theMusic.com.au: The Living End Respond To ‘Plain Ugly’ Reviews Of New Single

Published on theMusic.com.au, Apr 2016

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It can be hard to escape harsh feedback on social media if you’re an artist trying something a little different with your music – something The Living End discovered fairly quickly when they dropped their latest single, Keep On Running.

When they released the second single off their new album, Shift, the band noted on Facebook that while most of the reviews had been positive, there had been some “plain ugly” ones in the mix.

Speaking to theMusic.com.au in the lead up to the release of the new record and its accompanying tour, vocalist Chris Cheney said it was important for the band’s sound to evolve rather than rehash the same material over and over again.

“There was just an initial kneejerk reaction I think, people wondering what the hell we were doing with a full string section and it’s got a very pop kind of melody, but I’m quite proud to go out with a song that people don’t expect,” Cheney said.

“Even though we’ve done lots of things, I think people forget we have had a pretty diverse range of tunes and albums over the years.

“What’s the point of coming out with something that’s just The Living End by numbers – it just doesn’t excited me. I think it’s good, better people talk about you than not.”

The change of pace largely comes from the writing and recording method they employed for album number seven.

Living in LA for the better part of five years, Cheney hadn’t had much time to write or record with the band since 2010’sThe Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating, so when they signed on for A Day On The Green with Jimmy Barnes last year, they took the time off between weekends to built something from scratch.

“We just thought we might as well just jump into a studio during that time and just throw some ideas around and not really put any pressure on as far as having to have songs; just get in there and press record, which is a pretty daunting task.

“I’ve always had songs to bring in and we’ve always wanted to be prepared, so there was a certain danger by doing that that it would be a failure and that we would come out with nothing.”

Shift drops May 13 via Dew Process/UMA before they take it on the road with support from Bad//Dreems and 131’s in June.

http://themusic.com.au/news/all/2016/04/30/the-living-end-respond-to-plain-ugly-reviews-of-new-single/

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Show Review: Tom Gleeson 28.04.16

Published on theMusic.com.au, Apr 2016

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Tom Gleeson

His Majesty’s Theatre

Apr 28

You’d struggle to find a comedian as Aussie as Tom Gleeson. After firing g’days in every which direction, the TV personality the wider population have become accustomed to fell away and a more intelligent, witty and altogether funnier comic was on display.

It was clear early into Gleeson’s set that certain restrictions put in place by the mainstream media outlets he frequents stifle his true value.

Snorts were echoing throughout the room as he cycled through educated political impersonations, fast-paced and hilarious audience slams, stories of his young family and parents’ regional motel. Every joke was well structured with some building up to tongue-twisting mathematical and scientific punch lines that would have made most other comedians trip over themselves.

With a show that was 97% true (a little fiction added to round out certain punch lines), Gleeson said he was being lazy by simply reporting the events of his life as they happened, but another explanation might be that he has a keen sense for relatable observational humour.

http://themusic.com.au/comedy/reviews/2016/04/29/tom-gleeson-his-majestys-theatre-daniel-cribb/

Show Review: Stephen K Amos 28.04.16

Published on theMusic.com.au, Apr 2016

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Stephen K Amos

His Majesty’s Theatre

Apr 28

With a natural humour and instant charisma, timing was everything for Stephen K Amos as the English comedian darted between topics and punch lines with ease throughout a diverse and intelligent set.

In a conversational, relatable manner, he was able to tackle mainstream media, social media, racism and more in a way that rendered stronger engagement from the audience.

“I love the way that slowly burnt through,” he said about a joke involving genitals; a statement that could be applied to the whole set as he broached topics in a way that no doubt had punters thinking about the material in depth on the home from the show. Amos summed it up perfectly when he the idea was “acknowledging our differences but laughing together”.

http://themusic.com.au/comedy/reviews/2016/04/29/stephen-k-amos-his-majestys-theatre-daniel-cribb/

theMusic.com.au: Something Isn’t Quite Right With The New Blink-182 Single

Published on theMusic.com.au, Apr 2016

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As someone who loves Alkaline Trio just as much, if not more, than Blink-182, the prospect of listening to Blink’s first new song with Matt Skiba replacing Tom Delonge is a conflicting one.

Probably the most anticipated pop-punk single in the past decade, Bored To Death had a lot to live up to – even more than that of the band’s comeback album in 2011, Neighbourhoods.

But, as a Blink song, the first glimpse into the new line-up falls short. And that’s not necessarily because of Skiba replacing Delonge or the songwriting. Hell, not even Neighbourhoods’ lead single, Up All Night, could live up to the hype when it first dropped, and that’s where the problem lies. There’s so much hype surrounding this that nothing could meet expectations – especially when the first song released likely isn’t even the best material, as past release patterns have shown. And with the band reportedly writing an album, scrapping the whole thing and starting again, you expect this to be mind blowing.

As mentioned, the main issue with the single isn’t so much the songwriting, as it does have elements of Blink throughout; the intro draws from single Feeling This mixed with a riff that wouldn’t be out of place on Take Off Your Pants And Jacket, the verse encompasses the better parts of Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus’ Blink hiatus act, +44, and the chorus has Alkaline Trio written all over it, while the bridge is actually pretty awesome and the best thing they’ve written in years.

The problem lies within the vocal dynamics between Hoppus and Skiba. It wasn’t until my third listen of many that I realised Skiba took lead in the second verse. And this is coming from someone who has an unhealthy obsession with the man.

Their tones are almost indistinguishable at times, and the issue here is it was the differences in Hoppus and Delonge’s vocals that made their voices gel so well and the harmonies really cut through. Delonge probably has one of the most unique voices in pop punk if not the entire music industry. The chorus of Bored To Death would have been elevated tenfold had he taken lead.

Looking at this as a Blink-182 song, it’s easy to pull it apart and critique it like crazy claiming it doesn’t hold up, but as a pop punk song in general, it rocks. It just isn’t Blink, which is primarily in the forefront of most fans’ minds as they choose their sides.

It’s actually not a bad debut, but how on earth could it compete with 2003’s self-titled, ‘99’s Enema Of The State and more. Even if Delonge was still in the band this song wouldn’t live up to the hype. They can’t really win with their debut single branded this way.

Everything about this song works by itself, it’s just when its given context and history that it falls flat. So, why are they still performing under the old banner? It seems pride might be playing a big part, Hoppus and Barker said some nasty things during the “divorce” early last year and that could lead you to believe that them continuing on with Skiba under the Blink-182 name is a way to show Delonge they don’t need him. Barker even went so far as to call him “disrespectful and ungrateful”.

When Blink first split in 2005, it was said that a Delonge solo record offer from their label caused tension between him and Hoppus, with his run in Box Car Racer in 2001 driving a further wedge between them.

If that trend continued, of course things were going to blow up – Delonge in the past few years has released a feature film, animated short, novel, comic and slew of records with his other band, Angels & Airwaves, and is now releasing books and working on films about aliens – all while running his own store in California, To The Stars. It seems his creative juices just didn’t match that of his bandmates. He even said in an interview last year that staying in the band would have “severely limited” his artistic aspirations.

Another factor in using the Blink name is obviously reaching a wider audience – instead of having to build up a fan base again, there’s millions of punters eagerly awaiting material under a recognisable banner. That latter point is something you can’t really blame them for wanting to utilise, even if it is at the potential risk of their legacy.

Funnily enough, days before the new single dropped, the band’s legacy is something Delonge spoke up about in an interview with Rolling Stone. “I love those guys,” he said of Barker and Hoppus. “The only thing I think about is, I want them to be happy. [But] I don’t want the legacy of the band to get fucked with. I do care about that. I don’t want an incredible legacy to be ruined.”

He goes onto to say he wouldn’t be opposed to playing with the band again and points out that he never actually quit or was fired. Which is true, Hoppus and Barker sent out a press release in January of last year that blindsided Delonge and said he was out and Skiba would be filling in for an upcoming festival they had booked, but at no point has either party officially severed ties. Delonge denied the news at first, not even realising it was something the band officially issued.

Had they disbanded Blink and went onto form a new band, the project would have almost been more exciting – members of Blink-182 and Alkaline Trio team up with legendary pop punk producer John Feldmann who, as well as fronting seminal ‘90s pop punk band Goldfinger, also found The Used, Story Of The Year and more, and produces bands like 5 Seconds Of Summer. In fact, several years ago, Skiba and Hoppus were indeed discussing working on a project together over Twitter.

Feldmann said last month that replacing Delonge would be like “replacing Paul McCartney or John Lennon in The Beatles.”

The situation surrounding Blink’s new line-up is messy at best, with Hoppus and Barker having a very aggressive and public blow-out with long-time pal Delonge via a series of online articles.

Barker lashed out at Delonge for wanting the band to sound too much like Coldplay and U2, but is he really in any position to be making that call when he arguably ruined the best song on the band’s last EP, Pretty Girl, with an unnecessary cameo from rapper Yelawolf? Plus the demos that Delonge suddenly released under his own name shortly after the blow-out have some classic Blink vibes going on that prove otherwise.

There’s nothing overly ground-breaking about Golden Showers In The Golden State, which was obviously intended for the band (like other demos from his solo album), but it’s got Blink written all over it – from the title to guitar riffs to vocal melodies – it’s the most Blink thing any of them have written since the self-titled album.

Skiba’s a good frontman, as is Hoppus, but will their onstage banter really stack up against that of Hoppus and Delonge? While it’s odd for men in the late 30s to be making fart jokes in front of thousands of people night after night, it’s part of what people came to love about them during their rise to fame. As a fan who saw them in the US on their reunion tour in 2009, that was definitely a highlight of the show – immature, lame jokes.

It’s also quite easy to put Bored To Death up against one of Angels & Airwaves’ latest single, Voyager, and come to the conclusion that not only is the AVA material better, but more Blinkish.

A lot of the things I’m saying would probably still hold true to the single even if Delonge was still in the band, as they haven’t really produced anything even remotely as stunning as the self-titled record since its release.

While their reunion in 2009 was exciting for fans, this second blow-out and a number of average tunes along the way makes me think – as someone who has been a passionate fan for the better part of 15 years – that maybe they shouldn’t have gotten back together after they first broke up, which would have left them with an amazing legacy.

Blink-182 with Matt Skiba look and sound happier than ever, and that positive energy does come through on the new single. From all indications, the other 15 songs on the album do have the promise of better things to come. That’s right, there are 16 songs on there! So they must have decent chemistry to be able to produce new songs after writing and scrapping a whole album prior to that.

And various sources who have heard the whole album are already attesting to the fact that Bored To Death is not the strongest song on the record.

One fan with too much time on his hands may have given us a glimpse of to expect from the rest of their new album,California, which drops July 1, piecing together studio clips from social media. The Skiba vocal alone show that they’re utilising his powerful voice more throughout.

After listening to Bored To Death for the 20th time, it grew on me a lot. Probably more so after accepting it for it really is: not a Blink-182 song, but just a great pop punk song from an exciting supergroup.

http://themusic.com.au/news/all/2016/04/29/something-isnt-quite-right-with-the-new-blink-182-single/

Show Review: Akmal Saleh 22.04.16

Published on theMusic.com.au, Apr 2016

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Akmal

His Majesty’s Theatre

Apr 22

Akmal Saleh is “not a celebrity”, he’s an artist – or at least that’s what he told the producers of a certain Channel 10 show he was assigned to earlier this year.

Saleh’s stint on the program was the perfect base for a set that largely broke down and analysed the saddest culture of 2016, picking apart the idiosyncrasies of mainstream media.

But, despite engaging material, it felt as though his material was stretched too thin at times in an effort to fill his quota of an hour, which resulted in inconsistent flow and joke setups trailing off on tangents that weakened the punchline or didn’t get there at all.

That’s not to discredit the show’s high points by any means, as a seemingly improvised and timely 60 Minutes joke and cleverly crude jabs at organised religion and his upbringing, among decent crowd interaction in the final quarter of the set made for an entertaining evening.

http://themusic.com.au/comedy/reviews/2016/04/26/akmal-saleh-his-majestys-theatre-daniel-cribb/

theMusic.com.au: EXCLUSIVE: Your First Look Inside WA’s Badlands Bar

Published on theMusic.com.au, Apr 2016

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Pic by Karen Lowe

After a secret show/announce party amidst renovations last month, all systems are go for the great unveil of revamped Perth live music venue Badlands Bar tonight.

Punters first got a taste of the upgraded Devilles Pad in March, when Calexico played a surprise headline gig, and after a month of tireless efforts working on the space, upgrading the sound system and more, the new hangout and live music venue will host an industry launch party tonight with a slew of local headline acts including Hideous Sun Demon, Mt Mountain and more in support.

“We’re trialling a new small band room in the old foyer, for a place where young bands can cut their teeth,” owner-operator Mark Partridge told theMusic.com.au.

“Based on the success of this tonight, we’re hoping it will become a permanent fixture. “

They’ve largely done away with the hellish themes of Devilles to avoid being a “square box” type venue, with master of vibe Josh Collins leading the charge on redesigning the layout of caves, nooks and crannies throughout.

“We’re also keen to break away from the old concept of being a cocktail bar or restaurant where you had to dress a certain way or be over 25.  This is just a cool place to hang out and listen to great music. Respect. Rock. Roll,” Partridge added.

As well as taking their name from a picturesque National Park in South Dakota that’s known for its rocky outcrops – a similar aesthetic to the venue’s redesign – Badlands is also synonymous with music, most notably the ‘80s band, Bruce Springsteen’s hit and more recently Halsey’s new album.

“Badlands is all about the rock’n’roll. This place was built for live music, all we’ve done is tweaked the format to improve the experience for both bands and punters alike. Bigger stage, better facilities to enable us to cater for touring acts, faster/cheaper bar service and a kick arse PA system.”

Although the Perth live music scene has taken a number of blows in recent years with multiple venue closures – including punter favourites The BakeryYa Ya’s, and, of course, Devilles – Partridge believes things are starting to turn around.

“The people of Perth have been crying out about the lack of venues of this type. There’s been a revival of late with the addition of Jack Rabbit Slims and ourselves, but in general big venues are getting harder and harder to run as people flock to the small bar scene.

“Perth is punching well and truly above it’s weight division at the moment on the world stage with our home grown talent, so we’re confident that the people of Perth will support us in supporting local music. Assistance from bodies like WAM to date have been outstanding for us, so everyone’s driven to make it work.”

After tonight’s industry launch party (limited tickets still available to the public here), Badlands Bar will launch publicly in the coming months, opening every Friday and Saturday night with after gig parties until late, accommodating both local and touring acts.

“After the Karnivool shows we will be closed for around six weeks to finish renovations to the beer garden to upgrade facilities their too and make it a more comfortable place to hang out all year around.”

Karnivool have four consecutive nights booked at the venue for the end of the month, the info of which – as well as other show announcements – you can find in theGuide.

More images can be found here: http://themusic.com.au/news/all/2016/04/22/exclusive-your-first-look-inside-was-badlands-bar/