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Bad//Dreems | Gutful

With the dawning of social media and increased connectivity, the public’s voices have never been louder. As the political climate changes, and the everyday citizen becomes increasingly dissatisfied with the status quo, it’s sometimes hard to know how best to use your voice. 

 

Affectionately labelled as pub rock, Bad//Dreems encompass so much of what makes quintessentially Australian rock music so identifiable, and with their new album Gutful, they hammer in a very political message.

Alex Cameron, the band’s guitarist, wants listeners to know, everyone’s opinions matter. “People may look at a band like us and assume that’s not what we’re about, and same thing with our fans. People may think that we may not believe in things like [social justice].

“That’s a real problem in the world right now, that we tend to stereotype, generalise and over simplify things, when in fact it’s very interesting to deliver those messages in the form of a garage rock’n’ roll song.”

The changes to the political climate over the past 18 months prompted the band to write about this heavy subject matter. From the Trump administration to the circus of Australian politics and the ongoing debates surrounding immigration, Cameron sighs as he admits, they’d had a gutful.

“The motivation for the title track is being fed up with the kind of round-a-bout, futile debates that take place in our world today, and of the bullshit being spouted by these people. Other songs are about more personal subject matter, and Mob Rule about the dangers of the mob mentality – it’s an album of the times.”

The aforementioned title track is considered a call to arms for those feeling underrepresented by public figures.

“You don’t need to have a PhD in humanities or political theory to be able to talk about these things. Obviously they’re very complex issues, but they can also be very simple. It’s an interesting exercise to write about issues which are very prominent in Australia right now. What better way to explore those issues than within a presumption about the genre?” Read more

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Wil Wagner of The Smith Street Band | More Scared of You than You are of Me

The Smith Street Band’s emotionally charged lyrics, often expressing the grinding torture and blinding emptiness of living with mental illness, have become a signature element of their presence on the music scene.

Frontman Wil Wagner’s experiences with depression and anxiety are consistently laid out for the audience in a heartbreakingly raw fashion, something he’s happy to do, considering his words provide hope for those in the audience that need it most.

“The fact that I have this relatively small platform, but a platform nonetheless, to talk about that stuff, and make people feel like they aren’t alone in the universe feeling these things, is so important and empowering for me, because I have those bands for me as well. If I’m feeling a certain way, I put that band on, and it comforts me. I listen to the band’s words and it inspires me. And to be that band for one person, I feel like my job on this planet is done.”

Suicide remains the biggest killer of young people in Australia, with suicide in men approximately three times higher than women, consistent across all states and territories, and other Western countries. Despite experiencing high rates of depression and anxiety, men are less likely than women to seek help for these feelings. These hard statistics are something that drives Wagner to continue to write with beautiful self-awareness and honesty, using his music to start a dialogue with the audience about mental health.

“I think especially because I am a big guy, I have tattoos, I’m sort of blokey, I like that I can express those things, and especially get young men to relate to those things as well. I am proudly someone who deals with all of those things in a quiet and extreme way, and sometimes it can have a pretty disastrous affect on me.

“Predominantly our audience is young men between the age of 18 and 25, who would be the least likely people in society to admit they feel anxious or vulnerable. That I can contribute to removing that stigma about being anxious and being sad, I really don’t feel like words can describe how much that means to me, it means the fucking world.” Read more

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Rick and Morty, Szechuan Sauce, and the power of online fandom

After 18 months of intense fan anticipation, April 1 saw the first episode of the third season of cult television show Rick and Morty drop as a surprise April Fools prank.

The episode was a triumph, showcasing the show’s creativity, heart, and humour at its best. Yet the episode did more than entertain, it started a cultural phenomenon, best served with chicken nuggets.

Szechuan sauce.

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Within the episode, Rick recalls a McDonald’s Szechuan dipping sauce that was served for a limited time in 1998 to promote the Disney movie Mulan. In the final scene, he proclaims valiantly to his grandson:

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“I’ll go out, and I’ll find some of that Mulan Szechuan teriyaki dipping sauce, Morty, because that’s what this is all about, that’s my one armed man. I’m not driven by avenging my dead family. I’m driven by find

ing that McNugget sauce. That’s my series arc, Morty. If it takes us nine 

seasons, I’m going to get that dipping Szechuan sauce.”

With one line from the protagonist’s stammering, drooling mouth, the show’s creators, Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, created an army to serve one purpose. No, not to pass butter, to get sauce. And that army is rather large.

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Facebook groups dedicated to the show boast large memberships

By and large, Rick and Morty fans are passionate, gathering online using platforms like Reddit and Facebook to discuss the show. And since the release of the episode, the discourse of these groups has been almost entirely dominated by the topic of McDonald’s Mulan-inspired szechuan dipping sauce.

Hardly contained, the mania has progressed beyond these curated spaces. One of the most viewed YouTube videos this week is a how-to on making szechuan sauce, and a change.org petition urging McDonald’s to bring back the sauce is gaining traction.

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Alleged packets of the sauce, and even photos of packets of the sauce, are now being auctioned on eBay, with the most impressive fetching bids in excess of 50,000USD.

Though an obsession with McDonald’s sauce may seem to contradict this fact, Rick and Morty is an incredibly clever show. Its whip-smart writing and mature themes attracting and nurturing the huge fanbase.

The star of the show, Rick Sanchez, is the ultimate free thinker. The literal smartest man in the universe, rebelling against not only his dimension’s rules and social norms, and the status quo of a multiverse, but also against a citadel made up entirely of infinite versions of himself.


“Think for yourselves, don’t be sheep.”

In line with their hero, it is well documented that much of the Rick and Morty fandom consider themselves smarter than those who do not watch the show, or other members of the fandom they consider inferior, taking their passion to emulate this free-thinking genius to an arguably obnoxious level. 

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A top ranking meme from r/rickandmorty

Yet these same fans have heavily promoted McDonald’s, a brand synonymous with capitalist culture.

In the time that has passed since the dawn of the Szechuan Sauce era, fans questioned within the aforementioned online groups over their alleged susceptibility to the product placement, have been quick to claim the show’s reference is satirical, unable or unwilling to critically assess the use of the sauce.

Whether or not the show did mention such a specific condiment in truly irreverent fashion, the McDonald’s Mulan Szechuan Sauce is tough to swallow (and not because it was made in 1998.)

Today’s consumer has the option to approach much of the advertising they’re exposed to with a healthy sense of scepticism, though this scenario made that difficult. The fundamental problem with this kind of audience manipulation is subtly, it hits when the viewer is most vulnerable: expecting to enjoy a story, not listen to a sales pitch.

In this case, there is no denying that the viewers were completely won over. The show’s fandom has become so dedicated to the product they were told to like, that an animated alcoholic’s wish may very well be granted in the real world.

While there’s no official or public partnership between the show and McDonald’s, the two parties are communicating on Twitter, and a corporate McDonald’s chef has tweeted his support of the movement. With a live action Mulan remake currently in the works, everything seems to be lining up neatly.

The sheer volume of free advertising the golden arches have received over the past week is an astounding display of the power of fan culture. It’s product placement gone meta, and the fans don’t mind one bit.

For to be in favour of bringing back the sauce, is to be a part of the narrative of the show they so dearly love, of something bigger, of an exclusive club, and the pursuit of that is at the root of what online communities and social media are about.

That, and selling stuff.

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Too Faced? | Cruelty Free Makeup Options

In a market containing approximately a gazillion products, it can be difficult to navigate the tricky path of what is accessible, affordable, good value and high quality. Add in a layer of ethical responsibility, and the scene can be a nightmare.

2016 proved an interesting year for cruelty-free cosmetics, with cosmetic giant Estee Lauder acquiring previously independently owned, cruelty-free brands Becca and Too Faced.

As a parent company, Estee Lauder does sell products in mainland China, where animal testing is required by law for any cosmetic to be sold. Even if the products and ingredients themselves are not tested on animals, this fact means the brand cannot be considered cruelty free.

Too Faced issued a statement that they would always remain cruelty free, but this doesn’t change the fact that any money spent on the brand does in fact go towards the parent company.

What a person chooses to buy is entirely up to them, and though many cruelty free shoppers will continue to buy from Too Faced, there are others who will not purchase for a brand with a parent company that allows the use of animal testing.

Being a conscious consumer is important, so if you’re feeling like some brands are a little two faced, here is a run down of some of the best 100% cruelty free cosmetic brands, with a large majority – if not, all – of their products also being vegan.

ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS

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Known primarily for their life-changing brow products, the pro brand has expanded naturally and effortlessly to provide an incredible array of high quality, beautiful cosmetics. The eyeshadow quality is impeccable, their highlighters are some of the best available, and their brow products are firm favourites for a damn good reason.

My favourite products:
– Glow Kits in Sweets and Moonchild;
– Modern Renaissance Eyeshadow Palette;
– Dipbrow Pomade – I use the shade Ash Brown.

BY TERRY

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By no means the cheapest option when it comes to buying your cosmetics – they sell a cult $82AUD lip balm – but if quality is what you’re looking for, then By Terry is a solid bet. They’re an independent company, not owned by any parent company, and completely cruelty free, not selling in Mainland China.

My favourite products:
– Ombre Blackstar Eyeshadow Sticks in shades Misty Rock, Bronze Moon, Black Pearl and Frozen Quartz;
– Sun Designer Palettes – I love shade Tan and Flash Cruise 1.

CHARLOTTE TILBURY

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This shamelessly opulent makeup artists line is nothing if not gorgeous, but if you want a slice of old school glamour and quality to match the exceptionally beautiful exterior, then Charlotte Tilbury really can’t be beat.

My favourite products:
– Filmstar Bronze and Glow;
– Light Wonder Foundation;
– Eyeshadow Quads;
– Swish and Pop Blushes;
– Matte Revolution Lipsticks.

COVER FX

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This 100% vegan brand has carved itself a nifty niche in the makeup world, offering innovative and interesting products different to what many other brands put out, rather than regurgitating the same ol’ stuff over and over.

My favourite products:
– Custom Cover Drops;
– Custom Enhancer Drops, Moonlight, Celestial;
– Cream Contour Kit in G Light Medium.

HOURGLASS

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Famous for their luxe powder products, the independent company is 100% cruelty free, and largely vegan, spare a few products.

My favourite products:
– Ambient Lighting Powders in Luminous Light, Diffused Light and Ethereal Light;
– Ambient Lighting Blushes in any shade really, but my favourite is Incandescent Electra;
– Mineral Veil Primer;
– No 28 Serum Primer;
– Brushes – All vegan and cruelty free, and of the upmost quality.

KAT VON D

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Kat Von D has always been cruelty free, but midway through 2016, the brand reformulated many of it’s products to ensure they were in line with the namesakes vegan lifestyle. With some of the best eyeshadows on the market, and a liquid lipstick line to die for, her edgy aesthetic stands apart on the spectrum of makeup brands.

My favourite products:
– Shade and Light Eye Contour Palette;
– Pastel Goth Eyeshadow Palette;
– Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks, they’re all pretty fantastic, pick your favourite colours;
– Lock It Hydrating Primer.

KYLIE COSMETICS

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Say what you will about the always controversial Jenner/Kardashian clan, but there is no denying 19-year-old Kylie is a savvy business woman. Her cosmetic range is surrounded by more buzz than a beehive, but the quality of many of her products lives up to the hype, and then some. To top it off, the products come up reasonably affordable as far as mid-range Australian makeup pricing goes, just remember to save up and do one big order to get the free shipping.

My favourite products:
– Lip Kits in Posie K, Koko K, Love Bite, Kristen, and Koko Kollection;
– Burgundy Kyshadow Palette.

MARC JACOBS BEAUTY

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Though the fashion design house Marc Jacobs may use animal products to create their clothes, bags, and other fashion items, Marc Jacobs Beauty exists as an entirely separate entity – from their fragrances, too – and the cosmetics brand is entirely cruelty free. With some of the nicest powder products on the market, and some of the sleekest packaging.

My favourite products:
– Air Blushes, all the shades! They’re really great. But I do especially love Lines and Last NightFlesh and Fantasy, and Lush and Libido. Yes, the names are ridiculous;
– #Instamarc Light Filtering Contour Powder in 10 Mirage Filter.

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Ben Wright-Smith | The Great Divorce

Despite his talent, and the sheer volume of praise and support he’s received in his young life, Ben Wright-Smith is softly spoken and completely devoid of ego.

 He stammers as he reflects upon himself and his achievements, the completion and release of his debut album The Great Divorce not greatly affecting how he sees himself on the music scene.

“It’s funny with first albums, I think I feel more competent as a musician, but I think I’ve got to wait for people to hear it first, that will probably affect my confidence greatly. With music, I don’t know if confidence is the thing that matters. We make what we want to make, the main thing is the relief of having a full album that I can share with people, and say this is what I’ve been doing, this is what I’ve done, and this is how I wanted it to sound.”

Considering Wright-Smith’s impressive resume and masterful skill for songwriting, it feels strange that the APRA award nominated musician’s first album is only just being released. It arrives just over three years since he first made his way to the USA after being awarded the Australian Council for the Arts Nashville Songwriting Residency. The release of No One announced his arrival on Australia’s music scene in 2015, and the follow up, 2016’s Sand Grabber, demonstrated his ability to twist the genre of his music to make it his own. But the release of these two singles is an entirely different game to releasing this first album, Wright-Smith says. Continue reading

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Tracey Miller | Live at Warrawee

Tracey Miller is one of those people whose passion for music permeates every aspect of her life, and the happiness it brings her is tangible.

Rather than give up playing guitar after a freak accident with a louvre blind that saw her lose use of her left hand, she learned to use her hand again, and developed her own playing style. Yearly trips to Hawaii have seen her take up the ukulele and study harmony, with her accident, she says, making her a better musician.

After more than 25 years of teaching and singing in choirs, she’ll be leading the Mass Community Choir at Live at Warrawee Soul Explosion, a music festival put on by Monash City.

“There’s a lot of people out there who do community work, or help out their neighbours in some way, we should have things to celebrate in life, it shouldn’t always be about hard work. It’s a great way to get the community together,” says Miller.

“I know for a fact having taught choirs for many, many years that every single time anyone talks to me about their experience it’s just that they experience a lot of joy.” Continue reading

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Bob Evans | It’s tour time

He may have over two decades of experience under his belt, but it’s been nearly four years since Bob Evans, the alter ego and solo project of Jebediah frontman Kevin Mitchell, has taken to the stage in all his solo glory.

Having toured alongside good friend Josh Pyke in late 2016, Evans is well and truly warmed up for an extensive three-month tour across Australia, and ready to settle in to the solo-performance mindset.

“The band shows and the tour I did with Josh were both very structured shows and they had to be that way in order to work but playing on my own I have the freedom to do whatever I damn well like whenever the mood may take me and I won’t be blindsiding anyone. The whole thing rests on me, which is a good thing to do from time to time.”  Continue reading

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Kids at Midnight | Love Safari

“What’s happening at the moment, and it’s an awesome movement that needed to happen, is more and more women are taking control of their careers and opportunities, by learning to produce, by running events, by climbing that ladder to be the person that then books and mentors others. That’s how we level a playing field, by doing it.”

You may know Jane Elizabeth Hanley as Kids at Midnight, but the indie electronic artist’s passion for female empowerment in the music industry drives her to work far beyond her own music. With gender inequality remaining one of the most pressing issues on the Australian music landscape, Hanley says that female focussed events have never been so important.

“The more we see each other succeeding because we’ve worked hard, the more younger artists will see that hard work gets you somewhere, and the wave of quality will wash over the industry like a tidal wave. And if you don’t support female artists/DJs (by support I mean going to gigs, buying the music, sharing the mixes) you absolutely cannot complain there are not enough of them. The end.”

Taking this attitude on board, iconic Melbourne venue The Carlton Club is opening itself up for its first live music events, with a firm focus on female driven events and lineups, approaching Hanley specifically to curate an event.

The resulting event is Love Safari, an all day event on the Hasti Bala & Deck, featuring a mammoth indie-electronica lineup featuring some of the most exciting female artists, DJs and producers in Melbourne, including Rosaline Yuen, Aurelia, The Girl Fridas, Ruby Slippers Adriana and Whiskey Housten. Continue reading

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Northlane | Mesmer

Following a swell of curious buzz prompted by a mysterious YouTube video, a new single, and an oddly cryptic Facebook chat bot, Northlane has revealed their huge announcement to be the surprise arrival of new album Mesmer.

 

“It was meant to get people excited, but without really knowing what they’re excited for,” says frontman Marcus Bridge, of the unorthodox release. “We like a bit of mystery when it comes to starting things up again, so it was to get people talking, get people speculating, and it’s pretty funny to see the conclusions that some people have come to.”

Mesmer is a progression for the Sydney band, musically and thematically. Following on from the themes of previous album Node, the album stays true to Northlane’s traditional, heavy, metalcore, but with a fresh take of electronic elements and a new lyrical perspective.

“Jon is always moving forward and got the next thing in mind, so musically, he was always headed in this direction. I feel if anything, this is a clearer vision from our heads, because we’re more sure of what we’re trying to do. And we’re just trying to do what we like doing. Trying to express ourselves in different ways than we have before.”

In his second album as the five piece’s frontman, after joining the band alongside original members Jon Deiley, Josh Smith, Alex Milovic and Nic Pettersen, in 2014, Bridge is relieved to say he’s found a new confidence as a part of the band. A fan of a more personal approach when it comes to writing, on Mesmer he’s felt more comfortable revelling in his own personal style and voice.

“Some of these songs are a lot more personal than anything Northlane have touched on before, which is something very important to me. In terms of writing lyrics, I’m very much a writer from personal experience, I like to get feelings out, whereas Josh is a bit more worldly, out looking view of everything, and looking at the big picture of the world.” Continue reading

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The Shins | James Mercer

Though James Mercer, frontman of indie rock darling The Shins technically began work on the band’s new album, Heartworms, about two years ago, he confesses his songwriting is far from a linear process.

Mercer’s writing is a labour of love, and some songs on the record have been in the works for close to ten years.

“I’ve always done that, there’s always these ideas where I hit some sort of an impasse with the song, and I can’t figure out how to make it work, so I set it aside. There are songs that I was working on before Oh, Inverted World that I still can’t figure out, so hopefully they’ll come out one day,” Mercer says.

“Some of those songs I’ve been working on for so long. The Fear is a song I’ve had floating around for years. I remember showing Eric Johnson that song when he was in the band, so that would have been touring for Wincing the Night Away.”

Even the titular track has its roots far earlier in Mercer’s illustrious career.

Heartworms is pretty old, it’s something I was considering for Port of Morrow, but I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. Otherwise, everything is new, and I wrote it during that gap after I toured with Broken Bells.”

Despite this, it’s far from disjointed. Mercer effortlessly brings the old and new together to create a cohesive and palatable structure. However, the album is dynamic in its emotions, something that makes a lot of sense when you take into account it was written over many stage in his life. Continue reading