Tag Archives: Total Control

Big Ups: John Dwyer and Matt Jones Pick Their Favorite Castle Face Releases

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Castle Face Records, the California DIY label co-owned by Oh Sees mastermind John Dwyer, Male Gaze frontman Matt Jones, and their friend Brian Lee Hughes, is most commonly associated with the last decade’s wave of psychedelic garage rock. They released the first Ty Segall album, cosigned King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard right before they broke out, dropped a seminal White Fence record, and have released nearly every Oh Sees (sometimes self-referred to as Thee Oh Sees, The Oh Sees, or OCS) album since the label formed in 2006.

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December’s Seven Essential Releases: Post-Punk, Arabic Funk, and More

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Seven Essential releases is our weekly roundup of the best music on Bandcamp. Like a lot of other people, we spent most of December rounding up the Best Albums of 2017, which meant some great releases didn’t get the attention they deserved. In this post, we look back at seven crucial releases that came out last month.

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Album of the Day: Total Control, “Laughing at the System”

There’s a lot of laughing on Laughing at the System, the new 12” from Aussie weird-wave outfit Total Control. It turns up in the title, sure, but it also ripples throughout the record. “Luxury Vacuum” opens with vocalist Dan Stewart sternly declaiming “Laughing, ha, ha, ha/ As the threads come loose,” and on “Her Majesty Budgie,” he’s “Laughing at the meat machine.” For Total Control, laughter isn’t just release—it’s a weapon, a way to reduce the capitalist industrial complex to a punchline.  Continue reading

Album of the Day: Mikey Young, “Your Move Vol. 1”

In focusing on his role as a member of beloved Australian DIY groups like Total Control and Eddy Current Suppression Ring, and his near-ubiquitous production credits in certain punk circles, an essential quality of Mikey Young’s approach gets lost—his ear for pop bliss, including the texture and detail of it, a quality as much a hallmark of DIY confections as it is the summer’s biggest radio bangers. If FIN’s Ice Pix was the sound of the pop machine breaking down, Young’s Your Move Vol. 1 is the sound of modern pop as it reassembles itself.

The “pop” assignation may seem strange for a record that’s entirely wordless, with a 20-minute spacious ambient track called “Enigmatic Cosmic Enforcer” taking up half the LP’s play, but bear with me. Since the ‘70s, pop’s been contending with what it means to not just be electrified but electronic without losing its humanity. Here, Young wrestles with those impulses via analog synthesis. This is particularly evident on “Socks,” where a burbling melody furls playfully around a spare, growing rhythm, accented with glacial chords, and “Cairns,” which has all the rush and movement of water, a sparkling core, and graceful guitar accompaniment. This is pop in its most elemental form; these are pieces that work together to become the simplest, most persistent hooks. On the aforementioned “Enigmatic Cosmic Enforcer,” those hooks are dragged out to their subtlest and most thoughtful (the less rapid the cycle, the more hypnotic), making it easy to fall forward into. It’s natural these days to focus on all the ubiquitous evil humanity can create; Your Move Vol. 1 reminds us that we’re capable of the most primal beauty, too.

—Jes Skolnik

Jensen Ward on Iron Lung: Band, Label, and Worldview

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Illustration from the cover of Iron Lung Mixtape I.

Iron Lung is a band, a label—and, for better or worse—a worldview. The label was founded in 2007 by Jensen Ward and Jon Kortland, the two men who also make up the band, one of the few internationally known non-revivalist and non-reunited powerviolence bands in the world.

“We started [Iron Lung Records] with band money,” Ward recalls. “We toured. We had a couple of bucks left after a trip, and we’d decided to put out a record with it. We figured we’d either be making a huge mistake, or starting something really cool. Or both. I think it landed on both.” This statement is a good reflection of their worldview: sardonic, fatalistic, with enough brash idealism to start a vinyl-centric label well before the vinyl revival. They’d issue records by harsh, confounding bands of varying stripes, based solely on their personal taste. The label doesn’t pay Ward and Kortland’s bills, but it is self-supporting. Clearly, both in stated intent and action, making money was never a concern.

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Album of the Day: Terry, “Terry HQ”

Droll and smart, gleamingly melodic with seemingly little effort, and attuned to post-punk past but not in thrall to it—Terry’s debut delivers on the foursome’s pedigree, which includes Australian groups UV Race, Dick Diver, Total Control, and others. The songs delight in how they dawdle, constructed from playful percussion, melodically entwined voices, and lollygagging leads. Rickety-but-golden pop groups are the key touchstones: think Television Personalities or Lower Plenty. The skeletal arrangements would tempt the tag lazy if they weren’t so artfully restrained.

Entry points include the muddied glam of “Don’t Say Sorry” and the Rough Trade-indebted stomp of “Uncle Greg 1,” but it’s the shambolic and allusive bulk of Terry HQ that demands repeat listening. Initially, these songs bring to mind the ennui that’s lately characterized a lot of underground Australian pop, but they fight against that apolitical trend in a refreshing way. The lyrics, delivered deadpan and resigned, abound with ghastly images of destruction and plague. Arresting contrasts emerge: On “Third War,” the thrum of acoustic guitar settles in like dawn, while the lyrics invoke the “roar of death.” “Hang-men,” the funereal finale, couples cozy quotidian details with jarring references to slaughter.

The album draws upon somewhat dated images of warfare–bombs, knives, and “love letters from the front”—to articulate what seems like a harrowing, perhaps cautionary, vision of the future. To be clear, Terry HQ is not a topical record. Direct connections to global conflict or Australia’s neoliberal regime seem tenuous. But just as the science fiction of yore often ends up prescient, the grim allure of Terry HQ rests in the possibility that it anticipates pervasive loss and sadness, if not particular events, looming on the historical horizon.

—Sam Lefebvre