Blank Realm
Go Easy

The powers that be over at Siltbreeze have always had a discerning ear for the enlightened sounds emanating from Australia and New Zealand. After all, the label was the first to introduce the rest of the world to the resin-soaked caterwaul of Dead C, resurrected Flying Nun’s real gem, The Axemen, and has continued mining the continent all the way up to last year’s caustic grunge bonanza from Kitchen’s Floor (not to mention the flurry of long-forgotten artists reissued in between). So with the bumper crop of Aussie and Kiwi ugly-punk crashing on distant shores—and there’s a ton of it, just peruse our archives—the only person one can trust to dispatch and release only what is superior is the guy pushing pencils behind the desk from this fabled Philadelphia institution.

Blank Realm has made the cut. Six months ago, it might have been hard to distinguish the Brisbane quartet from their contemporaries, but assuredly, when a copy of Go Easy made it to Siltbreeze headquarters, it had the ring of something unique, something evolved, something organic and invigorating. Adjectives spill over when trying to describe the power of Go Easy, as it dutifully veers between the poles of beauty and disfigurement. From the outset and the one-two whiplash of “Acting Strange,” and “Cleaning Up My Mess Again,” the band has that ebb and flow on full display. The former rushes in as visceral and unrelenting as the first time you heard Daydream Nation, taking the blown-out, guitars-as-explosive-devices approach of The Men or Milk Music to stake a claim in the post-alternative sweepstakes. The latter is a blues-as-shoegaze drift, which is perhaps Blank Realm’s strongest suit as there’s nothing I know of currently that can create the same kind of infectious worm and still exist in the abstract. Sure, the Gordon/Moore, Herrema/Haggerty dynamic resides inside this “family cult,” especially on this track and the corrosive boogie of “The Crackle Pt.1” (which disintegrates into percussive face-melt of “The Crackle Pt. 2”), but to suggest Blank Realm take all of their cues from (now) legendary records of ’90s degeneracy is like saying those bands only ingested no-wave and deconstructed Keef riffs. Go Easy does pick apart the most cathartic moments that era had to offer, but it also actually operates in a pop sphere deceptively so.

Where a bulk of their Aussie peers wear apathy, complacency, and a generally blackened perception of life like a gold star, Blank Realm use those emotions as their bait and switch. The scuzzy swagger of “Cleaning Up My Mess Again” gives the impression of the usual druggy anemia and in tandem ascends blissfully as if it’s the love theme from some John Hughes film in an alternate universe. Stripped to their core, as they are on “Working on Love,” they are spiritually indebted to the Clean. Makes sense: Blank Realm’s American counter and labelmates, Times New Viking, owe a similar note. Both bands, though, take that thrifty jangle to completely different and grotesquely fresh directions. Go Easy ends where it begins, only with an increased sense of purpose, culminating in all of these heady ingredients vying for the same space on “Pendulum Swing” and coming down in the stoned teenage lament of the title track. A band as special as Blank Realm makes the eye of a critic strain and tire of looking back. The past is irrelevant to this clan and irrelevant in finding a wholly pure appreciation for Go Easy. Our energies should be channeled into making sure the kids hear this record and have a life-changing moment in the process. Our future depends on it.
Kevin J. Elliott