Major labels as well as the more obscure independent labels (though I hate to admit it) are spitting out mass amounts of bad records in an attempt to latch on to and profit from the trends as relayed from the MTV statistics (or simply out of bad taste). Over-feeding hungry and ignorant ears with sub par performances seems to be the only thing such labels and horrendous institutions such as MTV are good at. It is a shame really. Imagine all the magnificent records their evil machines could be cranking out, slowly inching away from the dark side. In fact, I bet if the equipment were given a voice they would take a stand and establish a decent standard of music they are willing to press and copy.
Instead of waiting for the rise of the machines (I apologize for I have been constantly bombarded by Terminator 3 previews) we must, for now at least, take things into our own hands. Many may see our future as bleak, cheaply melodic, bland, and overproduced but I have faith that an artist or group will come about and break the vicious cycle of breeding and raising unoriginal, talentless, money hungry leeches who grab onto a once revolutionary concept (nothing wrong with that) then continue to beat you over the head with it until you are black and blue. I suppose I am cheating when I say I have faith for I have already experienced the wrath of an extraordinary new wave/punk pop group, Ima Robot.
Public Access is definitely something I find myself spinning when I am getting ready or just need a little pick me up as far as energy goes. Key in the ignition with “12=3 (Here Comes The Doctor)” Ima Robot is just warming up. “Black Jettas” is amusingly reminiscent of the 80’s though far better than most songs from way back then (perhaps my favorite of the EP). “Sex Symbols On Parade” hints at Television (some say the Sex Pistols) as well as other pre-punk or old school punk groups and artists (depends on how you view the timeline of the genre) and definitely holds your interest. The poppy “The Beat Goes On” puts a smile on your face while acquiescing you to tap your feet and perhaps even bop your head and dance.
Ima Robot seems to be well on their way to starting a revolution among machines. If only others follow their example we may soon have ourselves some decent music. In case my word is not enough to convince you to check this band out then consider the musical background of this group. Collectively this band has worked with Beck for at least a decade, Mars Volta, REM, Tori Amos, Johnny Cash, The Vines and The Smashing Pumpkins to name a few. With a record producer and part-time actor amongst them, imagine the eclectic, alternative, and original sounds that emanate in their practice space (and this EP).
(Virgin Records / EMI)
The Ritualists – Painted People
The Ritualists play some determined, strong-willed music
After listening to Painted People by The Ritualists, I was very surprised to learn that this is their debut album. This band shows a maturity in their music that I would not expect from a first album and provides inspirational sounding tracks with ‘reach for the stars’ type of guitar riffs. I hear a modern version of U2 in The Ritualists, along with an influence of Radiohead. Their songs are full, wholehearted post-punk hooks with a lead singer that has a sizeable range.
“Rattles” opens the album, and it’s the type of song that shows their audience that they are here to stay. It has a great build-up of excitement and intensity. The band explains that this song is “A combination of dark, deep-pocketed verses juxtaposed with big, flashy choruses is a key element to tracks”.
“Ice Flower” and “Worthiest One” welcomes an electronic wave to the album and showcases just how impressive lead singer Christian Dryden’s range is. His ability to hit those high notes with such conviction puts my falsetto abilities to shame. “Worthiest One” brings this sort of nostalgic feeling- it’s a rock ballad with a floaty guitar riff.
“She’s The Sun” is a great follow-on from “Worthiest One” as it transfers the mood upwards and directs the music into more of a hypnotic vision, which conveys “the band’s inner Sixties Love Child”. “I’m With The Painted People” has a really relatable background to the song. Dryden felt a larger than life inspiration from people like David Bowie and Simon Le Bon, these artists felt like soulmates, which can be lonely at times. It wasn’t until he ventured out into the clubs of the lower east side of New York which helped him feel comfortable to express his creative vision freely. The song is all about finding like-minded people.
There are hooks galore and catchy choruses in pretty much every song. “With this record, I’ve specifically tried to be anthemic,” admits Dryden. “I’ve always loved going to shows, where immediately after the performance, and even on the ensuing days after, you just can’t help but remember and sing the songs you’ve just heard. It’s almost like a higher form of communication.” The Ritualists play some determined, strong-willed music and Painted People shows hints of variations with different genres explored throughout. They sound motivated and in return have produced motivating music for their listeners.
The Decline – Flash Gordon Ramsay Street
What The Decline get absolutely spot-on is their clinical, unrelenting brand of skate punk
It’s possible that since punk broke through to the mainstream in the mid to late ’90s, listeners outside of Australia think Frenzal Rhomb are the only band to have come from the lucky country. It’s true that during the rise of that Epitaph and Fat Wreck sound, Frenzal Rhomb became the namesake of the genre from Australia. However, Australian punks know that their history stretches long before the release of Survival of the Fattest. From the legendary sounds of The Saints to the rock n’ roll infused punk of Radio Birdman, Australia’s punk rock history is not only rich but very much precedes the genre’s mainstream explosion.
Frenzal Rhomb were another chapter in punk down under and for many, they opened a lot of doors. If not at the very least, proved that there were fertile grounds for new bands to emerge across the vast land. Western Australia’s The Decline formed in 2005 and quickly showed their talent for writing up-tempo melodicore that shred as much as it soared. From their 2010 debut, I’m Not Gonna Lie To You, it was clear that the band were equal parts snotty, urgent, funny, and melodic. Like the Frenzal Rhomb formula, they’ve got all of it in spades with a mean streak of Australianness that is both endearing and extremely relatable. Their latest album is no different.
From the title alone you can tell you’re in for a shedload of fun, and while it’s easy to think that Flash Gordon Ramsay Street is just goofy humor, it’s actually got a lot of pointed commentary too. From the animal-supportin’, veggie-lovin’, attack on meatlovers and meatheads (“Brovine”), to the real-estate market questioning “Smashed Avo”, there’s plenty of current talking points that The Decline run through. Sure, you also get vegan buffalo wing recipes (surprisingly, not the song titled “Bullet With Buffalo Wings”) and a love for The Legend of Zelda, but who says you can’t sing about Marxist theories while talking about your love for Nintendo?
What The Decline get absolutely spot-on is their clinical, unrelenting brand of skate punk; taking plenty of cues from the best of the NOFX / No Fun At All up-tempo, hardcore-derived brand of punk. The hooks on Flash Gordon Ramsey Street are as infectious as horny teens on spring break, highlighted by the endless harmonies on songs like the terrific “It Was Always You” and the call and response male-female vocal attack of “Verge Collection”. Brevity is also key, as the majority of the songs here never overstay their welcome with the longest clocking in at just 3:15 (the wistful closing of “Josh”).
Flash Gordon Ramsey Street is concise, to-the-point, and a furious medley of skate punk urgency that is relevant to young adult life as punks in Australia. Great production values to boot mean you can’t go wrong here.