Welcome to the first post on our blog. We will be posting about things of course related to the Desert Highways label, roster and store but also gigs that we go to, releases that impress us and news that we just have to share.
The first review is of an album launch we attended a few weeks back now but the line up was just so damn good we had to share.
High Tension ‘Death Beat’ Album Launch.
Fri 15th Nov, 2013. The Tote.
Words Anthony Moore
Photos Adam Russ – Right Eye Media Australia.
Whether intended or not, it was genius to have High Tension’s album launch at The Tote on the same weekend as the Face The Music conference. It was hard not to run into people who were there including members of other bands, media, PR and more.
It’d been suggested to check out Tassie band Captives and everyone who was there were stoked they did. Captives opened up with a blazing set of early Glassjaw style post-hardcore. Emotion with attitude, solid hooks and absolutely loads of guts. These guys have only played around eight to ten gigs so far and are already a force to be reckoned with. The job for any opener is to play such a massive set that they’re hard to follow and every punter leaves the gig talking about them. That’s exactly what happened.
A-GENDER were up next and took me back to a time where I wasn’t but wished I could’ve been. Think raw and stripped back ‘70s punk like the Ramones, Dead Kennedys and even a little NOMEANSNO and Buzzcocks. The guitars are ear bleedingly high end and the vocals mainly indiscernible. They’re like the ultimate Year 7 band in high school that have just put their first group together and have continued on after leaving high school and honed that Year 7 sound like no one else. That may sound like they’re terrible, but they’re not, they’re kind of mesmerising. This is definitely no high school band though, singer / guitarist Romy Hoffman has a varied and talented musical background with Noise Addict back in the ‘90s through to the noughties hip hop act, Macromantics.
Enter the Cajun country laid back version of Dead Kennedys. Really? Oh look, it’s hard to say. Hoodlum Shouts are a blend of punk and strangely ‘80s Midnight Oil Aussie rock somewhere along the line with their sound and knowing how to tell a story. Such a cool vibe and with vocalist Sam Leyshon’s vibrato, it adds such a unique twist to their sound. Yes, this is possibly where the DK reference stuck with me or even more so Peter Garrett, but Hoodlum Shouts melodies dance along throughout some very rockin guitars and drums. It has to be said extremely cool bass lines from Luke Robert too.
By this stage of the night, the band room and beer garden were pretty full, loads of friends, familiar faces and fans all throughout The Tote. Even before High Tension’s first gig and release there was a buzz about town and it’s carried them well to tonight, the launch of their debut album, Death Beat.
“This first songs about Canberra!” Vocalist Karina Utomo kicked off the set and straight into the lead in track off the album, ‘Blaze Up’; a machine gunning riff that leads into an Utomo raspy vocal and it tears its way through your flesh; the exact reason why everyone’s here.
This is one solid unit. Utomo is backed by her band mate from Young & Restless, Ash Pegram (guitar), and Matt Weston (bass) and Dan McKay (drums), both from The Nation Blue. It’s hard to know where to look, all four are captivating in every sense of the word, yet it’s Utomo that keeps reeling your eyes back in. One second she is stealthily swaying in the darkness against a backdrop of nervous tension for what will come next, then it’s a bone crushing shriek and she pounces out and screams into the faces of those being slammed into the stage.
Highlights from the set; the track lifted from both the 7” and album, ‘High Risk, High Rewards’ and of course the extremely fitting, considering the venue location, ‘Collingwood’. It’s a nonstop honest attack of everything that makes the suburb so awesome.
After finishing up ‘Are You Safe?’ High Tension were thanked with loads of “MORE!” but I liked what the two girls yelled standing next to me and they definitely summed it up the best for not only High Tension but the line up as a whole, “Holy shit you’re amazing!” and “This is fuckin awesome!”
DEATH BEAT is available HERE now.
High Tension are supporting King Parrot and Gay Paris Saturday 14 December at the Northcote Social Club, check out the Facebook event for more details.
Captives self titled EP is available HERE. The band are going into the studio in February to record another EP and then following that up with their debut album at the end of the year. Captives are coming back to Melbourne to play The Espy on New Year’s Eve, make sure you get along.
High Tension set list:
High Risk, High Rewards
Are You Safe?