Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Terrible Signal – Half The Person

Melbourne’s Terrible Signal have shared their latest single, ‘Half The Person’. It’s the first to be recorded entirely by frontman Vincent Buchanan-Simpson.

It’s the fourth taste of their forthcoming second album, ‘The Window’, and their first track released this year. The breezy jangle leads with a particularly spiteful chorus lyric: “I really think there’s something wrong with you”.

“As far as spiteful lyrics go, the song has a sort of eloquence to it,” Buchanan-Simpson said.

“The talky bit in the middle is a piss-take: 17-year-old hipster reads his first Penguin Classic.”

‘The Window’ was recorded at a house in Aireys Inlet, Victoria and was finished at the Flightless Studio with Casey Hartnett, known for his work with Sweet Whirl and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. Mikey Young of Total Control mixed and mastered the album.

‘The Window’ will feature ‘Half The Person’, along with singles ‘Retire’, ‘Man If You Saw Me On The Street Today’ and ‘Look In The Water’. The album is set for release sometime in September on Heart of the Rat.

Review: Terrible Signal – Half The Person

Vincent Buchanan-Simpson (Hideous Sun Demon) has been busy lately putting the final pieces in place for The Window – the sophomore album made under the moniker Terrible Signal. A string of singles have slowly given audiences a grasp of the album’s sonic banquet, and ‘Half the Person’ is catchy as fuck addition to the track list. Direct and re-listenable, the song is an ode to the act of conscious uncoupling from bad people. ‘Half the Person’ finds Vincent recognising the abhorrent behaviour of unnamed friends and lovers – folks who abuse and belittle others without thought of consequence. You know – takers, never givers. The peppy garage-pop soundtrack belies the mounting frustration at play – Vincent can no longer excuse the abhorrent behaviours directed towards him and others, so he’s cleaning house and doing so with a restraint that perhaps these people don’t deserve. “I’m tired of living in this chamber / I’m tired of letting people like you in“. Puts it pretty plainly, I think. This might be a song a few of us need to hear.

Review: Terrible Signal – Half The Person

Perth’s Vincent Buchanan-Simpson is the mastermind behind the now Melbourne-based four-piece, Terrible Signal. Their refreshing brand of garage pop-rock is built on the purest of lyricism, jangly guitars and some exceptionally catchy hooks. There’s an authenticity that really draws you in, paired with hypnotic instrumentals that have the ability to transport you somewhere else. With that in mind, we’re very pleased to be premiering their captivating new single ‘Half The Person’.

Following on from 2017’s self-titled solo debut, this new track is the fourth and final single to be released from the band’s forthcoming sophomore album, The Window. Judging by all four current singles, the full-length is set to be a dynamic collection of tracks. Ranging from fierce energetic numbers, to what graces our ears today – a brutally honest observation of life delivered via the gentlest of garage rock. Buchanan-Simpson said of the track, “The song is about getting pushed to a point where you can’t excuse a person’s behaviour anymore. I know a lot of people who have had friendships or relationships where they get conditioned to being treated badly. But I didn’t want it to be a trash-talking song either. It’s harsh sounding but it does have a diplomatic eloquence about it.” Therapeutic sound in its most literal sense.

Recorded at Flightless Studio and mixed by Mikey Young this particular track was solely laid down by Vin himself. “I played everything on the recording, most of the instruments were done down at Aireys Inlet with Casey Hartnett. I’ve worked with him a bit now and really enjoy it. The vocals and a few other things were recorded at Flightless Studio by myself, thank you Lucas Harwood for teeing that up for me.” At just over two minutes in length, this song really packs a punch. A heartfelt hit of rock that’s bound to be stuck on repeat for the next little while.

Review: Skyscraper Stan – Golden Boy Vol I and II

Melbourne-based Kiwi songsmith Skyscraper Stan’s (Stan Woodhouse) folk-rock wordplay continues at the forefront of his second full-length release. 

‘Golden Boy Vol.I and Vol.II’ presents itself in the same vein as his 2015 release ‘Last Year’s Tune’, whereby Stan builds his sound on Americana, country and folk-rock rhythms, and riffs that move with the flow of his lyrical and melodic cadences.

The album’s instrumental arrangement combines slick rhyming schemes with polished production – tight drums, twangy guitars, thudding bass lines, and cool female backing harmonies. Combined with Stan’s imaginative storytelling it makes for a compelling listen. His deep drawl sits clear above the solid instrumentation and his words fall in structured pattern. His voice, pronouncing vowels with a Kiwi signature, at moments growls, at times wails and wavers, providing the captivating foundation for his stories.

The songs here document tales of outlaws, mythic figures, desperate places and times – often old-worldly and sometimes outlandish. The worlds of the album may simply be fictitious, or hyper-real reflections of his own experiences, but they are used to infuse moments of knowing wisdom.

Several listens may be required to glean the singer/songwriter’s intentions, but his explicit and selective detail forms distinct landscapes into which the listener is readily drawn, and carried away by.

Review: Skyscraper Stan – Golden Boy Vol I and II

Yes, Stan Woodhouse does literally stand tall, but he also has a towering musical presence on this second album after Last Year’s Tune about four years ago.

He’s a troubadour who explores characters on the periphery of society or those – as on the opener Dole Queues and Dunhill Blues where he reaches for the anxiety of the young David Byrne, bewildered and angry about the world he is given – desperately clinging on.

The Melbourne-based Kiwi isn’t just a distant observer however and on Tarcutta Shade – a very Australian theme of small town lives – has an empathy for those out there where it is dry and so oppressively hot that anything as bold as getting out requires too much effort. But there is latent menace here too.

Then it gets very dark in places during the second half (Vol II?).

In the troubled On the Corner about a damaged man drawn back into a bad relationship he sings: “I’ve been watching headlines flash across my TV screen
And I’ve been listening to the neighbours saying things that neither of them really mean . . . that’s got me walking around in circles blind . . . ’cause you know I take every word to heart. Yeah I keep my temper but I’m keeping score, tonight I’m dreaming of a brand new start but tomorrow I’ll be right back on your corner, just like all these other men . . .”

This is where the therapy sessions need to start.

With twanging country-rock guitar, rail-clack rhythms and his voice somewhere along the Nick Cave (in country-pop mode) and a less aggressive Tex Perkins.

There are ballads here: the nihilistic alcohol and drug rumination of Dancing on My Own Grave, the almost-Elvis sound of Child.

There was an old poem which said word to the effect that if you want to drive someone insane just abandon them in the middle of the 20thcentury.

Many of Stan’s characters are now located in the even more crazy and terrifying 21stcentury where they don’t want to see another front page photo of old white men shaking hands (Flag of Progress) or have someone who isn’t family come around (the brittle countrified power-pop of Doorbell, a metaphor about political isolationism in these days of desperate migrants) in this age of uncertainty.

The title of the final track is a quietly film-noir/short story entitled . . . Man Misunderstood.

With an excellent band on hand, this is an album where the songs are snapshots in fading black’n’white with rings of a booze glass or the edges burned by a stray joint.

Review: Skyscraper Stan – Golden Boy Vol I and II

This album was somewhat of a surprise. I truly did not know what to expect, but what I got was a brilliant album full of some dark stories about everyday people and life. Golden Boy is Skyscraper Stan’s second full-length album and he might have set the bar pretty high with this one. Golden Boy consists of ten tracks, broken into two groups of five, thus forming Volume I and Volume II. Both volumes are essential and together they form a near perfect album.

Try to imagine Stan Ridgeway, Daniel Romano, Nick Cave and Otis Redding working together in a band. The sound they would make would probably sound close to this album.  Stan has assembled an album full of so many different sounds, it is like listening to a very good compilation album of various artists. But the songs all fit together like a puzzle, just not a puzzle you would want your kids to put together. “They’ve boarded up the strip club just to teach us to behave/Now I see lawyers and auctioneers, doing what they do,” he sings in “Flag Of Progress”, lyrics that Alex Cameron would love to have written.

This is an intelligent album with great musicianship. Skyscraper Stan invites you into his world through his stories and, God help you, you want to stay and hear more and more. The main complaint with the album is that it should have been longer.

Backed by the brilliant Commission Flats, Stan sings about the world today, so it is not all pretty. The music suits the lyrics perfectly and the album is extremely well produced. Listen to the violin in the last track, “A Man Misunderstood”, and how it is used to accentuate certain lines of the song. It is those moments that send chills down your back.

There is a lot of fantastic music coming out of Australia these days. While influenced by the sounds of other countries and genres, a lot of music coming out Australia is really its own style. This can be said for Golden Boy: Vol I and Vol II. Sure you will hear influences (I swear the opening track “Dole Queues and Dunhill Blues” sounds like a long lost rockabilly/country song from Talking Heads) but Stan takes all of those influences and meshes them into his own sound.

Review: Skyscraper Stan – Golden Boy Vol I and II

As with many left-of-centre Australasian roots rockers (think Wagons, CW Stoneking, Graveyard Train), my introduction to Skyscraper Stan was at a festival gig. With touring band The Commission Flats, the towering baritone drew fans-in-waiting like moths to a flickering porch light.

His second studio album sees the poetic narrator visit a fractured society from the fringes. His vocals stride variously, befitting the light or shade of the contrasting ‘volumes’. From a twitchy David Byrne on the cautionary tale ‘Dole Queues and Dunhill Blues’ to a modern-day Burl Ives by journey’s end on ‘A Man Misunderstood’.

In between are rolling cowboy rhythms and soaring romantic epics. Big picture outrage drifts into plain talking self-examination. An unapologetic Stan whistles while ‘Dancing On My Own Grave’. Unrepentant Stan is ‘Talking About The Weather (While the House Burns Down)’; He’s ‘the drunk in the house of good taste/…the tourist in the sacred place’.

Alongside the singer-guitarist are Oskar Herbig (guitar), Martin Schilov (bass), Christopher Windley and Dan McKay (drums), Monique Kerr and Briega Young (vocals), Bruce Haymes (keys), Ed Bates (pedal steel) and Gareth Skinner (cello, piano). Engineer/producer Richard Stolz (Paul Kelly, HUSKY) sculpts a mighty soundscape of lonesome highways and hotel rooms.

4/5
Independent
Reviewed by Chris Lambie

Review: Skyscraper Stan – Golden Boy Vol I and II

Once a humble floor scrubber, Stan Woodhouse, AKA Skyscraper Stan, was “discovered” by his boss singing to himself while wielding a mop in a bar. Now Melbourne based, Woodhouse crisscrosses the country, a lone troubadour providing culture in rural towns. Golden Boy, created with a full band, is his second studio album, capturing tunes from his 2016 live LP.

Standout track Dole Queues and Dunhill Blues starts with a film noir vision of life on the edge, emphasised by its syncopated rhythm, with music that winks and leers at you. The vocal tones have a slightly hysterical edge and the songwriting is tops, with phrases like, ‘Life spent living with fast women in the slow lane’. The gritty portrait is alternately funny and tragic.

Flag of Progress, a serious commentary on how development often means transferring resources from the many to the rich few, has a country lilt. Little pearls like ‘Your lounge room has more leather than a motorcycle gang,’ abound.

There is even more of a country lope to Doorbell (a real foot-tapper), while Tarcutta Shade paints a picture of a stifling hot day in a stifling town, with a closing requiem from a wailing guitar.

The artificial split of the record into two volumes occurs at On Your Corner, where Woodhouse moves from observant cynicism to more personal themes.

Talking About the Weather carries a joyous upbeat vibe, underscored by soaring backing vocals and Hammond keys. Woodhouse is self-deprecating, yet marvelling that he is loved.

This album is like an alt-country ute with a rock ‘n’ roll sump guard, driven by a larrikin with a cynical eye and a dry humour. Its authentic local flavour is as Aussie as marsupial roadkill.

4 stars!!

https://bmamag.com/2019/05/18/album-review-skyscraper-stan-golden-boy-vol-i-and-vol-ii-independent

Review: HEADS. – Collider

Noisy rock music is often met with loathing by people who consider it not listener-friendly enough or with disdain from people who consider it to be inferior to jazz or classical music. However, what most people often call “noise” or just “plain trash” is actually the hardest to produce well in a studio setting. When it comes to transmitting riffs and grooves, it’s hard to make such high levels of distortion sound right, yet it is even harder to produce an album that on top of that has lasting power and that stands the test of time. Creating atmosphere that reaches beyond uncontrolled anger, and dissonance that surpasses hurt or recalcitrance, is an art that very few bands come to master throughout their existence. International heavy rock trio Heads. however have done just that with what is only their second full-length album, Collider. This angular rock opus is – without a doubt – a work of high art and a record for the ages.

Review: Freya Josephine Hollick – The Unceremonious Junking Of Me

Freya Josephine Hollick is an old-timey, country, folk singer/songwriter from the Victorian Goldfields.

She was born and raised in Ballarat, and although she has tried her hand at city living, Ballarat and rural Victoria are where she is most at home.

Freya has written and performed for many years in many different styles, though has always had her roots in folk music, coming to earlier 20th Century folk, blues and country music through a hunger for knowledge of how and from where modern music evolved.

Well versed in all kinds of music, Freya has followed a path back to a time that holds true to her voice, her songwriting and her story.

Freya’s voice has been described as haunting, as both powerful and fragile, it is truly a voice unlike any other, and one that is of another time.

We highly recommend listening to her stunning 2016 debut record The Unceremonious Junking of Me.