Video: Rainbow Chan – Work

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Rainbow Chan has always been excessively cool, but this new song and clip has taken her to a new stance of god-like proportions. After listening to and watching “Work”, I feel the same way about Rainbow Chan as I do Beyonce – just mouth-agape, holy shit, that’s what a fucking boss sounds like. She just oozes with this effortless aura of chic that would make Fonzie’s head spin.

“Work” has everything you could want from a pop song – a stomping beat, a flourishing workout of percussion and potentially the best dance sequence since Kevin Bacon was gyrating his way through an abandoned warehouse in Footloose. Add in an abundance of leather, two notably boss backup dancers, and Rainbow Chan’s absolutely stunning vocals snapping necks to attention faster than a karate chop from Chuck Norris, and you’ve a whole new level of pop masterpiece.

Rainbow Chan’s debut album Spacings will be out on Silo Arts on August 26th. Catch Rainbow Chan bringing her incredible moves to either the first night of Volumes Festival on August 26th, or her album launch at Newtown Social Club on September 16th.

New: Thunderbolt City – Flashback

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Sometimes it can be easy to forget about how great Canberra’s music scene is. I mean, the place is stacked with great bands like Wives, California Girls, Passive Smoke and of course TV Colours, but our nation’s capital never seems to get the same recognition as the EAST COAST BIG THREE™.

Ultimately, I think it’s just a matter of Dream Damage and associated labels maintaining their batting average of 100, and pouring incredible release after incredible release into our iTunes libraries until Gough Whitlam’s re-animated corpse announces July 22nd as National Celebrate Canberra’s Music Scene Day. Until then, smash that mf’ing ‘follow’ button on Dream Damage’s Soundcloud, so you can be up to date with their great releases, such as the debut Thunderbolt City track.

“Flashback” incorporates all that awesome power-pop stuff that was out before I was even a twinkle in my old man’s eye. Even though the recordings are on the rougher side, the thrashy melodies that nod affectionately at Cheap Trick and The Replacements shine through with blistering power, the strutting solos and charging riffs melting into your brain in a way that only a disciple of “Bastards of Young” could pull off. That kind of raw, heaving energy is a perfect example of why folks should stick their heads outside of their local bubble, and have a dig through whatever is brewing in the sewers of Parliament House. Actually can’t wait for this tape to come out next week! Cop it here.

New: SPOD – Party of One

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Forget that bloke from Old Spice – SPOD is the man that you wish your man could be. Tall, handsome, makes great beef jerky and music videos. He’s also Australia’s superior answer to Andrew W.K; a one man party extravaganza who’s single-minded mission is to get your hips shaking.

But what happens when the party is over? When last drinks have been called, and not even the sweet, sweet sounds of Madonna can keep feet shuffling on the dance floor. Well, then it’s time for “Party of One”, the latest from SPOD’s camp since his 2014 record Taste the Sadness.

Stacked with a funk that would knock over George Clinton, only occasionally interrupted by SPOD’s classic deadpan “Um, yes please, a party of one, thank you”, this new jam serves as a tactile response to that snooty maitre’d who keeps asking if you’ll be joined by anyone this evening. Jeez, can’t a fella just enjoy an espresso martini by himself anywhere these days?

In case you haven’t heard, SPOD will be 1/3rd of the best lineup in town on the 20th of August, joining The Gooch Palms and Bachelor Pad at the former’s album launch at Oxford Art Factory.

 

Video: Pool Shop – How Long

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Most folks would know about Jaimee Fryer because of her position in the excellent garage pop band Major Leagues, but she’s also got this amazing side project worth checking out called Pool Shop. Although it’s been a fair while between singles (a couple years in fact), “How Long” presents a warm and welcome return for Fryer’s solo material.

Lush, sweeping arrangements are the name of the game for “How Long”, with the stakes getting pushed through the roof every time that gorgeous chorus swings around. It’s right in the ballpark of Beach House and Blonde Redhead, the kind of indie rock that feels like it should have a halo and a pair of wings accompanying it at all times.

Album Review: GL – Touch

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Every now and then, I get asked to DJ. It’s always heaps of fun for me, but it also sucks for everyone else there because they have to suffer through a ginger kid awkwardly fading between The Replacements and Dinosaur Jr. for hours on end, complete with long and arduous gaps of silence between each song as I attempt to figure out how the CD-J’s work.

The saving grace for these poor bastards locked in a room with me has always been GL. When all hope seems lost, and even half-priced rum ‘n’ cokes aren’t enough to enthrall even the most sturdy of boozehounds, I’ll drop some “Won’t You See” or “Grip”. Instantly, the room is a flourishing wetland of dancing figures and people that suddenly don’t hate my guts. They might not know the songs, but fuck me if folks can’t resist cutting shapes to GL. And who can blame ’em? This is boogie music, through and through!

After a few years of EP’s and singles, the duo of Graham Pogson and Ella Thompson have released their debut full-length. Never before have slap-bass, trickling synths and a drop-dead gorgeous voice been combined so effectively before – each song hits like a speeding train of propulsive rhythms and deadly pop.

The instrumentation of Touch sparkles with crystalline production, each synth burbling with a joyful soul and the bass riffs squelching with particular enthusiasm. Every time another bass slap rockets through the speakers, you can’t help but let out a little involuntary ‘Ooo!’!

However, the star of the show has to go to Ella Thompson’s vocals; her voice acts as a beacon amongst the thick production, summoning from the dance floor, a battle cry for the good times you risk missing out on if you ignore the call. Thompson has proved herself one of the best vocalists, doing time with everyone from Dorsal Fins to AXOLOTOL, but with GL, she delves into a well of talent, unleashing a full-blown pop powerhouse on songs like “Grip” and “Number One”.

There’s a reason why the music of GL goes off so well at my otherwise uneventful and uninspired DJ sets – they just know how to make really great pop music. This duo from Melbourne just ‘get’ it, the same way that Cyndi Lauper and Whitney Houston and Prince ‘got’ it. To do anything but allow yourself to become an obsessive disciple of their music is to deprive yourself of the best local pop band going around right now.

Touch is out now through Plastic World and Midnight Feature. Catch GL when they play Newtown Social on September 17th!

New: Julia Jacklin – Leadlight

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Obviously, this blog isn’t super infatuated with folk, singer-songwriter and country music. I get that they’re both huge music genres, with fanbases that extend far wider and higher than that of a lot of the music I post about. But it’s rare for me to become completely infatuated with the adult-contemporary side of things; I’m impatient, and the music I lean on reflects that.

But when there’s an undeniable talent that can just strum a guitar and curdle your blood with a voice, it’s a sick thing to get hung up on genre, and not fall head over heels for an objectively fantastic artist. Take Kath Bloom, or Marlon Williams, or Will Oldham – it doesn’t matter what kind of music fan you are, these are characters that demand attention for their stories.

Julia Jacklin is the latest introduction to my stable of quiet artists who’s music screams loudly without having to necessarily turn up the volume of their guitar.  “Leadlight” is only her second official single, but there’s a gentle richness in her vocal chords that twists my neck out of it’s usual headbanging posture. There’s an intimacy in Jacklin that is far, far, far too rare; she confides in gentle, twirling whispers, and you, the listener, should be so lucky!

If you’re like me, you’ll do the right thing and head along to her single launch next week at Newtown Social Club on Thursday 28th of July. Middle Kids (!) and Allan Smithy will be supporting as well!

New: SM Jenkins + The Green Bananas + Felix Lush + Jess Locke + Teeth and Tongue + Morning TV + Catsuit + RVG + HATECRVMB

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Catching up on all the stuff I missed whilst I’ve been sick the past few weeks:

SM Jenkins –  Out There in the Zone

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from the Step-Panther camp, not since their excellent 2014 album Strange But Nice. Although the band might be in between records, frontman Steve Bourke has released a collection of solo material under the pseudonym S M Jenkins, which expand on the more plaintive side of SP songs like “Number One Fan”.

The collection has all the hallmarks of great 90’s indie rock – from J Mascis’ solo material to the more introspective stuff of Pavement and Wilco. There’s a intimacy to this music that feels like you’re locked under the sheets of your room, accompanied only by light plucking and Bourke’s scratched vocals. It’s surreal, hypnotising stuff that burns slow but lasts long after hits like “Boulder Valley” and “High Beamin'” have faded from the speaker.

The Green Bananas – The Ape

Speaking of pseudonyms, Owen Penglis of Straight Arrows fame has recorded a “novelty single” under the name The Green Bananas. It’s a romping, stomping good time that was born to play in ballrooms, to the shrieks of adoring crowds who are falling over themselves trying to get into gorilla costumes.

If we lived in a fair and just society, this song – nay, tradition! – would replace The Chicken Dance at all school socials; much to the benefit of our nation’s youth, who would evolve from 12 year old braindead Tinder stalkers into shimmying simians. A re-introduction to the devil’s rock n roll all over again that would send responsible adults careening in horror as the young ones become addicted to that crazy new sound!

The 7″s are currently sold-out, but I believe a second pressing is on the way. If you can’t wait that long, I’m 90% sure Repressed has a few copies as well.

Felix Lush – State of Mind EP

In recent times, it feels like there’s been a new class of bands starting up in Sydney who are providing a steady stream of excellent off-kilter pop. One such talent is Felix Lush, formerly of Claire and the Cops – in solo mode, he hasn’t altogether ditched his guitars, but he’s definitely taken them further back in the mix, eschewing the previous Ty Segall crank for washes of synth and vocals that glow with a lulling radioactivity.

With the crisp click of a precise drum machine and goth-inspired bass lines the shimmer like glass poised to shatter, Lush feels comfortable here. He hasn’t swapped out any of the rawness from his last project, simply transitioned it. It still sears, just with liquid nitrogen instead of a hot iron. When you want to brag to your friends about how you know the best music right now, don’t forget to namedrop “State of Mind” and “Lose My Cool”.

Jess Locke – Paper Plane

Listening to Jess Locke reminds me of the first time I heard artists like Cat Power, Laura Viers and Laura Jean. Just hearing something and thinking: “Shit, I’m in love with that. I am absolutely drop-dead, head over heels, kidney-leaking in love with that voice”. It’s a gentle lullaby that rocks ever-so-sweetly from side to side. It’s a simple song that overflows with Locke’s rich, heavenly voice. The title for the most charming song in indie rock doesn’t just have a challenger, it has a full blown usurper a rich, simple song, an example of indie rock charm personified.

Teeth and Tongue – Dianne

I don’t know heaps about Teeth & Tongue, but what I thought I knew of them was that they were a sort of melancholic, folky kinda project, no? That’s why I was taken aback by their new single “Dianne”, a romping pop number that leans right into  some spiky synths. But surprise turned to salivation quickly over a song that wouldn’t be out of place on an album from The Go-Gos, or Blondie – confident, propulsive pop that latches hold from the first second, the mind getting pinballed around by the whiplash vocal dynamics of Teeth and Tongue’s Jess Cornelius.

Morning TV – Turquoise 

Sydney’s Morning TV have grown on me enormously since their debut ear worm “Golden” first appeared. Lush dream-pop that stirs in heavy dollops of reverb over an absolutely superb voice. “Turqoise” works elegantly in slow-mo, humming upon a relaxed Blonde Redhead vibe. Not too shabby for a third single!

Catsuit – Starlet 

Hobart, the land of a million great bands that don’t get near enough attention! Catsuit are one such band, a breezy pop group that sounds like if Kim Gordon, Shirley Manson and Kim Deal had made a band together, pairing smudged guitars with 90’s guitar pop sensibilities. It’s also kind of ironic that a song that takes the piss out of pop music and its stars serves as a perfect example of how great pop music can be.

RVG – RVG 7″

Preston is so much more than a Courtney Barnett song – it’s also the hometown of RVG, a fantastic band that take a spark to jangle pop, and electrocute into its grandest evolution yet. There’s something here that’s more dense and earnest than your average band singing about the dole, and it’s that quality that graduates RVG into a band that would make Yo La Tengo proud. Although only two songs deep into their careers, RVG will already impress the hell out of anyone with two ears and a craving for great pop.

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Last but not least, some great new hardcore from Sydney. It’s two of the guys from AUSTRALIA making a fucktonne of noise, and making it well. For the desired effect, turn it up to a skin-peeling volume that will leave a ringing in your ears for days.

New: The Rangoons – Cult of Thorns

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I very vividly remember watching The Rangoons playing this at the Marrickville Bowlo a few months back and thinking, “Wow – this band is cool”. Not in the way that sleeping in is cool, or finding a new cheap pork roll shop is cool. I mean cool in that what you’re witnessing is above and beyond you. It’s cool in that you feel like you’re peering into some sort of secret society that has its own rituals and habits. There’s an excitement and a rush to it, discovering something that you aren’t supposed to. I watched The Rangoons, still and quite but bubbling underneath, close to erupting, as the band rolled the words “Which” and “Witch”, around their mouths, spitting them over a cerebral guitar lines.

The song I heard that day now has a name, “Cult of Thorns”, and an official Internet release as of yesterday. Recorded, The Rangoons have maintained that itching paranoia that contaminates the live version, a subdued serial killer edge of mania smothering the song. I was right the first time – The Rangoons are one of the coolest bands in Australia.

New: Sarah Mary Chadwick – Cool It/Makin’ It Work

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It is honestly a really, really tough decision to decide which Sarah Mary Chadwick thing I like better – her art or her music.

On the one hand, her music is some of the most unflinching, unapologetic stabs into the darkest corners of the heart. It’s jagged, minimal and unrelenting, her voice cracking like lips under the full brunt of an Arctic wind, displaying raw and painful and utterly transfixing emotion. Once a Sarah Mary Chadwick song begins, and that Kiwi-tinged mourn begins, it’s tough to do anything else but sit there and listen in wonder.

On the other hand, her artwork is fantastically graphic. Just like her music, it dives headfirst into ugliness – the parts of romance that are unromantic, of exploitation and fear – and rears up something quite beautiful and distinct.

But hey, there’s no reason to choose a favourite; in the words of everyone’s favourite taco spokesperson – por que no los dos? In anticipation of her new record Roses Always Die, Chadwick will be providing a unique screen print for everyone that pre-orders the record! Get it here, or buy it when it comes out on August 5th, through Rice is Nice.

New: Scotdrakula – Skeleton Fever

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A few months ago, a Facebook event popped up that said something along the lines of “FINAL SCOTDRAKULA SHOW…”, and my heart jumped into my mouth. Beads of sweat trailed down my scalp, a burning rash of anxiety shot through my innards – Scotdrakula were breaking up???

Yes, and no – Scotdrakula will continue, but without the spiritual mentorship and bass whizz Dove Bailey, who has left for New York. On the upside, Dove has made his final mark with “Skeleton Fever”, a significantly beautiful song that needs your ears like Mike Baird needs a crack in the head. It follows down the road of Scotdrakula’s more poignant jams like “Break Me Up”, gently unspooling alongside a buzzing organ and toe-tapping guitar melodies. With it’s yearning chorus and hazy charm, there’s something immediately comfortable “Skeleton Fever”, even if you’re only hearing it for the first time.  And although it’s comparatively quieter to the speedy, jilted garage-pop they’ve became known for, it still hits home as hearteningly as anything Scotdrakula have written before.

Scotdrakula are going on the huge ‘Up the Guts’ tour of Australia with Scott and Charlene’s Wedding, Ali E, Ben Wright Smith and more – dates here