Well, here it is.
By now, I’m sure you’ve already heard something about this record; which is Aussie rockers Jet’s latest, and the follow up to their popular Get Born. If you didn’t see the video review that Pitchfork did, which featured a monkey drinking it’s own piss (it was actually pretty funny). Or, maybe you’re one of the many (like myself) who have read a few of the, on average, two-out-of-five star reviews that the record has received across the board to date. Whatever it is, it’s probably already seeped into your subconscious to some degree, and influenced the way you’re going to approach this album.
Now, don’t at all think I’m knocking the freedom of opinion, I mean heck; Pitchfork may be a bit elitist, but I often tend to agree with them on a lot of fronts about ninety percent of the time. And, not to mention, many of the places I saw this record bashed on were peers who’s opinions I regard quite highly.
But, what I’m trying to get at here is what really matters throughout all of this: And that is, of course, my opinion.
*cue self important theme song*
I’m here to tell you friends, though Shine On probably isn’t going to win Album of the Year or anything quite that momentous, at it’s heart it really isn’t that bad of a record. It stumbles in a few spots, but I personally see it as an evolution from the potential that the band showed on Get Born, and I found it to be a fairly mature, better than expected record from a band I, to be perfectly honest, didn’t really expect nearly that much from.
I honestly believe that fans of Get Born will find quite a lot to like on this release. They keep the garage rock that made them famous rolling, as showcased on the fairly enjoyable single “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is;” it’s just simple and rocking—and that’s all you really need. What surprised me most about this record was the Oasis-ness that it brought to the table. On Get Born they showed some tendencies that were reminiscent of the Gallagher brothers, but on this one they’re shooting for the Oasis-poseur crown.
But, oddly enough, that isn’t really a bad thing. The most surprising fact I found about this record was, believe it or not; Jet actually does a pretty decent Oasis impersonation. They manage it well enough to more than carry at least half of this record, and knock out some pretty solid tunes along the way. They’re not quite as pretentious as Oasis yet, but give ‘em time my friends, give ‘em time.
Clocking in at a not-so modest fifteen tracks, it does stand to argue that a bit of the fat could have been cut out around the edges, but while a few tracks may border on near-meandering at times, none of them truly strike out as “bad” altogether. Shine On is a definite step in the right direction from a band that many pigeonholed as a one hit wonder. It isn’t one of the better records out there, by no means, but it is pretty darn enjoyable. And that’s got to count for something, right?
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.