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!

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New: GL – Grip

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Look, here’s the deal – GL are bloody perfect. They are as perfect as finding out that you and your Uber driver both share a love of Madonna, and busting out multiple renditions of “Like A Prayer” all the way back to your house, and the harmonising was so good that your Uber driver actually ends up giving you money.

Look, full disclosure – “Grip” isn’t in the same league as Madonna, but fuck they’re close, aren’t they? This is damn good music to gyrate a pelvis too! The duo of Ella Thompson and Graeme Pogson are fearsome, and they’ve just been pumping out consistent gem after the other, the kind that makes your lips involuntarily twitch in excitement over. “Grip” is just the latest, a song that begins with a throbbing bass, and jabs of sensual synths, before falling away to allow all of the room for Ella Thompson’s blatantly gorgeous voice. That’s the kind of voice that otherwise law-abiding citizens would commit vocal-chord robbery for. Seriously, can that woman be any more incredible? Can we nominate her as the supreme overlord of pop already?

Fucking hell, what a bunch of goddamn geniuses. If GL can repeat this sort of magnificence on the rest of that debut album they’ve got up their sleeves, that question of lords of pop fiefdom won’t be a rhetorical one on some shitty Sydney blog, it’s going to be the real fucking deal. ALL HAIL GL!

 

New Electronic Music Pt. 1: Rat & Co + Thomas William + Air Max ’97 + Thhomas

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Part 1 of 2 – make sure you tune in for the epic finale:

Rat & Co – Crumar3b

I have no idea what “Crumar3b” is meant to say, but honestly, I don’t even really give a shit. Rat & Co can be as mysterious and incomprehensible as they want, because when they’re making trip-hop like this, I don’t even care. They can put all the random numbers and letters they want in their title – as long as they keep up this standard of Brainfeeder-meets-Majical Cloudz style electronica, I’ll keep trying to figure out the Rubik’s cube that is this song title. P.S. it’s a free download!

Thomas William – Sleepwalk

Whilst “Tuition” offered an experimental introduction into what Thomas William had planned for his upcoming EP , it’s “Sleepwalk” that gets me actually excited. Lurching, sticky, haunted – that’s what comes to mind when listening to this. It’s like the intro music to The X-Files if that episode had been directed by David Cronenberg. There’s something intrinsically unsettling about this whole track, and it keeps you on edge throughout its entire run time. You could drop this in a set, and you’d have the whole floor enthusiastically grooving, but also constantly looking over their shoulder for the imminent appearance of Jason Voorhees.

Air Max ’97 – Core Work

Hands down, the greatest DJ name that has scorched Australian soil in the last few years. Fuck. Yes. Just look at that name. Look at that glorious title. Fuck. Look at it!!!!!!

Anyway, Air Max 97’s drill is pretty similar to that of Eugene Ward’s solo stuff (he of Dro Carey/Tuff Sherm fame). Scintillating clicks that sound like splatters of blood dripping down a well, booming echoes , and a near-constant whirr that’s not too dissimilar to those droning sounds you always hear in movies just before someone’s head gets sliced off. Very experimental, very dark, very great.

Thhomas – Clams Pt. II

I keep on forgetting to check in with Moontown Records – they’re easily the most productive label in Australia right now, and almost everything they’ve released has been awesome. They release stuff so quickly, and by the time I realise something’s out, they’ve already got something new on the horizon

The latest artist they’ve sucked into their vortex of productivity is Thhomas, a Melbourne producer who came out with that incredible “Heat Wave” song a while back. Anyway, he’s now got this track, “Clams Pt. II” out, and it’s definitely worth your seven minutes and fifty-four seconds. But it’s only three minutes and fifty-seven seconds???? Yes, but you’ll be playing it twice, won’t you? Because it’s that fucking good.

 

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: GL – What Happened To Us?

Although it doesn’t have that immediate pop electricity of their debut single, GL’s sophomore release is the kind of thing that’ll get fans of BANKS and FKA Twigs decapitating all who stand in their way when GL get around the releasing their EP. Although not entirely for me, this GL track does have some lovely squelchy synths and the vocals are spot fucking on. If GL and Collarbones make a track together, Australia’s electro/R&B scene will collapse under the web traffic.

New: Retiree-Together

Retiree are a kind-of-weird, kind-of-normal band from Sydney. They play a slightly off-kilter mix of tribal beats and down-tempo rave (not sure that’s a thing, but whatever). Imagine if you took Cut Copy, and threw them down some stairs, and recorded the resulting noise, then took it to a warehouse in Bristol and got it reworked. That’s the kind of thing we’re dealing with here.

You can catch Retiree this Saturday night playing with Pelvis at GoodGod.