After a six-year absence, The Dead Space returns with “Chlorine Sleep”. Recorded days before their breakup in 2015, this album marks a turning point, both for its the trio of Quin Galavis, Garrett Haden and Jenny Arthur, as well as for their collective scene in Austin, Texas.

(photo : Angela Betancourt)

The Dead Space never quite fit in since forming in 2008, and never really cared to. The trio quietly managed to craft their own brand of tightly wound art rock, equal parts bleak and brooding, but presented in stark tones. Whether their allergy to artifice was a roadblock, in keeping with their character or some combination of both, it’s hard to say. Either way, the Dead Space were very much on the outside looking in prior to the release of their well-received first album, 2014’s ‘Faker’ . And when it finally seemed they could reach a broader audience, they did what any good band should do – they broke up.

(preorder ‘Chlorine Sleep’ via Bandcamp)
(preorder ‘Chlorine Sleep’ via 12XU)

Slightly before that, however, the band returned to Ian Rundell’s Second Hand Tacos studio to record ‘Chlorine Sleep.’ The record carries the band’s history forward with arduous blasts of force, contrasting with stark, lean efficiency, and exposes a sense of fragility and vulnerability. With Garrett Hadden’s return to Texas, preparation to return to the stage later this year and next with a renewed vision and sense of purpose, The Dead Space’s ferocious sophomore effort that expands on previous themes while forging a new path all its own. It’s great to have them back.

(photo : Angela Betancourt)

prior praise for ‘Faker’

“you never get the sense that the Dead Space are trying to borrow the sounds of the past as much as they are finding a place for it in the now. ‘Faker’ is about as good as one can hope for in a debut, full of great songs and unexpected turns.” – Evan McDowlell, Northern Transmissions

“Sometimes you want a rock trio to be more mindful of the air around them, but with the Dead Space, if Galavis isn’t sawing through the walls with his bass, Hadden is decimating the area around him..the decimating proficiency of how this band delivers its trade all but demands multiple listens.” – Doug Mosurock, Still Single

“a series of tightly wound meditations on loss and isolation. Austerity abounds in both the spartan arrangements and forlorn subject matter. The upside of this approach is heightened potency. Even the smallest details of these 10 songs matter..” – Greg Beets, Austin Chronicle

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Written and recorded amidst the devastating bushfires which ravaged his adopted hometown Canberra, just before the wave of pandemic broke, Shoot Out The Cameras reveals John Sharkey III to be a master craftsman; honing in on the existential dread of living in a burning world, and the imperative to find beauty in what remains.

Perhaps best known as the creative force behind confrontational noise-punk band Clockcleaner, which erupted from the fertile soil of Philly’s DIY scene in the 00s, Sharkey’s solid underground creds include hardcore/punk bands such as 9 Shocks Terror and more recently, literate rock explorations as Puerto Rico Flowers and Dark Blue.

It was love (of course) that brought Sharkey from Philly to Melbourne in 2008, where he worked behind the bar at beloved venue, The Tote. Sharkey and his partner Yasmin moved back to Philly for several years; then, amid the darkening landscape of US politics, the couple decided to settle in Canberra, Yasmin’s hometown. A lunatic sports fan, Sharkey adopted the Canberra Raiders with the same fervour as his beloved Philly Eagles, and has connected with hardcore Rugby League fans, making several guest appearances on the wildly popular NRL Boom Rookies podcast.

(PURCHASE  ‘Shoot Out The Cameras’)

At a physical but not psychological remove from the horrifying dysfunction of Trump’s America, Sharkey watched catastrophic bushfires encircle Canberra, raging through the hills of the Southern Tablelands, the city glowing orange, the suburbs suffocating in smoke. This is when the songs of Shoot Out The Cameras took form.

As if to echo the craters of “before” and “after” that apocalyptic events leave in our collective consciousness, the songs arranged themselves into a cinematic narrative arc, from the foreboding of disaster (Side A) through its aftermath (Side B). The background horrors of totalitarianism, paranoia and surveillance also stalk the album – the cameras of the title inspired by Canberra’s omnipresent CCTV and speed cameras – just to add to the unmistakable sense of impending doom.

(photo : Yasmin Hassan)

Such heavy subject matter brought into his music, for the first time, a treasure that Sharkey had carried within him since his teens; the mighty influence of one of Americana’s great auteurs, Iris Dement. Dement’s ability to cut to the bone, in her sweet and devastating songs, deeply informed Sharkey’s songwriting on ‘Shoot Out The Cameras’.

“My grandmother raised me on country music – Ray Price and Patsy Cline”, Sharkey recalls. “When I was 12, my mother would flog Iris Dement’s first two albums on drives to the beach. I was into Black Flag, but come 16 or 17, I was sneaking into the car to steal her tapes. Iris Dement crept into my psyche, and never left. She taught me not to hold back, when it comes to death or sorrow, doubling down on depressive lyrics.”

Fate intervened in the shaggy shape of Philly hero Kurt Vile, who invited Sharkey onstage when he toured Canberra last year. In the audience that night was Canberra native Nick Craft, who stood mouth agape as Sharkey sang pristine country harmonies with Vile on a cover of The Highwaymen’s “Silver Stallion”. Once Craft heard Sharkey’s demos, he urged him to make an album.

Holed up in a small studio on Queanbeyan’s industrial estate, Sharkey and Craft captured ‘Shoot Out The Cameras’ in two marathon sessions. Beautifully recorded, the starkness of Sharkey’s lyrical imagery and pit-of-the-stomach emotions are honoured with nothing more than guitar and voice, and, on the album’s closer, the glisten of Philly homie Mary Lattimore’s harp.

The result is an album of searing emotional depth, which faces the onslaught of disaster unflinchingly, with the hope and determination that families and communities must muster to pull through the personal and collective nightmares we all face. Sharkey remains a staunch optimist, his love for his adopted Australia only strengthened by watching it burn.

“We will adapt, we will get through this together,” he vows. “The most important thing to have in your arsenal of emotions is empathy. Not many people have it; so you have to build your own resilience and strength to deal with that too. You have to be tougher than anything the world can throw at you.”

‘Shoot Out The Cameras’ is released March 5 via 12XU (North America) and Mistletone (AUS/NZ)

(AUS / NZ orders : mistletone.net/label/john-sharkey-iii/)

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Saturday, January 19 : 12XU XXXMas Stare-At-A-Screen Special With Blank Hellscape, Chris Brokaw, John Sharkey III and Unholy Two

December 19, 2020

Later today,performances by Blank Hellscape, Chris Brokaw, John Sharkey III and Unholy Two, all filmed at remote locations in only the safest of methods. twitch.tv/12XUrecs please consider a donation to Austin’s Casa Marianella. Replay on Saturday 12/26

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Coming January 29 : USA/Mexico – ‘Del Rio’

December 4, 2020

preorder (first 200 on brown opaque vinyl ) : 12XU Bandcamp ‘Del Rio’ is the third album from the Austin triumvirate of guitarist Craig Clouse (Shit and Shine), bassist Nate Cross (Marriage, Expensive Shit) and drummerKing Coffey (Butthole Surfers) and the band’s first release to feature vocals from Colby Brinkman (Taverner).  While their two prior […]

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Coming January 15 : Chris Brokaw – ‘Puritan’

December 4, 2020

(photo : Anthony Saffery) Chris Brokaw is the consummate underground rock musician. In a career spanning thirty-plus years he has been in countless bands (Come, Charnel Ground, Codeine, The Lemonheads, to name a few) has been a sideman with everyone from Thurston Moore to GG Allin, pounded countless stages on nonstop tours, and played on […]

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Coming December 4 : Voice Imitator – ‘Plaza’

November 5, 2020

“Adult Performer”, from the album ‘Plaza’ Voice Imitator is the collaborative project of Per Bystrom, Justin Fuller, Mark Groves, and Leon O’Regan. All four have been active as part of numerous, cross-genre ventures in the Australian underground for many years. Bystrom has offered a rhythmic heart for Exhaustion and Leather Towel, whilst further expanding on […]

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Coming January 15, 2021 : Wolf Eyes / Blank Hellscape split 12″

November 5, 2020

Wolf Eyes – “Winter Sunday” b/w Blank Hellscape – “Concrete Walls” 12″ (12XU 127-1) out January 15, 2021 What happens when Detroit’s Wolf Eyes and Austin’s Blank Hellscape team up to provide a suitably nightmarish backdrop for USA 2020 vanquished by fear, greed, incurable disease, etc. ? Fuck if I know, it’s not like they […]

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John Sharkey III – I Found Everyone This Way

October 23, 2020

John Sharkey III – “I Found Everyone This Way” from the album ‘Shoot Out The Cameras’ (March 5, 2021) stream / download : 12XU – North America Mistletone – Australia “I Found Everyone This Way” is the arresting first glimpse of ‘Shoot Out The Cameras’, the debut solo album by John Sharkey III. Written and […]

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Coming April 24 : Lewsberg – ‘In This House’

February 2, 2020

(photo by Hasret Emine) ‘In This House’, the second album by Rotterdam-based Lewsberg and their first US release will be issued on LP by 12XU on April 25. (PREORDER ‘In This House’  – 12XU  / Bandcamp*) In This House by Lewsberg The quartet’s latest offering seeps into your consciousness in a different way to their debut, though […]

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Coming January 24, 2020 : Xetas – The Cypher

November 26, 2019

The Cypher by Xetas (video directed by Kana Harris) Xetas – The Cypher (12XU 120-1)   out January 24, 2020 Why do people start bands anymore? To get rich and famous? Compliment re-tweeting? To gain the respect of their peers in the RIAA? I don’t know, and I don’t have a computer so I can’t look […]

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