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After mentioning Strapping Young Lad in yesterday’s post, I figured they deserved today’s song of the day. They’re one of my favourite metal bands of all time, and while i’m not religious, Devin Townsend is probably the closest thing I have to a personal saviour.

I think everyone has a song that represents adolescence, and all the confusing, difficult and awkward shit that inevitably comes with being a teenager. For me, it’s Detox. “This is only high school bullshit” became my mantra when I was 15, and to this day I still find it popping up in my mind when I start to lose my shit.

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I first heard about Cop Shoot Cop when Strapping Young Lad covered a song of theirs called Room 429. Their stuff was really hard to find back in the day, but I eventually managed to track some down, and Any Day Now was one of the first songs I heard.

Aside from the having great lyrics (One of these days I’ll be a spectator in an audience of whores), and that oh-so tasty bass riff, I like to imagine the song is being sung by William ‘D-Fens’ Foster from Falling Down.

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I’ve been binge watching The Walking Dead  to catch up before the new season starts. If you follow this blog you may remember me saying I hated it, but I decided to give it a second chance after a few people told me it gets better. So I did, and about halfway through Season 3 I finally got into it.

Which leads me to today’s Song Of The Day. While watching The Walking Dead, I kept hearing this background music that reminded me of something else. I couldn’t pinpoint what song exactly and it was driving me mental. Today, I finally realised it was A Warm Place by Nine Inch Nails:

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One of the things I love most about this song is that it represents the capability an artist has to defy expectations and veer off in another direction entirely.  When I first heard The Downward Spiral, I remember how much this song stood out, while still fitting perfectly within the narrative of the album.

It can be scary to do that as an artist, particularly if you’re already pinned to a specific genre, as Reznor was with Industrial music. Considering he went on to win an Oscar nearly two decades later for his work on The Social Network score, this song always reminds me of why it’s important to take a chance and follow your artistic instincts – even if you risk alienating your existing audience.

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High Tension are my favourite Australian band, and I had the pleasure of seeing them play live supporting Cancer Bats a few weeks ago. Their live shows are super-fun and it’s hard not to end up with a big smile on your facing watching the band do their thing.

Sadly they didn’t play this song, which is one of my faves off their most recent album Bully, but I just got my tickets to Laneway so i’m hoping ‘Take Control’ has worked its way in to the set-list by then.

3.99 Hz

Posted: July 2, 2015 in Art, Exhibitions, Lurker Life, Music
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3.99 Hz: An Exhibition by Angie Taylor & Chrissie Hall

A few months back, my friend Chrissie Hall asked me to create a soundscape for an exhibition she was working on. The underlying concept was to explore the five frequencies of human brain waves (Beta, Alpha, Theta, Gamma and Delta).

The exhibition ran for a month at Kind of Gallery in St. Leonards, and also got a short run at Create or Die in Marrickville. There’s a post over on the XRay Doll blog about the exhibition, including some pictures from opening night here. We also got to make a sensor-activated ‘talking brain’ which was really cool (and somewhat creepy).

I designed the soundscape in 5 acts, each representing a different brainwave, and it was installed as an audio loop for the duration of the exhibition. I released it under my alter ego/art project name BI0MECHANICAL, and finally chucked it up on soundcloud. Best listened to in altered state:

CLOUD NOTHINGS – THE ANNADALE

FEB 6, 2013

Cloud Nothings is the brainchild of Ohio-based Dylan Baldi, who wrote and recorded most of the bands material from his bedroom, releasing two studio albums in 2011. In early 2012, Cloud Nothings released Attack On Memory, delivering a nascent mix of sneering, shoe-gazey grunge, which was embraced by indie taste-making website Pitchfork as one of the best albums of 2012 – a bold declaration considering the album was released January 23rd, barely one month into the year.

It was at this point that the first single, ‘Fall In’ began receiving heavy rotation on local Sydney station Fbi, and I began to take notice of them. Having had Attack On Memory on heavy rotation during 2012, when Cloud Nothings announced a gig at Sydney’s iconic Annandale Hotel (a mere month before the devastating announcement that it was going into receivership), I was pretty excited to snap up some tickets and see if they could live up to hype.

I arrived early to the gig to see support act Violent Soho, a well-known Brisbane band associated with the Aussie ‘grunge-rock revival’ that happens every few years, and as such were a fitting support act for Cloud Nothings. Being unfamiliar with all but a few of their songs, I stood at the edge of the door and watched them play a tight set, including alt-radio hits like ‘Jesus Stole My Girlfriend’. Their sound is similar to The Pixies, with heavy, gritty guitar & bass rhythm sections punctuated by simple, melodic guitar riffs and lead singer Luke Boerdam’s outraged squeals and emphatic yells.

Cloud Nothings weren’t due to start until 10.45pm, but I figured the floor would fill quickly and I wanted to get a decent spot, so I dragged my friend into the Annandale’s cramped main room and we took our usual spot behind the sound desk. We stand here for two reasons: Firstly, because you are much less likely to get body-slammed or have beer spilt on you, due to the unspoken rule of pub rock which is ‘don’t f**k with the engineer or the desk if you want to enjoy the show’. Secondly, the sound is usually better, especially at places like the Annandale where the room acoustics are patchy at best (and muddy at standard).

My spidey senses must have tingled at the right time, because about 5 minutes later a guitar tech jumped on the dimly lit stage and started testing a guitar – and then the lights went up and we realised it wasn’t a guitar tech, but frontman Dylan Baldi himself. I once read a quote that said “if people walk in the room and can’t tell immediately that you’re with the band, then you’re poorly dressed”. Well, grunge was never really known for it’s flashy threads, and Baldi must’ve been embracing that ethos, because it was fairly low-key until he said ‘Hi, we’re Cloud Nothings’. Suddenly the room was filled with applause and whoops, and the stampede sound of the rest of the crowd cascading in from the back bar as they realised the band was starting.

Avoiding the typical introductory banter, the band immediately launched intoFall In’, and the crowd immediately went off. Just about everyone in the room knew what they were in for – a few people up the back seemed like disinterested onlookers, but most here started dancing, jumping and flailing around within the first few bars. By the time the first chorus kicked in, a good old-fashioned 90’s moshpit was forming up the front, and it felt good to be back at the Annandale, seeing a band living up to their hype, bashing out some bloody catchy songs.

Next up was ‘Separation’, a noisy, garage-y instrumental song which sounds like an early Strokes demo, which launched straight into ‘Cut You’. The Beatle-esque melody & simplicity of of the song seemed to get to those who weren’t already dancing, as the room became a sea of people bopping in sync by the chorus. While the song itself is quite snarky and snarling, with lyrics like “Can he be as mean as me? / Can he cut you in your sleep?”, Baldi comes off as meek and inoffensive. While Cloud Nothings is billed as a band, it still feels like Baldi’s project; the sense is that he is tasked with delivering the songs, and the band is merely there to back him up.

Cloud Nothings’ live show has this chaotic, slapped-together sense that on one level, makes it feel like the band has been playing together all of 2 weeks. This is compounded by Baldi’s amateurish scream-tone and simple lyrics that sound like someone who has idolised Kurt Cobain having a crack at songwriting after being in a Nirvana covers band. But this is tilted on its side by the amazing choruses, catchy hooks and the surprising beauty of Baldi’s melodic singing voice when he’s not going for those Cobain-esque gravelly howls. The effect of all of this should be jarring, but it’s strangely not – for me personally, while some aspects come off as slightly inauthentic, the songwriting at its core is just too good to ignore – and after the first few songs I was hooked. Instead of judging, I was jumping along to the beat too.

Not one for banter or build-up between songs, the band launched straight into ‘Stay Useless,’ the albums’ second single. During the intro, the drums were so perfect in timing and intensity,

the drummer had the precision of a programmed drum track – something you don’t get the

sense of on the album. I was impressed by how tight the band has become in the year since its release. At this point, everyone was a fan, and you could hear the crowd singing along with every word. The song itself is a slacker anthem to rival any grunge-era anthem, with its repeating chorus of “I need time to stop moving / I need time to stay useless” awkwardly set to pop-flavoured chords and upbeat drums. This scene was repeated again later in fan-favourite ‘Our Plans,’ a song with similar structure and sentiment; the somewhat sneering refrain of “No one knows our plans for us / We won’t last long”, which Baldi delivers in an almost apologetic way, seems to simultaneously imply that Cloud Nothings may never make an album like this ever again – or perhaps as a quasi-apology in case the band implode, as so many of their own musical heroes did.

The band is incredibly tight, no doubt the result of spending most of 2012 touring the new album; the chaotic exterior belies how together these guys really are. Baldi is at once both amateurish and practiced; at once both lost on stage and totally in control of his every move, every note, and every buildup and release inherent in each verse-chorus-verse chorus-solo-chorus structured song. They aren’t the most innovative musicians on the planet – they’re walking a well-trodden road, but they’re doing it so damn well the audience doesn’t even care.

They ended up playing Attack On Memory in its entirety, and it was just perfect to see this album in a setting like this. I went home with my ears-ringing, feeling strangely invigorated – something I haven’t felt after a show in a long time. It was like seeing one of my favourite bands, but coupled with this excitement of a ‘first-time’… I went home feeling like I’d seen something important. And in this day and age, that’s a rare thing.