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A L S O I N S I D E : PA D D I N G T O N 2 , W O L F C R E E K , R O M P E R S T O M P E R , C H U C K D , A L D O U S H A R D I N G A N D M U C H M O R E


Photography: Alina Gozin’a




12–21 JANUARY, BONDI PAVILION /flickerfest



# flickerfest2018

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in this issue what you’ll find inside…

In This Issue 731


The Frontline

“Screen Memories is a delirious, hysterical thing.” (14-15)


Back To Business


The BRAG staff reflect on 2017


Flickerfest giveaway


Wolf Creek


Tony Mosley of The New Power Generation wants every one of his band’s shows to honour Prince




World Without Us


Wild Bore


Aldous Harding


Romper Stomper





Prophets Of Rage

Paddington 2, Romper Stomper, The Florida Project,Wonder Wheel


The BRAG’s favourite albums of 2017


Who is The Punisher?


The BRAG’s breakout musicians of 2017, the BRAG’s favourite songs of 2017


The BRAG gift guide


Sounds Like, The Defender


Gig guide




“Australian storytelling from day dot was about “I see a lot of bands trying to do people trying to survive this tribute shows, and we wanted place that was basically a to be the originals.” (8-9) nightmare.” (24)






the frontline With Brandon John, Poppy Reid and Nathan Jolly ISSUE 731: Wednesday December 13, 2017


PRINT & DIGITAL EDITOR: Joseph Earp NEWS DIRECTOR: Nathan Jolly SUB EDITOR: Belinda Quinn NEWS: Nathan Jolly, Tyler Jenke, Brandon John

We bloody love Phantastic Ferniture, a local Sydney supergroup made up of talented singer-songwriters Julia Jacklin and Liz Hughes and producer extraordinaire Ryan Brennan. Why, when we last caught them at the sadly departed Newtown

ART DIRECTOR: Sarah Bryant PHOTOGRAPHER: Ashley Mar POSTER PHOTO: Brianna Elton ADVERTISING: Josh Burrows - 0411 025 674


PUBLISHER: Seventh Street Media CEO, SEVENTH STREET MEDIA: Luke Girgis - luke.girgis@seventhstreet. media MANAGING EDITOR: Poppy Reid THE GODFATHER: BnJ


GIG GUIDE COORDINATOR: Kenneth Liong - 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. ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE: Carrie Huang - (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 PRINTED BY SPOTPRESS: 24 – 26 Lilian Fowler Place, Marrickville NSW 2204 like us:


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WE’VE GOT THE BLUES Bluesfest 2018 has once again done what it does best and added another huge list of artists to its lineup, expanding an already impressive list of musos headed to Byron Bay next March. I mean, it’s getting to the stage where it’s hard to believe there will be any musical acts in the world not in attendance. Following the festival’s intense first announcement a couple of months ago, which included the likes of Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, the New Power Generation, Lionel Richie, and The John Butler Trio, fans could have been forgiven for thinking that was all the fuel the fest had in the tank. Now, the festival has made yet another lineup announcement, with Kesha, Sheryl Crow, and Melissa Etheridge kicking off the new additions. Phew. If you require more incentive to head over to Byron Bay on Thursday March 29 through to Monday April 2, we can’t imagine what that extra impetus will look like.

Can’t get enough short cinema in your life? Spend your life pining your time away until Tropfest comes around? Waste hours on Youtube, typing and retyping “BEST SHORT MOVIES” into the search bar? Then boy oh boy are you in luck. Flickerfest, a permanent fixture of the Bondi community for some two decades, is heading back to the beach this coming Friday January 12 to Sunday January 21. As ever, the festival’s official competition program is stuffed with goodies and stars, so everyone from casual lovers of all things screen to diehard cinephiles will have just the best goddamn time. Head over to for ticket information or, if you’re interested, flick through the mag till you stumble across our Flickerfest ticket giveaway and get yourself in the door that way.

NOT SO LIMP AFTER ALL Limp Bizkit’s music really chronicles that feeling of unspecified anger, where you just wanna break…stuff. You know the feeling? So you can get that cookie? Motherfucking chainsaw, what? All that stuff? The band were absolute massive during that turn-ofthe-century time when riffs were huge, cargo shorts were loose, and every band had a DJ. They sold over 40 million albums within a few short years! Fred Durst is a singular frontman, too: oddly charismatic, cartoonish, odd-looking, a ball of anger and energy. Now, excitingly, the band have announced a Sydney shows, after being first announced on the Download Festival lineup in Mebourne last month. They’ll be playing Hordern Pavilion on Sunday March 25, and tickets will go like hot cakes, so get on it.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

PSYCH KINGS If you’ve been a participant on the wild ride that King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have been embarking on throughout 2017, then it might be wise not to unbuckle your seatbelt yet, because even with only a few short weeks left in the year, the immensely prolific group have promised that album number five is still on the way. Speaking to Consequence Of Sound, frontman Stu Mackenzie told fans that “the last one is still coming together, but it’s definitely less ‘themed’ like the other four have been. The four records that have come out so far were the initial four, and they were the ones we had ideas for last year … And for me, some of my favorite songs of the year are on the fifth record. It’s more songoriented than album-oriented. But things are still possible to change.”

SEVENTH HEAVEN Primus, the band behind South Park’s theme song and some of the most boundary-pushing alternative metal and rock tracks of the ’90s are making their way down under again in 2018. This will mark the band’s first Australian tour since their stint on the 2014 Big Day Out lineup, in which they played alongside other ’90s alt-titans like Pearl Jam and Mudhoney. Primus will be supporting the release of their ninth album, The Desaturating Seven which was released in September this year. The band will be playing the Enmore Theatre on Friday April 6. How bloody exciting is that?


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Social Club, we had this to say: “Phantastic Ferniture’s performance at Newtown Social Club wasn’t just a gig – it was a victory lap, a rattling showcase of a sound that hasn’t been copied, or nicked, or dredged out of someone’s mate’s dad’s record collection.” So, we were delighted when we learned that the band are set to play their first and last show of 2017 at The Lansdowne Hotel, in an event billed as Phantastic Ferniture’s Christmas Extravaganza. They’ll be hitting the Downe on Tuesday December 19, and tickets are sure to sell out fast, so get on ‘em, won’t you? Also, while you’re in the mood, take a squiz at the incredible Phantastic Ferniture Christmas poster in this very issue of the BRAG.

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Back To Business Music Industry News powered by The Industry Observer

With Poppy Reid and Nathan Jolly

The NSW Government has extended the last call for takeaways from 10pm until 11pm, whenever Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday. In a miraculous piece of luck, that’s exactly what’s happening this year, so clubs, pubs, bottle shops, and weird grocers will be able to sell takeaway alcohol until 11pm this Christmas Eve, “if they are currently able to trade until then on other days from Monday through to Saturday.”

Christmas image courtesy of Mallory Dash/Flickr


A press release explains: “This change is consistent with previous arrangements that were superseded by liquor law reforms in 2014. It complements existing special arrangements for packaged liquor licensees, who can already begin trading earlier from 8am when Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday. “The special Sunday trading arrangements provide consumers with extra time to make purchases ahead of celebrations on Christmas Day, when no retail liquor trading is permitted.” In other words, stock up on rum, or go without on Xmas day.

A BITE OF THE APPLE After vehemently denying it would phase out iTunes music downloads in May 2016, Apple has reportedly scheduled a complete axing of downloads for early 2019. According to Digital Music News, “multiple sources tied into the platform or working at the company itself” have said the plan to phase out iTunes music downloads has been in motion since 2016, and should be completed in the first few months of 2019. Track downloads collapsed 24% in the US in the first half of this year, while

ABOUT FACE The Australian Government has overhauled our copyright laws yet again, and – in a move that goes against legal trends elsewhere in the world – giants such as Facebook and Google won’t be granted safe harbour protection. This law protects internet companies from users who breach copyright on their platforms. While ISPs are currently protected by this law in Australia – meaning that Dodo aren’t responsible for the hard-drive filled with illegal Gilmore Girls episodes sitting on your desk as I type this – Google and Facebook aren’t, meaning they need to act swiftly to stamp out any copyright breaches on their platforms. It goes without saying this is a momentous task, and maybe an

digital albums slipped 20%. What’s more, choosing to wait until after the 2018 Christmas season aims to decrease disruptions among buyers as the tech giant preps for the expected post-holiday lull.

towards a new Apple Music account, which – similarly to the platform’s initial launch in 2015 – they’ll offer for free for three months.

Naturally, a large focus of the phase-out is expected to transition consumers over to its streaming service, Apple Music. The platform may be the second biggest streaming service but it only has half the amount of paying subscribers (30 million) than market leader Spotify (60 million). According to DMN, Apple plans to migrate user’s iTunes downloads impossible one given the pace of technology and the breadth of their network. The new laws do, however, protect libraries, plus educational and cultural institutions – those who Communications Minister Mitch Fifield says, “provide beneficial services to all Australians and who are working collaboratively with copyright owners to address infringement”. Fifield further explained how vital it is to protect copyright. “Australia’s copyright industries make a significant contribution to our economic and cultural life, including collectively generating approximately AUS$122.8 billion in economic activity, AUS$6.5 billion in exports and employing more than one million Australians”.

Alex Dyson

DON’T PACK ‘ER UP JUST YET It’s the end of the year, so we’ve come to the time in which radio stations announce the changes they plan to make for the following 12 months. We’ve already seen Zan Rowe announce her departure from triple j, and her new destination, Double J, has revealed just what 2018 will look like for them – but now Australia’s most prominent youth broadcaster have unveiled what their lineup is set to be.

Alex Dyson, longtime breakfast favourite, is set to return to the station as the host of Lunch in 2018, but he’ll be making an early start, appearing throughout December and January to help get you in the mood for his permanent position. Taking over from Zan Rowe’s legendary morning position will be Linda Marigliano, who is waving goodbye to her spot at Good Nights to help ease you into your day. “It’s been such a blast presenting new music in the evenings, getting those hot jams out there and winding those windows down,” said Marigliano of the move. “I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to create this Good Nights beast six years ago, and oh boy it’s been a party every night. But I love to shake things up, and I am honoured to follow on from my dear friend and legend Zan Rowe, bringing my true music nerd to triple j Mornings.”

Facebook image courtesy of Sarah Marshall/Flickr

In addition to Ben Harvey, Liam Stapleton and Brooke Boney heading up the Breakfast slot, and Drive being overseen up by Lewis Hobba and Gen Fricker (at least until Veronica Milsom gets back from maternity leave), there’s been a few changes. Bridget Hustwaite is set to take over triple j’s Good Nights, while Unearthed regular Declan Byrne is set to take over from Dom Alessio, who leaves Home & Hosed after eight years in the position.

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DMN spoke to its sources in complete confidentiality. Its sources were interviewed via phone conversations or using personal email accounts.

free stuff head to:

Flickerfest WIN

One of Australia’s most beloved film festivals is heading back to Bondi shores. FESTIVAL That’s right: Flickerfest, a goddamn DOUBLE PASSES Australian institution, is set to hit the beach from Friday January 12 to Sunday January 21, which means the festival will once again span ten sunny days of sand and short cinema. So, to celebrate the return of one of the most important events in Sydney’s cultural calendar, we’re partnering up with Flickerfest to offer five double passes to the fest. That means you can settle down with a mate and drink in as many short delights as you can possibly handle, presumably with a beer in your hand and a broad smile slapped all across your face. Head over to for more, won’tcha?

Beach Rats


Signature Move

FRIDAY 16 FEB 9:00PM Beach Rats presents youthful desire during a sultry Brooklyn summer, and explores the fine line between hyper-masculine swagger and homoeroticism in this moody character study.

SATURDAY 17 FEB 4:00PM Iranian writer/director Anahita Ghazvinizadeh teams up with executive producer Jane Campion to create a visually stunning coming-of-age film about a non-binary teen at the crossroads of adulthood.

SATURDAY 17 FEB 6:30PM Brace yourself for mother-daughter relationships and lucha libre women’s wrestling in this multicultural lesbian love story between a Pakistani-American lawyer and Mexican-American bookstore owner.

Saturday Church

Jade of Death

Witches and Faggots, Dykes and Poofters

WEDNESDAY 21 FEB 6:30PM Picking up a slew of awards on the festival circuit, including Audience Award Runner Up at Tribeca, Saturday Church is a soulful exploration of self.

FRIDAY 23 FEB 7:00PM Dark, funny and sexy as hell, this supernatural thriller is about a young woman who can hear when and how people are going to die.

SUNDAY 25 FEB 3:30PM One of the most important queer documentaries of our time, newly restored by the Australian National Film and Sound Archive, tells the story of the first Mardi Gras from those who were there.

Full Program out January 10 BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17 :: 7



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Genevieve Gao talks with the legendary Tony Mosley about life on the road, and the time he spent with the legendary Purple One himself apper Tony Mosley (AKA Tony M.) of Prince’s former band The New Power Generation is travelling down a road near his home in Minneapolis, thinking about keeping an icon’s legacy alive. He’s busy talking about his friend and former bandmate, his voice light, his laughter easy. That is, until conversation turns to the day of Prince’s death. Then, Mosley’s voice drops. “I remember it clearly,” he says, slowly.

[1992], and the New Power Generation album that came after that. We’re also bringing in his past bandmates like André Cymone [bassist, pre-Revolution].” All of the musicians in The NPG, from keyboardist Morris Hayes to bassist Sonny Thompson (AKA Sonny T.), considered Prince to be a mentor. The icon introduced Mosley to blues and jazz, the young rapper having emerged from a hip hop and funk background while dancing at clubs and parties during high school. “I came in as a dancer and choreographer, and it grew from that to, ‘Tony, can you do rap vocals?’, and ‘You play a little bit of guitar? Let me see what you can do here’,” he reflects. “He allowed you to stand onstage next to him and actually perform your craft… You really felt like you were focused. At the same time, he would be like, ‘Maybe you can try this onstage next time’. Those were the things he was always pointing out to you.” That nurturing relationship worked both ways. Mosley became integral to Prince’s hip hop transition when the icon recruited the rapper – along with fellow dancers Kirk Johnson and Damon Dickson – for the dramatic film Graffiti Bridge and the Nude Tour. Indeed, it was on that tour that The NPG debuted their live show, before eventually coming together to record 1991’s seminal album Diamonds And Pearls.

“I came in as a dancer and choreographer, and it grew from that to, ‘Tony, can you do rap vocals?’, and ‘You play a little bit of guitar?’” “I was at work in a meeting, and a friend of mine from New York sent me a text and he said, ‘Hey man, give me a call. I’m hearing something crazy out of Paisley.’ I had not been at my computer and so hadn’t seen anything, so I left my meeting and went to my desk to call my friend, and that’s when I started seeing the news reports. The first thing I did was call Kirk [Johnson, drummer], because I knew he was still working with Prince. He confirmed it. It was surreal. “I remember going to his memorial service at Paisley, and for the first time the loss really hit me. But now I think about the good times and how he helped me grow; what we created together as a family.” That familial connection expresses itself as an incredible musical cohesion: the New Power Generation are a force to behold onstage; a whirlwind of funk and hip hop beats. “I see a lot of bands trying to do tribute shows, and we wanted to be the originals,” Mosley says of the NPG’s vision. “We helped create this music, from Diamonds and Pearls [1991] to the Love Symbol Album

“Before [the Nude tour] he didn’t know I rapped or played guitar,” Mosley says. “He happened to come into the stadium and he was back by the booth. We were jamming to a song, and before I knew it, he comes on the microphone and says, ‘You know what, that’s kind of funky’. I was like, ‘Oh shoot, did I mess up?’ and he was like, ‘Well let’s get on with rehearsal’. “We got on with our soundcheck, and we went back into the venue for supper before the show started, and his manager pulls me aside and says, ‘Prince wants to talk to you for minute’. I go into his dressing room, we sit down and chat, and he said, ‘I didn’t know you played guitar or did rap vocals. Do you think you could write up that song tomorrow evening? I want to put it in the set, and when I do a wardrobe change, could you rap it?’ “I was like, ‘Absolutely’, and also, ‘Oh my god, what are these people going to think? Here I am rapping during a Prince song’. You know the history; you’ve heard the fans. So I was torn the whole time, but I made the most of it.”

trying to create something else, which I think we did.” Nonetheless, throughout their longevity as Prince’s backing band, what held the NPG steadfast was their drive to be better; play faster; adapt more. “You come in, you start setting up and getting in your areas, and he would say, ‘Here are some notes’,” Mosley says. “So we would listen through them and make those arrangements, and so by the time he came downstairs we were ready to roll. Then by the time he even came down, he’d already thought of two or three other arrangements… You had to be very agile to be around this man. We would play one night in the same place, and because his fans come to every show in nearly every city in the country, we always kept it new and fresh for them.”

“I was at work in a meeting, and a friend of mine from New York sent me a text and he said, ‘Hey man, give me a call. I’m hearing something crazy out of Paisley.’” Of course, Prince was also legendarily fickle. Mosley experienced that himself after recording The NPG’s debut album Goldnigga in 1993: Prince “just walked in, threw the CD down and said, ‘Hey, here’s your album’. “At no point did we sit down and talk about creative direction … and at that particular time I was still going through a lot of criticism from his fans and the hip hop side. I said, ‘It’s probably a good time to try to form my own identity’. He was also looking to make a change, so it worked out well.” Although Prince’s creative process is still a mystery to Mosley 24 years on, one thing remains real – Prince was “still a guy from Northern Minneapolis” at heart.

That history Mosley is referring to is Prince’s previous reluctance to embrace hip hop. As the rapper explains it, “We actually sat down and had a conversation about it … I wanted to make sure that when we did this, it was in his own realm.

“I grew up with him and all these cats in the music scene during that era. When you sat down and talked to him, he was still northeast side Minneapolis through and through. I think that’s a big part of why he always stayed home… He could still walk down the street and hang with his friends, or just stop at some of the local spots he knew he could frequent without it becoming a big spectacle. It was always home for him.”

“At times it was difficult, because there were certain beats and phrasing I was looking to use, and it just wasn’t going to fit that mould. Even if I did make it fit, we changed it because we were

Where: Enmore Theatre When: Wednesday March 28 And: Also performing at Byron Bay Bluesfest from Thursday March 29 to Monday April 2

“I see a lot of bands trying to do tribute shows, and we wanted to be the originals.” BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17 :: 9


Aldous Harding: Everything All At Once Belinda Quinn learns Aldous Harding, one of the most exciting musicians in folk, isn’t ready for people to quite get her yet


he name Aldous stems from the words “old” and “noble”. It’s fi tting, really: while only 27, Hannah Aldous Harding speaks and writes like someone in the late stages of their artistry. Her lyrics concern an impassioned, almost debilitating way of life — “I won’t stop turning until I’m twisted” she barks on ‘Living The Classics’ – and a friend once asked her the question, “Why do you have to live so hard?” “That question was a mostly accurate description of how I tend to be as a person,” Harding explains. “I’m either very, very sad and hopeless and angry or I’m elated and full of love and really

easy to get along with. But the middles are very difficult – I don’t exist there very long. Not many people know that about me.” Born in Auckland to musicians, she’s become the poster-woman for the gothic folk genre, but her new record Party proves to be much more expansive than that. Released earlier this year, its full to the brim with her many voices; the result of years of hard work carefully carving her vocal tone into new shapes, allowing Harding to tell the record’s tales with detail and emotional accuracy. She croons full, low tones in ‘Imagining My Man’, moves to harmonious, heart-piecing shrieks in the titular ‘Party’, and lets off a series of whirring murmurs in ‘What If Birds Aren’t Singing, They’re Screaming’. “Consistency ... is not something I worry about. Being earnest: I don’t understand what that means. I’m not insecure about being lots of different things at once.”

The visual aspect of her performance is often as magnetic as her sound(s). While performing ‘Horizon’, she frequently s tands and opens her arm to one side of the room while singing “Here is your princess”, and then slowly moves to the opposite for the other: “and here is your horizon”. Not that Harding means to make her songs so literal. She’s often reluctant to give away what her lyrics mean to her, and when people get it right, she’s not always pleased to hear so. “It’s incredibly narcissistic to become so excited when someone else thinks the way [you] do,” she says. “That’s the fucked up thing. I mean, sometimes you’re happy people get it, sometimes you’re upset people get it and sometimes you just don’t care. That’s the nature of [sharing your music]. It changes every day – we’re seasonal beasts.” Watching her face as she performs, Harding sometimes comes to resemble

“I’m either very, very sad and hopeless and angry or I’m elated and full of love and really easy to get along with.”

“It’s incredibly narcissistic to become so excited when someone else thinks the way [you] do.” a contemporary version of Edouard Manet’s 1863 painting Olympia; she’s strikingly defi ant, her glare holding her audience. “When I play, I’m not like, ‘Oh, I hope they like it,’” Harding says. “Well, not anymore anyway. It’s like, ‘Am I playing as well as I can?’ “That [glare I do] is probably just a little bit of security that I have amongst all the fragility people keep talking about … I think that when you’re performing such a supposedly delicate, intimate collection of songs you should have control of your audience. Well, you should at least make sure that they know that you don’t actually owe them anything.” Harding is unafraid of being a little bit terrifying. Her eyes roll into the back of her head and her lips turn down into a snarl; she makes a slow side-to-side shake of the head between refrains, all that contorting allowing her to reach diverse tones and activate distinct fl ourishes in her voice. “Well, it’s funny,” she says. “If you watch really closely, you can see that that’s what I’m doing. “Sometimes I try not to do it and look different because I get sick of seeing photos of myself over that awful white [Godin] guitar. I don’t like standing up and playing the guitar. I did it once for some gigs in New Zealand to give it more of a confi dent band feel… I felt strangely feminine in a way that I don’t enjoy. “I feel like I’m fl oating when I stand up. I don’t feel grounded. I’ll tell you what I do when I sit in my room and I’m practising: I hunch over [my guitar] and look like Danny DeVito as the Penguin.” Harding’s had a big year: she’s toured non-stop throughout the UK and the USA; performed at Green Man Festival; played sets on KEXP and NPR’s Tiny Music Desk; and put on an unforgettable show on Jools Holland’s Later..., all while working on her third album. It all comes down to creating work she admires and respects. “It could easily go the other way if you don’t believe in what you’re doing,” Harding says. What’s clear now is that she’s not quite ready to fully discuss the content of Party. “The thing is, maybe when I’m 45 and sober and I’m doing my comeback record ’cause I’ve pulled my shit together; when I’ve dyed my hair red and I’m wearing leopard print and all that, I’ll be willing to talk about where all this shit that people fi nd so fascinating comes from. “But this is album two. I’m 27 and I’ve still gotta like, work out my own secrets myself. I don’t wanna be blast randomly all over the place, you know. This is a business of mystery and longevity; of keeping things interesting.” Where: Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Meriton Festival Village When: Thursday January 25

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Grenadiers: The Sound Of The Future Jesse Coulter of Grenadiers fame tells Zanda Wilson he finds the best shows are those that take place off the beaten track – often literally


esse Coulter and his punk rock band Grenadiers are riding a wave of new success following the release of their third album Find Something You Love And Let It Kill You earlier this month. The Adelaide band couldn’t be happier with the record and its reception – though the feeling is less one of elation, and more relief that the thing is finally out in the world. In fact, the band originally wanted to release the album more than six months ago, but they hit some significant road blocks during the writing process. Frontman Coulter explains that it was only when it came time to mix the record that problems began to surface. “So the process of writing the songs and tracking the whole thing was super easy and natural, and fun, and rad,” he says. “It was only when it got to the point of mixing that things started to get a little bit tricky. “We contracted a really big name producer to mix the record for us, and after sinking in what, for us, was a fairly astounding amount of money, we decided that we really didn’t feel what was coming out was something that

represented what we had recorded and what the songs should sound like. So we made the very difficult decision at that point to basically start again with the mixing process. “We ended up doing it ourselves. Jimmy [Hastings], our drummer, who did the last album, Summer, did this one as well in the end. He didn’t want to be the only pair of ears on it, so we got down another mate from Melbourne to help us out. We also had to hire out another studio, but we didn’t get it done in the first batch of time that we’d booked, so we had to fly our friend from Melbourne down again and book some more studio time. Things got protracted endlessly and it just did everyone’s head in. It was a gnarly, long, expensive, torturous process.” The ill-fated decision to go external with the production and mixing on the album originally stemmed not only from a desire to take a more professional tact, but also from Hastings’ previous struggles with mixing Summer. He had felt then that he was too close to the band to do a proper job; that he couldn’t see the forest for the trees. “I guess there’s just a mentality that when things are on the up and up – which they were at the time – that you don’t want to rest on your laurels,” says Coulter. “You want to be constantly improving in every facet of what you do, whether it’s the songwriting or the videos you put together, or, in this case, the sound of an album and the sonic quality of it. I guess it was a combination of two things.

“Jimmy finds it really difficult to mix his own band. I guess it’s not enough of a degree of separation between the musician and the music, and he just feels like he overthinks everything. So while the result of the last album was awesome, Jimmy just didn’t want to go through that again – which is why we attempted to do it elsewhere.” Fans of the band will immediately notice that Find Something not only has fresh thematic concerns, but that it also represents a new direction for the band sonically and melodically. “This album does sound vastly different to Summer, and that’s because when we recorded Summer it was this lineup but it was mostly songs I had written before they had joined the band. “It was a fresh new band lineup, and they were more or less playing my songs, with the exception of about three of them which we wrote together,” he continues. “It was more a one-person thing as opposed to a collaborative effort. We were all listening to different music back then. Our tastes have evolved and we’ve honed ourselves more as a unit as well. This album is way more indicative of us as a group of people.” Now that the endless process has finally, y’know, ended, it’s time for Grenadiers to look forth to their 2018 tour of Australia. As with their previous tours, the lads have included both city dates and regional dates. “It makes sense for us on a number of levels,” says Coulter. “Our music is fairly unpretentious and obvious, and we embrace that – it’s

“You want to be constantly improving in every facet of what you do, whether it’s the songwriting or the videos you put together, or, in this case, the sound of an album.” definitely part of who we are. I think that sometimes those kinds of audiences tend to get it really well. Also it just makes logistical sense as well. If you’re travelling all the way to Queensland from Adelaide, it makes sense to try to tack on another show or two. Some of the best times we’ve ever had have been in places outside of the obvious: outside of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth. “Even with Canberra: it’s the capital of Australia, but it’s not a regional town, and it doesn’t have the vibe of an urban cultural centre. We’ve had some awesome shows in Canberra. One of my favourite shows we’ve ever played was in Arnhem Land, which is 45 minutes east of Darwin on a light plane. You can’t even drive to it: the terrain is to hectic. That was just absolutely mind-blowing; a totally different experience to anything we’ve ever done before. “Those kinds of experiences make being in a band worthwhile, so we are always chasing them.” Where: The Chippo Hotel When: Saturday February 10

“The process of writing the songs and tracking the whole thing was super easy and natural, and fun, and rad. It was only when it got to the point of mixing that things started to get a little bit tricky.”

12 :: BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17


Prophets Of Rage: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised David James Young learns that Chuck D, Public Enemy alum and contemporary hip hop God, is just as enlightened in conversation as he is on record


’m in heavy metal!” Carlton Douglas Ridenhour – better known to the world as Chuck D – is reporting in from a record shop, where his recently-formed supergroup Prophets of Rage are set to do an in-store appearance in support of their self-titled debut album. At least, that’s what we initially think – rather than referring to the section of the store he’s in, Chuck is instead explaining that he is on the way to the record store. “Y’all don’t have that term over there?” he asks.

Prophets Of Rage photo by Travis Shinn

“If you’re in heavy metal, it means you’re in traffic.” He laughs to himself as he edges closer and closer to his destination: “Guess you learned something new, huh.” There’s always new things to learn when Chuck D is on the mic. After all, the man is famous for his reticence to mince words: best known for his three-decadesplus time at the helm of Public Enemy, the 57-year-old has seen a lot come and go over the years. This also means he knows true talent when he sees it – which was certainly the case when he originally came across Rage Against

the Machine in the early ’90s, eventually plucking them as a support act for a Public Enemy tour. “I remember picking up one of their demo tapes, just before they got signed to Epic,” he recalls. “It was all blank, except for a match – and that really stood out to me. They had me interested. When we did those shows with them, I remember how the sound really struck me. Everything was prominent – the bass-playing, the guitar. No-one had really seen hip-hop getting down with metal quite like what they were doing, and of course that’s something that we were into.” Around the same time, Chuck became aware of an up-and-coming west coast group by the name of Cypress Hill. “They were under Sony, over on Rough House Records,” he says. “We were fortunate enough to get to use one of their songs in the score of the movie Juice – that was Hank Shocklee and Gary G-Wiz responsible for that. I was always amazed at their ability to control the tempo of a rap concert.” He thinks for a moment. “I really got to enjoy that dynamic up close when Public Enemy got to tour with them in 1998 – the Smoke & Grooves tour. We were always on the up-tempo, trying to get everything to move faster. They mastered the down-tempo. They were kind of like the opposite of us in so many ways, and I think that’s why we worked so well together.” The planets aligned for the supergroup and its individual players when Prophets of Rage was formed – its name both

alluding to the Rage Against the Machine affiliation of one half of the band, as well as a Public Enemy song from their seminal 1988 LP It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. After debuting with a guerilla performance at the Republican National Convention in July last year, the band – Chuck, Cypress Hill’s B-Real, Public Enemy’s DJ Lord and Rage Against the Machine’s Brad Wilk, Tim Commerford and Tom Morello – hit the ground running. Their lauded live shows featured a mix of classics from across their respective back catalogues, with a handful of new original songs peppered in. This would eventually lead to the sextet gaining enough momentum to be able to write a whole album together – something Chuck always envisioned. “It was the first thing that came to mind for me when we got together,” he says. “When Tom asked to do this, it wasn’t just about doing all our old songs together. It was about seeing what chemistry we had when we all got together and played music – to see if we could make something that went beyond. I never wanted it to be a temporary thing – I wanted this to be a contemporary thing.” With Prophets of Rage out in the world, the supergroup continues to tour extensively. Thankfully for all of us Down Under, their round-the-world jaunt will eventually lead the band to Australia for their first-ever tour under the Prophets of Rage moniker as a part of the huge Download Festival in Melbourne. That said, although it’s the first Prophets

“I never wanted [Prophets Of Rage] to be a temporary thing – I wanted this to be a contemporary thing.”

“When Tom asked to do this, it wasn’t just about doing all our old songs together.” tour, all six members have visited our fair land in some capacity over the years – it will mark Commerford’s first Australian visit in a decade, while Morello and Wilk have both been here in recent years with Bruce Springsteen and the Smashing Pumpkins, respectively. For Chuck, it was always a matter of when – not if – regarding Prophets of Rage coming to Australia. “Here’s the thing: we played to 2.5 million people before we even put a record out,” he says. “We got to travel and tour through three separate continents. All of that time, we were talking about getting down to Australia. It’s one of Public Enemy’s best spots, and the guys from Rage have always loved coming down there. I can’t wait until we’re all down there.” As he finally arrives at his destination, Chuck implores Australian fans to come and see Prophets of Rage for themselves – there’s no other way to do it. “What we’re doing can’t be conveyed through YouTube,” he says. “It can’t really be compared to just listening to the record, either. It’s unlike anything we’ve ever done.” What: Download Festival 2018 Where: Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne When: Saturday March 24, 2018 With: Ocean Grove, Of Mice & Men, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Good Charlotte and more And: Prophets Of Rage out now through Fantasy Records BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17 :: 13


Stand out tracks: ‘Do I Have To Talk You Into It’, ‘Hot Thoughts’



Julien Baker | Turn Out The Lights Marika Hackman | I’m Not Your Man

mundane in the way that Jess Locke does – Universe, her punky, astonishingly accomplished full-length, is both a telescope and a microscope. These are songs to dedicate your life to; to fall desperately, madly in love with.

From our original review: “I’m Not Your Man is, above all else, a jubilant celebration of a songwriter at the very height of their talents. There’s no doubt that it is Hackman’s fi nest work. But time might also reveal it as one of the records of the year to boot.” Stand out tracks: ‘Boyfriend’, ‘Violet’

Stand out tracks: ‘Sublime Anxiety’, ‘Border Security’


By Joseph Earp 50.

Hurray For The Riff Raff | The Navigator

Few contemporary artists mix the mythic with the


(Sandy) Alex G | Rocket

Perfume Genius | No Shape Spoon | Hot Thoughts 2017 has seen a number of oddballs take much criticised pirouettes towards the mainstream, but none have pulled off pop with as much panache as Spoon. The Texan weirdos haven’t had this much fun since Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga; haven’t reinvented themselves this boldly since Gimme Fiction. God bless ’em.

Perfume Genius’ early records were brittle things, assembled from bird bones, and his mid-career records were loud, large, heartfelt pop statements. No Shape is both, somehow; a collection of acutely realised bangers that make the intimate epic and vice versa.

(Sandy) Alex G has spent his career making records the way people make patchwork quilts, and Rocket, his latest, is no different: stitched together from a thousand different influences and styles, no two songs resemble the other. It might be the best thing he’s released yet. Stand out tracks: ‘Bobby’, ‘Witch’


Stand out tracks: ‘Slip Away’, ‘Alan’


“2017 has seen a number of oddballs take much criticised pirouettes towards the mainstream, but none have pulled off pop with as much panache as Spoon.” 14 :: BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17

Stand out tracks: ‘Let’s Call It A Day’, ‘Every Day’s The Weekend’


The Preatures | Girlhood

Girlpool | Powerplant Given the impossibly stripped down sound of their fi rst record, Before The World Was Big, rather made it what it was, perhaps it’s unsurprising that some purists were shocked when Girlpool chucked drums into the mix with their second, Powerplant. But far from being the sound of a band selling out, Powerplant sees the two-piece leaning into their strengths, making something kind hearted and genuinely affecting in the process. Stand out tracks: ‘123’, ‘She Goes By’

The Preatures are one of Australia’s most important pop acts: a band capable of mixing great beauty with the slightest inflections of melancholia. One long string of perfect songs. Girlhood, sees them at their most cleareyed, and their most wise.

Diet Cig | Swear I’m Good At This They are. Stand out tracks: ‘Leo’, ‘Blob Zombie’


Mavis Staples | If All I Was Was Black Don’t let that ever so slightly awkward to say title put you off – Mavis Staples’ If All I Was Was Black is the living legend’s most accomplished release in years; poppy, bold and resolute. Stand out tracks: ‘If All I Was Was Black’, ‘We Go High’

Stand out tracks: ‘Pa’lante’, ‘The Navigator

Jess Locke | Universe

Stand out tracks: ‘Appointments’, ‘Happy To Be Here’


This album could be nothing but 11 tracks of silence and the penultimate song, ‘Pa’lante’, and it would still earn its place on this list.


From our original review: “It was wrong to underestimate Baker. She has neither turned in Sprained Ankle 2, nor sold out on what made her special. Instead, she has gone bolder, if not necessarily bigger; has doubled down, without duplicating.”


Like A Brother A gorgeous mess of hooky riffs, wry lyrics, and profound insights into the everyday beauty and shittiness we all spend our lives wading through, I Love You Like A Brother is one of the most humane records of the year. Alex Lahey for PM.


Sports Bra | Sports Bra Impossibly tender, the debut release from Sydneysiders Sports Bra is so confident – so assured, and cohesive – that one could be forgiven thinking the band had been around for years, rather than a matter of months. Masterful. Stand out tracks: ‘Try Harder’, ‘Thank You For Being Alive’


Tyler, The Creator | Flower Boy Flower Boy is the record Tyler, The Creator was born to make – a showreel custom built to show off his anarchic humour, and sonic forwardthinking, and unmistakable, raspy delivery. It’s not that he’s matured into some wise old man: it’s that he’s finally and fully embraced his distinct creative pubescence. Stand out tracks: ‘Who Dat Boy’, ‘Boredom’


Vince Staples | Big Fish Theory One of contemporary hip hop’s clearest, most distinct voices, Vince Staples has made his masterpiece with Big Fish Theory, a record more melodic – more fundamentally disruptive – than even his breakthrough work Prima Donna. A trap-indebted record to show to your trap-hating mates. Stand out tracks: ‘Big Fish’, ‘Yeah Right’


Stand out tracks: ‘Girlhood’, ‘Yanada’


Algiers | The Underside Of Power Algiers’ second full-length release, The Underside Of Power is unfettered, unbridled power; a murky wash of screams, fuzz, and gospel. A record that crawls on all fours.

Alex Lahey | I Love You

Stand out tracks: ‘A Murmur. A Sign’, ‘Cleveland’

Mhysa | Fantasii A collection of echoes. Proof that there is no excuse for making a derivative, lazy electronic record in the year of our Lord 2017. Stand out tracks: ‘Glory Be Black’, ‘You Not About That Lyfe’



Stand out tracks: ‘Death To The Lads’, ‘Suffer’


Aldous Harding | Party Unique is an overused word in music criticism: there are a lot of perfectly acceptable albums out there – great albums, even – that are far from ground-breaking. But Party really is a new thing under the sun; by avoiding binary notions of happy vs. sad, Harding has made something complex, cursed and truly cathartic. Stand out tracks: ‘Horizon’, ‘Imagining My Man’


King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard/Mild High Club | Sketches Of Brunswick East The most controversial record of the god knows how many King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard have released this year (“It’s jazzy, it’s not jazz!”), Sketches Of Brunswick East is distinct enough to be considered a concept record, but varied enough to avoid the limitations of that genre. If you’re gonna drop five albums in the course of 12 months, one better be as genuinely pattern-breaking as this one. Stand out tracks: ‘The Book’, ‘Countdown’

30. The Smith Street Band | More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me From our original review: “By the time it’s all done, one is left with a striking sense of accomplishment; fi lled with gratitude not just for the band, but for oneself. That is, after all, Smith Street Band’s great success – they make victories seem shared. More Scared is not a home run for the band that wrote and recorded it, but a roaring celebration for every single fan that has helped them along their way.”

Stand out tracks: ‘Take Me Apart’, ‘Truth Or Dare’


Stand out tracks: ‘Lover’, ‘Kryptonite’

fool you; it is an incredible collection of warbling basslines, and barked choruses, as good as anything the band released in the ’90s. Feedtime are fucking royalty. One day, eventually, they will be treated as such. Stand out tracks: ‘Any Good Thing’, ‘Grass’


From our original review: “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.” Stand out tracks: ‘Over Everything’, ‘Continental Breakfast’

20. Big Thief | Capacity Capacity doesn’t just boast one of the songs of the year (‘Mary’), one of the guitar solos of the year (the twisty opening to ‘Shark Smile’), and one of the closers of the year (‘Black Diamonds’), it is packed from beginning to end with some of the finest lyrics contemporary rock has to offer. Adrianne Lenker is a poet laureate.

28. Kelela | Take Me Apart Like so much silk dipped in honey, Kelela’s Take Me Apart is the most textural RnB release of the year. It also happens to the best: a freeform, abstract piece, that mixes stories of defiance, arching choruses and impeccably woven together soundbites into something extraordinary.

all perfectly structured pop bangers and glossy high production.


Stand out tracks: ‘Mary’, ‘Black Diamonds’

“Party really is a new thing under the sun; by avoiding binary notions of happy vs. sad, Harding has made something complex, cursed and truly cathartic.”

“Although Kurt 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.”

Jay-Z | 4:44 Just when ya think Shawn is out of ideas, he surprises you – the man’s follow up to 2013’s dismal Magna Carta Holy Grail is his most personal record in decades. Equal parts braggadacio and brutalised home truths, it is genuinely galling to hear such a public figure bare quite so much. Lovely to have you back, Jay. Stand out tracks: ‘Smile’, ‘The Story Of O.J.’


Paul Kelly | Life Is Fine From our original review: “Listening to Life Is Fine, the first impression one gets is that Kelly is having fun; pure, unashamed fun; fun without boundaries. The album is packed with the ease and grace that Kelly just kind of naturally gives off these days – the kind of effortless precision that comes from a lifetime of effort’s expenditure. Something just clicks, things just fit, and the song creaks with the most uncomplicated kind of pleasure.” Stand out tracks: ‘Firewood And Candles’, ‘Life Is Fine’

Alvvays | Antisocialites Unlike the other bands that they frequently and unfairly get lumped in with, Alvvays don’t just dress up in the clothes of hip ’80s bands: they write songs, combining with the retro with the genuinely revolutionary. Antisocialites builds on the band’s debut and then some: it’s a big, tall, icy glass of lemonade and gin. Stand out tracks: ‘Not My Baby’, ‘Plimsoll Punks’



Stand out tracks: ‘I’m A Man’, ‘The Bar Is Low’


This record understands you. It is a quivering shred of empathy; a fragile, perfect thing in an outstretched hand, ready for you to take. Stand out tracks: ‘The Deepest Sighs, The Frankest Shadows’, ‘Say Yes To Life’


L.A. Witch | L.A. Witch

Every lyric on L.A. Witch’s excellent self-titled debut is uttered as though it’s a curse. Vicious, elegant perfection: as uncomplicated and abrupt as a knifing.

21. George Maple | Lover

From our original review: “‘Love Without Emotion’ is the sweaty, latex-clad gimp toiling around in a basement co-owned by Birthday Partyera Nick Cave and David Lee Roth, and ‘I’m A Man’ is Marquis de Sade rewritten by Andy Kaufman, all stilted porn dialogue and rising horror. It’s not nice. None of it is. Nor is it appetising, or ear-wormy, or likeable. But it is unstoppable – as unstoppable as a tumour, or the slow, thick spread of gout.”

Gang Of Youths | Go Farther In Lightness

Stand out tracks: ‘You Love Nothing’, ‘Kill My Baby Tonight’

Since 2013, when she first dropped ‘Fixed’, we’ve been holding out for George Maple to make a big, glitz-draped record; something as fluid and epic as her exceptional live shows. Finally, with Lover, she has: it’s her Whitney,

Pissed Jeans | Why Love Now

Julie Byrne – Not Even Happiness Melodic. Stand out tracks: ‘Follow My Voice’, ‘Sleepwaker’


Feedtime | Gas Feedtime never really got the respect that they deserved during their original run, so it was predictable – if genuinely disappointing – when their excellent 2017 record Gas got only limited critical attention. But don’t let that silence

Courtney Barnett/Kurt Vile | Lotta Sea Lice

Noire | Some Kind Of Blue Like a smoke-ring blown in BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17 :: 15

“Sorry Is Gone is no lullaby: it is a record about defiance, and pain, and independence, and what you can do when certain things you thought were owed to you get taken away.” a dive bar, Some Kind Of Blue is brief, precious and hazy. Distinctly cinematic, it belongs in the worlds of Wim Wenders and David Lynch – it’s a mysterious as a severed ear in a fi eld; as tragic and as beautiful as a love between an angel and a trapeze artist. Stand out tracks: ‘Real Cool’, ‘He’s My Baby’


From our original review: “Sure, Sword Songs is all those things critics like to moan on about – it’s emotional, and it’s compelling, and it’s honest – but more than anything else, it feels like an album that resists academic jabbering. It’s not about anything other than life itself, and it’s not for anyone but the people who will take every last one of its melodies into their hearts; the people who need it.”

space without feeling like I don’t belong” with such force it’s like the words get tattooed upon her tongue.” Stand out tracks: ‘Sorry Is Gone’, ‘WTF’


Mount Eerie | A Crow Looked At Me

Stand out tracks: ‘A Very Hot Shower’, ‘Bolt Of Lightning’


Kendrick Lamar | Damn. Ruined only by the misguided rumours that it was the first part in a twopronged assault, Damn., Kendrick Lamar’s latest, is considerably less dense than To Pimp A Butterfly; more direct. That doesn’t for a second mean it’s derivative, mind you: in the space of some 55 minutes, Lamar touches on everything from reincarnation, to religion, to revenge. Moreover, it might be the best thing that U2 have had anything to do with for, y’know, literal decades. Stand out tracks: ‘DNA’, ‘Element’


Lorde | Melodrama Brian Wilson spent years trying to make Smile, his so called “teenage symphony to God.” Where he failed, a young New Zealander named Lorde has succeeded: Melodrama, for all its distinct youthfulness, has a grandness to it that is almost Biblical. This is a record about getting drunk and fucking up, but it’s a record about so much more than that too – a record about life; about the things we try and fail to put into words. It is a masterpiece. Stand out tracks: ‘Liability’, ‘Green Light’


Two Steps On The Water – Sword Songs

“Screen Memories is a delirious, hysterical thing.” 16 :: BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17

Fever Ray | Plunge Eight years is a long time. But although the world might have changed between the release of Fever Ray’s eponymous 2009 debut and Plunge, Ray (AKA Karin Dreijer) hasn’t. Her music is still black as obsidian; still as cruel and beautiful as a sacrifi cial knife. That she surprise dropped it feels appropriate – Plunge is a natural disaster of a record; unpredictable and devastating. Stand out tracks: ‘Plunge’, ‘Falling’


John Maus | Screen Memories From our original review: “Screen Memories is a delirious, hysterical thing – one long fever dream, full of songs about nuclear war, and the apocalypse, and death. It is excellent. Listen to it now, before the world ends.” Stand out tracks: ‘Touchdown’, ‘The Combine’

Jessica Lea Mayfield | Sorry Is Gone From our original review: “Sorry Is Gone is no lullaby: it is a record about defi ance, and pain, and independence, and what you can do when certain things you thought were owed to you get taken away. Mayfi eld is not putting up with anything anymore – on the titular track, she sings the line ‘I deserve to occupy this


A Crow Looked At Me will, on some deep and important level, alter who you are, and what you think. That is all that can be said about it, really. Stand out tracks: ‘Real Death’, ‘Seaweed’



Priests | Nothing Feels Natural


Cable Ties | Cable Ties

Like an entire four decades worth of punk distilled down into ten impossibly sharp tracks, Nothing Feels Natural is exhaustive without ever being exhausting. These are old qualms updated to reference new names; ancient gripes picked out in pitch-perfect choruses, and nailed in asides barked out by lead singer Katie Alice Greer. “Magical psychology, deceptive anthropology / All the wing nuts got a haircut, bred and had babies,” she snaps on ‘Pink White House’, extracting the words like wisdom teeth. Critics have spent 2017 calling a small stable-worth of artworks “the perfect antidote to the Trump era”, but that’s what Nothing Feels Natural really, genuinely is.

There’s this old Raymond Carver quote on the importance of brevity: “get in, get out. Don’t linger. Go on.” It’s something that punk artists are generally good at – the form calls for speed, after all. But it’s rare that a band manages to write songs that creep towards the ten-minute mark and still somehow feel as immediate and urgent as a car crash; rare that any act can speak their mind without pontificating. That then is the genius of Cable Ties, and their self-titled record: songs like ‘Paradise’ and ‘Say What You Mean’ are a Tardis in reverse, smaller than they look on the outside. They are custom-fit for the exact shape of your heart, or your curled fist. They are perfect.

Stand out tracks: ‘Nicki’, ‘Pink White House’

Stand out tracks: ‘The Producer’, ‘Paradise’




Mermaidens | Perfect Body

Jessica Says | Do With Me What U Will Imagine if Kate Bush, David Foster Wallace and Randy Newman got together to write a full-length Broadway musical about depression. That’s kinda what Do With Me What U Will sounds like – although to be honest, almost nothing really sounds like the 10-track, lopsided masterpiece. Anchored by an excellent single, ‘Xanax Baby’, Do With Me pirouettes drunkenly about the place: it’s funny, then it’s sad, then it’s both. It is possibly the most original Australian record of the decade. If there is any justice in the world, come 2027, Jessica Says will be playing it at the Opera House, surrounded by a small army of diamante studded dancers. Stand out tracks: ‘Xanax Baby’, ‘Rosemary’

It feels strange to call CTRL a concept album – after all, that term is usually reserved for drawn-out prog rock self-indulgences, or sub-par, double disc indie rock records. But, if not strictly one-concept, CTRL is still thrillingly oneminded. As it says on the tin, it’s a record about control: the misuse of it, on both a personal and societal level; about the power you have over your beloved, and that your culture has over you. Loaded with features – everyone from Kendrick Lamar to Travis Scott to James Fauntleroy makes an appearance – it is a work of auterist pop of the highest order. Lose yourself in it.

With the one-two punch of 2016’s Undergrowth and this year’s Perfect Body, Mermaidens have proved themselves one of the most exciting bands in New Zealand, veritable masters of strange tonal blends. Perfect Body is an orange sprouting mould; a rabbit dipped in mercury; a tangle of wool and wire. That they are set to close out their incredible 2017 by opening for Lorde feels extraordinarily fitting: they should be playing on stages that big for the rest of their career. Stand out tracks: ‘Satsuma’, ‘Perfect Body’

Stand out tracks: ‘The Weekend’, ‘Supermodel’

“Eight years is a long time. But although the world might have changed between the release of Fever Ray’s eponymous 2009 debut and Plunge, Ray hasn’t.”



Chelsea Wolfe | Hiss Spun

From our original review: “Album highlight ‘The Culling’ is all ’60s folk rock balladry and wide-eyed Wicker Man paranoia, while ‘16 Psyche’ is as crude and as debilitating a tumour. It always sounds like Wolfe’s songs are one minute away from collapsing into themselves – she is the master of maintaining balance; of brushing up against the very limits of destruction. Wolfe hasn’t dropped a dud record yet – hell, she hasn’t dropped a dud song yet – but this might be her greatest achievement to date.” Stand out tracks: ‘16 Psyche’, ‘The Culling’


Torres | Three Futures

From our original review: “Three Futures 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 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.” Stand out tracks: ‘Concrete Ganesha’, ‘Helen In The Woods’


Wet Lips | Wet Lips

From our original review: “Wet Lips, a threepiece based out of Melbourne, Australia, are the future of punk. It’d be easy to call them the heirs apparent to bands like Fugazi and Black Flag, but they are more than that, and they follow in no lineage. Their debut release, a ten-track long masterpiece that time might well reveal to be the best album released this year, is so unindulgent – so singularly lacking in historicity, or the all-too common reverential hat-tipping that ruins so many otherwise great punk records – that it feels like little else.”


Mere Women | Big Skies

Big Skies is a collection of raw metals: a scraped, essential thing, so fresh and untouched as to feel pulled directly from the ground. It is also perhaps the most perfectly composed record of the year – songs fold into one another, themes as easy to follow as a character in a novel. And, indeed, in some ways, a novel is what it most clearly resembles: it has this clarity to it, this intelligence. It will change you. Stand out tracks: ‘Big Skies’, ‘Numb’

Stand out tracks: ‘Can’t Take It Anymore’, ‘Shame’


“Jen Cloher has the power to explain things about yourself that you did not know could be explained. All she asks of you is that you listen.”

Jen Cloher | Jen Cloher

There are some records you can imagine making – records that you can, rightly or wrongly, dream belong to you. Jen Cloher’s self-titled record, the album of the year, is not one of those records. In its confessional beauty; in its sparse, wrenching poetry; in its humour, and in its light, it could have been written by nobody but Jen Cloher. It feels like the summation of the career – the summation, almost, of a life. But that’s not to suggest that it is selfish, or self-involved. Somehow, perfectly, Cloher transforms her inner world into something genuinely accessible. Every song, every single line, makes you say: “yes, I know that; I feel it.” Cloher has never released anything like it. No contemporary Australian singer-songwriter has. Jen Cloher has the power to explain things about yourself that you did not know could be explained. All she asks of you is that you listen. Stand out tracks: ‘Regional Echo’, ‘Forgot Myself’

BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17 :: 17



Breakout artists OF THE YEAR

Antonia & The Lazy Susans

Blue Mountains based singer-songwriter Antonia Susan became fully realised with the formation of The Lazy Susans. From their full-band debut EP Closure, to supporting the likes of Slotface, Lampchop, AJJ, and Bleeding Knees Club, the Australian music scene just seems to be Antonia’s for the taking. Spencer Scott



Ben Leece | ‘Trace’

Every now and then a song will come along and punch you right in the gut. After a long history playing with bar bands, Novocastrian singer-songwriter Ben Leece has emerged to deliver a haunting debut single. From the first taste of slide guitar, to the soaring vocals of guest vocalist Tori Fortsyth in the chorus, it’s one of the finest alt-country moments this nation has ever produced. Spencer Scott

Charlie XCX | ‘Boys’

Okay, so 50 points for a banging chorus that very much captures the emotional truth of thirst (“boys, ba-duh!”), 50 points for privileging the female gaze, 1 billion points for that shot of Brendon Urie which single-handedly got me through Mercury retrograde. Emily Meller

Planet | ‘Aching Dream’

Perfume Genius | ‘Slip Away’ Centred more around sheer queer joy than hedonism, ‘Slip Away’ is a song about escaping the guilt and shame projected onto queer love by delving deeper into that love, to the point of being literally one with someone – even if only for a moment. In a politically turbulent time, it’s not about ignoring one’s issues, but taking refuge when swamped with them: there’s a reason the gremlin monsters in the music video look like Trump. In terms of Perfume Genius’s career, it feels both like a culmination of everything that’s been promised by his earlier work, and a further promise that there’s still so much incredible music to come. Cameron Colwell

Ocean Party

Shout out to Ocean Party, who have quietly become the most dependable band in Australia. Starting out as a part of whatever Dolewave was, the band has shrugged off the inherent slackdom of that genre to deliver the type of jangle pop that Australia excels at – mostly because we invented the stuff. They release the type of music that taps into the collective feeling of being unfulfilled but not knowing why. The type of music that sticks with you. And they’ve given us a lot of it. Beginning with 2014’s Soft Focus, they’ve since delivered four albums and four EPs all worth your time, with three releases this year alone. It must be easy for a six piece made up of six great songwriters. I want five albums next year guys. Leo Silvestrini 18 :: BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17

Boo Seeka

The boys from Boo Seeka are the local artists that have really blown me away this year. Never Too Soon was a carefully curated album, and the duo managed to live up to high expectations following a few strong single releases over the past couple of years. Their sound has a unique blend of electronica and soul, and they have a strong presence onstage. Boo Seeka will be a live act to watch over the coming years I reckon, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on what they do next. Erin Louise Rooney

Listening to ‘Aching Dream’ by Planet is like falling in and out of love. It’s the song you want to laugh to when rolling around under the sheets with your lover, and it’s the song you want to cry to as you drive away alone. It’s earnest, bittersweet and full of angst. Matty Took’s vocals and rhythm guitar sound so unreal when paired against Tom Peppitt’s lead guitar and backing vocals. Make sure you conduct your fi rst listen while lying down with your eyes closed in order to fully experience the high. Oh, and then when you’re back in the real world, keep your eyes peeled, because the Planet lads are going to soar far through the universe and onto major festival line-ups (fi ngers crossed). Emily Norton

The War On Drugs | ‘Thinking Of A Place’

Wolf Alice | ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ There have been so many glorious songs released domestically that it almost feels blasphemous to choose an international artist, but this is the song that did it for me this year. The driving rhythm section that lies on top of the swelling, atmospheric synths promotes a real sense of exploration. Combine that with Ellie Rowsell’s sweeping vocals in the chorus and the speak-sung verses and you end up with a perfect storm, a revealing vulnerability that fills any room it’s played in. Iain McKelvey

‘Thinking Of A Place’ creates its own orbit. It has its own theory of time. Countless melodic figures fade in and out over the track’s 11 minutes, painting not a self-contained unit, but a glimpse of something bigger; something deeper. Adam Granduciel’s stanzas are evocative and nothing is sung as though a manifesto; depending on your level of engagement, every line can conjure up a life event you haven’t paid much mind to for a while. The big studio budget seems to be a thing of the past, and for good reason – mainstream producers and artists don’t need to lay down the same amount of cash as past eras have in order to garner the same amount of success. But when a budget is given to someone like Granduciel – who, in writing, producing and playing the lion’s share of instruments, is one of those great musical deities that

Pist Idiots

The blurb on their own Bandcamp page really says it best: they’re “four suburban bad boys fiddling with some drunk and honest rock but yeah shit yeah alright.” They might just be some lads out for some fun, but their music is presented with an uncompromising sense of authenticity. It’s raw, honest and real. Their shows are raucous fun and ‘Fuck Off’ is a banger. Really, it makes all the times you’ve ever been told to fuck off that much easier to handle, because, you know, there’s this really cool song about it now. For a bunch of Pist Idiots who entered a battle of the bands for a laugh, they’re making some pretty decent sized waves. Definitely keen to watch the growth. Iain McKelvey


Kimono Drag Queens

Hot Work

Hot Work are a surf rock’n’roll three-piece from the Inner West. They ain’t afraid to revisit the ’60s rock’n’roll sound while downing a bottle of tequila in the process. Not that these guys are at all complacent, or simply out for a good time: no, these guys sounds aghast with what a shithole we’ve ended up in, mired in a culture so deeply shrouded in guilt that the joy that once stemmed from playful, everyday whimsy is almost extinct.

Enter the Kimono Drag Queens: a seven-piece psychedelic rock band straight outta the Inner West and kicking ass harder than Bruce Lee. The band’s psychedelic sound, topped with a groovy ’70s twist. is sensual, stimulating, satisfying all at once – it’ll have your eyes rolling back in your head. The deadly seven band members are Harry Webber on vocals and guitar, Willy Coleman on guitar and percussion, Zeppelin Hamilton on guitar, Kellie Alison on keys and percussion, Billy Minnet on drums, William Wood on bass, and Sammy Sudhaker on percussion.

But Hot Work also sound like they don’t give a shit. And that’s why their music works. It’s ugly, fucking ugly, don’t get me wrong, but ecstatic as well. There’s all this freedom and beauty allowed to spring forth, precisely because there’s no denial of the fact that some cunt with more privilege than he knows what to do with is making innocent people suffer just so we can enjoy our (steadily diminishing) supply of throwback rock’n’roll. Augustus Welby

Have one spin of a KDG tune and you’ll immediately feel like it must be the season of the séance, as their tunes are sure to bring your dead spirit right back to life. After all, listening to these lads is like taking an upper, shedding your clothes, running around naked and feeling utterly sublime. Keep your eye on these devils for more gigs coming up – oh, and in the meantime, enlighten yourself by checking out their two latest tracks ‘Seance I’ and ‘Sublime’. Emily Norton

pop up every so often – you can hear the difference. A Deeper Understanding sounds infinitely rich, with ‘Thinking Of A Place’ taking its place as the jewel in the crown. Leo Silvestrini

Downtown Boys | ‘A Wall’

2017: a cunt of a year. Bigotry’s the new black, cultural heroes continue to turn blue, and an orange dicksplash is the leader of the free world. Times like these need towering tunes to fuel the fires of the fightback. Enter the Downtown Boys: a multi-racial, mixed-gender collective from Rhode Island taking on the tossers with a fiery brand of political punk and plenty of lyrical kicks to the cahones of the patriarchy. Their ‘wall’ is not just a physical structure, but symbolic of the barriers preventing us from demanding better from our so-called leaders and teaching those who would seek to divide us

a lesson: those exploitative polluters of all things soulful and righteous. Those slickhaired, decadent, degenerate fucks. Those plastic, shitsucking friends of Murdoch. Those limbering clichés. Those fascist-enablers. This one’s for them. They shit their pants when we scream “Fuck you!” together. Paul McBride

Bonobo | ‘Surface’

‘Surface’ by Bonobo tops the list for me this year. I think it speaks volumes that Migration was released at the very start of the year but is still being played on road trips, at parties and on Spotify playlists. Bonobo created an album that is versatile, and ‘Surface’ is so emotive and subtle that you can listen to it in the background or as the main event. The track also has a sense of urgency that is just addictive, and I’ve been listening to it non-stop. Erin Rooney

LCD Soundsystem | ‘Tonight’

Cable Ties | ‘Say What You Mean’

“Oh I’m a reminder,” drones James Murphy part-way through LCD Soundsystem’s 2017 return. His voice is analogue, magnetic: worn down from years of repeated play. It feels like no coincidence that this passage, the most Murphy-esque on the album, is produced to sound so well-tread.

Opening with the cry of Jenny McKechnie’s blistering guitar, ‘Say What You Mean’ soon becomes dominated by the steady rhythm section of Nick Brown’s bass and Shauna Boyle’s drums. It’s a wild and unrelenting ride from then on, with McKechnie’s voice draped in an uncompromising bluntness, demanding, “Can you mean what you say?”.

Murphy’s attempt to change the perspective on his place in music history have him reflecting; he’s been left with a sense of embarrassment and dread, and that reflection is weaved throughout the thump of ‘Tonight’. A floor-filler that ruminates on obsolescence, impending death and life-long regret? That’s LCD. Nicholas Kennedy

Eventually her already iconic battle cry pierces through, and it’s hard not to break out in goosebumps as she howls above the instrumentation. As the song progresses, McKechnie gets less and less patient, the song culminating in a rant to end

all rants, posed against a whole universe of corporate greed. When she screams “I am not a production unit, I am a human being” one’s only reaction is to stand up and pay attention. Holly Pereira

Ferla | ‘Wasted on You’

Song of the year? God that’s a diffi cult question. I was going to say ‘Over Everything’ by Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile, but then I was reminded of ‘Feels Like Heaven’ by Ariel Pink and couldn’t decide which took me to a comfi er state of bliss.

But with a little more thought it became clear the most beautiful – THE FUCKING BEST – song I have heard this year was produced by Melbourne musician Ferla. It’s called ‘Wasted on You’. It’ll be there for you if you’re madly in love, but it’s best suited to supporting you when shit goes awry with your romantic partner. It’s light but seriously deep. It’s so expertly crafted that it makes me want to take a vow of silence and meditate until I find a truly, truly worthwhile idea. There’s a lot of noise about. This is the real news. Augustus Welby


RVG released their debut album A Quality Of Mercy in February with nothing in terms of a publicity campaign and no record label. Despite this, they have somehow managed to receive widespread acclaim for their passionate, intellectual songs that possess a sound that saw the likes of Siouxsie and the Banshees, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Cure all triumph. RVG are galvanising their audiences with their sweeping instrumentation and emotive lyrics, and are the kind of band you just know will be spoken of for decades to come. Holly Pereira

Sports Bra

Sports Bra are a great local rising act, based in Sydney. Their self-titled album, released in October, was a dreamy, poetic shower of quality shoegaze-infused pop, and definitely heralds the selfdescribed “queer pop dreamboats” as the creators of the most interesting music this time and place has to offer. Cameron Colwell BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17 :: 19

02:12:17 :: Allianz Stadium :: Driver Ave, Moore Park

charli xcx

What we’ve been out to see this fortnight. See full galleries at

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25:11:17 :: Manning Bar :: Manning Road, Camperdown


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tropical fuck storm 25:11:17 :: The Lansdowne :: 2-6 City Rd, Chippendale


02:12:17 :: Allianz Stadium :: Driver Ave, Moore Park

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feist 03:12:17 :: Sydney Opera House :: Benelong Point Sydney


06:12:17 :: Metro Theatre :: 624 George St, Sydney


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Run The Jewels

Casting JonBenet

Joseph Earp

Nathan Jolly

Print And Digital Editor

Digital Editor/Staff Writer

Top three Australian albums: Mere Women – Big Skies Jen Cloher – Self-titled Wet Lips – Wet Lips Top three international albums: Torres – Three Futures Protomartyr – Relatives In Descent Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory Film of the year: A three-way tie between Casting JonBenet, It Comes At Night and Paddington 2. Gig of the year: Tropical Fuck Storm at the Lansdowne. Palm Springs, High Tension and The Drones could each lay claim to being one of the best Australian bands of the last two decades, so perhaps it’s unsurprising that a supergroup composed of members of all three pulled of the gig of the year.

Best TV series of 2017: Mindhunter changed me. What I’ll miss most about 2017: Didn’t think I’d miss anything about 2016, but even that seems like a bastion of sanity after the trashfire of a year we’ve just slogged through. So my bet is, come this time next year, I’ll miss literally everything about 2017. What I won’t miss about 2017: Kirin J Callinan’s tired old schtick. Can he not be a thing anymore, please? What I’m looking forward to in 2018: Donald Trump getting impeached. A foolproof prediction for the year ahead: Donald Trump probably won’t get impeached.

Top three Australian albums: Gang Of Youths – Go Farther In Lightness Paul Kelly – Life Is Fine Davey Lane – I’m Gonna Burn Out Bright Top three international albums: Run The Jewels – RTJ3 Slowdive – Slowdive Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life Film of the year: Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold. Gig of the year: Hanson. Favourite record by a Gallagher brother: Liam’s, because Noel’s was wildly experimental, and that’s the last thing I want from the Gallagher brothers.

What I’ll miss most about 2017: Charles Manson. What I won’t miss about 2017: Voting on basic human rights.

Ryan Adams

What I’m looking forward to in 2018: The same things they were looking forward to in 1968: equal rights, racial harmony, a restructure of power, reformed prison systems, smarter drug legislation, the dissolution of borders, the collapse of currency systems, less governmental control, and a great new record from Cher. A foolproof prediction for the year ahead: You will see the major assassination of a public figure, and it will be televised. It won’t be Trump.

Sampa The Great

Belinda Quinn Sub Editor Top three Australian albums: Sports Bra – Sports Bra Sampa The Great – Birds and the BEE9 Bad//Dreems – Gutful Top three international albums: Big Thief – Capacity Sheer Mag – Need To Feel Your Love Aldous Harding – Party Film of the year: Get Out. Gig of the year: Pride Tide’s Second Birthday with Antonia and The Lazy Susans, Babymachine, Mermaidens, Rachel Maria Cox and Scabz. Breakout new band of the year: Party Dozen.

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What I’ll miss most about 2017: The one brief period I could afford life’s luxuries, like lavender-tinged bin liners, Coles’ deli olives and undies that aren’t sourced from the $2 section at K-Mart. What I won’t miss about 2017: The one brief period I drank VB. What I’m looking forward to in 2018: The initial sense of control that comes with New Years resolutions – oh baby. A foolproof prediction for the year ahead: Sports Bra will open a DIY venue called Sports Bar. A.B. Original will seize control of our government and Paul Kelly will be their PA. Camp Cope will buy a campsite for young women and non-binary folk to make friends and tunes, and it’ll be wholesome. Scabz will adopt Brett Lee as their son. Foolproof.

Poppy Reid Digital Editor/Managing Director Top three Australian albums: Gang of Youths – Go Farther In Lightness Awaken I Am – Blind Love Tired Lion – Dumb Days Top three international albums: Paramore - After Laughter Beck – Colors Hanson – Finally It’s Christmas Film of the year: Dunkirk.

What I’ll miss most about 2017: Band dudes being outed every five minutes as paedophiles. What I won’t miss about 2017: Band dudes being outed every five minutes as paedophiles. What I’m looking forward to in 2018: Taylor Swift’s “Reputation” tour coming to Sydney in November.

Gig of the year: Mac Miller at The Metro. Favourite lyric of the year: “Just sit back and listen for the reindeer on the rooftop Flying North Pole to Tulsa on a non-stop” - ‘Finally It’s Christmas’, Hanson.


Brii Jamieson Social Media Manager Top three Australian albums: Gang Of Youths – Go Farther In Lightness Stand Atlantic – Sidewinder Chase Atlantic – Chase Atlantic Top three international albums: The Maine – Lovely Little Lonely The Gospel Youth – Always Lose Paramore – After Laugher

Sarah McManus

Film of the year: Hidden Figures! One of the few films that passes the lowest of bars: the Bechdel Test.

Head of Video Top three Australian albums: Gang of Youths – Go Farther In Lightness Ali Barter – A Suitable Girl The Preatures – Girlhood Top three international albums: Dua Lipa – Dua Lipa Harry Styles – Harry Styles Mura Masa – Mura Masa Film of the year: Wonder Woman for the win. Gig of the year: Ryan Adams. Favourite on camera interview of the year: Yungblud and I doing the DBNews for Don’t Bore Us.

What I’ll miss most about 2017: Never being a teen again. What I won’t miss about 2017: Katy Perry’s marketing campaign.

The Maine

Sydney Contemporary Art Fair 2017

What I’m looking forward to in 2018: The queen T-Swizzle returning to Aussie shores.

What I’ll miss most about 2017: I don’t understand the question. What I won’t miss about 2017: Meninists. Please for the love of God, can we leave them in 2017. What I’m looking forward to in 2018: Mate there’s a new Fall Out Boy album coming out in January. Way to kick off the year in the best way. A foolproof prediction for the year ahead: My Chemical Romance will reform after 5 years broken up.

Lady Bird

A foolproof prediction for the year ahead: Hokay so here’s tha Earth. Chillin, daim! That is a sweet Earth, you might say. Round! Alright, ruling out the polar ice caps melting, meteors becoming crashed into us, the ozone layer leaving, and the sun exploding, we’re definitely going to blow ourselves up.

Sarah Bryant Art Director Top three Australian albums: The Babe Rainbow – The Babe Rainbow King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Flying Microtonal Banana San Cisco – The Water

Best arts/cultural festival of the year: Sydney Contemporary Art Fair 2017. So many galleries represented, and a chance to meet artist Jason Wing and drink whiskey.

Top three international albums: Beck – Colors Kendrick Lamar – DAMN. The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

What I’ll miss most about 2017: Roger Moore and Glen Campbell.

Film of the year: Ghost Story Gig of the year: Midnight Oil at The Domain in this fair city of Sydney


Gig of the year: Don Broco at the Oxford Art Factory (I assume – here’s hoping it doesn’t go entirely to shit because this is due to go to print the day before the show)

Favourite viral trend of the year: Outing sexual predators in the music and entertainment industry.

What I won’t miss about 2017: The use of the word “lit.” What I’m looking forward to in 2018: The Summer Of Sarah A foolproof prediction for the year ahead: I really can’t top last year’s Trump presidency prediction, so let’s just say... “You will want more money than you have!”

Geordie Gray Community Manager Top three Australian albums: Gang Of Youths – Go Farther In Lightness The Smith Street Band – More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me Ali Barter – A Suitable Girl Top three international albums: Julien Baker – Turn Out The Lights Lorde – Melodrama Laura Marling – Semper Femina Film of the year: Lady Bird Gig of the year: Hellions’ “Opera Oblivia” tour at the Oxford Art Factory. My dad moshed. It was hectic.

Favourite TV show of the year: Peaky Blinders. Tommy Shelby forever. Alternatively, The OC. I am watching it for the first time ever. I would argue that not only is it the show of the year, but the show of the life. What I’ll miss most about 2017: The number 2017. What I won’t miss about 2017: The Sydney broccoli shortage. What I’m looking forward to in 2018: The sweet promise of raisin toast/Carly Rae Jepsen’s existence. A foolproof prediction for the year ahead: I only predict things for cash. I don’t want anyone ruining my sportsbet odds. BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17 :: 23

arts in focus


“Being a dyed in the wool racist, Mick Taylor believes if someone’s not Australian and they’re not from the country, and they’re not him, then they shouldn’t be here in the first place.”

Wolf Creek: The Horror, The Horror [TELEVISION] Mike Louis Kennedy chews the bloodied fat with Greg McLean and John Jarratt, the director and star of Wolf Creek respectively


he new season of Wolf Creek, the horror series based on the lauded Australian film of the same name, frequently feels more like a documentary than a feature. After all, watching a busload of tourists being hunted to their death in the barren Australian outback is a little like watching a crocodile descending on an unsuspecting wallaby, or a snake nipping at the heels of a roo and then watching as it kicks out its life in the dirt. The show’s second season is ambitious in scope, boasting more primary characters than any previous projects in the franchise. However, at the centre of the series still stands Mick Taylor, the violent, unrelenting villain who is as iconic as the series itself. Unlike other villains of the genre who stalk their victims silently while shrouded in mystery, Taylor, played by John Jarratt, is larger than life. He is loud, eccentric and unashamedly, abrasively Australian, often befriending the people who he later kills. As Jarratt himself explains, “without the psychopath and the serial killer element, he’d be a very well loved bloke in the district.”

The contrast is unsettling, and has been deliberately teased out by the series’ creator and director Greg McLean. “The whole thing with his character – a bit like with Ivan Milat – is that people meet him and willingly jump in his car with him because he seems like a really, really nice, average Aussie bloke. He hides the truth of who he really is.” That said, not everyone is swayed by Taylor’s country charm. At the heart of the series, says McLean, is a “clash of cultures”, a theme inspired by one of McLean’s all-time favourite films, John Boorman’s 1972 classic Deliverance. After all, that film is about the fear of the foreign; the threat posed by the outsider. “It’s basically about a bunch of city guys going to the country and meeting all these characters,” McLean says. “They’re all people and all guys, but they’re basically alien to one another, and that movie demonstrates what happens when two aliens meet.” Just as the numerous travellers in McLean’s own series prickle at Mick’s brash sense of humour and alien sensibilities, Mick sees nothing of himself in them. “They

are different species,” McLean states, “and in the Wolf Creek world they’re basically prey and he’s a predator.” Yet Taylor is not the only villain present in Wolf Creek, and the series joins a host of other films that have drawn on the vastness of the outback itself to evoke something primal in its audiences. McLean believes the tradition can be traced to the experience of British colonists. “You know, Australian storytelling from day dot was about people trying to survive this place that was basically a nightmare; being dumped somewhere to fend for themselves. “I sort of blended a few of those things with the Australian gothic tradition, with Australian history, and some of the Koori concepts. There is a suggestion in the story that maybe there are powers in the outback and, if you spend a long time out in the outback by yourself, as Mick does, driving on these highways does something to your brain.” The examples he provides are Ivan Milat and Bradley John Murdoch, whose infamous crimes loosely inspired the events of

the first film. Their individual motivations seem so horrific as to be incomprehensible, which caused McLean to wonder whether “isolation does create a sort of madness and craziness.” In that way, Mick Taylor’s character explores the question of whether the landscape itself is a source of violence and, if “you could act without consequence in that isolated place, what would you do?” When asked if he thinks his work has scared tourists away from camping, McLean is quick to laugh. While the series may be violent, he believes the outback setting is more likely to attract tourism, stating “if anything, people get to see it in its most spectacular aspect, because we photograph it so beautifully and reveal it in a way that’s so gorgeous.” Of course, the series is also studded with murdered tourists, usually backpackers. There’s two reasons McLean has stuffed his work with dead outsiders – the first being a purely practical consideration. “If you prey on backpackers who are a thousand miles away and they don’t call in [to work] for two weeks, the likelihood is their friends are going to assume

they’ve just gone to another place and won’t worry.” The second, significantly more sinister reason is a nod to Australian xenophobia and prejudice; a way of combating all the ugliness and rage that goes on just under our country’s surface. “To Mick they are vermin; they’re not from here. Being a dyed in the wool racist, he believes that if they’re not Australian and they’re not from the country, and they’re not him, then they shouldn’t be here in the first place. So his idea is, ‘I’m just taking out the garbage.’” On the question of whether anyone is capable of stopping Mick on his murderous rampage – or, even whether he’s human at all – McLean has only this to say; “Mick is a mystery. There’s an element of mystery to him that can’t be discussed; you’ll never know. He’s unknowable.” Jarratt pipes up, quick to remind us of his personal motto for the ruthless killer: “He never runs, never yells, never loses, never dies.” What: Wolf Creek hits Stan Friday December 15

“You know, Australian storytelling from day dot was about people trying to survive this place that was basically a nightmare.” 24 :: BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17


Flickerfest: Short Films, Big Ideas [FILM] Bronwyn Kidd of Flickerfest tells Belinda Quinn that the beloved short film event provides the perfect opportunity for young creatives to cut their teeth


n just under a month, Flickerfest will return to Bondi’s shores for its annual 10-day event, something director Bronwyn Kidd describes as “an extravaganza smörgåsbord of short films.” This year the festival received over 2500 entries from Australia and across the world, and its team have been working around the clock to curate a diverse program of independent cinema. Longtime film buff Kidd is currently celebrating her 20th anniversary working on the festival: her career took off when she started making documentaries for SBS. “I always loved film. I was sharing an office with the original founder of Flickerfest and he was going on to do other things so I kinda jumped in,” she explains. “I had no idea that 20 years later this is what I’d still be doing.”

like an authentic story, and that’s often really obvious.” She explains that digital technology has helped to open up the accessibility of the festival; nowdays, everyone is a filmmaker. “20 years ago we were carrying big cases of 35mm film around the country, which is very hard to imagine now… People had to process their film, which was an incredibly costly exercise in order to even enter. Now we’re getting everything on a USB or a harddrive. The world has changed but in a really, really good way.

industry here. You’ve just got to be incredibly persistent and remain true to yourself. Make the films you want to make from the heart; don’t try and make somebody else’s story that doesn’t resonate with you or a story that you’re not passionate about – and spend as much time as you can on the script. “So many films are let down by half-baked scripts where everything else is great: you know, there’s good cinematography, sound, acting, everything, but the script is poor… What’s the message people are going to take home after they’ve seen my film? That’s a really, really important question.”

“It’s no longer about just the white, middle-aged male domination of the industry.”

Flickerfest is unique in that the judging process doesn’t take the entrant’s budget into consideration – films are instead judged against the strength of the storytelling and the authenticity of the director’s voice. It’s not about throwing money at the wall and hoping that it will stick – it’s about making a film that is clear and contained. When asked who the most imitated director is for entries, Kidd says, “Perhaps Quentin Tarantino… It’s the action film, the car chase, the violence… It’s often rich people making films about how they imagine poor people live, that are not very sympathetic, you know what I mean? The middle-class, white-Australian view of what it is to be poor. The story just doesn’t feel real because we know that it’s not the society that the filmmaker’s been immersed in – so it doesn’t feel

“Because of this, I’m seeing a much broader range of filmmakers come through. We’re seeing a lot more LGBTQI stories and there’s so many more female directors – we’ve always encouraged that.” Indeed, now that prospective entrants can edit from home, being a filmmaker is “no longer just for rich people”, and Kidd takes time to emphasise this change in demographics. “There’s a lot more First Nations directors, and a lot more directors from non-English speaking cultures and various cultural backgrounds. It’s no longer about just the white, middle-aged male domination of the industry.” While Australia’s film industry seems like quite the small fry in comparison to America’s Hollywood, Kidd says you’ve just got to find your own voice to survive. “Look, I think it’s hard everywhere. I think you’ve got to remember that in Hollywood there’s a lot more Americans trying to get into it. We’re a smaller

A highlight from this year’s program includes Martha The Monster, which stars Bridesmaids star Rose Byrne; it’s a quirky comedy where humans live alongside curious creatures. “We’ve also got an LGBTQI program this year called Rainbow Shorts, which is really celebrating Marriage Equality. [There’s] a beautiful range of international entries that we’ve had from across the world from that community,” she explains. Of these films, Pre-Drink, a tale about the relationship between two best friends, a young transwoman Alexe and a gay man, was Awarded Best Canadian Short Film at Toronto International Film Festival. When it comes to short film, Kidd says that its independence was what drew her into the game. “You can tell whatever story you want. There’s no pressure of the box office [and] there’s no pressure from other people’s investment in your story or telling you who to

cast or how the film should finish or what it should be – it’s truly just filmmaking from the heart. “It’s also a really great look at the world through the eyes of young filmmakers,” she explains. “If you’re making a story about the refugee crisis or you know you’re making something that’s a comedy about the housing market in Sydney, it’s all very contemporary. You don’t need seven years to go out and raise the money like a feature film.

“I think that’s the thing that I love as well is that freshness and immediacy – the films are very relevant to the lives that we’re living. And people are able to experience this incredibly fresh creative cinema that they are not going to get an opportunity to see anywhere else.” What: Flickerfest When: Friday January 12 – Sunday January 21 Where: Bondi Beach

“We’re seeing a lot more LGBTQI stories and there’s so many more female directors – we’ve always encouraged that.”

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arts in focus


World Without Us photos by Mirjam Devriendt

“The most intriguing and exciting aspect of ‘our end’ is that, by definition, we’re never there to witness it, or to report about it.”

World Without Us: My Apocalypse [THEATRE] David Molloy speaks to Alexander Devriendt of Belgian theatre collective Ontroerend Goed about the urge to ponder the end of everything unfathomable questions. The opportunity to cast conjecture where there is no light is one that fills audiences and artists alike with endless fascination. “The most intriguing and exciting aspect of ‘our end’ is that, by defi nition, we’re never there to witness it, or to report about it. It’s the same thing that’s so fascinating and elusive about death: despite all scientifi c knowledge we have gathered, no one has ever returned to tell us about the experience. On the other hand, we as humans possess endless imagination, which enables us to create stories in the future; stories about possible endings, apocalypses, catastrophes and the narratives that lead to them. We can project our desires and fears onto that unknown moment.


hat would the world be like if all humans vanished?” That’s the question at the centre of World Without Us, a new theatrical production from Belgium’s Ontroerend Goed that sees the collective chart the end of history. They’re far from the first to explore humanity’s eventual departure from the corporeal plane, but what is it that drove the company and their peers into such bleak territory?

“It’s not so much about the doom of it all, but the sense of wonder that overcomes me when I realise how fragile and beautifully intricate this world around us is,” says Alexander Devriendt, the sole performer in World Without Us, citing the first inspirations for the production. “[There was] a documentary that charted the slow breakdown of our world and the signs of human presence in it. It charted

first moments, then years, then decades and centuries. It showed a simulation of the Eiffel tower collapsing in Paris, which is by then reduced to a swamp. I was also fascinated by a book I read that described how quickly the order that surrounds and structures our everyday life would disintegrate.” For Devriendt, our need for apocalyptic narratives stems from our inability to answer life’s great

“That’s ultimately an artistic moment, even strengthened by science, which is able to present us with logical and plausible predictions. For this show, we consulted many experts, from biologists to nuclear scientists, and asked them to make predictions about our future and our downfall. Their answers are interesting, but all of them come to a point where they say: there are so many factors at play that countless scenarios for our ending remain possible. In the end, when we’re really wiped out, no one will be left to tell the story.”

“We as humans possess endless imagination, which enables us to create stories in the future; stories about possible endings, apocalypses, catastrophes and the narratives that lead to them.” 26 :: BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17

Morbid as that may seem, Ontroerend Goed – known for their innovative approach to narrative and staging – took the stimulus as an opportunity to fl ex their imaginative muscles. Devriendt’s presence in the piece posed a challenge – a human performer existing in a post-human world naturally jars, and that limitation forced the company to approach the work from a new angle. “We found it very challenging to tell a story that cannot be told because, strictly speaking, there is no narrator,” says Devriendt. “If all humanity is gone, all narrators are gone too. The whole show works with this fi eld of tension. In the end, there is a speaker, but he or she is a construct, perhaps some kind of hologram – but we leave that to the audience to interpret.” Their work certainly asks much of their audience, but Devriendt is content in the knowledge that experience with Australian audiences in the past – when the company produced A History Of Everything with Sydney Theatre Company here in 2012 – has expanded their capacity to communicate. “It was great to make a show that would appeal both to European and Australian audiences. And we found Australian audiences to be warm and generous – and they laugh more than we do.” Where: Carriageworks When: Tuesday January 9 – Sunday January 14

arts in focus

Wild Bore: Ponderous Assholes [THEATRE] Cameron Colwell chats to Adrienne Truscott of Wild Bore about the change coming to theatre, whether playwrights and critics like it or not

ild Bore, an alt-comedy featuring quotes from the performers’ own harsh reviews, a speech from Hamlet, and talking arseholes is coming to Sydney. US choreographer, dancer, and stand-up comedian Adrienne Truscott had a chat with us about the development of the show, its evolution, and possible futures for theatrical criticism.


My friend and someone I’ve worked with before, Daniel Clarke – an Australian arts producer, presenter and director – had been encouraging me to work with some other female and feminist artists on the festival circuit scene. That conversation developed and continued, and a few of us started having fun conversations about what kind of piece we would make together should we pursue it. Those conversations were very playful and funny and casual – we would have them at artist bars and after festival shows. Around about that same time I was commissioned by a theatre in NYC to make a new piece: I thought the

Wild Bore photo by Maria Baranova

Wild Bore photo by Tim Grey

How did Wild Bore’s international team of Zoe Coombs Marr, Adrienne Truscott, and Ursula Martinez come together? What was the initial drive to make a theatre show about the state of current criticism?

timing was interesting, so we made the conversation more official. I had the title Wild Bore in my head and suddenly thought that there was something about that question within that title – what is it to be both wild and boring, or wildly boring? – applied to all of us. In an early development phase of the project that was funded by The Malthouse, Zoe and I started talking vigorously about reviews and criticisms. In particular, we were thinking about misunderstandings or disengagements with experimental performances by female and queer makers by critics. So conversations about that, and the challenges to that style of critiquing, marked the starting point of Wild Bore. That said, it evolved from there to include many other things too. What do each of you think good criticism should do, aside from getting bums on seats? Well I mean, in the context of this interview, I can only speak for myself. Although I do think we all believe criticism plays a hugely important role in validating work in the theatre, and especially its relevance to social discourse and citizenship. I mean, ideally criticism helps contextualise the ways and times in which a piece is made, as well as picking out what

other trends, practices or tropes it has grown out of and references. In that way, sometimes a critic’s job is to simply extrapolate things to help a reader understand what they might relate to or dislike about it. What would a more ideal landscape of theatre criticism look like? Oh goodness! This will sound so idealistic perhaps, but really I think it’s important that there evolves something more diverse and democratic. We really need more diverse voices and perspectives in the world of criticism. And we need work to be funded by a wider and more diverse range of artists. I do think the internet can help us make that kind of access more available. Maybe reviewers should have to supply their bios, much like makers do – especially online where space isn’t so much of an economic issue. Also, we should learn that within the context of local, state and federal arts budgets that criticism is a vital part of our arts community, which would come with the acknowledgment that the arts are a vital part of our citizenry. Where: Carriageworks When: Wednesday January 24 – Sunday January 28

“Sometimes a critic’s job is to simply extrapolate things to help a reader understand what they might relate to or dislike about it.”

“Criticism plays a hugely important role in validating work in the theatre, and especially its relevance to social discourse and citizenship.”

BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17 :: 27

arts in focus


Romper Stomper: True Blue David Molloy speaks to the creatives behind the Stan original series that dives into Aussie radicalism on both sides of the political divide.


f nothing else, 2017 has proven that time is a flat circle, and history inevitably repeats itself in new forms ad infinitum. Naturally, life imitates art in this respect, and while we have welcomed the return of old stories like Wake In Fright, Wolf Creek, Fargo and Twin Peaks, less welcome but equally familiar guests have joined these successes on our screens. This year, we’ve watched as swastika-clad men have paraded through city streets; as fascistic sentiments have bubbled over into public debate; as altright provocateurs have sold hatred to adoring fans; and as populist leaders have given no condemnation whatsoever of the white supremacy and misogyny unfurling around the world. Not one of these events was scripted – all played out live through 24 hour news broadcasts. Every member of the crew of Stan original series Romper Stomper was deeply, uncomfortably aware of this duality as they worked on bringing writer/director Geoffrey

Wright’s controversial masterpiece roaring into the 21st century.

with loudspeakers, but escalate rapidly to violence.

“Solutions only come about slowly, over a long period of time, so there’s no quick fixes to anything,” says Wright, the director of the first two episodes of the series. “To any complex problem, there are only complex solutions, and this in itself is a philosophical position relevant to the story, because what extremists tell you is that you can have short, sharp, quick solutions to problems – and I don’t believe that’s the case. It’s fear that drives people into extreme politics, in my opinion, and I’ve always thought this, even back in the original film.”

“They’re not clichés, these people,” says actor Lily Sullivan, whose anti-fascist activist character Petra sees Blake and his ilk as the enemy. “They’re quite well off, quite well educated, some of them; it’s alarming that they have these views. Romper Stomper is shining a light on these people with these prejudiced views that are living in middle-class suburbia; who have these beautiful homes.”

Wright’s new extremists take a form antithetical to that of the original film’s Hando and his thuggish gang of Nazi punks – led by blokey, charismatic Blake, the new right are envisioned as, well, the picture of the Australian Dream. They own splashy suburban houses, contribute to their communities, and loudly protest any perceived threat to their neighbourhood’s cultural makeup. The efforts of Patriot Blue begin

It may sound as if the series is merely giving a platform to hateful rhetoric, but Wright is no stranger to this strain of criticism. “People used to complain about the old film that you’re highlighting these characters too much, you’re glorifying them,” he says, “but to me that makes no more sense than saying Richard III is a glorification of child murder. This is a story with some villainous people in it, but different shades of villainy, and villainy that’s been arrived at for all sorts of different reasons.” More diplomatic in his approach, co-producer Dan Edwards believes

“I think everyone needs to sit in the ugly for a while in order to make a better world.” 28 :: BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17

arts in focus

“As much as you may despise some of these characters, or side with one more than the other you’ve got to give them all their time in the sun.” that crafting the series is all about maintaining balance. With three factions vying for screen time – Blake’s Patriot Blue, the leftist cell “Anti-Fash” and a LebaneseAustralian family caught in the middle – no one political ideology can be dominant. “As much as you may despise some of these characters, or side

with one more than the other, you’ve got to give them all their time in the sun,” says Edwards. “This was a show that really needed to dig into some of that alt-right ideology … which can be within your neighbourhood. We try to give everyone the opportunity to state their case, and that’s probably what makes it an uneasy watch. “I think it’ll definitely generate discussion, because we’re not overtly taking sides. I think clearly as you see more episodes, [there’s] a more sinister story arc. But we really try to give all sides plenty of oxygen.” The reluctance is natural – none of us on the left side of politics want to admit that Nazism is alive and well, or that leftist extremists can be equally vicious. But the conversation has never been more important, as the cast and crew themselves discovered while embroiled in production. “Events have overtaken us, in a way,” says Edwards. “I think that we’ve ended up with Trump and Brexit and One Nation holding the balance of the power without any [television drama] like this that focuses on fascism or extremism in general, and so in that sense I think it’s kinda risky, but it feels like the right thing to do.

“Kinda shockingly, Charlottesville happened the week after we shot a very similar scene in St Kilda,” he says. “The actors actually found that quite confronting.” Sullivan remembers the day vividly. “With Charlottesville, life was already imitating the things we were making and trying to explore, so that was kind of intense … to feel actually in sync with the news,” she says. “It was such an intense energy, and that’s when storytelling feels profound; it feels like you’re actually contributing to the world. You feel present.” Though shaken by how closely they’d (unknowingly) hewed to reality, the events in Charlottesville only served to bolster the resolve of the creatives. A vocal opponent of political correctness, Wright seized the opportunity to shine a spotlight on our country’s own bubbling pits of unrest. “There’s been this feeling of, ‘Let’s not show these people because if we just refuse to depict them, they will go away’. But I think the opposite is true,” Wright says. “They actually thrive. They enjoy not being understood; they enjoy being these kind of spooky figures in the shadows …

“Solutions only come about slowly, over a long period of time, so there’s no quick fixes to anything.”

Let’s talk about everything, and you guys and you girls from these extreme ends, come forward and tell us exactly what it is you are afraid of because this kind of hatred and this kind of activity is the result of fear.” Wright and Edwards are of a mind on this matter. “As much as I find some of these people really quite disgusting and vile, they are human.” Edwards says. “The staunch opposition to those views was so mainstream and absolute that all of a sudden, it snuck up on us and therefore a disenfranchised part of society has now gained traction by bringing this stuff into the center rather than onto the fringe where it was even only 15 years ago. I think having those politics out in the open is better than pushing it to the side and completely disregarding it. That has not worked.” This is where the possibilities of pan-generational storytelling really shine. Just as Twin Peaks brought back many of its surviving cast members, Romper Stomper has plenty of familiar faces plucked from the 1992 classic. But more importantly, the production has united artists separated by decades under the banner of change. “With the state of the world today, it’s really exciting to be a part of something that isn’t just adding to the infinite amounts of escapism that we have and options to escape the realities; to be a part of a production that is confronting and provocative and thought provoking,” says Sullivan. “I think everyone needs to sit in the ugly for a while in order to make a better world.” What: Romper Stomper hits Stan on Monday January 1 BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17 :: 29

arts in focus ■ Television

Stan’s Romper Stomper is an important look at a fractured Australia By Joseph Earp


he original Romper Stomper, a brutal, mucky masterpiece, was a film about outsiders – about a group spurned by society who must develop their own counter-cultural movement in order to compensate for their great loneliness and alienation. Which checks out: in the context of 1992, neo-Nazis were a scattered, ragtag mob of unconnected factions, not a political force. Needless to say, such a take wouldn’t fly today. Our fascists are united by Facebook, emboldened by politicians. Their imagery has hit the mainstream. Their spokespeople are given slots on morning television programs. NeoNazis are no longer a counter-cultural movement: they are a culture in and of themselves. In updating Romper Stomper to the present day for a six-part series premiering on Stan on New Year’s Day, the film’s original director

Romper Stomper

“In every way this new formulation of Romper Stomper could have failed, it succeeds.” Geoffrey Wright has kept that cultural change front and centre. Rather than shirtless, tattooed skinheads, Wright’s new antagonists are permanently wineaddled, middle-class “patriots”. They meet around barbecues; deliver xenophobic speeches while nestled in their bougie apartments. They aren’t thugs: they are businessmen. Nor, importantly, are they the main focus of Romper

Stomper. The series is no dose of Nazi porn, and Wright and his creative team have worked hard to ensure that their interest in the modern fascist movement isn’t mistaken for a troubling, morally compromised kind of quiet adoration. So although the aggression of fascists kicks the series’ plot into gear, they are one part of a complex cultural puzzle, and Wright spends equal time with a group of hairdyed far left activists known as “Anti-Fash”, not

to mention a slimy Andrew Bolt-type named Jago (David Wenham, having the time of his bloody life.) As a result of this wider scope, the impotent, boozed-up Blake Farron (Lachy Hulme), head of hateful group Patriot Blue, is a far cry from the singularly one-minded Hando of the original film. Blake doesn’t exist in a vaccuum – he is an opportunist, riding cultural waves he doesn’t fully understand.

Wright has never really got his dues as a superb director of action – his Macbeth is pockmarked with grotty, perfectly handled film noir setpieces – and he brings the full range of his powers to the first two episodes of Romper Stomper. Things start intense and get more so – Footscray’s tarsplattered, neon-lit streets are a death trap, home to opportunistic old predators and confused, young victims. In every way this new formulation of Romper Stomper could have failed, it succeeds. It has the sheer force of a sledgehammer; the uncomplicated horror of an amputation. Those who were worried it would be one more platform afforded to a group that deserve no such thing can be calmed – this is Australian television at its most essential.

What: Romper Stomper Premieres on Stan Australia on Monday January 1

■ Film

Paddington 2 is the best children’s film since Toy Story 2 By Joseph Earp

“The film is not interested in expanding an already perfectly-painted world, or by threatening the bonds between Paddington and his adopted family, The Browns.”

Paddington 2


he odds were stacked against the first Paddington film. An adaptation of an almost unbearably (geddit?) quaint book series, it could have gone OTT, and loud, and clichéd, becoming one more soulless Hollywood attempt to turn nostalgia into big bucks. Instead, it was one of the best films of 2014; an

intensely loveable romp that never sacrificed heart for the sake of big screen spectacle. Which only meant the odds were further stacked against Paddington 2. Director Paul King pulled off a surprise hit with his original; however was he meant to replicate the success for a sequel? The answer is by – contrary to the logic that usually dictates sequels – going

“We live in distinctly troubled times. Paddington 2 feels like the antidote to them.” 30 :: BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17

even smaller. Rather than attempting to up the stakes, with Paddington 2 King has doubled down on his first film’s warmth, and gentleness, and joy. Ostensibly a caper film in which Paddington (Ben Whishaw) finds himself wrongly imprisoned for the theft of a rare art book-cumtreasure map, the sequel is, at its big beating heart, a film about familial bonds, and about how radical it can be simply to be kind. Paddington 2 is not interested in expanding an already perfectly-painted world, or by threatening the bonds between Paddington

and his adopted family, The Browns. It doesn’t tear things apart; once again it gets down to the infinitely admirable task of putting things back together.

tricks, from a shot that sees a diorama come bursting into life, to a thrilling chase through nighttime London. King cares; nothing in his film is half-hearted, or skimmed over.

As with the first film, a lot of Paddington 2’s success rides on the furry shoulders of its beary protagonist. Every single one of Paddington’s marmaladestained hairs moves and waves on their own, and he is both recognisably animal and yet heartwarmingly human. And that’s not even to mention Whishaw’s voice work – so perfectly does he encompass the role that it’s hard to remember that Colin Firth was the first choice to bring the bear to life.

For that reason, although it would be easy to dismiss Paddington 2 as a quaint curio – the cinematic form of penny candy; enjoyable for exactly the time it’s being chewed on and no longer – it has a real sticking power. It’s more than a diversion, or just a way to keep your children quiet for a few hours. It has the power to fill you up with joy like a cup. We live in distinctly troubled times. Paddington 2 feels like the antidote to them.

Credit must also go to King’s keen visual eye. As with the first film, Paddington 2 is littered with joyous visual

What: Paddington 2 is in Australian cinemas Thursday December 21

■ Film

Every frame of with life By Joseph Earp


here’s this mistaken attitude that neorealist films have to be drab and dingy: all of them set in grimy kitchens, and soot-stained bathtubs, and garbage-littered elevators. After all, the genre’s key classics are tales of woe, so packed with moss and mould that every frame looks like it needs to be drenched in a good dose of bleach – Mike Leigh’s Meantime, for example, is claustrophobically damp, and Francois Truffaut’s seminal The 400 Blows is crammed full of a small army of young children who look like they haven’t seen a bar of soap in literal years. On that front, Sean Baker’s The Florida Project is genuinely revolutionary – not just visually, but morally. Baker, the patron saint of the disenfranchised and the director of the woefully underrated Tangerine, a film shot entirely on an iPhone, understands that those who live in poverty are not uniformly dingy and drab. He feels the warmth of all life, and fervently rejects the cliched, creaky stance of those middle-class directors who seek to capture the lives of those less fortunate with all the tact and subtlety of documentary filmmakers heading out into a far-flung jungle.

arts reviews The Florida Project

■ Film

Wonder Wheel is Woody Allen’s most autobiographical film in years, unfortunately By Joseph Earp

The Florida Project bursts

So as a result of Baker’s tact and grace, the heroes of The Florida Project are not perpetually runnynosed louts: they are stylish, funny, and fun; fun in a way usually reserved for dashing, upper-class heroes, or bougie young hipsters. Moonee (sevenyear-old newcomer Brooklynn Prince) is the anarchic centre of The Florida Project; a joyous troublemaker, the film follows her as she wreaks gentle havoc around the purple-painted motel that she calls home, all the while watched over the venue’s soft-eyed manager Bobby Hicks (Willem Dafoe, in the performance of a lifetime.) Like a version of Harmony Korine’s Gummo stripped of its cruelty and injected with significantly more heart, The Florida Project is a string of largely unconnected scenes; vignettes, held together by the loosest of bindings. And, although the arc of the film does bend towards tragedy – the final

half an hour is genuinely upsetting – this is no stylised sob story. Baker has the lightest of touches, and his film rejects every cliché that it encounters. Not that The Florida Project is perfect, and Baker does, unfortunately, take one significant misstep along the way. The very final three minutes of the film suddenly and gratingly shifts gears, swapping film formats and tone to deliver a soppy ending that ruins much of the nuance that has proceeded it. Oh well. Despite bungling its landing, there is still so much to admire here. In its startling originality, and in the sheer force of its vision, The Florida Project feels like the first film in a new lineage; a movie that gives off empathy the way tarmac gives off heat on a summer day.

What: The Florida Project is in Australian cinemas Thursday December 21

“Sean Baker’s The Florida Project is genuinely revolutionary – not just visually, but morally.” The Florida Project

Wonder Wheel


here’s an advantage to keeping your hot takes and your reviews separate. Film criticism is one thing, broader societal criticism is another, and never the twain shall meet – and that’s not even to mention the inherent benefit of keeping the artist an arm’s length away from their art. After all, no-one has ever pretended that watching say, a Clint Eastwood film is akin to meeting Clint Eastwood, and an endorsement of someone’s work is not exactly the same as an endorsement of their private life (although, of course, that morally dubious artists benefit financially from praise heaped on their work does muddy the water somewhat). But in the case of a film like Wonder Wheel, the latest from the singularly undistinguished Woody Allen, it is impossible to separate the art from its creator’s past controversies. After all, Wonder Wheel is, as this critic discovered amongst much second act cringing, a film about a three-way love triangle between a strapping young wannabe writer (Justin Timberlake, in one of the worst cinematic performances in recent memory), a neurotic Coney Island resident named Ginny (Kate Winslet, trying her best) and her equally bug-eyed daughter-in-law (Juno Temple, the only cast member who just about escapes with their dignity intact.) No. Seriously. After spending years running as far away as possible from depicting his personal life on the screen, and abandoning his beloved New York in favour of Barcelona and Paris, Allen seems to have finally owned up to his crimes in the strangest possible way. In its lopsided, hysterical melodrama,

“In its lopsided, hysterical melodrama, Wonder Wheel reads like a letter sent from a serial killer in order to bait the cops on his trail.” Wonder Wheel reads like a letter sent from a serial killer in order to bait the cops on his trail. It is cryptic, and it is disturbed, and it is about as enjoyable to sit through as a snuff film. And even aside from the horrendous connections to real-life transgressions, Wonder Wheel is a mess. Winslet seems to be acting in a different movie from everyone else, doing a dime store version of Cate Blanchett’s excellent turn in Allen’s own Blue Jasmine. Worse still, Allen’s camera won’t stop lingering on her: it holds in excruciating closeups, looming like a stalker, moving back and forth as she recites overcooked monologue after overcooked monologue.

Presumably everyone involved thought that Winslet was due to snag another Oscar nom, which, given the film’s mixed critical reception, adds an additional layer of uncomfortable tragedy to the proceedings – Winslet has about as much chance as bagging the gong for her work in this film as Ben Affleck does for his turn in Justice League. That’s not even to mention the film’s bizarre handle on tone. Timberlake, gurning to camera, is the narratorcum-hero of Wonder Wheel, and spends much of the first half poking his face down the lens like a middleaged Ferris Bueller. By his character’s own admission,

he’s also a hack dramatist, and in his opening speech he apologises for the heavyhandedness of what is set to follow. Which I guess is kinda interesting – it implies that the film will be a postmodern pastiche of itself, and sets up the idea that Allen is out to lampoon halfbaked melodrama. But, bizarrely, within the film’s first half hour, Wonder Wheel suddenly transforms into a half-baked serve of melodrama itself. That initial self-awareness goes out of the window, and all of a sudden, a film that looked like it was going to be a semi-comic unravelling of Eugene O’Neill-style screeching is suddenly something else entirely. It’s a mess, honestly. It’s ugly, and it’s confusing, and it has all the deftness of touch one might expect from a small herd of bulls locked into a china shop. Avoid it. What: Wonder Wheel is in Australian cinemas now

Kate Winslet in Wonder Wheel

“Winslet seems to be acting in a different movie from everyone else, doing a dime store version of Cate Blanchett’s excellent turn in Woody Allen’s own Blue Jasmine.” BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17 :: 31

arts in focus


Who Is The Punisher? Chris Neill takes a deep dive into the history of The Punisher, one of the most complex comic book characters ever put to the page


eople have always been divided over the comic book character known as The Punisher, and for good reason: after all, his entire existence is at odds with the “no kill” policy that superheroes are meant to uphold. Debuting in 1974 and created by writer Gerry Conway and artists John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru, Frank Castle is a Vietnam veteran whose wife and children are taken from him when they’re caught in the crossfire of a mob gunfight. In response, Castle starts dressing all in black, paints a skull on his shirt and uses his military training to begin a one-man war on crime. In that way, he’s the ultimate revenge fantasy: a living, breathing vendetta. Since his inception, The Punisher has appeared in dozens of comic series, along with a handful of film and television adaptations, with a variety of filmmakers and artists offering different interpretations on who the character is. The only constant seems to be that he is the “serious” superhero – although like all caped crusaders, there’s an inherent goofiness within him too. The Punisher comics of the late ’80s to the mid ’90s are reminiscent of the kind of action movie schlockfests that would have starred John Claude van Damme or Dolph Lundgren back in the day (indeed, Lundgren would play Castle in the 1989 The Punisher film).

Lexi Alexander’s direly underrated 2008 adaptation, Punisher: War Zone, leans hard into the B-movie concept of the character, and includes some of the most cartoonish violence ever committed to film. Even in the current Marvel universe, The Punisher is in the process of hunting down Hydra agents, Marvel’s Nazi analogues, while wearing one of Iron Man’s suits. He’s total B-movie schlock. On the other end of the tone spectrum, in what is widely considered to be the definitive take on the character, the 2004 The Punisher comic book series written by Garth Ennis presents Frank Castle for what he truly is: a murderous monster that exists to forever out-monster the worst the world has to offer. In that way, Ennis uses Castle to explore how dehumanising a life of death and violence can be. Moreover, Ennis also uses The Punisher to deconstruct the American badass figure; the legendary macho male that’s a product of the country’s idolisation of Old West gunslingers and the take-no-shit/play-by-their-own-rules action movie tough guys (both kinds of machismo grunt played by Clint Eastwood). Ennis’ take on The Punisher doesn’t get the cool Dirty Harry or John McClane one-liners. There’s no joy in what the Punisher does, because there shouldn’t be any joy. He’s a man doing a job, like a butcher working in an abattoir.

The Punisher

“There’s no joy in what The Punisher does, because there shouldn’t be any joy. He’s a man doing a job, like a butcher working in an abattoir.” There’s an inherent hypocrisy to The Punisher: what separates Castle from the killers that he regularly mows down? He willingly uses the bad guy’s methods of violence, torture and murder – so what makes him different from them? The thing about The Punisher is that he’s morally infallible, frequently to the same degree that Captain America and Batman are. The Punisher never kills people who aren’t guilty, fi ghting against the exact same crowd of street-level villains as those heroes. The only difference is that he’s more than willing to take a life. The Punisher is a hero – but make no mistake. He’s also a monster.

It’s why Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and the countless other Marines who adorn their helmets and gear with The Punisher’s iconic skull logo totally miss the point of the character. By comparing themselves with the Punisher they are tacitly implying that they have the same level of moral righteousness – that everyone they kill is objectively guilty. Case in point? Earlier this year a Kentucky police officer removed a Punisher skull/Blue Lives Matter mash-up decal that he’d placed on the hood of his cruiser after receiving an overwhelming amount of complaints from citizens who were uncomfortable that an officer of the law was associating himself with a lawless killer.

It’s easy to write The Punisher off as a character whose primary fanbase is built from firearm obsessives and people who actively describe themselves as “edgy” (Netflix’s decision to set The Punisher trailer to Metallica’s ‘One’ is either too self-aware or not self-aware enough) – but I think that’s a shallow read that misses the point of the character. He isn’t a glorification of vigilantism and gun violence, but a vilification. He isn’t propaganda that proposes that all crime could be eradicated if everyone was given a gun, but proof of how fundamentally ridiculous that concept is. What: The Punisher is available on Netflix now

“Netflix’s decision to set The Punisher trailer to Metallica’s ‘One’ is either too self-aware or not self-aware enough.”

The Punisher 32 :: BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17

The BRAG’s Christmas Gift Guide Stuck for presents for your nearest and dearest? Don’t wanna get caught up in a mad last minute shopping rush? Then check out six of the finest gifts we reckon are currently on offer in Aus, a range of presents for all the music/theatre/film/arts lovers in your life. ’Tis the season, after all!

JBL Boombox Party Speaker Price: $549 Know a friend who has the constant urge to hurl a speaker into a pool? Then the JBL Boombox is the present for them – the device is fully waterproof, so will withstand whatever aquatic trials you have in store for it. It also has 24-hour battery life, making it perfect for parties poolside, parkside and beachside.

Lost The Plot books Price: From $19.99 The folks at Lost The Plot, a new publishing line for and made by millennials, have utterly seduced us with their range of risque, game-changing, beautifully produced books. From the exquisitely titled (not to mention awesome looking) Space Is Cool As Fuck, to the just as erotic as it sounds Just The Tip, Lost The Plot books are a perfect pressie for that rebel in your life.

Criterion Collection DVDs Price: From $34

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Price: $129

Now that Amazon Australia has launched, collectors of the gorgeously-packaged Criterion DVD and Blu-ray line will no longer have to pay toe-curling delivery fees. The Amazon Criterion range includes everything from John Waters’ exceptional Multiple Maniacs to the brilliant Tampopo. The film lover in your life will be over the moon.

Sennheiser noise-cancelling headphones Price: $389 There’s nothing like slapping on some high-quality headphones and losing yourself in the music, and with Sennheiser’s noise-cancelling headphones, that’s exactly what you can do. Seriously, you could be sitting in the middle of an honest-to-god blacksmith or a fighter jet, pop these on your ears, and you’d be in a cocoon of silence.

Ultimate Ears really know their stuff. The company is famous for a line of the most impressive speakers on the market, and their Wonderboom is one of the finest products that they offer. It’s a perfect gift for the party-starter in your life.

The Shire Summer Series Price: From $19 – $75 The Shire are really going all out in the new year, hosting everything from the Hills concert series to a free Australia Day extravaganza to a series of Shakespeare plays performed in the open expanse of the park. Know someone who can’t get enough culture in ’em? Then some Shire Summer Series events might be the gift route to go down. Head to au for more info. BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17 :: 33

Sounds Like… N E W A L B U M A N D S I N G L E R E L E A S E S W I T H T Y S O N W R AY

In this special, festive instalment of Sounds Like, we have handed over the reins to Tyson Wray, so that he might provide a succinct round-up of this year’s god-awful Christmas albums. Tyson Wray is a writer, editor and social media type dude who BuzzFeed once called “Australia’s harshest music critic” and will quite obviously never get a job at Sony. You can follow him on Twitter @tysonwray.

Sia (sorta)

The true definition of a ‘white Christmas’ is record label executives trashing the legacy of their artists by forcing them to release Christmas albums so they can fund their cocaine addictions over the holidays. I mean, a Christmas album is basically the musical equivalent of The Simpsons post-season nine – fucking awful, but still somehow lapped up by the troglodyte masses enough to bring in revenue. Yes, it’s that time of year again – when Michael Bublé comes out of hibernation and we’re forced to spend time with our families and begrudgingly overlook the

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profoundly racist views of our grandparents while finding solace in the fact that they’ll be dead soon. Let’s look over the aural herpes that retail workers will be hearing on repeat until they go postal this silly season, shall we?

Sia – Everyday Is Christmas [Atlantic]

It’s hard to listen to this album without getting the feeling that while recording each song Sia was being held at

gunpoint. A Christmas album is generally where an artist comes to watch their career die – but Sia is still selling out stadiums. So why would she be churning out the yuletide-infused disasters that are ‘Candy Cane Lane’, ‘Ho Ho Ho’ and, erghhhhhh, ‘Puppies Are Forever’? I suppose in the contemporary music industry you need to cash in while the masses fleetingly care about you to avoid a post-career slump where you’re forced to make shopping centre appearances and sign autographs for fans who you’d otherwise have restraining orders against.

Elvis Presley – Christmas With Elvis And The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra [Sony]

Money must be fucking tight at Graceland right now. Nothing really says “we respect the artistic merit of our fallen family member” like digging up 60-year-old recordings and slapping them over a shithouse lower-tier orchestra (at least shell out for the New York Philharmonic or Boston Symphony, you savages). God, when you hear the painful vocal swirls of


The Defender BY JOSEPH EARP In The Defender, the BRAG’s writers make the case for something they feel has been hard done by. This issue, Joseph Earp argues that it’s totally okay to pull out your phone at a gig and take a few snaps.

Chris Brown

‘Blue Christmas’ you can just envision an accountant scooping up a Homebrand potato salad and playing “here comes the aeroplane” with his Neanderthal wife while their 32-year-old son who still lives at home sneaks into his man cave to try out his brand new Rick And Morty-branded vape. Keep up the good work, Satan.

Chris Brown – The Christmas Album [RCA Records]

OK this doesn’t actually exist yet, but I’m sure it will one day because of how fucking soulless and non-accountable the music industry is.

Various Artists – Now That’s What I Call Merry Christmas [Sony]

This shouldn’t exist, but it does. You

can tell a lot about people by the type of music they listen to. I can guarantee you that if this album is soundtracking a Christmas luncheon then at least two of the cousins there will end up going to second-base. I mean, Justin Bieber’s ‘Mistletoe’, Bing Crosby and David Bowie’s ‘Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy’ and Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ are just about as mortifying as your laptop dying while you’re watching porn and then you suddenly see a refl ection of yourself in the screen. If you genuinely enjoy this then for the love of god throw your Christmas ham on the ground and eat it off the kitchen fl oor like the animal you are.


f there’s one thing boomers love – aside from Antiques Roadshow, voting to restrict the opportunities of the young, and locking an entire generation out of the housing market – it’s policing the behaviour of others. They froth that shit.

Various Artists – So Fresh: The Songs for Christmas 2017 [Sony]


So, perhaps it’s not surprising that the folks leading the charge against the use of phones at gigs are members of the gray brigade. And it’s not just middleaged audience members who are transforming into culture cops: some particularly crumpled, particularly overthe-hill performers are also trying to outlaw the habit of audiences pulling out their iPhones and snapping a few quick pics of a band.

Get fucked – I refuse to listen to this.

a gig’s vibe – you’ll be back and in the thick of it.

Like everyone, I’ve had gigs ruined in my time. But you know what has ruined gigs for me? Once it was a boomer at a Nick Cave concert who wouldn’t shut up. Once it was a boomer at a PJ Harvey concert who, loaded with booze, threw up in the mosh. Once it was a boomer at a Springsteen concert who spent the evening loudly mansplaining the Boss’s back catalogue to his poor, increasingly bored date. Once it was a boomer at a Bill Callahan concert who accidentally tipped an entire glass of wine down the back of my fucking shirt. Never once has a phone ruined a gig for me.

Music festival crowd photo courtesy Coventry City Council/Flickr


The main argument against the use of phones at gigs seems to be that it somehow takes you out of the experience – that snapping a photo, or taking a quick video immediately makes you an observer rather than a participant. Which, for my money, is a whole load of bullshit. How long does it take to snap a quick picture? 30 seconds, perhaps, if you wanna take a couple. So even if pulling out one’s phone does have the effect of instantly killing a gig’s vibe – which, like, it almost definitely doesn’t – within less time than it takes to head over to the bar and grab a drink – which definitely does kill

Don’t get me wrong – gig etiquette is important, and there are things we need to change about what goes on when the lights go down: things like unbearably aggressive moshes, and sexual harassment, and intimidatory behaviour. But people can do whatever the fuck they want with their phones. And hey, if you do want to continue being a miserable old shit and telling people what they can and can’t do with their own property during gigs, at least own your fucked opinions and admit that you’re trying to police behaviour so that it better fits with your own outdated view of the world, rather than embarking on some grand, moral mission.


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g g guide gig g send your listings to :



Touch Sensitive

Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst.

Touch Sensitive + Broadway Sounds + The Goods 8pm. $23.30. Scabz

THURSDAY DECEMBER 14 The Bear Pack Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. $29. Berlin Reunion – feat: Fabels, Jo Meares, The Suburban Bukowskis MoshPit, Erskineville. 7pm. Free. Boo Seeka Manning Bar, Camperdown. 8pm. $24. Kallidad Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 6pm. $18. KC and the Sunshine Band + Sister Sledge + The Village People Hordern Pavilion, Moore Park. 7:15pm. $119.

Scabz + Fingermae + Johnny Hunter + Nick Nuisance And The Delinquents The Lansdowne Hotel, Chippendale. Thursday December 14. 8pm. $12.25.


A Scabz set entails first-hand accounts of Brett Lee’s refused entry into World Bar, a verbal kick in Mike Baird’s guts and an unrequited love for straight girls, with a little bit of cowbell sprinkled on top – what more could you want?

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The Knots + DOKO + Mo Therfunk + The Konrads Brighton Up Bar, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $11. The MilkCrate Bandits + No

Mandate + Teens Of Thailand The Hideaway Bar, Enmore. 5pm. Free. Reuben Stone Waywards, Newtown. 8pm. $14.30. The Rhythm Section Christmas Party – feat: Cass Eager & The Mo’ Debleys, Claude Hay, Justin Yap, Marshall Okell, Matty T Wall Leadbelly, Newtown. 7pm. $20. Scabz + Fingermae + Johnny Hunter + Nick Nuisance And The Delinquents The Lansdowne Hotel, Chippendale. 8pm. $12.25.

FRIDAY DECEMBER 15 Damien Cowell’s Disco Machine Metro Theatre, Sydney CBD. 6pm. $25. Dianas + Homewrecker + Los Pintar + Spike Vincent

g g guide gig g

out & about

send your listings to : Queer(ish) matters with Arca Bayburt

Happy Holigays!



eads up: the Sydney Harbour Bridge is gettin’ real gay for New Year’s Eve, cause a rainbow waterfall is apparently going to cascade from it as the clock strikes midnight.

!!! Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. Thursday December 14. 6pm. $51.20. The New York-based six-piece radiate all the best bits of house, disco, hip-hop and funk; don’t miss your chance to rave along to Nic Offer’s aerobic-esque dancing at the Oxford Art Factory.

Rad Bar, Wollongong. 8pm. $10.


Emad Younan Sappho Books, Café and Bar, Glebe.

Alien Weaponry Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 12pm. $18.

Good Boy Lansdowne Hotel, Chippendale. 8pm. $18. Great Gable + Venon Lips Stag and Hunter, Newcastle. 7pm. $15. High-Tails + Sleeping Lessons + Wesley Fuller + Moody Beach Marrickville Bowling Club, Marrickville. 8pm. $15.30. Jack Colwell + Georgia June + Hollow States Waywards, Newtown. 9pm. $18. Mick Thomas And The Roving Commission Leadbelly, Newtown. 6pm. $34.70. Nothing But Thieves + Creo Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 6pm. $46.90. Nothing Like You + Stormbird + The Winter Effect + Watchmoore Valve Bar, Ultimo. 7pm. $10. Oslow Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $12.

Muse Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park. 6pm. $100.

The Beautiful Girls Metro Theatre, Sydney CBD. 6pm. $45.50.

The Presets + Bag Raiders + Kilter + Lucy Cliché + Nyxen Australian Technology Park, Eveleigh. 3pm. $89.

Dreamer’s Crime Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 7:30pm. $15.

Sarah McLeod Lansdowne Hotel, Chippendale. 8pm. $26.60.

Dragon Leadbelly, Newtown. 7pm. $40.

Vacations + Top Lip The Botany View Hotel, Newtown. 7pm. Free.

Heaps Gay Xmas Bash The Lady Hampshire, Camperdown. 5pm. Free. Icehouse Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 7pm. $86.70. King Parrot + Disentomb + Pagan Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $30. Loose Ends Xmas Dance Party – feat: Lorna Clarkson + Matt Vaughan + Stephen Allkins and more Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 10pm. $17.75. Maximum Friendship Party – feat: Frank Sultana and The Sinister Kids + Gay Paris Frankies Pizza, Sydney. 7pm. Free.

Whisky Smile + Bastardizer + Moof De Vah + Solkyri Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $9.

SUNDAY DECEMBER 17 Icehouse Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 7pm. $86.70. Rooftop Sessions – feat: CloudBird, Gene + Maxine, Nicole Issa The Oatley Hotel, Oatley. 6pm. Free.

MONDAY DECEMBER 18 Texas Metro Theatre, Sydney CBD. 7pm. $89.85.


Lord Mayor Clover Moore announced the news on Twitter, saying she was excited to celebrate a historic year for Sydney’s LGBTQI community. She’s not wrong. A lot has happened this year. I mean, we all landed in 2017 with scorched arses, having barely escaped the nightmare hellscape that was 2016. We thought we’d be safe. Ah to look back on that sweet naïveté: how cute we were. Out of the frying pan, into the fire, I guess?

touches you, you grow up and become gay, then you touch another kid, etc. It was a shocking interaction: not so much because of the content of the question and its loaded intent (though obviously, that part was undoubtedly surprising as fuck), but more the fact that this person sincerely believed in what he was saying, and felt as though he was catching me in the act, or like he could see through me into some rotted, vulture-esque, child molesting core. I mean duh, gay people can’t procreate so it makes sense that we’d recruit via child rape. I totally get where he’s coming from.


I feel that we’ve had a monumentally shitty year that pulled up out of what seemed to be a doomed nosedive at the last minute, leaving us with perhaps more to celebrate than we dared imagine at the beginning of it all. Sure, it was a hard time, but here we are. We’ve made it to the end with our collective queer communities besmirched, but our dignity intact - and hey, there’s even some sweet rainbow fireworks at the end. Gotta take the wins where you can I suppose.

There are probably stress fractures in my forehead from the constant face-palming I’ve done at these gatherings. Like I said however, my family members aren’t all like that. Some of them are cool people who are allies. They follow politics and have some idea of what’s happening in the queer world. They’re the ones who called me when the Yes vote happened to lend their support. Then of course, some of them fall somewhere in the middle: these are the ones who usually ask me harmless things like, “Do you know Jodie Foster?” and, “Is it true that gay girls like gazpacho more than normal girls?” (WTF to that last one, I just about died laughing).


That said, this year I’d urge you all to look after yourselves during the holidays. I’ve spent many an awkward Christmas family gathering hiding in the bathroom upstairs watching videos on my phone and avoiding my relatives and their probing questions/hurtful comments – but this year I’ll try not to.

This year I’m going to make an effort not to isolate myself despite knowing that I’m going to essentially be participating in a media junket hosted by relatives, wherein they’ll be queuing up to ask me gay questions about gay stuff, most likely focused on the plebiscite. Usually when I’m with certain family members, I feel like a spectacle. I’m poked and prodded and interrogated and judged. It makes me feel like a zoo animal, or like I’m the subject of a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not special. I do love my family, and they aren’t all like that – but some of them say things that make my blood run cold.

My aunt once called me crying, because she had just seen a film that reminded her of me. “There’s this gay guy who’s gay, but he doesn’t tell his mother because he loves her so much and doesn’t want to disappoint her – that’s so noble- and then he got AIDS, because he’s gay, did I mention that, and then he died.” And somehow it reminded her so much of me, she was compelled to call me up, crying, and tell me all about it. “Aunty Andrea, I don’t have AIDS. How did that remind you of me? Were you watching Philadelphia?” Grace under fire will be my mantra for this year’s holiday season. I’ll try and see the humour in it all. Even if I get comments about molestation or the gay agenda, I won’t get mad – I’ll stay fabulous. After all, I didn’t come tumbling down the ramshackle stairs of 2017 arse over teakettle only to let myself get fucked up by an errant comment in the final days of the year. I’ve no time for that.


One of my relatives once demanded an explanation for paedophiles from me, as if being gay was part of the lifecycle of a child molester - you start off as a kid, a gay adult

Happy Holidays everyone. BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17 :: 37

g g guide gig g send your listings to :


Leadbelly, Newtown. 6pm. Free.

Tim Walker Gladstone Hotel, Dulwich Hill. 8pm. Free.


Yelawolf Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. $71.30.

WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 20 Touch Sensitive + The Goods Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 6pm. $23.25. The White Tree Band

Ciecmate Valve Bar, Ultimo. 8pm. $20. Coven Christmas Party Lansdowne Hotel, Chippendale. 8pm. $15.

FRIDAY DECEMBER 22 Kenta Hayashi Ethan Conway + Lucy

Gallant Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $10. Mammal + Stellar Addiction + The Dead Love Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $35. A Midsummer Night’s Party For The Homo Sapiens – feat: The Khanz, Billy Fox, Brother Brad, Milkpunch Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $13.55. Thrashmas – feat: Amortius, Carbon

Have a gig or club listing to get in The BRAG? You can now submit your gig and club listings, head to

Nai Palm

Nai Palm

Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. Thursday December 21. 8pm. $37.10. While softer and more delicate than Hiatus Kaiyote’s future-soul blend, the solo debut from the Melbourne band’s frontwoman provides an intimate experience that places her powerful voice front and centre.


Black, Dark Order and more The Bald Faced Stag, Leichhardt. 6pm. Free. Whole Lotta Woman – feat: Carrie Phillis, Lizzie Mack, Murray Cook and more Django Bar, Marrickville. 6pm. $25.

Shiba San Chinese Laundry, Sydney. 7pm. Free.

The Darren Jack Band Stag and Hunter, Newcastle. 7pm. Free.

Winter Witches + Catfingers + Kwang Chai Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $10.

Festivus – feat: Royal Chant, Wasters, Whispering Jackie The Townie, Newtown. 10pm. Free.

The Clovelly Hotel, Clovelly. Sunday December 17. 2pm. Free. The soulful six-piece, Saskwatch, will bring their energetic performance to The Clovelly’s She Sessions, a series of shows that have been championing Australian female-led indie-pop acts.

The Original Wailers + The Protesters Metro Theatre, Sydney CBD. 6pm. $89.90.


Even Lansdowne Hotel, Chippendale. 8pm. $28.60.

She Sessions – feat: Saskwatch

Fizz Electronic Music Christmas Special – feat: Extramentalist, Inertia, Kable 54, Klaus Bass The Record Crate, Glebe. 7pm. $10.

TUESDAY DECEMBER 26 Blues ‘n’ Booze – feat: Al Britton, Jim Finn The Bald Faced Stag, Leichhardt. 7pm. Free.

For our full gig and club listings, head to thebrag. com/gig-guide.

free stuff head to:

Paddington 2


DOUBLE Listen, we fucking adore Paddington 2. PASS Paddington 2 is, as far as we are most humbly concerned, the absolute shit. We want everyone in the world to watch it, and then when they are done watching it, we want them to watch it again. It is a story about a young marmalade-loving bear, but it’s also a story about family, and pain, and reform. It fucken’ bangs, yo.

To celebrate Paddington 2 hitting cinemas on Thursday December 21, we have ten double passes to give away. To enter, head along to And while you’re in a Paddington 2 mood, check out our review of the film in this issue of the BRAG. 38 :: BRAG :: 731 :: 13:12:17

Jam Gallery FREE ENTRY. Doors open at 9pm



Brag#731 SYDNEY’S FREE STREET PRESS Hitting the streets fortnightly, with the best music, comedy, food and gigs. This issue: • T...