CD Review – The Bulletholes

The Bullet Holes – ‘Lost Cause’
Review by Danielle Hanrahan

The Bullet Holes are slowly making their way through the Perth local music scene, and their path is one strewn with catchy songs and impressive guitar riffs as well as turning heads that have seen their energetic live performances into putty.

Next Big Thing grand finalists in 2007, whose image of alternative punk rock is one which has developed into a mutant-hybrid of something punk-rock and rockabilly have developed an exciting sound sure to stay in the minds of audiences, no matter how intoxicated, especially with their latest offering titled, “Lost Cause”.

With a sound of raw bass and guitar, and a voice that belies the look of the band, The Bullet Holes offer a platter of catchy material sure to get girls dancing. And guys quickly following suit. It’s hard not to start dancing when listening to The Bullet Holes, even if you’re not at their gig. The opening song on the EP, “Everyday,” serves as the taster for the rest of the content that follows with simply constructed songs capturing the essence of what is real to the songwriters themselves. ‘Everyday’ and ‘It’s over’ are sure to be ones where the audience remember each line and try to both sing and dance at the same time. A feat which if you’re not too fit, can be sustainably difficult.

A surprise on the EP is ‘Where I Fall,’ a mellow canapé offered to settle the heart beat but one which would put a smile on punters nonetheless. The upbeat tempo offered later in the structure, the strong guitar, the heavy beat of the drums, extends this song into something which will move audiences (emotionally) but will soon have them moving on the dance floor. We come to the end of the EP with the song whose title lends itself to the EP, ‘It’s Over,’ think Living End-esque and something hard to pin down, where it makes a number which, if you haven’t been convinced thus far, ‘It’s Over’ is sure to do the job.

The lead’s vocals transcend into a parallel universe from each song, only coming together in ‘It’s Over’ to make the finale to this sweet little number felt far and wide. Upbeat. Catchy. Energetic. Raw. And songs that don’t let you forget who you listened to. The Bullet Holes, unlike the title of their CD, are far from a lost cause.

CD Review: Jason Ayres

Jason Ayres Debut EP

Review by Leo Abbs

Songwriting with just a voice and guitar, is the simplest way to pen a tune, and this is the approach local songwriter Jason Ayres takes on his debut EP.. This recording is very simple, it has a plain styled package, and it’s recorded with just the basic instruments, with no backing.

This direction allows the songs to speak for themselves clearly in their rawest form. However at times you can’t help but thinking that their needs to be more filling to make the product more likable. Another criticism is the lyrical subject matter. while the biography talks about the comparisons to ‘the story telling of Dave Matthews’, it tends to stick to the same old story of relationships.

His voice is fine, but at times can tend to be too nasally, and his use of falsettos can be mis-directed, as when he hits the higher register it is quite off-putting. Song-wise he has definitely improved since his demo recording of 2004, obviously the hard work of writing and frequent gigging is paying off.

There are strong points on the five tracker like the tune Chasing Ghosts, which is a little less obvious in the subject matter and at the same time, has a hook capable of sticking in your mind. Track 2 ‘Everything I Say’ is probably the strongest track on the disc, simply because it a fantastic chorus, it’s moments like this when Ayres shows his promise as songwriter.

This is nice for a listen on a lazy afternoon, or the background while having a barbecue. It sounds simple and will grow with a listen. Though however promising it is, there is still work to be done for Jason Ayres to take his music to the next level.

CD Review – Tengo Fuego

Tengo Fuego – Self-Titled EP
By Sarah Vagliviello

Even turning your stereo right up to eleven, doesn’t totally transcend Tengo Fuego’s live show prowess to the confines of a studio recording, no matter who the producer is (in this case being Al Smith of Bergerk Studios). While this five-track self-titled EP cannot capture the stage essence of Tengo Fuego, it certainly portrays a different element of this band that punters won’t see in real life.

This is a much less messy and more controlled version of a high-energy band that still retains that rock element that Tengo Fuego are so well known for. It also goes to say that in this contained respect, as the songs become easier to follow, they become catchier. Opener Republican seems to take on a new light, and the steadier Weddings, which relies on the cynicism of its lyrics, certainly benefits from production. This EP should impress fans and could well attract a larger following to one of Perth’s fastest-growing rock bands.

CD Review – Streetlight Mini Album

Streetlight Mini Album
Review by Dylan McArdle

Ever since winning the Next Big Thing competition last year, Streetlight must be one of the most talked about bands on the local Perth music scene. Having released a three track single last December, the band have followed that up with a “mini album” that is in stores now.

When I first picked up my copy (at the sold-out CD launch) I was a little disappointed to see that three of the eight tracks on the CD were also on the single. But we must remember that this CD is designed with a wider audience than mind and also that it contains the full length (not radio edit) version of “Attack That Gentleman”. Any disappointments I had disappeared soon after I put the CD in my CD player

From the first beats of the opening track “I Borrowed The Light” you know you’re in for a musical treat. There’s a certain energy in the music that grabs you and makes you take notice and at times it’s hard to believe this release is from a band who have only been together three years. It’s hard to find another band to compare Streetlight to as they’re quite unique. You could say they’re like At The Drive In or the Mars Volta, some have said a rip-off of, but they’re more musically “rich” and definitely more “listenable”. “The Departure: Part One” is a pretty good example of this – the bands power has been well harnessed and it won’t leave you with sore ears.

The CD ebbs and flows almost flawlessly, from the gentle build up at start of “The Poet’s Paper Boat” to the almost violent nature of “Sunshine Apartments”. This is no band of angry teens just screaming their lungs out without any direction. Le Craft’s flexible vocals lead the way and he doesn’t put a foot wrong through the seven tracks (the last is instrumental). Not that the rest of the band do any wrong either. The big x-factor to this line up though is Rachael Aquilina; her, at times haunting, violin is like the icing on the cake and actually enhances the bands sound more that you’d think.

Despite being released before (though this time in its longer form) “Attack That Gentleman” is the standout track on the CD, with “The Poet’s Paper Boat” not far behind. Both capture all the elements that make the Streetlight sound what it is.

There are a number of up-and-coming bands on the Perth scene and Streetlight is probably the pick of the bunch. This CD proves that they have the tools (and the musical maturity) to go far. It’s well worth taking the time to see what the fuss is about.

CD Review: Battlecat EP

Battlecat EP
Review by Leo Abbs

Battlecat are a band full of talented players, lead by singer Christian Parkinson, who has a strong voice. However songwriting is another challenge. With skilled honed by playing in cover bands, (two members play in the acoustic outfit Switchback) the musicianship is there, but one might question the originality which isn’t high on this recording.

Heading straight down the Rock highway, which is by no means a wrong path, it’s a smooth ride. However you feel too smooth at times. You know when the music just becomes something that will fade into the background? There’s nothing here that makes you go ‘wow’.

The question is where are Battlecat headed? Is it the heavy detuned rock of the first track ‘Lay Alone’. Or the commercial softer rock sound of tracks 2 and 3 which sound like they’re one of the blander type of songs you sound daily on dials 92.9 and 96.1? I hope the band follows their heart with this choice, rather than just playing what they think will help them ‘make it’.

There’s nothing wrong with writing music that has commercial appeal (look at Birds Of Tokyo, they make Nickelback-like songs sound fantastic), but it would be nice for a band to bring something new. There are some well written songs on this disc, but they are just a bit too predictable at times.

Review: Gigantic EP

Gigantic – Gigantaphonic Sounds
Review by Dylan McArdle

After seeing local pop act Gigantic support The Fauves back in September, I was keen to check out their upcoming ‘Gigantaphonic Sounds’ album. When I finally got my hands on it, my initial impressions where that it was a really bland pop CD and there was nothing particularly special about it. But thankfully I persisted with listening to it and I’ll admit it’s really grown on me, to the point where I really like this CD. There are a number of good songs on the album and while they all basically follow the same formula there’s still enough variety to make you want to listen all the way through.

Most of the songs are a mixture of ‘radio friendly’ pop/rock songs and ballads. I prefer the band’s rockier (and almost darker) sound, like the appropriately titled ‘Mr Sound’, ‘Coaster’ and the very 70’s disco pop styled ‘Be No More’. There are a number of acoustic guitar tracks and the opening track ‘Some Suburban Road’ is the pick of that bunch, with their clever use of keyboards and backing vocals. It’s definitely a sing-along-track.

The ballads don’t do much for me and they are the weak point of the album. The moody track, ‘Nice’, is the exception to that with the orchestral backing track really complementing Di Renzo’s vocals.

‘Surf Madness’ is by far the standout track and it’s a pity it’s almost at the end of the album as it was the song that really got me into the CD. I really wanted to listen to it over and over again (and I did).

Like many other CD’s out of Perth (Steve Parkin’s CD comes to mind), the Debaser crew have had their hand in mixing and producing the CD and the CD cover notes read like a ‘who’s who’ of the local music scene. The band have put these musicians to good use on the CD and I’m sure the CD is better for having had them work on it, with the extra instruments and vocals giving the band an extra ‘dimension’.

Interestingly enough, the song ‘Steam Girl’ was used on promotional CDs that the band gave away at gigs and in my opinion this is my least favourite song on the CD.

While this CD will never rack up gigantic sales (pardon the pun), I definitely think it’s worth giving it a listen or at least checking out the band live. A number of other reviewers have said Gigantic are nothing special, but you might just be pleasantly surprised…

Cd Review: Roly Skender – Electric Umbrella

Roly Skender – Electric Umbrella
Review by Gareth Bevan

Roly Skender’s “Electric Umbrella” shoots for lofty heights in releasing an Album length CD with 13 tracks. Similarly the album artwork conveys a sense of the grand vision that must have fueled this musical endeavour. Unfortunately it often falls short of excellence and its length tends to weigh down the better songs on offer here.

Much of the material is a kind of dreamy, laid-back pop rock, bringing to mind the Sleepy Jackson, amongst others. Much of the arrangements are well crafted, but the mid-tempo pace of most of the songs can make one song bleed into another without the listener noticing the track has changed; perhaps this is the band’s intention.

The band plays mostly simple parts, not seeking to detract from the vocals or the overall song. I was hoping for something to break through and catch my attention, but the band play it straight for the most part, a nice diversion being the New Order-esque introduction to “Free”. That track in general is a stand-out for me, having a nice Stone Roses kind of groove that carries the repeated vocal theme (“What’s it mean to be free?”).

Some of the vocals can occasionally be grating, sometimes too laidback and detached sounding to hold my interest. I feel the vocals are a bit over-effected throughout the 13 tracks as a whole. It would be a contrast to hear a more raw sounding vocal against the atmospheric musical background.

Still, Roly Skender has aimed high with “Electric Umbrella”, and we shouldn’t fault him for that. If you like laidback, dreamy pop that sounds like it was written by Brian Wilson’s ocker offspring, check out “Electric Umbrella”.