ALBUM REVIEW: Gold Class – Drum

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Gold Class seemed to hit the ground running when they released their debut album It’s You in 2015 and backed it up with urgent and emotional shows centred around the controlled drama and tension of singer Adam Curley. On their new album Drum they’ve cemented and built on their already impressive post-punk sound.

Control is the order of the day on Drum. The songs feel more strongly anchored and though the sonic tension is still tightly wound, they approach it with greater poise and an assured management of space and dynamics in the songs. Gareth Liddiard (The Drones) produced the album and he’s replaced some of the instrumental coldness of their debut with a warm and organic production that sounds more like spring than winter.

The early singles Twist In The Dark and Rose Blind set the standard for bristling, brooding angular guitar rock but dig a little deeper and there are some other album tracks that really excel. Trouble Fun rolls along on restrained melodies and gently crashing guitars that sparkle rather than slash. Get Yours highlights the grinding propulsion of bassist Jon Shub – reminiscent of Big Black, Gordons and My Disco, while soaring across it all is Curley’s voice, that stentorian howl of angst and poetic declarations as he grapples with the issues of finding one’s place in the world.

A phrase from Rose Blind sums up the sound of Gold Class as Curley sings about “barricades and ecstasy”. Drum is darkly ecstatic music that sounds both defiant and spirited.

Chris Familton

LIVE REVIEW: Gold Class @ The Lansdowne, Sydney

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Gold Class + Flowertruck + Neighbourhood Void @ The Lansdowne, July 15th, 2017

It was great to arrive and see the newly re-opened Lansdowne hit the ground running with a busy downstairs bar and a band room that, as it filled, had a definite vibe and communal atmosphere. Youngsters Neighbourhood Void were the first to grace the low stage and they played a strong and impressive set, on the back of their recently released debut album. Raw enthusiasm, a direct line to Kurt Cobain and probably a love for Car Seat Headrest have shaped their quiet/loud, noisy/melodic sound but they own it and played it like their lives depended on it with a mix of gleeful abandon and desperation.

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Neighbourhood Void

Flowertruck have garnered praise and gained momentum over the last couple of years and that experience was evident in their tight and consummate performance. Some songs still drift by while others like recent single Dying To Hear and older song I Wanna Be With You, stick like glue. Frontman Charles Rushforth’s over-emoting can still grate at times but there’s no denying the strength of his voice and the band’s ability to deliver rousing indie pop to a receptive audience.

Gold Class have stepped up a notch with this sold out show, fans baying for them to take the stage and the rapturous, bouncing mosh pit reception they received. Their live sound is even more brittle and visceral than their recordings, the uniformity and minimalism of their sound enhanced even more. They almost had a monochrome palette of sound with a grinding industrial post-punk bass, slashing, dissonant guitar and in new drummer Logan Gibson they have a human metronome tying it all together with tension and propulsion. New songs were aired – including the excellent new single Twist In The Dark that highlighted how much darker and intense the new songs are getting when held against older songs like Michael. Singer Adam Curley seems more at home on stage, still aloof and slightly detached but willing to go all in when the song demands it. His glorious bellowing, austere voice is a commanding instrument, perfectly matched by the rest of the band. Gold Class were a band on the cusp of great things. Album number two has all the hallmarks of the group achieving them.

Chris Familton

LIVE REVIEW: Gold Class + Straight Arrows + You Beauty @ Plan B, Sydney (26/08/16)

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GOLD CLASS

Red Bull continue their support of local music with this sponsored show curated by the good folk at I OH YOU. It was a super low door price and first in first served which ensured punters were queuing at the door early.

You Beauty had a false start to their set with guitar amp issues causing a minor delay before they returned to the cramped Plan B stage for thirty minutes of woozy, chiming guitar, tight pulsing bass-lines and Will Farrier’s quirky sports-chic frontman style. In the past they’ve sometimes seemed tentative and under-rehearsed but tonight they were in fine form as Farrier shimmied and darted around the stage, conducting regular sorties into the audience. They know how to hit a fine groove – part sleaze, part tongue-in-cheek and with tracks taken from both their albums they were consistently danceable.

Straight Arrows are all about intensity and lurching around the tipping point between reckless abandon and musicianship. Of course they nail it every time. From the ramalama Beatles on speed of Bad Temper, the warped psych shake of Mind Control to the ghoulish prowl of Haunted Out, they showed yet again that they hands down the finest exponents of garage rock in this country. Toward the end of their set a toilet paper fracas ensued amongst the churning bodies front of stage, adding to the chaotic nature of their performance.

img_6814Gold Class are now a band that sound more balanced – a clearer sum of their parts. In the past the focus has been mostly on singer Adam Curley with his distinctive stentorian voice. It’s been a year since their debut album was released and they’ve played a ton of shows, here and overseas. It shows too. Drummer Mark Hewitt was tension personified. Taut, insistent rhythms, jerky and propulsive while the bass surged and pulsed overhead. Guitarist Evan Purdy slashed out claustrophobic chords that sounded both submerged and like stargazing squalls. New songs were aired and they were tantalising prospects for the next album. It was a masterclass in intelligent and compelling post punk that capped off  a superb night of music.

Chris Familton

LIVE REVIEW: Thurston Moore @ Metro Theatre

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Thurston Moore, Gold Class @ Metro Theatre, Sydney (05/12/15)

When you have half of Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine’s bassist on stage one would expect the venue to be fairly brimming with indie rock fans right? It was a surprise then, and somewhat disappointing, to be greeted with a curtained off and reduced capacity theatre that still only made it to two thirds capacity.

IMG_4124Gold Class were back after recently supporting The Fall at the venue and they again impressed with their considered, dramatic and artful post-punk. Dressed all in white, singer Adam Curley barked out his lyrics in a sonorous voice while staring down the arriving audience with a detached cool. All the while the jagged and propulsive rhythms and slash and churn guitar cut equally impressive shapes around him.

After some scene-setting ambient atmospherics Thurston Moore, Debbie Googe, Steve Shelley and James Sedwards lurched into the primitive grind of Forevermore, the opening track from last year’s The Next Day. That album got a strong airing but Moore also previewed a couple of songs from the band’s next album that was recorded back in May. In the encore he also turned back the clock to his first solo album Psychic Hearts with Ono Soul and the quiet/loud rawness of Pretty Bad. Moore was still the uncomfortable frontman between songs but as soon as the music begins he shifted into a trance-like mode, swaying, flailing or just standing with eyes closed, immersed in the chaos or tranquility of the music. Guitarist Sedwards was a wonderful foil and equally adept and conjuring a myriad of hypnotic avant garde and classic rock sounds from his instrument. Behind them, Shelley and Googe were essential to the grounding and forward movement of the songs, workmanlike yet possessing seemingly infinite variations on rhythm and groove. In the end the attendance numbers mattered little as the band played with intensity and passion for the enthralled and tuned-in audience.

Chris Familton

Favourite Albums of 2015

DS FAVE ALBUMS 2015

Another year comes to a close and it’s time for the end-of-year lists to be revealed. Here at Doubtful Sounds we’ve had another 12 months deeply immersed in Americana music (alt. country & folk) so you’ll find plenty of albums from that genre on the list below. That’s not to say we didn’t listen to plenty of other styles of music. As usual we wrapped our ears around plenty of post-punk and indie rock with doses of jazz, electronic and psych rock. Read on to see what we rated as our favourite albums of 2015 and let us know what your top selections were.

a0486859370_101. James McMurtry – Complicated Game

McMurtry was a new discovery for me in 2015, despite Complicated Game being his tenth studio album. I was immediately floored by the storytelling, the vivid and heartbreaking prose that cut straight to the core of the story at hand and by using the fewest words possible he drew me into his characters, predicaments, heartache and troubled times. His closest contemporary is Willy Vlautin (Richmond Fontaine, The Delines) who he shares a fascination with the downtrodden and struggling. Complicated Game was the most consistent and exquisite example of songwriting, complete with restrained and emotive playing, that I heard in 2015.

timthumb3.php-52. Marlon Williams – Marlon Williams

“Though this solo debut has been a long time coming he has toured and built a strong reputation as a live performer across Australia and NZ and that experience has filtered through on this superb album that never falters or loses its sense of wonderment across thirty-five playing minutes.”

james_thomson_cold_moon-23. James Thomson – Cold Moon

“The balance and symmetry of Thomson’s writing is a standout facet of his music. From blues to country, folk to New Orleans flavours, through the positive vibe of love songs to the darker desolation of characters at the end of line he nails them all in mood and lyrical imagery”

courtneyb-560x5604. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

“Barnett often gets pegged as quirky yet her musical approach ticks most alt. rock and indie boxes. The joy and achievement of Sometimes I Sit and Think… is how she has married that with her inimitable knack for lyrics that will draw attention from even the most staunchest of listeners who would normally pay little attention to words. Like a more impressionistic pop-art take on the skilful writing of Mark Kozelek, Barnett is leading the way in literate songwriting without any hint of pretension.”

tah-cover-jpeg5. Lost Ragas – Trans Atlantic Highway

“That ability to hammer out a brisk honky tonk rhythm one minute and then craft a late night whisky-sodden ballad of heartache highlights the band’s magic. Combined with the way they apply tonality to their songs, both vocally and instrumentally, Lost Ragas have created an album of timeless quality, full of dark and graceful beauty.”

30f02ea86. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Freedom Tower: No Wave Dance Party 2015

Spencer, Judah Bauer and Russell Simins get back to what they do best; incorporating no wave funk, rock ‘n’ roll, blues and garage rock into one hollering’ and testifyin’ primal groove soundtrack. This was a palette cleanser after all the generic psych rock and faux electro-soul that permeated the airwaves in 2015.

Dogs At Bay WEB7. Bad Dreems – Dogs At Bay

“This feels like an important album, a statement born of experience, countless hours spent in the practice room and driving to shows. It rocks in a primitive fashion and it takes up residency in your short term memory. It sounds like the country and people that it chronicles and it never loses sight of the power of simplicity in rock n roll.”

Gold Class-28. Gold Class – It’s You

“Gold Class wear their influences on their collective sleeve yet they’ve corralled them into their own sound. The sheets of guitar, cold rhythms and that dark poetic howl are a breath of fresh air on this highly accomplished and compelling debut album.”

protomartyr_the_agent_intellect_10159. Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect

“Primal rhythms with wire-brush screes of guitar and the distinctive disaffected howl and Mark E Smith-styled rant of frontman Joe Casey. The way they sonically blend beautiful and bruised sounds is what makes their music so appealing. It sparks and spits, Casey’s black humour lyrics are both catchy and provocative but above all, in 2015, Protomartyr are a breath of dissonant fresh air.”

10. Infinity Broke – Before Beforea4111469137_10

Though mostly born from the same sessions as last year’s River Mirrors album, these nine songs operate on a different plane. More concise and song-based, yet with a broad range of moods and levels of intensity, the quartet conjure up caustic distorted storms of guitar over measured rhythms.

11. Nadia Reid – Listen to Formation, Look For The Signs

12. Royal Headache – High

13. Houndmouth – Little Neon Limelight

14. Father John Misty- I Love You, Honeybear

15. Blank Realm – Illegals In Heaven

16. Tami Neilson – Don’t Be Afraid

17. Kurt Vile – B’lieve I’m Goin Down

18. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

19. Destroyer – Poison Season

20. Twerps – Range Anxiety

21. Ryan Bingham – Fear And Saturday Night

22. Lindi Ortega – Faded Gloryville

23. SJD – Saint John Divine

24. Faith No More  – Sol Invictus

25. Bob Dylan – Shadows In The Night

26. Pokey LaFarge – Something In The Water

27. The Holy Soul – Fortean Times

28. The Phoenix Foundation – Give Up Your Dreams

29. Ryley Walker – Primrose Green

30. Perry Keyes – Sunnyholt

31. Tame Impala – Currents

32. Raised By Eagles – Diamonds In The Bloodstream

33. Lucero – All A Man Should Do

34. Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free

35. Sam Hunt with David Kilgour & The Heavy 8s – The 9th

36. Bill Ryder-Jones – West Kirby County Primary

37. Neil Young + Promise Of The Real – The Monsanto Years

38. John Moreland – High On Tulsa Heat

39. Kamasi Washington – The Epic

40. Beach House – Depression Cherry

41. Sleaford Mods – Key Markets

42. Dan Kelly – Leisure Panic

43. Moon Duo – Shadow Of The Sun

44. Ruby Boots – Solitude

45. Mark Lucas – Little Town Blues

46. Malcolm Holcombe – RCA Sessions

47. Django Django – Born Under Saturn

48. Jamie XX – In Colour

49. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

50. Chastity Belt – Time To Go Home

 

REISSUES/LIVE/BEST-OF

  •  Bob Dylan – The Cutting Edge 1965 – 1966 The Bootleg Series Vol. 12
  • The Velvet Underground – The Complete Matrix Tapes
  • Drive-By Truckers – It’s Great to Be Alive!
  • The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience – I Like Rain: The Story of the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience
  • John Prine – September 78
  • Mogwai – Central Belters
  • The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
  • Ryan Adams – Live at Carnegie Hall
  • Sly and The Family Stone – Live at the Fillmore East: October 4th & 5th, 1968
  • Townes Van Zandt – The Nashville Sessions
  • Various – Ain’t Gonna Hush: The Queens of Rhythm & Blues
  • Various – In a Moment: Ghost Box
  • Various – Ork Records: New York, New York
  • Various – Punk 45: Extermination Nights in the Sixth City – Cleveland, Ohio: Punk and the Decline of the Mid-West 1975-1982
  • Various – Remembering Mountains: Unheard Songs By Karen Dalton
  • Various – Buried Country 1.5: The Story of Aboriginal Country Music

ALBUM REVIEW: Gold Class – It’s You

Rating8.5a2519540506_10Only emerging from the Melbourne scene earlier this year, Gold Class’ art is seemingly fully formed; from the artwork to their visual aesthetic and musical take on the brittle and dynamic world of post-punk. To do so in the contemporary climate where the album doesn’t hold the same cultural and economic cache it once did is an admirable approach. There were no early singles showing a band with a glimmer of promise, no stream of EPs acting as breadcrumb trail towards a full album. This quartet bunkered down, formed their sound and recorded It’s You before they really presented themselves publicly.

It may have been a gamble or a shrewd marketing device but it has proved to be the right move with an album as complete and cohesive as this one. Strong right across the board, the songs dig deep into the world of indie and alternative music, channeling Joy Division/early New Order, the dissonance and angles of Fugazi and shadowy splashes of Interpol and The Strokes. Their not-so-secret weapon is singer Adam Curley who has one of those unique voices, brimming with authority, drama and anger. It’s the combination of Morrissey, Ian Curtis and a hint of Julian Cope; a melancholic, bellowing baritone sound that brings the music to life. He brings a queer perspective to his song of damaged romance and frustrations with the social and political world.

The first single ‘Life As A Gun’, is their catchiest song, a nod to Sonic Youth in the guitars and in Mark Hewitt’s drumming, the frantic speed of New Order’s Stephen Morris. ‘Half Moon Over’ pulls back the clamour to reveal a funereal, moody feel with he ghost of Ian Curtis hanging heavy in the air while ‘The Soft Delay’ shakes at the noisy end of shoegaze in the vein of Swervedriver.

Gold Class wear their influences on their collective sleeve yet they’ve corralled them into their own sound. At a time where the musical landscape is overrun with psych rock and earnest electro-soul crooners a band like Gold Class are needed. The sheets of guitar, cold rhythms and that dark poetic howl are a breath of fresh air on this highly accomplished and compelling debut album.

Chris Familton

LIVE REVIEW: The Fall, Gold Class, Orion @ Metro Theatre (21/10/15)

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photo credit: Chris Familton

Post-punk was the order of the night and Orion lived up to the label by diving deep into effect-laden guitar, melodic bass and stentorian vocals; the hallmarks of bands such as Joy Division and The Cure. Backed by the cold repetition of a drum machine they impressed in their ability to conjure no-frills melancholic music that hit an emotional sweet spot as readily as it invited the dance floor.

With a debut album only just released and critical acclaim already flowing their way, Gold Class hit the stage looking the part of a band already carefully considering their visual image. With guitarists in matching black t-shirts, and frontman Adam Curley in buttoned up polo shirt and dress pants they seemed self-assured and projecting a ‘look’ but it was their music that had the greatest impact. Tense and dramatic, they channelled early New Order, The Smiths and shades of shoegaze to thrilling effect and an enthusiastic audience response.

The first we heard from The Fall was an incoherent volley of words over the PA. Mark E. Smith was announcing himself and band to the stage in his distinct and inimitable way. The heart of the band is the taut and muscular rhythm section and guitarist Pete Greenway who keep the songs in tight check while Smith gurned and barked his cut and paste lyrics, wandering the stage messing with amp settings and knocking over mic stands like an annoying kid – except he’s 58. Wife Eleni Poulou seemed to be having fun, with her Korg keyboard and assortment of coats and bags. From the twisted disco of Dedication Not Medication to the primitive rock of Bury Pts 1 & 3 and an ironic Smith-less encore of I’ve Been Duped, The Fall showed nothing has changed in the maddening and delightfully eccentric world of Mark E. Smith.

Chris Familton

NEWS: Gold Class Announce Tour And Preview Stream Debut Album

Gold Class

Gold Class came out of nowhere for me with their recent single ‘Life As A Gun’. Possessing a perfectly disaffected post-punk holler and tightly-wound dynamics it set the scene for a new promising act on the local Australian scene to right the balance and provide an antidote to the indie electro soul and generic radio-friendly indie pop and rock that has been polluting the airwaves in recent years. The good news is that the whole of their debut album is as invigorating and strangely alluring as the first single. They have the tension and biting, brisk melodic choppiness that made the debut Savages LP so great. Sure you can hear their influences, it’s a rarity to hear anyone new these days where you can’t draw a line back to any clear sonic precedent. Gold Class succeed because they they don’t overdo anything. Restraint is vital, that push and pull between the bass and drums, the free-agent licence for their guitarist Evan Purdey to slash and burn one minute and get drunkenly psychedelic the next. Of course Adam Curley’s voice is the gateway drug, the lighthouse beacon that pulls you into the music. It has that stentorian quality and tone that shifts the music into a place of majesty and mystery. Gold Class – It’s You… a breath of dark, visceral, claustrophobic, euphoric and poetic fresh air.

The band have a fine run of shows coming up including appearances at BIGSOUND in Brisbane next week and some opening slots for The Fall. Below those dates you can stream their album in full ahead of it’s release tomorrow via Spunk Records.

TOUR DATES
September 8 – Black Bear Lodge (Spunk / RIN Pre-BIGSOUND party) – Brisbane – free!
September 9 – BIGSOUND @ Ric’s Bar – Brisbane
September 24 – John Curtin Hotel (supporting The Garden) – Melbourne
October 20 – The Zoo (supporting The Fall) – Brisbane
October 21 – Metro Theatre (supporting The Fall) – Sydney
October 23 – Brighton Up Bar (album launch – supports TBA) – Sydney