Emerging from the northern suburbs of Brisbane is art-punk enthusiast Max Chillen, the solo project of multi-instrumentalist and all-round swell fella Darcy Rhodes.
Formerly known as Dead Poets, Chillen “blends the genres of post-punk and electronic in the hopes of creating something reminiscent of Nick Cave playing in LCD Soundsystem”. Just from that description alone, it 100% sounds like something you’d wanna wrap your ears around.
Early November saw the release of Max Chillen’s debut EP titled ‘Coffin Fit’, a six-song collection that serves as our first real look into what this guy has to offer.
We’re thrown right into things within the first track Run Away. It kicks off with some pretty neat-o production, quite similar to that of the intro of Glass Animals’ Hazey. A very slick driving bassline takes over the steering wheel around the 40 second mark, with a pretty simple yet extremely effective chord progression; it does its job well in providing an addictive as hell structure.
It’s also here that we’re introduced to Chillen’s vocal style, similar to the bassline throughout this song, deep, smooth and sweet. Run Away also features female vocals (a vocalist whose name I’m not sure of) that contrast perfectly with Chillen’s. Like fire and ice, the sound of these two very different vocal styles works ridiculously well.
We’re then teleported into a cover of The White Stripes’ famous Seven Nation Army. This is a song that many have covered over the years since its release, its iconic yet simple guitar riff has made it very popular as one of the first songs that many guitar players learnt as beginners (myself included lmao). Interestingly, Max Chillin does not feature the iconic riff in his rendition of the song, instead taking it to a more uptempo synth sound, rather than the hard-driving slow bassline of the original. The ‘experimental’ tag is also focussed on here, with various unconventional sounds lending a helping-hand throughout.
Coffin Fit also hosts a range of tongue-in-cheek humour, what with some brilliant witty one-liners delivered through my personal favourites from Coffin Fit, Karl Stefanovic and Vietnam. I’d even go as far to argue that these two songs are up there amongst the coolest songs of 2015.
Hammering down on maintaining the Aussie accent, Karl Stefanovic explores the themes of loneliness and identity struggles; with the song’s main hook being “I feel like Karl Stefanovic in a world full of regular news presenters, I feel like David Koch in a room full of upper-class rule inventors”. Among plain and simply being a really clever line, it has great appeal through how damn genuine and down-to-earth it is. More than likely, most of us know of these two iconic morning show presenters, bringing home a sense of nostalgic relief.
Vietnam is again, driven by a hard bassline and an uptempo energy that makes nodding along to it impossible to resist. Telling the story of a man who – for lack of better words – has been pretty fucked up lately. The song’s addictiveness comes in its clever wordplay and thick, heavily distorted guitar sounds. “I lost my mojo-jojo but boy, I sure found my spunk”.
On display are also some slower, more emotion fuelled songs; The Cosmos (Sorry) & Yuppie Scum. Both tunes, in my opinion, would serve pretty well in the soundtrack to dealing dark or mysterious times and getting back onto your feet. These could be whilst going through a break-up, loss of a loved one, or even experimenting for the first time with love, drugs, sexuality or anything else that seems like the biggest deal in the world at the time.
Basically, these songs would be perfect if slotted into the popular UK television show Skins. Coffin Fit is the perfect soundtrack to youth and the struggles that being young brings.
All in all, Max Chillen’s Coffin Fit is pretty awesome. With an angelically deep, smooth voice, down-to-earth vibes across its lyrics as well as the storytelling content OF those lyrics, make the piece a desired piece of work to say the least.
It is tagged as an experimental work, and therefore doesn’t have top-shelf production and polished mastering etc. (you can tell it’s a bit of a DIY thing). That doesn’t make it any less awesome though, as the music is structurally & aesthetically pleasing in almost every regard. With instruments ranging from kazoos, shakers, glass jars and even a hairspray can; the clunkiness and flaws attribute to the genuine-ness and simply cool sound across this EP. For his very first work, and the resources he had (being a homemade sound), Coffin Fit is pretty perfect.
Artist: Max Chillen
Title: Coffin Fit
Highlights: Karl Stefanovic / Vietnam
You can stream AND FREE DOWNLOAD the whole of Coffin Fit via Soundcloud.
- This review was written by Jakob Rosenblatt