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Liars – They Were Wrong, So We Drowned

They Were Wrong, So We Drowned is an unendingly dark, hypnotizing record that duly pummels their proto-punk influences into something discernibly unconventional, unmistakable and at times, awkwardly unlistenable



The gurgling witch’s brew bubbling with the eyes of newts and the heads of little boys churns and boils with every incantation and the feverish swish of every stir. Fabled fairy tales of crooked toes and blackened hats, masking the crusted warts of a devilish grin poised to break into wicked cackle – this is the fear of the witch. Cast into stories of myth and magic and seized by the hysteria of flying brooms, the centuries fourteen to eighteen were known as “the burning times.” And during these ages those questioned for their heresy were burned, drowned, hanged and prosecuted as these minstrels of black faith. Taking the fear that escalated between these so-called conjurers of witchcraft and the fragile-minded villagers of Christian faith, Liars have detailed the many struggles between the two. And the dark endless pit of New York has become their vast cauldron.

With ingredients so foul – the mumbling, the creeping percussion, the brooding cymbal sweeps, and the manic distorted fuzz – They Were Wrong, So We Drowned is an unendingly dark, hypnotizing record that duly pummels their proto-punk influences into something discernibly unconventional, unmistakable and at times, awkwardly unlistenable. Yet as the muted chanting and heightened screams grate through the looped beat-crashing of “If Your a Wizard, Then Why Do You Wear Glasses?” it is clear that their noticeable creepiness is very much by design. And it is honestly frightening; “We Fenced Other Houses With The Bones Of Our Own” sways in tune with the eerie vocal summoning of what is presumed to be more sinister musical forces – the track crawls at muffled pace, but the inescapable scratching burrs “we’re going to get you.”

It would be easy to dismiss the folkloric paranoia of “They Don’t Want Your Corn They Want Your Kids” as the moment where they finally sound familiar. The skittering glitches and more acceptable tempo structure say so, but the echoing glass of the song’s bridge is deceivingly friendly to the ear. It is the song’s only harmonic reprise, and about as current as they veer towards. And if They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument On Topwas momentous in its tension and command, then “Steam Rose From a Lifeless Cloak” would do plenty to regenerate such imposing aggravation – it is nothing more than the continuous droning of percussion thuds while “There Is Always Room On the Broom” is brilliant in all its edgy, distorted harmonium.

Like dark clouds hovering, there is an impending thunder coming. Much of They Were Wrong, So We Drowned exhibits much of the same sentiment; something looms, something greater and more ominous. And there is certain height achieved in the frenzy of “Hold Hands And It Will Happen Anyway”, like the very shadows prophesized have begun their descent on an unsuspecting populace. In all its shrillness and spitting-on-tradition, there is an imperceptible quality that for all purposes, binds together the volatile temperament of the album. The end result is a grippingly ritualistic unbecoming, one as roaring as a burning Joan of Arc.

(Mute Records)

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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.

(Out Of Line Music)

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The Decline – Flash Gordon Ramsay Street

What The Decline get absolutely spot-on is their clinical, unrelenting brand of skate punk



The Decline

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.

(Pee Records / Thousand Islands Records / Disconnect Disconnect Records / Bearded Punk Records)

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