LIVE REVIEW: ARIA Week Showcase: Bad//Dreems… @ Upstairs Beresford, Sydney (27/11/13)

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Bad//Dreems nearly didn’t make it up from Adelaide due to cancelled flights. Thankfully they did as they provided the most rock n roll and adventurous moments of the night. The four-piece showed why they have deservedly been 2013’s most exciting new proponents of melodic Australian guitar music. Songs like Caroline, Hoping For, Too Old and Chills were given a more caustic and anxious edge on-stage as singer Ben Marwe, paced and grimaced and Alex Cameron wrestled and coaxed those hookladen riffs from his guitar. Big things are expected of Bad//Dreems.

Bandito Folk were in many ways the anthesis of the openers with their delicate indie-lite guitar songs and choirboy vocals. There were shades of Augie March and Art of Fighting about them minus the dark themes and emotional connectivity those bands nailed so well. Singer Josh Tuck is the centrepiece of the band, his voice soaring in a Laurel Canyon meets Jeff Buckley fashion. The band needs a few hearts broken before they find their best songs but the base elements of a talented and marketable band are there.

She-Rex were the real misfits of the night, in a complimentary sense. Their big fun, big sound and big confident performance seemed to win over many in the audience. With a sound that combines funk, super-sized rock riffs and hip hop, all with a strange left of centre vibe to it, they set about doing everything they could to make an impression. Singer/rapper Nikkita Rast, shimmied and gyrated her way through the set, spitting out MIA styled rhymes which were superbly delivered but often lacked lyrical substance.

Sons of The East upped the indie folk quota with their banjo/guitar/keys sound, throwing in some didgeridoo, harmonica and a Lana del Rey (Summertime Sadness) cover that instigated an audience singalong. Jack Rollins’ voice is a special one, a mixture of raspy growl and sweet croon – the deal-breaker amid the fairly narrow stomp and strum modern folk sound they have.

The night of up and coming talent was rounded out by Sydney band Castlecomer. The tightest band of the night and owners of the most comprehensive sound that took in smooth pop and MOR rock, they delivered it in a fun and unpretentious manner. They were a reminder that generally the ARIAs are all about commercial recognition and achievement rather than critical acclaim (Bad//Dreems were the dark horse) and this evening was a showcase of some bands that could very well be the next generation of Australian chart toppers.

Chris Familton

this review was first published in The Music 

DS Favourite Songs of 2013

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It’s always a mighty challenge to narrow down all the songs you’ve heard in one year and slot them into order on a nice tidy list of 20. I’m sure I’ve missed a handful of gems but these are all songs that have either captured my imagination, feet, ears or all of the above and made me think “damn that is a great song”.

1. Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener

2. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street

3. Houndmouth – Penitentiary

4. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – So Good At Being In Trouble

5. Bad//Dreems – Caroline

6. Wooden Shjips – Everybody Knows

7. Kirin J Callinan – Victoria M

8. Ooga Boogas – Sex in the Chillzone

9. Ducktails – Under Cover

10. TV Colours – Beverly

11. Popstrangers – Heaven

12. Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys – Any Day Now

13. Eleanor Friedberger – When I Knew

14. Sharpie Crows – Thanks You Ladies For The Spread

15. Bill Callahan – Small Plane

16. Neko Case – Night Still Comes

17. Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture of You

18. Arcade Fire – We Exist

19. Suede – Barriers

20. Depeche Mode – Heaven

Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street

Houndmouth – Penitentiary

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – So Good At Being In Trouble

Bad//Dreems – Caroline

Wooden Shjips – Everybody Knows

Kirin J Callinan – Victoria M

Ooga Boogas – Sex in the Chillzone

Ducktails – Under Cover

TV Colours – Beverly

Popstrangers – Heaven

Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys – Any Day Now

Eleanor Friedberger – When I Knew

Suede – Barriers

Sharpie Crows – Thanks You Ladies For The Spread

Bill Callahan – Small Plane

Neko Case – Night Still Comes

Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture of You

Arcade Fire – We Exist

Depeche Mode – Heaven

REVIEW: Bad//Dreems | Badlands EP

by Chris Familton

Rating8.5square-600-3Mix small town pessimism, youthful optimism, suburban nihilism and a lo-fi aesthetic and you have some of the ingredients that make the essential sound of Bad//Dreems on their superb Badlands EP. The Adelaide natives have been teasing/threatening us for a while now with a string of singles (Chills, Tomorrow Mountain and Caroline) and now those songs plus another trio of equally terrific tracks comprise the EP.

Chills leads things off with its melancholic drunken sway, or perhaps it’s a booze blues hangover feel that permeates the track. The guitar is all chiming and woozy with its sing-song melody that builds up gorgeous layers of sound. It’s a warm, fuzzy and bucolic feel, a soundtrack for reminiscence that works equally well as the backdrop to a summer cruise to the beach. The vibe carries through to Hoping For, the most mature song in the set. There is a desperation and conviction in Ben Marwe’s voice as he sings “I feel like I could change”. There’s that optimism burning a hole in the song. When they hit that chorus and Miles Wilson’s drums pushes the song along with added urgency the whole song lifts into another place altogether.

The lo-fi aesthetic I mentioned earlier is certainly an important one but the band are clever to only use it as a reference, a connector to some semblance of a slacker mood. Sonically the EP is anything but lo-fi, indeed on a song like Home Life that comes across like Violent Soho and Nirvana battling for control over a mosh pit the sound is ferocious and raw but still widescreen and intense. Caroline nails a mid point between that brashness and the hook-laden jangle and riff side of their songwriting. With prominent bass and Marwe’s pleading and shredded vocals it is yet another highpoint.

Tomorrow Mountain sees Bad//Dreems delving into dark and murky territory with Alex Cameron’s heavily reverbed guitar clanging as effectively as it weaves antagonistic and pained post-punk riffs. The track reminds me of the much missed band The Scare and showcases the balance of the band in terms of writing across the emotional spectrum.

Fittingly they leave us where we first found them, back in that love-lost, forlorn, sun damaged, sepia toned state of mind. The guitars continue to casually fire off clusters of notes that bury deep in your memory. The bass sits comfortably between rhythm and melody and much like Lower Plenty’s Hard Rubbish LP (2012) they transport you to that happy/sad place where you feel inside the music rather than just a casual observer. If Bad//Dreems can keep writing songs to this standard their debut LP will be a real treat but in the meantime Badlands is another crucial addition to the canon of classic and quintessentially Australian releases.

Badlands is out now on Mirador Records 

NEW MUSIC: Bad//Dreems release new song Tomorrow Mountain

I’ve dug everything I’ve heard from Bad//Dreems (SA) so far, especially the brilliant Chills and now they’ve released a new track, Tomorrow Mountain as a stream and/or ‘name your price’ (including free) download on their Bandcamp page. It sees them heading into a darker, atmospheric place that feels more spacious but at the same time the lyrics and cavernous, slashing guitar sound conjures up feelings of dread and claustrophobia. Bad//Dreems can do no wrong at the moment and I highly recommend that you check them out on their upcoming tour.


Brisbane – Thursday, Oct 18th @ Oh Hello w/- Step-Panther

Gold Coast – Friday, Oct 19th @ Elsewhere w/- Step-Panther

Sydney – Fri, Oct 26th @ Purple Sneakers (Brighton Up Bar)

Wollongong – Sat, Oct 27th @ Yours And Owls w/- Step-Panther

Adelaide – Sat, Nov 10th @ Jive w/- Hungry Kids of Hungary

Adelaide – Fri, Nov 10th @ Fowler’s Live w/- Bleeding Knees Club

ds recommends: Bad//Dreems

Adelaide’s Bad//Dreems are making moves of the dark, twisting, post pop and jangling nostalgic kind. They’ve hooked up with the sympathetic production ears of  Johnny Mackay and Jack Farley (Twerps, Beaches, Love of Diagrams, Bitch Prefect, Scott and Charlene’s Wedding etc) for their debut single Chills which is due out March 1st. They’re also venturing interstate for a few shows, catch em if you can.

Tour Dates

  • 1st March Arcade Lane/Fringe Festival Adelaide with old mate
  • 8th March, Laundry Melbourne with electric smile band
  • 16th March, Goodgod Small Club, Sydney with Betty Airs