Posts By Sophie Benjamin

Epidemic Over – ‘Runaway’

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Epidemic Over - ‘Runaway’ (mp3)

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – regional areas are a haven and a breeding ground for people who love and make heavy music. Whether it’s Bundaberg’s DZ Deathrays (I know you’re trying to deny your Fraser Coast heritage boys, but I’m onto you) or Byron Bay juggernaut Parkway Drive, heavy music settles between the red and country-music loving centre, and the more refined capital cities.

Epidemic Over come from Tannum Sands on the central Queensland coast, and have spent the better part of the last five years on the road. Their latest EP, aptly titled Long Way Home, was recorded in the small central Queensland town of Mount Morgan – once  home to the most profitable mine in the world. THE WORLD.

These days Mount Morgan is kind of central Queensland’s version of Deliverance. The water supply is poisoned (thanks mining!) and on one occasion I saw a woman with boobs down to her knees chain smoke an entire packet of cigarettes as her toddler played in a full wheelie bin in the main street.

Oddly enough no-one wants to go there, so the boys managed to find a cheap house and knuckled down to record the EP. The locals accepted them and as far as I know, there were no rapes or banjos.
‘Runaway’s the latest single and a definite musical highlight. As they say in central Queensland, “GET IT UP YA!”

http://www.facebook.com/epidemicover

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Espy New Years Eve

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Stonefield

New Years Eve is my least favourite night of the year. Past attempts to avoid it have seen me spewing my guts up alone in a cotton field, rostered on to work, playing Xbox with my brother and sleeping.

This year’s plans fell over pretty early in the piece, so I ended up taking photos at the Espy new years gig.

The place was packed and the alcohol was expensive, which is par for the course really. I’m always surprised by Melbourne crowds though – they mightn’t be as obnoxiously drunk as Brisbanites, but they’re much ruder. They also love their iPhones and Holga cameras and believe they have just as much right to the prime shooting spots as those with DSLRs. Ahem.

Stonefield

Anyway, the difference in the crowd composition of each room was astounding. Stonefield played in the front bar to a packed audience of leery older men, girls who looked like they’d stepped out of the pages of Frankie and dudes who were awkwardly dancing/grinding on said Frankie girls.

The band put on a solid performance, with lead vocalist Amy handing drumming duties over to a friend, freeing her up to deliver closers “Drowning” and “Through the Clover” out the front.

Violent Soho

I fought my way through to the Gershwin Room to catch the end of Violent Soho‘s set. They were running over time as their drummer took a lengthy spew break, giving their guitarist James a chance to tell the Vegie Bar to fuck itself (the band is on a life ban from the Fitzroy restaurant) and ask the crowd for drugs.

Once their drummer had returned from what must’ve been an impressive power spew, the Brissy boys managed something rarely achieved by even the best touring bands – rousing a Melbourne crowd from their default setting of sullen hipster.
I’ve never been so happy to be covered in beer and fallen on by sweaty boys joyously bellowing “FUUUUUCCCKKK YEEAAAHHH!!” and “ONYA SOHO!”

I also saw River of Snakes, Paul Dempsey, Jebediah and Loon Lake play, but their crowds were generally well-behaved.

Loon Lake

Loon Lake

River of Snakes

Paul Dempsey

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Sophie’s Australian albums of 2011

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I spent most of this year living away from Brisbane, but my end of year list is dominated by Brisbane bands.
There’s amazing stuff happening there at the moment and it’s a real credit to the musicians and the people that support them – no thanks to a certain arts funding body.

I’m sure you’re all over end of year lists already, but bear with me. You might learn something.
Also have a read of Pop Matters’ worst albums of 2011. It’s a hoot.

Ball Park MusicHappiness and Other Suburbs

Track: ‘All I Wanted Was You’ (mp3)

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These guys have received plenty of attention and accolades this year, all of them deserved. Their debut album does not have a bad or weak song on it, and the production is polished but not overbearing.
The fact that Boy and Bear won an ARIA and BPM didn’t is a bit of a shame, but hopefully these Brisbanites will conquer the second-album shakes and get more trophies for the pool room.

EpithetsYear of Glad

Track: ‘The Reveal’ (mp3)

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I’ve wanked on about Epithets before, so I shan’t bore you again but let me just say this:
I had a very confronting weekend in Brissy and was feeling particularly fragile on the train from Brisbane to Rockhampton.
Despite the title, Year of Glad was a fantastic soundtrack to my emotional turmoil and sobbing my guts out on a long train ride through the shitty suburbs north of Brisbane.
SO – if you too feel the need to chuck a huge sad on public transport, this is the album for you.

Fires of Waco - Old Ghosts Never Sleep


Track: ‘Fractured Faith’ (mp3)

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Fires of Waco are one of those bands that manages to be prolific AND good. They’ve released an EP, an album and a 7″ single over the last 18 months, and Old Ghosts is right up there with recent releases from Defeater and Touche Amore in terms of quality and vision.

Fires manage to juggle three vocalists and some pretty heavy lyrical content (child sexual abuse in the Catholic church, the gap between blue and white collar in society, suicide) without getting bogged down or too pretentious. This first album of theirs is ambitious and a success.

Jen Buxton - Don’t Change Your Plans

Track: ‘Don’t Change Your Plans’ (mp3)

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Another album for the sad sacks, Jen Buxton’s songwriting makes Missy Higgins look like Lady Gaga.
Don’t Change Your Plans is raw and an emotional punch to the face, carried along by not much more than an acoustic guitar and Buxton’s fantastic voice.

She’s been ensconced in domestic bliss for most of this year so she hasn’t really “pushed” or “promoted” or “serviced” the album, which is a bit of a shame. That said, I wish more singer-songwriters would follow her lead and live life instead of jumping through “industry” hoops.

Nuclear Summer


Track: ‘Uncle Frankie’s Funny Hats’ (mp3)

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These guys formed from the wreckage of half a dozen excellent but obscure Brisbane bands. I wasn’t particularly keen on their early demos, but a good 18 months of writing and bonding has really paid off. Well, that and forking out money to get it mixed and mastered properly. These guys are currently on tour, suss them out and see them if you can.

Streamer Bendy - Sugar Rush

Track: ‘Sleep Me Off’ (mp3)

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Ok, so maybe this is cheating because this album hasn’t technically been released yet but DAMN is it good.
Pop music about sex is nothing new, but Sugar Rush has to be one of the most sexually frustrated pop albums I’ve ever heard.
There’s no unrequited love or sleazy pickups here, but there are plenty of allusions to the frustrations of a boring sex life. That’s not a bad thing though – I’m a big fan of the lyrical pun on Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69″:
I had my first real sex dream/perfect build-up, I directed the perfect scene/then I wake up with you sleeping next to me/take a Valium, back to reality.
Written in Brisbane and put together in Sweden, lets hope these guys actually put out next year.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Harmony’s self titled debut.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Gotye – Making Mirrors.

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Lincoln LeFevre – ‘Miami’

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Lincoln LeFevre – ‘Miami’ (mp3)

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Forgive me people who take music blogs seriously, for I have sinned and will sin again.

Lincoln LeFevre is a stalwart in the Tasmanian punk rock scene, having played in Enola Fall and the excellent Ride The Tiger, who I wrote about last year.

I saw him play a great solo acoustic set at this year’s Poison City Weekender, where I also took the above photo.
He released a fantastic album “30 Watt Heart” in 2008, to much acclaim from Tasmanians and people who know Tasmanians. Why didn’t I pick up on it? Well, I didn’t start with WTH until September that year and fuck, I guess I was busy being a fucking idiot or something.

But hey, I’m telling you about it now and that’s better than never, right?

‘Miami’ is the song I find stuck in my head the most, but it’s worth heading over to his Triple J Unearthed page to hear “Hey, Alright! which has some fantastic lyrics including:

Such a sweet thing, a white ribbon to hold her hair down
She walks through the crowd like an angel but she speaks like a tramp
And she said ‘what are youse fuckin’ lookin’ at
?!’

www.linclefevre.com

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Epithets, Virginia Sook, To The North.

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The last time I wrote something nice about Epithets, lead singer/guitarist Nick Smethurst was so stoked that he invited me to move in to his house.
I’d just come out of hospital to find myself homeless, with all my things packed into a storage unit in Milton. We met for coffee, talked music, and I mentioned I was couch surfing. Before I knew it I had a key and a shelf in the pantry.
It was a ramshackle Queenslander in the inner northern suburbs of Brisbane, walking distance to public transport and parks.
There were five people paying rent when I moved in, but often up to ten people living there. We had a lounge room and a band room and  it was awesome.

The thing I loved best about the house (other than the sweet-natured cattle dog who lived there) was the sheer amount of music going on. The paying residents of the house have changed a few times since I moved out 12 months ago, but they’re all still playing music in some form.

Epithets – ‘Blacklisted’ (mp3)

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To The North – ‘No Alibi’ (mp3)

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Virginia Sook – ‘The Hours’

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Note: That is not the bathroom at the house I used to live in. This bathroom is way nicer.

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Poison City Weekender

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Poison City Records‘ annual weekender is over for another year and holy shit, what a weekend it was.
Bands on the label and in the label’s extended family trekked down to Melbourne for a series of gigs across town. Arvo shows at The Tote and The Old Bar were excellent warm-ups for bigger shows at the East Brunswick Club.
If you’re a fan of melodic punk and didn’t attend, I feel sorry for you.
Here are some photos I took. You can find more here.


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The Medics – ‘Beggars’ (video)

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From the press release:

Having migrated from their hometown of Cairns to the inspiring music community of Bris-Vegas, THE MEDICS wasted no time making their mark.

Kahl, Jhindu, Andrew & Charles have certainly made the most of the opportunity to create their debut album due out in early 2012.  The first single BEGGARS has already won them a Queensland Music Award and garnered some serious Triple J airplay.  Keep your eyes peeled for the emotive video for BEGGARS – it will surely find it’s way to your screens over the coming weeks.

They are a must see at this year’s BIGSOUND LIVE, and set to more than warm up the crowd supporting Birds Of Tokyo.

THE MEDICS are pretty excited to have also recently added some new members to their team, signing with Brisbane based Warner Music indie imprint, Footstomp Records.”

I’d just like to say I told you so.

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