Wireheads — Lightning Ears (Oct. 20, 2017)
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Album release: October 20, 2017
Record Label: Tenth Court
01. Technical Man 3:00
02. Beaches With Significant Features 3:45
03. Super Bravo 3:28
04. Wonderful Wizard 3:08
05. Indian Pacific Express 3:27
06. Is Frances Faye God? 5:22
07. Protein Dealer 2:36
08. Nathan J. Roche 2:23
09. Pluto Was A Planet 1:59
10. Poison Apples 2:22
11. The Overview Effect 5:01
12. Love Machine 2:00
δ★δ Recorded by Calvin Johnson & Nick Wilbur at The Unknown, Anacortes WA.
δ★δ Mixed & Mastered by Nick Wilbur.
δ★δ Celeste Aldahn: Cover
δ★δ Dom Trimboli, Liam Kenny, Luke Kenny, Vic Conrad: Music
δ★δ Harriet Fraser~Barbour: Music, Photography
δ★δ Calvin Johnson: Recorded, Featuring
δ★δ Nicholas Wilbur: Recorded, Mixed, Mastered, Featuring
δ★δ Tenth Court is a new independent record label from Brisbane, Australia whose MO is to make available to the world the wealth of beautiful scumbag talent inhabiting our fine city, aswell as the occasional gem from other areas of the Motherland.
δ★δ The gestalt rock and roll mutation that is Wireheads returns via Tenth Court Records with their continued evolution of sonic mystery on LP number four, Lightning Ears. Band guru Dom Trimboli (Dom & the Wizards) illuminates the path with the new classic line up of suburban Adelaide A~listers: Harriet Fraser~Barbour (Workhorse), Luke Kenny (Men With Chips), Vic Conrad (The Garden Path), Daniel Heath (IDK 2.0) and Liam Kenny (Workhorse).
★ On Lightning Ears, Wireheads return to the corn syrup glazed heartland of the United States of America with Big Issues producer and indie enfant terrible Calvin Johnson (Beat Happening. Yeah, that’s right). Lightning Ears was recorded on the Washington State island city of Anacortes by Nicholas “Lightning Ears” (get it) Wilbur at former church, now sonic laboratory, Unknown recording studio. Surrounded by Douglas~firs with the faint sound of the Microphones drifting through the leaves, Anacortes is the largest city on Fidalgo Island in the Pacific Northwest.
★ Lightning Ears is a love letter to an absurd world, whilst simultaneously trying to make sense of the directionless saturation of information that streams within it, with equal measures of awe and misanthropy. Family, friends, love, death, literature, religion, philosophy and non sequiturs are all pondered in the wave lengths of Trimboli’s familiar drawl, squeezing its way through the myriad of Wireheads’ musical influences. The collective musical histories of Wireheads forms a strange lattice on Lightning Ears, forever sprinkling a little spice from all corners of the cupboard in an effort to find that perfect seasoning, the pièces de résistance. The artistry of Wireheads is their understanding that the only way to move forward is to reach for the unattainable with the mind to seize it, recognising the contradiction, and accepting that you never will. Like some kind of twisted Amor Fati.
★ Brimming with instant classics, Lightning Ears sees the Wireheads patented swagger rock of Technical Man and Beaches with Significant Features, feature alongside the obligatory earnest balladry of Super Bravo and Indian Pacific Express, the latter of which Trimboli describes as “the best song I have ever written”. ★ Wonderful Wizard and Protein Dealer offer playful pop tunes disguised as the kind of fuzzy punk they teach at Rock n Roll High School. Space, a constant source of Wireheads contemplation, is the plot device used to drive Pluto Was a Planet and The Overview Effect, the former featuring children from an Anacortes primary school. The eccentric Nathan J. Roche is a tribute to Australian/Parisian author, musician and eccentric, Nathan J. Roche (you’re welcome). The palette widens on tracks Is Frances Faye God? and Poison Apples with driving piano chords and adventurous journeys through some velveted Armageddon~esque dreamscape. The album closes out with Love Machine, a thumping, repetitive, obnoxious, fuzzed out projection that Dom Trimboli describes as “sick”, whilst band mate Vic Conrad describes as “I would have paid money to leave that song off the album”.
★ Lighting Ears is the culmination of all the Wireheads records that preceded it. All the lessons have been learned, and all the tropes played out. This is Wireheads at their freest and most comfortable, confident to play around but mature enough to rein it in. Tell them St Francis of Assisi gave it his blessing.
WALTER MARSH, 18 October 2017
Premiere: Wireheads’ Lightning Ears
For their fourth album, the freewheeling punk~country troupe decamped to a 100~year~old deconsecrated Catholic church on an island.
★ Wireheads and chaos have a dream working relationship. Aside from founder and frontman Dom Trimboli, it might actually be the freewheeling punk~country troupe’s most consistent member. For Lightning Ears, the Adelaide band’s fourth album in three years, disarray proved to be a decisive influence.
★ “I got this email from Calvin…” Trimboli tells Broadsheet. Calvin Johnson, the enigmatic figure behind US label K Records, produced the band’s second album Big Issues at his Olympia, Washington, studio in 2014 and was all lined up for round two. “Not long before we were meant to be leaving he’s like, ‘yeah my studio’s closing down’. Well that’s a fairly big pickle, I thought. We’d all booked our flights!”
★ As Trimboli frantically reached out to studios around Washington state, Johnson re~emerged with an intriguing replacement: a deconsecrated Catholic church on a cluster of islands 140 miles up the road. The 100~year~old building housed the studio of experimental folk icon Phil Elverum (Mt Eerie, The Microphones) and producer Nicholas Wilbur, who it turned out had just bought a mixing desk from Johnson — the very same one used on Big Issues.
★ “It’s in this town called Anacortes, it’s an island right at the top of Washington on the border of Canada,” says drummer Liam Kenny. “It’s beautiful, there’s islands all over the place,” adds Trimboli. “And the basement [of the studio] was the Croatian Club of Anacortes!”
★ Uprooting six members to the other side of the world made for the most playful Wireheads album yet, twitching with wiry guitar riffs and a loose energy influenced by Marc Bolan. Then there’s Trimboli’s signature drawl — a thumb~over~the~hose spray of mundane and magical imagery, occasionally tugged into a melody by the harmonies of guitarist Harriet Fraser~Barbour.
★ “It was almost perfectly poised, [we] were just on the edge of knowing the songs when we went over,” says Vic Conrad, a survivor of Adelaide’s ’80s music scene who stuck around on keys after producing the band’s sprawling third album Arrive Alive. “There’s still the freshness, the excitement of discovering the song as you’re recording it. That nice little in~between spot where it’s exciting … but you’re not clueless.”
★ Tracks like Indian Pacific Express might land a little closer to home, but the band’s time in Anacortes clearly runs into the fabric of the record, from its name (“I called Nick ‘Lightning Ears’ once or twice when I was drunk and it stuck,” Trimboli explains) to the local children who appear on Pluto Was A Planet. “I just went to the local bookshop and spoke to this guy who had kids,” he says of the track, which sounds like it belongs in a dark, alternative universe version of Sesame Street. “The next thing all these kids were there at 10 o’clock the next morning, and we were trying to work out what song they should sing. We realised that all of them were quite graphic, that was kind of the most playful one.”
★ Between the children’s choir, occasional Coldplay~like piano arpeggio and uplifting Paul Simon grooves, on paper Lightning Ears might look like Wireheads’ play for the big time. But perhaps even more than previous albums, the Wireheads of Lightning Ears are just here for a good time.
★ “I was trying to write a song that might’ve been on Graceland or something, and I kept saying ‘It’s gotta be more Paul Simon’,” Trimboli says of the bounding, bass~driven highlight Poison Apples. “Dan [Heath, guitarist] refused — ‘I’m not playing that shit,’ he’d say, ‘he’s a thief!’” By the end of the track, the danceable groove had been swallowed whole by a storm of noise from Heath in an act of anti~Simon protest.
★ It’s classic, chaotic Wireheads.
★ https://www.broadsheet.com.au/ / Label: https://www.tenthcourt.com/