Saturday, June 20, 2015

Benevolence Riots

If you like rock music, even the poppy variety, the current decade is most definitely not kind. But once in a while something good comes along, even if it's so young it creeps me out a bit.

This is Benevolence Riots by Gang of Youths, from Sydney, Australia. I first heard them on Triple J. I never used to listen to Triple J much when I was in Melbourne, but they've got an interesting cover series that's on YouTube. Most of the covers are by aggressively hipster types, performing ironic takes on Taylor Swift or droning their way through obscure indie B-sides released three months ago. Then along comes this five-man band who do an absolutely sincere, cracking cover of LCD Soundsystem's All My Friends (now that's a track I'm saving for my funeral) and it's been a long time since I've heard anything so goddamned fun, and how old again did they say they were? 22?

The band is so new that they've only just completed their first tour of Australia in support of their debut album. The brain behind Gang of Youths is evidently the vocalist and songwriter, a half-Samoan in thick-framed specs and a nose ring. I note his race because I love how multi-racial the band is, so truly reflective of modern Australian society. It was only ten years ago that I switched on the TV and realised that everyone was white, when half of the city outside my window was yellow, brown and black. It was also only ten years ago that "losing my shit on the sidewalk/covered in strangers' eyes" was a real possibility, before the comforting anaesthesia of just getting older numbed everything and I realised it was indeed possible to keep trudging on, day in and day out.

I've bought all their available tracks on iTunes and they haven't disappointed. Sure, the music video above is cringe-worthy crap (and pretty similar to AWOLnation's jock anthem, Sail*) but they're just starting out. The song posted here - Benevolence Riots - is still amazingly self-assured. Like most of their album, it stems from a failed relationship between the vocalist and a girl who had cancer. (That's a lot of shit to deal with by 40, let alone 22.) There's also a catchy track called Evangelists (the band members met in the Hillsong church movement): "I have made more friends in hell/than I've made in Jesus land." Hey, me too.

I hope they make it big, and they don't do drugs or descend into petty griping and group therapy (see Metallica), and they last a long, long time as mates in a band. At 22, the future always seems like forever.

*Egregious error - I meant Kill Your Heroes.

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