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by Sally Fink

5 Oct 2011


Whatever you do, do not call them modern. Joshua Third (or Joshua von Grimm as he used to call himself) is clear that the Horrors are anything but. “I don’t like the word modern. We’re futuristic. That’s where our focus is; on the future.”

The British post-punk band recently released their third album, ambitiously entitled Skying, resonant of reaching new heights, and—in the case of the Horrors—new sounds as well.

Skying is that feeling of being elevated; like you’re constantly moving upwards”, says Third.

Skying is experimental by nature, with plenty of melodies and synthesised beats to cement its place as essential indie listening. It’s a far cry from the band’s black-as-tar goth-punk days.

by David Ensminger

18 Aug 2011


Adored by egghead critics and leathered punkers, the grizzled UK punk veterans in Leatherface offer another live album, Live in Melbourne: Viva La Arthouse (No Idea), that’s a sizzling tour de force of both newly-minted tunes and others that delve deep into their ample catalog. As always, the band’s tunes highlight singer Frankie Stubb’s gravelly-voiced, poetic lyricism and unabashed pop-on-the-sleeve tendencies. In fact, the group has tackled Cyndi Lauper, the Police, and Elton John without even a wink of insincerity in the past, but this album doesn’t revisit such fare.

Luckily, guitarist Dickie Hammond has re-joined the ranks, so Leatherface’s mature mid-1990s output (like the swaying charred innocence of “Summertime” and the blitzkrieg “Not a Day Goes By”) comes to the fore and holds hefty sway. Meanwhile, Stubb’s wit and wordplay fill in the spaces between the music’s dense and robust rumbles, invoking a free association-style rambling resembling Michael Stipe’s (R.E.M.) own non-linear prowess. Tunes like the newish “God Is Dead”, the second track out of the gate, finds Stubbs philosophically conjuring dogs, God, and 1970s socialist hero Victor Allende. It all makes sense, though, for he moves from personal to international affairs, examining both people’s daily habits and the ways ideologies shape undercurrents of history.

by Suzanne Enzerink

4 Aug 2011


White female rapper Kreayshawn is this moment’s It-Girl, but could not be further away from the term’s current connotations of Hilton-esque socialites or affluent girls who are simply “famous for being famous”, as Wikipedia has it. In fact, Kreayshawn’s big breakthrough came by openly denouncing such girls in her viral song “Gucci Gucci” with the catchy hook “Gucci Gucci, Louis Louis, Fendi Fendi, Prada / Basic bitches wear that shit so I don’t even bother”

Now she’s directing the video for “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”, the first single of the hotly anticipated Red Hot Chili Peppers album I’m With You, and she’s nominated for a Best New Artist award at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. So who is this 21-year-old self-labeled prodigy, and where did she come from?

by David Ensminger

22 Jul 2011


Seething, agitated, and anarchistic, the infamous north-of-the-American-border punks in D.O.A. continue to unleash tuneful and frenzied songs, proving they are far from retired. Like their last outing, Northern Avenger (2008), the newly unveiled Talk–Action=0 is an opus of soaring sing-alongs,  tough nerves confronting the new world order, and anger layered with poignant meaning.

Also serving as a companion record to singer Joey Shithead’s just-released illustrated history of the band, the effort is partly bolted to the band’s past. D.O.A. revisits its 1978 tune “R.C.M.P.” (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and re-invent the riffage of others, like 1982’s “Fucked Up Ronnie” (itself a mutation of “Fucked Up Baby”), which they mutate into the seething “That’s Why I Am an Atheist”, retaining all the blitzkrieg speed and bile of the original.

by David Ensminger

2 Jun 2011


Peter Case is an authentic American folk-rebel with an underside of punk who has never lost true grit. There’s always something shambolic and slightly gruff, as the outtakes assembled for The Case Files (2011) witness, even when he is strumming sweet impassioned melodies.

Sure, many of his generation have a keen ear for the subtleties and wordplay of writing too, like Dave Alvin and Tom Russell, but Case always seems more persistent, more restless, more chuck-it-all and start from scratch. He’s the perennial outcast in the deluge of Americana music, the lone one who dares recast himself.

This tendency may link to his early years jumping up on stages to shellac a room with blues as a teenager in Buffalo, or the direct-action power-pop insurgency of the Nerves, who scrambled across America in 1977 in a dented car to roomfuls of blank stares. Then Case jettisoned the Plimsouls right as FM radio seemed willing to take them into cruise control land of unlikely hits.

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