WEBSITE
Michelle Obama Holding Records

image


Sometimes the simplest concepts make for the best Tumblrs, and one of our new faves Michelle Obama Holding Records is a perfect example of that.

The whole concept is, well… The first lady holding records and showing off her (read - their/the internet’s) amazing taste in music.

We’ve included a few of our faves, but head on over to the site to see the full collection and you can even request what she should hold up next!

image

image

image

Unanswered Questions - A Conversation between Wax Volcanic & Hopium


PART 1

DOES JIMMY PAGE HAVE AN INSTAGRAM?

 ”Why’s that interesting?” Acton Bell demands, leaning away from his long black, looking just past me. George Sand, the second member of Hopium, is smiling across the narrow wooden table at Bell, a hand planted under his cheek and a grin splashed broadly between both ears. Hopium are an electronic two-piece wreathed in mystery, unwilling to give up their identities and unrolling their wounded, undulating pop just one song at a time. The second song, ‘Dreamers’ (featuring Phoebe Lou), has just dropped. It already looks poised for explosion, with 20,000 plays on its first day and climbing the Hype Machine charts with meteoric speed.

The question Acton Bell has swung towards me at head height is in response to their public invisibility…and my enthusiasm towards it.

So why do I find an intentionally low profile so interesting? Is it because of the dramatic tension the preservation of the secret bestows upon its keepers? Because I can mould the shadowy forms in an image of my choosing? Is it because a riddle is like an extended hand, further inviting me to engage more deeply with something I don’t fully understand?

I don’t think/say any of these things. Instead I mutter something along the lines of identity subsuming musical quality, of personalities being more prominent than the music they’re supposedly recognised for.


ACTON BELL

Oh you mean the managing of celebrity?

GEORGE SAND

That’s always been rock and roll…

WAX VOLCANIC

Uh yeah… but maybe in increasing volume these days…

ACTON BELL

Would Jimmy Page have an Instagram? People over-share so bad these days. Like everything. I guess I’ve read some books on Led Zeppelin…I probably did want to know.

The anonymity of Hopium is less about the cult of personality culture in the music industry and more because the music is their only real interest, their only true focus.

"We almost couldn’t be bothered thinking of a name. Everything seems trivial apart from the music" Bell remarks flatly. But where sought-after music is concerned, the planless has a way of becoming the plan itself.

"We haven’t really thought about the long term at all" Sand admits. "The ‘anonymous’ thing was [because] we don’t have a plan and then someone was like: ‘that’s a really good idea, you should make a thing out of that’…"

 
PART 2

HAVE YOU EVER CHEATED?

GEORGE SAND

Have you ever cheated?

[Long break, like a pause riding atop a small silence]

WAX VOLCANIC

On someone? Yes.

[Internal Monologue, WV]

Okay, this was a very long time ago. I’m a scumbag for completely different reasons now. I’m trying to be way better. I’m polite to baristas, I let people pull in front of me in traffic, I give up my seat on the tram. I have perfect feedback on ebay. Gimme a break.

ACTON BELL

We’ve got you on record.

[More double-stacked pause, mingled with uneasy smiles from WV]


We’re talking about the band’s first single ‘Cut’, a frigid, desolate and utterly benighted electronic gem, dripping in an almost masochistic loyalty. Lines like: “I’ll cut off my legs so I can never leave you/I’ll cut out my tongue so I’ll never deceive you” betray an oceanic sense of guilt, a dark tone garnished perfectly with a video completely comprised of steam and human form in monochrome silhouette. George Sand admits that the ‘conundrum of commitment’ in the song is “a combination of both of our experiences”. 

Hopium’s newest single, ‘Dreamers’ is quite different, thematically and sonically. It’s brightened with pop flourishes, high, euphoric synths and vocal lines/loops that tattoo themselves instantly onto the listening brain. There’s also a lot more hands in the mix, with M-Phazes thickening the track with additional beats and the glassy voice of Phoebe Lou (from beloved Melbourne band Snakadaktal who suffered an early extinction this year) shimmering over the top. The duelling vocals ghost each other, chime in almost to the point of interruption, and it works. Perfectly. I”m going to use the words ‘pop gem’, the phrase ‘catchier than bird flu’.


PART 3

'THE TRAP'

 Both members of Hopium have spent years in bands, playing music utterly unlike what they are making together under their shadowy new moniker. But Hopium wasn’t simply a reaction against the band scene they’d spent so much time in, it was more of an expedition, something to refresh their sense of discovery.  

“We just thought it was interesting I think” George Sand yawns. “Because we hadn’t really done it before so we have been learning the whole time…I think [‘Cut’] was one of the first beats we put together…”

And it’s clear, even after only two songs, that Hopium are evolving. ‘Cut’, despite being a brooding, sparse electronic jam, had exactly zero synths on it, (besides a Moog Minotaur which acted as a bass).

“All the chords were made up of samples and vocals” nods George Sand. But even ‘Dreamers’, despite being notably more synth-friendly, still is peppered with strange treatments and interesting arrangements. Again, the chords that fill the bulk of the songs verses are vocals, cut and filtered. And despite the sonic breadth and emotional magnitude of ‘Dreamers’, we’re still spared huge synth builds. There are none of what Acton Bell refers to as “overdone filtering whoosh whoosh synths”, the song’s epic quality distilled in just four or five colourful, reverb-drenched stabs (of what sounds like a Korg Monopoly).

But despite the colour that is steadily leaking into their sound, all of the music Hopium has made so far, has been made without the same historical conventions surrounding electronic music. And whether it was because, as they admit, they “didn’t know what [they] were doing”, or because they deliberately wanted to defy genre conventions, they avoided some of the platitudes that stagnate so much modern electronic music.     

“Every genre has its rules” Acton Bell enthuses, “but also every instrument has the Trap…but then I started to realize that computer music meant that you could do absolutely everything…”


PART 4

SO YOU HAVEN’T HEARD ANYTHING? THERE HAVEN’T BEEN ANY LEAKS? HAS ANYONE HEARD ANYTHING?

 GEORGE SAND

I’ve played in a few bands. I moved from Adelaide to Melbourne with a band, with my high school buddies…Adelaide is a bit of a backwater place so it’s kind of the suburban thing, you just listen to pop punk and emo and shit, then that’s the world…I feel like I’m still trying to figure out how to make good music. Because I made a lot of bad music.

ACTON BELL

I actually met George when he was in a band and I was supposed to record them, remember? But then it just never happened


As people who have both spent much of their previous musical careers on stage, it’s mildly surprising that when asked about if they’d thought about playing live, George Sand’s response is a lethargic: “Not really…” But conceptually they’re full of ideas, and all ideas very in-step with the Hopium way. Their ideas favour “heaps of visuals, projections and lights”, keeping their music disembodied, faceless.

“We want to develop a way of making music live in the same way that you make it in a studio, which is more of an experience. We don’t just want to play a CD” Acton Bell states coolly.

But these ideas are, of course, all conjecture. Who truly knows how Hopium will continue to evolve. This is part of the joy, part of the magnetism of Hopium as a project. The mystery isn’t purely manufactured. These guys actually seem to be making it up as they go along.

“There is a lot of unanswered questions” Bell admits. “Every time we have gone to answer these questions we realise we don’t have the music yet, so we just go back to the music.” And their focus is gratifying. That fact that Bell emphatically feels like Hopium “can’t be too easy…can’t just be one sound that anyone else could have done” means that progress is slow. But it’s also deliberate. Bell’s own band motto of “the strangest way you can get to a sound, the better” is part of the reason that ‘Dreamers’ has wrapped the blogosphere in a sudden fever. Bell’s half-mocking plea of “So you haven’t heard anything? There haven’t been any leaks? Has anyone heard anything?” It’s more than a little fitting that Hopium’s own name means, basically, a vested interested capitalising on illusion or rhetoric. But Hopium the band, thankfully, aren’t sophistry without substance. Their mystery and slow careful output are very real, even to Bell and Sand. And more important than their anonymity, than their planlessness and sideways-approach to electronic music, is their material. Whatever may happen in the smoky fringes of Hopium, the songs, few as they are, speak for themselves.



For Cool Accidents

Gum On Zeppelin

image


Earlier this month, Led Zeppelin’s I, II & III all got the deluxe and remastered treatment and once again we were reminded of what incredible albums they are, not to mention how important the guys are to the history of rock and roll.

Let’s be honest, calling them the most influential band of all-time is probably an understatement.

We caught up with Jay Watson AKA Gum AKA the synth playing, backing vocalist and occasional additional guitar guy in Tame Impala AKA the dude responsible for guitar, keys, bass & backing vocals in Pond and asked him to tell us what Led Zeppelin means to him and how they’ve helped shape him as an artist.

image


Led Zeppelin to me is like an old friend that you don’t see very often, and you feel guilty because of that, but when you do see them again it’s incredibly nostalgic and you’ve had a great time. They’re like the ultimate teenage band. Visceral and sexy, but also by far the cleverest heavy band ever as well. 

Before I got into the Led Zeppelin, I didn’t like rock music. I thought distortion was for losers and all I wanted to listen to was my Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind and Fire. I was a pretty weird kid at 12. Everyone else was listening to screamo and metal in my little country town, and I just hated it. But then my friend played me “Bring It On Home” off Led Zeppelin II and it actually changed my life. Because it was heavy, but more importantly it was groovy, something that can’t be said for almost any other rock music. When I listened to that song in my headphones, I thought I was the biggest bad-ass on the planet walking home from school.

I genuinely believe Jimmy Page is one of the greatest producers of all time, up there with Joe Meek and Phil Spector. He’s a master of atmosphere and space. That’s probably the biggest mark they left on me, and all the Tame Impala and Pond crew.

The LZ influence can be heard in all of Watson’s endeavors, both Tame Impala and Pond as well as his latest solo release Delorean Highway under the Gum moniker. You can stream a taste of the latter below and head over to the Spinning Top Music website for a free download.


As for the band that started it all, You can cop the deluxe editions of I, II & III in all good record stores on both CD & vinyl and they are loaded to the hilt with bonus content such as live concerts, studio outtakes and the like plus Jimmy Page was responsible for the remastering so you can rest assured they’ve never sounded better.

Diggin’ In The Crates with Royal Blood


UK rockers and one of THE hottest bands in the world right now Royal Blood rocked ‘n’ rolled their way through town recently, playing a couple of intimate shows and giving a handful of lucky Australians a taste of what all the fuss is about.

While they were here we were lucky enough to take them for a little spot of record shopping at Round & Round Records in Melbourne, a super cool diggin’ spot that used to be a Chinese restaurant and still retains a lot of the original decor, although you’re more likely to find ESG than MSG these days.

After having a dig through the crates Mike & Ben chose a couple of records each that have have influenced them as artists and waxed lyrical about each one.


The records in order of appearance are -

Queens Of The Stone Age - Self Titled
Jay-Z - The Black Album
Jermaine Jackson - Self Titled
Led Zeppelin - III
The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Get your ears around Royal Blood’s debut EP Out Of The Black to hear what the above records helped shape… Physically or Digitally or better yet head on in to your local record store and buy it over the counter.  

School Of Rock

Well This is Cool…


The Guardian went next level nerd and reinserted a bunch of iconic album covers back into their natural habitats using Google Street View.


You can check out the set in full HERE.




Parental Advisors - Anne’s Story


As the youngest of three siblings and with parents that had distinct musical tastes I had a fat chance of getting my music played at home.  So as a result I was influenced by/had to endure…………

With a Dad born in 1921, big band/swing was all the go with Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie and Glenn Miller getting a 78’s run….

My Mum being a lot younger than my Father went through her mung bean era ………Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water was on high rotation, spinning as long as it lasted in the charts (76 weeks)……. i knew that album’s song lyrics as well as I knew my Dr Seuss books at the time, although as a young child I could never get my head around this……

I`m not talking about your pigtails
But I`m talking `bout your sex appeal
Hit the road and I`m gone ah
What`s my number
I wonder how your engine……..Ba ba ba ba


Once my Mum had her run with Baby Driver & Co my brothers took full control of the household’s music…..Brother/Thing number one was into Supertramp Crime of the Century, Linda Ronstadt Simple Dreams, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Joe Cocker, Cat Stevens while Brother/Thing number two was getting off on Slade, T-Rex, Joy Division, The Jam, The Beat, The Specials, The B-52s, Devo, Talking Heads, Blondie.



Many a record was scratched through the race to the turntable, but with such an eclectic mix that’s where my passion for music began.



-Anne C



I grew up on a healthy diet of Country Music & 70’s Rock’n’Roll, which was pretty strange for a kid in Newcastle. Well, not so much the 70’s rock’n’roll part, but the Country part, definitely … I was too young to know, I just loved music! 

My first musical performance was in the primary school hall where I sang/yodelled Frank Ifield’s She Taught Me To Yodel in front of all my school mates … seriously …

I was waaaay too young to know!!! Ha!

My folks moved from Armidale to Newcastle in their early 20’s to find work and have a family, and they brought their record collection with them. 

Despite the strong country presence in the house my first favourite song was Walk Of Life by Dire Straits. I can remember doing the “walk of life”, whatever my interpretation was at the time, around the living room at full pelt as a young kid! I had the “action”, I had the “motion” and I loved singing at the top of my lungs “Oldies Goldies” and “Be-Bop-A-Lula”, my favourite lyrics, obviously …

image

 


As the years progressed some of my fondest, and most vivid, music memories were weekend morning drives to the beach, in the ute, with music BLARING! 

The tape collection was limited, but they were all favourites from Garth Brooks: The Hits; Lee Kernaghan: Three Chain Road; Led Zeppelin IV; and a greatest hits record Mum and Dad had brought back from their trip to the USA, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: 20 Years Of Dirt. 

I didn’t know about genres back then but I loved the fast songs; Ain’t Goin’ Down Til The Sun Comes UpShe’s My UteBlack Dog (air guitar central), Rock’n’Roll (air drum central), High Horse … and I loved the slower ones too; Unanswered PrayersStairway To HeavenStand A Little Rain … 

Oh yeah, and my dad had a serious obsession with Rodriguez: Cold Fact, in particular the song I WonderMy first job was in a record store and my first mission from dad was to order this album on CD!

I remember when we got a CD player. That was cool. The music sounded better and you didn’t have to rewind and fast-forward to find tracks!! It also meant that a new collection started to form from which I discovered Jim Croce: Photographs and Memories; Sam Cooke: Wonderful World; Fleetwood Mac: Rumours; and my doorway into a new musical universe, a Triple M Compilation called “Unleashed In The 70’s”.
 

image


Unleashed In The 70’s was EPIC! The Angels, Lou Reed, Meatloaf, ZZ Top, Dylan, Sabbath, JJ Cale … and heaps more.  

I needed to play guitar. 

To convince my folks I would be “committed” to the instrument I had to teach myself for 3 months on an old nylon string my mum had in the back of her wardrobe. 

The first song I ever learned wasTake It Easy by The Eagles (from a chord book) and the first song I ever performed on guitar was The Vasectomy Song by John Williamson … again, seriously.  

From there I distanced myself from my parents record collection, going on to discover Metal, Rap and Punk music. I played in bands that played all these genres. I wrote tunes, we toured, we spent time in recording studios, we independently released EPs … 

Now, all these years later, I find myself releasing my first record! A record that both sonically and song wise can clearly be traced back to the very first influences in my musical memory, in the ute, on the way to the beach! 

So yeah, they f**cked me up good …



-Morgan Evans

If you’re keen to hear what all of this parental advising helped shape and create, Morgan’s self titled new album is out this week (March 14) and you can grab it HERE & HERE

"Major" (Tom) Lazer, The Hobbit and a Fair Bit of Huff and Puff.


image



Look. We admit it. We have a soft spot for people who love music the way we do and so we do love Numero. Why? Because of the awesome Prince related compilation of early Minneapolis jams “Purple Rain” full of unheard mystery. And for the funky Good God gospel compilations. And for rediscovering the black rock soul psych of fathers Children. And for the utterly brilliant Nicaraguan political salsa of Alfonso Lovo. And for understanding that its about finding the music and making the packaging and getting it right.

Done right all types of music can be intriguing and worth a revisit.

So we are particularly in love with “Warfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles”  - a compilation which promises to take us back to the wave of kids who were influenced to heaviness by Purple, Zeppelin and Sabbath and which Numero bills as “music that hails from an occluded realm, somewhere just beyond the pot-addled minds of its creators …(and)… replacing hippie pastoralism with mythology, armored conflict, sorcery, and doom”. How could that fail.

image


But frankly do we love it because it’s going to be cool? or because we read a review on Noisey by J.Bennett? Whose band Ides of Gemini we are sadly ill informed about but based on the below are clearly awe inspiringly doomy -


We have edited Bennett’s wisdom below but you can read it all here and stream some songs but you get the gist

“it was sort of a given that everyone in the ‘70s with a guitar and/or a moustache was getting high. If your body managed to escape the draft, your mind required its own way out, and a veritable legion of pasty North American teenagers found one in the holy trinity of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and local dirt-weed….. Toss in a mom’s-basement-dwelling escapist undercurrent of Tolkein novels and pre-Dungeon & Dragons role-playing games, and you’ve got the basis for Warfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles,  Darkscorch is a different beast, featuring 16 dope-huffing, Hobbit-humping, one-off rock bands from the late, great 1970s. Which means lots of band names that act as double-entendres for getting high as hell: Stonehenge. Stone Axe. Stoned Mace.

image


A band called Medusa, not be outdone—or only to be outdone, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing—by a band called Gorgon Medusa. Songs entitled “Sorcerer,” “Wizzard King,” “King Of The Golden Hall” and “Song Of Sauron.” A band called Air that isn’t two French guys with a keyboard and a drum machine. You get the drift.  Bands that played mostly keggers, strip clubs, and high-school dances but managed to score the occasional dream gig supporting the Stooges, MC5 or Bob Seger System (like Saginaw, Michigan’s faded sons Sonaura, who opened for all three). Sometimes they’d break up during a smoke machine debacle while opening for Frijid Pink (that’d be the aforementioned Gorgon Medusa, who hailed from Chicago). If they managed to get out of town, they slogged across touring circuits that consisted of the shittiest third of the Rust Belt—or, like, Greater Ontario. There were bands that practiced in farmhouse coal chutes (like Indiana’s Stoned Mace). Bands that flirted with majors, released one LP, and then quit to become lawyers and produce Buddy Miles records (like Tampa’s Wizard). Bands led by guys who, today, can’t even remember the last names of the other dudes in their own band—like George Bisinov, vocalist/guitarist for Houston’s Space Rock, a band that recorded their lone single in a studio located under a bowling alley. Think about that for a second.

image


They did all this, of course, while baked out of their tits.  

It doesn’t even matter if the stories in the liner notes are true. All the best legends are based on a solid foundation of oft-repeated rumours or outright lies.

The songs on Darkscorch Canticles are largely hit or miss. But the hits are so worth inhaling.”


Doesn’t that sort of sound too good to miss? And (naturally) it comes on GATEFOLD double vinyl.

We told you they do this shit right.



-TH



Warfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles is available now online (don’t f**k around and buy the digital though, cop the gatefold vinyl with all the extra bits) and at all record stores that know what’s up.

babylonfalling:

'73