About late 2004, three teenagers that go by the name of Kiosk started gigging lots in the Sydney scene. Jack Mannix is part of the band, a music photographer who at the age of 15 took photos of Jet backstage at their hotel room and was praised for his ace photo skills. The noise-punk were getting a lot of big profile supports and scored a few internationals. Backlash soon followed and a lot of ‘I hate Kiosk’ type threads floated around the internet that eventually spilled onto the musical weeklies with bands like The Cops publicly declaring their low opinion for these kids. I’ve seen these guys about three times and I still don’t like their music. So why am I blogging them here?
To me Kiosk demonstrates the punkiest attitude a band can have. And rock music, is all about attitude. They relished in the hatestorm that surrounded them in 2005 on the internet and used that to their advantage. They ignored conventional media & alternative radio, booked an entire American tour through myspace, and even quoted hate statements for their press releases. As a result the band scored an appearance at 2006’s Big Day Out, are now putting out their EP on Calvin Johnson’s K-Records in the US, and will be touring the Sixty-Nine EP in August. Here is a 48 second sample of ‘Tourist Attraction’. The full song isn’t much longer, clocking in at 1 minute 33 seconds.
Kiosk – ‘Tourist Attraction’
Decoder Ring – photo by Nabil
It’s not often that I’ll buy an album without hearing a track or two first, but that’s exactly what I did with Fractions, the latest release from Decoder Ring. Of course I had heard their previous work, which had been mainly instrumental, but Fractions blew me away. Since writing the film score for the movie Somersault, the band had recruited the beautiful vocalist Lenka, whose voice is amazing and sits so well with Decoder Ring’s music.
The band still, thankfully, retain their penchant for instrumental songs, and regardless of whether their songs contain vocals or not, they’re still beautiful and accessible to any music fan. Decoder Ring are one of my favourite Australian acts, although I’m yet to witness them live though I’m told their shows are spectacular. We’ve got a cut from the Fractions album entitled ‘Out of Range’.
Decoder Ring – ‘Out of Range’
The Golden Age
Another band hitting the international touring circuit is The Golden Age. Currently in the United States, their song ‘Dirty Bird’ has an easy groove perfect for an afternoon drive through the city. Formed in 2004, they played their first gig ever with the ‘now’ band Youth Group, and went on to play Homebake by the end of year by way of winning the Hopetoun Hotel Incentive competition, a yearly competition whose prize is to open the Hopetoun stage at Homebake.
When I saw these guys at the Annandale Hotel they have a weird setup of putting the two singers/guitarists on the two sides of the stage and having the girl bassist right up the middle. It was a strange decision to set up this way considering she had almost no presence at all, while the two singers had to sing from the shadows on the wings of the stage. I hope they have fixed this strange set up because it had dampened an otherwise energetic set.
The Golden Age – ‘Dirty Bird’ (mp3)
Die! Die! Die!
“Die! Die! Die! is a three-piece band from New Zealand currently wandering the globe.”
There are so many of these post-hardcore noise bands in Australia, but very few actually make the jump and relocate overseas for a music career. Sad, but the truth is this NZ trio is doing what every Australian (or Kiwi) band should do: get out of the country and tour the world. Their hardwork has caught the attention of producer Steve Albini who worked their latest EP. Regular gigs and residencies in New York and London means it’s only a matter of time before the music media wake up and pay attention to this hyper punkers. I actually have never seen these guys before but from what I heard I’ve been missing out. No idea when they’ll be back here but I’m waiting for it.
Die! Die! Die! – ‘Year Nine Yeah’ (mp3)
Flamingo Crash has the most unfortunate luck that they are based in Brisbane. This northern based fivesome has some of the catchiest pop songs I’ve heard all year. The hardworking band has driven a full 25 hours across 3 states from Brisbane to Melbourne just in time for an instore performance! The Crash’s gig history reads like an all star hit parade: supports with The Presets, The Go! Team, Wolfmother, Wolf n Cub, The Bravery and Faker prove that if these guys were based in Sydney or Melbourne they’d be all over radio and magazines. This August they’ll be coming down to Sydney for a couple of show, check them out.
Flamingo Crash – ‘(Vamp at the) Wax Party’ (mp3)
I became an instant Lucksmiths fan when I heard ‘Chapter In Your Life Entitled San Francisco’ on the radio last year, a timeless pop tune. The band has released eight albums, received adulation from the usually critical Pitchfork and toured endlessly throughout Europe and US. And still managed to be overlooked by the general public. Lucksmiths’ songs are all highlighted with quirky personal lyrics delivered by Taliesyn White’s smooth white boy pop voice not unlike Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch.
Early this year I caught them in a very personal backyard gig when they were in tour in Sydney. The band were literally playing underneath laundry clotheslines. About 150 people packed into the tiny space, some climbing the roof and sitting on the neighbours’ fence to watch the band. The set up was a simple three piece with Tali being the stand up drummer/vocalist in the middle. I didn’t recognise most of their songs as they picked randomly out of their massive back catalog, but when they played San Francisco I couldn’t help but reminisce my own stories about the city.
The Lucksmiths – ‘Chapter In Your Life Entitled San Francisco’ (mp3)
There is a grand juxtaposition in terms of musical styles that are in vogue at the moment. On one hand, we have the superfluous Eighties synth/new wave fad, and on the other the simple, stripped-back folk music trend. Perth’s Bob Evans is a subject of the latter category. But rather that it be a contrived, money making exercise, Bob Evans plays honest, emotional folk music.
Truth be told, Bob Evans is actually the alter-ego of Kevin Mitchell, front man for Perth punk/pop group Jebediah. I was never a big fan of the music of Jebediah, but I’ve fallen in love with Bob Evans and his latest release Suburban Songbook. There’s nothing flashy about the record, it’s just based around simple and effective folk-rock tunes with strong songwriting at the core. It’s one of my favourite albums of the year and while it was hard to pick one song off the album to showcase, I thought it might be best to go with the opening song, and lead single, ‘Don’t You Think It’s Time?’
Bob Evans – ‘Don’t You Think It’s Time’