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.

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Gig Review: The Goon Sax

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Saturday, April 2nd @ Newtown Social Club

I was a loser in high school, a big time dork. I look back on those days, and hang my head in shame. Every morning I wake up and check the Internet to make sure that some regrettable photo from that period hasn’t surfaced in a mission to ruin my life. I live with caution, certain that it’s only a matter of time before people realise that, at 15 years old, I was the biggest Red Hot Chili Peppers fan and argued with my parents over getting the lyrics to “Dani California” permanently inked to my skin.

Which is why, when I look at The Goon Sax, a bunch of 17 and 18 year olds from Brisbane, I instantly become consumed with jealousy. They’re playing after FLOWERTRUCK, who are essentially Sydney’s gatekeepers of guitar pop, an Edwyn Collins/David Byrne amalgamation from heaven. FLOWERTRUCK have just put on a hell of a show, not exactly something you’d jump at the chance to follow. But before The Goon Sax have played a note, before they’ve even made a gesture, I know that they are the coolest people I’ve ever seen in my life, and that they’re about to play something very memorable. There’s a casual but inviting way to how they stand on stage that speaks of nervous anticipation. I’ve seen so many bands get up at the NSC looking bored or dismissive, and the novelty of The Goon Sax’s quiet excitement doesn’t just make them interesting, it makes them far cooler than they already are. And that’s all before they’ve even started strumming.

Musically, The Goon Sax have taken jangle-pop, and applied a level of self-awareness, self-deprecation and affable charm that has evolved the genre. There’s no obvious allusions to their forebearers, nor the modern champions of the genre like Twerps, Dick Diver and The Ocean Party. They stand apart, spinning seemingly mundane topics into compulsive stories, which spill from the stage and directly into your gaping mouth. These yarns – simple, scratchy and flawed – are wrought directly from the teenage experience; but the real sucker punch is that these songs speak to any age, without relying on some sense of nostalgia in the lyrics or music. It just speaks to the fact that The Goon Sax are really fucking amazing songwriters, who actually get pop music, far more than I ever will. It’s only when frontmen Louis Forster and James Harrison switch instruments that you’re pulled out of the spell, and it once again dawns on you that, holy shit, I will never be as cool as the people I am watching right now.

Although an hour set might have been a bit ambitious (maybe that’s just me – I love a good short and sweet set), the performance never felt like it dragged. There were lulls, sure, but The Goon Sax have a talent for always being able to reset the audience’s interest, whether it be through one of their instant-classic singles, such as “Boyfriend” and “Sometimes Accidentally”, or hidden gems from their debut album, like the closer “Ice Cream (On My Own)”. Or maybe it was their attitude that made them so loveable; the fact that, whenever you zoned in on the band, you could see a real love for what they were doing, with none of the ego or cynicism that usually coats other guitar pop bands onstage. That kind of genuine and unpretentious behaviour is infectious, and gives all the more reason to become completely and utterly infatuated with this band.

As soon as The Goon Sax left the stage, there was nothing left to do but swear a blood oath to them. The Goon Sax have gone from being yet another fantastic Brisbane band, to one of my favourites in the country. I may be consumed by jealousy at their monstrous coolness, but the music and show is too good to bite a thumb at. Folks, here’s some sound advice: see the show, buy the record, and learn a thing or two from these bloody geniuses.

Video: The Goon Sax – Boyfriend

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The best thing about The Goon Sax is their wit – it ain’t just razor sharp, it’s like Freddie Kreuger’s claws have picked up a typewriter and started banging out an acidic essay on the tired tropes of love. That’s the general motif behind “Boyfriend”, a song with lyrics as sinister as Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons. But instead of a barrelling onslaught of viciousness, The Goon Sax coat their barbs in cottoned pop, meagre acoustic strumming, quiet duets, and the occasional tock of a cowbell. It’s this subdued way that they approach love songs – intelligent, literary lyrics, gentle music – that raises them up as one of the best new bands of 2015, and why their forthcoming debut on Chapter Music is gonna be pretty much the best thing ever.

If you need any more evidence of how great they are, check out the accompanying video for “Boyfriend”, and look beyond the obvious greatness of gold-microphone fawning and the goon-sack appropriation of Warhol’s Silver Clouds. Check for the nervous glances between bands member, the occasional peeps to make sure their fingers are hitting the right notes, almost as if to say, “Can you guys believe this?”. It’s just another mark of their swift rise to being one of the most beloved bands in Australia, and those nerves are sure to disappear as soon as they hit the lofty heights they’re bound for.

 

New: Guy Blackman – Camming 4 Each Other

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Fun fact: did you know that Chapter Music head honcho Guy Blackman plays music as well? He’s been in a bunch of fantastic bands over the years, plying his trade in Montero and Minimum Chips, amongst others, but its his solo work that stands out. 2008’s Adult Baby  is definitely worth a re-visit.

He’s just released a new track, titled “Camming 4 Each Other”, and yeah, I’m a tad flustered. Bit hot under the collar, if you know what I mean. Gotta take a few minutes to settle down, grab a nice cold drink of water, breathe deeply, all that jazz. Why? Because “Camming 4 Each Other” is an Internet love song for the ages. It’s like belly dancing and intimate karaoke sessions at 2am have been thrown together in a heap of sensuality. Pretty good, pretty good.

Video: The Goon Sax – Sometimes Accidentally

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Oi blogs! Yeah, I’m talking to you, the taste making denizens of the Internet! Fuck is wrong with you? Why haven’t you picked up The Goon Sax yet? You’ve really dropped the ball on this one, y’know. These guys are pure talent, hit city, the superstars of tomorrow, and you’re just letting them slip through your keyboard-glued fingers. Poor form, poor bloody form.

There is absolutely no reason that The Goon Sax should be ignored, by anyone, because they are the best thing since Lowes had a 90% off sale. They’ve only got this track “Sometimes Accidentally” to their names, but its a song that accentuates all there is to love about the guitar pop genre. Although they’re in a class that can occasionally stale itself with too often repeated meanderings on mundanity that has now almost bordered on cliche, The Goon Sax keep things straightforward. Relishing in a delightful low- key riff, The Goon Sax examine their personal faults and flaws in such a charming way that its impossible not to fall head over heels in love with them.

“Sometimes Accidentally” has been stuck in the heads of all pop lovers for a few months, but now there’s a video, and goddamn, doesn’t it just cement all the stuff there is to love about these guys? They’ve filmed with an unashamed homemade aesthetic, complete with drawn on moustaches, supermarket munchies and giggling when they sing their lyrics. They’ve even opted out of the big budget, and decided to film themselves playing in a park, as opposed to the blockbuster, explosion-laden, Michael Bay directed film clip set in the Amazon that Chapter Music would have probably paid all expenses for.  As iterated before, there’s nothing false about The Goon Sax – it’s authentic and likeable, devoid of any irony or inside-joke pats-on-the-back. Fucking hell, blogs, can you get off your arses and start #hastagging about this band?

New Electronic: NO ZU + Alba + Urtekk + Arthur Wimble

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A few vids and a couple new jams from the best knob-tweakers in the country:

NO ZU – Ui Yia Uia

As if this song wasn’t incredible enough, the video for the new NO ZU track “Ui Yia Uia” unleashes itself, presenting the world to the fever dream of the cast from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Saxophones blare triumphantly and bongos are tapped enthusiastically as bodybuilders flex next to muscular kangaroos and the occasional fern. All is bathed in goopy green and pink neon and Jesus Christ, this is one of the best videos of the year.

Alba – Operator 

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/139918911″>Alba – Operator</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/eugeneward”>Eugene Ward</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Jostling, acidic visuals queued up by Dro Carey are paired with Alba’s new jam that comes two years after their stunning track “Knokke”. It’s dark, minimal and feels like it was concocted out of a basement laboratory in the seediest corner of Berlin. It’s another huge win for Plastic World, who have put out releases from the likes of Thomas William, GL and Retiree…actually, this track is just a huge win for Sydney music in general.

Urtekk – Pockets

Urtekk are from Adelaide, and my computer keeps auto-correcting their name to Utrecht. Despite these two facts, they’ve shown, over the course of a few singles and EP’s, that they’re a group you’ve gotta get onto. Long, washed out synth build ups, tantalising tendrils of sound, minimal and dangerous…that’s how Urtekk roll. It’s so great, I don’t even mind the constant stress of having to undo my computer’s insistence that I’m spelling the wrong word.

Arthur Wimble – I Love My Love

Arthur Wimble – sounds like a character that got shelved from a shitty Jane Austen novel, right? A real proper gentleman that ruled Downton Abbey with an iron fist, gently wrapped in silk gloves.

Well, that’s not far from his musical truth. It’s just motion after motion of affection from Wimble’s debut, set to feathered, velvety production. It’s got that same sort of light, fluttering feel that has made Rainbow Chan’s music so essential.

New: The Goon Sax – Sometimes Accidentally

11742874_947032518676703_2395032928037337627_nWow. Yeah, shit, didn’t see that coming. When someone names their band The Goon Sax, there’s a pretty solid expectation that some crass pop-punk will explode out of your speakers and summon your soul to the depths of dyed fringe and choker chain hell. That isn’t a fate I would wish upon my worst enemy.

But this – wow, this is amazing! The Goon Sax are incredible! Fuck the golf clap – a standing ovation is in order, a full-blown bravo for subverting expectations to a 180 degree and proving that being a pretentious wanker has probably cost me the opportunity to check out some fantastic acts.

Instead of pure dread, “Sometimes Accidentally” rustles up disarming plucky guitar pop that puts the Creation Records formula into 80’s Australiana. The Goon Sax somehow turn a song that could so easily be mundane – a mere love song that relies on blushing adoration and a quaint little hook – into a near perfect pop number that demands repetition. It mirrors what makes fellow Chapter label mates The Stevens such a fun, immediate listen.  Trust us, an accidental click on play will result in this song taking over your life.

New: NO ZU – Ui Yia Uia

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If ever presented with the opportunity to catch Melbourne’s NO ZU, seize that shit. Carpe fucking diem, mate. It’s the most fun you can have with your pants on. Or off, whatever, some venues are stricter than others. The point is, if delirious unpredictability sounds like your sorta thing, you’ve got to catch this band. A babbling stream of synths, backup dancers and whistles (oh god, the whistles), NO ZU are insane.

They’ve done an admirable job of converting that to record as well. Fresh from their contribution to Cut Copy’s ‘Oceans Apart’ compilation, NO ZU have signed on with Chapter Music, and released “Ui Yia Uia”. It starts big, and just grows from there, an enormous blob of moist sound that somehow converts itself into a finale of triumphant trumpets, helium-coated chants and goopy bass. It’s cough syrup for the ears, in that it’ll get you drunker than you’ve ever felt in your life

New: Crayon Fields – She’s My Hero

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It’s been a while between drinks for Crayon Fields, specifically six years. Although frontman Geoffrey O’Connor has been steadily pumping out hits like “Her Name On Every Tongue”, there’s still that yearning for some signature Crayon Fields pop. Some lulling guitars, mild shoegaze vibes, seduction incarnate – mmm yeah, been missing that for a while, hey.

It’s pretty fantastic that Crayon Fields are back. I loved their ‘All the Pleasures of the World’ record, but just like Mercy Arms or Panel of Judges, it seemed like Crayon Fields were doomed to never live past 2010, and a whole swathe of newly 18 year olds were deprived of their shimmering pop. Luckily, they’ve returned with these brief swooner, just under three minutes of unabashed, unashamed love. If any midnight love-song dedication DJ’s out there are fiending for some new material to get insomniac housewives lusty over, look no further than “She’s My Hero”.

Album Review: Dick Diver – Melbourne, Florida

 

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It took me a while to get around to listening Dick Diver, a lot longer than I should’ve waited. I waited longer to listen to Dick Diver than Axl Rose takes to braid his hair. But a Melbourne four piece signed to Chapter Music, combined from members of Eastlink, Straightjacket Nation, The UV Race, Boomgates et. al., as well as a bromance between Rupert Edwards and Alistair McKay that creatively envies that of Forster and McLennan is something that feels like a must have for Rye-Rye’s record collection. Maybe it was the dick joke that wasn’t really a dick joke, or the popularity surrounding their second record ‘Calendar Days’ that made me think that they weren’t worth the time to check out. I mean, how can any sort of band with ‘hype’ be any good? Dontcha know that the mainstream music press is just a circlejerk between the major labels and the editors of NME? Shit, all the @goodmusic comes from the blogosphere, every punk knows that!

But it wasn’t until I sunk my teeth into the glassy, suburban poetry of songs like “Through the D”, “Walk for Room” and “Water Damage” that I managed to chuck away the preconceptions I held around this band, and embrace them for the amazing and unique group they are, as opposed to the “…unwilling pioneers of a joke genre called Dolewave” as Wikipedia so bluntly puts it. Dick Diver are extending upon the great works that The Go-Betweens established, echoing the 80’s aesthetic, but in no way ripping it off. Dick Diver stand at the centre of a broad collection of current guitar-pop artists that is wealthier than Scrooge McDuck’s pool of gold.

For their third record, Dick Diver immediately go for the self-deprecation. It’s right there, in the title: ‘Melbourne, Florida’. What better way to silence critics that say the band lean too strongly upon their homebase of Melbourne than to name your record after a city with the same name on the other side of the world? But the jokey atmosphere more or less ends there, and it’s for the better. The songs on ‘Melbourne, Florida’ seem more confessional than before, and are accompanied by a more solemn musical palette than anything Dick Diver have utilised before. Don’t take that to mean the Melbsters have gone Kraftwerk, but there are splashes of morbid saxophone, mousey synths, and even some languid piano. There’s more confidence to lay things bare, and the result is a fantastically raw and slow-burning record.

Sure, the first two singles were about as ‘explosive’ as Dick Diver songs come, but “Tearing The Posters Down” and “Waste the Alphabet” are anomalies on the record. Fantastic, beautiful anomalies, but outliers nonetheless. That may have set folks up for a different kind of record, but its one worth pursuing regardless. You’re a fool if you don’t sit down with this album, and let Rupert/Al/Al/Steph’s voices serenade you with all their quiet might. The album is strong, packed with heartfelt throat-catchers, like the sliding, electric croon of “Private Number”, which is basically  Yellow Brick Road-era Elton John being plopped in the middle of a depressed sharehouse in Melbourne’s outer suburbs. Or the clicking Triffids-esque “Percentage Points”, which is as spiritually inspiring as anything from Hillsong, and cooler than Fonzie kicking a jukebox. Or the mildly bogan chugger of “Year in Pictures”, which sweetens itself into one of the ripest reflections that Dick Diver have ever performed.

On ‘Melbourne, Florida’, Dick Diver are looking back. They’re not defending themselves, but they are growing up, pondering shit and taking stock, and doing it all in the most audibly pleasing of ways. Dick Diver know how to make good albums, and ‘Melbourne, Florida’, is an example of said album. Don’t be like 17 year old Ryan, that kid was a dick. Make like 19-and-a-1/2 year old Ryan, and appreciate the shit out of some Dick Diver. It’s the mature thing to do.

‘Melbourne, Florida’ is out as of today on Chapter Music, get it from the Bandcamp here.