Category Archives: the griswolds

The Very Best Of 2014

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It’s almost the last day of the working year at my day to day; and as you can imagine, as things wind down, cranking out some decent tunes in the office becomes a big part of the vibe leading up to Christmas. Looking through the 2014 playlists, it’s very clear that this year has been one of the best years in a long while for music, in particular Australian music. We’ve had some sure-to-be historic debuts, some impressive first time interstate players, and the expectations put on many emerging artists for their scheduled releases this year shattered with an unprecedented amount of consistently high quality records.

Now, this is down to pure personal taste, and if you would also like to input, you can either email suggestions next year or start up your own blog. But I’d like to take a silent minute to just respect the year that’s been, and deliberate on the very best of the year that was 2014.

Acoustic Cover of the Year: Bad Suns (Calif.) – Cardiac Arrest

Among the slew of emerging artists this year, Bad Suns stood out for their unreal ability to craft a pure pop song with all that raw rock vibe imbued inside of it. Cardiac Arrest was perhaps the best example of this, the single off their debut Language & Perspective, because of the sinister lead guitar hooks and impressively spot-on vocals. That was made entirely clear when they played it acoustic, knocking it out of the park vocally, while the band plays nice and tight.

Live Show of the Year: The Griswolds @ The Metro, October

Sydney was treated to some sweet as live acts passing through this year. Among the slew was St. Lucia, CHVRCHES, Kishi Bashi, Circa Waves, Bombay Bicycle Club and a huge amount of increasingly noteworthy locals. But by far the most incredibly performance was when Sydney natives The Griswolds returned home from their huge touring schedule in the US in October for one of the best live performances I’ve seen yet. Their latest single If You Wanna Stay absolutely brought the house down.

Emerging Artist of the Year: Coach Bombay (Melb.)

When I say “emerging” artist, you might not think Melbourne’s Coach Bombay fits the profile. They’ve been around for quite a while. But it’s surprising to note that this year in September was the first time they ever played live outside of the state of Victoria. We interviewed the man and reviewed his Sydney performance at the time and you wouldn’t believe they only started touring as a live act in the last year or so. They were so tight, so huge, dancey but humble. His unique brand of happy times electro-pop deserves a tip of the cap and we hope to see them doing big things in 2015.

Australian Artists of the Year: Northeast Party House (Melb.)

2014 was a really awesome year for a lot of Australian bands. I’ve followed Northeast Party House closely for over two years now and anticipated their debut Any Given Weekend for a long time. Well this year it was released in line with a stretch of hectic tours up the east coast of Australia. The album and their shows were true to the consistently and beautifully shambolic nature of the boys themselves, solidifying their spot in my party playlists for years to come.

International Artist of the Year: Ghost Beach (New York)

Ghost Beach have been busy little Brooklynites this year, with the launch of their record label “Crazy Heart Records” and the debut release from their signing PROM. Alongside this, they used billboard space in Times Square to open a discussion on music privacy. In between all this, they released in Australia their kick ass album BLONDE complete with some of the most original songwriting I’ve heard in a long time together with killer iconic vocals. Ghost Beach were easily the band that made the most profound impact of 2014 to anyone that was into them.

EP of the Year: Great Good Fine OK (New York) – Body Diamond

Great Good Fine OK got their break through the blog-o-sphere with one of our favourites, “The Wild Honey Pie”, who further pushed them in 2014. The release of further singles after last years You’re The One For Me, got me ridiculously excited for the EP, and they delivered with epics like By My Side and Not Coming Home. In an EP there is little room for mistakes, and this one was as flawless as they come.

Single of the Year: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (Detroit) – Run

I’ll be honest, I didn’t take quite as much notice of this song when I first heard it, and although I deeply regret it at least I came around and that’s the main thing. Joke was on me, because Run is a stellar single, released in January of this year from the 2013 album The Speed Of Things, it involves a very unique style of songwriting and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. in the best form they can be. When their mellow, wacky lyrics join hands with their strangely elusive yet fun electro-pop style, amazing things happen.

Album of the Year: RAC (Portland) – Strangers

Anyone who reads this blog knows I froth over RAC. So it’s no surprise that his debut full length of originals brought me to my knees this year. Strangers was a collaboration with many of my favourite vocalists, Speak, Tokyo Police Club, Kele, St Lucia and Alex Ebert to name a few. But it was those I had never heard of that really broke the roof of this album. Tracks like Ello Ello (Ft. Body Language) and Cheap Sunglasses (Feat. Matthew Koma) made this an album that I will never forget, and will most likely still be pumping on some futuristic sound device 40 years from now.

Merry Christmas and look forward for more tunes in 2015!

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LIVE REVIEW: The Griswolds, Castlecomer & Sea Legs @ The Metro (11.10.14)

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This post first appeared on The AU Review

The Griswolds are home. These words seemed to be theme of the night as loyal locals packed The Metro on Saturday for the band;s first Sydney show since the release of their debut album Be Impressive. Coming off the back of a mammoth stint around the U.S, in their hometown of Sydney and on lead singer Chris Whitehall’s birthday no less, I’d say there wasn’t a soul in the popular Sydney haunt that could say they weren’t ready to party. As if you needed a band like The Griswolds to give you a reason.

Smooth, luscious pop tunes permeated the start of the night as the show opened with Central Coast rockers Sea Legs. Combining their well known Coastie charm with a slick sense of city living, they blasted through their set with a headliners confidence, showcasing familiar pop drives and sexy, melodramatic breakdowns. Half of this unit used to play with Pepa Knight (of Jinja Safari fame) back in the day, which is just a small hint at their ability to craft brilliant, likeable songs. Although a little more rock ’n roll than Jinja Safari, they lit up the fast building dance floor with the single “Christopher Strong”, catching the eyes of new fans-to-be by the cargo load.

More local pop mayhem ensued with the next act Castlecomer, introducing the set with a pure brand of ethereal, synth laden pop. I wasn’t so familiar with these guys coming into the set, adding to the excitement of discovering such a tight and talented act as they drew and controlled the crowd. Many of their tracks had mixed country vibes peeking through, as vocals bounced deep and falsetto, while speedy guitars struck over the backing of fully formed pop tunes. Their cover of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” fucking ripped the roof off. Onlookers grinded and grooved from start to finish, peaking when two of the band members revealed a horn section breakdown to top it all off. If you need one definitive reason to check out Castlecomer, this it it.

At one point in the night I could have gone home happy with that. The support acts were strong, the beer was cold and the fun times were in strong supply. But The Griswolds have build a reputation on smashing expectations and I should have known tonight of all nights was not going to be the one to break that. Shadows of the four band members glistened on the stage before they opened with the catchy, carousel-like “Right On Track”. Fans immediately got into the spirit, jumping onto the shoulders of others, swaying with the heights of the track and screaming the lyrics back at the band. The album opener, “16 Years” followed, speeding up the tempo of the night with conviction. It’s the kind of song that could earn them rock-god status in retrospect. Between the shattering vocals of frontman Chris Whitehall, a smooth breakdown to bridge the feel and the versatile, perfectly placed percussion of Lachie West, it’s one of the standouts on the album and was replicated with precision on the night.

Old favourites like “The Courtship of Summer Preasley” and “Mississippi” were definite party favourites, showing that The Griswolds popularity is not newly found. They’ve been doing this since the get go. The album’s title track, “Be Impressive” broke up the set nicely, calming it down briefly with child chorus samples and backing up again with a sort of urban tropical bravado tanked with wily lead guitars and cheeky vocal melodies. Alongside all their unique brilliance, the crowd shimmered at the introduction of the recently recorded cover of Vance Joy’s “Riptide”, one that properly rivals the original.

Every set has it’s highlight. You know, that song that sticks with you for ages after. No matter how many drinks down, and in spite of set list favouritism, there’s always that one song that you come back to whenever you think of that night. When I say “If You Wanna Stay” was the highlight of the set, I wouldn’t even be doing it justice. The deep bass tones, tumbling percussion and crispy key drives leaked pure energy on the crowd before it, giving off that odd mix of wild passion and no-fucks-given that The Griswolds seriously nail every time.

The lead single, “Beware The Dog” closed the set as predicted, showcasing tropical sways and stop/start meatiness in spades. If you’ve listened to this single before, there’s really no description needed to understand why they’re getting so much hype behind them all over the states at the moment. Teaming up with the crowd, they yelled the lyrics “Now you’re fucking crazy”, like they really meant it. The crowd was absolutely elated and out of control, like they didn’t know what fun was before that song started. They walked off for a brief moment only to peek back out with “Down & Out” and “Heart Of A Lion” to wrap things up in turbo party-mode. It was a well placed track, climaxing perfectly as several band members participated in a booming percussion solo to solidify the true end of the set.

Sadly, the night had to end at some point, and Chris Whitehall had some serious birthday celebrations to carry on to. But the crowd surely gave him and the rest of the crew something to remember. They’ll be scoping the globe in support of Be Impressive, playing to bigger crowds by the minute. When a band of this quality packs a gigantic score of Sydney locals into The Metro for an occasion like this, one thing’s for sure: there’s no place like home.

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Issue Seven

I think I waited a week overdue to drop this next issue on you. My deepest apologies, but after last issue I thought I left you with enough awesome stuff to last the extra week. I myself was stuck for content after dropping pretty much every awesome thing to come out this month. But never fear, this past week has enlightened me and made me aware of several awesome new tracks to hit Australia. There are a few obvious ones in there from very well known bands but man are they great tunes. This week we’re going pretty rocky in parts and retro-ish in others. It’s good to chance things up every now and then.


10. Funeral Suits – All Those Friendly People

Funeral Suits are the perfect start to this beautiful month of Movember. A touch of gentlemen’s class in the name and sound alike and wonderfully cruisy at the same time. This song particularly is just an easy tune to listen to on days like the last few have been. There’s something nostalgic about it as well. I don’t know whether it’s the actual song and the band name with “Funeral” in it that psychologically connects me to remembrance but whatever the reason, it does the trick.

9. Sea Wolf – Old Friend

This is another one of those awesome nostalgic acoustic tunes. It’s just been one of those months. Sea Wolf has a very rustic old school acoustic vibes about them, something that reminds me of Travis’ first album “The Man Who” which was an absolute classic for me and my dad back in the 90’s. I don’t know much else about this act but I’ll just leave you to get lost in the song.
8. Glowbug – New Vinyl

I absolutely love this song. Something straight out of the 80’s. Glowbug is a favourite of mine as I mentioned I believe in the first issue not only because his songs are consistently catchy but also because the album’s he makes are completely free on glowbug.bandcamp.com! Daniel Anderson, the man behind the bug, is an electronic dream maker, with his crafty use of reverb on pretty much every single lyric and melody he writes, he somehow creates one of the best albums of year in Suit of Swords. So check it out!
7. Fast Romantics – Last Night

Continuing on with our theme of straight up semi-rock. Their bio is a line from an article written by one Clark Kent that quite-fittingly paints the Fast Romantics portrait. He says “picture Elvis Costello being gang-beaten by Arcade Fire, and you’re halfway to explaining the sound of the fast romantics”…need I elaborate?
6. Wildcat! Wildcat! – The Chief

This was also the name of my old Chilean room mates Jeep from when I lived in Canada…soo uh…bit of trivia there for you. But it’s safe to say I was drawn to this for an appearance in a Whamtam Ten issue. Not only because of the connection to my old room mate, but also because Wildcat! Wildcat! have been so awesome since they popped up seemingly from nowhere. They’ve somehow managed to keep a lid on any proper release, only putting forward three epic singles so far and creating a lot of excitement. It’s kind of like when a night club will make people line up forever even when it’s super early in the night to just raise the keen-o-bar and make it way more super when you finally get in all at the same time. But yes, the chief, great track.
5. The Griswolds – The Courtship of Summer Preasley

I personally found out about these guys the other week and straight away went and bought the EP. Every song has its own tinge of greatness and it superb in their own right but this particular track off the album caught me. It sounds a little bit like Vampire Weekend but in saying that I’m picky about Vampire Weekend. More specifically, it’s all the good parts of Vampire Weekend, mixed with some class warfare style passion and a perfect amount of pop…and God dammit I can’t source out the actual track so I’ll have to leave you with their single off the EP Heart Of A Lion. I know, I know, false advertising. But I implore you, go out and buy the EP and check out the tune. You won’t regret.
4. Gypsy & The Cat – Bloom

Three of the top four songs this week I heard within the space of about 20 minutes on the Triple J rotation. i have to say, thank god for this track. I loved Gypsy & The Cat’s first album and was so unbelievably disappointed about the first single of the new album The Late Blue. I shazammed (oh yeah) this track as it played on the radio the other day and was relieved to see that the rest of the album isn’t complete shit. But this song is not just a saviour from bullshit. It’s wicked in its own right.
3. Urban Cone – We Should Go To France

There’s something about the Swedish bands I like. For some reason I keep thinking they sound like someone else. The Royal Concept, who I’ve posted about a few times, sound incredibly similar to Phoenix. Now these guys, also from Sweden, similarly channel an artist by the name of Miike Snow. Not so much in this particular song than with others, but their vibe is quite similar. But whatever, they’re freaking sweet and just released a new album a couple of days ago titled Our Youth which is available at the moment on iTunes. I think this is going to be one of the first singles. I love it.
2. The Presets – Promises

There is no way that I’m claiming The Presets to be undiscovered. Of course EVERYONE has heard and loves them. All I’m declaring in this here blog post is that this new single that is being spun to bits on the Triple J desk is glorious. It’s a bit less club struck than a lot of their other stuff; filtered down with pop and…I don’t know…actual vocal melodies they can be proud of. I’m not the hugest fan ever of the entire collection, but this song has won me over.
1. Clubfeet – Heartbreak (feat. Chela)

Speaking of this weeks retro-fit issue. Clubfeet seemingly popped out of nowhere onto the Triple J hitlist. I heard this song a bunch of times at work and missed the name but was clamming to figure out just what it was! It’s one of the finest collaborations of everything that is good about going retro and Chela absolutely makes this song. I’ve had it on repeat for a looong time now and hopefully after you see it in this weeks number one slot, you will too.
There it is guys. Sorry about the tardiness, but you can’t rush art. By the way, it is the most glorious month of the year, that’s right, Movember and as always I’ll be killing it with a super sweet stash. Might even chuck a few off topic posts onto this here bloggy blog to keep you in tune with the progress. Trust me, it will be worth a peek.

Issue Six

You know those times when you just play and play a song until it gets tired? For those first couple of days or weeks it’s the most amazing thing ever and you think it’s going to be one of those tunes that follows you into adulthood. Tracks that your kids will grow up with as they tell all their friends that their “cool dad” used to be cool back in the naughties and listen to cool music cause he was cool. But after a week or month you look back and can’t bear to hear it even once more. A year later you don’t know why you liked it in the first place.

 Ok so we’ve made our way through five issues now and so far, looking back, I’m still extremely pleased with the selection of tracks in the top tens. There’s been some wicked stuff released so far this year but none of those previous calls of musical genius compares to this weeks top ten. This week’s top ten is not completely new releases but I guarantee the top five at least is unbelievable.

In the last week there has been (as declared in the previous issue) an abundance of glorious, time-lasting hits released by some of my favourite bands in the past year. This has, without a doubt, been the most exciting week for releases in 2012. So close the blinds, wedge a chair under the door and get ready to be pleasured…musically that is.

10. Strange Talk – Cast Away

I’ve been waiting for this single ever since I bought their debut self-titled EP. I put Strange Talk in at about number 5 or 6 last week for one of those previous tracks and since then realised they’ve released this saucy number. To be honest, I was a bit let down. I know that’s a bad start to the top ten with a personal let down, but they’re a good band who deserves a chance and I can’t deny I haven’t played it a few times. I just can’t get over the really cheesy chorus and lyrics that’s a little step away from their catchy indie-synth pop thing that was really edgy and cool and more towards just bubble gum pop. The song isn’t bubblegum pop…just the lyrics and chorus melody…the rest is…alright this song is just confusing, figure it out yourselves.

 
 
9. Mansions On The Moon – Radio
 
So once again we have a new BIRP! playlist and once again it has matched the poor standards of last months. After an amazing July playlist I’ve been quite dissappointed with the last two and the quality in this one is few and far between. One of the highlights though is Mansions On The Moon. A band I don’t know much about but they have an EP out on bandcamp and that this song is mighty cool. For some reason BIRP loves songs that sound like the singer took a giant breath in and just sung the whole song, whispering whilst breathing out; and this is one of the only times I’ve enjoyed such a technique.
 

 
 
8. CHVRCHES – The Mother We Share
 
Another BIRP! endorsed number. I decided to put them all up the back end just because there’s so much amazing stuff this week that deserves to be number one let alone the top five. This song is a bit girly and sort of poppy/synthy but I like it. It’s a good one to bop along to, kind of edgy in the bits where it goes super digital but the vocals keep it catchy enough to get stuck in your head. Simply put, just a really enjoyable song.
 

 
 
7. Blackbird Blackbird – All
 
I stumbled upon Blackbird Blackbird on YouTube through random recommendations and this song caught me up in the best way. It’s pretty straightforward. One of those digital tracks that finds a good beat and melody and just sticks with it. If you listen to this and get bored or something (not that it would do that to you) I emplore you to stick around till 2:56 when shit gets real!
 

 
 
6. The Griswolds – Mississippi
 
Oh, wow. The Griswolds. What can I say. Here’s where the issue gets wicked awesome. This is hardly one of those new releases I told you about. But I just found out about them, and how bloody unreal are they! This isn’t their single but I think it’s the easiest listening going around. They’re starting a tour this month next week. I got tickets and I highly recommend buying some, I heard they’re awesome live. It’s just fun music at its absolute best.
 

 
 
5. Hungry Kids Of Hungary – Sharp Shooter
 
Ok, now we’re getting into the new releases. This is only just in the recent Triple J Hit List and it’s no wonder why. It’s easy, catchy and of course rocky. Hungry Kids Of Hungary have always had that trademark indie, rocky, “kids hanging out, drinking beer, having fun playing music” aura about them and this song (and video) confirms it. Awesome band, Awesome song. They are also touring Australia in November, tickets are only like $20! Get on it.
 

 
 
4. Everything Everything – Cough Cough
 
Maaaaaan, these guys are wonderfully wierd with their style of british indie rock. It is the most original sound I’ve heard in ages. Takes a bit of getting used to but you can easily appreciate how talented these guys are when you see them recreate it live. I just don’t know how someone would go about writing a song like this. I’m so glad they’re out there doing it for us otherwise I don’t know what kind of hell we’d be living in. I just ask you to give it a chance and you’ll crumble.
 

 
 
3. Northeast Party House – Stand Tall
 
These guys were number one last week but their new single “Stand Tall” was released last Friday and it’s genius. I was at the gig in Newcastle on the night to see them live and they are even better live. Didn’t know what to expect in terms of crowd but it turned out to be a intimate affair with about 20-30 people (most of whom were most probably the other bands and their girlfriends). As much as I personally loved this as I got a chance to just sit there in awe as they just absolutely killed it for an hour, they definitely deserve to be playing to packed houses. Watch out for their debut album coming out soon as well as a performance at the Peats Ridge New Years Festival.
 

 
 
2. Little Comets – Bayonne
 
Why this is not number one in my list I have no idea. No I do actually, because this only just came out last night and I’ve smashed the number one song more times in the past two weeks. I’m just alluding to the ethereal and divine nature of this song and album in general that is well above any release I’ve heard so far this year. I’ve been waiting for Little Comets second release for so long and in a weeks time, my patience pays off. The guys chucked the album in its entirety onto YouTube last night for their loyal fans to perouse. I imagine in a few days this will be obsolete on YouTube so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work after a bit. Enjoy it while you can. On October 15th, I beg you. Get the album off iTunes or risk never being happy as you potentially could be.
 

 
 
1. Gold Fields – Dark Again
 
Here it is. The greatest single to be released this year. For anyone who’s followed these guys since their demo days on bandcamp would’ve had to be chomping at the bits to hear this single last Sunday when it was premiered on Triple J. It did not dissappoint in any way. It’s so new that I can’t even get it off YouTube, so it’s going to have to be SoundCloud. I’d heard the track live a few times and actually used it in another blog of mine as it was my favourite track on the night. It’s their digitally fused, dance-rock portrait at its best although it’s insanely catchier than their last couple of singles. It’s been two weeks and I haven’t let a day go by without listening to this naughty number. It’s downloadable for free at their bandcamp for I’m assuming a limited time.  Get onto it!!
 






So that’s it. I think it’s safe to say that I’m VERY happy with this selection. I’m kinda worried I’ll be listening to the exact same tunes in two weeks time with no Issue Seven. Oh well. The Whamtam Ten has almost hit 300 pageviews in only Six Issues. Pretty stoked about that. Remember to join via Twitter on right hand panel. No notifications, emails or commitments or anything; I’m just trying to eventually build up a really lame cult that has no beliefs and only exists in this blog that will hopefully get me tax exempt status or a spot on the front page of some obscure paper somewhere.