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belleandsebBELLE & SEBASTIAN

Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance

Matador/Remote Control

There are few whiter-than-white bands that could get away with opening their ninth album with castanets prominent in the mix, but much loved Scottish popsters Belle & Sebastian have been subtly pushing the rules since their debut. In spite of the subject matter of Stuart Murdoch’s experience with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Nobody’s Empire is the brightest start to a Belle & Sebastian record in some time. It comes across as an early era tune with the rapid fire Murdoch delivery of old and glistening guitars that have been wrapped up in the bands increasing discovery of high production details.

First single, The Party Line, rolls out some disco tricks with its kick drum and synth-driven tale of dancefloor love, but it is the unashamed Europop  of Enter Sylvia Plath that is the strongest indicator that Belle & Sebastian will no longer be confined by their past. There are still reflective moments like Ever Had A Little Faith? but it is not the only trick in the bag.

Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance may not be the comfortable experience of catching up with an old friend that is the usual feeling when greeted with a new Belle & Sebastian record. This time, your old pal has bought along his hot sister.

5 stars

CHRIS HAVERCROFT

ninesonsofdan

NINE SONS OF DAN

Follow The Blood

Independent

Back with their third EP release, New South Wales boys Nine Sons Of Dan have continued to fill the missing pieces in their sound, once again evolving and releasing a set of enjoyable tracks filled with a range of elements from violin riffs to pleasing drum fills.

The EP sounds polished with every second carefully thought out to include or exclude specific instruments, harmonies or sound samples with the end result being a sound that stands toe-to-toe with many professionally signed bands in their genre. From the impactful opener, Used Up, to the uplifting chorus of title-track, Follow The Blood, the EP flows solidly and provides catchy lyrics and memorable hooks. The randomly title Soy Latte does have an agitating chorus that can be annoying at times but is quickly fixed by the band’s rock roots within Cut The Rope.

Finishing strongly with the commanding track, Wrecking Ball, the quintet smash through the angsty single, providing an alternative to the Miley Cyrus disaster.

3.5 stars

AARON BRYANS

nofx

NOFX

Backstage Passport

Shock

 For those that don’t know, NOFX: Backstage Passport is a documentary series featuring – you guessed it – NOFX backstage, onstage, and generally around stages. This album is, broadly speaking, a soundtrack.

Fat Mike kicks off the album by proudly declaring, ‘We’re NOFX, screwing up since 1983’, on the title track. Later on he’ll be insulted by Germans, have a go at blind religious faith, sing flat on a live version of Leaving Jesusland and, once again, suggests the band move to Australia (seriously guys, what’s stopping you?).

It’s a collection of rare, remixed, live and unreleased material only previously aired during the show. As a result, it’s pretty up and down, and not exactly a well balanced album. However, for fans – and let’s face it, that’s definitely the target audience – there’s enough to enjoy here.

Arming The Proletariat With Potato Guns features guitars and trumpets punctuated by the typical NOFX brand of humour, while Backstage Passport and Punk Rock Passport provide nice bookends to the album. I Melvin is also worth a listen, with Eric Melvin presenting his sad clown persona in all its glory, accordion included.

3 stars

JOSH FERGEUS

orsonwelles

ORSOME WELLES

Erth News Bulletin 

Independent

This Melbourne-based progressive/alternative rock act has certainly got its own thing going on. When you think of that genre, the powerful but dulcet tones of bands such as Karnivool and Dead Letter Circus come to mind. While Orsome Welles would be far from out of place playing alongside those bands on the same bill, they’d stand out at the same time.

Their sound is just a touch more raw. The guitar sounds, especially, are more real and less heavily produced; some of the riffs are actually quite bluesy at times as well, which adds to this vibe. Some may say this is simply the production, which admittedly isn’t as polished as it could be. However, the intention with this release is obviously to get something out there for Orsome Welles while they work on their debut album.

Ultimately, it’s the quality of songs that matters most, and these guys’ tunes show great promise: groovy, catchy, and progressive without being too obscure or experimental, and with a great feel for dynamics and variation. Some of the tracks on offer here stray almost into thrash metal territory (Want You To Know), while others are quieter and considered (Not Me).

These guys show enormous potential – bring on a full-lengther.

4 stars

ROD WHITFIELD

merchandise

MERCHANDISE

After The End

4AD

Merchandise originally formed as a three-piece in Tampa Florida in 2008. The stereotype of their location is the fodder of sitcoms that would suggest that they are a group of chaps who were each living with their grandparents or were erroneously homed in a retirement village due to some administrative error. Their third album, After The End,doesn’t appear to owe a lot to the music of Gene Pitney, but neither do the tempos reach a pace that would cause concern to those dancing with osteoporotic bones.

With the band now being five members strong they have shifted from their frenetic punk rock beginnings to indie rockers who have climbed into bed with a reverb pedal or two. Carson Cox is known for being an ambitious motor mouth, but when it comes  to After The End, he sounds like he would be more at home with some eggnog, a blanket and the latest record by The National as his drinking partner.

Guitarist, Dave Vassalotti, should get lead billing for the first part of the album as it is his crisp lines that keep the songs together and it is not until Telephone that Cox finally hits his straps, whereupon his wholesome croon jumps out in the mix to offer some much-needed melodic push.

Merchandise aren’t afraid to reinvent themselves at every turn and After The End sees them making an album that leans most heavily on the pop genre than they have before.  

3 stars

CHRIS HAVERCROFT

orphanso

ORPHANS ORPHANS

What’s A Boy S’Posed To Do

Amplifire Music

If their numerous performances across the East Coast and their highly hyped reputation haven’t cast Brisbane group, Orphans Orphans, as one of the most promising bands on the Australian music scene, then their debut EP may just complete the anticipated process.

Comprised of a unique blend of psychedelic ’70s vibes and British rock, the five-piece have managed to combine elements of Depeche Mode and David Bowie into a groovy yet gritty distorted jam. It’s a record that’s hard to criticise and easy to bop along to. With songs built on simple punchy riffage on top of pumping drums and perfect harmonies, the entire EP is engaging and unpredictable. Lead single, Orphan, is by far a standout throwing together the band’s best elements into an in-your-face track with a huge climax. Concluding title-track What’s A Boy S’Posed To Do is also a standout taking a slower approach filled with soaring organs and an engaging vocal line, highlighting the bands adaptability of genres and endless potential.

The Brisbane boys have delivered a stellar debut that lived up to its high expectations.

4 stars

AARON BRYANS