Archive for December, 2014

Anger Management: Faith No More

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Every fortnight, we check in with all things heavy on RTRFM’s Critical Mass show.

For all their success, platinum album sales, huge tours and a highly devoted fan base, Faith No More always had the rare luxury of being able to do whatever they liked musically. For every massive single like “Epic”, there was a “Jizzlobber”. For every cover of The Commodores’ “Easy”, there was a “Cuckoo For Caca”. They were never afraid of losing airplay or fans by throwing in hugely odd musical quirks.

So when it was announced that they would be releasing their first new music since their split in 1998 (and reunion in 2009) it was going to be interesting to see what direction they would take.

Since their split, most of the members were busy with various musical projects (Imperial Teen, Tomahawk, Brujeria plus the Ipecac and Kool Arrow record labels) and seemingly not strapped for cash. Any reunion would be done if the conditions were right. The band slowly got their live chops back and spent time mending fences with alumni such as Chuck Mosley and Trey Spruance (though that Jim Martin bridge however sees no sign of being repaired).

So with everything coming together and the various live shows working well, what does brand new single “Motherfucker” ( or as iTunes helpfully says “M**********r”) sound like?

Opening with piano and a shuffling drum beat we are first introduced to the low vocals of… Roddy Bottum? Swerve! As the song progresses and gets faster, Mike Patton’s familiar vocals kick in, followed by some more epic (pun intended) guitar and then… it fades out leaving you wanting more. It’s understated but it works well as a teaser, kind of in the vein of a song like “Stripsearch” you almost want it to go 5 mins longer. The as yet untitled album is due in April 2015. We can’t wait.

Critical Mass airs every Wednesday from 9PM (GMT+8) on RTR FM 92.1 in Perth, Australia.

A Minute With Bläckwitch

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Before they share the stage with a stellar New Year’s Evil lineup at The Bakery, we spend a minute with Bläckwitch and find out what’s new…

Describe your music in five words or less.
Groovy doom riffs.

What’s going on in the world of Bläckwitch?
Writing a bunch of new stuff to record in 2015. Small tours on the horizon and a few days filming in January.

What motivates you to make music?
It’s something we all love. Listening to and making music. Growing up in the Southwest amongst a surf and skate culture, it is just something you are brought up in.

What have been the high and low points of your musical experiences so far?
No low points. We are just enjoying ourselves more and more and growing as a band every show.

What music are you listening to at the moment?
Pentagram, Witchcraft, 90s punk, local stuff… Bit of everything :)

If you were stranded on a desert island, which member of the band would get eaten first?
Benny Dregs. Sorry mate.

Here’s an opportunity to bitch about something, whether music related or not. What really pisses you off?
Stereosonic — gym junkie, steroid eating, douchbag pretty boy fuckwits that go to festivals for all the wrong reasons.

You’re putting together your perfect gig featuring Australian artists. Who would you get to play and where? Feel free to include acts/DJs/bands/venues that no longer exist.
Impossible question. Too many epic aus and WA bands in different genres… But, AC/DC, Scalphunter, Chainsaw Hookers and Blackwitch on a yacht in the Whitsundays?

Bläckwitch join Chainsaw Hookers, The Devil Rides Out, Scalphunter, Tangled Thoughts of Leaving and many more for New Year’s Evil at The Bakery. Tickets on sale now through

A Minute With KAAN

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Before they share the stage with a star-studded lineup at the Bakery for New Year’s Evil, we check in with KAAN and find out what’s new …

Describe your music in five words or less.
Definitely worth the hearing loss.

What’s going on in the world of KAAN?
At the moment we’re rehearsing an obscure Devo cover and working on getting sick abs for summer festival season. If we can manage to avoid our families and partners for long enough over the holidays without them getting too worried, we’ll have time to sift through recordings and put some releases together for 2015.

What motivates you to make music?
We’re just massive geek-out music fans, nothing else really satisfies us or makes as much sense to us as music does. We’ve been playing in bands since we finished school, and while we’re both competent at what we do by now, we aren’t necessarily playing our traditional instruments in KAAN, and there are a lot of limitations that come with only having one other person in the room to make sense of your ideas.
There’s a lot of satisfaction from those sort of challenges as a musician, and it’s necessary to wrestle your ideas from a different side of the ring every once in a while in order to stay motivated creatively.

What have been the high and low points of your musical experiences so far?
We managed to fit in a few recording sessions earlier in the year which unfortunately aren’t going to see the light of day yet, so we’re a bit disappointed that we don’t have those in the bank right now. But we recently got banned from a venue for being “too loud” so at least we can put that in our Christmas stocking. Our day jobs and other projects have all been busy and successful this year — so our highlights are slightly overshadowed by some of those experiences. We’re looking forward to new year’s at the Bakery and the opportunity to hear some of our favourite loud bands to say farewell to 2014, though.

What music are you listening to at the moment?
2014 has been steady diet of Old Man Gloom, Baptists, Tangled Thoughts Of Leaving, Harvey Milk, Inter Arma and Giza. It’s a fairly meaty diet, but we really need the protein for better muscle definition around our sick abs.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which member of the band would get eaten first?
We’d have to be strategic about the survival of our legacy. A sacrifice for the greater good. So Scott is absolutely worth more dead than alive in this situation, although not just for his belly meats. Matt is a tinkerer, and he’d have no problems slapping together a few leftover tendons and giblets to create some kind of functional, grotesque ham radio to call for rescue. Plus Scott’s pelt could serve as a warm coat for protection from the elements, and if necessary, his scrotum may be fashioned into a Wilson volleyball for companionship.

Here’s an opportunity to bitch about something, whether music related or not. What really pisses you off?
Not being able to get pints at the Rosemount anymore.

You’re putting together your perfect gig featuring Australian artists. Who would you get to play and where? Feel free to include acts/DJs/bands/venues that no longer exist.
Rupture with the ghost of Gus Chamber at The Grosvenor backroom.

Supported by Rolf Harris.

Free beer.

That’s probably not going to happen anytime soon though, so the upcoming New Year’s Evil gig at the Bakery is our silver medal.

KAAN join some of Perth’s finest — including Tangled Thoughts of Leaving, Drowning Horse, Scalphunter and The Devil Rides Out — in bringing in 2015 with maximum volume for New Year’s Evil at the Bakery. Tickets are on sale now through

A Minute With Foxes

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Before they play New Year’s Evil at The Bakery, we spend a minute with Foxes and find out what’s new…

Describe your music in five words or less.
Sad boys with reverb pedals

What’s going on in the world of Foxes?
Right now I’m listening to Shom laugh at Deal or no Deal. Also, mixing the album while finding money somewhere to finish the album. Supporting one of our favorite bands, mewithoutYou in January and celebrating new years with life is noise OF COURSE.

What motivates you to make music?
I guess it’s wanting to create the same feeling that certain music gives me. Whichever emotion that may be. To be able to pass that feeling onto someone else is a great thing. But if we’re happy and content with the feeling that it gives us, that’s the main thing.

What have been the high and low points of your musical experiences so far?
Meeting Yon from Tripod while on tour. Playing with the Sleepmakeswaves boys is always great. The first holy shit show was probably Break Even’s final show. Walking to the venue and seeing the line spiral around multiple corners before the doors had even opened. The show was insane. Playing with La Dispute/Pianos Become the Teeth was definitely another.

Losing our bassist right in the middle of recording our album was definitely a struggle. But now we have our new bassist, Brigsy. He has heaps of nice boots.

What music are you listening to at the moment?
Right now, Viva Belgrado, a cool Spanish emo band. Recently I’ve been rediscovering how great The Black Heart Rebellion are. A bit of Mastodon and Year of No Light.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which member of the band would get eaten first?
Fraser in 6 months time. Only after he puts on 40kg.

Here’s an opportunity to bitch about something, whether music related or not. What really pisses you off?
Our housemate left us a bag full of spiders when he moved out. It’s sitting in the cupboard and we cant get it out. Help.

You’re putting together your perfect gig featuring Australian artists. Who would you get to play and where? Feel free to include acts/DJs/bands/venues that no longer exist.
Tangled Thoughts of Leaving, We Lost the Sea, Raccoon City Police Department, Ben Frost and Eucalypt.

All bands playing on top of the big prawn in Ballina while King Prawn Fraser rips it up on a BC Rich Warlock.

Foxes join Tangled Thoughts of Leaving, The Devil Rides Out, Scalphunter and Drowning Horse at New Year’s Evil at The Bakery. Tickets on sale now through

Matthew Tomich’s Top 10 Albums of 2014

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

Life is Noise editor Matthew Tomich closes our best of 2014 series with his favourite records of the year.

10. DORVAL & DEVEREAUX – Dorval & Devereaux

Though the pulsating single ‘Heavy Hands’ is the standout track on this debut collaboration from White Ribbon and Samantha Glass, the 36 minutes of Dorval & Devereaux unfold like a painstakingly crafted hallucination. Ethereal in parts and unsettling others, these are synthetic textures for daydreams and night terrors. If the 90’s Playstation game LSD were to ever see a re-release, this record would make the perfect soundtrack.

9. TINARIWEN — Emmaar

Even though the songs are sung in their native tongue, Tinariwen’s epic desert blues transcends barriers of language and culture. It helps that the Malian band’s brand of rock — a label that does little justice to Tinariwen’s diverse and often spiritual aesthetic, but feels more appropriate than any other term in Western music criticism — bursts with flourishes of familiarity, from Hendrix to Dylan. Emmaar feels like a bridge between worlds, a fact best exemplified by its opening gambit ‘Toumast Tincha’, a riff-filled odyssey that’s equal parts intriguing and recognizable, grooving and introspective. Emmaar is the perfect soundtrack to journeys unknown.

8. ESBEN & THE WITCH — A New Nature

Esben & The Witch do not rush into things. While that leads to some meandering moment on the 14-minute ‘The Jungle’, it’s largely to the trio’s advantage, a record that feels equally consistent and diverse, as if each song is another side of the same story. It’s excellently paced, too, placing its longer, brooding numbers next to its more subdued meditations. The guitars shimmer and distress, while Rachel Davies delivers her most poignant performances on the penultimate ‘Blood Teachings’, where repetition morphs her utterances into mesmerising mantras of near-transcendent proportions.

7. EMMA RUTH RUNDLE — Some Heavy Ocean

Even at her own shows, I hear Emma Ruth Rundle’s fans compare her to Chelsea Wolfe. If they weren’t labelmates and the only two female frontwomen on Sargent House, maybe the conversation would be different. It certainly should be: beyond a fondness for reverb and a penchant for morose, film-noir vocal delivery, Some Heavy Ocean owes little to Wolfe’s recent output. Rundle – who also fronts shoegazing trio Marriages and played guitar in the now-defunct post-rock band Red Sparowes – is stripped bare on her debut solo record, the delayed guitars of her past exploits exchanged for a steel-stringed acoustic, occasional percussion and some synths to hint at the dark clouds ahead. Rundle’s voice strains as it soars in ‘Run Forever’ where the main refrain becomes more desperate and compelling with each repetition: “If we both get caught then we’ll run forever/if we both go down we’ll go down together.” But it’s on the closing track ‘Black Dog’ where Rundle shines, even if the song is brimming with darkness, one of the most lyrically and sonically compelling odes to depression.

6. HELMS ALEE — Sleepwalking Sailors

It’s hard to stand out with labelmates like Russian Circles and Chelsea Wolfe, but Helms Alee are perhaps the best representatives for the Sargent House aesthetic — punishing yet fragile, diverse yet distinct and relentlessly innovative. On Sleepwalking Sailors, the Seattle trio are forever oscillating between moods: ‘Tumuscence’ shifts in tone from boisterous to vulnerable to pensive over the course of a single verse, thanks in part to the shared duties that juxtaposes guitarist Ben Verellen’s animalistic call-to-arms with drummer Hozoji Matheson-Margullis introspective wail.

But it’s the riffs, rhythms and unexpected turns where Sleepwalking Sailors really shines. As good as this year has been for metal and its various offspring with standout releases from YOB, Earth, Pallbearer, Tombs and so many more, the highlight of this year in metal for me has to be the closing 60 seconds of ‘Heavy Worm Burden’ — a song that transforms from a sludge jam into heart-wrenching transcendence as the low end drops out in favour of wailing, bent guitar strings and sublime sermonizing. I challenge anyone to find a passage of recorded music from 2014 that’s more compelling.

5. DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979 — The Physical World

It’s hard to think of The Physical World as a comeback album because DFA1979 never really went away. They disbanded, certainly, but their first run was too short to comfortably fit them into the Reuniters Club – in 2006 when the dissolution became official, they were only five years and one album in. The Physical World came 3 years after the duo returned to the touring circuit and the break has served them well: while 2004’s You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine flirted with the thankfully-defunct nu rock revolution, DFA1979 sound like a new band on this new record – confident, bombastic and aggressive. It’s middle-heavy – ‘Crystal Ball’, ‘White is Red’ and ‘Trainwreck 1979? might be the duo’s strongest three songs in their brief catalogue — a catalogue that’s sure to expand if the strength of this record is anything to go by.

4. ICEAGE — Plowing Into the Field of Love

Elias Bender Rønnenfelt has one of the most compelling voices in rock music today. Though he flirts with overwrought delivery from time to time, almost every moment in Plowing Into the Field of Love brims with sincerity and intensity, from the playfulness of ‘The Lord’s Favorite’ to the chaos of ‘How Many’ and the desperation of ‘Forever’. It helps that he’s backed by a trio of excellent musicians and superbly crafted songs — the instrumentation on Plowing … are seem permanently off-kilter in the most deliberate way possible, resulting in a record that’s eminently listenable yet always challenging.

3. SHELLAC — Dude Incredible

If there were ever a argument for a band taking their time, it’s Dude Incredible. After more than 20 years, Shellac have not mellowed, but on this record the trio feel more comfortable and assured than they have in years. Dude Incredible forgoes the short-burst punk rock and meandering 9-minute opuses of past release’s in favour of an approach that’s entirely focused, refined and strangely obsessed with surveyors. Easily the best release of their career.

2. YOUNG WIDOWS — Easy Pain

Young Widows’ fourth record marries the subtlety and texture of 2011’s In and Out of Youth and Lightness with the angular explosiveness of their earlier work to masterful effect, running the gamut of noise rock and post-punk without settling into either aesthetic. Few band straddles the line of nuanced tension and apocalyptic paranoia better than this one, and tension is the Louisville trio’s best weapon: songs like ‘King Sol’ bubble with an uncomfortable tension before climaxing in cathartic release at the precise moment they need to. These are songs for bad trips and trephinations.

1. SUN KIL MOON — Benji

Though Mark Kozelek’s year has been marked by petty feuds and pettier insult songs, he was also responsible for one of the most moving and honest records of the year in Benji, an ode to the minutiae of contemporary life that spans from San Francisco to Ohio to Newtown and back. There’s as much darkness as there is light in Benji, though it’s more poignant moments are the most heart-wrenching like opening track ‘Carissa’, where Kozelek uses his guitar and voice to make sense of the accidental death of his cousin in and give her life poetry. Rarely does an album feel like it’s being written and played right in front of you, the stories unfolding in real time as Kozelek seemingly finds the words as he goes to narrate the lives of those around him. Worth countless repeat listens.

Eat a Bag of Mix: Jessica Kill

Friday, December 26th, 2014

Eat a Bag of Mix is the name of a feature here on life is noise where we get a DJ, musician, producer, industry figure or just someone with good taste in fucked-up and weird music to give us a mix of music that has influenced them, or tunes that are currently rocking their world. This week, our bag-of-mixer is Jessica Willoughby — AKA DJ Jessica Kill, a freelance writer and presenter on RTRFM’s Behind the Mirror who’s been actively involved in Perth’s heavy music realm for the better part of the past decade.

With links to dark alternative nights like Sin, HEXX and Descent, as well as supporting a multitude of live and local acts, she has also worked extensively throughout street press in WA – lending her words to X-Press Magazine to this day. Jessica Kill has put together a mix in the lead-up to New Year’s Evil on December 31 at the Bakery featuring some of the acts on the night’s eclectic bill.

Eat a Bag of Mix: Jess Kill by Lifeisnoise on Mixcloud

1. Pharmakon — Body Betrays Itself
2. The Devil Rides Out — Burn Again
3. Bottom Feeder — Divine Heritage
4. Tangled Thoughts Of Leaving — (quakes)
5. Godflesh — Messiah
6. Drowning Horse — King
7. IRN — Old Orange Hands
8. Drohtnung — This Cold World [world premier]
9. War Master — Pyramid Of Necropolis
10. Doom — Drowning In The Mainstream
11. Scalphunter — Desensitised
12. Kromosom — Live Forever

Jess Kill joins a killer lineup of DJs and bands for New Year’s Evil at The Bakery on December 31, featuring Tangled Thoughts of Leaving, Scalphunter, The Devil Rides Out, Drowning Horse, Foxes, Drohtnung, KAAN!, Bläckwitch, Critical Mass DJs, Claire Hodgson, Dos Diablos and Cutterman. Tickets on sale now through

Dave Cutbush’s Top 10 Albums of 2014

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Life is Noise director and host of RTRFM’s Out to Lunch on Thursdays Dave Cutbush counts down his best releases of the year.


Melbourne’s Magic Mountain band unveiled a gem of a debut earlier in 2014 and their polished release built on their strong live reputation. Sparse Hammond-laden instrumentals are captured beautifully on Wilderman. Aggressive and rhythmic in parts and serene and delicate in others, this is my favourite Australian release of 2014. Fans of Earth or Dirty Three will love this, but Magic Mountain Band have their own unique take on a widescreen Australian instrumental sound.

9. SUN KIL MOON – Benji

It is hard to mention Sun Kil Moon or indeed its driving force Mark Kozelek without mentioning the continued (and mostly one-sided) arguments with The War on Drugs and various commentaries on fans and critics. Sometimes it is difficult to work out whether he is genuinely having fun or is serious about his critiques. Either way it has got the music media a-talking and can’t have hurt his public profile. Any publicity…

But if you put aside all the trash-talking, Kozelek has been a songwriting powerhouse for 25 years. Through his solo work and his bands Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon, Kozelek has consistently written some of the best bent Americana and, alongside the likes of Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy) and Bill Callahan, has kept alive a quality and consistency of US country-folk that is at the forefront of songwriters on a global scale.

Benji is a thoughtful social commentary both on the level of the songwriter’s personal experience and those of US society as a whole. This is a great album, a personal album and an album that grows with further listening. Kozelek may have a questionable public persona, but through the vehicle of Sun Kil Moon he has stories to tell and beautiful music to make. Hopefully he will stick to what he is very good at and leave the stupid staging to the likes of Kanye.

8. PALLBEARER – Foundations of Burden

Ironically Pallbearer hail from Little Rock. Let’s just let that hang in the air for a moment…

The second album from these US metal merchants, like their incredible first effort Sorrow and Extinction, builds on the great breadth and diversity of the every burgeoning Sabbath-inspired doom scene.

Crushingly slow riffs build on a powerhouse rhythm section and Ozzy inspired vocals. It is sometimes pretty hard to fathom how this is a band with only two releases.

A top shelf heavy release for 2014. Who knows what they will do next.

7. APHEX TWIN – Syro

After a hell of a long wait, Richard D. James is back with another strange amalgam of electronics, noise, techno, jungle and noise. And whilst it isn’t a crazy splatter fest like previous albums, Syro should keep fans both old and new happy. Aphex Twin once again keeps a groove going where you think it is going to fall apart. Equal parts disturbing and delighting, this is my favourite electronic album of the year.

6. BECK – Morning Phase

Every time Beck puts out an album it seems to be in my top albums of the year. Morning Phase is just another in a long list of incredible albums from an American songwriter at the top of his game. Although it has been compared with Sea Change, I prefer this album. From the crisp production to the perfect instrumentation, Beck rarely puts out anything less than amazing. Let’s hope the phase continues on into the evening and beyond.

5. ELECTRIC WIZARD – Time to Die

The Wizard returns.

Undisputed leaders of UK doom, Electric Wizard are back and whilst they are not really breaking any new ground here, they have put out another great record with Time to Die. The big difference for me is the drumming. The return of Mark Greening makes a huge change.

But the old themes of drugs, death, Satan are still there and mark it typical of their craft.

Why change the formula when you have already killed it?


4. TY SEGALL – Manipulator

The modern psych pop-rock master keeps pumping out the records. Will he ever stop?

Actually, it seems like Ty did take a little more time over Manipulator. But he really is frantically pumping out the psych rock pop wizardry.

For mine the track Feel is Ty Segall at his best: a great pop song, with just enough 60s sensibility without being totally deritative, catchy as hell and crunchy like a stale gingerbread biscuit. His falsetto vocals and monster lead breaks just add the perfect amount of icing.

Somehow I think that although this is a cracking listen, we have only just heard the beginning of a truly brilliant musical career. Here’s to next year’s top albums. He will surely resurface.

3. TINARIWEN – Emmaar









2. YOB – Clearing the Path to Ascend

As Alan Watts says at the start of Clearing the Path to Ascend, it is indeed “time to wake up”. And I think much of the world has woken up to the incredible power and beauty of YOB.

This album is grand without being overblown, dark without being depressing, and powerful whilst still being beautiful.

I have really tried to punish myself to the point of getting sick of it, I simply cannot.

It contains the driving song of the year in ‘Nothing to Win’ which perfectly contrasts with the mournful closer ‘Marrow’.

In any other year this would have been my album of the year. This is a doom-laden slice of perfection. An album that should make this band very well known – even to those who would regularly not touch this kind of music on a regular basis.

I love it.

1. SWANS – To Be Kind

SWANS must have made the most spectacular return to music in recent history. Since reforming in 2009 they have released three incredible albums and the latest, To Be Kind, sees them at the very pinnacle of their existence as a band.

Once again like a cult they are lead by Michael Gira on a dark American Gothic journey, one that takes nothing without necessity.

To Be Kind is a wagon laden with essential provisions only. The repetition only disturbs us more… and more and more and more than we could possibly feel. It is psychosis, it is crushing, and on and more and then release…. only to be rolled over again and again until you mind and body and existence have been shattered and trodden on and obliterated. It is revolting and appealing and confronting and compelling. It is SWANS and they have destroyed you.

You are amazed… and alive.

Dave Cutbush is the director of Life is Noise and the host of RTRFM’s Out to Lunch on Thursdays from 12-3PM (+8 GMT).

Deryk Thomas’ Top 10 Albums of 2014

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Deryk Thomas of RTRFM’s Critical Mass counts down the year’s best in the world of doom, death and thrash metal.

10. SCAR SYMMETRY — The Singularity: Phase I
SS have always released razor sharp futuristic melodic metal, but this is the next step up. It flows well, and cant wait to hear the other chapters.

9. DECAPITATED — Blood Mantra
A fair bit of the technical stuff has gone, in favour of more straight ahead fast paced modern death metal. Great album considering what they’ve been through in recent years.

The best album they’ve done. A real coming of age for the band, like Scott Bishop has pointed out, they’ve figured out how to combine heavy metal sounds with the melodic stuff.

7. AT THE GATES — At War With Reality
At The Gates are back in the studio. Lots of anticipation for this one being one of the top picks for the year. Yeah, it probably is, but it’s a bit ho-hum in the back half of the album. Six other albums were better than it.

6. 1349 — Massive Cauldron of Chaos
A late comer for black metal release of the year. Better production and more adventurous elements to vocals have set this one apart from previous releases.

Jus Osborn, tour Australia already damnit.

4. WORMWOOD — Wormwood
There was a glut of new releases that hit our inboxes recently on Critical Mass, this is one that stood out. It’s the guys out of Doomriders doing a visceral take on doom and sludge. This is an EP. Now this is the first time I’ve bent the rules a little to include a non-full length because A) it’s awesome and B) it’s not exactly a bumper year for heavy metal releases.

3. ANIMALS AS LEADERS — The Joy Of Motion
If you haven’t heard this one yet, reward yourself. Combines djent metal with jazz fusion instrumental stuff. Gets stuck more in your head with each listen and that’s the sign of a “top” album. Saw them at Amps a while back and have been a fan ever since.

2. MASTODON — Once More Round The Sun
Mastodon are the best at what they do. Never got sick of this album since its release. I reckon I listen to it every week or two.

1. TOMBS — Savage Gold
This was always gonna be a contender, and it just grabs you straight away. Primal post-metal riffs and pounding drums. Very basic in approach, every post is a winner on this album.

Alex Griffin’s Top 10 Albums of 2014

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Writer, musician, broadcaster and Renaissance man Alex Griffin counts down his 10 best records of the year.

2014 might be the year that the stream/feed model of perceiving the world became irremediably fixed as a part of human consciousness (and politics, and economics, and…), so less than having a list of things I’d want to tell someone else to listen to, these are some of the things I heard this year that went beyond the idea or desire to list or compare; they were the things I remembered and carried with me and learned; let other lists be a Wikipedia of shoulda-heards.

These records are like my mental map of my suburb. After all, I write this with a bruising hangover and a face like a cut of salmon after taking in Yardstock yesterday. Mitch stole a beach ball from somewhere, and we bought way too much booze from Grapeskin at 11pm after having already imbibed for seven or eight hours already. If there was a better time to write about how I approached music this year, I can’t think of it, because I barely listened to music at home – I was among music all year, not studying my own experience of it. A leaf instead of a microscope. At the same time, there isn’t a year where I’ve enjoyed music more. A lot of this maybe came from being in a different country and going to shows by myself on spec – music ceased to be something privately consumed but more communally brushed against, like a sprig of mistletoe or an office watercooler.

Really, though, a lot of the time, I just forgot. Forgot what I’d listened to, forgot what I was listening to, forgot what I wanted to hear. Adrift in feeds, in lists, in other people’s opinions, I forgot to get around to making my own up. Some I was pretty bloody certain on — Benji, for example, felt like transforming sharing into the ethic of a feed – half Lil B, half Buckley – and as such rang like a gesture towards the implausible – but many I have no idea about still, and now may never get around to.. Naturally, if you’re floating downstream, you’re likely to miss most of the driftwood, so I’m taking a swing and a miss at totality.

10. TOTAL CONTROL – Typical System
No touring? No problem. Even if the Total Control hiatus proves to be a permanent one, Typical System is the kind of shot that’ll reverberate for years to come, surpassing the still pretty amazing Henge Beat in almost every single way and maybe even being the best record to come out of the whole ECSR diaspora. ‘Flesh War’ is probably the best song of the year, marrying a shitkicking stomp to a chord progression that feels like being driven to a wake through heavy traffic, while in ‘Liberal Party’, they provide a searching portrait of the breakdown of the welfare society in about as many syllables as Abbott’s three-sentence electoral platform.

9. IAN CRAUSE — The Song of Phaethon
The Disco Inferno’s man Dude’s talent for using tumult to depict, well, tumult remains undimmed. When Crause’s gifts are in full flow, the impact is sort of like being every chime in a huge fuck-off wind chime at once, harassed and assailed by a storm. I think it’s about mythology, but I don’t care. Though Ian, if you’re reading this, give me a call; let’s talk about these cover art problems you’re having.

8. BLANCHE BLANCHE BLANCHE – Hints to Pilgrims
For a band that reveled in an almost perverse level of abstruse prodigiousness, the end was never going to come as simple as a Farnesy-style tour. Hints to Pilgrims is a terse, inflexible record, hammered out through gusts of angst, songs transmitted like the staccato of a miffed wireless operator. There’s a soft heart to unpeel, though; “when you release a lot of music/the only thing you keep is care.” Vale BBB!

7. PALBERTA — Shitheads in the Ditch
Getting your ass kicked in every possible direction but down.

6. INFINITY FREQUENCIES — Computer Decay/Computer Afterlife
Of all of the microgenres that have arisen (Pottercore?) none has more relevance than vaporwave to gaining an understanding of the present. Like, crackin’ jokes about pitching informercials down is like talking wise about Sonic Youth playing out of standard tuning – it’s not funny, and it misses the point entirely. PC Music may have come along and reified the amorphousness of into the branding logic of Planet Pop, but Infinity Frequencies drew the scared, pristine and impossibly far away anomie of the presentlessness of the internet into the clearest possible light. Computer Decay and Afterlife – parts deux and trois of an ostensible trilogy – make unfathomably depthless, affecting galaxies out of the disintegrating now in a way that no one else with Ableton and an anonymous Bandcamp has yet managed.

5. FATIMA AL QADIRI – Asiatisch
Asiatisch opens with ‘Shanzhai’, which is a woman singing the melody of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ in Mandarin over a queasy, heartbreaking bed of synthesized strings. Asiatisch only gets stranger, acting as a travelogue of travelogues, a reinterpretation of the myriad of fake, watered down and misdirected signals that flow between the West and East. On ‘Dragon Tattoo’, a voice veiled in vocoder implores one to “speak Chinese/if you please”, while a robotized synth melody coils like an 8-bit New Year’s Dragon buffering through the street. Here, Al Qadiri is sitting on both sides of the Great Wall, and it’s confusing both ways.

4. COUPLES COUNSELLING – Couples Counselling
When the sampler replaces the acoustic guitar once and for all, this record is going to feel like what Connie Converse was to 2018’s fuckin’ no-hoper Donovan.

3. THE SOFT PINK TRUTH – Why Do The Heathen Rage
Daniel Drew carries forward Arthur Russell’s instinctive acuity for the malleability of disco forms into a through post-structuralist critique of the homoeroticism/phobia inherent to black metal. Staggeringly wise, funny, strange and true, and never too serious to trump the absurdity of the project. Where my other Literature PhDs making music this clever? BLACK METAL/BLACK METAL BLACK METAL/BLACK METAL.

2. PLATYPUS FREAKS — Platypus Freaks EP
When this came out a few weeks ago online, I waited a few days before buying it. I had stuff to do, you know, and I knew that once I sat down to listen to it I probably wouldn’t move for a while. As a fundraiser (for a Crotch album), this sure as hell beats flogging Freddos at the office; Katherine Daly here (with a bit of singing from the lad) sings seven songs ranging from the Mayor of Vancouver (“nepotism! Nepotism!”) to Scott Morrison, and it’s just about the most fun you can have in twenty minutes short of watching Dr. Katz. “Fun” isn’t the best way to describe songs like ‘Uluru;, which moves from a reflection on parental tourism to a harrowing indictment of the impacts of the NT intervention/invasion in the blink of an eyelid, all sung a capella by Daly in a voice so tremulous, so disbelieving, that you want to flush your head down the toilet and start life all over again. You could knock me over just by saying the word feather. Beyond that, there’s ‘Holes’, which might be the most searching, tender, empathetic and pissed off ticking off of a philanderer ever written. Jesus it’s good. Even as just a taste of what one of Australia’s best songwriters can do, it’s a feast. Bloody oath.

1. PETER ESCOTT — The Long O
You know that beer ad about how when you drop something in the water in Tasmania it comes out a lot better? If you dropped The Long O in the Derwent a hundred times over, it would come back out the same.

Alex Griffin writes for Tiny Mix Tapes and plays in Ermine Coat.

Check back later in the week as our writers continue to count down their top 10 records of the year.

A Minute With Drohtnung

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

Before they join Drowning Horse, Tangled Thoughts of Leaving and a slew of Perth’s best heavy acts for New Year’s Evil at The Bakery, we spend a minute with Old of Drohtnung and find out what’s new…

Describe your music in five words or less.
Anti-social, emotional, erratic, mess.

What’s going on in the world of Drohtnung?
This year we have been quite busy!

We are currently working with Seance Records at the moment who are releasing our 2nd full-length album In Dolorous Sights. Promoting of the album is under way and early 2015 will see the release of the album, which we’re all focused on at the moment.

Between the release of The Suicide Sessions album through Nostalgia Productions (Hong Kong) and writing/rehearsing new and old material, we don’t have much down time. Also everyone has their own bands/projects to concentrate on amidst the madness. There are also plans for shows next year which I guess will be our next concentration point.

What motivates you to make music?
I’m not sure what is the motivation, though, It’s just a part of who I am, it’s my release… Plus I can’t afford a psychiatrist, maybe that’s the motivation?

What have been the high and low points of your musical experiences so far?
The high points — one would be finding the right people to complete the bands line-up (this took a while!). Also the connections you make with people through touring/shows/releases. Meeting like-minded people, working with them and that have the same moral ground, musical/art ideals. That appreciate what you do… The sense that you’re not the only person who is fucked in the head in this world is always comforting. Over the past 10 years I’ve worked with Woods of Desolation, Drowning the Light, Forest Mysticism, Wardaemonic, Pestilential Shadows, Yhdarl, Broken Spirit… All are high points.

The lows — besides having problems with my equipment being faulty/broken, is the isolation. Being stuck inside my head with myself for long periods of time… That’s hard at times to come back from. And writing tab… I’m hopeless at that too.

What music are you listening to at the moment?
A few things I’ve been listening to lately:
Nirvana — Bleach Sessions
Tom Waits — Bone Machine
The Velvet Underground & Nico

If you were stranded on a desert island, which member of the band would get eaten first?
I would have no idea.

Here’s an opportunity to bitch about something, whether music related or not. What really pisses you off?
A lot pisses me off… all I will say is that the music world is upside down!

You’re putting together your perfect gig featuring Australian artists. Who would you get to play and where? Feel free to include acts/DJs/bands/venues that no longer exist.
2 Stages, 2 Day.
Location: Tasmania
Venue: Outside

The Birthday Party
Lubricated Goat

Denouncement Pyre
Spear of Longinus
Sadistik Exekution
Mortal Sin
Hobb’s Angel of death

Funeral Mourning
Drowning Horse
Transcendental Warlords

Baal Gadrial
Broken Spirit
Grave Worship
Woods of Desolation
Temple Nightside

Drohtnung join Drowning Horse, Tangled Thoughts of Leaving, Scalphunter, The Devil Rides Out and many more in welcoming new year at New Year’s Evil at The Bakery this December 31. Tickets on sale now at