Wax Volcanic x Curtis Harding
JUST A PART OF ME A Conversation with Curtis Harding Curtis Harding is missing. Or at very least he’s missing in the only non-aeronautical way it’s still possible to be missing on Earth in 2015—he’s not picking up his phone. Or just doesn’t want to, impossible to tell. If I could potentially be reclined in a bar in Atlanta, Georgia, spinning gospel records with the Black Lips or in the process of being shot in smoky black and white for Saint Laurent, surrounded by waifish models in inexplicable states of undress, I’d probably let my press schedule slip too. “We’re still having trouble getting through to Curtis, do you want to hold or should I call you back?” rasps the operator’s voice (for the second 10am Friday appointment in a row). It’s a call back, obviously. [Author’s Note: There’s something about hold music that seems intentionally oppressive. I’m believing less and less that it’s high-quality music (classical chamber, quartet or solo) that has been wrung through low-quality technologically. I’m starting to believe that, given the fact that we are in 2015 where it’s almost impossible (see above) to get lost and becoming entirely possible to send leisure rockets into space, it must be deliberate. Hold music must surely be made like this, a mild telephonic weapon, prompting phones back to cradles and away from ears to free up phone lines on government welfare and insurance claim lines worldwide. I guess in this case it could just be a bad connection. Maybe.] With phone laid down I start fumbling with the crude science of coffee which functions malleably as a sort of glue between the tasks of the day. I’m housesitting for a friend and all three mugs in front of me are Dr Who themed. One features Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor) with hand raised and a Dalek and H-9 the robot dog to his left. The second is all Daleks and EXTERMINATE printed above in full caps. The third (and chosen) mug features Peter Davison (the fifth Doctor) and a quote: “A man is the sum of his memories you know…a TIME LORD even more so.” The phone rings again. Curtis Harding affirms (and reaffirms) in a drawl like leaking molasses, the sentiments of the fifth Time Lord.“You don’t really think of songs individually when you’re writing them,” he says of writing his debut record Soul Power, “they’re all like your children, you know. They’re a part of you.”‘A part of you’ is a phrase Harding uses multiple times during our conversation, and is unwaveringly sincere each time. And song-to-children comparisons aside, it stands to reason. Some of the songs on Soul Power he cites as being almost a decade old, the love of his songs and of his craft having very much endured the weather of time and miles under his various heels. Soul Power is one of those rare albums that feels almost possessed, electrified with the ability to make the listener both dance and weep (in even measure and often simultaneously.) [Author’s Note: Moments of particular weeping/dancing synchronicity are during ‘Surf’, ‘Heaven’s on the Other Side’ and lead single ‘Next Time’ which manages not only an emotional and choreographic register but also (somehow) a sexual register. This third tone, while occasionally clearing, hangs like a low fog over the majority of the album, and is generally so dense; you almost forget it’s there. Almost.]But in any case, the crying/dancing coexistence on Soul Power, I submit, is temporal in basis. It’s the mingling of the past—the swaying, jangling soul of the album—with the newer, grimier present and meeting it right in the middle. Soul Power traps the wealth of associations with vintage soul and rock and roll that people have gleaned or have been donated via decades of film, advertising and literature, and are dragging with them—and drags them all the way into 2015. Like looking at the world through a grimy mid-60s Chevrolet window. This regluing of past to present speaks unconsciously to all of those associations (both politically solemn and musically rapturous) with soul music, while preserving the catharsis of its rhythm and (this is the true crux of the whole crying/dancing phenomenon) —not addressing the past as a kind of pastiche or window dressing and so making real, sensate, all the gravity and levity of soul music’s truest intentions. It ends up being deeply soothing, a kind of relief. But Harding shrugs off any claim of his sound possessing any kind of considered nature, saying “it’s just how it came out” and what makes his work on Soul Power so immediate and (for lack of a less nebulous term) ‘real’ is that he “[has] a love for it and you can hear that love come out in the music…”But whether deeply considered or steeped unconsciously over time in his experience, a man is, as the Timelord’s saying goes, the sum of his memories, and Harding, in his mid-thirties after a life of ups and downs, has a lot to draw from. One such trough was his involvement in a soul group from Atlanta called the Constellations, a group that Harding drifted away from on the eve of their signing to Virgin records and who have continued to cultivate a more reliable swathe of pastiche over the surface of the soul genre. Harding was, in his own words, “always going in another direction.” But this is where the Curtis Harding story gets truly interesting, or at least complexly and unsexily real. Where the story almost ceases to become one. In the carefully preadjusted and endlessly recombed LA film script version of this story this is where it gets truly dark, where Harding finds himself working behind bars in Atlanta and finally in the inky stomach of some existential abyss, finds the fuel for the music that will finally redeem him. But it turns out that this is just a story. “No I just didn’t wanna keep going form the street to the club I just wanted to be a normal person, working a normal job. I was doing what I wanted to do…”Harding isn’t content to sit down and feed himself so wholly into the same narrative that is popularly associated with blues and soul music at the expense of his own place musically and historically. He plays music informed by struggle, but without manufacturing it, free from any sense of counterfeit.[Author’s Note: Feel compelled to reiterate for the sake of crystalline clarity: I’m not at all suggesting that the rich and gravid social history tethered to particular strains of popular music is ‘done’ or a ‘tired narrative’ etc. Heck, no. I’m interested directly in the creative currency generated by artists who slide themselves into a pre-existing archetype and replicate verbatim the same stories that have previously unfolded at the expense of their own identity, the musical relevance of the genre and clocks and calendars everywhere.]And again the intricate regluing of past to present persists in Curtis Harding’s impossibly elastic instant. Harding grew up on gospel, a singer and multi-instrumentalist whose first audiences were in front of church congregations. But his musical pedigree past became inextricable from his musical future when he heard gospel ringing through an Atlanta bar one night. He approached the guy playing the record—it was Cole Alexander, gospel fan and singer/guitarist in punk rock band The Black Lips. They became fast friends, collaborating together as Night Sun and most recently on ‘I Don’t Wanna Go Home’, a song which appears with slightly different arrangements on both Harding’s Soul Power and the Black Lips’ Underneath the Rainbow. “Yeah me and Jared [Swilley] and Cole wrote that. We just decided to write a song and put it out, so that’s what happened. They liked it so much they put it on their record too…” There’s an unmistakeable rock and roll grit to Harding’s overheated soul. And then to meet the Black Lips [Author’s Note: Not to mention the other Atlanta native Cee-Lo Green who Harding was introduced to, and then became a backup singer for, some time before his solo career took off.] and begin making what he calls “Slop and Soul”, which is his way of saying “a little bit of everything.” There’s so much of Atlanta infused in Soul Power, I can’t help but wonder aloud if it could have been produced anywhere else. Harding quietly disagrees.“I wouldn’t say it was Atlanta, it was just a part of me. It would have come out some time. Just so happened it came out in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s not just a soul crowd or a punk rock crowd or psych or garage, and that’s what music is for; it brings people together, not separates them…”Curtis Harding is missing. He’s missing in the most relevant way an artist can be missing in 2015, by not seeking a fidelity to the parables that see the same stories told and retold ad infinitum As artists try and capture the essence of a powerful association, they starve themselves (and their audience) from the chance at something new. Curtis Harding is trying something different. While borrowing heavily from a musical culture he’s grown with, he doesn’t need to slot himself straight into their story. He’s a misfit, just as much the soul singer on Burger Records hanging out with the punk rock kids as he is a punk rock kid hanging in the creative ambit of the soul crowd.“I don’t know if I fit in anywhere man” Harding confides almost wistfully. “And I’m okay with that. I enjoy creating a new lane.” Curtis Harding’s Soul Power is available now where all good records are sold | streamed.
Straight Outta... Santiago, Chile
Our friends Follakzoid are at it again, serving up a slice of psych with a bit of Kraut motoric beat. An anthem fresh for 2015. (Thanks to Buckers for the heads up and remember to check out Lowtide)
Black Crows Invaded Our Countries
Earlier this week marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Holocaust Memorial Day. It would be wrong to let it pass as it gives us a chance to contemplate on the evil(est) of evil that men do & did. It also gives us good reason to listen to Polish composer Henryk Gorecki’s stunning and amazing Symphony of Sorrowful Songs which several years back became a surprising best seller in this beautiful version with Dawn Upshaw singing. Listen loud and feel your heart scream. There’s also Steve Reich’s Different Trains (part 2 Europe during the War) in which Reich anchored his composition to looped tape of 3 Holocaust survivors (Paul, Rachel, and Rachella) speaking about their train trips to concentration camps. And Woody Guthrie’s song Ilsa Koch about the camp at Buchenwald performed here by the Klezmatics. [Ilsa Koch was the wife of the head officer at Buchenwald – one of the worst camps – and nicknamed “The Witch of Buchenwald”. I assume it’s a sense of sexism that considers atrocities worse from a woman, but hers were bad enough that they shouldn’t be forgiven.] And because you know it isn’t just about the one crime. Midnight Oil’s Beds Are Burning brings the issue close to home. It is no redeeming factor that incredible and important music got made because of it. -TH
The High Road Less Taken
Out there, there is an alternate reality. We, as the individual or the collective come across the two roads that diverged in the yellow wood, but could not take both. So per chance the opposite reality still exists, in a parallel universe the road not taken leads on and it is to that road that today I will go… There was a decision, by the Australian public, announced on Monday 26th January 2015, and the hottest 100 songs were known. But what if, but what if there was more to the countdown, instead of the reality that was a bulk of sensible electronica which dominated, there was the alternate which include a cultural shift in our musical landscape, a love for guitar built on the back of a rich and dynamic history of Australian punk, rock and metal which resulted in the deserved praise of the rich output of heavy music in 2014. Yes, I am talking of that other road. The High Road. Here’s what that reality could have voted for. Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues I’m going to lay this out straight. Two of the most fucking punk albums of recent history were released this year. This is the only one of the two which featured guitars. The other (thankfully) made the countdown. The story of Laura Jane Grace is incredible in itself, but if we’re just talking music, then this album has more anthems then a Springsteen Greatest Hits and the fact they are sung with vocals that could gargle gravel whilst wearing a pair of heels has trumped the whole life of Iggy Pop in one swift performance on Letterman. Ladies, Gentleman and those who subscribe to no label, the most punk lyrics of 2014; You’ve got no cunt in your strut You’ve got no hips to shake And you know it’s obvious But we can’t choose how we’re made Royal Blood - Come On Over I just don’t think I can name many albums with this greater output of excellent riffs. I’m very serious here, I’m concerned that if the next hard rock album that comes my way has less than a solid 9 guitar riffs, worthy of both an air guitar and head banging, then it probably isn’t a rock record but another Foo Fighters record ambient pop. Also in my alternate reality, these guys play stadiums. Perhaps I’m just thinking ahead. Dune Rats - Superman Oh Straya, Dunnies are so perfect for you, stop fighting it. Just let it in. You’ve known this band since highschool, they’re your useless mate who keeps borrowing your band tees, only to return them unwashed, smelly and with concerning stains only found under a UV lens. They were turned away from the local pub, so they started a sick party on the foreshore. This is that band. Just fucking take it already. Modern Baseball - Your Graduation You know what my life misses these days? Youthful ignorance. Getting drunk on the beach. Staying up all night. Getting kicked out of places that clearly state “No trespassing”. My shit Blink 182 cover band. My hollywoodified idea of American youth which I never really had on NSW coastline of Australia. Or did I? I don’t remember. Either way this is that soundtrack. If you can’t relate to any of this then you were probably born at 50 like my father and just stayed that way. Also. THIS CLIP RULZ The Bennies - Heavy Disco It’s like Pacman found Jack Daniels, pot and a distortion pedal, then ran away from home to forever live on breaking eardrums at The Tote alongside a youthful Qan Yeoman and Kram. I’ve been sweaty to this. You want to be sweaty to this. Quite simply that’s all you need to know. Mastodon - High Road This band is too huge to even exist. What should have been the soundtrack to the bloodied fields of Valhalla was instead compressed to 54 minutes of grandeur. I don’t even think of this band as a band, but a hulking juggernaut of sound, hurtling towards an unknown enemy upon the horizon. It’s pretty much a jam session between Odin, Zues, Cthulhu and The Kraken.  And you didn’t vote for it. Vengeance will be swift. *Note. My thoughts are it should have been a countdown of exclusively heavy songs, this was the tip of a fuck off big iceberg -Matty W Related Story: My breakdown of the heavy stuff that did make the cut.
The Best Show I Never Saw…
I know it makes me sound like a bit of an asshole, but I get to go to pretty much any show I want to these days. And I go to a LOT of shows. As a teenager I would sneak in through the beer garden at the Barwon Club in Geelong to catch Magic Dirt tear up the tiny sweaty band room, line up at my local Ticketek counter from dawn to get two coveted tickets for Radiohead at Festival Hall, or camp outside the local record store to secure my place in the Meredith Music Festival Supernatural Amphitheatre. These days I am fortunate enough to work in an industry where guest spots to most shows are easily traded between colleagues like baseball cards, “I have a Tuesday night FKA Twigs I can swap you for a Thursday Mac DeMarco”. In any case I am one of those spoiled bitches who get to see almost anything they want, I’m “on the list”, and I have come to take it a little for granted. Often shuffling restlessly in my spot at the back, watching the clock around the 45 min mark and trying to pick how many songs must be let in the set. Let me be clear, this is not to say I don’t enjoy these shows, it’s just that when something comes to you kind of easily you often don’t appreciate it quite as much. Maybe music sounds better when you earn it, line up for it; invest your time and money in it.  Recently, when Run The Jewels hit Australia for a run of dates, discussion arose between my musical compatriots and I as to whether we had a hook up for their Forum gig. There were some maybe’s and long shots thrown around, but by the time I came to the conclusion that I’d just have to suck it up and fork out the $75, the show had sold out. I snoozed and I lost. I was bummed sure, this was a record I had listened to and loved on a daily basis since it came out and was probably my favourite of 2015. But then there were three other bands I was on the list for that week… Then yesterday, a friend sent me this clip from their show in Paris late last year. I fucked up you guys. Real bad. And I am full of regret. Sometimes the best things in life aren’t free. Just buy a fucking ticket. -Jacqui W
Food Trucks We Wish Existed IRL.
Creative GENIUS Sean Solomon amongst other things is the art director for Fox’s Lucas Bros. Moving Co. and as part of a new episode he dreamed up a series of food trucks that we REALLY wish existed IRL. The episode features Cool Accidents fave Action Bronson as Uncle Taco (pictured above) and a whole bunch of amazing hip hop themed food trucks from the likes of Snoop Dogg, The Notorious B.I.G, Drake, De La Soul, Jay Z, Odd Future, Kanye West & More!
A Change Of Cosmic Address
Sadly we find ourselves penning another death piece… But then, Edgar Froese (founder of Tangerine Dream and The Ones) had a slightly different point of view on death which sort of fitted with the mood of all of Tangerine Dream’s music. “There is no death, there is just a change of our cosmic address.” It’s fair to say that there is a good reason why most of Tangerine Dream’s music can be found in the bargain bins of various record stores. Frankly, that’s where it belongs. Even some esoteric pieces like Pinnacles (a solo effort) are poor efforts at being E2-E4 if you take time out to make the effort to imagine them as such. Tangerine Dream mostly perpetrated a rather flatulent, new age inflected, prog rock. But it wasn’t always thus, and therefore we should give praise to their first album and its extremely advanced use of cut ups. Its punk rock cover tells you what it was about (initial copies included a balloon as the puppet’s heart), as does the crazed axe work of the brilliant 22 minute epic Journey Through A Burning Brain This is the best of Krautrock, and the most punk rock of psychedelic music- truly “free, electronic rock”. And also praise for the brilliant throbbing craziness of Zeit and the superb 2 part single produced at roughly the same time called Ultima Thule Again this is a world full of angry bubbling synths and frantic punk rock riffing. Truly inspiring music and the most uneasy of listening. These two albums (along with Atem and Alpha Cetauri) were all recorded for Berlin based independent Ohr (Ear) Records which was run by the incredible  Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser (for more details I highly recommend Julian Cope’s wonderful Krautrock book). They are truly the consummate masterpieces of Space Rock before it lost its edge. This was the vision of art and music combined that the commune like Zodiak Free Arts Lab had sought after and was achieved by pioneering and amazing tape looping, cut ups and home made instruments that long pre-dated developments like the sequencer. The musicians were heavily influenced by surrealism, and it feels that way. Most people think Tangerine Dream started with the (to modern ears) rather wishy washy synth waves of Phaedra (the first record to chart in the UK) but to me it ended there. Which is not to undermine the recently departed Edgar Froese at all, but to reflect that great music has many faces, and that different sounds find many different ears. It was just the music stretched out, becoming mystical and sensual, but losing the edge that made it so special. Go back and listen to those first 4 albums. And listen to music that blows away all preconceptions. -TH
Uptown Boogie
Mark Ronson & BRUNO MARS' (are we the only ones that noticed triple j failed to mention Bruno when playing the track as part of their recent Hottest 100 countdown? C'mon guys, he only wrote, sang and played drums on the damn thing!) jam Uptown Funk gets given the 80's roller disco treatment and it is a seriously good time. Don’t believe me? Just w̶a̶t̶c̶h̶ listen: Bonus beat: Bruno ain’t the only one that’s all about the funk.
A Hot & Heavy 100
Maybe I’m still coming down from Unify The Gathering or slowly getting amped for Soundwave, or it may be more likely the Dutch optimism that came with my 2nd six pack of Melbourne Tinnies, but it feels like the Hottest 100 actually got kinda heavy for a bit there. Now, let’s not go poppin champagne just yet, It doesn’t look like we’re going to hear anything from Against Me’s brilliant Transgender Dysmorphia Blues or The Ghost Inside’s excellent Dear Youth and I’ve already given up on hearing anything from the fine return to form via Slipknot’s The Grey Chapter, and a sad part of me knew we wouldn’t be getting any entrants from In Hearts Wake’s fucking masterful Earthwalker. Honestly, if nothing could chart from Northlane’s really fucking epic Singularity in 2013 then Aus based music stood little chance. HOWEVER, now that quick gripe is past, let’s look at some really fucking excellent heavy-ish music that made the list; and why it definitely deserved to do better but we’ll take what we’ve got thank you very much. #88. DZ Deathrays – Gina Works At Hearts This was one of the best hard rock singles (guys, where the fuck is Royal Blood?) in a year when the combined force of Dave Grohl and Nickelback further attempted to dilute rock music. This record stood up as the resounding finger in the face of a LOT of mediocre guitar music that thankfully didn’t make the chart. Well, almost. #84. Foo Fighters – Something From Nothing Joke LOL. Whoever voted for this, high five your face with a ceramic plate. Look Dave, you took the opening section of The Pretender, matched it with the guitar line from QOTSA’s Everybody Knows You’re Insane and then just straight up nicked DIO’s Holy Diver. No video. Only the below picture as a reminder this guy is with the rock gods above and THEY FUCKING KNOW WHAT YOU DID. #80. Rise Against – I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore Look, it’s not Prayer Of The Refugee but I’ve come to terms with the fact the mid 2000’s are over and I’m never going to see that Thrice, Thursday and Rise Against tour I’ve dreamt of since puberty. However, I couldn’t be happier that Rise Against are still kicking and making relevant rock music (cc’d after 15 odd years. Oh lord I miss Thursday. We’re going to listen to Thursday in remembrance for those who have fallen this year. Also to those who deserved to fall. Fuck this guy and DEFINITELY this guy. #79. Jack White – Lazaretto Ok, so this one just slips in here, as we are talking heavy-ish guitar music. But to be exceptionally frank, this wasn’t Jack’s best song on the record. It’s the one where he doesn’t use his mouth cause his mouth only does crazy talk these days the instrumental, Highball Stepper, which kinda just proves that Jack may be an insane person, but, by fuck can he play guitar.    #71. The Amity Affliction – The Weigh Down I’ll actually rant a little more on TAA down the line. However I totally appreciate this vid and the chuckles this band’s mgmt. must have had reading the video treatment, especially the part that read “set band on fire” #69. The Smith Street Band – Surrender One day I will tell my future children about that time I saw Will Wagner play solo in an off Brunswick street bar in front of 12 people and I bought him a beer and then they will lose their shit in like I did when my dad said he high fived Bon Scott once. But serious talk, this is a punk band, an Australian punk band with political backbone and praise for this band is SO FUCKING OVERDUE. Interestingly this is their Hottest 100 debut, which is only interesting because they also wrote this song, this song oh and also this fucking masterpiece and only just made the Hot 100? Shame on you ‘straya. #68. Bring Me The Horizon – Drown Like it or not, BMTH are the consistent herald of the ever evolving heavy music landscape. Whilst Olly & Co aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, it can’t be denied that they are the reigning forbearers for the next round of heavy albums and tracks to come. Don’t believe me? Well, check it out for yourself. #64. The Amity Affliction – Don’t Lean On Me Man! More Amity and it’s not even their last appearance? Hell fuck yeah. #22. Amity Affliction – Pittsburgh I think this deserves a throwback to Unify The Gathering, or potentially further back to the Australian tour of TAA, Architects, Stray From The Path, Issues and Hand Of Mercy. A run of sold out shows which saw anywhere between 3 and 5 thousand kids collectively lose their shit (fast forward to 4:26 to see aforementioned shit being collectively lost)  in the wake of the staggering success of Let The Ocean Take Me. You combine that with an ARIA #1 and a platinum selling record and damn, just fucking chill TAA. Take a breather yeah? -Matty W
Choice Cuts
Feature track
That's it! Try opening your own PSD now.
Action Bronson - Actin Crazy (Prod. By 40 and Omen)
Feature video
Craft with Kit (Ep 1) starring GROUPLOVE