Saturday, 19 April 2014

Restless Years Compilation

A free 32-track celebration of proudly independent bands and artists from around Australia.

When I started putting this blog together, sorting out artwork and typing up the first few pages, I pretty much had this compilation on repeat, so I thought it only fair and just that this was the first bit of music that I reviewed.
Restless Years is a label based in Australia, and this compilation is a collection of 32 underground/independent artists playing various styles, the majority of which are tied, albeit sometimes loosely, to the punk rock genre. Did I mention this compilation is free? Because that’s probably the first thing I should’ve said: it’s already more attractive to you now, isn’t it? Yes, just head on over to the Restless Years page on Bandcamp and you can download this little gem at absolutely zero cost, and increase the amount of Australian music on your mp3 player, itunes collection or whatever else by a big old bunch. I know a lot of people like a ‘physical’ release, something they can hold, rather than a load of ‘zeros & ones’ that don't actually really exist, but its free, innit? And if you’re that bothered, you can always burn it to a CD, print out the cover and slide it into your collection. It even comes with a PDF booklet, full of info about each band, which again, you can print off and hold in your sweaty little hands while you listen to the music...
So the bands, all 32 of them, I oughta mention them really... I’ll try not to compare bands to other bands, or try to pigeon hole their genres, we all listen to music with our hearts, and hear different things, so I’ll just say a little bit about each artist, hopefully just enough to give my feelings, and whet your whistle that little bit more, enough to tempt you to download the album (if you’re not doing that already). Also bare in mind, 32 bands, a lot of which play similar styles can get a bit hard to describe differently, but I’ll do my best, and not get too bogged down with a single band. The compilation kicks things off with a lot of punk rock bands, all having an almost similar style, but bringing a slight flavour of their own (as you’d expect). First up is The Sinking Teeth, who have a sound that blends melodic punk, shouty bits and great vocal harmonies so very superbly, and starts the compilation brilliantly, and is a great taste of what’s to come. Ride The Tiger follow with a similar style of music, but the accents sound so much more Australian, which is pretty unique (or it is at least over here, back in Australia it’ll be the same old same old), and has a great hook calling out the ‘faceless cowards and racists’ for the bunch of idiots they are. Next up are The Bennies, who have a more fun feel to them, very reminiscent of the old Nofx/Epitaph days, slightly rougher round the edges, a great song, and the chorus of ‘Im gonna ride my bike, where ever I fucking like’ will have you bursting to jump on your bmx and ride around in the sunshine. Japan For have a much more complex sound, tighter, with excellent breakdowns, bursting with energy and emotion, and has a totally rad gang chorus at the end, it just seems to be one of those songs that you don’t want to end. Straight after hearing this song, I went and found more of their stuff to download (which is pretty easy with the accompanying booklet that provides links to the artists other material). Damn Hearts and Angry Seas are up next, and both bands have a harder sound than the previous. More screamy, hardcore influenced, but still with plenty of tunes and melody behind them, they would go down a treat with the ‘Leeds scene sound’. Clowns follow, with a more Hives-influenced rock’n’roll sound, but still very hardcore influenced, angry and full of swear words, just how punk rock should be. Foxtrot almost have a bit of a ska edge to them, not that goofy ska pop punk, but just enough of a hint of it to add a bit extra to their great catchy, rough punk rock sound. Next up are Take Your Own, one of my favourite modern hardcore punk bands, they mix very technical guitar work, solid song writing and and uncompromisable energy and anger that just makes them stand out head and shoulders above so many modern hardcore bands. Army Of Champions have a much more stripped down sound, rough around the edges, but very melodic where it needs to be.  
 Harbourer, Initials and Speech Patterns follow, all three of these bands play well structured melodic hardcore punk, with shouty and sing-a-long bits. Stockades have more complex breakdowns, changes, and melodies than the previous 3 bands, with powerful, emotional vocals entwined, and even a bluesy sax towards the end. Next up is Summer Policy, with a more poppy melodic sound mixed with their brand of melodic punk. Del Lago have a more fun sound to them, still rough round the edges where it needs to be, but less intense than a lot of the previous bands. The Union Pacific lace their melodic punk rock track with plenty of ‘woah-ohs’, which you’ll soon find yourself singing along to. Hug Therapist have an almost Husker Du sound going on, which I’m sure will please a lot of people. The Hard Aches have provide more sing-a-long punk, a little more easy going and melodic than a lot of the bands on here. Next up are the great named Ted Danson With Wolves, who play a more emotional, slower punk rock, not really my cup of tea, but it breaks up the compilation nicely, and is a bit of a breath of fresh air. Oslow follow, a melodic post-hardcore sound, again, not really my thing, but it’s sure to work for some people. Summer Blood pick things up a bit more, still clinging to the emo/post-hardcore sound, but more energetic than the previous couple of bands. Next up are SecondHand Squad, who have a more straight forward, catchy punk rock sound, with hints of pop/skate punk, but still powerful and melodic in the right places, laced with sing-a-long bits. The Alamo have a more country sound to them, still very punk rock, a bit like Social Distortion in places, which is a very welcome change of pace. Shadow League strip it all back even further, more country influenced punk, with a bit of a folk tint to it. Slowing things right down are Adeline Pines, who provide a bluesy country style, the kind of music to drown in whiskey and tears to. The banjo driven Pinch Hitter continue the country theme, with a lovely little tune about being sick of working, or at least that's what I got from it. Next is the totally amazing Lucy Wilson, with (in my eyes at least) the stand out track of the compilation. She has such an amazing voice, your soul will just melt, and her acoustic love song is so perfectly written I could happily listen to nothing else but her for the rest of my life. I just love it so much, I can’t really express in words how rad it is. I’m almost crying typing that. The final four artists continue the acoustic theme, with a more alt-country/folk tinge, like Frank Turner, but better. Ben David, Nathan Seeckts, Tim Hampshire and finally Brad Vincent are all great song writers, with plenty of emotion, and bring the energy of the initial punk rock laced compilation to a nice chilled out close.
In short, this is a great introduction to some of the punk and underground sounds coming out of Australia. I’m sure a lot of folk reading this have no idea what’s going on in the Australian scene, and this really is a good a place as any to start. Well worth checking out, you may find a lot of bands blend into each other and sound similar, but if you enjoy their styles then that's not really going to be a problem. If you’re at all a fan of punk rock, I’m sure you’ll find a bunch of bands on here that you’ll just need to search for more stuff by, and because each band is given a good chunk of information & history in the PDF booklet, it won’t take you long to find more music by them. And I’m also sure there’ll be bands on here that you just won’t like, but that’s ok - we all have different tastes, and hell, it’s free, so stop your whining...

Restless Years Compilation:



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