Tag: Australian Guitar

CD Review: Turnstile – Glow On


Band: Turnstile
Album: Glow On
Label: Roadrunner / Warner
Release: August 27th, 2021

Rating: 10/10

Virtually anyone could whip themselves up a decent burrito, but it takes a true master of the culinary arts to make a great burrito. It’s not just about all those ingredients snuggled up under a soft tortilla, but their quality, their source, how they’re seasoned and prepared; the intermingling of textures and collision of flavours. When treated with the right care and cogitation, a concept so simple can become something so life-affirmingly beautiful.

In this analogy, the burrito is hardcore punk, and our culinary maestro is Baltimore outfit Turnstile. The band have always tackled their slate of scream ’n’ shred with an outsider’s perspective, spicing up their palate with summery grooves and kinetic percussion. But on LP3, it’s like they’ve finally cracked the code to making an infallibly calamitous, uncompromisingly headstrong hardcore album sound genuinely otherworldly.

Glow On is cinematic, riveting and rhapsodic; the sheer depth and dynamism of its musicality cannot be understated, nor Turnstile’s passion in sculpting it. It’s a notably short record at 35 minutes, but they really make every second count. “Endless”, for example, clocks in a few seconds off two minutes long, yet it takes it the listener on a full-fat adventure through a sonic forest of shimmery bass, effects-soaked vocals and tearing guitar juts.

Even ornamental quips like the empyrean synth intro on “Mystery” and the regal grand piano lick on “Fly Again” have their place, adding contextual basis to tracks like the silky, groove-oriented “Underwater Boi” and the hazy, stoner-friendly “Alien Love Call”. Then because the funky, Prince-esque energy at play on the former let us know as much could be expected, the equally biting and breezy “New Heart Design” feels homely and natural, no matter how odd its composition may sound in description (it is at once raw, gritty and eruptive, romantic, groovy, sparse and fantastical).

For the more traditional hardcore fans that just wanna cut sick to some gloriously gory riffs and wall-rattling fills, don’t worry – Turnstile still have you covered. Sharp and snarling cuts like “Holiday” and “Humanoid / Shake It Up” dot the record’s top-end, while the back-to-back belters “Wild Wrld” and “Dance-Off” inject its second half with a blast of mosh-tailored intensity.

Again, Turnstile have always been innovators. They’re one of the most interesting bands on the circuit – not even just in hardcore – but Glow On makes their previous efforts look embarrassing in comparison. This is the kind of record that makes us feel justified in spending $500 on a pair of headphones; a true masterclass in the art of heavy music. Come 2030, we’ll be looking back on it as the record that sparked a whole new wave of rebellious genre-bending.

Please note: this review is also printed in #144 of Australian Guitar Magazine, syndicated here because AG’s album reviews are no longer published online.

Glow On is set for release on August 27th, 2021 via Roadrunner / Warner. Click here to pre-order.

CD Review: The Bronx – Bronx VI


Band: The Bronx
Album: Bronx VI
Label: Cooking Vinyl
Release: August 27th, 2021

Rating: 7.5/10

Perfectly suited for a particularly erratic time, Bronx VI is heavy, hard-hitting and headstrong. It’s a step backwards in the band’s sonic evolution – Bronx V stood out for its tasteful shift into a more summery, groove-inflected Britrock flavour, whereas Bronx VI is mostly cut-and-dried, no-frills punk – but that’s not to say it isn’t a wondrously well-crafted record.

It’s a rabid and unrelenting love letter to fans of the first three Bronx LPs; the riffs are venomous, the chugs walloping and the solos soaring, and the screams lacquered over them are enthralling and impassioned. Best is how it crystallises all the meteoric might and inimitable fury of the band’s live show – especially so via the breakneck‑paced intensity of “Breaking News” and the frenetic, fist-pumping grunt of “Curb Feelers”. 

Please note: this review is also printed in #144 of Australian Guitar Magazine, syndicated here because AG’s album reviews are no longer published online.

Bronx VI is set for release on August 27th, 2021 via Cooking Vinyl. Click here to pre-order.

CD Review: Willow – Lately I Feel Everything


Artist: Willow
Album: Lately I Feel Everything
Label: MSFTS / Roc Nation / Polydor
Release: July 16th, 2021

Rating: 8.5/10

For the most of us, early adulthood is marked by its trickiness and turbulence. Willow encapsulates that perfectly on LP4, taking listeners on a sharp and stormy (and notably swift, at 26 minutes) rollercoaster ride through the euphoric ups and perilous downs of one’s coming of age, projected through a scuffed and stained lens of soulful indie-rock, scuzzy grunge and explosive pop-punk.

Willow’s equally strained and silvery vocal carries the record, but its the vicious electric guitars – snarling, loose and slathered in distortion – that glue everything together. Highlights bookend the LP in the catchy and kinetic “Transparent Soul” and the one-two punch of riotous, sass-drenched energy in “Grow” and “Breakout”, the journey between bold, biting, and all-around bewitching.

Please note: this review is also printed in #144 of Australian Guitar Magazine, syndicated here because AG’s album reviews are no longer published online.

Lately I Feel Everything is out now via MSFTS / Roc Nation / Polydor. Click here to buy or stream.

CD Review: Bleachers – Take The Sadness Out Of Saturday Night


Band: Bleachers
Album: Take The Sadness Out Of Saturday Night
Label: RCA / Sony
Release: July 30th, 2021

Rating: 8/10

Though perhaps not as grandiose or eccentric as its predecessors, LP3 is certainly more ambitious, sprawling and considered. The instrumentation is downright luscious, with dazzling horns and delicate strings dancing over meticulous outlines of glassy keys and acoustic twiddling. 

The Springsteen cameo on “Chinatown” marks an early highlight – and it’s well-earned, as his influence can be felt at many points throughout of the all-around cinematic, emotive and nostalgic affair. 

Although of course it’s the big and bold pop belters that shine the brightest (see: “How Dare You Want More”, “Stop Making This Hurt”), heartrending slow-burners like the silky “Secret Life” and smoky “Strange Behaviour” add to the record a wealth of depth and character. 

Please note: this review is also printed in #144 of Australian Guitar Magazine, syndicated here because AG’s album reviews are no longer published online.

Take The Sadness Out Of Saturday Night is out now via RCA / Sony. Click here to buy a copy.

CD Review: Sleater-Kinney – Path Of Wellness


Band: Sleater-Kinney
Album: Path Of Wellness
Label: Milk! / Remote Control
Release: June 11th, 2021

Rating: 8.5/10

Fans of their grittier, more punk‑centric work may be soured by the glossy production and stylistic quirkiness, but with a radiant, self-assured energy and a strikingly colourful palate of tones at their disposal, Sleater-Kinney knock it out of the park on album #10.

Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker bounce off each other with dazzling aplomb, their interplay tight, twined and tantalising. Their playing here is the cleanest and most deliberate it’s ever been, yet it still hits with a powerful impact.

It’s the riskiest tracks that stand out most: the cool, cantering “Method”, the funky and frenetic “Favorite Neighbor”, and the slick, solo-lacquered “Down The Line”. More than anything, Path Of Wellness is inescapably catchy; head-bopping is non-negotiable.

Please note: this review is also printed in #144 of Australian Guitar Magazine, syndicated here because AG’s album reviews are no longer published online.

Path Of Wellness is out now via Milk! / Remote Control. Click here to buy or stream.

CD Review: Alice Skye – I Feel Better But I Don’t Feel Good


Artist: Alice Skye
Album: I Feel Better But I Don’t Feel Good
Label: Bad Apples / Universal
Release: July 23rd, 2021

Rating: 8/10

Equally pensive and punchy, Alice Skye’s second LP is nothing short of breathtaking. Ebbing and flowing between deep, simmering melancholy and bright, captivating dreaminess, the Wergaia stalwart simply refuses to hold back; she’s crafted a record perfect for those long, introspective late-night road trips. 

Guitars on the record are subtle and understated, but strikingly impactful when they do lead the fray – take for example the gravelly, distorted leads on “Everything Is Great” or the shimmery, ‘70s-channeling strums on “Grand Ideas”. Less really is more throughout; the bold, attention‑grabbing solo on “Browser History” feels so because it’s underscored by a simple, cantering beat, Skye’s warm, honeyed ruminations so easy to melt into on either side of it.

Please note: this review is also printed in #144 of Australian Guitar Magazine, syndicated here because AG’s album reviews are no longer published online.

I Feel Better But I Don’t Feel Good is out now via Bad Apples / Universal. Click here to buy or stream.

Australian Guitar #141

New year, new mag!

Well okay, it’s the same mag, but there IS a new issue of it! We’re kicking Australian Guitar’s 2021 off with an epic double-length AC/DC cover story, featuring two in-depth interviews with Angus Young. Even for someone who admittedly isn’t that big a fan of the High Voltage rockers (sorry, dads of the world), I’d argue it’s a pretty solid read. We grabbed both interviews from the syndication system – if I’m not mistaken, they’re both from the UK – and honestly, this is the most stoked I’ve been about having access to Future’s massive stable of in-house content. I always want to make our cover stories unique and tailored to AG wherever possible, but I am really excited to bring Australian readers more awesome stories from that pile throughout 2021. I started working on #142 today and the cover artist on the top of my wishlist is extremely selective about who they grant interviews, so I’ll probably end up syndicating a piece for that one as well – but of course, I have my fingers crossed I can wrangle something up myself. Praying every night to the gods of rock ’n’ roll. 

Anyway, #141! We’ve used this edition to backflip a bit on the approach to content that carried us through 2020 – where the last few issues were jam-packed with a whole bunch of small features spanning one to three pages, this one features a small amount of really big, in-depth features. There’s a beautiful deep-dive into the origins of the blues, celebrating the players that not only invented, but individualised the genre. There’s a piece that explores the women around the world who are shaking up the lutherie game – who are not only destroying the notion that only men can build great guitars, but taking real innovative leaps forward in the design sphere. There’s the ultimate guide to building the ultimate pedalboard, a ten-page technique bootcamp, and an intro to the world of podcasting (because let’s face it, are you really a musician in the 2020s if you’re not also a podcaster?).

And then there’s all the interviews – so many interviews! I had the incredible privilege of yarning with some absolute legends for this issue, like Billy Corgan, Orianthi, Julien Baker, Steven Wilson… I had a great chat with my all-time favourite musician, Laura Jane Grace (who is always such a fantastic interviewee, all fan bias aside), and had the time of my life talking shit with Heather from Pale Waves – who are about to drop a very easy contender for 2021’s AOTY. 

You can read more about what’s in the issue over on the Guitar World site. Copies are on sale now at newsagents all around Australia, online via Techmags and iSubscribe, and digitally wherever great magazines can be downloaded.