Hoodlum Shouts - Young Man Old Man [Poison City / hellosQuare]
The long-awaited, 11-track record from Hoodlum Shouts (Sam Leyshon – vox/didgeridoo/harmonica, Josh Leyshon – drums, Mike Caruana – guitar, Luke Robert – bass) is best played LOUD. Comparisons can be made between these guys and the vitality of Midnight Oil and The Dead Kennedys, but after a solid listen you will hear something intrinsic in the Hoodlums’ sound that is dead original. Those first heavily-distorted chords in La Niña grip you in some kind of electric heat wave. Bleeding into 4000km, Sam’s distinctive voice is distraught, strong and altogether honest. Throughout the album the harmonies create some vast, contemplative space and instrumental interludes are soulful without words. Josh Leyshon’s percussive energy brings the Hoodlums’ sound together into a living and breathing whole. His beats are held back well at times (For A Family) then released with a satisfying weight. Didgeridoo makes a resonating statement in the mix, echoing the vibrations of the vocals and the harmonica, to which Sam brings new, cutting intensity. Tracks like Guns, Germs, Steel spawn a dirt punk attitude with unsettling bass and lyricism – a ferocity not for the faint-hearted. The Hoodlums can be anthemic without losing musicality and manage to sound both tight and reckless on Pushing Squares. The industrial, experimental elements contribute to larger-than-life moments that leave you feeling comfortably lost and insignificant on The Upkeep Of A City. Recording veteran Matt Voigt’s talents are exemplified on the title tracks Young Man and Old Man, which boast a clean production of the sonic spectrum of the Hoodlums. This record will impress for the sheer energetic personality of the music. The Last of Them features a characteristic, unforgettable Hoodlums chorus and the band’s ensemble strength (Wapengo) should definitely earn them a few more towns of devotees on tour. Every track on the album is developed to full capacity and the miles put in by the band burst through the music to make you feel like you’ve really heard something. This one’s not going to leave you.
Swedish duo Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg had previously been responsible for crafting blockbuster singles for Britney Spears as the production team Bloodshy & Avant, but even they didn't predict the breakout success of their 2009 self-titled debut as Miike Snow, which saw the duo joining forces with American singer-songwriter Andrew Wyatt. While that first album saw them operating primarily as a studio entity and a concept more than anything else, three years on this second album, Happy To You, sees them meshing more as a band proper, the result of playing more than 260 shows over 18 months. There's an increased sense of textural depth and lushness to the ten tracks collected here, the Afro-Caribbean tinged Enter The Joker's Lair opening proceedings with a whirl of galloping high-life drums, buzzing analogue synths and glittering steel drum textures, while Devil's Work sees cinematic orchestration working its way in between the jangling pianos as majestic brass swells up beneath Wyatt's vocals. Elsewhere, Vase sees crunching programmed beats and woodblock percussion adding edgier vibes to a shimmering backdrop of distorted synths and curiously Velvet Underground-esque lyrical arrangement, while God Help This Divorce documents a couple's breakup in what is easily the most epic ballad-centred moment on offer here. While there's plenty of detail to admire on Happy To You, however, it feels like a producer's album more than anything else, with few songs sticking hard.
It's time people stopped comparing Bronson to Ghostface Killah. He’s a bald, white, obese, anus-obsessed flame chef turned rapper. Give that some space. Then give it more, because he’s going to be so big when he falls his feet will stand on either side of the Hudson River like the ruins of the Colossus of Rhodes. Unfortunately, this isn’t the record that proves it. Blue Chips is his first 2012 release but it won’t be his killer. This is chiefly for two reasons. First, it’s unfocused. Sixteen tracks is at least four too many. It’s haphazard. Second, the collaborations are weak. Sometimes it’s cool to hear someone hanging out in the studio smoking and drinking but sometimes it’s just weak. I question why Kool AD was even there. It’s a time-honoured tradition to include sketches in a hip-hop album but Bronson hasn’t so much included sketches as left mistakes in. The first line on the record is Bronson fucking up. On one level it’s personal but on another it kills the replay value. When Bronson focuses you can feel it. Thug Love Story 2012 is a highlight for the fact that you can tell Bronson had something he wanted to get off his chest. The man has a lyrical wit that deserves a topic. The same is true of Hookers at the Point. Later this year he’s set to release another collab with Tommy Mas, the man behind Dr. Lecter. Here’s waiting.
Written over the course of a year, recorded in a long weekend and then stashed in the vaults for another year, Super Best Friend's Handshake has been a long time coming. Cut in Melbourne with Children Collide, Living End and Young Revelry producer Paul 'Woody' Annison, it gives the local band the huge, speaker-rattling, hi-fi treatment their music has always demanded.
Matt Roberts' bass, the backbone of the band, takes the lead on most tracks and positively leaps out of the speakers, snarling and growling. Locking in with drummer Adam Bridges' snappy sticksmanship, it creates a rock solid foundation for Johnny Barrington's slash and burn axework. But while the Besties have always been a guitar band, synths take an increasingly prominent role on the EP – a marker for tunes to come, perhaps.
As usual, the band's lyrics find them spitting venom and railing against the ills of society. But while earlier songs were about as subtle as a sledgehammer, these new tracks read less like political diatribes, with more emphasis on snarky social observation and self-deprecation. The Bleachers has the band taking aim at Sydney's eastern beaches types and stand-out track, the disarmingly catchy No Logo is a Joke, deals with the fading anti-capitalist movement. Lyrically as well as musically, Handshake recalls the propulsive rock and black humour of Future of the Left and their forbears Mclusky.
A disc to match the ferocity of the band's live show.
Johannesburg-based vocalist/producer Spoek Mathambo first surfaced a few years back with his electro-hip hop laced collaborations as Playdoe and Sweat X, but while his 2010 debut album Mshini Wam saw him continuing to operate along those lines, two years on this follow-up, Father Creeper, represents a considerably more confident and stylistically eclectic beast. Particularly apparent upon first listening is the increased presence of guitars, whether in the form of propulsive high-life meets township rhythms or as jagged post-punk textures, with many of the more rock-centred tracks here drawing considerable range out of Mathambo's already impressive vocals. While opening track Kites starts this collection off in more familiar electronic territory akin to the likes of Spank Rock, with bleeping game core effects battling for space with shuffling live drums and Mathambo's hyper-stacked verses, Let Them Talk sits far closer to the likes of TV On The Radio, as rippling guitar riffs cling tightly to crashing live drums and fluid funk bass, and indeed there are likely to be plenty of aspiring rockist MCs envious of Mathambo's ability to smoothly and convincingly shift between the two styles. Throughout the eleven tracks collected here there's also a noticeable undercurrent of societal dystopia, whether in the form of Dog To Bone's “zombies from the riot days” or as the title track's weary wander out into future Afro beat-blues. An excellent second album that succeeds in its ambition.
Yes, this a double A-side release, and this is an album review section, but dammit it’s my magazine and I’ll do what I want. Besides, plucky Canberran now Melbourne dwelling Hayden Quinn and James Hewson have a corking new sound that deserves trumpeting.
Formerly of moniker Paqman (yes those guys), the early days saw the disgustingly young duo make music that wore their heroes The Chemical Brothers proudly on their fluro sleeves. It was exciting, fast-paced, ADHA-tinged electronica perhaps a little too manic for true musical merit and yet demonstrated – along with their scintillating live shows – a whole multicoloured bucket of promise.
Promise that has been realised on these two ‘90s inspired tracks, both of which demonstrate a musicality, assuredness and purpose that should elevate their stature. On Aquaflash the trademark switching time signatures of old are still there, but there’s a consistent melody and groove that gifts it the status of a “song”. It’s a joyful headnod to the furry pants and hands-in-the-air aesthetic of ‘90s rave, replete with an earworm of a driving piano riff, matching blippy synths and expertly chopped vocals that will have you reaching for the lasers.
Nicodeine Crush is bass music brilliance. A cloudy, moody stomper driven by a complicated drum pattern and punctuated by high pitched synth stabs; it is mesmeric, moody, and sees the duo at their most commanding. The upbeat euphoria of Aquaflash is the perfect counterbalance to the atmospheric Nicodeine Crush and sees the duo emerge from the shadow of The Chemicals to assert their own bold and exciting sound. Rachel Haircut are ones to watch, and most importantly to listen to.
The debut EP from Canberran Andrew Walker is a gentle invitation to sit down with him over a camomile cuppa and ponder the universe. Presented like a collection of short stories, minimal instrumental backing brings the lyrics to centre stage, focusing the mind on the riddles within. Drew’s personal puzzles are delivered in an alternative folk style with a very ‘hippy hippy shake’ flavour. Themes alternate between the familiarity of everyday domesticity and the gob-smackingly confusing. There is a wisdom behind the lyrics (“It is better to eat than to have a glass eye”) that is not easily deciphered. Drew’s experimental style peaks in Towards the Sun, an opening track presented in the form of a Zen conundrum called a k?an that is used to aid meditation. (I know you already knew all that.) The musical package for this song is very Buddhist too, with an ascetic strum as the main melody while the bass and saxophone hover in the background like totally separate conversations. Yellow Brick House presents snapshots from a relationship, some bright Kodachrome and some with a sadder, sepia tone, while CD highlight Lullaby captures the mix of past events, whimsy and secret longings that makes up our dreamscapes. The style is not as challenging as it sounds. Drew’s balmy voice, imbued with the calming properties of mulled wine, and the simple, cosy instrumentation make listening an easy pleasure. So light the incense, say Om and have a listen!