds’, each track is heightened by contrastingly harsh overtones. Stay In, Do Nothing takes shape while quickly exhibiting a sense of vocal diversity accented only further through consistently energetic instrumental melodics.

Starting off with a static beat which flows throughout the entire first track, fans are treated to the unveiling of a song dense with a careful balance between gritty and smooth tones. Paving way for a collection of songs that have proven to find the perfect in-between, the DIY sound aesthetic blends into well-rounded indie rock.

While the vast variation of vocals and guitar pacing causes drums to work as an ever present source of sound, this feature mirrors the variation of other elements; creating a consistency that demands your interest while working alongside instrumental and vocal aspects of the album.

Stay In’ creates a certain nostalgic sensation that washes over listeners upon the first string, allowing Horror My Friend to grasp you by the hand like an old acquaintance and pull you directly into their debut. Offering forward a sense of familiarness while infusing it with enough variation, the track ensures that you listen to every arrangement track by track. While the chorus of ‘Stay In’ is certain to wriggle its way into your head, be ready for a subconscious tap along throughout.

The major strength of this album is a certain self-awareness which is present within each of the tracks. As pace is experimented with alongside the patterns created with variant vocal stylings, Horror My Friend offer forward a strong first record, which works as a gratification for all the anticipation surrounding Stay In, Do Nothing’s release. Through the highs and lows created by the carefully constructed energy within Stay In, Do Nothing, ‘PB Remains’ offers up a final and contrastingly somber close to the release as a whole; simultaneously being riddled with electrifying emotion drawing the entire debut together.

Horror My Friend through Stay In, Do Nothing have ascertained their place as a band who are able to rise to a challenge, smashing out a debut album worthy of all the hype which lead up to its release.

Stay In, Do Nothing is out this Friday, via Poison City Records.

7/10

No Closer To Heaven – The Wonder Years


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

Since the emergence of pop-punk, the clear upper hand it had on other genres was clear: the genre itself aims to masterfully blends raw emotion with angst through elements of misunderstanding, crafting a sound concoction that resonates with the adolescent side of every listener. With this simplicity, however, often bands find themselves falling into the path of repetition. In order to rise above this, it takes particular elements infused within bodies of work to differentiate them apart from what can too often sound like offerings of the same songs, from different bands.

A respectable pop-punk album is able to combine the conventions of the genre, while bringing something new to the table. Playing testament to this, The Wonder Years fifth studio album No Closer To Heaven reinvigorates their sound, paving way for what evolves into their most mature release to date.

Finding the perfect mixture of somberness and diversity while encapsulating reminiscence to its inspirational roots, No Closer To Heaven cements itself as a step in the right direction for the Philadelphia-based pop-punk ensemble. Going on to showcase a carefully considered arrangement of songs, the album becomes a journey as a whole while transitioning track to track. The emotional roller coaster that is No Closer To Heaven begins with the harmonious and thunderous chorus of ‘Brothers &’. Setting a tone for the album as an entirety, The Wonder Years are back, equipped with an ever-present urgency that flows throughout their sound. While delivering lyrics of such rawness, one feels like they’re hearing the recital of a personal diary.

Their fifth studio album homes the artful creation of a reflective series of songs, channeling into a more technical and reflective approach to their music than the band has created before. The pace fluctuates between fast and slow contrasting, dramatically and working to highlight emotional density in slower songs such as ‘Cigarettes and Saints’. With ambient instrumental melodies, the song builds intimacy with vocalist Dan Campbell. Erupting into an infectious peak mid-song, emphasising the conscious control of pace riddled within the release.

Throughout the album, artful control of pace comes together with a diary-esc lyrical style delivering hooks such as; “I bet you’re bumming cigarettes from saints” in even the most somber of songs on the release. As a whole the album reeks of musical maturity while anchoring itself to an extremely personal lyrical story; reminiscent of something written in your bedroom at your parents’ house, when you should really be asleep.

Strengthening their success by somehow making cursing sound beautifully poetic in ‘Stained Glass Ceilings’ or when creating a ballad through a comparison of a bird carcass and a bloodhound in ‘A Song For Ernest Hemingway’, The Wonder Years latest release No Closer To Heaven, draws together all that is good about pop-punk, while artfully playing with pace and lyrics to cultivate a release fuelled with somberness, rawness and maturity.

No Closer To Heaven is out now via Hopeless Records.
7.5/10