LIVE REVIEW: No Age @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

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No Age

No Age, Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Arse, Basic Human
Oxford Art Factory
February 14th, 2019

Almost ten years to the day that No Age last played Sydney, at the 2009 Laneway Festival, the Los Angeles duo return on the back of their critically acclaimed album of last year, Snares Like A Haircut. 

A fine four-band lineup had been put together for the evening and all four local acts impressed. Basic Human kicked things off with their primitive punk rock, built on a relentless rhythm section and topped off with the endlessly pacing singer’s half-sung, mostly shouted vocals. They were catchy and a good balance of noise, attitude and humour, with each song introduced as “This is a love song”, given it was Valentine’s Day.

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ARSE

Arse have to be one of the best named bands to come out of Sydney in a long while and you kind of expected great things from them before they’d even played a note. Collared shirts, tight trousers, swagger and volume. The trio started with a gloriously mangled take on Advance Australia Fair before unleashing distorted bass, guitar sounds pulled from a metal album and minimal post-hardcore drumming. It was like Cosmic Psychos cutting all kinds of Jesus Lizard angles with the noise punk dial on 11. They topped it off with a Revolting Cocks’ish lurch and stagger through John Paul Young’s Love Is In The Air.

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Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys

Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys played a Surry Hills gig with No Age back on that 2009 tour and here they were again, essentially still doing the same thing but seeming much more comfortable in their musical skin as a band. The songs rolled and tumbled with less consternation and more flow. Plenty of tracks from their 2017 album Rot were played including the super catchy pop song Plastic Tears, Away and Expanded Horizons and on stage and with volume it showed how well they’ve shaped their Replacements meets melodic garage punk sound over two albums.

No Age still do what they’ve always done, from those early days at The Smell in LA to their latest album, they’ve always found inventive ways to dig noise and melody from the single construct of drums, a guitar and a couple of mics. They still seem a relaxed pair, chatting with the audience, exchanging jokes about old songs being new, unravelling the mystery of Vegemite and talking up the observed ease of living as a vegan in Sydney. 

Their dynamic is basic but with the subtle interplay of Randy Randall’s guitar effects, Dean Spunt’s punk breakbeats and other avant garde interjections like the experimental ambient typewriter chatter of Snares Like A Haircut, their songs rarely end up regressing into same-sameness. One quickly forgets they’re a two-piece when the full throttle wall of Dinosaur Jr sound bursts forth. It’s a clever blend of energy and inventiveness, equally directed at the mind and the feet of the audience and Randall seemed equally lost in a sea of hair and leg kicks as he wrestled all kinds of sounds from his guitar. When they dialled back the frenzy on the song Send Me they sounded like a lost Flying Nun band – beautifully wasted, wistful and melancholic.

Spunt and Randall left us with perhaps their finest song, Teen Creeps, with its Sonic Youth chug and shoegaze wash of guitar, a cathartic way to send the audience back out into the night, fully vibed on No Age’s dissonant sonic hypnosis.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Farmertan – Madness

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Farmertan might be a new name to our readers but they’ve been treading the boards since the early 90s, working away at their rootsy, indie rock n roll sound. This song ‘Madness’ comes from the Connecticut band’s brand new album Captains Of Industry (out now) and captures that parched melodic sound that bands like Big Star, The Replacements, The Lemonheads, Buffalo Tom and others perfected in their heyday.

NEW MUSIC: Hideous Sun Demon – Ssppuunnkk

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West Australian psych-punks Hideous Sun Demon have unleashed this new track on us, the psychotic swagger of ‘Ssppuunnkk’ which staggers across the speakers, drops to its knees and crawls deeper into a drug fever. Slashing guitar shreds sonic holes through the song,  above the pummelling rhythm section and Vincent Buchanan-Simpson ’s ferocious lead vocal.

Their album Fame Erotic Dream is out now.

NEW MUSIC: The Original Cowards – Curse Of The Commander

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Here’s some searing panoramic dust storm countrified rock from The Original Cowards, a trio from Northampton, MA whose self-proclaimed influences include Dinosaur Jr., Neil Young and Crazy Horse, sacred herbs, garage and psych, fuzz, The Who, and thunder. They live up to those lofty aspirations on ‘Curse Of The Commander’, a seven minute track that rumbles, sways and lumbers along with paint-peeling solos and a bedrock rhythm section. They call this song a sonic flip-off the orange American Satan in chief.

ALBUM REVIEW: Mudhoney – Digital Garbage

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It’s hard to believe but Mudhoney are now in their 30th year of active service and on Digital Garbage, their 10th album, they show they’re still the kings of fuzzed-out punk and garage rock. Their disdain for everything fucked up about the world is still vital and biting and they don’t hold back one iota.

No topic is out of bounds as they rail against social media, the rich getting richer at everyone else’s expense, gun control, religion and environmental destruction. Mark Arm has sharpened his pencil with more scathing intent than he’s ever done before. “Fuck the planet, screw your children, get rich, you win,” he sings on Prosperity Gospel while on Paranoid Core he throws barbs of sarcastic truths at an unnamed Donald Trump and his supporters. Musically the band are as economical as ever but in addition to their trademark buzzsaw guitars and MC5, Stooges shakedowns, they also get dark and moody with an early Nick Cave feel on Night And Fog and there are strains of Neil Young in the chord progressions of Messiah’s Lament.

There’s plenty of humour at play too. Lines such as ‘turning water into wine is dismissed as a parlour trick, that’s insensitive to the struggles of alcoholics,” throw amusing shapes across the underlying messages on Digital Garbage. Few bands have remained so close to the sound and integrity of their music. Mudhoney are still out front of the pack, setting the benchmark with brutal and brilliant honesty.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: The Rebels of Tijuana – Erotique

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Psychedelia out of France from The Rebels of Tijuana. This track, ‘Erotique’, comes from their new double album Asile recorded on analog tape at the Back To Mono Studio with Christian Hierro and due out on October 5th.

Gallic pop drips all over this track as it digs a psych garage rock groove and follows it with swing and verve. Great video clip too. The band have released a bunch of albums and EPs over the last decade and toured with some high profile names like Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. You can check out their earlier albums and another recent single over on SPOTIFY and APPLE MUSIC.

NEW MUSIC: Straight Arrows – 21st Century

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Sydney band Straight Arrows return with a new slice of ramalama garage rock ‘n’ roll called ’21st Century’. Killer breakbeat, rolling bass and guitar chops! It comes from their forthcoming new LP On Top, due out October 21st. Look out for a 7″ 45rpm single release coming soon.

Hit the Bandcamp link to hear the single (plus ‘Out & Down’) and preorder the album.