Video: Hideous Towns – Don’t Forget

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I’ve been sick as a dog the last few days – lungs filling up with black fluid, mucus pooling around my nostrils, the hint of death looming closer and closer – that sort of thing. When you’re in a state like that, it helps to have some really beautiful music to hold onto; something slow and warm, brimming with comfort. Essentially, you want the audio equivalent of a nice soup and herbal tea combo.

And this new one from Hideous Towns should sort you right out. Heavy dollops of reverb, a very gentle, purring riff, and some gorgeous vocals that soar over the top. It’s both hugely expansive and intimate, like a Snuggie stitched with shoegaze instead of phenomenal thread count. If you’re under the weather, the electric blanket is missing, and you’re searching for a reason to live in the face of an invasion from the sniffles, look no further.

New: Holy Balm – Fashion

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A few months back, Holy Balm showcased a new single they’d been working on in the Triple R Live Studios. Since seeing that video, I’ve been hounding for the release of a tangible single or record, something that isn’t a dodgy Youtube rip front ended by 30 seconds of jazz.

Well, today is the day – this otherwise uninteresting Wednesday marks the official release of new Holy Balm material. “Fashion” is a song that springs alive on the back of warring synths, one squelching like its trudging through a muddy field, the other buzzing like an organ on ecstasy. Both circle and bite, only coming together underneath the gorgeous vocals of Emma Ramsay, who’s ethereal voice stands high and mighty.  Altogether, it’s weird, and cool, and decidedly alien, especially when that climbing staircase of sax enters the picture. It forms Holy Balm as the house band for an intergalactic discotheque –  Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes hopped up on D.A.F. records – where the only surefire thing is that Holy Balm are far too cool and otherwordly to possibly have come from this planet.

“Fashion” is the first single from Active, the forthcoming sophomore album which will be out in August on Chapter Music.

Album Review: HANNAHBAND – Quitting Will Improve Your Health

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If you’re going to come out of Retirement, it better be for a damn good reason. But hey, I reckon giving your album a title like Quitting Will Improve Your Health will suffice. After reading that title, I rolled around for a decent twenty seconds before my smoker’s cough came through and sent me into a fit of weezing. Is that ironic? Ah, who gives a shit, let’s get onto this album!

There’s a significant step up in the recording quality of Quitting… as compared to HANNAHBAND’s previous albums. Each song sounds a bit more rounded, and the tape hiss that swarmed around their previous releases is less apparent, maybe even completely absent. At first, it’s kind of weird – that radioactive glow gelled so well with their songs! But then, you get warmed up to the high-fi step up, as the songs on Quitting… push through with extra force and spit than ever before.

Opener “Burn It Down” is a perfect example; the vocal push and shove between Nathan Martin’s guttural diatribe against Marnie Vaughn’s soaring chants of “Burn It Down” makes for anthemic listening. Second that motion with the likes of “Bath Arms”, “Grave Semantics” and “29er”- short, sharp and direct tracks that draw equally from Shellac as they do Break Even. The songs wrestle on a bed of throat-burning screams, arse-clenching guitar, and stomping drums that threaten to split open your skull. Each snare is one step closer to a permanent migraine, which is really the only way a drum kit should be played.

Although HANNAHBAND have evolved from their smaller mom + pop operations of before, and transformed into something even more brutal and thrilling, it doesn’t mean they’ve completely left their emotionally raw roots behind. Simply put, they’ve brought those intimate moments to the forefront and then shredded them to pieces through the most exhilarating and howling music that they’ve prepared yet. It makes Quitting… a tight and succinct record, with plenty of punch and drive to see you through multiple listens within the same sitting.

Quitting Will Improve Your Health is out now via Blackwire Records and their own Bandcamp (name your price download) Also, if you haven’t seen ’em live yet, do it. Actually, it’s kinda hard to believe that anyone in Sydney still hasn’t seem HANNAHBAND play before, because they’re essentially the Blackwire Records house band. Anyway, if you’re on of these miracle people that hasn’t had their mind blown yet, HANNAHBAND will be launching Quitting… on the 4th of June. Support comes from Nervous Habit, Canine and Snape, AND the whole evening doubles as a sixth birthday party for the world’s greatest venue!

New: Unity Floors – Moving to Melbourne

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Gus Hunt and Henry Gosling were two of the first people I met in Sydney who were in a band. Actually, not even just a band – they were in Unity Floors, one of the coolest and funnest bands that exists in this city. This was the same band that wrote deadset hits like “Nice Fit” and “Holy Hell”. And they were really cool in person as well! Fuck, my 18 year old head was spinning faster than when I downed my first tequila shot a week prior.

Fast forward two years and many Unity Floors shows later, and my heart is in my mouth when I see that the new single from the band’s upcoming Life Admin record is called “Moving to Melbourne”. Piss off! No way! What? Why? Is Sydney seriously about to lose two of its’ biggest legends/best songwriters? Just because the rent is astronomically high and Circle Pit broke up? C’mon, think about all the money you could win at the casino!

Actually, “Moving to Melbourne” has more to do with the cliche of moving to AUSTRALIA’S ROCK CAPITAL™ than the actual decision to move there. It’s that rash move that accompanies recent pain and/or heartbreak, and deciding to fuck it all off and start afresh.

Luckily, Unity Floors aren’t actually pissing off to embroil themselves at nights at the Tote and debates on flat whites vs. espressos, and will be sticking around with their GBV-inspired songs for a few more weeks. Catch ’em playing for free at The Union on May 28th, with Us the Band and Abigail and Daisy, or June 1st at Rad in Wollongong with Solid Effort and Abigail and Daisy.

New: D.D Dumbo – Satan

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As Bart Simpson once said, “All the best bands are affiliated with Satan”. Black Sabbath, Slayer, that one Kylie Minogue song. And if there was one thing that was going to get D.D Dumbo out of his two-year absence, it was always going to be a writing session with the Dark Lord.

I can see them now – a skinny guy from the Victoria hunkered down next Big Red himself, growling about the direction of “Satan”. “Look, Oliver, I really think we should introduce some woodwind after that second chorus,” grumbles Lucifer, “Just to mix it up, y’know?”

“Yes, totally, big guy! You are 100% on the right track! People give you a bad rap, but you are EARNING this writing credit, y’hear me?”

“Oh yeah, man, look, it’s actually an honour to be working with you. “Tropical Oceans” was, like, probably my most played song on Spotify last year. Really psyched about the 4AD signing, bro, super pumped. And, like, this David Byrne direction you’re going in is super cool, really enjoying the change of dire-….fuck, excuse me Oliver, can we take five? Hitler is being a total dick again. Really sorry about this man.”

New: Leather Towel – The Message

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As soon as Leather Towel kick off with their machine gun drum rolls and bulldozer-to-the-skull charge of the guitar on “The Message”, you’re strapped in, Guantanamo Bay-style, for an absolute flaying. It’s urgent punk that barely spills over a minute, but it’ll grate your cheek into the sidewalk for the full 75 seconds. Make sure you wear a helmet and kneepads, that solo at the end will try to kill you.

Leather Towel will be in Sydney this Friday, playing an LP launch at the Marrickville Bowlo with Lumpy and the Dumpers (USA), Oily Boys and Houswives.

New: Marcus Whale – Vapour

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Marcus Whale is as integral to Sydney’s cultural identity as the Harbour Bridge, or directing patrons towards the casino at 2am. Not only does Marcus appear in a variety of guises, from the experimental pop of Collarbones, to the throbbing darkness of BV, but he’s also at the front of every show worth going to in this city. He’s often the guy you can count on to be dancing in a room full of people too nervous to.

That type of multi-faceted and bold personality makes for raw music, which is exactly what you’re in for with “Vapour”. It’s six and a half minutes of uncompromising, endlessly interesting music. Whispy blasts of air, the cricks of a door, a murmur from a watching Predator, an urgent beat…all carried through upon Whale’s voice, which wafts delicately, gazing above the constantly shifting soundscape.

Marcus Whale has always pushed the boundaries of sound with all of his projects, but here, in solo mode, he’s colliding so many different styles and structures, he’s come up with something actually original. The absolute madman has actually done it!

“Vapour” is an exercise in making music without borders and genre. I have no idea how to classify it; I honestly don’t know how Marcus is creating the sounds he has managed to, and that pushes me to simply enjoy this song without feeling that usual compulsion to compare it to something else. Don’t bother trying to capture it, just take it in, all of it. Once you’re finished, just take a second and think about how weird, and mysterious, and cool, and fantastic that song was. Then listen again.

Marcus Whale’s debut LP Inland Sea is out on Good Manners on June 10th. He’ll be launching the album at Newtown Social on the 15th of July

New Electronica: Rainbow Chan + Dro Carey + Broadway Sounds + Ara Koufax + Kllo + OCDANTAR + Cliques + TEES

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If you head to the club tonight, and the DJ doesn’t drop one of these sick beats, then sorry, you went to the wrong club and your DJ sucks.

Rainbow Chan – Last

Rainbow Chan recently dropped “Nest”, the first single from her upcoming debut album, which showcased an even stronger willingness to incorporate all those pop leanings hinted at on her first few tracks. Now, “Last” doubles down, with rippling pools of synths spurred on by constantly evolving percussion from chimes to spliced hi-hats. Plus, there’s a chorus in there that was surely custom-made in a pop warehouse featuring a cast of ex-Destiny Child’s ghostwriters. That syrupy “Honey, honey” chant is enough to melt steel beams.

Dro Carey – Dark Zoo EP

Dro Carey has to be one of the most impressive electronic artists in Australia, right? He’s been doing that sort of complex and paranoid take on UK Garage for a few years now, but this EP sees a new extension to the Dro Carey dynamic, with a Kucka collaboration that showcases his poppies stuff yet. Still, “pop” is a loose word for “Queensberry Rules” – it’s still murmurs and bubbles with a twisted aesthetic. The EP also features that stellar single “Grow Lithe” – like a migraine pulsing underneath your skull, this thing distorts aggressively; a surefire way to keep a dance floor contorting at 3am.

The Dark Zoo Ep officially drops next week on the 20th via Soothsayer – plenty of other hits on there, so get on it.

Broadway Sounds – Exclusive Love/Digital Influence

Broadway Sounds are heading to Glastonbury! How great is that!? But also, not in the least bit surprising, considering their constant stream of good-time funk/electronica/disco/afrobeat/fuck knows banger salads. Just listen to “Exclusive Love/Digital Influence”, a song that can’t sit still for a millisecond. It jumps around upon a perky, unpredictable spray of disco synth that bathes in the titular commandment of “EXCL-USIVE LOVE / \ DIGITAL INF-LUENCE”. This song is an authoritative gesture from the Gods of Getting Down, and who are you to deny them?

Ara Koufax –  Kissy Fits

As soon as “Kissy Fits” kicks off, it becomes clear that you’re in for some jaw-clenched, fists-bundled techno. Ara Koufax stretch tension over their six minutes, chewing on football samples and murderous beats. It’s heavy stuff that remains menacing and intensive, but never overextends into something cartoonish.

Kllo – Bolide

Kllo are back with an extra letter and a serene new single in “Bolide”! The team up between Simon Lam (I’lls, Nearly Oratorio) and Chloe Kaul has just gotten hypersensitive – this is the kind of song you put on after you fall asleep in the sun, and end up with third degree burns all over your body, and you need something even more soothing than mere Aloe Vera.

OCDANTAR – Time in Flux EP

The solo project of Josh Delaney (Rat & Co, SMILE, Smooch Records Co-Head Honcho) has just put out an EP of slow-burning, Jon Hopkins-esque atmospheric electronica. It’s slow, sparse and beautiful stuff, full of texture. If it were a .jpeg, we’d call it high-res, a bare minimum of 300 pixels. The biggest highlight has to be “Sad Child”, a crisp, delicate mourner led by haunting vocals more mournful than the Adrien Brody’s natural facial expression.

Cliques – Dotted

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Cliques are the Anglerfish of the electronic world. They sit in near silence, in a place so dark you wouldn’t be able to see anything even if you had a trusty Bic. Then, a small, dim light appears…faint, bouncing, happy. It feels wrong to approach it, dangerous even, but it’s so beautiful. It bobs closer and closer, but something doesn’t feel quite right. It’s so close, and so bright, and then…the jaws open wide, terror rises to its haunches, and you’re vacuumed into the stomach of one of the world’s most unique predators.

TEES – Got the Feeling

Look, if this came out in the 90’s alongside Underworld and Orbital, TEES would probably be the biggest things in the world. Actually, it doesn’t really matter about context – even coming out in 2016,  with “Got the Feeling” and that top notch propulsive dreamy house beat, I fully expect TEES as headliners for the next Coachella.

 

New: : Miss Destiny – Law and Order

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Every single part of the latest one from Miss Destiny is fucking perfect. It’s headbanger heaven, a song that’ll claw it’s way to your heart, a guitar riff so mean that it’ll put your head through a wall, and repeat the process ’til you’re unconscious and bleeding.

When those growls of “The only thing worse than law is orderer, watch out cos I’ve got something for yaaaaaa!” explode into the ears, it’s the most badass thing I’ve heard in months. It’s guttural and piercing and exhilarating, the coolest fucking thing to come out of Melbourne since…shit, nothing really compares to how raw and bloodshot this song is! Just listen in, raise your goddamn fist, and heave in time to the cruel, unrelenting power of Miss Destiny!

If you do one thing today – make sure it’s that you listen to this song, and then spread it like a goddamn virus.

New Guitar Pop: Ciggie Witch + Scott & Charlene’s Wedding + Gentlemane + Terry + Chook Race + Shearin’ + Cousin Tony’s Band New Firebird

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Just a couple A+ delicacies for your Wednesday night if you’re in the mood for a bit of a jingle jangle:

Ciggie Witch – Walking the Tracks

One of the crowning achievements of my short life thus far is when Ciggie Witch dedicated a song to me at the Fitzroy Bowls Club during a Bedroom Suck Presents gig. Side note: the combination of those three pronouns has made that sentence the most Australian line of dialogue ever written.

Anyway, sink your teeth into this new hazy beauty from the Ciggie Witch camp. This time round, old mate Zach expresses his anxieties of balancing happiness in a song as sick as Steven Seagal’s ponytail.

Scott & Charlene’s Wedding – Delivered

Been a while since we heard the flashy twang of S+CW, and it’s bloody to good to have them back! There’s that some old yelp, that same old propulsive melody, and a chorus that’s born to be belted from the bedroom of frustrated folks all around Australia.

PS wait for the guitar solo at the end there – feels like you’re being used as mouthwash in the bill of a pelican, tossed around in a machine of bleeding reverb. 10/10

Gentlemane – The Year of Trip

This album is typically more lost in love that your typical jangly record, but you know what? That’s alright by me. I’ve been feeling a little Romeo-esque lately, and I wouldn’t mind listening to a bit of “Lost in the Moment” or “She’s My Angel” as I tearfully yell Shakespeare at the balconies of two-up’s in Newtown on a Saturday arvo.

Terry – 8 Girls 

Terry might not support the nationalists, but they do support cowboy hats and cut-off denim vests that sport their own name in diamonds. Oh yeah, and they also support really tough, leathery pop music born to be blasted from the pub jukebox right after a Saints song from Prehistoric Sounds.

Chook Race – At Your Door 

This song came out before Season 6 of Game of Thrones, which in blog terms means that it’s probably too old to attempt to attach a hashtag to. However, I’m still gonna give it a go, because the scratchy pop styling of Chook Race will never stop be endearing, and it’s always better late than never. Go on, press play, no regrets here.

Shearin – Budget Cuts

For me personally, there’s probably nothing better than hearing a harsh voice spit pure fury over political indignation, shitty policy and a beautiful little jangle pop line. Oh, and look at that, that’s the exact description of Shearin’s “Budget Cuts”! Aren’t you bloody lucky! Also, it’s probably been at least a few weeks since you heard someone scream “that fat cunt Joe Hockey”, so make sure you tune into “Budget Cuts” for that alone.

If you’re free Friday, make sure you head along to the Chippendale Hotel, as Shearin’ are having their EP launch, and will see some support from Nick Nuisance and the Delinquents as well.

Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird – Melbourne Bitter

This song doesn’t really fall into the guitar pop territory, but the song’s called “Melbourne Bitter”, and that’s good enough for me. This song absolutely bloody rules, and I needed to find a way to sneak it in somewhere. Besides, this blog never had any integrity to begin with, why start now?