The Adelaide music scene: to many of you it might be little more than a touring speed bump between Melbourne and Perth but to us it's a way of life. Feast within, on all its dysfunctioning splendour, as we bring you the highly satirical, laughingly fictional and intellectually imbecile tales from our rock & roll wasteland...
EGOMANIACAL BASTARD OF THE YEAR MATT BANHAM /NO THROUGH ROAD Now I know what you're thinking in seeing my first prize winning category here, "ouch" riiight? But like everything else I'll be celebrating in following? (and the only way I know how.. by taking the absolute piss out of it) I totally mean this shit as a compliment, and the recipient here is no less lauded for exemplifying its awesome qualities either! For to be Spoz's Rant's "egomaniacal bastard of the year" is to embody an all too increasingly rare commodity in the Adelaide scene (or in any other indie scene of late for that matter) that of the "lead singer". Yes.. the LEAD SINGER!! And I don't just mean someone who's assumed that role by default, or by defacto, or by a loose time share agreement with the guitarist singing gang vocals with the keyboardist. One who's been thrust unwittingly, scrawnily, squinting into the spotlight, microphone in hand (or more frequently propped up behind a microphone stand shitscared for their lives) whilst hiding under matted hair, mumbling into the floor in near absolute darkness. As much as yes that TOO can be ridiculously awesome in its own right (and yes, we totally have a category for that too.. see below!). But no THIS award is for those who truly embrace all the loud mouthed extremes that come with being the "in your face" lead singer (not the one who hides behind it). The lead singer of cliche, the raging "FUCK YOU" persona of rock & roll infamy: all ten foot tall in screaming ego, everything short of belching fire in a "rock god" ridiculousness that makes THEM the exploding shitstorm epicentre of an audience's attention (and rightfully so!). And as much as hiphop has long since used and abused this shit to arsehole extremes (or worse still, given us Kanye West), while the indie scene embraces borderline social retardation and faceless DJs? it's been egomaniacal bastards like Matt Banham who've given it right back for us! Yup in 2010 it was damn near impossible to ignore him, quite like 2009 before it, he stood loud and proud as both an undeniable master, and in absolute mockery to the form! Whether fronting his band No Through Road, by assuming (defacto?) lead duties in The Crying Game (simultaneously the best AND worst karaoke cover band ever to be confused for an Adelaide supergroup we witnessed this year) or simply branching out on his own as a solo performer in his own right, he was a gift that kept on giving. He showed no fear, he had no shame, frequently suit and tie akimbo, more than often howlingly drunk, near blithering from one misguided tirade to the next in search of a between song segue.. duuude, we couldn't get enough of him! In fact people would frequently flock from far and wide (or just from the beergarden at The Metro) to flood front of stage whenever he performed, wide eyed in wonder! Only to hurl abuse, their drinks, swing fists, trip him up and do everything short of tear him limb from limb in utmost screaming adoration. And this kamikaze lunatic did nothing less than feed off that chaos, thrive off it, and spit it right back at us with shit grinning aplomb: a feeding frenzy of chronic alcoholism, giddy nihilism and pent up sexual frustration that knew no bounds (as let's face it: next to every one of his most staunch "supporters" were mishapen and unshaven male post graduate trolls of the psychotically sarcastic persuasion, not that I'm passing judgement of course!). Yup if you hadn't witnessed this near suicidal pissweasel running amok this year you truly hadn't lived.. Matt Banham? what a legend!
SHRINKING VIOLET OF THE YEAR LACHLAN WILSON / STEERING BY STARS Of course in saying all that we should never discount, discarding or even dream of discrediting those "quiet achievers" who've done us proud in the Adelaide scene this year for foresaking all the ridiculous circus antics of above (save for politely asking people to take one step forward towards the stage between songs). For seeking out very opposite in "egomaniacal" in fronting a live band and truly making it into a "performance art" all to its own. Those who've truly mastered the art of the "negative space", the awkward silences, the nervous shoe gazing glances of the cardigan clad, the overgrown fringes and the squirmingly introverted.. to the point of being practically invisible on a live stage (but no less celebrated for it) I mean shit duuude? how could we ever forget them!? (hell! short of the fact WE possess no singing talent whatsoever.. WE COULD TOTALLY BE THESE PEOPLE TOO!!). Yup and it's these "shrinking violets" with their squeaky voices of an angel; more impressive in their absence of boast OR bravado; frequently knock kneed, vitamin D deficient, forever wracked with guilt and self doubt; perhaps dime a dozen now after a decade of diminishing returns in fanatical hipsterdoom: where everyone did their utmost to paint each other into corners (as epitomised by poster child Thom Yorke, his band Radiohead, their album Kid A, and the song "How To Disappear Completely".. WOOOO!!) but no less sought after that THIS award aims to celebrate the exploding fuck out of: with giant neon flashing letters and an airhorn blaring to boot, even when they've long since fled the room howling at the mere mention of their name (or in some cases simply turned up the feedback up on their guitars till we left them be!?). And for a prize example of this esteemed quality in 2010? we need look no further than Lachlan Wilson; or at least once we found him cowering in a corner with a lampshade on his head hoping we wouldn't notice him. Yup, in fronting Steering By Stars as their "lead singer", keyboardist and occassionally guitarist (in that one song where he totally loses his shit at the end) he was every definition the shrinking violet for us all! He was a living legend like the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot or Santa: always talked about, almost never seen in sunlight! He expressed all our secret fears, our sorrows, our self inflicted pain and maybe even our teeny tiny faint glimmers of hope (awwww!) by bottling it all up deep inside him and then slowly venting it out like a slow tire puncture, or a balloon pissing out air; only magnified a hundred-fold by a clusterfuck of effects pedals until he sounded like a swarm of bees, or like that Swedish Chef out of The Muppet Show on a shitload of valium. YES!! And granted ANY sadsack bastard could do all that (practically any recommended artist on Pitchfork would have it nailed) but THIS undeniable master took that introversion one step further in making his vocals, his heartfelt lyrics of existential ennui so damn near utterly incomprehensible we never understood a single word of it.. and yet in doing so we could endlessly reinterpretted them to echo our own inner turmoil like he was our tuning fork? Yup that's what it is to be Lachlan Wilson! Like wallpaper with the volume cranked, like a warm glass of milk spilt while someone bursts into tears. We could never quite decipher his lyrics, but we all understood him implicitly.. what a champion!
AXE MURDERER OF THE YEAR DAVE WILLIAMS + NATHANIEL MORSE / FIRE! SANTA ROSA, FIRE! Ok now before I start dishing out all these "backhanded insults" in lieu of actual praise over the two guitarists from Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire! (oh and congratulations by the way.. for what it's worth?) lemme just point out that I really don't know guitars, or what it takes to actually play them. I mean I don't. I mean I really don't. I mean I really REALLY FUCKING DON'T (short of fumbling about with the opening bits to Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven", rather badly, left handed.. but hey who DOESN'T know that!?). And usually this wouldn't be an issue, because hey it's not like EVERYONE who ever goes to a live gig with aims to write a blog about it has to know how to play a fucking guitar like a pro before they can pass judgement. Seriously get fucked! If a guitar sounds cool, it sounds cool riiight? THAT SHIT'S UNIVERSAL!! But at the same time, I'm acutely aware that I am surrounded 24/7 by fanatical "guitar nerds", I mean quite literally here in the facebook sense I'm SURROUNDED BY THEM and they're FUCKING FANATICAL and all I get in my newsfeed day after day (occassionally breaking for holidays) is a constant circlejerk of "shop talk" on wacky effects pedals, pickups, re-wirings, stepping stone guitar purchases "blah-di-blah it's an authentic 60's FUCKITY FUCK and it only costs $65,000!!" and endless jam sessions and inquiries about rehearsal spaces. GUH!! And as such, I just KNOW I'm gonna look like a fucking retard here no matter what I write, yup even more so than what I usually write (and for the record I used to play all my "music" on a laptop and call myself a "breakbeat terrorist".. I think you can see where I'm going with this and yes it's me licking windows on a bus) and thus if you were even nominated for this award? fuck it you've already won! Each and every one of you bad baaaastards do mad shit with it, mind blowing, face meltingly fuck off insane shit. It is indeed an honour to get hideously drunk with ALL you freaks of nature; if I wasn't otherwise taking photos and laughing my arse off at how stupid you look (trust me, it's the only way I keep an even playing field). Still that being said? and feel free to argue this point as much as you want; because yes Daniel Cava you DO cut sick in those solos (even when there ISN'T an actual solo and you're just showing off) and don't get me started on Josh and Mathias (or Mathias' Marshall amp) or all three dudes from Ride Into The Sun (that one time when they joined forces and my mind went missing for 45 minutes!? DUUUDE!!) but both Dave Williams and Nathaniel Morse from Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire! are freaking masters at this shit. They truly are! They make wickedarse buzzing, "guitary" noises, I dig that shit something fierce, it's even better when you're blind drunk and the mix is good, but yeaaah maybe you want something more substantial huh!? Well first off it's the sound they conjure: this interlocking apocalyptic chunk, like playing Tetris with real life mammoths substituted for coloured blocks, it's pure madness and it beats my brain black and blue shit grinning with glee anytime I hear it. Secondly it's the mad precision, the fuck off fidelity in listening to them pop and lock, dive bomb and interweave with eerie precision: like those same mammoths substituting for Tetris blocks are making the biggest patchwork quilt EVER in your mind, it's just rolled me up in it and now it's throwing me off a bridge. Thirdly it's simply hilarious watching them bob their heads like spastic pigeons, especially Dave, it never gets dull, so there's a visual component too! Yup In short I obviously don't know WHAT I'm talking about here, but at least I know what I like! So feel free to argue all you like.. but for me? Dave Williams and Nathaniel Morse were every reason I WISH I knew how to play guitar in 2010!
THE RYAN MANOLAKIS AWARD AIDAN MOYSE / HAWKS OF ALBA / THE BURNING SEA Now for those of you otherwise uninitiated? Ryan Manolakis is the drummer for Like Leaves: quite possibly the most spastically awesome psychedelic band you've never heard of, and yes you totally SHOULD have (I mean what am I here.. mute on this issue!?). And yes they're totally having their album launch at Jive on Friday January 14th and you should totally come along too (and wait, does me promoting that make my Spoz's Rant Awards any more hideously biased here? HA HA HA who fucking cares!). And as well as Like Leaves? he's the drummer for Curses (they just played their first show last weekend, and here's a live video) and in his own humble "unassuming" way he's also been the drummer for Mr Wednesday, BrotherSister, Bing Goes To Monaco, Cookie Baker and possibly about a billion other fuckarse obscure (but no less stupidly a-grade) Adelaide acts that I've long since forgotten about. In short he's fucking everywhere, he's verily the beast incarnate, and yes this award category is totally named after him: not only because he's five fuck off kinds of ridiculously awesome behind a drumkit and year after year he's pretty much won this category by default.. but also because we must put a stop to this insanity ONCE AND FOR ALL and only by the inherent irony of naming this shit AFTER HIM will we ever achieve this goal. "DIE MANOLAKIS, YOU OMNIPRESENT SCUM!! DIE!! (oh and hi if you're tuning in!). And despite the fact that yes he HAS been nominated once again this year? and pretty much again by default (well shit duuude how could he not!?) in 2010? he may very well have met his match in Aidan Moyse from Hawks Of Alba, as much as he's also faced stiff competition in the murderous intensity of James Thomas from Ride Into The Sun and in the angular "slice and dice" of Sam Stearne from Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire! (and anyone who's ever seen either of them in action this year would sure as shit know it too!). Yup to put it mildly Aidan Moyse is a total freak of nature, A TOTAL FREAK OF NATURE!! possibly even a proverbial "Ivan Drago" to Ryan's "Rocky Balboa" (if it weren't for the fact they're both annoyingly polite, upstanding individuals and no amount of me screaming "fight! fight! fight!" and flicking a light switch is ever going to incite a stoush between them). And why do you ask SHOULD we give him the prize over Ryan Manolakis this year? Well for one he tunes his drums. I mean suuure everyone tunes their drums riiight? but duuude he really REALLY tunes his drums like he has some kinda obsessive compulsive mental disorder in making them run like Swiss clockwork precision (in fact I could've sworn I saw him whip out a tuning fork once just to be sure) and believe me, you've rarely EVER heard a drumkit sound as good as his for doing it too: it makes grown men weep I swear! Then there's the fact he likes to count in all his songs like a classical conductor. Like he's a drill instructor, a precision task master, a master surgeon, sergeant general at arms bordering on a mad scientist with a maniacal cackle to boot. But the real icing on the cake is watching him play drums AND glockenspiel at the same time. AT THE SAME TIME!! Duuude I seriously didn't think that shit was even possible, but Aidan Moyse does it everytime he plays with Hawks Of Alba and he barely breaks a sweat! (I think he's possibly a robot). So as much as Ryan Manolakis may continue to walk the earth, or more accurately skuttle like a mad crap whilst carrying his drumkit from venue to venue playing everything but the proverbial kitchen sink in every other live band in Adelaide.. he is not alone in greatness, there ARE others rising in the ranks here, and until he kills them all in single handed combat I'll damn near celebrate them all! So take a bow Aidan Moyse, this year you did us all proud! And in 2011? it's anyone's game now!