Posts Tagged ‘Ausmuteants’

Jake and Carolyn of School Damage on Tommy Jay – Tall Tales of Trauma

Though I’ve been a fan of both Jake Robertson (Ausmuteants, Alien Nosejob) and Carolyn Hawkins’ (Chook Race) individual projects, they’re often at their best when they come together as School Damage. The band embraces a raw, yet catchy form of post-punk that finds a through line from Young Marble Giants to Wire and Television Personalities. The two songwriters balance each other out in their reach for grit vs hook, so with that in mind Jake and Carolyn team up for a joint pick in Hidden Gems. The pair both harbor a love for Tommy Jay’s Tall Tales of Truama, aMidwest lo-fi treasure that’s sure to have eluded most.

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School Damage – “Scump Damage 1”

One of last year’s favorite albums around here came from Aussie upstarts School Damage. Featuring members of Ausmuteants and Chook Race, the band captured a kind of woozy, wobbly pop that drew comparisons to The Vaselines and Young Marble Giants. Their simple, yet potent brand of post-punk was full of charms that only get deeper on their new 7” for Upset The Rhythm. The new single works under the concept of four songs about one cat – which on paper sound like it could get real twee, real fast. However, the band maintains their usual off-kilter sensibility pinning Jake Robertson’s tale of Lumpy (aka Scump) to a headrush synth line and enough jangles to stuff your socks. They continue to be top shelf Aussie exports, and this little taste only makes me want more from the band. The single is out on UTR on May 25th.



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Vintage Crop – “Gerald Part 2”

Feel like I’m leaning hard on Anti-Fade lately, but I’ll be damned if they aren’t kicking out some choice gems from their stable of upcoming cuts for 2018. Vintage Crop, like labelmates Civic, are full of brutal punk slap, but they knot it up with the kind of muscular precision that made Eddy Current Suppression Ring perennial favorites here, and well, everywhere. “Gerald Part 2” sweats it out with the best South-hemi stranglers but veers to the frantically weird, which is always something I’ve found heartening about bands hanging in Ausmuteants’ orbit (the band’s Billy Gardner produces). Gonna want to keep the ears peeled for this one when it hits in April. Maybe stash away some lunch money until then to put this one on the table proper.




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School Damage

Having started strong with the single “Tall Poppies,” Melbourne/Geelong foursome School Damage come even stronger with their first full length for Chapter Music. The album plays well into a type of post-punk that prized catchy swings over a full sound, often feeling ramshackle but giddy in the process. School Damage captures that giddiness bubbling in the pit of the stomach and fashions it into a kind of worming social anxiety come to life through woozy keys and sprinting drums. They find the sweet spot between The Vaselines, Kleenex and, as evidenced by their homage, Aussie footnote The Particles. They capture the austerity, sincerity and don’t give a fuck attitude of those groups and translate it into bubbling pop that’s ’80s in root but frothing with a lyrical sensibility that could only belong to present day. Somehow they make it all coalesce into sweaty charms in a mistmatched print.

There’s a delirious, but fun, edge to their eponymous LP and at its most dizzying it has the effect of riding the tilt-o-whirl on a stomach full of cotton candy. The songs are primarily helmed by Chook Race’s Carolyn Hawkins and as much as she adds to her other home in Chook, she’s clearly found her niche in School Damage. Other vocal duties are headed up by Austmuteants’ Jake Robertson, and I tend to have a hard time divorcing his voice from that group. Though, if Ausmuteants aren’t a heavy fixture in your life then the pair act as nice halves to the quiet cool/geek-rock freakout coin, alternating their turns as the wheel amiably.

Plenty since punk crumbled into even more primitive forms have found success in spare squirming, from Beat Happening and C.O.C.O. to the nervy lo-fi of Bitch Prefect, but there’s something that gives School Damage their own space in the sound. They’re perfectly pinning jangle-pop’s heartfelt bubblegum swing to the anxious bulge of early synth-punk, finding a freedom to explode in both directions at once in any given song. They even find time to slow things down from their Adderall rush to strum out a couple of Vaselines poet-souled ballads. Its a history lesson encapsulated and as a jittery post-punk primer, you couldn’t ask for much more.





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School Damage – “Tall Poppies”

This one brings together members of two RSTB faves, Carolyn Hawkins of Chook Race and Jake Robertson of Ausmuteants. The group is self-admittedly going for a Vaselines meets Young Marble Giants sound, which on paper is an excellent idea that could go very wrong in execution. Thankfully the pair has the chops to pull it off pretty much perfectly. “Tall Poppies” hews closer to the Young Marble Giants side of that axis and they capture the stark, edge of electronic/edge of post-punk feelings with a deadpanned swagger that’s studied and superb. The track bodes well for what’s to come on their upcoming full length. If they can extend the exorcism of indie’s rise out of post-punk’s bones then it promises to be an intriguing entry in not only the Australian underground but also a welcome return to a sound that’s been explored far too seldom.




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Ausmuteants – “New Planet”

A new vid in from Ausmuteants, off of one of RSTB’s favorites from last year, Band of the Future. The band pairs the short, but hectic track with a dose of claymation that brings it all back to an ’80s childhood hangover. The clip is rough and psych stripped, keeping pace with the Aussie band’s sci-fi punk blasts. Doubling down on my recommendation that you pick up a copy of the LP, in case you’ve ignored fair warning in the past. This one just kinda makes the day. Tip it loud, keep it on repeat.



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