Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Scrabbled Sewers Are Virtually Cool

Virtual Cool is a new label out of Brisbane that, whilst staying predominantly cassette based, should really reach a lot of people. Why? Because they are intent on putting out records that would otherwise languish in the tinnitus and vagrant memories of hazy booze and drug fuelled nights, a jigsaw puzzle of a sound never to be fully remembered or repeated. The first two releases are cases in point.

An unheralded amalgam of some of Brisbane's best fringe dwellers (members of Dag, Clag, Gravel Samwidge, Extrafoxx and X Wave litter their numbers, among others), Scrabbled's Welcome To Pig City is revving on narcoleptic fumes of disdain at the state of affairs in the Sunshine State and desperation. Everything is slanted and disenchanted - a dissertation to punk politicism in Can-Do Campbell Newman's backwards-leaning regime. Queensland has always had a hard run of it when it comes to forward-leaning politics, hence why the world recognises Brisbane for its punk music of the late 70s and early 80s than any other genre and era. But Scrabbled aren't interested in tapping into old vibes or digging at old scabs - no, these wounds are fresh. The music itself is loose, warped, awkward, defiantly out of step. This isn't a detriment though - Scrabbled have a voice and energy all their own; a purging of pent-up exasperation spilling into abject aggression. You need bands like this - you really do. Get angry and have some fun.

The other release is something altogether different - diseased and snarling, more malevolent, and much less serious. Sewers and Rat King split the shit right down the middle on Leather. The Brisbane contingent stomp the fuck out of any nuance anyone thought they might have had on new cut 'Chinese Tommy', a short shotgun blast to the gut. Their dirge-drivel take on Grong Grong's 'Japanese Train Driver' sounds like the best Sewers song they never wrote - the irascible energy is finally unleashed in a more rampant speed, and the whole thing falls apart in a rust-hollowed heap. Brilliant. Newcastle's Rat King don't offer the yin to Sewer's yang though - 'Sick Pills' and 'Browood' somehow slow things down with embalmer treacle yet up the ante with their seething vitriol. The feedback on the former track is still ear-splitting even in recording, a harsh reminder that the imperfections are deliberated, serrated and antagonistic; whilst 'Browood' is a pitch-dark march into the nether regions of listlessness leading to evil transgressions. Hanging out with these clowns will get you killed - if they don't kill you first.

You can get both of these here. There is more to come from Virtual Cool, including a release from Bent, so you will be hearing more from me too.

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