Posts Tagged ‘School Damage’

School Damage

Oftentimes when a debut hits a particular sound on the head so well, there’s a nervousness approaching the follow up to see if that solid connection can be repeated when the band comes around to taking the next swing. On their debut, Melbourne’s School Damage found the woozy, wobbly ground between art-punk’s nerve-damaged tempos and the spare class of post punk that counted Pylon, Young Marble Giants and The Units as alumni. Jumping into their sophomore LP, they pretty quickly dispel any lingering worries. “Assimilate” starts off strong, but by the time they hit the carnival careen of “Psychick Damage” they’re doing laps around any band that’s attempting to wrangle up and repeat the same strand of influences.

The band’s Jake Robertson and Carolyn Hawkins have a deep bench of wobbly pop favorites in their pockets, which speaks well to the Internet’s ability to let a couple of Aussie’s get their hands on US/UK rarities with relative ease these days. Though access isn’t synthesis by a long shot, and the pair’s ability to pull from the nervy nooks of the ‘70s and addled ends of the ‘80s and kick out consistently brilliant gems is laudable. The pair still tag team the vocals and each singer lends a different shade to the record, with Robertson bringing a slightly tempered version of his cracked glass approach in Ausmuteants and Hawkins channeling a more silken cool that works well with their less is more approach to space and sound.

If anything, the record bests their debut, fanning the spark they scratched last year into a flame. A to X, gleefully explores the post-punk road less traveled. Without the sinewy shades of angst that often infect the genre, the band has time to explore the unease, anxiety and aloof discomfort of the bands that handed them down the sound. That they do it with a creeping catchiness and seemingly rapid ease makes this a record that’s impossible to ignore. If you missed their opening volley last year then catch up quick because School Damage shows no signs of slowing their domination of the itchy underground.



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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 – “Meeting Halfway”

School Damage swing in with their second single off of the upcoming A to X and it solidifies this as one of the top tier releases to get excited for this summer. The track’s a Jake-led ripper charging in high on a swell of keys and backup coos. It’s proof positive that the band has wrapped up post-punk and jangle into the perfect pop package for hot weather hi-jinks. Sweetening the pot is an excellent stop-motion video that’s an aesthetic match for the song’s off-kilter pounce. Much respect to the band’s Carolyn Hawkins for the time-intensive process it must have taken to get this together. If this record isn’t on your list of pre-Fall necessities then rectify that immediately. The LP’s out at the end of August on Chapter Music.

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School Damage – “Assimilate”

In further proof that 2018 will be bad on my wallet, good on my ears, Melbourne’s School Damage have a new album on the way. Their sophomore LP for Chapter Music starts off with “Assimilate,” a slightly less bare bones take on their New Wave / Post-Punk bullseye that usually sees them working the wires of Young Marble Giants, Galaxo Babies and Devo into a nervy pile of art punk. The band still cuts Exacto angles out of pristine pop, tacking their guitar shards to staccato beats and pillowy synths that refuse to sit still. This time ‘round though the band is filling up every corner of the composition, fleshing out the edges with a bigger sound that’s a step removed from their brittle, yet charming debut. In particular Carolyn Hawkins (see also: Parsnip, Chook Race) fills the ‘phones to the brim with her barbed accusations and those synths buzz like a wasp’s nest rendered out of cotton candy. Can’t wait for the rest of this one to come tumbling down the line, but for now “Assimilate” and its equally effervescent collage barrage of a video are sating my need for pop wobble today.



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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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RSTB Best of 2017

So this year is drawing to a close, or almost, we’re still a few weeks away from pushing the broken pieces of 2017 into the trash. There’s no real solace from a lot of the events that took place this year, but, independent of any current events, music has been kind to us all this year. These are the records that spent the most time on the turntable over here. Yeah, I know its kind of a lot, but there were far too many good ones that haven’t been getting the shouts they need elsewhere. Lets say this serves as both a best of and a most overlooked in one go. If you enjoy ’em, buy ’em if you can. Don’t do them the disservice of just bumping up the streaming numbers.

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