NEW MUSIC: Blank Realm – River Of Longing

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Blank Realm have a new record on the way, their first proper studio recorded effort, produced by Lawrence English. Illegals In Heaven is due out on September 4th via Bedroom Suck/Fire Records. Here’s the first taste of it in the single ‘River Of Longing’ – all tangled guitars, meshed and spaghetti’ing across the stereo spectrum over a frantic drumbeat. Gloriously messy and vibrant brilliance as always from the Brisbane band.

INTERVIEW: Blank Realm

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Blank Realm received widespread critical acclaim for this year’s Grassed Inn album and with that momentum they were able to travel to Europe for the first time, playing a range of shows from intimate clubs to massive festival stages. Ahead of venturing down the highway from Brisbane to play The Blurst Of Times festival at the Factory Theatre, keyboardist and vocalist Sarah Spencer chats with Chris Familton about those experiences, being nominated for the Australian Music Prize and the band’s creative process.

“It was pretty crazy. We played 22 shows over 24 night across Europe so you get in that zone of waking up and wondering where you are and where you have to be the next day. Glastonbury was an experience with 250,000 people in a field in the middle of nowhere. It was just mud city, like nothing I’ve experienced before. We went to some smaller towns in France and they love Australian music like The Saints and Go-Betweens so we were really welcomed in those cities. We wondered why all these people were there and they wondered why we were there so it was an incredible experience and a lot of fun.”

It’s been a year since Grassed Inn was recorded and though it was well received Spencer reveals the mixed feelings that come from creating, releasing and reflecting an album. “It is funny when it finally comes out and it’s been around for a while. You put in a lot and agonised over it when it was being mixed and produced. We tried not to stress over it too much and get it out there before we went to America last year. When it first comes out you listen to it again and then don’t want to listen to it for a while and then you listen to it again and think “Oh no, its not really that bad”. We’ve been plating those songs live a lot and keep on developing them in the live context. They continue to take shape even after the album comes out.”

Grassed Inn has also been long-listed for the 2014 Australian Music Prize alongside Harmony, East Brunswick All Girls Choir, Straight Arrows and others and Spencer views their nomination as a real honour. “We definitely appreciate it. It’s a shock to break through in a way that we never have before. We really love the new Total Control and HTRK albums and it’s been a fantastic year for albums in Australia. It’s a cliche to say it’s an honour to be nominated amongst that calibre of artists but it really is. I think they’ve deliberately sought out bands like us who’d benefit from that kind of exposure which is amazing.”

The Blurst Of Times will see Blank Realm performing alongside a raft of other bands both underground and starting to find wider success and Spencer is excited by the lineup and the chance to see some favourites perform. “We have been around for quite a while now so we’ve seen a lot of bands come and go in that time. It’s always good to see new bands emerge and I love it every time I see a new band I’ve never heard of or seen before. It’s good to see a more underground scene represented in this kind of festival and it should attract a wide audience.”

This interview was first published in The Music

 

SONIC KICKS | BAD DREEMS

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Bad Dreems are one of the essential bands emerging out of the growing Adelaide scene with their lo-fi, melody-rich guitar songs. 2012 was a big year that saw them release the brilliant single Chills and before dropping Tomorrow Mountain with its darker and moodier undercurrent and the infectiously melancholic Too Old. We caught up with guitarist Alex Cameron to find out some of the albums that shaped his musical life so far.

 

The first album I bought – Nirvana | From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah

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The cool high school kids were either into Guns ‘N Roses or Nirvana. I took a punt and bought this because the ones that were into Nirvana seemed cooler. It was a good punt I guess. This is still my favourite Nirvana album. A lot of their studio recordings don’t really float my boat. I prefer the US punk bands that preceded them like Black Flag, The Minutemen and other SST bands, The Replacements and Husker Du.

 

The album that soundtracked a relationship – Bob Dylan | Blood On The Tracks

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If ever I feel down about this type of thing I always listen to this album. It has a song for every sort of broken heart. I think it is the Dylan album that offers the best glimpse behind the shades. Hard to pick favourites but I love Shelter From the Storm, If You See Her Say Hello and Idiot Wind – “You’re an idiot babe, it’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe”

 

The album that inspired me to form a band – Scott and Charlene’s Wedding | Para Vista Social Club 

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I moved back to Adelaide from Melbourne after 7 years. All my old friends had gone and I spent a long summer working in a hospital in an outer suburb, on the way to Snowtown. Sort of near Para Vista actually. I bought this album and listened to it ever morning and night on the drive there and back. It’s honest and unpretentious but really powerful songwriting and anyone that’s lived in Melbourne with little money and big hopes can relate to the subject matter. It reminded me of what I really liked about music so I found some new friends and we started a band. We did our first recordings with Jack Farley who recorded Para Vista Social Club along with heaps of amazing records out of Melbourne over the past few years. He’s best pals with Craig Dermody and they used to live in his warehouse together. Jack has big hands and a big heart.

 

The album that reminds you of my high school years – Patti Smith | Horses

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I was lucky to inherit my parents’ record collection as I got more and more into music. It got me into stuff like MC5, The Rolling Stones, Roxy Music and Tom Waits – and so all this music still reminds me of that time. The album that I probably played the most was Horses – I couldn’t believe that my dad was ever into anything so cool!

 

The album I’d love to hear live and played in full – Sea Scouts | Beacon of Hope

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I love the aura that surrounds this band. Despite their relative obscurity, everyone who knows them holds them in such high regard. Bird Blobs were also great, as well as Degreaser. As much as I would have liked to watch Sea Scouts I’m sure that the legacy is best kept alive by the recordings and grainy super 8 footage. My friend Darren Cross toured with Sea Scouts and he has awesome stories about Tim Evans’ homemade guitar and the amps that he made out of cardboard boxes to take on tour.

 

My favourite album cover art – Roxy Music | Country Life

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Another album from my parents’ collection. This appealed to me as a 15 year old (and still does) for obvious reasons.

 

My guilty pleasure album – Bruce Springsteen | Born To Run

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The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves, the magic rat, wrap your legs round these velvet rims, a real death waltz, show a little faith there’s magic in the night. It’s a town full of losers and i’m pulling out of here to win. THE BOSS!!

 

An album I loved but now have no idea why I bought it – Dylan & The Dead

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For completists only.

 

The last album I bought – Blank Realm | Go Easy – Woollen Kits | Four GirlsThe Mark of Cain | Songs of the Third and Fifth

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There is so much good music being put out on Australian independent labels like RIP Society, Bedroom Suck, Negative Guestlist and Chapter. Blank Realm’s album is awesome psych-pop with Berlin-era Bowie, Flying Nun and Fleetwood Mac influences. Woollen Kits write amazing garage guitar pop songs. I saw them supporting Home Blitz last year in Melbourne and they stole the show. The Mark of Cain are our heroes from Adelaide. Their new album is awesome. Mathematical outsider rage.