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

Album Review: Gooch Palms – Introverted Extroverts

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Getting in on the ground level of a band that you go onto love is both good and bad. On the one hand, you get to see them develop from their scrappy beginnings, going from struggling with a couple of chords to unprecedented levels of success. On the other hand, there’s that risk of the band developing further and further away from what made you like them in the first place – The Westerberg Effect, if you will. This is the crossroads that I find myself staring at with The Gooch Palms, one of my all time favourites – on their second full-length album, where they going to make a Let It Be or an All Shook Down?

Newcastle’s Kat Friend and Leroy McQueen have made extraordinary progress since their humble beginnings as proud Novos flogging a Ramones covers EP on Bandcamp; it’s been crazy to see them go from support slots in Frankie’s Pizza to the Enmore Theatre. Their success is well deserved – since relocating to the USA and amidst a near constant touring schedule, their stage presence, (which was already full of Beavis butt tattoos and Twisted Sister covers) has been honed into them realising their potential as one of the most reliably entertaining bands to have called Australia home. So yeah, the live aspect still rules, but what about the new album? Have the Yanks diluted that ragged garage pop spirit that drew in so many eager punters like myself?

NOT AT ALL! Are you kidding me? You doubting piece of shit! Why the hell would you think the Gooch Palms would suddenly lose their magic? Listen to “Tiny Insight” above – that song fucking rules. That track is the equivalent of a 2 Dollar Tequila Night – two minutes, and you’re covered in sweat, shivering and intoxicated, delirious on the elixir of something sweet and jagged at the same time.

Fans of that driving, gonzo punk that propelled The Gooch Palms to cult status will not be disappointed – Introverted Extroverts is full of songs like “Living Room Bop”, “Eat Up Ya Beans”, “If You Want It” and “Sleep Disorder” that showcase that distinct Gooch Palms sound. Cutthroat riffs and throat-shredding chorus’ pure bred for an adoring crowd to belt back into the faces of the two disciples of the Church of Reatard. It’s colourful, inhibition-obliterating stuff – alcohol, with none of the calories and twice the flavour.

However, what’s really precious about Introverted Extroverts aren’t the mad dashes of lunatic garage but rather the ballads that sit pretty amongst the insanity. The songwriting chops of Kat and Leroy have been significantly expanded – although their debut Novos had highlights in the slow-burners “Don’t Cry” and “You”, but the fourth quarter half court shots of “Long Gone” and “Don’t Look Me Up” force you to look at the Gooch Palms in a whole new light. Not only can these guys slow their songs down, there’s none of the holding-up-a-flickering-lighter-anthem strength that coated their debut’s softer moments – these songs are naked; songs of stand alone incredibility.

I don’t think you’d ever apply the word ‘matured’ to the band with a frontman that constantly relives Andrew Johns’ Greatest Hits every time he’s onstage, but I don’t think I ever want The Gooch Palms to ‘mature’. I want them to keep that rawness, that screeching element that forces anyone to drop what they’re doing in fear and excitement. But I also want them to build as a band, to never put out the same records twice. And in Introverted Extroverts, the Gooch Palms have done that. They’re not the same band that I first saw – they’re better.  The Gooch Palms have evolved in the way that you want  a band to involve: without abandoning their roots but building upon them. And in that, they’ve swayed from the Westerberg Effect and landed squarely in the Husker Du Hypothesis: keep the fuckers pleasantly surprised with more the same unexpectedness. Mission accomplished.

Introverted Extroverts is out now through Gooch Palm’s own label Summer Camp Records, and available here. They’ll be swinging back through Australia in a few months time, playing Oxford Art Factory on August 20th, tix here.

Video: The Ocean Party – Back Bar

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Another year, another Ocean Party record – it’s the stuff that helps folks like myself battle through these freezing winters. When the frostbite sets in, just know that the OP Crew will be personally delivering one of the records of the year any day now. And so, without further ado, take off the gloves and check out their latest, “Back Bar”, from their forthcoming sixth album.

After pumping out album after album, “Back Bar” shows that The Ocean Party have perfected their brand of pop. Close your eyes, and seep into that familiar Ocean Party sound of crisp guitars and honeyed vocals.

Then open those eyes and witness the terror of their new video – it’s David Cronenberg meets jangle-pop! A body horror film brought to you by Melbourne’s favourite sons! I’ve never been so repulsed and turned on in my entire life.

Get lubed up and catch The Ocean Party when they swing through town for a free show at the Union Hotel on the 9th of July, with old mates Cool Sounds.

Volumes 2016 Mixtape

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Last year, Sydney got a huge leg up in the form of Volumes Festival, a multi-venue event that put a spotlight on all the fan-fucking-tastic music we get to call our own in this city, as well as a 11/10 show from Blank Realm. Even the piece of shit writing this sentence had a pretty good time!

Which is why I’m really happy that Volumes will be returning for another year! Not only have the team expanded to include an extra day and the Burdekin Hotel amongst last year’s venue collective of The Oxford Art Factory, Brighton Up Bar and Cliff Dive, but they’ve delivered a lineup that forces even a chode like myself to concede a gasp of “Wow…”.

The full lineup and tickets can be scored here, but if ya want a pick of the best of the bunch, read on below:

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Formerly known as Black Vanilla, the Friday night headliners will be bringing their ferociously dark party to Volumes for a night of hedonism. In their own words: “No once cares how well you move, so just move”.

FISHING

The last time I saw FISHING, they rapped in French, and then brought up the Al Wright from Cloud Control for a song that sounded like the spiritual successor to Underworld’s “Born Slippy”. I don’t know how the hell they’ll be able to top that, but after months away, honing new material, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that FISHING’s return to the stage will see a truly crazy performance.

Rainbow Chan

Rainbow Chan is definitely the best thing in electronic music right now. Every time I see, hear or even think about her music, the words “jilted pop perfection” brand themselves into my brain. Her debut album will be out by the time she hits the stage for the first night of Volumes, so make sure you get a good spot early, because you’ll be one of the thousands clamouring to catch the biggest sensation of 2016.

Donny Benet

It’s been far too long since the ripple of Donny’s smooth and sensual touch has been felt. The sophisticated lover will be sparing no expense on the Saturday night, enrapturing all those who dare to feel the heat. Fuck, I’m licking my lips just thinking about this.

Unity Floors

I’ll take any excuse to belt out “Nice Fit” and all the other classic hits these guys have made over the years. UF’s second album Life Admin should be out by the time Volumes hits, so there’s plenty of time to learn the lyrics to all the new classics as well.

Rolling Blackouts CF

Someone once called Rolling Blackouts CF “…the best band ever…”, and that someone is me.

Scott and Charlene’s Wedding

Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, the third best Neighbours-themed band from Melbourne, hardly make the trek to Sydney anymore, so any opportunity to see them should not be missed. Besides all the classics like “Rejected”, “Lesbian Wife” and “Jackie Boy”, they also do a killer cover of the Go-Betweens’ “Karen”, so make sure you’re front and centre when they tear Brighton Up Bar a new one.

The Harpoons

I’ve sorely missed The Harpoons’ R&B-tinged synth pop – it’s lip-biting, misty eyed stuff, and I’m filled with anticipation at the mere thought of swaying along with hundreds of others to “Unforgettable”.

Summer Flake

Summer Flake’s Hello Friends has been my ‘Album of the Week’ for the past three months – I’m a lazy shit who keeps forgetting to update that section of the website, but there’s also a hint of truth to my mistake. Summer Flake’s disarming honesty, golden guitar and harrowing voice makes her the perfect recipient of such a prestigious award. Can’t wait to catch Steph Crase and co. when they swing through Sydney again!

 

Volumes 2016 takes place on Friday the 25th and Saturday the 26th of August, all up and down Oxford St. Once again, tix and full lineup here.