Words: James Frostick
In an effort to keep track of the year’s best recorded material, Weirdo Wasteland will be releasing monthly round-ups of albums that we didn’t have enough time to cover in depth at the time of release. Although these are shorter write-ups, review length shouldn’t be taken as an indicator of album quality – everything listed is good and should be given proper time of day to indulge appropriately. Here is the best of what arrived in January …
The newest record from Brisbane crew Martyr Privates opens like a blast from a fan-forced oven. It’s a dry heat, one that makes you wince and squint as you try to get a grapple of what’s what. It’s Queensland summer – it’s weathered skin and chapped lips. The creative outlet of Cameron Hawes (I Heart Hiroshima, Slug Guts) is straightforward, petroleum-fuelled rock with a reprobate edge – tales of strung-out swindlers and shifty wanderers leaving a trail of dusty bootprints leading to a break or a score. Cameron’s sawing and blasted riffs are a sublime through-line throughout the record, and his crocked vocal delivery is haggard enough to add believable weight to each drawled syllable of his stories.
Alien Nosejob (VIC) – Suddenly Everything Is Twice As Loud (Anti Fade Records)
Jake Robertson should be a familiar name to anyone that has even a cursory awareness of Melbourne’s musical underground. As a member of bands such as Ausmuteants, Hierophants, Drug Sweat, School Damage, Leather Towel, Swab and more, you’d think Jake has enough outlets to satiate his creative urges. Well, that’s clearly not the case, but you won’t hear us complaining. Jake’s solo outlet Alien Nosejob places Jake at the wheel – he’s in control and free to careen into any lane he wants or to take any route he deems viable to get to his destination. Does he have a destination? It’s not apparent and it doesn’t matter. On Suddenly Everything Is Twice As Loud Jake is relishing the opportunity to scratch every itch that’s plagued him, tapping into inspirations and dipping into a myriad of styles across the album’s dozen tracks, pulling out genre references left and right. There are elements of fuzzy garage-rock, synth-punk, New Wave, lo-fi punk – shades of Devo, Television Personalities and much more. What makes this uniquely Jake is his knack for kneading catchy pop progressions (and a sprinkling of irreverent humour) into the dough, letting it rise into something easily digestible no matter what your personal musical penchant may be. Something for everyone from a musician unafraid to put in the work.
There’s no listening experience quite like taking in a Sarah Mary Chadwick album. Dropping the needle on any of her previous records from 9 Classic Tracks onward is always an intense experience, in part because Sarah’s music is so intrinsically laced with her own sorrow that you can’t help but take on a hefty dose of it sympathetically. I suppose that’s what makes her music so impressive – it commands a reaction. Please Daddy is no different, but there’s a resilient beauty imbued within the record that makes it tonally more engrossing than anything that’s come before. The emotional outpouring is here, yes, but where previous records brought the pain into sharp relief thanks to the sparse piano arrangements, Please Daddy’s fleshed-out musical backing adds more of a soft focus to the words, making Sarah’s musings more a part of a beautiful whole. Horns, flutes and piano link to make the album lush and heady, alleviating some of the morose vibes without turning the record into a lighthearted affair. Few artists can stir up potent emotion like Sarah Mary Chadwick, but even less still can turn trauma into such beautiful art. This record is special.
Newcastle producer Jason Campbell aka Collector dropped this tape on the excellent Nice Music label. Discordant techno at its finest, Collector welds and hammers together a mish-mash of synthetic elements, creating a mix that is diverse yet composed. Opening track ‘Prosthetic’ is subterranean sonar and militaristic snaps, ‘Cracked Drain’ is blown out bass pounds and primitive beat work – steam powered machinery working overtime. ‘The Hunters Lantern’ is decidedly cleaner, crystalline jungles and tripped-out tropical rhythms, while closer ‘First Club Prince’ segues from scraping squall to hyper-coloured sheen. It’s a balanced release, with enough variation to hold attention, but with enough of a gradual curve to avoid whiplash from a sudden change of tempo.
This gem flew under the radars of most and it is almost criminal. Folk-meets-guitar pop collective Ostraaly’s latest album sees the crew take an unhurried approach to contemporary indie Australiana – charm-laced languid (and sometimes perfectly discordant) bops, dappled in tree shade. Nine tracks of sun-warped guitar, light-footed percussion and Katherine Daly’s pitch-perfect vocals. A great listen.
Despite being a relatively new entity, Melbourne punk troika CLAMM are already an established proponent of hard-hitting punk rock – the kind of high-volume roar that bullies eardrums into submission. When they have you where they want to, they then shout their piece right in your face – ensuring you get the message. On the group’s ripper LP Beseech Me, CLAMM takes a stand against violence (“If they wanna fight, give them the flower power” – ‘Sucker Punch’), the extent people will lie and cheat to be a winner (‘Liar’), and being generally baffled by the state of the country – politically and socially (“I’m confused about, well almost everything” – ‘Confused’). It’s good to see the young guns being purposeful with their music and message. If you haven’t been listening before, maybe this raucous collection will prick your ears some. If you ask CLAMM, you don’t have any other option.
Got an album you think should be included in this round-up? Shoot us an email!