It is really, really good to hear some Shrapnel again. Originally the solo whirring synth pop project of Day Ravies’ Sam Wilkinson, the project has since expanded into a full band, and fuck me, can’t you just hear those extra folks in their latest track “Another Year”.
There’s no band quite as charming as Chook Race – they’re probably the only people who can make fitness look appealing (outside of Olivia Newtown John obviously).
Their new clip features the band testing out the latest and greatest gym equipment, with a whole bunch of snazzy sneakers and bright gym shorts to boot. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that there’s an absolutely delightful new Chook Race tune soundtracking the whole shebang as well. Chiming voices, big splashes of guitar and clanging cymbals – it’s good to have these guys back!
Chook Race’s new album Around the House is out on September 2nd on Tenth Court in Australia and Trouble in Mind in the USA.
There are so many blogs on the Internet, and there’s maybe a dozen who are actually worth following. Soundly Sounds sure as shit doesn’t fall into the latter category, but Sound Doctrine certainly does. Run by Tommy Faith, the ol’ SD has been a permanent fixture in my browsing history. Here’s Tommy’s secret – he reels you in with the spilled VB tinnie and fluffy koala graphics, and then keeps you transfixed with tale after tale of incredible Australian acts that you wouldn’t possibly know about otherwise. I have Sound Doctrine to directly thank for the discovery of gems like Spirit Faces and Reuben Ingall, amongst many others
That penchant for discovery courses through Tommy’s own label TEEF Records. They’ve got some stellar releases under their belt, but it’s the compilations that I always look forward to with mouth-watering delight, because there’s a huge cast of unknown superstars spilling out of TEEF’s Bandcamp page. Following on from last year’s Imperium in Imperio compilation (which featured the likes of Electric Sea Spider, Setec, and Collarbones), TEEF present their sophomore mixtape, and fuck me sideways if it isn’t ripe with the goods.
Right off the bat, you’ve got a new one from Tracy Chen, the super quiet Adelaidian who makes music to cry by yourself to. Sparse, minimal and incredibly gentle, James Blake wishes he could’ve made a song as moving as this. And then there’s IljusWifmo – it actually annoys me that I can’t pronounce the name, because for the next week (at least), I’m going to be going up to people on the street screaming, “Hey there’s this amazing producer who makes this thrilling, sci-fi soundscape and their name is *mumbles incoherently*”. Oh, and you can’t forget Ribongia’s “Dreams”, which forgoes his usual club thump for something a bit more surreal.
AND HOLY SHIT THAT’S JUST THE FIRST HALF! A brand new group called H/R have somehow managed to turn the most despised squadron of office life into a tantalising vortex of lush synth work and hushed vocals. Sampa the Great proves why she’s the most talked about artist of the year with an exclusive track of pulsating music that raises the bar of local hip-hop several levels. And FISHING return with “Energy Drone”, a throbbing pupil-widener of constantly shifting parts and parcels that sounds how a Rube Goldberg machine operates.
I have barely scratched the surface on all the incredible artists awaiting to be discovered on this mixtape – if I went into a detailed description of every song on here, this article would end up several thousand words. In summary, let’s just call TEEF Records’ Imperium in Imperio II an absolute barn-stormer of a mixtape, packed with tracks custom made for the moment when you need to show off something cool and new that can be unanimously hailed by the crowd as a masterpiece.
Oh, fuck, that’s still not good enough? Well, how about the fact that all proceeds raised from this mixtape go towards OXFAM’s Syrian Refugee appeal. Listening to good stuff, and doing good stuff at the same time? 2016 truly is the year of miracles.
Head to TEEF’s Bandcamp here to cop the comp. And make sure you visit Sound Doctrine regularly – seriously, that place is stacked with the best o’ the best. And it’s waaaaaaaaay better than this blog.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.