Reviews

Bryony Beynon

Oily Boys Cro Memory Grin LP

Some bands are bands. Others, due to chance, perseverance or sheer necessity, are something else. Maybe the band rejects “productivity” in terms of gigs, recordings or even anything approaching a consistent sound, and marches headlong into building a mythos instead. Maybe, in doing so, they become this shared vehicle for the struggles, pain, growth, life and fucked up times of the people in and around them. In hardcore, you can get impatient or cynical with this approach when you see it, or you can get on board with it and let it carry you away. OILY BOYS, you see, is more of a gang affiliation than a band; obtuse, nonsensical and ultimately overpowering. It’s unfortunate, yet likely, that the name will mean little to anyone outside of Australia, not dissimilar to that of LOWLIFE, a group with which they share members, the city of Sydney and a similar level of cult dedication. Calling any album “long-awaited” is a tired trope, rarely true, but the promised delivery of Cro Memory Grin has been a mysterious future threat hanging over pretty well the entire existence of the band. This LP has transcended the status of meme and become real only after adherents have come to learn by heart almost every song on it through live rendition. This gives it a cheeky whiff that’s equal parts “late birthday gift from Absent Father” and “The second coming of Jesus Christ.” It also immediately transports you to a gig. OILY BOYS live is always a special type of orchestrated humiliation for someone, occasionally even the band themselves. You know what it is you seek. Haggard surfers brutalised for pit infractions. Someone’s huffing spray paint. Caught in a dissociative mosh. A lot of drugs. A bit of damage. I was scared but only the first time. Live and on record are two contexts which are sonically an almost circular Venn diagram here, no small achievement and it’s a Micky Grossman joint so naturally it sounds larger than the known universe. “Lizard Scheme” sounds like four people dragging themselves through what they were promised was just a trial shift at the mechanical abattoir. What is life, if not the repeated process of biting off much, much more than we can chew? What elevates OILY BOYS way beyond basic bitch bad boy bravado is that this is a group seemingly invested in the denial of shame at any cost. It figures that the whole record is awash with proud declarations of personal brokenness, steeped in masc inversions that don’t let you assume, daring you to test for exaggeration, lying in wait for an opportunity to self-disclose. Personal misery worn like a badge, without pose, freed up from the trauma in the very telling of it. For a minute, there. “Heat Harmony” is their hit, awash with squall, a rare moment where you can still almost make out a moshable beat from the wreckage. “Stick Him,” the pre-flip long one, is the frontal lobotomy you’ve booked for three weeks in the future. You know you’ve gotta go. It is my deepest pleasure to announce that the song on this record titled “GTrance” is the one that sounds the most like the ’MAGS. Back alley with a bad pinger or three. “I can’t get away, maybe I don’t want to,” it climaxes in an abject summation of stuck lives no one asked to live on hot stolen land at the end of the earth. What, on that basis, does it look like to submit to the worst? To hope that the dark night of the soul never ends, so we can all stay exactly this high and exactly this sad at the terminal stuck groove of an afters? OILY BOYS plough on with the sacred knowledge that, with enough lubrication, we might all just slide on out through the other side. Glistening.

Osbo Demo cassette

An intriguing taped rendition of hardcore à la The Sydney Method, a particularly baleful approach to the sound which eschews chest-beating for hair-grabbing or just lobbing a beer bottle through a flock of Ibis. Members are commandeered from all corners: post-punk pontificators like TIM AND THE BOYS and the bad-tempered moshers of ILL BRIGADE. This is testament to the freeflow inspo approach that’s pleasingly particular to that city. OBSO brings it on deranged and loose, ritalin tremors regulating a credible urge to snap. There’s hateful intensity in this jagged guitar sound that keeps things panicky. Rattling cymbals pitch across open planes of loose menace, barely holding back until the final track where any overtures to good manners are wholesale abandoned in favour of a good old therapeutic roll-around-on-the-floor in the demilitarized zone between NO TREND and COLD SWEAT. More please.

Concrete Lawn Aggregate LP

The plan is in place. Full destruction, full rejection. CONCRETE LAWN are the children of the “I wasn’t even alive back then why should I care?” generation, ready to invert that fucked logic til the blood rushes to your head, figuring out the cogs and wires not too far beneath the surface, jamming them up with piss, snot, vinegar, all in real time. No shit they don’t like it. This is far from a one-note group: Once I watched them murder (in a good way) a TALKING HEADS cover while an old man got me in a headlock and tried to kiss my neck. Maddison recently finished high school and was, I believe, sixteen when this group began. In fact none of them have burnt up much of their early twenties yet, but to be sure none of that shit matters and they certainly do not care for your creepy overtures either. Not going graciously. With furious posture and cavernous echo, this LP is a wicked, expansive progression from their quick ’n’ dirty demo. New young boots on that timeworn twist we know from the best of LA’s Dangerhouse groups they’ve been compared to already, lurching violently towards the gothic without any of the histrionics, from a GERMS-y buzz to screeching nighttime howls. There’s scheming outrage at Australia-as-a-façade, of course, railing against the climbing death toll of a colony gone forever berserk. Look, if we have to go with “snotty” here, like everyone else, then OK, sure, but only because snot is highly concentrated, a little bit naughty, gross but delicious. Put this on your tongue when everybody is looking.

Parsnip Adding Up EP

Ah, for some levity! These are sunshine people and the garden gourds are growing. I know that a PARSNIP is not a gourd, but bands like this do not grow alone! This great pop group has flourished since 2016 amongst the mulchy multi-member goodness of other Melbourne groups like BANANAGUN and SCHOOL DAMAGE and wow yes, significant others. Deep roots in acid-laced soil aided by budget fertiliser, their cutest single yet does further deep dipping into a psychy landscape that we already got a sample of on their last LP. Their reworking of “Treacle Toffee World” by FIRE is especially resplendent. PARSNIP’s cheery bounce doesn’t jar in this seemingly endless crisis time because it feels grounded, smiling but still ready to call out the “Crossword Cheater,” because what’s the point if you can’t play fair? Like the friend that really gets it, but still invites you to ride a brighter wave.

C.H.E.W. In Due Time EP

You’re flung backwards down some stairs into another room, sprung into the middle of a pit. You come to, thinking maybe four bands are playing at once but it’s all C.H.E.W, there’s just an extra frequency in there that pops up like an intrusive thought, real wacko sound only the baddest saliva animals can creepy crawl to. Doris’s nasal recriminations give way to a full sputtering throat and suddenly there are duelling riffs in five dimensions. A fastidiously choreographed meltdown executed with a similar deranged flair to IMPALERS, but way more petulant. Fuck!!! There’s an extra sub woof-woof-woof of vicious stomp. A song named for a disease you can only get from eating cat shit. Hot feedback. Is that a mosh part played backwards? You can’t feel your head. C.H.E.W have taken the hardcore palette and gone full Abstract Expressionist with it. There’s echoes of that GELD LP from last year, which makes sense because thinking about it Iron Lung put that out too. Exactly the type of factoid some punisher will whisper in your ear as you’re squeezing out the juice from these insane fractal solos. Maybe I am the punisher. Now my sweat is in your eyes and you forgot to shield your kidneys from the mass of feet and elbows and now things feel leaky but hey, that’s why you have two. Emboldened, you rip one out as an offering.

Veto What’s Going On LP

VETO hails from Dunkerque, France, and are five years deep into a largely tasteful execution of the thee Rockin’ Fast Hardcore template, which this LP continues. This wouldn’t have been out of place on the No Way Records roster, as overall it’s strong on fills and low on space, save for a few stop-start moments and a curveball couple of moments of quasi-emo yelling which I could have taken or left. You know what you’re getting when a band names a song “Play Fast and Aggressive.” You’ll know if you can handle the occasional peppering of throaty gang vocals or sung vocals or not; all in all sounds like a sweaty good time live if a little on the earnest side.

Whip Don’t Call Me EP

This is strong, belligerent and highly enjoyable. WHIP are four humans from Winnipeg and their single sounds like a contemporary basement might, replete with displeased vocals and scraped-against-concrete guitar. Sounds like the platonic ideal of the band you’d never heard of but played with on your tour and their singer spat in some dickhead’s face mid-set and now everyone’s wearing their shirt. This record eschews anything longer than two minutes in a manner leaving you uncertain as to whether that’s because long songs are a patriarchal construct or just plain they are boring. Porque no los dos? WHIP is cool.