When the emo-punk lords in The Sleepyheads first broke out onto the scene, they did so in a climate nothing short of catastrophic.
It was 2016, and the world as we knew it was in complete disarray: we had D*n*ld Tr*mp wreaking havoc in the States, we had a ream of our musical icons kick the bucket, we had our British mates thrown through the ringer with Brexit… Hell, by the end of the year, we, as in BLUNT, had nothing – 2016 was the year our old publisher kicked us to the kerb, leaving us in a three-year coma before the eventual reboot.
So yeah, The Sleepyheads had plenty of reason to be angsty and emotional. But the turmoils of 2016 didn’t stop them from powering on, and this year, the four-piece celebrate their fifth anniversary! It’s a well-earned accomplishment, too, because if 2016 was bad, 2020 was the fucking apocalypse. It’s impressive that any band could it through last year without throwing fists and giving up, let alone one that cut their teeth in tumultuous times.
Thus brings us to The Sleepyheads’ belting new single, ‘Nihilist’. Written in the testy throes of mid-2020, frontman Pat Broxton explained in a press release that the aptly titled tune is “a bit of a tongue-in-cheek observation of just how completely fucked the world was at that point in time”. It’s very sharp and acerbic, but it’s much more than that – at its core, ‘Nihilist’ is just a fun, mosh-ready rager of a tune, purpose-built for the band’s consistently explosive live shows.
Take a listen to the track below:
If you’re a fan of the Brisbane pop-punkers in Bugs, you might recognise a familiar voice popping up on the second verse. Their frontman, Connor Brooker, makes a pretty solid case for “guest spot of the year” with an appearance that elevates the song from ‘yeah, pretty damn great’ to ‘holy shit, absolutely unreal’. On the last-minute linking up, Broxton said: “Once we got into the studio in early 2021, I really felt like the song needed a bit of a change in the second verse. That was when I hit Connor up, and he was absolutely great at adding his personality to it.”
To celebrate the release of ‘Nihilist’ (albeit belatedly), we hit The Sleepyheads up to vibe on five of the songs that helped them make it through to the other side of 2020.
THE 1975 – ‘IF YOU’RE TOO SHY (LET ME KNOW)’
I had a few favourite releases from 2020, and this one off The 1975’s latest album (Notes On A Conditional Form) is just an undeniable tune. I used this track as a pick-me-up during the lower points of the year. As always, Matty Healy has written incredibly catchy melodies, paired with clever lyrics and perfect phrasing. I still catch myself singing this one to myself every now and then.
– Pat Broxton (guitars and vocals)
ALEXANDER BIGGS – ‘MOSTLY I FEEL NOTHING’
This whole album is one of my favourite releases ever. A stark contrast to my last selection from The 1975, this one is a dark, emotional kick in the guts. I haven’t heard lyrics as good as Alexander Biggs’ in a long time. It’s easy to fall into cringe-y, predictable lines when you’re writing such personal and emotional songs, but the way he writes has me hanging onto every word. If you like soft, emotional music, do not sleep on Alexander Biggs.
– Pat Broxton (guitars and vocals)
CORY WONG – ‘DESIGN (FT. KIMBRA)’
I’ve been a huge fan of Vulfpeck for years. I love everything about them. I took a dive into guitarist Cory Wong’s solo work last year, and this song piqued my interest as it featured Australia’s very own Kimbra. She’s probably best known in Australia for ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ with Gotye, but she’s also a very accomplished solo artist. And what an absolute tune – this song grooves so hard. The guitar work in the bridge is some of the coolest shit I’ve ever heard. Cory Wong is a master at layering guitar so tastefully. Plus the deep, driving slap bass line throughout is a treat. Kimbra’s vocals are on point and fit the tune perfectly. Altogether it’s a package that firmly delivers. It’s groovy, funky, and downright nasty.
– Cam Locke (bass)
SOMETHING FOR KATE – ‘INSIDE JOB’
At some point during 2019, a friend recommended I listen to Paul Dempsey. I was pleasantly surprised and somewhat confused why I had never listened to his solo work, or his several albums of material fronting iconic Australian band Something For Kate. This is my favourite track off the band’s 2020 album, The Modern Medieval. The song starts off with a sharp guitar riff, which caught my attention immediately. The lyrical content is a bit of a back-and-forth between two main characters – this is where Aussie music royalty Bernard Fanning is recruited. As a huge Powderfinger fan, I didn’t need much more convincing to keep this one on heavy rotation.
– Dan Barton (guitar)
PRESS CLUB – ‘SUBURBIA’
Although it’s not a song from 2020, my pick is ‘Suburbia’ by Press Club. The song features amazingly double-tracked melodic guitar lines, while the drums and bass hold a rhythm beyond anything you could imagine. It’s strong as fuck, and it has catchy vocals too! It actually gets me pumped just writing about it. I had the pleasure of seeing these guys at the last Party In The Paddock festival in Tassie, and they blew me away with how raw but tight they were – seeing Natalie Foster singing while climbing the stage scaffolding amazed me! What a frontwoman. These guys replicate what they track in the studio, but bring 110 percent live. This is everything I love in a band.
– Sean Zolnierczak (drums and vocals)