LIVE REVIEW: Witch Hats, The Laurels, Terza Madre, Melbourne Cans @ Red Rattler Theatre, Sydney (19/08/16)

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Melbourne Cans made the trip up to Sydney with their soulful, shuffling and shaking sound. There was a lo-fi backbeat to their songs, somewhere between the 80s Postcard Records sound and a woollier Royal Headache. Keyboards took the songs out of straight strum and sing territory, adding a psychedelic feel which worked well.

Terza Madre have been gathering a slow buzz and reputation. They are hard to pin down – hard to fit on small stages too, with the 7-piece, black-attired outfit adding an additional vocalist and a trumpet player at times. The music was considered and emotive, occasionally showing hints of 70s prog as they sang Italian pop songs with an almost gothic drama. Their set got better as they settled in. There is little to compare them to on the current scene which is good thing.

The Laurels are a band who have been in a period of sonic transition in recent times. With an imminent new album they showcased some songs from it, some old ones and even one written the night before. Luke O’Farrell was surrounded by a bank of digital instruments to add to his already impressive guitar pedal-board. They were loud – the bass still propels their songs, and with more tools at their disposal their sound has loosened and allowed more rhythm and flow into their guitar revelries.

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Witch Hats took the stage late to a thinning yet still enthusiastic audience. On their new album they’ve added more nuance and melody yet it’s still a primal sound, with singer/guitarist Kris Buscombe holding court centre-stage while stick-figure bassist Ash Buscombe carried the bottom-end whilst constantly bouncing and lunging to and fro. Live, there was a bristling fervour to their new songs, more urgency and attack in the delivery and when they hit extended sections the dissonance and noise entered the fray as the guitars fragmented over the dark pummelling grooves of the rhythm section. Their set added credence to this writer’s belief that of the current crop of post-punk/alt-rock Australian bands, there are few that can match Witch Hats.

Chris Familton

SONIC KICKS: Witch Hats

Sonic Kicks Witch Hats

Witch Hats have a few very good albums under the collective belt but their latest, Deliverance, is hands down the best thing they’ve done. It’s a blistering set of lurching rock ‘n’ roll and in our review we said “They’re firmly in the realm of The Clash, The Drones and The Gun Club yet they’ve dug their own hook-laden hole and decorated it with all manner of exceptional dark pop and bruised, gutter-punk blues.” They’re currently touring the album (dates below) and Kris Buscombe kindly took the time to answer our Sonic Kicks Q&A where he talks about Wide World Of Sports, arachnophobia, Bon Scott on the Titanic and the albums that shaped him musically.

  • Aug 19th @ Red Rattler Theatre, Marrickville
  • Aug 20th @ Trainspotters, Brisbane
  • Aug 27th @ The Tote, Melbourne

The first album I bought…

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Shaquille O’Neal – Shaq Diesel

 I used to record stuff off TV to VHS tape and nabbed a clip of Shaq Diesel’s lead single – ‘Shoot Pass Slam’ off seminal music show, Wild World of Sports.

It was 1992 and basketball was massive in Australia. I had baggy jeans and a teal coloured Charlotte Hornets jacket and a folder full of basketball cards. A brief and confused few years for me, just before I became a real man and got into rock and roll. But back in the heady days of ’92 it was just a Teac boom box and a whole album of basketball rap songs.

An album that soundtracked a relationship…

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Live – Throwing Copper

I used to go out with a woman named Kylie.  She worked at a slot car racing track where I was spending most of my afternoons. A scale model racing track. Big indoor circuit with 15cm long cars careering off in every direction. An arousing place.

Kylie was mad for Live’s Throwing Copper. I had to listen to it constantly.  It’s a horrible shit of a record. I don’t recommend it and if you’re an arachnophobe I don’t recommend Kylie either. She teased me and put spiders on my face once when I slept.

An album that inspired me to form a band…

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50 Million Clowns – First Class Experiment

I attended a Foo Fighters concert in ’98.  I don’t recall being a fan but my friends and I were Nirvana obsessives. They mobbed Dave Grohl as he crossed the busy highway directly in front of the Hobart Town Hall and chatted with him for a while. I missed out on this interaction – I was glued to my seat inside the hall having corrective ear surgery as three crumpled and shockingly plain looking men changed my life forever with the most atonally beautiful noise I’d ever come across. 50 Million Clowns and their album First Class Experiment re-wired my brain when I was 15. The fact they came from Hobart blew me out hunting headfirst into a small unique scene taking place right on my doorstep. This album holds up. It’s harsh and powerful rock with a thoroughly unique and individual darkness surrounding it.

An album that reminds me of my high school years…

Nirvana-Incesticide

Nirvana – Incesticide

I’d come across a poster of ‘Kurt Cobain 1967-1994’ some place and didn’t know who he was (the end of my Shaq era) and asked chef Raymond at my dad’s restaurant.  He lent me a CD of Nevermind. Great songs for a beginning guitarist.  I was a shy angst-ridden musical misfit in an extremely annoying high school getting up to a lot of mischief and smoking pot. I felt an intense connection to Kurt for a while as some kind of delayed grunge kid in the midst of an anti-establishment, regime change inside my body. ‘Aneurysm’ is their greatest song and closes this disc of rarities. I was kicked out of McCann’s Music store when they caught me hidden in the manuscript section, tablature scribbled in biro across my arms, Incesticide tablature book open on the floor.

An album I’d love to hear live and played in full…

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Every ‘band perform album’ gig I’ve attended has failed to please me. There’s too much excitement and spontaneity in a gig if I’m not aware of the set list in advance. It’s a fair-weather music fan’s thing.

To be a good sport I will say The Doors in 67 at the Whiskey doing their first self-titled album. Or Hendrix doing Axis Bold As Love, The Birthday Party doing Junkyard back in ’82, Dylan doing Blond On Blonde in 1955 or AC/DC with Bon Scott playing Surfer Rosa on the Titanic.

My favourite album cover art…

Hans Bellmer – La Bouch

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A guilty pleasure album…

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Most of my favourite music could fit in here.  Cheap Trick’s Heaven Tonight is pretty great.  Everyone I try to put onto it makes a gross face and I have to turn it off. I put on Aerosmith’s Rocks album at a party a while ago and got in trouble. Steely Dan’s Aja record. Dylan’s ’80s albums.

The last albums I bought…

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Dr. John – The Sun, Moon & Herbs and Lucinda Williams – The Ghosts of Highway 20

 

The next album I want to buy…

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The Aggravators – Dubbing At King Tubby s Vol. 1

I started getting into Dub music about a year ago.  It’s my favourite stuff to listen to at the moment and anything involving King Tubby is the greatest.

ALBUM REVIEW: Witch Hats – Deliverance

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Rating9Their third album and first in five years, Deliverance is a consistently impressive encapsulation of the evolution Melbourne’s Witch Hats have shown across their records. There’s plenty of dark, lurching rock ‘n’ roll with howling dirges and claustrophobic angst. The bass is deep and heavy, anchoring the songs as they stagger off into Stooges proto-punk, and nihilistic post-punk. The key is the melodies that still burn a hole in the gothic, swampy vibe. They’re firmly in the realm of The Clash, The Drones and The Gun Club yet they’ve dug their own hook-laden hole and decorated it with all manner of exceptional dark pop and bruised, gutter-punk blues.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Witch Hats – Deliverance

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Melbourne band Witch Hats are back with their third album Deliverance. It’s a damn good encapsulation of the evolution they’ve shown across their records to date. Plenty of dark lurching rock ‘n’ roll with howling dirges and claustrophobic angst. The bass on Deliverance is deep and heavy, anchoring the songs as they stagger off into Stooges proto-punk, and nihilistic post-punk. The key is the melodies that still burn a hole in the gothic, swampy vibe. Here’s the clip for the excellent title track.

Deliverance is out on July 1st via Behind The Beats Records.

Vinyl pre-order

LISTEN: to the new Witch Hats LP Pleasure Syndrome…

 

Witch Hats are one of those Australian bands that operate in the grey zone between the invisible underground and the marketing hype of the Triple J world. Possessing a post punk/90s indie guitar mood they follow the broken glass strewn path trod and beaten by their next of kin like The Scientists, Birthday Party, Jesus Lizard and more recently the drama pop of The Veils. Following 2009’s Solarium Down The Causeway mini-album/EP that we described in our review as “Discordant slashing rock n roll, knife-edge schizo punk, swirling, staggering hipster garage rock…” they now bring us Pleasure Syndrome – a much more considered and sonically embrace of a record in terms of the music’s abrasion and the album’s production. You can stream the whole thing below or head over to their Bandcamp page to order it on vinyl with free AU shipping.

REVIEW: WITCH HATS – Solarium Down The Causeway EP

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witchhatsDiscordant slashing rock n roll, knife-edge schizo punk, swirling, staggering hipster garage rock… all apt descriptions of Witch Hats and the glorious mess of sound they conjure up on their new EP Solarium Down The Causeway.

The majority of the 6 tracks were recorded in Oakland CA in August last year and Witch Hats have done what many acts fail to achieve – transfer their live sound from stage to CD. The rush and boisterous fling of bodies and instruments is clear and present with Kris Buscombe’s voice tearing things up like the nephew of David Yow from Jesus Lizard.

Among the fractured punk are also gothic swampy undertones, particularly in the lurching evil of Fucking With The Atmosphere. The song crawls and slithers, all intent and ill at ease moodiness. They prove they are just one more chapter in the Melbourne rock n roll lineage that began in the 70s and continues with bands like Witch Hats and The Drones.

SESSA (Son Of A Silo Salesman) starts all secret spy sounding with an incessant, taut and grinding riff. It is The Fall playing out the last night of a death disco. Mid point, the song launches into the brilliantly macabre chorus of ‘Doot jack doot jack doo day oh da doot jack doot jack day’ like a slobbering drunk having a panic attack and not caring about it. It is a song most probably born out of observations of people and places as they travelled in the USA.

Bringing up the rear is I Am Parolling, a song that is the most restrained track on the EP. Musically casual, it swings and sways with a nauseous see-saw riff between verses and nicely rounds out an impressive set of songs. Live these guys are gloriously ramshackle yet always on the front foot and this EP encapsulates exactly what they bring to the rock n roll table. Bring on a new album lads.

REVIEW: WITCH HATS @ Annandale Hotel

with The Laurels, Songs + Dead Farmers, 25th April 2009

… Kris Buscombe’s voice ranges from a Mark E Smith rant to a Fugazi scream and it plays a big part in their masterful display of discordant melody. Witch Hat succeed because they can bludgeon and caress you and that magic mix is what makes bruised music beautiful.

read the full review over at FasterLouder

Dead Farmers - photo|chris familton
Dead Farmers - photo|chris familton
Dead Farmers - photo|chris familton
Dead Farmers - photo|chris familton
Dead Farmers - photo|chris familton
Dead Farmers - photo|chris familton
Dead Farmers - photo|chris familton
Dead Farmers - photo|chris familton
Dead Farmers - photo|chris familton
Dead Farmers - photo|chris familton
Songs - photo|chris familton
Songs - photo|chris familton
Songs - photo|chris familton
Songs - photo|chris familton
Songs - photo|chris familton
Songs - photo|chris familton
Songs - photo|chris familton
Songs - photo|chris familton
The Laurels - photo|chris familton
The Laurels - photo|chris familton
The Laurels - photo|chris familton
The Laurels - photo|chris familton
The Laurels - photo|chris familton
The Laurels - photo|chris familton
The Laurels - photo|chris familton
The Laurels - photo|chris familton
The Laurels - photo|chris familton
The Laurels - photo|chris familton