ST. VINCENT POSTER INSIDE
AUSTRALIA'S FUNNIEST NEW COMEDY PODCAST
GEORGE CLINTON ALSO INSIDE:
KURT VILE AND COURTNEY BARNETT, JESSICA LEA MAYFIELD, RACKETT, TORRES, SCABZ AND MORE!
ALSO INSIDE: S H O N E N K N I FE , FO O FI G H T E R S , A L I B A R T E R , T WO S T E P S O N T H E WAT E R A N D M O R E!
in this issue what you’ll find inside…
“Kurt just emailed and was like, ‘I’ve got this song I think would maybe work for both of us to sing.”
In this Issue
Back To Business
Sh!tshow are Australia’s hottest new comedy podcast
19-22 Live snaps
Five artists using their platform for postive change
10-12 Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett’s new album is pretty much perfect
25-27 St. Vincent is falling in love 28
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Jessica Lea Mayfield
32-33 Album Reviews, The Defender
“It’s unfathomable that most people that provide feedback on the show say how great that it is.” (6-7)
Beck’s deepest cuts
Drawn Out, Out & About
36-38 Gig guide
the frontline With Nathan Jolly and Joseph Earp
ISSUE 724: Wednesday September 20, 2017
simply unacceptable and any passengers caught trying to mix between classes will be detained,” the organisers cheekily note. Tickets range from $189 to $75 (plus an extra $2.99 for the screening itself). The Titanic will set sail on Sunday January 28. What could possibly go wrong?
HIT THE HIGH NOTES
Tropical Fuck Storm
Alex Lahey photo Guilia Giannini McGauran
Tropical Fuck Storm photo Bleddyn Butcher
FUCK OFF Two weeks ago, we called Tropical Fuck Storm’s debut single ‘Chameleon Paint’ one of the songs of the fortnight, and announced, all hyperbole aside, that the song was “almost good enough to make you forget we’re a few weeks away from getting annihilated by a swollen orange fascist with his stumpy little fingers on the nuclear button.” Now the band, made up of members of Harmony, High Tension and The Drones, are taking their show on the road, hitting up The Lansdowne on Friday November 25 with the new, tweaked lineup of heavy metal/punk powerhouse Dispossessed heading along to support them. They’ll also take to the Gasometer in Melbourne on Friday December 1, where they’ll be joined by ole mates Suss Cunts, so if you feel like an interstate road trip, you could always head along there too. Trust us – you won’t regret it.
YOUR HEART WILL GO ON Beyond Cinema’s The Titanic Experience promises to be so immersive that you’ll probably be shocked when the ship doesn’t actually hit an iceberg. The five-hour cruise around Sydney Harbour features a screening of James Cameron’s legendary film, but that’s just to thematically tie everything together. There are three distinct class sections, canapes, dress-ups, dancing, copious drinking, and everything to make it feel like you’ve travelled back to 1912. “Please note we will not allow any mixing between the classes: this is thebrag.com
If a lack of vocal ability has so far hampered your chances to sing at the legendary Sydney Opera House, then you’ll wanna mark Sunday October 8 off on your Leunig calendar, as that’s the day the Opera House are throwing open their doors and inviting members of the public to take part in a massive singalong in the Concert Hall Northern Foyer. Best of all, there is no skill level required, and it’s free to come along. The show is called “Singing At The House” and runs for approximately 90 minutes (with no interval and no refreshments, so bring your own bottled water, as it can get quite hot when the sun shines through those big windows) and is suitable for all ages. Maybe not babies, though. Doors open at 9.45am in order for the singing to start at 10am. Also, from the organisers: “There are no dress requirements – we suggest you wear something comfortable and casual clothes are fine. Due to space restrictions, only those registered to sing will be able to enter the venue; unfortunately we cannot accommodate spectators.”
YOU’RE TEARING ME APART, SYDNEY Two of Cronulla’s most vibrant music and art spaces, Space 44 and El Sol, will be torn down to make way for more stores and more apartments. As the Sutherland Shire wrote: “Replacing them will be the construction of a six-storey mixed commercial and residential development including four commercial stores on the ground floor, 18 residential apartments above, a rooftop communal area and 34 basement parking spaces to accommodate with access via the rear on Wilbar Lane.” That’s a relief. Also dubious is the note regarding an “iconic Morton Bay Fig Tree” which sits/lives/grew near the development. According to an arborist’s report: “less than 10 per cent [of the tree] will need to be removed.” I’m not sure removing “iconic” trees by percentages is a good idea. Musician Ruby Fields shared her disappointment her FB page, writing, “I met everyone I know here and started my art/music in these very places. It doesn’t stop,” adding a sarcastic, “Cheers council! My mates and I are gutted.”
ART DIRECTOR: Sarah Bryant PHOTOGRAPHER: Ashley Mar COVER PHOTO: Susie George COVER ILLUSTRATION: Jack Irvine POSTER PHOTO: Nedda Afsari ADVERTISING: Josh Burrows - 0411 025 674 firstname.lastname@example.org PUBLISHER: Seventh Street Media CEO, SEVENTH STREET MEDIA: Luke Girgis - luke.girgis@seventhstreet. media MANAGING EDITOR: Poppy Reid email@example.com THE GODFATHER: BnJ GIG GUIDE COORDINATOR: Kenneth Liong - firstname.lastname@example.org REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS: Arca Bayburt, Lars Brandle, Tanja Brinks Toubro, Alex Chetverikov, Max Jacobson, Emily Gibb, Emily Meller, Adam Norris, Holly Pereira, Daniel Prior, Natalie Rogers, Erin Rooney, Anna Rose, Spencer Scott, Natalie Salvo, Aaron Streatfeild, Augustus Welby, Zanda Wilson, David James Young Please send mail NOT ACCOUNTS direct to this NEW address Level 2, 9-13 Bibby St, Chiswick NSW 2046 EDITORIAL POLICY: The views and opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher, editors or staff of the BRAG.
SOUNDS TROPS You may recall that Tropfest, the biggest short film competition in the known universe almost collapsed due to financial mismanagement in late 2015, before CGU insurance stepped in to fund last year’s event. This year, Tropfest moved to Parramatta Park for the first time, with Tropfest founder and director John Polson now announcing the festival will stay in Parramatta for next February’s event. He also used the occasion yesterday to reveal that this year’s signature item is ‘rose’, which is open to any interpretation you can wring outta it. Polson is hoping for a wider range of entrants this year. “Australia is one of the most multicultural countries on Earth, which makes for some unique perspectives,” he said yesterday. “We are calling for diverse stories from filmmakers of all backgrounds to showcase in the heart of Parramatta, western Sydney — one of Australia’s most ethnically vibrant communities.” Submissions open on Sunday October 15 and close on Thursday January 11, with the event happening on Saturday February 24, at Parramatta Park.
PRINT & DIGITAL EDITOR: Joseph Earp email@example.com NEWS DIRECTOR: Nathan Jolly STAFF WRITER: Joseph Earp NEWS: Nathan Jolly, Tyler Jenke, Brandon John
THE WORLD IS GONNA ROLL HER Masters of the meme and potential Car Seat Headrest collaborators Smash Mouth are famous for a number of things – their unironically excellent 1999 hit ‘All Star’, that time they posted a weird Carrie Fisher tribute, and their all around mastery of the social media website Twitter. Last week, they used that platform to call out Australia’s own Alex Lahey, the singer-songwriter behind the excellent B-Grade University EP, for reasons that are still rather unspecified. “If you don’t know… @ AlexLahey” they wrote, which we are sure is Smash Mouth-speak for, “We loved your ‘Torn’ cover!”
ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE: Carrie Huang - firstname.lastname@example.org (02) 9713 9269 Level 2, 9-13 Bibby St, Chiswick NSW 2046 DEADLINES: Editorial: Friday 12pm (no extensions) Ad bookings: Friday 5pm (no extensions) Finished art: No later than 2pm Monday Ad cancellations: Friday 4pm Deadlines are strictly adhered to. Published by Seventh Street Media Pty Ltd All content copyrighted to Seventh Street Media 2017 DISTRIBUTION: Wanna get the BRAG? Email email@example.com PRINTED BY SPOTPRESS: spotpress.com.au 24 – 26 Lilian Fowler Place, Marrickville NSW 2204 follow us:
BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 3
Back To Business Music Industry News powered by The Industry Observer
SMART STYLES You can imagine the series of meetings, brainstorming sessions, let’s-just-run-itup-the-flagpole-ing, etc. that led to the
With Nathan Jolly, Poppy Reid and Lars Brandle
latest product from both Levi Strauss and Google: a ‘smart jacket’ made of denim that connects wirelessly to your phone and can allow you to play songs. It even has a maps function! The product is aimed at cyclists who, last time I checked, prefer bright, tight Lycra over denim apparel. After all, leather is not the easiest material to move in, let alone the material to use to take a call from your friend while cycling through an unknown city, using your jacket as a map.
It’s an interesting idea that could move out of the cycling niche to be implemented in general clothing. It makes sense as a functional, everyday
item, despite how much you might really wanna resist ‘smart clothing’ as the next technology/consumer wave. Google engineer Ivan Poupyrev writes, “It’s a jacket. Like any regular denim jacket, you can wash it (just remove the snap tag), it’s durable, designed to be comfortable for cycling and it’ll keep you warm on and off the bike.” As to how it’s operated, the jacket can “perform common digital tasks — like starting or stopping music, getting directions or reading incoming text messages — by simply swiping or tapping the jacket sleeve.” The smart jacket costs $350 and is available now.
DROP YOUR ANCHORS Anchor, the New York-based tech startup on a mission to make life easy for anyone who wants to record and share audio, has raised US$10 million in a Series A round of funding led by Google’s venture capital arm, GV. The latest cash injection should enable the company to upscale its bespoke platform which allows podcasters to easily build and distribute audio content from their mobile devices. Additional investors in the latest funding round include include Atlantic Records’ CEO Craig Kallman; Accel; Eniac Ventures; Betaworks; the Chernin Group; Homebrew; and author, entrepreneur, and podcaster Nir Eyal, bringing about $15 million to the total amount raised.
BOOZED UP The State Government is relaxing the draconian lockout laws slightly once again. From last weekend onwards, small bars in the CBD and Kings Cross were able to serve straight spirits after midnight, no longer necessitating the rude introduction of watered-down diet Pepsi into your evening as the clock chimes midnight. In licensing terms, a small bar is a venue that holds 100 people or less. Keep Sydney Open were the driving force behind this change – they celebrated on their Facebook, writing: “Good news! We met with the Minister in charge of Liquor and Gaming last month and raised the issue of unmixed drinks after midnight. Now, as of next week, small bars will no longer be required to destroy fine spirits with mixers! It’s a small step but a good one. It was a rule that highlighted how patronising Sydney’s laws are, particularly to overseas visitors.”
Chance The Rapper
TAKE A CHANCE The fifth highest-paid figure in hip-hop hasn’t sold a single record. Chance The Rapper has ranked in the top echelons of Forbes’ annual highest-paid hip hop artists list, placing fifth after taking in US$33 million in the past year. The three times Grammy winner is famously yet to ink a record label deal and has made all of his music available for free.
Speaking with Vanity Fair in February, Chance (real name Chancellor Johnathan Bennett) said: “I make
4 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17
money from touring and selling merchandise, and I honestly believe if you put effort into something and you execute properly, you don’t necessarily have to go through the traditional ways.” Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs topped the list with US$130 million, Drake placed second with US$94 million, followed by Jay-Z (US$42m), and Dr. Dre (US$34.5m). It should be noted that all the top earners used hip hop as a stepping stone toward their respective successful business ventures. In fact, Diddy hasn’t released any new music in the past year. He did however, sell a portion of his Sean Jean clothing company for US$70 million. And while Drake is currently on his Boy Meets World Tour supporting his two releases Views and More Life, his partnerships with tech giants Apple and Sprint, plus an endorsement deal with Nike,
have kept the cash fl owing in during his off season. Elsewhere, Jay-Z of course owns streaming competitor TIDAL: Jay sold a 33 per cent stake of the company to Sprint in January for a reported $200 million (according to Billboard), not to mention his stake in Roc Nation and the related branches, including a clothing line and a sports agency. And, aside from his various label interests, Dr. Dre is a senior executive at Apple Music after selling his Beats Music streaming platform to the company in 2012 for US$3.2 billion. Forbes calculated June 2016 to June 2017 earnings for the rappers based on data from Nielsen SoundScan, Pollstar, Songkick, Bandsintown and the RIAA, as well as interviews with inside sources and a handful of the artists themselves.
xxx Sydney city street photo by Brianna Elton
While he did give exclusive streaming rights to his globally revered record Colouring Book to Apple Music for two weeks – and took a cool $500,000 from the tech giant in the process – the album was made available for free on SoundCloud after the two-week exclusivity window. In any case, this cash injection falls outside the 12-month period detailed in Forbes’ list.
BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 5
SH!TSHOW PUTTING THE WORLD TO RIGHTS
Adam Norris talks to Gus and Rig of Sh!tshow, two comedians unafraid to cause trouble when necessary
ou’ve got to separate the wheat from the chaff. The men from the boys. The gravy from the spoon. The undies from the … oven? Whatever. The point is, there comes a time in every podcast’s life when it needs to stand on top of a mountain and decide what it’s going to be. Sh!tshow didn’t just come screaming into the world without purpose. Instead, hosts Gus and Rig knew exactly what kind of beast they wanted to harness, and with a name like that, they also knew exactly how to fi nd their audience (and who to avoid). “The whole thing’s defi nitely a juggling act,” Rig happily confesses. “You feel like a man with too many straws and too many spinning plates. It’s one of those deals where you just try to make the time to accommodate the podcast, but it’s something that we really do enjoy doing with one another. We enjoy each other’s company, and hanging shit on everyone who deserves it.” “Yeah, that’s pretty spot on,” Gus agrees. “To be honest, it is a serious strain on both of our romantic relationships to do the juggle. My wife is used to batshit crazy now though. Also, poor Rig has been sucker punched in agreeing to record in my basement, so I literally only have to take ten steps to record.” “Basement is a bit generous. More like a dungeon.” “You’re fucked mate, it’s great!” Gus laughs indignantly. “As I’ve said before, when you buy your recording equipment, then we’ll record wherever the fuck you like.” “As the French say, douche,” Rig concedes.
“It developed from there into a podcast when the Rio Olympics rolled around. I’d always wanted to do an Olympics-themed podcast, and we jumped in feet-first into the dead set fuck show that was the Rio Olympics. It was a podcast called Medallica: Minnows vs The World, which was flipping the Olympics on its head and only focusing on countries that had never won a medal. The Rio Olympics was an organisational clusterfuck, which meant a lot of good content came out of it, [like] a segment called ‘Apocalympics Now’. Triple j got wind of it, and all of a sudden we’re on Matt & Alex In The Morning, and it went onwards and upwards from there.” “Bearing in mind all of that, we also had no fucking idea what we were doing,” Gus adds. “It’s extremely clear to us that we’re those lucky bastards that seem to roll into a casino just after everyone’s lost their money and somehow put cash on the right roulette wheel. At the same time, my wife was very clear that ‘Poos In The News’ is the worst thing that I’ve ever done. It’s unfathomable that most people that provide feedback on the show say how great that it is. I don’t get it. It’s Rig’s legacy, it’s made me think less of him. It’s the shit that keeps on shitting.” ‘Poos In The News’ is but one (hehe) of several segments that comprise the show. There’s ‘One Star Reservoir’, ‘Trainwreck’... The secret to all of them, though, is that while the format is fixed (for now, at least), both hosts have no idea what the other is bringing to the show. Their respective research is a surprise, and while the whole show comes across as organic, there’s actually quite a lot of work that goes into carving out what shape it ultimately takes each episode. “When we did Medallica, it was learning by doing. It was the podcast equivalent of improv comedy, if the comedy wasn’t very good or improvised,” Rig laughs. “The hardest thing you can do in a podcast is have a segmented show that can keep you going until, essentially, infinity. We workshopped with family and friends, just to make sure. “As they say, true friends stab you in the front, so they’ll tell you when your shit does stink, and at the beginning they did not pull any punches. And you know, a lot of people don’t have the attention span to keep hanging on a story for half an hour. Even if you’re listening to Serial or something like that, there are breaks with music, and those annoying Squarespace ads. They have stuff to break it up. So we wanted a podcast that was digestible but had a common theme running through.” “People often say the podcast is really funny and that they’ll learn a couple of things, and that’s about what I want,” Gus says. “You want to be entertained, you want
“It’s extremely clear to us that we’re those lucky bastards that seem to roll into a casino just after everyone’s lost their money and somehow put cash on the right roulette wheel.” some water-cooler stuff, you want a story to take away, and you want a laugh. We’re not really conscious of how we do a lot of the stuff we do. There’s a lot of research that goes into it, because otherwise you’re just underprepared, but we rely a lot on the chemistry between the two of us. Neither of us has heard what the other will say. So there’s a huge amount that’s just left to the hosts, and that part is dangerous. There’ll eventually be a podcast where we’re both super off, and that’s probably when we’ll get canned.” “We looked at [Sh!tshow],” Gus continues, “and thought we had a pretty good bead on how our generation thinks; we kind of see how people have done things that haven’t worked, and that’s generally alienating certain groups. And we fi gured we’d probably alienate someone eventually, so we should get that done with at the start. “I mean, dude, the podcast is called Sh!tshow. It’s uncensored, it’s explicit, it has some low-brow elements but it is essentially a mix a current affairs and comedy and history. It appeals to that 20-to40 demographic who are the exact people who are consuming podcasts at the moment. In ten years we’re probably fucked, but we’ll sort that out then. We’re kind of riding the wave, and it’s a really fun thing to do.” “There’s defi nitely a bit of the chip on the old block there,” Rig muses. “’Chip on the block’ is not a saying, Rig.” They both burst into laughter. “It was very much a chip on the shoulder attitude of, we don’t care, we’re doing this for us,” Rig says. “As far as Sh!tshow goes, we can see that going in its current iteration. We made sure it had legs. But we’re also not ruling anything out.” ■ What: The newest episode of Sh!tshow, episode 18, just dropped. For more information, head to the Sh!tshow Facebook page.
“It’s unfathomable that most people that provide feedback on the show say how great that it is.” 6 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17
Sh1tshow photo by Susie George
For the uninitiated, Sh!tshow is a weekly podcast that kind of plays out like a combination talk show, history lesson, and improv comedy night. Though a fairly fresh addition to the podcast landscape, it’s already found itself scores of dedicated fans, and there’s every sign it will keep gaining momentum as the months wheel on. That’s not bad for a partnership that began as shitsand-giggles footy commentary.
“We both met playing at a fairly low level for Sydney Uni Aussie Rules Club,” Rig says. “We were mates, but the radio and podcast connection started because we were live commentating some of our home games. We would play in one of the lower grade matches in the morning, then set up a PA and commentate the rest live.
“We enjoy each other’s company, and hanging shit on everyone who deserves it.”
BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 7
Artists Using Their Platform For Positive Change
Vance Joy Like a lot of music lovers, Vance Joy is sick of ticket scalpers. As was widely reported by the music media, the ukulele-wielding popsmith (not to mention Taylor Swift favourite) has partnered up with ticket resale service Twickets to ensure that those who wish to purchase or sell tickets to his upcoming concerts don’t get ripped off, or, conversely manage to rip anyone else off. Such a move represents a much-needed approach to ticket sales in Australia; a breath of fresh air in a stale, broken system. Here’s hoping that Joy’s involvement in the service leads to most, if not all, musicians supporting a platform like Twickets, crushing those awful scalpers in the process.
The world might be going to shit, but as Tyler Jenke notes, some musicians are leading the charge against the darkness
here are times when the world can feel like a pretty awful and unforgiving place. Between the hateful plebiscite Australians currently find themselves mired in, the machinations of ole mate Kim Jong-Un, and the gradual resurgence of straight up fascism, you could be forgiven for wanting to turn off the news and spend the rest of your life in bed.
Thankfully though, there are plenty of artists out there doing their best to be part of a movement for positive change. A whole swathe of Aussie acts have become fed up with the constant barrage of negativity and fear in the world, and are doing everything in their power to promote some much needed goodness. We took a look at five such game-changers, mavericks whose contributions to nothing less than a moral revolution have not gone unnoticed.
“A whole swathe of Aussie acts have become fed up with the constant barrage of negativity and fear in the world, and are doing everything in their power to promote goodness.”
One of the most prevalent acts promoting positive change in Australia right now is Cub Sport, and the band’s support of the LGBTQI+ community in the midst of some very trying times have made them household names. The four piece started life as Cub Scouts back in 2010, but even a name change has not halted their unquenchable desire to make uplifting indie pop – and, arguably more importantly, to make incremental societal changes towards kindness. With Cub Sport’s Tim Nelson and Sam Netterfield announcing their engagement in July, the group have been increasingly vocal about their attitudes towards same-sex marriage and the current plebiscite in Australia. Just last month, they took to Facebook to condemn the “cruel” nature of the SSM plebiscite, calling it an “unnecessary and hazardous way forward”. Now, with their brand new album Bats in tow, the group are set to head out on tour at the start of 2018, bringing their message of hope, love, positivity, and equality to the people. 8 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17
Camp Cope Live music venues should be some of the safest places in the world. They should provide opportunities for music lovers to collect en masse and share their adoration with each other, and a packed theatre should always be a safe haven defined by kindness, and creativity, and care. But sadly, that’s not always the case, and the risk of being assaulted, attacked, or harmed in some way remains intertwined with the gig-going experience – particularly for those of us who happen to not be straight white males. And while such violence is not a new trend, the modern age we live in allows for these heinous acts to receive greater attention. In response to this, a group of artists – including Melbourne’s Camp Cope – have joined forces for the #ItTakesOne campaign, a social initiative designed to make everyone more safe at gigs. Camp Cope’s end goal is to see this behaviour stamped out completely, but the #ItTakesOne campaign’s first step is to ensure that environments exist in which such behaviour is not tolerated at all. With the rising popularity of the campaign, we’re coming ever-closer to the point where we will hopefully never have to hear about people being assaulted at gigs again. thebrag.com
Camp Cope photo by Matt Warrell
Briggs has made a name for himself in recent years as one of Australia’s most talented musicians. But he’s not resting on his laurels yet – using his position in the national spotlight, Briggs has been doing everything he can to not only promote Indigenous talent, but also to help stamp out racism in Australia. From pointing out why the Australian constitution is actually pretty racist, to calling out those who still inexplicably think blackface is an acceptable way to dress, Briggs has made his thoughts clear, while also doing a superb job of educating the ignorant while he’s at it.
Briggs Camp Cope
“Poor mental health is one of the most prevalent issues affecting Australians today.” Zoenmind Poor mental health is one of the most prevalent issues affecting Australians today. While plenty of public figures and musicians have done what they can to ensure people are cared for and that they don’t suffer in silence, there are others out there who are attempting to help in a relatively different way. Jon Reichardt has worked with some of the biggest names in the Aussie music industry, including Bliss N Eso, 360, and the Hilltop Hoods, but his newest project is taking him to brand new spheres. Zoenmind is Reichardt’s attempt at promoting mindfulness and aiding those who suffer from poor mental health through the means of music, and his new record Autumn Bells aims to bring positivity to those who need it. What: Cub Sport Where: Metro Theatre When: Saturday March 17, 2018 thebrag.com
BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 9
KURT AND COURTNEY The new collaborative record from Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett is one of a kind. Joseph Earp and Bianca Benjamin talked to them both
couple of years ago, Courtney Barnett fell in love. She was living in Northcote in Melbourne, just around the corner from Thornbury Records. A Sea Of Split Peas, her breakout double EP, was still a way off from release, and she was trying hard to make it as a musician. She’d spend her days writing songs, her evenings playing gigs, and any spare time she had at Thornbury, where she’d bug the attendants for album recommendations. One day, the person behind the counter suggested Kurt Vile’s Smoke Ring For My Halo. She hadn’t heard of it, or of Vile. “I’m not very clued into stuff,” Barnett says now, over the phone from Europe, where she is touring with her wife Jen Cloher. Her voice is rich and she’s quick to laugh, which she does now. “That’s why I need recommendations.” She took the album home, chucked in on, and then it just happened: she was smitten. “I loved it,” she says. “And I still love it. I think it’s one of the most beautifulsounding records that I have ever heard. And the songwriting is amazing. It was just this real discovery – it was something that I really, genuinely loved. “That doesn’t happen that often for me with music. I love music and I love watching shows, but when you really connect with something… It’s rare. And where I was at that point in my life – that meant the record went through an extra layer of importance.” Barnett can still listen to the record now and feel the same way. It is one of those oddly nostalgic albums for her – kind of like one of Proust’s madeleines; a trigger. She can put it on and be transported, wholly, back to that time in her life; can use it when her own memory fails her. “It is a strong connection I have to that record,” Barnett says. “I love it so much.” The pair wouldn’t actually meet in the flesh for a number of years – not until A Sea Of Split Peas was out, and Vile came Down Under to promote his record Wakin On A Pretty Daze. Barnett managed to get added to a show he played at The Abbotsford Convent at the last minute. “That was a big deal for me,” she says. “It was really cool. That was the first time I met him, but I don’t really remember it – we were packing up to go home, and they were going out on tour. home tour I think I gave him my CD that night.” She laughs. “It was such a nerdy 10 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17
“All the growing pains were so stressful at first – just like, trying to get professional. It was crazy.”
thing to do. But I’m glad I did, because I think that’s the first time he had listened to my music.” For his part, Vile says he knew of Barnett before she gave him the CD. “I had heard of her,” he says. “But I didn’t really know her stuff.” He listened to the CD when he got home, and quickly began to feel the same way about Barnett’s music as she did about his. “Her lyrics were so totally great, and real, and her voice was really pretty too. Her guitar playing was so great. She was a really great multi-instrumentalist too.” He laughs. “She just had this kind of glow about her, you know?”
ctober will see the release of the new album Barnett and Vile have made together. It’s called Lotta Sea Lice, and it sounds exactly as you’d imagine a collaboration between the pair to sound: effortless, full of warmth, big-hearted. Lead single ‘Over Everything’ has the two of them passing vocal duties back and forth like a baton, and their ease and grace with each other is so palpable you’d think they had been doing this for years. But the record came at a strange time for both of them. Vile’s career had unexpectedly transformed after the release of B’lieve I’m Goin Down…, and that album’s exceedingly popular single, ‘Pretty Pimpin’. B’lieve got a lot of critical praise, landing on a bevy of best albums of the year list – but a lot of Vile’s other records had been similarly adored, and it was more Vile’s newfound commercial heft that so quickly changed things. Suddenly he was, if not a household name, then a viable economic prospect; a radiofriendly unit shifter in his own right. It was weird. Vile didn’t much care for it. “All the growing pains were so stressful at first – just like, trying to get professional,” he says. “It was crazy. Like, the last couple of tours we did for that record, I was so tired and burnt out, and I didn’t want to go, but I did. Luckily, they ended up being the best shows that we ever did.” Post B’lieve, Vile found he couldn’t do his old routine: couldn’t stand there onstage with his long hair covering his face, and play a whole set without looking at his audience. “I used to be more like that; paranoid,” he says. “I’d never even look at the crowd too much. But I think the crowd could sense I was nervous and weird about it. So slowly I started looking up more.”
On the other side of the world, Barnett was similarly feeling scraped thin; was just as confused as to how she might best proceed. Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, her debut album, had changed things forever. Between its best new
“Kurt just emailed and was like, ‘I’ve got this song I think would maybe work for both of us to sing.’” thebrag.com
BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 11
“We never were like, ‘We have to get this many songs’ or anything like that. It just sort of happened.”
music rating on Pitchfork, and her televised appearances on everything from Ellen to Saturday Night Live, she had become a genuine cultural force. Americans were lapping up her songs about Vegemite, and deceased estates, and the slow death of the great barrier reef, and even by early 2016, the cries for a follow-up record were growing. It’s like they say – you have your whole life to write your first album, and a year to write your second. But Barnett didn’t want to rush anything. She decamped to the coast to play on Cloher’s excellent self-titled record, and she tried, as best as she was able, to lay low for a little bit. When the opportunity to tour with Cloher came up, she jumped on it. “I love playing with her,” Barnett says. “I think not being at the kind of front and centre of the stage definitely is a lot less stressful. It’s fun. I don’t know – I just love being the supportive guitar person when playing [Cloher’s] songs, because I love her songs. I just love standing and watching her play. It’s great.” Simultaneously, Barnett’s friendship with Vile blossomed. “Over time we discovered we had mutual friends, and we kept running into each other in festivals,” Barnett says. “We just kinda became really good friends.” But Barnett had no concrete plans for the two to collaborate. It wasn’t a creative relationship; it was a, y’know, normal, regular one. It wasn’t until she woke up one day to an email from Vile that she even entertained the option of the pair writing together. “Kurt just emailed and was like, ‘I’ve got this song I think would maybe work for both of us to sing,’” Barnett explains. “And then he was coming to Australia to do some touring, so we found a day off and booked a studio. It all just fell together.” Even then, the pair thought the collaboration would amount to, at best, one song, or maybe even just a tour. They did not want to ask anything of their nascent friendship – didn’t want to put any kind of weird pressures on it. And anyway, they’re not really the kind of people to put themselves in tight spots if they don’t have to. “The tour was kind of booked before anything else was even really thought of,” Vile says. “It was
12 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17
just the electricity of the moment – everything just kind of came together from that first point of contact. We never were like, ‘We have to get this many songs’ or anything like that. It just sort of happened.” “We never planned to write a whole album together,” Barnett agrees. “A second song just came along, and then we did a cover, and we were just having fun in the studio. And then we kinda just hung out and mucked around, and then we went off on tour again, both of us separately, and we had these three songs. We did pretty much a year of touring, and we kept seeing each other; bumping into each other and stuff. “But we still had no plans for an album. We just had these random songs that we made. And we kept talking about it; we were like, ‘Shall we do more songs?’ So we booked some more studio time. I had another song, and he had another song, and it just kept on happening.” Barnett laughs. “Then when we had ten songs, Kurt was like, ‘Well, that’s an album. Let’s just put it out.’”
ecause nobody knew Vile and Barnett were writing an album until they had actually written an album, there was no-one breathing down the pair’s necks. They had none of the pressure that they would have had if they were recording their own follow-ups to B’lieve and Sit And Think respectively; none of the paralysing sense of expectation. It was like they were working under names other than their own – like they had faked their own deaths and started afresh. “I think if we went in there to make an album, our mindset would have been different,” Barnett explains. “The mindset of everyone around us would have been different too – like our managers, and even the producer of the record. Because if it’s an album, everyone is like, ‘Ooh, this is a big deal, you know. We better do this really well because it’s an album.’ “That kinda freaks me out. ’Cause everyone reacts to that kind of pressure differently – and it would have been this weird pressure on me. What we
managed to do instead was just capture this really beautiful, totally spontaneous thing.” It would be unfair to suggest Lotta Sea Lice was simply a little bit of creative breathing room for both of its artists, or to imply that it is anything but a fully fledged, exceptional record in its own right. But at the same time, it did have a recuperative effect on Vile and Barnett. It reset them. They went into the process as a certain type of musician, and they came out changed. “Every process is different, which is kind of the fun of doing all these different musical projects,” Barnett says. “You learn something from each different performer. It’s not all the same kind of boring repetition. I think whoever you play with, something always rubs off on you, you know? I just think being around different people and having different experiences in general, it’s always going to kind of paint who you are a little bit each time.” Vile agrees. “I just stumbled upon something really cool with Courtney,” he says. “She’s just really enthusiastic. She loves music. Everyone I play with loves music, of course, but some are more cynical – and she’s not at all, so it’s really fun playing with her. “I think two equal people bringing different material to the table and helping each other where needed or just being inspired to work together – that makes you want to step it up. That kind of energy; you can’t predict it. You can’t force it. Something just happened.” Later this year, the pair will go on tour together, taking their newly formed supergroup The Sea Lice around the States with them. Cloher will open a number of the dates. Neither Barnett nor Vile really know what that experience will be like yet – Barnett has the suspicion it might be a little like a “variety show”, and Vile is looking for the opportunity to “share the spotlight with Courtney.” But no matter what happens, they will always have Sea Lice, that beautiful accident of an album. “I listen to the songs now, and I just feel happy,” Barnett says. ■ What: A Lotta Sea Lice is out Friday October 13 through Remote Control
BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 13
Jessica Lea Mayfield: Back Again Jessica Lea Mayfield talks to Anna Rose about her bold and heartfelt new record. (Content warning: domestic violence)
ou could easily listen to Jessica Lea Mayfield’s new record, Sorry Is Gone, and only connect with its very outermost layer – with its smooth production, and its gentle guitar work, and Mayfield’s lilting, whiskey and honey voice. Indeed, taken at first glance, Sorry feels lighter than Mayfield’s last record, the grungeindebted Make My Head Sing, and on songs like ‘Meadow’ and the titular ‘Sorry Is Gone’, she sounds happier than she has in years; freer. But however unfettered Sorry might sound, making it was no aimless creative jaunt, and talking to Mayfield, it quickly becomes clear that she was never going to write this album for anyone other than herself. “I wasn’t going to make an album that I didn’t wanna make,” she says, her voice going firm. “That was the thing: I had people trying to herd me like cattle, so I definitely stood my ground until I had what I wanted.
“I wasn’t going to make an album that I didn’t wanna make.”
“Definitely coming into womanhood has changed things for me. I used to feel very confused and very lost and puppy-like. People would tell me, ‘Do this, do that’, and I was like, ‘I’ll do this but my gut tells me that I shouldn’t’. And now I’m old enough to know that your stomach is the first thing you should trust.” Mayfield is a survivor of domestic violence. Her struggles, hardships and growth make up the backbone of Sorry – the title itself is an acknowledgement that Mayfield is done with apologising for the blame that has been heaped on her in the past; that she is, to borrow a line from the album’s title track, “done excusing myself.” “I keep getting more personal [with my songwriting] and I question it every time but I realise that when I question it, it means I need to overcome it and let it out. “I know these are emotions that need to be shared and felt. I’m not alone. I know there are other people that feel the way that I feel and have been treated the way I’ve been treated in life … You know, I don’t want to hide that: I wanna be as real and as human as I can be.” There are, Mayfield readily admits, some people who have already been a little “scared off” by Sorry’s subject matter. But as far as she is concerned, the record is no funeral dirge; nor is it a long slog through ten miles of bad road. It is, at its heart, a record about rebirth. “People think that it’s a dark record, but actually, I’m on the other side of it – I have blossomed. “I guess now people think I’ll be doing interviews and the interviewer will be like ‘Are you okay? I’m so sorry.’ But actually, I can talk about this now, which means I’m
on the other side and I’m okay – but for the past however many years, I was not okay, and I was pretending.” The ‘Sorry Is Gone’ video, released in July of this year, opens with Mayfield in a yellow convertible, driving quite literally into the sunset, and it ends with her in a pink, thin fabric hood, staring straight into camera, her eyes wide open. It is as clear a statement of her new-found independence as could be imagined – an unashamed acknowledgement of self. “People put their own symbolism into the video,” Mayfield says. “They say, ‘Well, like, you’re in the car; you’re driving away from all your problems.’ Certainly both of the new videos line up with the theme of the album which is, ‘I’m free!’” Sometimes the record is oblique, its imagery technicolour and smeared. But at other times, Mayfield sharpens her talents down to fine points, and captures years of trauma and pain in a single line. “There’s a line in ‘Meadow’ that goes: ‘the cold hard truth is I love you too much,’” she says. “That was [Mayfield’s ex-partner’s] excuse for why he’d been terrible to me.” Ultimately, everything comes down to whether Mayfield is now more confident, happy and, above all else, safe. “Yes, all of the above,” she says. “It’s sort of like, emotionally things are good and I’m safe and stable – but at the same time I’ve been through a lot of life events that have been coming at me all at once. But even with everything happening, my safety and freedom are irreplaceable. I feel like I can handle everything better because [I have] my safety and freedom.”
“I can talk about this now, which means I’m on the other side and I’m okay – but for the past however many years, I was not okay and I was pretending.” As a result, Mayfield has learned to lean into her independence; to definitively and unashamedly embrace herself, and all that she is capable of. “That’s the thing with this album too: I am my own advocate,” she says. “Music is my way of talking about things. I definitely open up with my instruments first, before I do with my friends and family. It’s usually talking to myself alone in a room with a guitar that helps me understand things. I have to be my own friend; my own advocate. “I mean, on my last album, I was really clammed up and in this really dark space and I couldn’t talk about anything that was happening. It was the heaviest album I ever made and it was the heaviest point in my life emotionally. I couldn’t speak so I was saying things with my guitar. With this album, I could finally open up and talk.” What: Sorry Is Gone out through [PIAS] / Inertia now
14 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17
Jessica Lea Mayfield photo by Ebru Yildiz
“I’m not alone. I know there are other people that feel the way that I feel and have been treated the way I’ve been treated in life.”
“Being bad for me now is disturbing the social etiquette. It’s kind of saying something when you shouldn’t say something.”
Rackett: Art, Craft And Anarchy Rackett’s Rebecca Callander tells Belinda Quinn why she will never give in to pop conventions
’ve ended up in a bottomless pit of like, reorganising arts and crafts,” explains Rackett’s lead vocalist and guitarist, Rebecca Callander. Certainly it’s not the Saturday night you might expect from a lyricist who belts out lines like “Give me one of those white lines / I’m so fucking bored I wanna fuck with my time / Don’t you leave me to my own devices / I could become a k-k-killer” on the thumping title track of her band’s debut EP, Ready Or Not. Since starting out in 2016, the Sydney four-piece powerhouse have gained a reputation for thrilling live shows, a technically proficient and powerful sound, and a DIY hyper-femme aesthetic. In the middle of this month, they released their diverse, trashy pop EP, packaged by mi-wallet, a local designer who used pages of the BRAG to create custom, handmade sleeves. “That’s something I’m really stoked about. Each one is going to be completely unique,” says Callander. Starting out as voice memos, the tracks were workshopped with the band for over a year before being brought to producer Dave Hammer of Def Wolf Studios in Alexandria. “We write country ballads, we write psychedelic ten-minute songs... As long as it’s good music we’re happy to explore all different styles … [The tracks] went through numerous transitions, then we took all of those versions to Dave Hammer, our producer, and he refined it all,” says Callander. “He basically polished the turd.”
The result is Ready Or Not, a five-track debut that serves as an expression of the band’s relentless refusal to become
the softly spoken, well-behaved 20 to 30-something year-old women they’re expected to be. The songwriting on Ready Or Not is primitive, thrashing and unapologetic; it’s infused with howls, heavy breaths and sharp, full riffs that complement their loose shows. Rackett have opted for a predominately trashy pop sound due to “a slight resistance to be good,” says Callander. “Giving in entirely to pop music right now feels too goody-two-shoes. I guess that reflects our personalities. We’re past the real trashy stage of our lives, partying hard and being self-destructive, but we’re not entirely in the clear—we’ve got a bit to work through, personally.” The title track ‘Ready Or Not’ is an ode to being bad, which is an evocative theme that runs throughout the record. “I wrote that song two years ago, so looking back on that now that, I just kind of laugh to myself because it’s not really me anymore,” explains Callander. “I still have that attitude, just it’s not in a form of taking drugs and getting super fucked-up. Being bad for me now is disturbing the social etiquette. It’s kind of saying something when you shouldn’t say something.” That element of social disturbance is particularly present in the evocative music video for ‘Prey’, directed by Mathilde Nacquet, a slower, lighter number that shows off the band’s sonic diversity. “There’s a lot of other things that I really want to speak up about, that I recognise as disturbing and they’re not maybe what you’d expect. I’m all for animal rights and having a vegan lifestyle, so that’s kind of my rebellion at the moment.
“I was at the library in Newtown looking through an encyclopaedia and I came across all these really outrageous animals,” Callander continues. “With that fish with the light on its head [anglerfish], the female is the dominant one of the species and the male is super tiny. He attaches himself to her and he eats himself until there’s nothing left but a pair of nuts — and that’s his life!” Inspired by the biodiversity of our earth’s wildlife and their evolutionary advantages, Callander explored the idea of being tricked, fooled and victimised by the opposite sex. “A guy or something will hunt [you] down and fill you with all of these stories and praise your existence and then never talk to you again. And it’s just bizarre behaviour. [I was] using the animal’s behaviour as a metaphor to describe how strange we are.” Elsewhere on the debut, the song ‘Your Son’ calls out the strange behaviour of an ex-roommate who stole and obliterated Callander’s car, boasting lyrics like “Your son is a con, your son is a bad one / and I wonder where he got it from”. “I do tend to attract a lot of drama and a lot of crazy people,” explains Callander. “So there must be something crazy within me that they’re attracted to as well.” Having been onstage her entire life — she did tap, jazz and ballet from ages two to 16 and has studied acting at NIDA — making music was the next logical step for Callander. “I think music is the best use of my skill set. I have a
“We write country ballads, we write psychedelic ten minute songs... As long as it’s good music we’re happy to explore all different styles.” really good voice, I’m a creative writer, I am a performer, I love being onstage.” Callander has gone out of her way to surprise audiences and her band before, and she has a penchant for showstopping feats – most notably when she shaved her head onstage during her band’s set at Electric Lady at the Metro in June. One can expect their forthcoming tour with Killing Heidi is set to be a big deal for their audiences, then. “We will sweat, bleed, cry, scream. We will give them 100 per cent of ourselves. I guess our only slogan is that we’ll give them everything, everything we have.” Callander laughs. “Just don’t tell anybody I’m staying in tonight with my sewing machine and my cat.” Where: Waves in Wollongong / The Cambridge in Newcastle When: Friday October 6 / Saturday October 7
“Giving in entirely to pop music right now feels too goody-two-shoes. I guess that reflects our personalities.” thebrag.com
BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 15
Caiti Baker: Becoming Yourself Rising soul star Caiti Baker tells Joseph Earp the extraordinary story behind her new record Zinc
few years ago, Caiti Baker was ready to burn it all down. Already an established force in hip hop and indie thanks to her work as one half of the electro-soul outfit Sietta, she suddenly found herself embroiled in a string of energy-consuming personal crises. Her job was burning her out; she was struggling with both mental health issues and her chronic fatigue syndrome; and she had fallen out with her father some four years previously. “Everything came to a climax,” Baker says now. “I just wanted to throw it all away. It was a mess, to tell you the truth.” She laughs. Baker laughs a lot, actually. She is sitting somewhere in a café in Darwin, preparing for the beginning of a tour that will see her take Zinc, her debut record under her own name, around the country. And although it is a hot, lazy Friday – one of those days best spent seeking shelter from the sun and doing a whole lot of nothing – she speaks animatedly; with humour, and with wit. “I prefer to write alone,” Baker says of her creative habits. “It’s therapeutic for me – and it’s not to say that I don’t like co-writing, but for me to write the stuff I want to write, I generally find it’s much easier and more of a pleasant experience if I’m just by myself. I’m
“I got some help and managed to work my way through all my mental health stuff. And all through that I was writing – I just wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it.” likely to sing things that I’m not always happy with sharing people just yet – not until I find where I’m going with it. “Also, I have quite a loud voice. So I like to be in a place where no one else can hear. It’s a place of solitude that I write in. I don’t write nearly as much as I should, and I don’t write in diaries, which means I don’t have streams of my thoughts written down on paper. So when I do write, it’s initially going to be quite personal – I have to work out how to bend it into shape without feeling judged and without feeling like I’m wasting someone else’s time.” It was in that place of solitude that Baker wrote Zinc, mostly as a way of working out the fucked-up shit that everyone has to come to terms with eventually; the issue of her job, and her mental health, and her fractured familial connections. “I got some help and managed to work my way through all my mental health stuff. And all through that I was writing – I just wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it.” A lot of what Baker was writing wasn’t even designed to be confessional, and to this day she never sets out to pen songs that might double as diary
entries. She just can’t work that way – can’t demand anything of her art. Often, she’s not even sure what her work is about until months later, and suddenly everything snaps into focus. “My subconscious will get things out. I use a lot of metaphors so things that are going on in my life are often hidden. Or I’ll like, use a line from a TV show, or a book I’ve read, or a film. Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere.” It was while Baker was holed up, newly unemployed and writing the songs that would eventually make up Zinc, that her father got back in touch. A blues player himself, he reached out not with words but with music, passing on a USB key worth of “guitar licks, harmonica parts and vocal ideas” to Baker’s longtime collaborator and friend James Mangohig. The material was formless; more like sketches than complete drawings. “You could hear him talking to the cat,” Baker says of some of the recordings. But nonetheless, she was inspired, and almost immediately got to work building the parts into fully-fledged songs, constructing melodies and choruses out of the scattered loops. “Everything just fell into place at exactly the time that it needed to,” Baker says.
16 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17
And yet still there was the problem of what to call herself as an artist, if not Sietta. It was an old issue – when Baker and Mangohig had first started collaborating, he had suggested they release music under her name. But she had felt then as though she wasn’t ready. “I didn’t want that level of personal exposure – I had chronic fatigue, and I had just been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I wasn’t myself. So it didn’t make sense to put my own name.” But now, years later, having undergone therapy and with the excitement of the new project to motivate her, Baker fi nally felt ready to be herself. “I am healed. I’m a different person. I am essentially who I should be. So I feel the authenticity is there to release music under my own name. I can own it.” She laughs again, one more time, the sound as rich as whiskey. “I can own my shit.” Where: Leadbelly When: Saturday October 14 And: Zinc out now independently
“I’m a different person. I am essentially who I should be.”
She knew straight away that the material she was producing wasn’t right for the Sietta moniker – it was different; more obviously bluesy; less dense and layered. She wasn’t reinventing herself as much as she was refining herself, and the result was a bold new direction. “It was a new sound that could only have come through my musical heritage, that being my father’s blues playing, and through the production style of James, which I am such a big fan of. All of those elements just streamlined into something I am so proud of.”
“I really want to see how it all works for us – I want to put out another single and then probably do an EP.”
Raave Tapes: Special K
Raave Tapes’ Joab Eastley assures David James Young his is a band reborn
oab Eastley is a meme. Sure, he’s also a singer, a songwriter, a guitarist, a proud Novocastrian, and the fi gurehead of one of Australia’s most exciting up-and-coming bands, Raave Tapes, as well as, y’know, a human being and all that. But perhaps more than anything, he’s a consistent online presence amongst his friends due to various aspects of his life having been turned into running in-jokes.
Metz photo by xxx
For instance, you’ll be quick to fi nd out that before his music took off, Eastley was a keen rugby league player. He even won an NRL premiership with his team – that’s Newcastle Rugby League, thank you very much. “Isn’t it brilliant?” he says of the piss-take name. “They even go as far as to call themselves ‘The Real NRL.’ The medal that I’ve got has ‘REAL NRL’ written all over it. My cousin was the coach of our team, and my dad was the waterboy. It even got a write-up in the local paper because my dad won the exact same premiership 30 years prior.” Since “retiring” in 2015, Eastley has gone on to focus more on his band, Raave Tapes. The band’s blend of dance-punk, pop, disco and rock requires a lot of different textures and tones from his guitar – which is where our next running Joab gag comes into play in the form of the man’s expansive pedal board. “Myself and my old bass player, Joel [Burgess] used to work at Domino’s together,” Eastley explains. thebrag.com
“It was my first job – I was 14, he was 15. Across the road from the Domino’s was our local post office. We’d work, save up, order pedals, get them sent to the post office, go across the street from work and pick them up. We obsessed over them. I ended up with so many that I decided to make a giant pedal board to have all of them on there at the same time. It was literally the size of a beach towel – that’s the scale I used to pattern it out before I moved onto the real thing.” Naturally, it didn’t last long. “I had to do a chop,” he laughs. “For the last tour that we did, I had to scale it down – it just wasn’t possible to take the board with me everywhere anymore. I think it’s made me appreciate the ones I’ve kept a lot more, though – it’s a fun challenge to work with what I’ve got. I’ve never been the best guitarist, but I’m pretty good at making noise.” That noisemaking has brought us to ‘k bye’, the latest single from the band, which is a sugar rush of fi st-pumping beats and wonderfully nonsensical shouting. Although recorded with their previous line-up, the band is touring with an all-new rhythm section; leaving Eastley as the only original member. “The Wolfmother jokes have already started,” he says, laughing. “I mean, the other two guys... they’re busy being adults now. Jake [Wyborn], our old drummer, got a new job and he moved to Melbourne. Joel had a
mortgage, and it was getting clear that he wasn’t going to be able to keep taking time off work in order to go on tour. They were both so good about it, it wasn’t acrimonious at all. They both even came to band practices to show the new members the parts!” Filling out the reshuffled Raave Tapes line-up is bassist Lindsay O’Connell and drummer Lewis Horne. Eastley, being the radiantly positive human being that he is, is quick to gush at length about both of his new bandmates. “I like to think I’m a nice person, but Lewis makes me look like an arsehole in comparison,” he says. “He’s just the nicest, loveliest guy. I’m so lucky to be in a band with Lindsay now, too. Joel was a really full-on bass player with his sound and his technique, so it was always going to be a big ask to get someone to fi ll that place. Lindsay has just been incredible. She learned everything in two weeks and then played her first show with us.” With ‘k bye’ out in the world and some memorable launch shows behind it, Raave Tapes are now set to undertake a national tour that will see them blast through most capital cities during October and into November. Beyond that, Eastley is interested in seeing what Raave Tapes 2.0 is capable of when it comes to making music together. “We’ve done a bunch of shows now, but the three of us haven’t actually recorded anything yet,” he says. “With the last two singles we
“I ended up with so many pedals that I decided to make a giant board to have all of them on there at the same time. It was literally the size of a beach towel.” did – this one and ‘2 U XOXO’ – Joel played on them but Jake had left by that point. Both recordings have two different drummers on them – my friend Jack, who plays in Scumdrops, and my friend Fraser. I think what we’re gonna do is go into the studio at some point either during or after this tour and lay down three songs. “I really want to see how it all works for us – I want to put out another single and then probably do an EP. I’m sure it’ll be great – it’ll be really wholesome.” Eastley laughs as he realises he’s dropped one of his mostused words in ‘wholesome.’ “I think we just hit bingo,” he says. A brainwave hits both interviewer and interviewee at the same time: “JOABINGO!” Where: Frankie’s Pizza By The Slice When: Saturday October 14
BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 17
Noire: Dark Night, No Stars Jessica Mincher and Billy James of Noire tell Adam Norris that playing at David Lynch’s Silencio Bar was the highlight of their career so far
hrow yourself from the car as it takes that tight mountain corner, tumbling down the night-time slopes as brakes squeal and distorted voices cry out behind you. Keep moving; stagger through the woods, bruised and disorientated until there, somewhere ahead, comes the sound of drunken laughter; of a saloon door swinging wide and music seeping out. Then, emerge before some smoke-lit roadhouse, and through the neon glow and sheen of spilled beer you will see them, Noire, taking the stage, completing the tableau. In this place, you see, atmosphere is everything. “I guess that’s the most important thing when we’re writing – atmosphere,” Jessica Mincher explains over a shaky connection from Berlin. “For me, anyway. When I listen to my favourite music it puts me into a certain mood … like, I’m not that interested in what’s being said. I know that’s probably bad, it’s just mainly how it’s making me feel. Initially, that’s what I look for, and when we’re writing I’m thinking of the imagery. Not just how it sounds, but how it looks. With Billy [James] it’s quite different, but I want to create a certain atmosphere.”
They might list their influences as ranging from Mazzy Star to Nick Cave, but they could tell you that their career has been shaped by the entirety of European music and cinema – by Truffaut, and Godard, and Renoir, and Akerman, and Gainsbourg, and Aznavour – and you’d believe them. They just have that cool factor; that hard-to-articulate sense of suave, considered sexuality. It’s there in the music video for their song ‘Baby Blue’, as they stalk about the place in silhouetted profi le, and it’s there in their live performances, as they strum their instruments and wander around the stage. So yeah, it makes sense that they are connecting overseas – that their songs are finding a home, and transforming a DIY two-piece into a genuine cultural sensation. Indeed, the pair are becoming so well-regarded that they recently found themselves achieving an enviable career side-quest; performing at David Lynch’s Silencio bar in Paris. It was a remarkable moment for the pair. Not only because of their comprehensive love of auteur cinema – listen to any of their songs and you can’t help but give in to the cinematic seduction – but because of the flavours of venue and the audience there.
“It was amazing,” Mincher says. “The smoking room is in this glass box full of dead trees; the ash trays are on the branches. The design is amazing. It’s so dark, but you can kind of see everything. I think we might get better reception there than we do back home. I don’t know, it kind of seems like everybody just listens, they dance and get it a bit more. Maybe it’s just the atmosphere we were in, but it was an amazing night.” “The crowd seems a little bit more receptive, maybe,” James suggests. “If we’re playing on a mixed lineup, they might listen some more.” “We usually play bars and stuff in Sydney,” Micher adds, “and I don’t know if our stuff really suits a rowdy bar. It isn’t that loud; you can’t go crazy and dance. So it’s probably more the places we’re playing at home maybe as well.” And yet if there’s any justice in the world, the band’s fates will soon change when they return to tour their debut album, Some Kind Of Blue. The record has been years in the making, and its first single, ‘Real Cool’, is a gorgeous, mysterious entry into their world (think the musical lovechild of Lynch and Paris, Texas helmer Wim Wenders). Having sequestered themselves away from the world to get these songs recorded, it is surprising to learn that there isn’t a sweep of half-finished
“We usually play bars and stuff in Sydney, and I don’t know if our stuff really suits a rowdy bar. It isn’t that loud; you can’t go crazy and dance.” 18 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17
songs littered in their wake. Noire are methodical; the kind of band that can craft a song all the way from unlife to sound, precisely and particularly forming their sonic structures along the way. The duo are not ready to rush anything – not prepared to throw any song out into the world that they are not totally proud of. “We generally finish all the songs that we start, if we like them,” Mincher says. “We’re not a band that writes 100 songs for an album. We probably wrote 15. We spent a lot of time on all of them, and then got rid of the ones that didn’t really seem to fit. We really worked on the ideas that we fell in love with. “We were just talking about how we want to start writing [new material] while we’re on this trip. I want the new stuff to sound like when a hot tin roof expands, or when a fan is spinning in the middle of nowhere and you’re sweating in the heat. That’s how I think of writing music: how does it look and feel? What’s the situation it could fit into? I love listening to music in the car, and we go on loads of roadtrips. When you write a song, I guess it’s about a destination that you’re never really going to get to. You’ll never really get to the end.” Where: Beach Road Hotel When: Wednesday November 8 And: Some Kind Of Blue out now through Spunk thebrag.com
Noire photo by Blair Gauld
Micher and James are two sides of the coin that is Noire, a Sydney-based indie-dream-rock band who are currently enjoying a strong response in Europe. Perhaps that’s unsurprising – there is, after all, something distinctively
European about their smoke-softened sound; about the strange, winding paths that their songs take.
“I love listening to music in the car, and we go on loads of roadtrips. When you write a song, I guess it’s about a destination that you’re never really going to get to.”
pond 23:09:17 :: Enmore Theatre :: 118-132 Enmore Rd Newtown 9550 3666
What weâ€™ve been out to see this fortnight. See full galleries at thebrag.com/snaps
Photos by Ashley Mar
BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 19
s n a p s
20 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17
26:09:17 :: Sydney Opera House :: Benelong Point, Sydney
27:09:17 :: Enmore Theatre :: 118-132 Enmore Rd Newtown 9550 3666
What weâ€™ve been out to see this fortnight. See full galleries at thebrag.com/snaps
s n a p s
london grammar 26:09:17 :: Sydney Opera House :: Benelong Point, Sydney
26:09:17 :: Sydney Opera House :: Benelong Point, Sydney
27:09:17 :: Enmore Theatre :: 118-132 Enmore Rd Newtown 9550 3666
BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 21
27:09:17 :: Enmore Theatre :: 118-132 Enmore Rd Newtown 9550 3666
22 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17
27:09:17 :: Oxford Art Factory :: 38-46 Oxford St, Darlinghurst 9332 3711
What weâ€™ve been out to see this fortnight. See full galleries at thebrag.com/snaps
s n a p s
Torres: Restricted Joseph Earp talks to Mackenzie Scott, AKA Torres, about her new record Three Futures, one of the best of the year
ackenzie Scott does not like crying, but when she reads Lorrie Moore’s short story collection Self-Help, she has no choice but to. “She’s one of the only writers that I have ever read that makes me physically sob,” Scott says, her voice crackling over the line from New York. It’s six thirty-something her time, and the musician behind the Torres name is having a quiet night in, resting up in preparation for the tour she will embark upon the next day. There’s some light noise in the background – it sounds like traffic – and when Scott pauses to think, it expands to fill the space. “I try to avoid crying, but with her it’s impossible not to.” Scott reads a lot – she reads, and she goes for long walks, and she cooks. There was a time when she used to carry around J.D. Salinger’s Nine Stories like it was “a Bible”, and in the press release dropped to announce her new album Three Futures, she picked out Vladimir Nabokov and Moore as key influences. “I really love writing essays – or essay style things,” Scott says. “I like writing haikus… I try to keep my toes dipped into all the honey pots,
in terms of different forms of writing. They all have equal forms of merit. Songwriting is one of my loves, but I don’t actually prefer it any more than any other form of writing.” And anyway, sometimes Scott’s records feel like books. Her self-titled debut had the precision and warmth you’d expect of Saul Bellow; its follow-up, Sprinter, the gently horrific intensity of Flannery O’Connor. Three Futures is something else entirely – more direct; precise; full of instrumental breaks dropped like full stops – but it is no less literary, or involving. “I didn’t want any cymbals on this record – I didn’t want to hear any metal,” Scott says. “So my drummer didn’t play any cymbals. And I didn’t want any acoustic instruments. Which Rob [Ellis, producer] actually fought me on a little. He was like, ‘Wouldn’t it be so much more lush and lovely?’ “But I was pretty adamant about certain themes that I wanted to incorporate into every song to tie the record together. Not just lyrically but sonically. There were a lot of parameters that I put on it in terms of production.” These parameters were as rigid as the syllable breakdown in a haiku, and just as freeing. Through them, Scott found precision – a clarity of speech, and of sound. You can hear it on ‘Helen In The Woods’, the most direct, unobscured song she has yet written, and you can hear it on ‘Righteous Woman’, packed as it is with guitar parts that buzz like tin foil against fillings.
“The thing about restrictions is they’re not actually restrictions if you know what you want. That’s thematically in the lyrics of this record. Options can actually be really flustering. Having too many options can leave you a bit unfocused and torn. And that’s not the kind of record I wanted to make. “I didn’t want to make a record that felt like I was dabbling, or like I was experimenting with sounds and themes and throwing things on that sounded good. It’s not always necessarily about sounding good … It’s not always about making something sound beautiful. I think there’s something to be said to making something sound exactly the way you want to make it sound.” Not that Scott necessarily finds it easy to translate the ideas crawling around her head into song. Writing is sometimes a little like untangling wool from barbed wire; like having to stay very quiet for a very long time, and let the song just explain itself, slowly. “The songs let me know what they want to be. I’m in no way starting from the ground up, trying to come up with a scene for a song. It’s always based on something that has been brewing for a long time. “But they don’t just come to me written. It’s like whatever I am thinking about, or obsessing about … those are all things that make themselves present as I write. But the actual construction of the songs – that never just comes to me. It takes weeks and months and years. There have been songs that from infancy to
“You never wanna look a song right in the eye. It’s always a matter of letting the song think that I don’t know it’s in my peripheral.” thebrag.com
“It’s not always necessarily about sounding good … It’s not always about making something sound beautiful.” completion – or rather from gestation to birth – have taken one or two years to actually become full songs ready to be performed or recorded.” Which means songwriting is frustrating, and time-consuming, and energy-sapping, and the kind of thing you wouldn’t necessarily wish upon someone. But Scott is done with letting that get to her. “I can’t really do anything about how I write. You never wanna look a song right in the eye. Especially if you’re just trying to get the ideas down. It’s always a matter of letting the song think that I don’t know it’s in my peripheral. You have to kind of fool it, and then it gets a little closer – it’s kinda like a cat, or something. You know, when a cat thinks that you’re not looking at it, that’s when it will sneak closer and closer to you. The goal is to not look around and scare it off with your enthusiasm.” That’s why Scott is jealous, sometimes, of painters; of people who work in visual arts, and don’t have to talk, or explain themselves. They can just bypass language. They can just do. “It’s so frustrating,” Scott laughs. “Yeah; bypassing language. That’s why it’s so frustrating that I can’t draw or paint. Sometimes you don’t want to write a damn song; you just wanna draw your dreams.” What: Three Futures is out now through Remote Control
BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 23
Scabz: Newtown’s Shittest Band Siobhan Poynton tells Belinda Quinn how a dodgy finger changed her band forever
he past year has been one of sonic growth, milestone gigs and manky thumbs for Scabz, Newtown’s self-proclaimed shittiest band (but Wollongong’s best, at least according to a barefoot old hippy they played to at a near-empty Rad Bar). The punk three-piece, led by noted table-climber Siobhan Poynton, have a knack for combining political wit with a bit of light-hearted fun, and it’s nigh on impossible not to have a little shimmy during their track ‘Beach Song’, or to feel revved-up during their frenetic protest song ‘Locked Up’. “For me, it’s just finding a line between like, punk and pub rock and being a feminist and political and being funny,” explains Poynton. “I’m starting to find it a little bit easier to get it all into one … I’m being a little bit more flexible with my writing.”
“We’ve got this whole thing going on about being the shittest band in Newtown,” says Poynton. “People come get drunk at our shows, have a good time and laugh, but I think this year people realised that we play like, half-decent songs. We 100 per cent started as a bit of fun and now we’re all putting a little bit more effort into it. I think that’s why we got such cool shows. Our songs are slowly catching up to being the same level of good as our funniness,” laughs Poynton. But it hasn’t all been highlights for Scabz. For the last few months Poynton’s left thumb has been locked up in a cast (which she nicknamed her “chipolata” because “it looked like a little manky sausage”) after it was broken on the footy fi eld, and soon after bassist Loz Wiley cut her own thumb on a broken glass. “It’s been like, recording-wise, a setback,” explains Poynton. “But we didn’t have to cancel any gigs. We’re at a position now where we’re comfortable as a band, so we can be like, ‘Right, we need to hire
someone to play guitar’ or, ‘Loz needs to sing this song so I can play bass and she can rest her bleeding thumb.’” To cover Poynton, the band acquired their angel-faced “man prop”, Jono Tooke (guitarist of Basil’s Kite and previously for Bec Sandridge). “The only thing I actually really liked about not playing guitar was being able to just saunter on stage after the first song had already started,” Poynton says. And yeah, while maybe being a bit of a goofball, Poynton has years of musical experience under her belt, and she knows her shit to a tee. “Yeah, I’m a big nerd. I grew up singing in a choir: the Australian girls choir, the one in the Qantas ad. I think that taught me a lot about how to be a good musician. “I can’t stand it when people don’t bring their own shit to gigs. I can’t stand it when people are incapable of organising gear. I can’t stand it when people are late to things. I can’t stand it when people don’t know how to soundcheck; especially dudes who get to play later on the bill than us because of their willies, and they’re super unprofessional.” Fans can look forward to hearing a couple of new Scabz tracks drop in the coming months, including the sonically uplifting ‘Poor This Week’. “I finished it, like maybe 100 different times,” she says of mixing the track. “It’ll be done by mid-October. We’re going on tour for
it with The Nah in Canberra and then Downtown Boys in Wollongong. We’re also playing at Festival of the Sun for that tour and at the Lansdowne as well.” But what else is in the future for Scabz? “I’m locking myself in my room for a month over Christmas and I’m gonna write an EP. We’ll see if I achieve that,” Poynton laughs. There might be nupitals ahead, too. As Poynton explains it, drummer Lara Chrystal and Wylie may end up tying the knot, their way of honouring a longkept promise. “It was [made] at another time when marriage equality was hot in debate; I think maybe it was about when Julia Guilard had the opportunity to pass and she kind of succumbed to the weight of the labour party… [Lara and Loz] were like, look if we’re both not married by the time we’re 30, then we’re going to get married. And that’s this year, so…” Where: The Bald Faced Stag When: Saturday October 28 With: Batpiss, The Peep Tempel
“I can’t stand it when people don’t know how to soundcheck, especially dudes who get to play later on the bill than us because of their willies, and they’re super unprofessional.” 24 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17
Scabz photo by Brianna Elton
Scabz’s influences include various Aussie acts that have spent their careers redefi ning pub rock, from the antics — as well as the drum and guitar sounds — of Cosmic Psychos and the clever lyricism of The Peep Tempel to the direct, unfettered political messages of Bad//Dreems. “People are a little bit scared to experience new music. You hear the same 40 songs at every pub you go to every time you go out. You can be funny and can talk the same way on a song that you do down the pub without just having to talk about getting pissed.”
In the span of a single year, the band have been thrust out into the Sydney scene: they’ve played their first festival at Bad Friday in Marrickville with a guest guitar appearance from Lindsay McDougall; supported Sticky Fingers at the Enmore and Frenzal Rhomb at the Metro; and their track ‘New Song’ was featured on triple j’s short.fast.loud.
“People come get drunk at our shows, have a good time and laugh, but I think this year people realised that we play like, half decent songs.”
S T. V I N C E N T
I S F A LL I N G I N L O V E
By Emily Meller Sex And Drugs And Sadness espite what you might have heard, Annie Clark is not an enigma. Sure, the songs she records under the St. Vincent name are often so technically complex and polished that the lyrics – and their radical vulnerability – can be occasionally obscured. But re-listening to her records ahead of the release of her fifth album, their confessional nature is what immediately stands out. Romance, and constructs of it, are more than recurring themes: they are her artistic bread and butter.
institution kind of bonkers.” She later told the New Yorkerr that the record is “all about sex and drugs and sadness.” The first two singles – ‘New York’ and ‘Los Ageless’ – are both distinctly more poppy than her previous offerings, and Jack Antonoff’s influence is palpable. They’re especially different from her experimental breakthrough album St. Vincent, an abstract masterpiece released in 2015, not only in their mainstream sheen, but also in the way they more overtly reveal Clark’s preoccupation with the construction of gender and its intersection with romance. On MASSEDUCTION’s front cover, an anonymous woman’s arse sits front and centre, and similar images are featured heavily in the video for ‘New York’’. The colours are bright and “feminine”, the styling bold and sexualised: think Samantha from Sex And The City meets a Jeff Koons artwork.
After all, Clark has recently revealed that love is “literally the point” of her next album. Titled MASSEDUCTION (that’s “mass-seduction”), the release will coincide with a tour that Clark has described as “dominatrix at the mental
Photos by Nedda Afsari
BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 25
“ W R I T I N G A B O U T LO V E , FO R F E M A LE A RTI STS , H A S I T S R I S K S .”
26 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17
Not that any of this is precisely new for St. Vincent: Clark has consistently pushed for the subversion of gender roles in a typically male-dominated industry. Last year, an image of her posing in a t-shirt bearing the body of a woman in a bikini graced the front cover of Guitar World, and immediately caused a stir. Clark also deliberately held the guitar as though she didn’t know how to play it, and later explained she was poking fun at the sexist history of the publication, and their tendency to splay bikini-clad models all over their covers. And sure, although these kinds of stunts do show that Clark is aware of sexism and misogyny, they are not her most radical contribution to undoing some of the more harmful stereotypes in the music industry. Indeed, it’s her music itself that best showcases her commitment to those goals – by weaving rock, sex, and pop into experimental and catchy shapes, Clark is one of a number of female artists who make radical statements by writing about love. But writing about love, for female artists, has its risks – risks that are even more pronounced if one dares to make pop music. It’s so easy to be pigeonholed, or to be asked in every single press conference what it’s like being a female artist; to be turned into the spokesperson for an entire gender. Clark has used her recent promo tour to parody those kinds of questions in a humorous live Facebook video. She compared the making of a record to a bridezilla-style wedding – except that on the big day you are walking down the aisle by yourself, listening to yourself. That live video is also the platform she used to reveal – in front of a hot pink backdrop and surrounded by hot pink microphones, no less – that the album was at its best and at its core, about love. But in the process, Clark set herself up to weather the same risks that writing about love has long posed to female artists. First and foremost, there’s the worry that you won’t be taken seriously; that your bold, complex, gritty songs will be labelled as pop and therefore not worthy of deep analysis. Then there is the risk that the critical establishment will decide that you might be a solid artist, but that you are from a revolutionary; that you will forever be a diamonte-encrusted top in a world of Che Guevara tees. And finally there’s the risk that – if your desire comes off too strong or too demanding – you will be called crazy; that in the eyes of the maledominated industry you will be one more “hysterical” woman in a frothing, tear-sodden sea of them.
lark has written about love on all her five records to date, and always about the kind of love that straddles the line between the romantic and insane. That’s even implied subtly through her choice of stage name – she borrowed her moniker from a Nick Cave track about the place poet Dylan Thomas was hospitalised. Some of Thomas’ poems are the most romantic known to the English language. But his was not a passive, inert kind of love: poems like ‘Love In The Asylum’ are full of blood, and they throb. “She has come possessed / who admits the delusive light through the bouncing wall, / possessed by the skies,” goes one line. And for her part, Clark herself has outright said: “I try to live at the intersection of accessible and lunatic.”
St. Vincent photos by Nedda Afsari
In this way, Clark seeks to challenge the ‘crazy’ woman trope; the trope of the lonely, time-wizened spinster obsessed with finding love. Her songs are about the female gaze, and how rock would look with women like
“CLARK HAS CONSISTENTLY PUSHED FOR THE SUBVERSION OF GENDER ROLES IN A TYPICALLY MALE-DOMINATED INDUSTRY.” thebrag.com
“CLARK HAS COMPARED THE MAKING OF A RECORD TO A BRIDEZILLA-STYLE WEDDING – EXCEPT THAT ON THE BIG DAY YOU ARE WALKING DOWN THE AISLE BY YOURSELF, LISTENING TO YOURSELF.” Clark driving the industry. (The answer seems to involve a lot more pink.) In fact, between Charlie XCX’s ‘Boys’ video clip, in which many of the “it” boys of the moment make very dreamy and shamelessly teen-girl-fantasy style appeals to the camera, and Torres’s twisted ‘Skim’, it seems like we are in the midst of a resurgence of female-driven pop which seeks to explicitly subvert the kind of male gaze that has dominated music for too long. After all, Clark’s sound has always been by turns gritty, glittering and dark. But the consistent undercurrent is that she has always sought to externalise her own inner life, expressing emotions that are visceral and sad and hard to pin down. She writes about herself from outside herself, using the perspective of other female characters, and her imagination allows her to explore love in all its disparate, messy, often ugly forms.
The Story Of Love
lark’s story starts with 2007’s Marry Me, and the title track makes it clear that she has long been concerned with female desire – and not the typically passive kind the radio has so numbed us to. The refrain “Marry me, John, marry me, John” is sung sadly over piano, and the song is sweet and slow, even as it undermines the entire patriarchal construct of marriage. Gender norms are flipped, as the speaker seeks to use marriage to her advantage – the line “he won’t realise I’m gone” implies her wish for independence, or possibly even infidelity. It’s a kind of anti-marriage mission statement; a rejection of the loss of freedom that women have historically had to endure as part and parcel with saying their vows, while the suggestion that everything is allowable as long as one spouse is “good” to the other is another subtle dig at the entire institution. As we move into 2009, Clark’s Actor, more experimental in sound, is concerned with women feeling restless. This is teased out with deceptively ordinary, Disneyesque melodies; roses that strangle the record with their vines, twisting about the place at random. And then there’s the gritty guitar solos that break through the veneer, adding a Pleasantville-style sense of anxiety to the whole album. ‘Save Me From What I Want’ boasts devastating lines like, “But I’m a wife in watercolours / I can wash away,” while elsewhere ‘Black Rainbow’ has an undertone of sheer panic; this is a woman who has been repressed to the point of insanity, and the whole song builds to a climax that seems to suggest she has climbed the ledge and is staring down. By contrast, 2011’s Strange Mercy is probably the album that is least overtly about romantic love. ‘Dilettante’ seems to be from the perspective of a woman waiting for a man (“Oh Elijah / Don’t make me wait”), but even in that particular case, Clark has explained the song is actually a love letter to New York. Or maybe that should be a love-hate letter – one of the lines goes, “My bank in my back pocket / How far you think it’d take us?” But nothing about the song is explicit, and it can be read as though it is the woman who is ready while the man is the one holding back. Probably the most obvious love song Clark has penned to date is ‘I Prefer Your Love’ from St Vincent, which was not written for a romantic lover but, unusually, for her mum. “I prefer your love to Jesus,”
she croons, the song more about self-sacrifice and closeness than desire. Make no mistake, the tune is an oddity, not only just in terms of Clark’s career, but in terms of pop music more generally: songs about maternal affection are rare. After all, the world of mainstream radio is a domain reserved almost exclusively for romantic love; for sexual love; for love in the least complicated way that we use that word. But then again, Clark has never once settled for the simple. Love may be at the centre of her work, but it often takes on unexpected guises; her songs come birthed into the world bloodily, and malformed. You can call Clark a lot of things, but “predictable” is not one of them.
The Sound Of The Future
ven though Clark seeks to subvert gender roles, heteronormative romance and the male gaze by writing about love in a defiant and unapologetically honest way, her songs are not just diary entries. After all, she has gone on record to say that although people often interpret her songs that way, they're mostly just taking a sexist shortcut. And certainly when they are analysed closely, it becomes extraordinarily clear that her lyrics are not just instances from her life shot directly into her listener’s ears; they are carefully constructed narratives that expertly tie her themes with the aural texture of her songs. They are like sonic snatches of braille; raised, raspy. Communicative. MASSEDUCTION is no different. After all, “New York isn’t New York / Without you, love,” is the opening statement of the whole album, and the word love is repeated over and over at the start, only to then disappear from the song, mimicking the loss of the “hero” and “friend” that leaves the narrator so devastated. Fans have already speculated that the tune is about Clark’s relationship with Cara Delevinge, or a mourning of the death of David Bowie. For her part, Clark has explained that the song is dedicated to a composite of people – but she has deigned not to confirm who. That contrasts in many ways with the second single, ‘Los Ageless’. ‘Ageless’ is another song about heartbreak, but it is considerably less sweet, and its glitchy opening gives way to a darker and more rebellious tone. The chorus in particular hints at the rancor and rot beneath the surface – “How can anybody have you and lose you?” – but the tune quickly reveals itself to be about losing your mind, rather than a lover. Ultimately, it’s clear that Clark has been dealing with these themes since the very beginning of her career. Her refusal to be easily categorised either in her musical style or in her subject matter is a form of resistance; a rebuttal to the kind of lazy pigeonholing that so many female artists face. It’s a kind of rebellion in and of itself. As Chris Kraus, another female artist who writes almost exclusively about love, put it in I Love Dick, “I think the sheer fact of women talking, being, paradoxical, inexplicable, flip, self-destructive but above all else public is the most revolutionary thing in the world.” By simply writing a record about love, and risking being labelled “insane” in an industry that feeds off patriarchal norms, Annie Clark is changing the goddamn world. ■ What: MASSEDUCTION out Friday October 13 through Loma Vista Recordings/Caroline Australia
“[CLARK] HAS WRITTEN ABOUT LOVE ON ALL HER FOUR RECORDS TO DATE, AND ALWAYS ABOUT THE KIND OF LOVE THAT STRADDLES THE LINE BETWEEN THE ROMANTIC AND INSANE.” BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 27
Kingsman: The Golden Circle goes over some very, very old ground By David Molloy
“Golden Circle makes token gestures at wokeness, as Tilde’s eagerness attested before, but she is inevitably damselled, and her female cast members are woefully underutilised.”
great sequel capitalises on everything that made the first film a success, while simultaneously progressing the characters and plot beyond the formulaic and giving fans an enticing reason to return to the fold. How many times can you say you’ve seen that happen in the past decade? Let’s see… 22 Jump Street recently managed to pull it off (and happened to star future Statesman Channing Tatum), as did Captain America: Civil War and The Dark Knight. But Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgment Day are arguably the benchmark to beat, both masterpiece blockbusters of the ’80s as they are, and there are far too many examples of the exact opposite situation to list. So where does Kingsman: The Golden Circle – comic titan Mark Millar’s cheeky subversion of the James Bond franchise – sit on the sequel spectrum? The Secret Service came out of nowhere, blowing unexpecting audiences away, but The Golden Circle does very little to prompt
the same delighted gales of surprised laughter. Instead, it’s happy to follow formula, leaving it in the dead centre of the graph – it brought all the good and bad along with it, meaning there’s no room for innovation. The Secret Service followed the hero’s journey closely, so naturally its sequel must follow suit. The first step in a hero’s sequel is the destruction of the old world, and in that regard, director Matthew Vaughan gets real literal. Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) is already head of
the world’s largest drug cartel, but now she has larger aspirations – and the first step to achieving them is ensuring no one has the guff to come after her. So, with the help of failed Kingsman applicant Charlie Hesketh (Edward Holcroft), she uses missiles to wipe out the organisation root and stem. But newly minted agent Eggsy (Taron Egerton) isn’t killed, as he’s off dining with the royal parents of his Swedish beau, Crown Princess Tilde (Hanna Alström). So with Merlin (Mark Strong) in tow, Eggsy
“Kingsman is the Kick-Ass director’s aesthetic ramped up to the Nth degree.”
28 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17
follows the Kingsman’s Doomsday protocol, leading him to America, where new and old enemies and allies alike lie in wait. Fans of the first film will be grateful to see that Vaughn remains at the helm. Kingsman is the Kick-Ass director’s aesthetic ramped up to the Nth degree – it’s slick, stylish and dizzyingly kinetic, constantly cutting away at the expected tropes of the genre. Eggsy’s London is not Bond’s London – here, discretion is secondary to decorum, dinner suits are bulletproof, and headshots are curable. And every action scene is now as manic as the infamous church sequence from the first film.
American agent Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) to see who can finger a woman at a music festival first. No, seriously. That made the cut, computer-generated vaginal entry and all. Vaughn’s mention of “bloody feminists” should surprise no one. Though entirely consensual, it remains objectifying and leaves a sour taste in the mouth from a film that is otherwise narratively, politically and sexually progressive.
the former Galahad. His words ring in the audience’s ears throughout the film, as they do through Eggsy’s – “Manners maketh man”. And yet somewhere in the process of the Kingsman saga, the creatives took those words too closely to heart. The Golden Circle is too mannered; not in the sense of political correctness, but in adherence to ritual. It follows too close in the footsteps of its predecessor, regularly tripping on its heels.
That said, the magnificent Moore is as entertaining as always, delightfully repulsive in the role of Poppy Adams. It’s always refreshing to see A-listers thrive in such outrageous surrounds, and she’s as idiosyncratic and enjoyable as Samuel L. Jackson was – even if her plans are just as absurdly flawed.
Undoubtedly, it’s more fun than another dry run through the exhausted tropes of the Bond franchise, and takes infinitely more glee in its ultraviolence. But when a film’s defining factor is its freshness and willingness to cast off tradition, seeing it follow its own formula feels somehow wrong. The Golden Circle isn’t seducing us into new, risqué behaviours; it’s going through the motions, doing its duty to keep the relationship afloat.
In defying convention, the writers have made Tilde more than simply the butt (sorry) of a tasteless joke. Her relationship with Eggsy continues here with dramatic narrative consequence. But sadly, she’s indicative of the misogyny inherent in the film: Golden Circle makes token gestures at wokeness, as Tilde’s eagerness attested before, but she is inevitably damselled, and her female cast members are woefully underutilised.
But while The Golden Circle hits the ground running and barely lets up, the heart of the first film is lost in the ensuing melee. Secondary characters – some of whom were dearly beloved in The Secret Service – are removed perfunctorily, and new characters equally so. A late-game noble sacrifice is carried off with aplomb, but it’s so enormously signposted that it feels trite rather than parodic.
And that’s not to mention the mission revolving around Eggsy competing with
As the trailers reveal, Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is back, but hardly as capable as
That’s the irony of introducing the undoubtedly charismatic Yanks into the picture. Even with Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry and Pedro Pascal in the mix to spice things up, Matthew Vaughn still expects us to lie back and think of England. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is in cinemas now.
arts reviews ■ Film
Spice World: 20 Years On By Ella Donald
od bless the Spice Girls. Like so many pop acts before them, the gang were a cluster of archetypal personalities combined in a pop music laboratory, thrown together to provide competition to their male counterparts New Kids On The Block and Take That at the height of Cool Britannia, the era in which youth culture ruled in a veritable second coming of the ’60s. For the four years before their key lineup disintegrated, the Spice Girls made album sales records that remain unbroken, all the while conducting one of the most successful merchandising efforts ever. By May 1998, their earnings were estimated to be anywhere up to $800 million, scored off everything from dolls to pencils and books (this writer is the proud owner of some of those items). All told, 1997 was the year of Sporty, Scary, Ginger, Baby, and Posh. Their breakthrough single ‘Wannabe’ had been released the year before and became an instant hit, saturating radio channels and becoming the highest-
selling single by an allfemale group of all time. Not too long after that, the band locked in three of the top fi ve songs of 1996 in the UK, with a ten times Platinum album, Spice, picking them up extra plaudits along the way. So by 1997, they were in their element. The year kicked off with the group storming America, Spice rapidly becoming the highest selling record of the year there, and its follow-up, Spiceworld, winning the fi ve-piece even more fans. And at the height of all that glitz, glamour and success, they dropped the peak cultural document of that time – a key to the pop mania that has not been replicated since called Spice World: The Movie. Spice World is quite openly modelled off A Hard Day’s Night. That film, which depicts little more than several days in the life of The Beatles, is a halfway point between Elvis Presley teen pics and the French New Wave. Indeed, the plot of Spice World, at some point presumably composed on a series of napkins or sheets of paper, is concerned with the same
hysteria and intimacy that defines Hard Day’s Night. Opening with the Spice Girls as mega stars, harangued by screaming fans waiting at the back door outside the Top Of The Pops studio, the film quickly reveals them to be just a regular group of girls contending with fame in the week leading up to their first show at the Royal Albert Hall. The fi lm is almost vindictively odd. There are scenes of unguarded absurdity, from a sequence in which a diabolical editor played by Barry Humphries gets soaked in an indoor thunderstorm, to a setpiece imagining the group as harried mothers, to a six o’clock news-led overreaction to Geri’s tongue-in-cheek, “is the Pope a Catholic?” line. Much like Hard Day’s Night, the film is a playful semi-documentary, stuffed full of farce and cartoonish but still recognisably human personalities. And yet what truly hits home – aside from the film’s ability to tie up a staggering number of increasingly illogical plot threads – is the sheer scale of the spectacle. Spice World is
“Spice World marked the end of an era.”
bursting with cameos, and features everyone from Elvis Costello (the butt of a joke about fame being fickle), to Elton John, Bob Geldof, Jennifer Saunders, and even Meat Loaf, who delivers the immortal line, “I’ll do anything for those girls, but I won’t do that”. In the world of the film, love for the Spice Girls knows no bounds – everyone’s a fan, from grizzled police officers, to nurses, to the young and the old. Even extraterrestrials get in the game, proving desperate for a piece of the excitement. “Are you part of the Spice phenomenon?” an unnamed man asks at a party. Watching the fi lm now is a nostalgic experience, of course. To say the ’90s were a better decade is naive – there was as much war, suffering, and injustice as there is presently – but it’s true that we used to know how to do a pop culture obsession better. After all, neoliberal UK Prime Minister Tony Blair once declared without a hint of irony that ‘Say You’ll Be There’ was one of his favourite songs of 1996, and Nelson Mandela once memorably announced to the world that the Spice
“The film is a playful semidocumentary, stuffed full of farce and cartoonish but still recognisably human personalities.” Girls “are my heroes”. Can you imagine Theresa May or some other political player singing similar praises of Little Mix or One Direction? No. There was something special about the Spice Girls – something that Spice World captures perfectly. The film not only shows Spicemania at its most dizzying high – the band wrapped up in their most lightning-in-a-bottle moment – but it’s also full of the kind of unashamed excitement that youth culture has been somewhat lacking ever since. We have just grown too damn cynical; too convinced that art has to be serious, and grating, and monochromatic, and difficult. Some are even
doubting the power of pop music altogether: “Does pop culture tell anyone anything? Or are we just sticking our fingers in our ears and whistling?” the NPR blog Monkey See asked back in 2013, one moaning voice amongst many. Certainly, Spice World marked the end of an era. The full lineup of the group never released another record: their third and final album, dropped in 2000, only featured four of the Fab Five. It would never be 1997, the year in which Prime Ministers declared their unashamed love for pop groups, again. But, mercifully, we’ll always have Spice World. Viva Forever.
BRAG :: 726 :: 04:09:17 :: 29
Shaun Prescott’s The Town is the best Australian book you will read this year By Joseph Earp a book in which the real killer is obscured but not hidden; hard – but crucially, not impossible – to fi nd. Reading is its own form of detective work after all, and Borges thought he could make his audience active participants in the drama. But Borges was wrong. Or if not strictly wrong, then perhaps dedicated to an inherently unachievable task: after years of trying, he found himself forced to abandon the effort. He could just fi nd no way to subtly imply to the reader that they should doubt the central hero; no way to stop them from reaching the disappointing, obviously incorrect conclusion, and feeling less ready to solve their own mystery and more ready to hurl the book across the room. And so the idea remained theoretical; a kind of self-defeating artistic feat to be contemplated but never written down.
What: The Town is out now through Lifted Brow Books.
orge Luis Borges always wanted to write an impossible book. For a long time, he thought he should be able to pen a mystery novel that ends with the central character coming to a conclusion that the audience themselves reject – that, by the end of a hundred pages say, the novel’s erstwhile, chain-smoking detective could incorrectly decide that the butler did it, prompting the reader to go back and start the whole book from the beginning, searching for their own answers. And Borges thought he could provide them, too. He thought he could write
Shaun Prescott’s The Town is full of such impossible books. The most important one, the writing of which takes up the bulk of Prescott’s novel, is a non-fiction account of disappearing towns around the Central West of New South Wales. Its author, The Town’s measured, seemingly unflappable anonymous narrator, wants to end the work with a scene that might “truly horrify people” – with an image of “a crisp green grass plain” full of “naked people being flayed by a cloaked figure.” This, he feels, is the only way to “refl ect my vague notion that the disappearing towns of the Central West of New South Wales needed to be as important to the reader and the world as they were to me”; a way of tying together the strange, aimless work he dictates into a small hand-held recorder, and then listens back to while packing shelves at Woolworths. Sure, the scene would be a lie; a fi ction. But, having followed eight
“By the time The Town’s brutally understated conclusion rolls around, no lesson has been imparted; no great moral has been unearthed.” chapters worth of carefully reported, factual analysis, it would somehow become real by proxy. It would become a kind of spiritual truth, the narrator feels, able to say something about disappearing towns of the Central West of New South Wales that the facts themselves cannot. That we never read the narrator’s book – that it remains itself an idea rather than a real world, consumable object – is kind of the point. After all, The Town is, in some ways, a novel concerned with futile artistry; with the idea that there are things that we can think but cannot do. It is a novel of musicians without audiences, and publicans without customers, and librarians trying to write books about their sadness that they well know they will never be able to complete. It is a book about impotence; about stored up potential, and how quickly it can go to waste, like the legs of a retired weightlifter turning to fat. There is also the temptation, on first pass, to read Australia’s cultural obsession with disappearance into The Town – to see it as an examination of the way we collectively lean on the myth of white vanishing so as to assuage our genocidal guilt, and to express our discomfort living in a landscape we know has the power to actively expel us. There is the sense threaded throughout the novel that its aimless, morally unconflicted “heroes” are aliens themselves – that they have no kinship to each other, or to the burnt land they stand on. No critic has called The Town a mix between
Franz Kafka and Joan Lindsay’s Picnic At Hanging Rock yet, but no-one would blink if they did. There are also, if one is ready to look for them, clues in there to suggest Prescott’s novel is about gentrifi cation; about the subtle disappearance of blue collar workers, and blue collar towns, and the Akira-like absorbent properties of the middle class. After all, the novel’s salt of the earth, true blue Aussie types are wind-blasted fi gures dragging themselves around an almost wholly deserted landscape; avatars trapped in a video game that has not been played for many years. They are, quite literally, going extinct, threatened by the nearby city they feel will engulf them. But Prescott is not writing Borges’ impossible book, so it is ultimately futile to drag The Town for bodies, and discarded murder weapons, and clues. The Town is not about anything the way a broken shin bone is not about anything, and to reduce it to simple social commentary or criticism is to go full witch doctor, and attempt to draw auguries out of a mound of steaming entrails. No, by the time The Town’s brutally understated conclusion rolls around, no lesson has been imparted; no great moral has been unearthed. It is a hole dug in the middle of the outback; a door that leads to nowhere. And in its artful, brutal emptiness, it is one of the very best books you will read this year.
“No critic has called The Town a mix between Franz Kafka and Joan Lindsay’s Picnic At Hanging Rock yet, but no-one would blink if they did.”
30 :: BRAG :: 725 :: 20:09:17
game on Gaming news and reviews with Adam Guetti
If you thought September was hard on your wallet, then you should prepare yourself for the month ahead. Kicking things off on Tuesday October 3 is Forza Motorsport 7. The jawdroppingly pretty racer speeds onto Xbox One with over 700 cars to enjoy.
Jump ahead to Wednesday October 11 and you’ll be able to continue the mystical tale of Talion in Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War. Plenty of hacking and slashing is bound to ensue now that he wields a Ring of Power. Then, a few days later, you can be equal parts terrified and confused when The Evil Within 2 attempts to scare you silly. You can find it from Friday October 13. If you’d prefer something a little lighter, allow Trey Parker and Matt Stone to get you chuckling with South Park: The Fractured But Whole. Available on Tuesday October 17, it would probably be wise to keep this away from children. Meanwhile Thursday October 26 will have you moving and grooving with the release of Just Dance 2018. Beyoncé, Shakira and Bruno Mars will all be featured. Finally, it all comes to a head on Friday October 27 when three heavy hitters compete for your attention. Assassin’s Creed Origins hopes to reinvigorate the killer franchise with a trip to Ancient Egypt, while Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus sets up plenty of evil Nazis to take down. Then there’s Super Mario Odyssey which won’t just be one of the Switch’s biggest games, but one of 2017’s biggest, too.
reviewroundup By Adam Guetti
Review: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Switch)
Big Ant takes a swing Cricket fans should get very excited with the announcement that Ashes Cricket is fast on its way. In even more welcome news, the title will actually be developed on our shores by none other than Melbourne-based sports game studio, Big Ant. “There is no competition in cricket that has the heritage and prestige of the Ashes competition,” Big Ant CEO, Ross Symons, said. “We’ve worked hard to build on our existing experience with cricket to deliver a truly realistic game of cricket to our fans.” Unlike the studio’s previous titles, Ashes Cricket will be fully licensed, utilising their photogrammetry technology to create photo-real likenesses of both the men’s and women’s Australian and English teams. The game is set to be released on
PS4, XBO and PC sometime in November this year.
Bungie achieves its destiny
Proving it’s no longer all about Call Of Duty, Bungie and Activision have revealed that Destiny 2 has fast become the biggest console game launch of 2017. The original Destiny became the biggest new console video game franchise launch in history back in 2014, but Destiny 2 has already surpassed the original’s records for engagement and digital sales in launch week. “We are blown away that we’ve had eight days in a row in Destiny 2 where we’ve seen more than one-million concurrent players grace our world,” said Bungie CEO Pete Parsons. “It’s equal parts inspiring and humbling, and we’re looking forward to showing everyone what’s coming next!”
Review: Destiny 2 (PS4, XBO)
hree years after the release of the original adventure, Bungie hopes to lure you back into the fray with Destiny 2 – a stronger and more self-assured entry. It’s a claim most evident in the creative department, with the game featuring a campaign that actually feels like a narrative. Almost every aspect of Destiny 2 feels larger as well, (sometimes dauntingly so) but it all equates to an experience that will certainly provide you with 4 enough bang for your buck.
Review: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (PS4)
ario and Rabbids is a combination that, by all accounts, shouldn’t work. Surprisingly however, it doesn’t just work: it does so almost flawlessly, creating a game that is immensely enjoyable and viable for the year’s top spot in its own right. Sure Ubisoft’s creatures aren’t likely to win any new fans, but that shouldn’t tarnish the truly 4.5 addictive gameplay loop that borrows elements from your favourite strategy titles, then smartly twists them into something fresh.
Review: Project Cars 2 (PS4, XBO, PC)
f for nothing else, Hellblade has to be commended for its attempt at exploring psychosis – a disorder that can cause hallucinations and delusions in some cases. Ninja Theory smartly takes the taboo subject matter and inserts it into the game’s mechanics, creating an experience that 4 is often challenging to play in many ways. It certainly won’t be for everyone, but definitely deserves to be played.
Review: NBA 2K18 (PS4, XBO, Switch, PC)
roject Cars 2 might make you feel like a truly incompetent driver, but that’s kind of the point. It’s a racing simulator that never softens its blows, urging you to become smarter behind the wheel. Handling remains top-notch, the course selection is impressive and the addition of dynamic time and weather is a welcome touch. As a 3.5 result, Project Cars 2 is one of the most extensive and enjoyable simulations on the market – even when you’re crashing into a wall.
very year the NBA 2K series excels at taking its core formula, only to refine it into something stronger, and 2K18 is no exception. Each player feels unique and, along with the rest of the game, looks incredibly gorgeous. If there’s one major criticism it’s the uncomfortable return of microtransactions, which arguably push things a little too far, but get past that and you’re in for a real slam dunk.
BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 31
Sounds Like… NEW ALBUM AND SINGLE RELE A SES WITH JOSEPH E ARP
I was having a tough go of it around this time last year. Like a lot of people, the entirely resistable rise of Donald Trump had ruined me, and I’d wake up each morning a little less convinced that the species that had gifted the universe delights such as Flannery O’Connor, Anne Carson and whiskey was ever going to overcome the fault in its genetic hardwiring and throw off xenophobia and paranoia for good. Or like, not even for good – for a few months, long enough to shoo away the fake tan-faced dictator pawing away at the largest nuclear arsenal in the world. I’d spend a lot of time sitting in my backyard, drinking tall, silver cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, and thinking about how much I wanted a cigarette. I’d also read and re-read the same passage from a non-fiction book called Command And Control by Eric Schlosser. In it, there is an account of the very first nuclear test – which was, if not a disaster, then certainly a hint at the incompetence that would define the handling of weapons for years to come. The military brass and scientific personnel who were called in to witness the unveiling of the prototype A-bomb stood too close, and were swept off their feet by the resulting detonation. But before one of the scientists who had designed the weapon got thrown back and into the dirt, he saw “a blinding white flash of light” that imprinted itself onto the back of his eyes. He became convinced that the light was “what the last person on the planet earth” would see, one day. The passage was the most terrifying thing I’d ever read. It just made me
the moniker, has only buckled down on her talents in the two years since 2015’s Sprinter, and Three Futures is, in every conceivable way, more; more horrific; more inventive; more extraordinary. ‘Concrete Ganesha’ is a smeared, throbbing doctrine, blasted as morally clean as a Cormac McCarthy novel, while closer ‘To Be Given A Body’ is so precise and perfectly put as to resemble a mission statement.
Which is all a very longwinded way of saying that although nuclear war is closer now even than it was last year, I am not doing as badly as I was then, in no small part because I have had Torres’ Three Futures, out now, to listen to. It is a hideous, beautiful thing, full of repetition and snarling choruses deployed as carefully as gaping, iron-jawed traps. Mackenzie Scott, the musician behind
The standout, however, is ‘Helen In The Woods.’ There is a moment on that track where Scott sings the line, “Your dad said son what’d you do to that girl / Something’s gone and made her whiskers curl.” And the way that she forms her mouth around those words – “whiskers curl” – makes me think of that scientist, and that first bomb, and that hot, white light.
Torres photo by Ashley Connor
32 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17
feel sick – particularly the apocalyptic assessment of a man of science who had only just realised the power of what he had wrought into the world. But I couldn’t stop reading it. And eventually it made me feel, if not calmed, then oddly empowered. It was like sticking my finger into a scab again and again, and feeling the pain ebb away each time. It was like uttering a curse.
The Defender B Y N AT H A N J O L LY In our new fortnightly column, The Defender, the BRAG writers pick out a pop culture artefact that they feel has been hard done by. This issue, Nathan Jolly makes his love of Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ well known.
here are a lot of sensible reasons to hate Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’. Most obvious is the extreme overexposure it received after soundtracking the highest-grossing film since Hollywood was called Hollywoodland.
But it’s meant to be a lot. The drama works: this song was written to soundtrack the most unabashed, hearttugging movie since Thomas J couldn’t see without his glasses, and it more than matches the majesty and excess of the film.
Think about the sheer amount of times this song has been heard around the world. It sold over 18 million singles, while the Titanic soundtrack itself sold a cool 30 million. Then there’s Let’s Talk About Love, Celine Dion’s 1997 solo album, which also featured the song, and sold 31 million copies. Oh, and 128 million tickets were sold to Titanic in the U.S alone, not to mention the VHS and DVD sales. That’s at least 200 million single listens of the song worldwide, at the very minimum. Obviously you’ve heard it loads of times. Everyone has. This is probably why you dislike it so. Everyone does.
It’s interesting to learn this song dodged numerous iceberg-sized hurdles before being brought to life. Composer James Horner created it as an instrumental motif, and tapped lyricist Will Jennings to write lyrics. Director James Cameron hated it. Another producer, Simon Franglen, made a demo for Celine Dion to sing over. Dion wasn’t keen, especially considering she just sang the theme for Beauty And The Beast, but her husband convinced her it was a good idea. And it was. Dion tracked the vocal in one take, and the demo was shown to Cameron, who reluctantly included it at the end of the film (mainly to appease the studio heads who were concerned with the film’s escalating budget.)
“THERE ARE A LOT OF SENSIBLE REASONS TO HATE CELINE DION’S ‘MY HEART WILL GO ON’.”
Equally terrifying – not to mention equally brilliant – is Chelsea Wolfe’s new record, Hiss Spun, out now. Like a velvet glove cast in iron, album highlight ‘The Culling’ is all ’60s folk rock balladry and wide-eyed Wicker Man paranoia, while ‘16 Psyche’ is as crude as a tumour. It always sounds like Wolfe’s songs are one minute away from collapsing into themselves.
independence, and what you can do when certain things you thought were owed to you get taken away. Mayfield isn’t putting up with anything – on the titular track, she sings the line “I deserve to occupy this space without feeling like I don’t belong” with such force it’s like the words are being tattooed upon her tongue.
Or maybe you hate it because of how overwrought and dramatic the song is, forever linked to the tragic tale of Jack and Rose: the class difference, the brief, passionate love affair, the impromptu art class, the door that only fits one. And that’s just the mental imagery. Sonically, this song really hits you in the windpipe with the drama, from the peaceful yet foreboding flutes in the intro (which I thought were panpipes for the longest time) to the crashing key changes, to the Bronte-esque torture of the long-lost love: “Every night in my dreams”, Dion opens, “I see you, I feel you.” It’s a lot.
In case you missed that last fact, this song — one of the highest-selling singles ever singled — is a goddamn one take vocal on a demo, whacked onto a film as a bargaining chip. Far from being an epic undertaking, it was lightning in a bottle. It’s Dion’s biggest song, the theme to the biggest film ever, and if that key change does’t work on you – well that’s just the hypothermia kicking in.
Chelsea Wolfe photo by Allister Ann
And although Metz’s new record, Strange Peace, out now, owes less to metal than Hiss, it too finds much of worth on the very boundaries of structure. The influence of Steve Albini is clear, not just as a producer, but also as an artistic force – tracks like ‘Cellophane’ fully embrace the “scarf caught in a car wheel” repetition of Shellac’s best songs, and the proceedings frequently cartwheel startlingly close to cliff edges. At least prima facie, Jessica Lea Mayfield’s Sorry Is Gone, out now, appears to be something else entirely – it’s almost a whole radio’s worth of lilting country ballads, and gently spun folk rock stories. But Sorry is no lullaby: it is a record about defiance, and pain, and
Then, amidst it all, there is Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett, and their excellent new record Lotta Sea Lice, out Friday October 13, which is also a story of defiance, and of the resistant properties of art. Because, although Vile hints at the big black clouds assembling in his periphery on ‘Over Everything’, Sea Lice is, in its uncomplicated beauty, a kind of salve. It is an album that requires nothing of you but that you listen. I am thankful for it.
Album Of The Fortnight: Three Futures.
Dud Of The Fortnight: No duds here, friend.
“OBVIOUSLY YOU’VE HEARD [‘MY HEART WILL GO ON’] LOADS OF TIMES. EVERYONE HAS. THIS IS PROBABLY WHY YOU DISLIKE IT SO. EVERYONE DOES.”
BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 33
Other Colors: Beck’s Best Non-Beck Bits And Bobs Ahead of the release of Beck’s new album, David James Young goes trawling through the master’s back catalogue Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, ‘Flavor’
ith over 25 years in the game, the man they call Beck has proven time and time again to be one of pop music’s most versatile, innovative artists. That’s not just in relation to his own creations, either – he’s been sought out as a collaborator for a myriad of stars from pop, rock, dance and even comedy. Whether as a guest vocalist, a songwriter, or even both, Beck always knows how to make his presence felt. Ahead of the release of his brand new album, Colors, we decided to go back through some of Beck’s finest features, cameos and collaborations.
In the year that Beck cracked stardom with the release of ‘Loser’ and the Mellow Gold record, he also showed up unexpectedly on Orange, album number five from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. In a non-sequitur that needs to be heard to be believed, Beck raps down the phone line and nails his verse in a single take. It’s enough to get Spencer himself to yell at him, over and over, “You got the flavour!” Truth be told, the Blues Explosion would have been one of the very first to acknowledge that about Mr. Beck Hansen.
“In the year that Beck cracked stardom with the release of ‘Loser’ and the Mellow Gold record, he also showed up unexpectedly on Orange, album number five from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.”
The Chemical Brothers, ‘Wide Open’ The stand-out track on the Brothers’ most recent LP, Born In The Echoes, was easily its closing number. Beck emotes over a bright, shuffling beat, detailing the demise of a partnership with the sombre tones that can only come from someone who’s been through this sort of Sea Change before.
The Lonely Island, ‘Attracted To Us’ Who better to get in on a Mutations/Midnite Vultures pastiche than the man who made those records? This goofy number from the greatest fake MCs on earth sees them flirting hard – “but you’re never gonna get it,” they warn, “...because we’re shy!”
‘Do They Know It’s Hallowe’en?’ Did you know Beck sings on one of the spookiest charity singles of all time – if not the spookiest single? He’s in there among the likes of David Cross, Feist, Thurston Moore, Karen O, Arcade Fire... even Stevo32, who used to drum for Sum 41, is in there somewhere. Beck chants “All fed up/We’ve had enough/ Enough! Enough! Enough!” as things ascend to the next level of haunted. It’s an indie kid’s dream ensemble, it’s hilarious, it’s catchy and all the proceeds went to UNICEF. What’s not to love?
“Who better to get in on a Mutations/ Midnite Vultures pastiche than the man who made those records? Sia, ‘The Bully’ 10 years before ‘Chandelier’ made her a megastar, Sia was content with simply being an indie darling, delivering such heartbreakers as ‘Breathe Me’ and ‘Numb’ from the mesmerising Colour The Small One. Beck was a co-writer on one of the more lush, introspective numbers from the album, and would go on to work with Sia several more times over the years.
Pink and William Orbit, ‘Feel Good Time’
34 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17
originally planned to be a Beck song in collaboration with veteran producer William Orbit – you can absolutely hear a song like this fitting into what was to be Beck’s next solo effort, Guero.
Macy Gray and Pharaohe Monch, ‘It Ain’t The Money’ One of Beck’s more low-key cameos – quite literally, in this instance. Hear the mumbling voice doing a call-and-response with Gray
in the chorus? Yep, it’s your boy. That’s him playing guitar on there and doing the bridge, too. His low-energy presence on a song that very clearly slaps is entertaining enough on its own, but this unlikely trio somehow make the whole thing work.
Eddie Vedder/ Pearl Jam, ‘Sleepless Nights’ A rarity – even by Pearl Jam’s standards. This was used as a B-side to
Pearl Jam’s annual holiday 7-inch in 2002. Here, Beck provides ample harmonies in a lovely Everly Brothers cover alongside Pearl Jam’s fearless leader, Eddie Vedder. Vedder would later go on to record this song for a solo record, and would duet with The Frames’ Glen Hansard. There’s something really special, however, about this recording, given it pits two alt-rock heroes of the ’90s together in the most unlikely of environments.
Air, ‘The Vagabond’ Before he got cosy with the Chemical Brothers, Beck had previously teamed up with another iconic duo from the electronic music world. ‘The Vagabond’ is heavenly, from its harmonica-driven intro to its succinct conclusion. It plays into the groove Beck is best known for, while holding onto the summery flutter of songs like Air’s ‘Playground Love’ or ‘Cherry Blossom Girl’.
Our story concludes with perhaps the most obscure credit to Beck’s name: The Rugrats Movie. As the Rugrats explore a hospital, they come across a room full of babies – who just happen to have the voices of people like Iggy Pop, Cypress Hill, The B-52s, Patti Smith and The Violent Femmes’ Gordon Gano. That’s just naming a few! Warning: There’s a disturbing rainbow in the clip taken from the film. Viewer discretion is advised on that one. Otherwise, this is an entirely charming and adorable song – who’d have guessed those babies would grow up to be pop culture icons? Where: Colours out Friday October 13 via Universal Music Australia thebrag.com
Beck Illustration by Keiren Jolly
While most may only remember Destiny’s Child and their classic ‘Independent Women’ from the Charlie’s Angels soundtrack, perhaps this effort from angsty charttopper turned perennial Mother’s Day gift Pink will prick your ears with recognition. The track was
‘The World Is Something New To Me’
out & about
1. Draw you and your band:
Queer(ish) matters with Arca Bayburt
On Being a Big Gay Target
t the risk of sounding like a prophetic wanker, I’m going to reiterate what I’ve been saying over the past six months: the decision to go forward with this absurd postal vote was the equivalent of slapping an “Open Season” sign on every queer person in the country.
If you think this sounds like hyperbole, by all means go fuck yourself. If you care to keep reading, allow me to whip the shit out of this dead horse a little more, just in case the message hasn’t penetrated deep enough. In painting a jumbo target on the backs of queers, the government has sanctioned an insane free-for-all that rivals the Vatican’s drug-fuelled gay priest orgy in its indiscriminate, frenzied fucking of everybody involved.
Welcome to Drawn Out, the BRAG’s new illustrated interview column. This week we sent over five questions to rising Sydney-based singersongwriter Georgia June, whose new single ‘Cool’ we can’t stop blaring, and asked her to draw some answers. Here’s what she sent us back.
So here’s the thing: us queers didn’t consent to this, but I guess we gotta deal. We’re not doing so great. A lot of my friends – resilient human beings – have admitted to feeling emotionally eroded by the postal vote’s incredible output of social pollution.
2. Draw the cover of your new single, ‘Cool’:
The infamous “vote no” skywriting was a gut punch for sure. I’m all about the #respectfuldebate: I’ve always been a proponent of seeking to understand each other rather than to denigrate. But that requires a large emotional resource, one that’s busy being siphoned away from my “I will be patient with you in our disagreements” compartment to the “My Uber driver just told me that gays make her uncomfortable and told me to get out of the car so I can’t deal with your bitchy shit right now” emergency compartment.
3. Draw your ideal rider:
I could tell you about the incidences of harassment I’ve endured over the past two weeks, but it’s nothing you haven’t heard before. My Yes voter friends have had their properties vandalised, their persons threatened, been harassed on the street by cowards shrieking vicious epithets from the safety of their cars… All the while, the media’s obsessive and
4. Draw your favourite musician of all time:
“MY YES VOTER FRIENDS HAVE HAD THEIR PROPERTIES VANDALISED, THEIR PERSONS THREATENED, AND HAVE BEEN HARASSED ON THE STREET.” what’s on…
Yes Campaigners photo by Brianna Elton
5. Draw your dream audience:
On Saturday October 7, get out to any pub/cafe/bar/park (or anywhere you could set up a BBQ) because it’s Democracy Sausage Weekend! The Equality Campaign is set to serve up some snags in the name of love. Check out the campaign’s website (equalitycampaign. org.au) for a list of participating venues or places where you’ll find a BBQ (you can also host one yourself). This weekender event encourages everyone to post their Yes votes and come together for the age old tradition of the democracy sausage…
“IF YOU THINK THIS SOUNDS LIKE HYPERBOLE, BY ALL MEANS GO FUCK YOURSELF.” myopic focus on the red herrings served up by the No camp has me with my head in my hands most days. I’m particularly bemused by some supporters of the No vote who’ve adopted this bizarre affectation; this chronic narcissistic injury that claims they’re somehow the ones who have been oppressed and wronged this whole time. What the fuck? It’s a grotesque display of indecency to pretend that queers have had hetero folks trussed up with ball-gags in their mouths, silencing them or oppressing them or whatever other demonic, kinky political torture these deranged minds can conjure. Moreover, I’m utterly uninterested in entertaining ridiculous claims made by the people who are frantically trying to jam a crowbar into the guts of this debate in an attempt to leverage out some oppression they can dress themselves up in. That is some ghoulish shit. It has helped me immensely to speak to other queers and allies about how this public humiliation is making me feel. I’d advise anybody feeling down to do the same. You aren’t alone.
But this time, it’s an #equalitysausage.
for the diary On Saturday October 14, GiRLTHING celebrates its ninth birthday with its first ever open air day party, Cloud 9, at Holme Courtyard at Sydney University’s Camperdown campus. The lineup remains a super special secret surprise. You better believe this party will be a big one, and tickets are available now, so grab ’em fast because missing out on this one is not an option. On Saturday October 21, Get down to Belmore Park for the
Yes Rally For Marriage Equality. The aim is to keep the word “yes” out on the streets of Sydney. The event is hosted by just.equal, PFLAG Australia, Community Action Against Homophobia, Union Pride, Sydney Pride Festival, Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Equal Marriage Rights Australia and GetUp! This rally will be happening just before the final plebiscite votes are posted, so it’s a great opportunity for Yes votes to reach critical mass… and y’know, maybe we’ll finally have a shot at true equality.
BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 35
g g guide g
send your listings to : firstname.lastname@example.org
PICK OF THE THE ISSUE
Jeremy Butterworth The Newsagency, Annandale. 7:30pm. $16.50.
Matt BoylanSmith The Chippo, Chippendale. 7:30pm. $16.50.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 13
Me First And The Gimme Gimmes Metro Theatre, Sydney. 8pm. $56.90. Rockin’ For West Papua – feat: Dawn Laird, LC Beats, Luck Less, Nate Weatherill, Sarah Connor and more Valve Bar, Ultimo. 10pm. $10. Rosa Maria + Natalie De Silver + The Satanic Togas Leadbelly, Newtown. 6pm. $12.25. Young Lions Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8:30pm. $18.50.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 7 Against The Current Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 7pm. $58.
Enmore Theatre, Newtown
Flaming Wreckage + Requiem + Aver + Burden Man Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $10.
Kinsky Leacbelly, Newtown. 6pm. $20.
+ Diana Anaid
The Kite String Tangle Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm.
7:30pm. $98.50. WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 4 Spunk Records Night – feat: Shining Bird, Crepes The Lansdowne, Chippendale. 8pm. $17.85.
THURSDAY OCTOBER 5 Declan O’Rourke + Martha Marlow Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 7:30pm. $45. Gooch Palms The Lansdowne, Chippendale. 8pm. $23.50.
36 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17
Great Outdoors Golden Age Cinema, Surry Hills. 8pm. Free. Live And Original Staves Brewery, Glebe. 7:30pm. Free. Medusa’s Wake Union Hotel, Newtown. 8pm. Free. Tall Hearts Leadbelly, Newtown. 6pm. $12.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 6 Alex Lahey Oxford Art Factory,
Darlinghurst. 8pm. $28.80. Caligula’s Horse + I Built The Sky Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $27.90. Citizen Kay The Lansdowne, Chippendale. 8pm. $17.85. D Henry Fenton + Melanie Horsnell + David Lane + Steph Miller Petersham Bowling Club, Petersham. 7:30pm. $15. Hibiscus Biscuit Red Rattler, Marrickville. 8:30pm. $10.
$39.90. Lastlings The Lansdowne, Chippendale. 8pm. $23.50. Peter Hook And The Light Metro Theatre, Sydney. 8pm. $69.90. Uptown Kings Cross Hotel, Potts Point. 9pm. $10.
SUNDAY OCTOBER 8 Acoustic Sessions The Botanist, Kirribilli. 2pm. Free. Chuck A Sicky On Monday – feat: Oily Boys, Placeholder, Robber, The No Valve Bar, Ultimo. 5pm. $10. Rockin’ For West Papua – feat: Demonatrix, Blackbreaks, Once Remained, Totofu Frankie’s Pizza By The Slice, Sydney CBD. 4pm. Free. The Ruminaters Landsdowne Hotel, Chippendale. 8pm. $14.30.
MONDAY OCTOBER 9 Alison Moyet + Katie Noonan Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 7:30pm. $91.65.
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 11 Hiaground + Marvell + Balko The Lansdowne, Chippendale. 8pm. $14.30.
Napalm Death + Brujeria + Lock Up + Black Rheno Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 7:30pm. $70.
THURSDAY OCTOBER 12 The Austracana Travelling Revue Leadbelly, Newtown. 6pm. $17.85. Dream On Dreamer Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $23.26. Mayday Parade + This Wild Life Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 7:30pm. $66.70. Paul Winn Lazybones Lounge, Marrickville. 8:30pm. $15. Swamp Fat Jangles Golden Age Cinema, Surry Hills. 8pm. Free.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 13 Adam Ant + Diana Anaid Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 7:30pm. $98.50. Hands Like Houses + Dream On Dreamer + PLTS Metro Theatre, Sydney. 7:30pm. $34.80. Kingston Country + Run Marlowe Leadbelly, Newtown. 6pm. $15.30. Orb The Lansdowne, Chippendale. 8pm. $23.50.
Napalm Death + Brujeria + Lock Up + Black Rheno Factory Theatre, Marrickville. Wednesday October 11. 7:30pm. $70. Napalm Death are one of the heaviest heavy metal acts around – so heavy, in fact, that they prefer to be referred to as an “extreme” metal band. You can witness them in all their face-shredding glory yourself at the Factory Theatre. Just bring earplugs, yeah?
BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 37
g g guide gig g send your listings to : email@example.com
A Tribute To Chris Cornell Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $15.
Biscuit, Orb, Party Dozen, Sunscreen Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 7pm. Free.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 14
These New South Whales The Lansdowne, Chippendale. 8pm. $18.40.
Caiti Baker Leadbelly, Newtown. 6pm. $12.70. Live And Local Cronulla RSL, Cronulla. 8pm. $10. Ten Years Of The Oxford Art Factory – feat: Bare Minimums, Big White, Darts, Green Buzzard, Gum Palms, Nice
SUNDAY OCTOBER 15 Acoustic Sessions The Botanist, Kirribilli. 2pm. Free. Andy Grammer Metro Theatre, Sydney. 7pm. $49.90.
TUESDAY OCTOBER 17
Hands Like Houses
Justin Townes Earle Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 7:30pm. $55.
For our full gig and club listings, head to thebrag. com/gigguide.
Hands Like Houses + Dream On Dreamer + PLTS Metro Theatre, Sydney. Friday October 13. 7:30pm. $34.80. Dissonants, the 2016 record by rising hardcore stars Hands Like Houses, was a bold step forward for the group; a weird mix of electro pop stylings and grungey riffs. It makes them a band not to be missed.
Justin Townes Earle
Caiti Baker Leadbelly, Newtown. Sunday October 14. 6pm. $12.70. Caiti Baker is one of Australia’s most important new voices – her debut record, Zinc, sounds quite literally like nothing else. Best of all, she’s launching the album at Leadbelly, a perfect venue for a blues act if ever there was one.
Have a gig or club listing to get in The BRAG?
Justin Townes Earle Factory Theatre, Marrickville. Tuesday October 17. 7:30pm. $55. Justin Townes Earle comes from good stock – his dad, Steve Earle, is one of the most legendary musicians in the Americana scene. But he’s not just a carbon copy of his old man: he’s a dynamic, fully-fledged artist in his own right.
You can now submit your gig and club listings, head to thebrag.com/gig-guide.
free stuff head to: thebrag.com/freeshit
ASSASSIN’S CREED: ORIGINS It has been 20 years since the first Assassin’s Creed game burst into our lives and sold seventy bajillion copies (or thereabouts). Since then, the acclaimed franchise has morphed from an action-adventure romp to a pirate escapade to a vaguely historical soap opera and then back again, and it shows no sign of slowing down now: the new game, Assassin’s Creed Origins, set in Ancient Egypt, is set to drop on Friday October 27. We are sure it keeps up the level of historical accuracy that the series has been known for so far. No, really. To celebrate this momentous occasion, we have five copies of Origins to give away. To enter the draw, just head over to thebrag. com/freeshit, won’tcha? 38 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17
St Vincent's new record MASSEDUCTION is out Friday October 13 through Loma Vista Recordings/Caroline Australia
&&&&!"$"%# ! $%!#&$%
Photo by - Megan Carew !%! # !%% !%#& "!
$ & #$% !$$
Australian Poetry Slam
' ' ''
)3%"0)("+0/% -+$-) !#&!#!! &!"
#"!!!$ " #)"($!#$!
&!$%!""!#"#!" $$! ,)32!*"2 +"/-2()&*( !###()"#!(" "
,)30##1 ((""!#!#!( ,)30""-%2)" !$"#!)""#% $! #"##$!"#"! ,)3*"( ")&*&.)&* +"/-2#""$""#! '!""" ,)3,+'"*+-!+)"* "#)""##"! $#!#""#!( "#!#("
,)3%" &"* "+# +))0*& /&+* !"!##($!"#!( #%(
,)30./-(&*+"/-2() /&+*(&*( 7KLVLVLW7KHHSLFÆ“QDOH<RXZLOOZLQ" <RXGHFLGH
,)3+"/-2()&*( !$$# 7KHEHVWRIWKHVWDWHÆ“JKWIRUDVSRWLQ &&&&!"$"%# ! ## %#"#!$(( !$! !#