Posts By Ryan Saar


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Pills make some great trip-hop. Pretty basic sentence, gets the job done. But do you have any idea of how rare that is in Sydney, let alone done well? We’ve got an overdose of incredible electronic stuff, a small army of fantastic hip-hop artists, but the melding of the two? You might as well be asking for the Knights to take out a premiership.

After a few promising singles, Pills have hit their stride with ‘Slugger’, a scowling grimace twisted into a syrupy spellbinder. A taunting mantra twirls around clipped production that wouldn’t feel out of place as the soundtrack to a snake charming session. It’s friendly – but you just know that if you let your guard down, it will bite you.

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Pills also have an awesome video to boot, featuring unsettling strobes, bottle-sipping bedroom boogying, and a general atmosphere that David Lynch wishes he could call his own. It’s disconcerting, weird and beautiful; a perfect match to the song itself.

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PREMIERE: Mope City – ‘W.O.Y (Wave of Youth)’ Video

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mope city

There’s a huge list of obvious reasons as to why record stores are still vital, but my personal favourite has to go to the art of the ‘recommendation’. It’s a lot harder than it sounds; trying to get the right balance between something that matches what the customer is interested in, but not too strange that it will alienate them. For example, you wouldn’t give a Cannibal Corpse record to someone who’s recently discovered The Living End, just because both involve guitars. I would, but I’m a bad person, and that’s why I don’t work in a record store.

The people behind the counters of Australia’s finest and longest lasting record stores have got the ‘recommendation’ down to an art. A few years back, in Sydney’s Red Eye Records, the clerk saw me perusing through Unity Floors and Day Ravies‘ albums, and suggested I look into a band called Mope City. BAM! Like that, a simple, “…check this out…” has turned an awkward ginger kid into an awkward ginger kid that has a new favourite band.

Fast forward to 2015, and the Sydney trio have surpassed their scratchy lo-fi beginnings of their first two EPs, and kept the adoration of that same weird child who’s now kind of an adult. Releasing a 7″ earlier this year of tight, post-punk inflections, Mope City have already followed up with a full-length album. Released on Tenth Court (Wireheads, Sewers, Thigh Master), Petri Dish features stand out, ‘Wave of Youth’, a track which echoes the band’s love of Slint, whilst maintaining the morbid pop aspects that made Mope City so great to begin with.

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Melancholic as a finding yourself 10 cents short of a coffee on a hungover Monday, Wave of Youth’ packs salad day nostalgia with plodding bass, call and response guitars, and dishevelled drums. The accompanying video, directed by the band’s own Matt Neville, throws together a pastiche of stop motion, silhouttes, and knick knacks sourced from the back of cupboards for a swirling pastiche of the youth Mope City sing about.

Petri Dish is out now on Tenth Court. Buy it here, or better yet, head to your local record store to grab it and cop a few new recommendations while you’re there.

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LISTEN: Lily & the Bellows – ‘White Lies’

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white lies

Two things happened on 21 October 2015. First of all, every dodgy news outlet in the world scrambled over itself to find an original way to tell everyone that this was the day Doc Brown and Marty McFly travelled to in Back to the Future Part II. The result was a flood of increasingly depressing memes that sucked out the entire spirit of the film.

The second thing that happened was Sydney soul-poppers Lily & the Bellows released their latest track, ‘White Lies’. Now, at first, these two events don’t seem related at all. How could the degradation of a beloved 80s film and a swinging pop number from a group of Sydneysiders be connected?

Well, here’s a theory for you – Lily & the Bellows actually travelled through time with Doc and Marty. Their sound rings clear as a dance floor ditty from the 1950s of George McFly. Lily & the Bellows were meant to be playing a support slot for Bill Haley and His Comets. Just as they were about to step onstage, the troublesome duo whisked them off in that bloody Delorean of theirs. Now they’re stuck in 2015 with nothing to do but release that fantastic song they’d been working on moments before.

The signs are all there – organ, plucky guitar, serene melodies: Lily & the Bellows were destined to be the hitmakers of their time. Luckily for us millennials, we get to claim them as our own. Suck it, Baby Boomers – this golden oldie belongs to us!

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WATCH: friendships – ‘P2M//DSK’

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Yoda said it best when he observed, “Do or do not, there is no try”. When it comes to friendships, that little green pile of wrinkles has never been more right. Either you commit to the electronic assault, or it owns you. No one dips a toe into their pool of jagged sound and emerges without a few scrapes.

Their latest track ‘P2M//DSK’ raises the bar for the Melbourne-via-WA duo, its stomping beats locking horns with eye-popping samples. There’s a sinister atmosphere hanging around, a plague to be flung at anyone within hearing distance. It’s an inescapable, twisted chant that puts friendships in contention for the insidious dance floor throne, vying with the likes of Black Vanilla, Dro Carey and CORIN.

friendships – formed by producer Nic and visual artist Misha – have dropped a new video for their scorched brand of jungle, and it’s just as intense as you’d hope. There is no way to easily explain what happens in this clip; I’d like to say it’s like David Lynch directed Tron, but that wouldn’t even be scraping the surface of the absurd Deep-Web-meets-mescaline nightmare on display here.

As iterated before, no one can afford to go through a friendships track without total dedication and focus, or they risk being spat out as a PTSD victim triggered by the slightest electronic tremor. Now, armed with a video that defies explanation and has the ability to rob the unsuspecting customer of their sanity, friendships have basically become the deadliest act in Australia.

friendships are currently at CMJ, where they’ve most likely been melting faces and stealing souls. Nic will be playing the remainder of their US dates solo, after Misha took a nasty tumble from a roof in Bushwick.

The duo is also booked to play Golden Plains next year, along with Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Royal Headache, and Sleater-Kinney. In the meantime, let’s hope Misha makes a swift and full recovery.

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PREMIERE: Milkk – ‘ADSL Blues’

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Three words – a band name and a song title – and you’re hooked. What kind of freak can suppress their joy over seeing misspelt milk and a song that seems to bemoan the plight of those who just want high-speed broadband at a decent price?

The perceived product and what’s actually delivered, however, are totally different beasts. Instead of some slacker rock moping about the Internet, Milkk provide a beautiful instrumental piece, cold and subdued. Spreadeagled over nearly five minutes, ‘ADSL Blues’ has almost nothing in common with the buffering signal that comes when setting up your wireless network. There’s no pain, no stress – you can just sit there, suspended by Milkk’s slowly intertwining noise.

The newest signing to Wollongong-based record label No Safe Place, Milkk prove that the label is entirely impossible to pin down. The instrumental trio join noise-poppers Solid Effort, earnest rockers Beast & Flood and ambient folk artist Obscura Hail, to name but a few. However, the difference between Milkk and the label’s other bands is that these guys are doing something that feels relatively untouched – in Sydney, at least. Solid Effort, Beast & Flood, and Obscura Hail are all unique in their own distinctive and incredible ways, but Milkk sounds like nothing else out there at the moment. ‘ADSL Blues’ takes you on a slow, meandering journey that all good Internet providers should aim to supply.

Milkk will be launching their EP, Open Signals Cast, on 31 October at Black Wire Records in Sydney. They’ll be joining Cull, who are launching their own debut album. In the meantime, Milkk will play a set at Lots of Bands V at the Croat in Newcastle this Friday, 2 October, and are supporting Miners at their EP launch on Saturday the 3rd at the Record Crate in Glebe.

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It’s fair to say that Geelong’s ORB have taken a fair bit of inspiration from Black Sabbath. Actually, I’m certain these guys love Sabbath so much that they’ve stapled all 19 Sabbath records into a Sabbath suit and Mission Impossible-d a face mask replica of Ozzy Osborne’s face to wear while they wail to ‘Sweet Leaf’ and ‘Children of the Grave’. Doesn’t really seem like a bad way to spend a lazy Sunday, now that I’ve said it out loud.

Despite their tendency to mimic their favourite band – or perhaps because of it – ORB make for an incredible listen. Their debut EP, which was released to tape in January of this year but only uploaded to the’s a week or so ago, is molten sludge goodness. Over five tracks of plunging, schlocky metal, ORB remind everyone what made this music so fun to listen to in the first place. These guys kick like a horse on acid, reeling off one gargantuan riff after another. The blistering centrepiece ’11th Commandment’ is exemplary of this vintage headbanging approach.

Even when we’ve got legends like Batpiss, Worm Crown and Horsehunter keeping metal well and truly alive, it’s good to herald the addition of ORB to the ranks. Over the next couple of months, they’ll be playing Maggot Fest 6 down in Melbourne, joining King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard in support of GOAT’s Australian tour, and playing with the Murlocs in Sydney and Brisbane.

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new lovers

Tone. Mate. Life’s tough. You just got kicked out of your own house by your mates. Hey, I know how it feels – one time, the boys and I were having a cheeky kebab, and mine was taking a bit longer than usual because I got a mixed one, and so the boys started eating before I received mine, and when I turned to pay, they all bounced. Brutal. Trust me, we’re on the same page here.

What are you gonna do now? It’s nearly midnight. No one’s going drinking with you, no one’s going to drop any pingers. Chris Pyne might be up, but that guy is loose as. Forget about him. Focus. Breathe deeply. Why don’t you get it together and chuck on some New Lovers?

Look, I’ll be straight up – New Lovers are a bunch of bloody hippies. Nuisances, the lot. Probably work at art galleries or on Q&A. But these guys will make you dance, Tone. They’ll make you groove. I know you’re in doubt, mate; I was too. But you gotta give it to ’em, Tone – the lefties know how to play.

You’re feeling low, but this post-punk stuff is good – real good. Put down the drinks, mate, pick up ‘Fatal Shore’. Or chuck on ‘I Wanna Be You Tonight’. Oh – ah, shit, sorry mate… didn’t mean that.

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