You’d be hard-pressed to find an Australian band on as much of a heater right now as Brisbane alt-rockers Semantics. Laying down a firm foundation with two EPs, 2017’s Semantics and 2019’s If You’re Not Alright, the group have established themselves as one of the most happening bands to emerge from an already very happening music scene with the release of their brand new single ‘Sleep At Night’.
But, the winning doesn’t stop there. Along with the new single announcement, Semantics have announced a new record label in revered LA-based institution, SideOneDummy Records. Not wasting any time, they’ve also flagged 2022 as the year they’ll be releasing their full-length debut through the label.
“We’re all huge fans of the label and the work they’ve put behind some of our favourite debuts. Can’t believe our luck becoming part of this legacy!” says vocalist Callum Robinson of the new partnership.
And clearly, the love is going both ways, and how could it not? From its opening chords, ‘Sleep At Night’ radiates a warm, cruisey energy enabled further by the cosy Australian drawl crooning from the cords of Robinson. A charming pontification on having a “soft vice”, nothing self-destructive; a tool as it were, to get you through your days; the subject matter of ‘Sleep At Night’ resonates the type of radicalised empathy the world needs more of.
Semantics aren’t just a good band, no doubt, they’d be great friends to have. We made them prove it by giving them the chance to shout out some of their newfound label mates.
Madeleine (Bass/Vocals): PUP – The Dream Is Over (2016)
The Dream Is Over is a very special album to me, not only because it’s a kick-ass don’t-give-a-fuck loud punk record, but because it explores a lot of themes of things I’ve also personally dealt with in my life. I’ve been able to relate to this album when I’ve been depressed, faced serious health issues, lost a pet, went through a bad breakup – it’s all there. I love punk, but it’s rare to find such depth and relatability in this genre. You even get a nice opener to sing to your bandmates when it’s day 20 of tour and you’re not sure if you can stand them anymore.
PUP is a big musical influence to all of us, and this album really showcased for me how you can bring old school elements like gang vocals and fast pacing, flip it on its head and make it modern and unique. A perfect example of this is my fave track “DVP” – it’s nothing short of a self-destructive, self-pitying anthem with loud guitars and louder vocals. Real, dirty, and a hell of a singalong.
Mitch (Drums): Title Fight – Shed (2011)
I chose this album as it simply defines the best times of my early 20s. I have a very distinct memory of seeing Title Fight play Shed at an unconventional venue in Brisbane. They played in an old museum where no crowd surfing or moshing was allowed and the venue owners were very strict on this. Touché Amoré played before Title Fight and the crowd got a little restless, the venue manager came on stage and sternly warned us to keep it civil. Title Fight came on and by the 3rd or 4th song it got fairly rowdy. The venue manager once again came on stage and said if there are any more stage dives, they’ll cut the power. Low and behold, more crowd surfing ensued, they cut the power. But Title Fight didn’t stop playing, they played the remaining show with no amps, no microphones, just their guitars twanging almost silently and the drums bellowing to a crowd chanting every line from their songs back at them like it was a football match or a choir ensemble. This was one of the most memorable shows for me.
My standout song from this album is the song “Your Screen Door”, it’s such a great song about post breakup feelings and has these super-fast moments and then swings its tempo down effortlessly. Plus who can say no to a big room drumkit sound to open a song!
Gerard (Guitar/Vocals): The Smith Street Band – More Scared of You Than You Are of Me (2017)
My top SideOneDummy album I have chosen is The Smith Street Band’s More Scared of You Than You Are of Me.
This is one of my favourite albums of all time, this album speaks to me on so many levels to the point it feels like front man Wil Wagner has taken a journey through my mind and cherry picked moments from my past. From the incredibly tasty riffs to insanely catchy
choruses it is all topped off with that magic sprinkle of Jeff Rosenstock as he was the album producer. This album is truly a masterpiece and I have many fond memories every time I listen to it.
It is very hard for me to choose a favourite song on this album as I love them all, however I’d say my most listened to song is track 4: “Song For You”
Callum (Vocals/Guitar): Jeff Rosenstock – Worry (2016)
I found Jeff the way I discover a lot of music, through a random online article briefly reviewing new albums in a list. How the album Worry was described I soon learned was drastically understated. Worry is one of the most influential albums I’ve ever listened to. Jeff is clearly a romanticist with really delicate and conversational lyrics. The genius of it is how he’s used these ballads to tell a much deeper and political story, navigating the landscape of gentrification, class division, social media, advertising and other hindrances of the 21st century. While the album tells most of this narrative in a New York context, much like Billy Bragg, it’s easy to bring the message to your own locale. On top of all of this is his wild genre bending from a Queen-like ballad opener with theatrical Broadway singalongs, straight into 90s punk rock, ska, powerviolence, Neil Young-era grunge. A mountain of Costello inflections and Green Day riffs underneath a raw and intense production from Jack Shirley (who we picked to mix/master our latest single thanks to this album).
My top pick from this album has to be “Pash Rash”. Before the album came out, my girlfriend and I used to go for long drives, listening to the Cribs and pulling over at some cool lookout to make out and have picnics at night. Disturbingly relatable lyrics.
Semantics: Violent Soho – Hungry Ghost (2013)
Collectively, it may be obvious our favourite album from SideOneDummy’s catalogue is our fellow Brisbanites, Violent Soho. We all have such deep memories attached to this record. Some of us were in our graduating year of high school, others in their early careers. This was the album that put Soho on the map and made them one of Australia’s most pivotal rock bands of our generation. There are sonic characteristics of The Vines, Blink 182, Smashing Pumpkins, Silversun Pickups, Blur, Nirvana, so many epic punk and grunge references perfectly blended into a truly unique album. Boerdam’s strange and infectious vocals, Henry’s beastly bass licks, Tidswell’s monolithic power chords and Mikey’s unmistakable drumming style all make this a record that will never get old. Top it all off with the fact they’re absolute legends and really kind people, we’ve found some great friends in them.
Our top pick from Hungry Ghost is Dope Calypso. Try to find a better album opener, you can’t.