LIVE REVIEW: Swervedriver @ Factory Theatre, Sydney 25/06/16

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Guitars, amps, effects pedals and volume were the order of the night for Swervedriver’s return to Australian shores. Local rock ’n’ roll fringe dwellers The Holy Soul were the best of the support acts with a raw, brittle and at times brilliantly inventive set. They showed once more why they are the city’s best kept secret with their fusion of Pere Ubu, Television, The Gun Club and Can.

Grinding Eyes look like a band who worship at the altar of BRMC, The Cult, The Black Angels etc. With a psychedelic video backdrop and plenty of dry ice they hit some compelling rhythmic grooves but it all felt too much like style over substance in terms of their songs. A band to watch nonetheless.

Sounds Like Sunset, like The Holy Soul, are inner west live perennials and their short set showcased their five-piece wall of sound approach. High volume gave their songs an eye of the hurricane feel with Dave Challinor’s sleepy, melodic vocals drifting above the thunderous squalls and providing the perfect segue to the headliner.

Swervedriver have managed the transition from reunited touring act to a fully functioning band with the release of last year’s I Wasn’t Born To Lose You. Opening with Autodidact, that album’s first track, they immediately showed that the newer songs have earned the right to sit amongst such iconic songs as Rave Down, Son Of Mustang Ford and Last Train To Satansville. The band, featuring their newest recruit in bassist Mickey Quinn (Supergrass), included half of their most recent album and though the songs were more nuanced and less visceral than the band’s 90s output and the attention of the audience ebbed and flowed through the night, they showed they still possess the key elements of their sound – inventiveness and propulsion. Adam Franklin remains a man of few words though he did make a joke at the expense of “the worst fucking band” Guns N Roses and made a sly and topical reference to their homeland as an insular island nation. This was their best Sydney show of their three since 2011.

 Chris Familton

LIVE REVIEW: Infinity Broke @ Goodgod Small Club, Sydney (12/12/14)

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Sounds Like Sunset have been a staple on the Sydney scene since the late 90s and like all good things they seem to just get better and better with age. Tonight they had a new bass player on board who slotted in nicely with their indie rock wall of sound. Minor amp/pedal issues threatened to disrupt the set but thankfully they abated and the songs, particularly those from the new album, cascaded gloriously out of the subterranean club’s speakers. They’ve nearly perfected the marriage of loud, droning, chiming guitars – the crunchier end of shoegaze – topped off with Dave Challinor’s beatific sleepy vocals and it made for an immersive opening set.

IMG_0394This was to be the last appearance of Jared Harrison behind the drum kit for Infinity Broke, a real shame as on tonight’s showing they are a band right at the peak of their powers. A year of shows has fine-tuned their live set, the songs flowed effortlessly and there was a near telepathic coherence to the quartet’s playing. There was also a wider spectrum to their sound than previous shows. The space was amplified when necessary and the noisier peaks were more visceral and intense than ever. The focus was on this year’s River Mirror album with a sneak preview of next year’s release Before Before with a song that sounded like an adrenalised Gangsterland (Bluebottle Kiss) at peak desperation point. Of the album tracks the epic Termites and the album centrepiece Monsoon were highlights. On the latter bassist Rueben Wills maintained the same riff for nearly ten minutes while Jamie Hutchings coaxed a plethora of sounds from his guitar like Thurston Moore covering Neil Young’s Like A Hurricane in Dusseldorf. The twin percussive approach of Harrison and Scott Hutchings gave the band a mechanical, sometimes Krautrock backbone giving the whole set a hypnotic quality with the beautiful contrasts of rhythmic precision and guitar deconstruction. Taking an excellent album and presenting it live with the level of conviction the band showed is testament to Hutchings’ two decades of restless musical creativity.

Chris Familton

NEWS: Glide/William Arthur tribute show

 

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Glide were one of Sydney’s best loved indie guitar bands of the 90’s, led by singer, guitarist and principal songwriter William Arthur. Sadly Arthur passed away 15 years ago leaving a big hole in the local music scene so it is no surprise that an impressive line-up of musicians are gathering at The Vanguard on August 22nd to pay tribute.

Artists performing include Knievel, Croons (former Glide members playing songs off Open Up And Croon), Last (Glide’s last line-up), Steve Kilbey, Peter Fenton (CROW), Jamie Hutchings, Sounds Like Sunset, Charlie Horse, Greg Atkinson (Big Heavy Stuff), J M S Harrison, Hope Springs, The Model School, Wifey and Bryan Estepa.

Buy Tickets Here

 

LIVE REVIEW: Iowa @ Fbi Social, Kings Cross Hotel, Sydney (16/08/12)

 

Iowa : photo by Chris Familton

by C. Familton

Narrow Lands were the first of the four guitar-heavy bands to grace the stage and they impressed with their aggressive, controlled playing that inhabits the dark and heavy end of post-rock. The bass-led Waste of Weekend in particular balanced groove and dissonance to great effect.

Narrow Lands : photo by Chris Familton

Lyyar also deal in grand guitar dynamics but theirs was a much more nuanced and textured approach. Quiet/loud dynamics were prevalent in many of their songs which have a way of shifting seamlessly from intimate to widescreen without feeling contrived like some other bands writing similar music. The other plus with Lyyar is that they are an interesting band to watch with each member inhabiting their own physical space differently, be it the guitarist’s loose limbed movement, the emphatic style of the drummer or the bassist’s focused demeanour.

Sounds Like Sunset : photo by Chris Familton

Sounds Like Sunset,the comparative veterans in the line-up, displayed a laid back approach and casual performance akin to playing in a lounge room. That being said they reminded the audience of their brilliant knack at nailing a dreamy, jangling psychedelic vibe without the shoegaze pretensions or twee pop tropes that too often creep into similar acts. Playing as a trio the band was kept in check by the great drumming of Tobey Doctor allowing David Challinor’s guitar free melodic rein across the top of the rhythm section. Word is the band are about to mix their new album which is great news.

Melbourne’s Iowa are celebrating their recently released album Never Saw It Coming on this tour and experiencing many of the album tracks live further enhanced the impression that these guys are one of the best new rock bands to recently emerge. Playing as a trio they had a wonderful symmetry to their performance with the drums, guitar and bass taking equal and loud prominence in the mix. The most obvious comparison is Dinosaur Jr who the trio acknowledge as a major influence but they also blend in heavy dollops of visceral shoegaze and slacker 90s rock. Same Solution and the singles Complete Control and Love Song were particular standouts with Dylan Stewart’s wounded Mascis vocals and gloriously ramshackle guitar playing the icing on the cake. It was a small audience that bore witness to Iowa’s brief but excellent set so hopefully word of mouth will ensure they can brutally caress more ears next time they visit Sydney.

Iowa : photo by Chris Familton

this review was first published in Drum Media

LIVE REVIEW: Sing Along 2011 @ Annandale Hotel, Sydney 16/07/11

Photo | Chris Familton

written by Chris Familton

Under the banner Sing Along 2011 this was a night that celebrated a bunch of musicians who for the most part began creating music in the 90s. Duncan Mitchell, one half of Grand Tango Fandango opened the night with a solo acoustic set of songs that fell somewhere amidst the sound of Paul Kelly and Evan Dando. They were high on pop melodicism yet had a muscularity about them that begged for a full band setting.

With a clever two stage setup at opposite ends of the Annandale there was no waiting between sets, all one had to do was turn around as the next act kicked off. The appropriately named Bosom were first up on the smaller stage and played a fun set of playful punk, garage and electro-rock songs. Front-woman Wiz is the undeniable focal point of the band with her shock of platinum hair and larger than life stage presence. The first reaction to Bosom was amusement but their energy and urgent riffing soon became infectiously irresistible.

Sounds Like Sunset brought the 90s post rock and shoegaze vibe to the evening with a wall of sound that at first felt like an assault but once the sound guy wrestled the sonics into submission it was an all-enveloping, surging wave of frequencies and rhythms that got right inside your body. The band seemed downbeat, even apologetic – perhaps as their guitarist was leaving the band to relocate to India the following day. In stark contrast Greg Atkinson (Big Heavy Stuff) returned us to the acoustic world with a solid but uninspiring set of songs. After the joyous overload of Sounds Like Sunset it may have been an adjustment issue but the quiet, stark songs drifted up towards the Annandale’s flaky ceiling rather than into your head. A tender version of Hibernate did highlight Atkinson’s impressive way with a song though.

Further took things up another notch with a defiant set that showed the evolution from noiseniks to sound sculptors. The Fugazi like aggression is still there but their palette has been expanded to take in all kinds of influences from Sonic Youth to power pop surges. Further are still one of the best live bands in Sydney. Jamie Hutchings has some mic issues to battle before starting his set but he more than made up for it with his distinctive storytelling in songs that blended dissonance with traditional songwriting. His guitar playing stood out with some ragged soloing harking back to his Bluebottle Kiss days. The crowd responded enthusiastically to Hutchings set, acknowledging one of Australia’s great unheralded songwriters.

David McCormack knows how to lighten up a room full of serious music with his playful and casual approach that is nearly as much about the humour as it is about the music. With the impressive Polaroids around him his sharp pop songs like Living Under the Flight Path… sounded fantastic. It would have been wrong to follow with another acoustic act so instead things were accelerated with Peabody laying waste at the other end of the room. Unashamedly rock n roll and defiantly confident they cut a swathe through their set amid a sea of flailing arms and guitars.  Small stage, killer band and a crowd imbibing beer made for a Peabody set that felt like one of their best you’ll see and hear.

The final honours went to Screamfeeder – headliners of a sort – who played a professional set of songs from across their career. Their brand of indie rock felt strangely familiar even when some of the songs were fresh to these ears. It felt a tad nostalgic, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing but after six hours of constant music it was hard to drum up energy – especially after Peabody’s set. Credit should go to the organiser John Ferrinda for an exceptional night of music showcasing some of Australia’s indie acts.

this review was first published in The Drum Media.

Click HERE to see more photos from the show.