THE 4TH ANNUAL SPOZ'S RANT AWARDS / PART III
ADELAIDE MUSIC SCENE / January - December 2011 /
And now for the final chapter. Part III of
The 4th Annual Spoz's Rant Awards:
the epic conclusion, the business end, the shit that REALLY matters...where it all gets deadly "serious" and decisive and down to the wire and perhaps
you'll even shed a tear over the sublime beauty of it all
because I truly did leave the best till last; HELLS YEAH I DID!!...or perhaps not *ahem* but it does begin with an apology of sorts;
and one that's perhaps long overdue.
And not just for the awards themselves: YES they're a joke, yes I'm well aware of that fact (
especially a good portion of Part II
) that's kinda the point. "Best-of awards" are by their very nature inherently idiotic, self indulgent, stupidly biased and in the end laughingly inconsequential (
to anyone outside of the Adelaide scene
). No it's more for my jokey demeanor in general. How I'll take the absolute piss out of pretty much everything on this blog (
HAHAHA and how!
), and maybe you've misconstrued it as me
possessing a mean streak bordering on misanthropic;
or worse that I simply don't care; and for THAT I apologise. I'm so very sorry! I seek only to misbehave, to cause mischief NOT malice! it's one of the main reasons I got involved in this nonsense in the first place! I mean isn't the whole point in starting a band or being a rock & roll journalist writing about it,
to AVOID taking your life seriously?
to avoid responsibility? to extend one's "adolescence" well beyond the point it gets all "Mick Jagger/Hunter S" ridiculous!? I mean
if you're not laughing at the inherent comedy of it all,
then the joke's on you! and I'm DEAD serious maaan...I'm doing you all a favour: LAUGH YOU IDIOTS, LAUGH!! (
you'll feel better for it!
). Just as some of you might confuse these "jokes" for me not giving a shit...I DO! I just have a silly way of showing it. You're my chosen family
each and every one of you freaks!
I mean...why else would I devote
all this time and energy making FUN of you!?
You're not just names and numbers in a running tally each year "245 covered in 2011!? yipeee!". You're not just downloads on an ipod, facebook event invites
or emailed press releases
that I rarely if ever read. You're fellow artists and musicians, people that I collaborate with...you keep me INSPIRED maaan!
You're everything music SHOULD BE in a rich humanity,
and not a Pitchfork 8.0 and a circle jerk of tumblrs. And so with that in mind and in the finest (read: cheesiest)
of Hollywood "dead actor" traditions?
lemme just give a moment's tribute for all you live bands that meant so much to me in 2011...that alas,
for whatever reasons,
are no more. Ones that
in all my raging sarcasm, in all my "jokes",
I never quite told just how I felt (damnit!). So long you magnificent bastards, I'll miss you more than you'll ever know!
*Sniff* WHY DAMMIT, WHHHY!? Yup...best be warned: shit's gonna get real emotional in this one!
DEMO OF THE YEAR: THE HONEY PIES "THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND"
Or at least it WILL with the possible exception of this award..."demo of the year, WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT!?". Because yup, I'll be the first to admit that its intrinsic value might be lost on a great many of you people.
Or worse it'll make me sound retardingly "hipster"
in presenting an award and showering countless accolades on what amounts to little more than a "bedroom recording" or an after hours studio "brain-fart" (
although perhaps not so much in Ride Into The Sun's
case: that was a full studio album they logged some serious hours on THEN shelved...hmmm) which unless you happen to work for community/student radio, street press, book for a venue, or run a music blog? (
) wouldn't have ready access to
or possibly even have the slightest inclination in ever wanting.
So why am I dishing out this award anyways? "HAHAHA BECAUSE YOU'RE A TOTAL SHIT MAGNET FOR THE ADELAIDE SCENE!?"
yeah well *ahem* that goes without saying
(to be honest I just need people to get drunk with; I get lonely!) but more because in celebrating all these rare and largely unreleased "demos"? I'm giving you a teeny tiny insight into what might be worth "celebrating" in the near future. Or...as happens all too often in the Adelaide scene when it turns out a band HAS no future? (ie:
) "guh dammit! WHY LUMONICS, WHY!?": they're all we'll have left to remember 'em by (
what? after all these years I still haven't gotten over that crap!? FAAARK!!
). But also because, thanks to their scruffy
"diamond in the rough" charms,
they still shine through as being all kinds of skull fuckingly dope; which is pretty much why all THESE nominees were worth celebrating to begin with. Take away all the "studio spit and polish" and you're still left with exceptional songwriting;
and also why The Honey Pies score the award
because they've well and truly nailed the SHIT out of writing one. Now admittedly it's not their first demo...it's their third
after their "xmas demo" (don't ask),
just as they also have this habit of releasing one between each album (this one was made available as "bonus material" when you pre-ordered their
second album "Carpe Carp"
as part of their
"Pozible" studio fundraiser back in September
) but the particulars don't really matter...nor the fact that this is the first time they've thrown a piano into the mix (
I've heard it's a hint of what's to come for their third album...in 2012?
) it's more for the songs themselves. There's only four to choose from here, but each and every one is gold-spun genius. From the instantly catchy upbeat melancholy of "Drinking Alone", to the heartbroken Thom Yorke meets muted John Lennon styling of "Falling For You" and "Poor Michele" (working very much as bookends to each other) to the jaunty ukulele of "You Were Wearing Red" in closing, you'd be hard pressed to forget ANY of these songs in a hurry. Shit, even after extensive psychotherapy you'll still be singing the words to the first with a drunken stupor to match (and I should know, I've been guilty of that at least once meself...). So deceptively simple, direct, yet emotionally complex? it's everything a demo should be
in giving that teeny tantalising glimpse of what's to come.
So much so in fact? I'm probably just annoying you in talking about it if you don't already own a copy; because
good luck finding it online
(and HAHAHA how brilliantly crap is that cover art!) or yeaaah hmmm fuck it...perhaps bribe one of the band members a beer some time and they'll fix you up with one? or better yet, bribe them TWO...you'll thank me afterwards!
NOMINEES: CESARE "BLACK THE PANES" GOLD BLOOM "GOLD BLOOM" RIDE INTO THE SUN "RIDE INTO THE SUN" SINGLE OF THE YEAR: STEERING BY STARS "COLLISION/INK"
Now...I'm well aware
what many of us would consider a "single" nowadays;
especially in regards to anything approaching a "Top 40" or a top tier in a Triple J's "Hottest 100 of Aussie hiphop, dubstep
and former Australian Idol contestants"
is more an act of cold calculating commerce: a crass exercise in Pavlovian social conditioning (through maddenning repetition) via mass marketing youtube viral campaigns (selling ipads, tampons or Volvos) than anything we once mistook for
"music" or "art" or "culture" or "genuine heartfelt human expression"
...or at least save for the occassional "glitch in the Matrix" that propells an awkward break-up ditty cribbing
"Baa, Baa, Black Sheep"
into instant ubiquity (or perhaps it was more a near nude Kimbra in the music video?
HAHAHA nooo, it was SHEER DUMB LUCK!
). I mean there's nothing new to this shit; I'm clearly not shocking anyone in saying it...pfft it's been that way for decades!
It's what our fast food, Micky Ds, mass produced "music" industry is verily founded on!
It's our MTV without the "M" and the TV part's just advertising now! (or worse
it's a fifth season of Jersey Shore
...EGADS!!). In fact I even bought and read a book about it once "The Manual: How To Have A Number One The Easy Way" written by
KLF back in 1988:
that details in the most sly, satirical, step-by-step and cynical of ways how to get a number one hit single in the UK charts "...no previous musical experience necessary" (
and yes I totally recommend you go read it, it's freaking hilarious!
). My point being? me attempting to judge "single of the year" here by any "objective means"? ie: by picking a winning combination of hooks, riffs and choruses all crunched into a radio friendly sound bite, a youtube ticking over six figures,
and accompanying Kingsmill kudos;
is only gonna lead down a very dark path. Nope, as much as the Adelaide scene
is increasingly coming up with some quality tuneage?
I mean all you nominees have truly outdone yourselves in 2011 (
Sincerely, Grizzly's "21" single for one
sure as shit hit ME like a sledgehammer first time I heard it back in April). I'd rather follow my "instincts" instead, my gut-feeling and if it weren't for this
one double A-side by Steering By Stars?
(and dont you just love that bands are releasing more "double A-sides" now?
HAHAHA DOUBLE THE AWESOME!!
) I swear I wouldn't have survived last winter. Or in other words, release YOUR next widescreen cinematic "ode to woe" in July or August?
and chances are you'll win this shit by default.
HAHAHA okaaay, there's obviously more to it than that...but that was pretty much it. It WAS the dead of winter, grey skies end on end, I hadn't seen sunlight in days, dead broke with no sign of improving; I was horrifically sleep deprived, head was a plague of locusts eating me from inside out with harrowing self doubt; I mean I think the short hand for this shit?
was "Seasonal Affective Disorder"
or "sadsack bastard syndrome"...only when I'm surrounded by temperamental artists and musicians 24/7 and all their mood cycles have aligned
like some giant non gender specific "menstral magnet" pointing to hell?
there's no escaping it; at least not until "Collision/Ink"arrived in my email inbox. I added it to my ipod, donned earphones and no shit...
it freaking saved my sanity!
Yup, not only did the first single "Collision" perfectly encapsulate my emotional shit-bricking at the time: like my "cabin fever" had been reinterpretted
as a B&W movie as directed by Darren Aronofsky?
But it was driven to such an intense and ludicrous extreme I was instantly relieved by it; realising no matter how horrid MY shit was? it was nowhere near as hilariously fucked up epic as what must've been
swimming around in Lachlan's head and those of his fellow bandmates
to inspire it. Like equal parts shrieking catharsis and claustrophia all rolled into one? and then when second single "Ink" hits...
it's like all the above dissipating like steam out of a kettle!?
BRILLIANT! I mean it may not be to everyone's tastes and let's face it: that music video with the monster taking turns to drown them all is completely fucking ridiculous (
see Adrian run, comedy gold!
) but it still kills it for me all the same. Single of the year!
NOMINEES: LADY STRANGELOVE "SWEET EXCHANGE" SINCERELY, GRIZZLY "21/SNAKES & LADDERS" SURVIVING SHARKS "BLEED & SEE/SEVER" HONOURABLE MENTIONS: THE AMCATS / MESSRS EP OF THE YEAR: RIDE INTO THE SUN "GOODBYE HIPSTER, HELLO REALITY"
Aaaah...now if there's one thing that the Adelaide scene
how to rock the a-grade exploding spasgasmical shit out of?
it's the humble EP.
The "Extended Play", the whatever-the-fuck you wanna call it in a 5-8 track expression of artistic intent just DON'T call it a "mini-LP"
you sad sad baaastards!
I mean no offense to either Ghoul or Kins who put out some exceptionally fine mini-LPs in 2011; no really...
I loved the shit outta them! they're were just the right duration and everything!
it's just that yeaaah I find the name "mini-LP" instead of calling it an EP or LP like say...a normal person to be patently ridiculous;
or kinda like all those 450ml sized bottles of Coke we've got now.
What...? you seriously need MORE CHOICE between a 375ml can and a 600ml bottle!? YOU PRETENTIOUS WANKERS!! *ahem* anyhoo...EPs? totally our specialty! Even more so when you consider most of our Adelaide bands only survive just long enough
to release one or two of these "bad boys",
break up, redistribute members amongst OTHER bands that have also recently broken up, form new bands, and then repeat the process all over again:
usually once every eighteen months to three years.
So before too long you become an expert on the EP...because they're pretty much the only physical copies you'll ever own of anything (
I mean pfft...who buys anything other than local CDs anymore!?
), save for all those 7" vinyls you bought just for the download codes. And I should know, I got stacks of them! some I haven't even opened yet (ooops!). Seriously, they're piled so sky high
like hyper-precarious jewelcase "jenga" seismographs:
one teeny tiny hiccup of the richter, a backfiring burrito or a drunken 9AM Sunday stumble to the toilet? and they all go tumbling! it's why I don't own a cat!
which is why I believe I can speak with some authority on the matter.
And as much as I'd happily recommend all four of these nominees equally as a-grade exemplary examples of
and rather like our "Single Of The Year" before it: attempting to pick any ONE of them over the other by any objective criteria for EP Of The Year would only do my head in!? (since by all intents they're equally as good) if I were to go with a personal "gut reaction" instead? yup totally
Ride Into The Sun.
Granted they released two EPs this year:
back in February and a second
"Rats, Thieves & Liars"
back in July; which means by law of "Adelaide cliches" they're due to break up ANY minute now; which is why I picked their FIRST EP (
as much as their second isn't to be sneezed at either
) because they actually started recording this soon AFTER a "breakup": when half their band left
due to a "fashion" disagreement.
Okay that's perhaps trivialising matters...but it does explain the title (and an entire album that got shelved), as much as they weren't
the only EP that came from a "divorce"
this year (
dare I mention Mountbatten?
). But it's the raw emotion let loose on THIS: in the simmering rage and regret and a shitstorm in between (
oh it was a bitter breakup alright!
) that gives this EP that "edge". I mean the dust had barely settled when they came up with a lot of these songs...not least of which
their opening number "New Sunday"
(which was written literally the Sunday the day AFTER everything went all "pear-shaped": when their newly enlisted guitarist Todd Lawrie waltzed right into rehearsal, cooked up that mad opening riff on the spot
and then performed it live for the first time the following Saturday
*phew*); while subsequent songs "Detached", "Fool", "Save Yourself" and "Napoleon" deal with all the mad mood swings in between. I mean it's potent stuff, it's unwavering, a raw nerve plugged straight into a guitar amp,
recorded mostly live by Matt Hills
so you don't lose an ounce of its raging volatility (and yes it's no coincidence that he's responsible for half the EPs I nominate each year...
he knows his way around them!
) duuude I could go on about
the apocalyptic grandeur of this thing ad infinitum!
Yup, just as I know the band have long distanced themselves from it after they lost two more members (
both left for Melbourne) then
re-recorded "New Sunday"
with a new drummer. I KNOW!! Still...just for the story alone that surrounds this thing? (and if it helps, they are
in a MUCH happier place now!
) this is one "trainwreck transcendent" I can't help but marvel at again and again...EP of the year!
/ ISLE OF VISION ALBUM OF THE YEAR: LIKE LEAVES "LIKE LEAVES"
Okay, so by this point you're probably starting to pick up on the "pattern" or
underlying "theme" here.
And I don't mean all the incidental shit: like the fact that both single and EP of the year just so happen to sport
B&W cover designs
and deal with
LOOK WHO GOT JUST ALBUM OF THE YEAR?
OH WHOOOP-DI-DO YOU EMO FUCKING BAAASTARD!! (which I swear WASN'T me simply reacting to my awarding
both EP and album
"colourful cover art fuck full of upbeat indie pop"
LAST YEAR *cough* no, not at all! I mean c'mon "album of the year" here totally
has hints of yellow, indigo and magenta and everything
...CONSPIRACY FAIL!!). No it's more that I appear to be picking the "winners" according to base personal preferential, sometimes even cheesingly "sentimental" reasons...rather than being
strictly "impartial and empirical" about it
(ie: 9 out of 10 lab rats totally didn't explode like candy piñatas when exposed to Hawks Of Alba?
but THE TENTH ONE WENT LIKE A CHARM!!
). Oh believe me I know! and as I've somewhat implied already: it's been real difficult (to utterly counterproductive) to be impartial on singles and EPs this year. There's just been too much quality stuff coming out, it's like comparing "apples and oranges" and the only way I could pick just ONE for the prize? was to go the "gut feel"...I freely admit that! Although if it helps? I DID still nominate shit originally
by the strictest of deconstructive analysis
(hell, I'd even fashioned specialised rodent-sized earphones and individual ipod nanos for all the "focus groups") but to attempt the same thing with albums here? would be nigh on impossible. I mean hell just the act of NOMINATING these albums, limiting it to just the "best" four has been an absolute bitch! I thrashed the hell out of
The Honey Pies
for weeks and months at a time; I lived that shit! Collarbones'
was nothing but inspired!
and both albums by
Cheer Advisory Council?
were nothing short of masterstrokes in quality songwriting and production (
and occassionally songs about bicycles
) and they didn't even make the final cut! But you know what? FUCK THAT...buy them anyways! or at the very least
give them a token spin if they're on bandcamp
and you'll appreciate the nightmare I had to endure...or yeaaah perhaps not so much a "nightmare" (
fuck I love my job!
) but it was still a hard task! And as for the final four nominees? I consider 'em equals. EQUALS!! To say anything to the contrary? would be like splitting those proverbial hairs to the subatomic with a supercollider. No really! just YOU try and measure one as being superior to the other. Between
Coerce's "Prince Welfare"
Leader Cheetah's "Our Love"?
The Sea Like Leaves' "Mercy Sound"
you have my eternal thanks