Monthly Archives: May 2015

Review: HEADS. – S/T

This self-titled debut EP from Heads.—a trio of two Germans and an Australian based in Berlin—unloads about a half-hour of absolutely dead-on perfect noise rock. Expect winding, slithering bass, bass, and more bass; a dash of skronk; a bit of lightly grating texture; and loads of dark, ominous intrigue.

A Mural is Worth a Thousand Words” kicks it off with a hypnotically repetitious rhythm of slightly dirty bass and simple percussion alongside guitar feedback leading into bendy, back-and-forth riffing and half-spoken vocals that occasionally teeter towards more of a yell.

A similar approach follows in “Chewing on Kittens,” with a half-sung drone to the vocals; while the guitars experiment with different tones and get slightly more melodic at times. Still very bass-heavy, though, and I’m all about it. In “Skrew,” the instrumentation unites around the same surging riff before the guitars spread out into sparse melodies contrasted by the harshest vocals thus far, mixed deep in against the music so as not to overpower. The longest track at six minutes, “Black River” is also the sparsest—bringing in some bright arpeggiated runs and a return to the monotone half-singing. With tons of breathing room, the bulk of the track is fairly passive and quiet, prior to an uptick in hammering bass and a loose, rugged guitar solo towards the end.

Foam” centers around a badass bass riff and sort of a noodling guitar style that tosses in bits and pieces off to the side—joining in fully during the chorus. It’s one of my favorites: I don’t know what it is, but it’s weirdly hooky, somehow. Very cool. Again stripped down and sparse, closer “The Voynich Manuscript” delves into oppressively thick bass and a jazzy swing to the faint percussion, with distant swells of feedback/guitar noise. That being said, around the 2:20 mark all of the band’s influences come together perfectly and explode into one of the most in your face and aggressive surges—another powerful moment that immediately stands out as peculiarly “catchy.” Just excellent.

The band recorded 13 tracks live in three days (shaved down to six for the EP) and it sounds fuckin’ great. Warm and natural, everything breathes but feels full and all-encompassing; it’s crisp, hard-hitting, just perfect… they totally nailed it. They really make use of the fact that they’re a trio, too. It sounds like they mixed the bass a little farther to the left and the guitars a little farther to the right, which really highlights the exceptionally bass-centric nature of the compositions, and totally rules!

There was a stream that ran right through my father’s land, but when I go back it won’t be there anymore. Cold, and dark, and black river runs through children’s hands. Fragile memories that won’t be there anymore. Black river. Black river won’t be there anymore. I recall a broken man reaching for my father’s hand, fighting to remember what won’t be there anymore. Cold, and dark, and black river runs through children’s hands. Fragile memories that won’t be there anymore. Black river. Black river won’t be there anymore.

If they recorded 13 tunes, I can’t wait to hear the rest, so I hope the remaining seven are on the way. Despite my limited knowledge of this style, it always gets me when done right, and I would imagine that diehard followers of this niche should really lose their minds over Heads., ’cause this shit is top-shelf material.

Review: Mark with the Sea – When the Blood Runs Dry

Ballarat’s Mark with the Sea excel at the type of Australiana that Paul Kelly, Crowded House and The Gin Club churn out in their sleep. Songs are filled with plenty of space for deliberation, with it all rooted in a specific time and place that could only be the best friggin’ country in the world. Opener Bows & Arrows is an immediate classic with a tight, moody grip and menacing guitars suggesting a threat just below the surface. Type Bows & Arrows into YouTube if you’re tickled by the idea of a grown man dancing senselessly in his jocks and I’ll wait here. Adding members and filling the sound out more since 13 Years (2013) suits them well, as the group are at their best when they use the whole band and deviate towards the sinister, as the aforementioned Bows, Kind of Girl and Who Will Watch Over You will attest. At the other end of the spectrum, I’ll Be the Artist and Go to Sleep have a calming and sweet veneer. They could be lullabies, if your kids aren’t old enough to clock the existential dread contained within. LaLoveLosLost is another potential single; both an upbeat and unsettling excursion that concludes in Los Angeles, with the listener not certain if this is he idyllic place of palm trees and sunshine or the unseen and dark side of the American Dream described in Nick Toshes’ Dean Martin biography Dino. Great care has been put into this album, and like all your favourite stuff, it sounds way better on headphones.

Review: HEADS. – s/t

Heads are a relatively new band receiving quite a lot of attention recently for their self-titled debut LP, due out in Australia this Friday from newly formed and equally well-hyped Ballarat indie label Heart of The Rat. A collaboration between former Melbourne musician Ed Fraser and two friends from his new home in Berlin, Heads play heavy, noisy, and identifiably Australian music that should be enjoyed by fans of sludge-infused Australian noise rock like Zeahorse or Narrow Lands. It’s no surprise that Heads are touring with Metz. The two bands seem to making a similar sort of sound: passionate, heavy guitar rock influenced by post-hardcore and noise. But is it interesting enough to justify the hype?

First track, A Mural Is Worth a Thousand Words, sets the tone for the rest of the album, with a heavy, layered guitar sound similar in violence and intensity to the latest release from Metz. But while Metz are all about the power and the speed, Heads run at a comparatively languid pace, allowing you to pay close attention to the intricate compositions they’ve used to create their sound. They’re also a lot more fun than Metz, showing something of the self-aware Australian sense of humour that made Narrow Lands’ Popular Music That Will Live On Forever so novel and appealing back in 2013. From the bong rip breakdown in the first track, to the title of track two, Chewing on Kittens, you get the sense that Heads are a band that doesn’t take themselves too seriously. That, and the undisguised accent to the vocals, lends the album a sense of personal authenticity. It gives a human touch to the otherwise flawlessly controlled sound of the album. They don’t just seem like a band who’d melt your face off at a concert, but one who’d be a lot of fun to drink with afterwards. It makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable.

It’s easy to be suspicious of releases like this one, that come from nowhere with a strong amount of promotional attention, but in this case, the hype is entirely justified. From the droning, evolving hardcore of Skrew, to the immersive psychedelic narrative of Black River, or the cataclysmic, discordant rumblings of Foam, it’s the perfect mixture of evocative song-writing and emotional intensity. If you’re into heavy music, or any of the artists I’ve mentioned, you will adore this album. Heads have created a stunning debut that should not be missed.

Review: HEADS. – s/t

One Australian that was fresh off the plane from Australia, with the sound of a former band disintegrating still ringing in his ears, vocalist and guitarist Ed Fraser set about finding new collaborators. One German, The Ocean‘s bass player Chris Breuer was seeking new creative outlets; and another German, Hamburg-based Peter Voigtmann, on drums. That’s why HEADS. was formed last year. Just a group of like-minded individuals, drawing inspiration from the same filthy pools.

Fast forward for today and we’re proud to bring to you the premiere of the self-titled debut album of this power-trio. Recorded by Jonathon Nido of Coilguns, and taking their cues from Steve Albini’s school of thought, the band recorded live, getting down 13 tracks in three days – including a guest appearance from Louis Jucker of Coilguns – which have been whittled down to 6, this debut is rock ‘n’ roll to the fuckin’ bone. An amazing display of a feature often forgotten: it’s freakin’ visceral. It spits in our face, without even thinking about apologizing, and in the end just thrills and excites. Welcome to the lovely filthy world of HEADS.