New: Tiny Little Houses – Soon We Won’t Exist

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G’day Merge Records. How you going? Been a while, hasn’t it? Laura, what’s up with you? Mac! Good to hear from ya, mate! Haha, yeah, last time I saw you, I’m pretty sure we were face down in the a pool of cranberry coloured vomit in New Orleans! And that fucking guy thought you were Michael Cera’s dad and wanted you to get an autograph for him? Classic!

Anyway guys, there’s this band from Melbourne…yeah, look, don’t hold it against them, we can’t all be from Sydney hahahaha. Anyway, they’re called Tiny Little Houses. You guys remember that golden era in the 90’s, when you were releasing all those alt-country tinged rock bands – Magnetic Fields, Neutral Milk Hotel, Lambchop? You remember those days? I sure do! Man, what a hoot! Albums packed with incredible song after incredible song, live shows that would take your breath away? Remember that time the editor from Pitchfork pulled out a knife and swore that he would cut off his arms if you gave him the premiere of that Neutral Milk track? Guys, this band will have the same Pitchfork editor selling his goddamn soul to get a piece of Tiny Little Houses.

Seriously…Mac…Laura…you guys…listen to this song. It’s the closest approximation to those salad days that I’ve heard in all my years. “Soon We Won’t Exist” it’s called (I think, don’t quote me on that). It’s so fucking beautiful! Soulful, meandering beauty planted on a cliff face for the whole goddamn world to see. You hearing me? It’s good…real good. Shit, I’m half-tempted to fly you guys out here just to check ’em out, but I’ve calculated that it would take me 35 and a half years of working this shitty cafe gig before I could buy you both a QANTAS flight. So maybe take a listen, and buy your own bloody ticket? Haha, take care legends!

Rye Rye

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Video: Low Lux – Ruin

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I am completely in love with Low Lux. Just bloody smitten. They’re just so goddamn beautiful –  more gorgeous than watching a swan dance ballet on a frozen lake of freshly laid roses. If you can’t fall in love with Low Lux, then your soul is colder than some sort of D-Trump/Tony Abbott hell beast.

Low Lux have just dropped the new clip for their second single “Ruin”. This thing is majestic, swelling from pattering synths into a flowing gown of instrumentation fit for a royal wedding – you just know that if Low Lux had been around a few years back they would have been the band for Kate & William’s special day. Daisy Dowd’s vocals are on point, fluttering at an icic but approachable level, submerging the listener in a bed of lush pop that should be turning heads around the world any time now.

Album Review: Blank Realm – Illegals In Heaven

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Today was hard. Real hard. Top 5 hardest days of my life. After twenty minutes of trying to find my Mission of Burma record, I decided to go through and re-organise my record collection by genre. An honourable task, I know – truly, I am the people’s champion. But in all seriousness, we now live in a world where the The Replacements will no longer rub shoulders with Rob Zombie (it was an ill-advised present, I swear).

The only reason I mention this, besides to gloat, is that when Blank Realm’s new album ‘Illegals in Heaven’ arrives. It’s going to be tough to slot this record into one of the newly orgnaised pigeon holes. Sure, you can throw it amongst the rock stuff, but Blank Realm are too sensitive and honest to fit in with the cock rock that dominates my shelves. New Wave? There’s too much depth to throw it next to Bronski Beat and Human league records. Punk maybe? Nah, I don’t feel like burning down the government when I hear this band. Psych? Fuck no, who do you think I am? I don’t have a fucking psych section. Jesus Christ.

Blank Realm are remarkable for their ability to glide through their albums genre-less; the only thing that can be firmly planted on them is their uncanny skill to marry sorrow and incredible musicality. Since beginning eight years ago, they’ve released a constant run of albums that dabble in gnarled noise, synth-pop, lo-fi rock, and more, peaking in last year’s masterpiece, ‘Grassed Inn’. Since releasing that, and witnessing their amazing live show many, many, many times, Blank Realm have rocketed from underground favourites to Australian legends.

Not only does ‘Illegals in Heaven’ cement that ideology, but it seals it in carbonite, Han Solo-style. Soon, Blank Realm will be frozen in a horrified pose, placed as a trophy in the lair of some overweight tycoon (hey, how you going). This album is an accomplishment of variety – shifting from dazzling drama that wouldn’t feel out of place spurting from the world’s biggest stages, all the way to chugging swings of post-punk and yearning ballads that have reached the end and can’t go on any longer. There’s a wonderful smorgasbord available here for the fussy eaters – you’re welcome to pick and choose, but it’s recommended that you just sit down and gorge yourself on the sheer variety that’s available.

In saying this, Blank Realm display a logical graduation throughout ‘Illegals…’, rising and falling with the pulse of an expert mixtape, the kind that Rob Gordon from High Fidelity would fawn over. There’s a huge difference to the sporadic and random splurges of ideas that Blank Realm brought to their earlier output. The album opens with “No Views”, a frantic and frank ode to Blank Realm’s adeptness to explode from the iTunes Library and right into your very being, before manoeuvring into the herky-jerky “River of Longing”. You can bet a million and a half bucks that shit would be The OC’s theme song if that shit was still around.

Following on from the one-two punch of riveting gonzo pop that only Blank Realm are capable of delivering, they settle into a pattern of restless anti-love songs for the rest of the record – “Palace of Love” performs Waiting For Godot in a chamber of dense synths and fluttering guitars, whilst “Costume Drama” pairs a throng of careening, buzzsaw riffs with pleasant, clipping keys. The finale of”Too Late Now” shoots daggers of despair, a six and half minute anguish override. When Daniel Spencer sighs, “It’s much too late now, for you to ever come back/ It’s much too late now, they just don’t write ’em like that”, there’s a good chance you’ll throw up a little in your mouth in harmonised hopelessness.

That excerpt is just a sample of Blank Realm’s songwriting prowess which remains as focal to their music as the instrumentation itself. Often Daniel’s lyrics and delivery cry out, and persistently resonate with anyone who’s been dragged through the muck that is having your heart torn out. There’s too much to specifically haul out and quote, so just take the word that he’s damn good at putting pen to paper, and then singing about those words. However, it’s Sarah Spencer shining on “Gold” that forces the jaw to officially drop…Holy shit! What the fucking goddamn fuck on a shit stick is this!? Is your heart in your throat? BECAUSE MY HEART IS IN MY FUCKING THROAT! It’s sitting there like I’ve swallowed a boulder. I can’t breathe, you can’t breathe, we’re just sitting here in wide-eyed silence, unable to even gasp in awe. Why? Because Sarah possesses one of the most arresting voices on this planet. It’s like Chrissie Hynde’s and Stevie Nicks’s vocal chords had a kid that moved to Brisbane. Sarah Spencer is a powerhouse, and “Gold”  stands out as one of the most potent, heart-shredding songs on an album full of them.

I mentioned before that I’m not going to have anywhere to put ‘Illegals in Heaven’. Fuck that, I’ve got just the place. A big, fuck off jewel case. This album is a monument to the best band in Australia – this record proves what Blank Realm have been ploughing away at all this time: their capacity to surprise and enthral with only music. This album has completely matched the stunning nature of ‘Grassed Inn’, a two-for-two deal of dense records packed with emotionally ruining content. After their record last year, the cracks began to show in Blank Realm’s status as a purely cult band. With ‘Illegals in Heaven’, the intention should be to burst through the wall and shake the world to its roots. That’s the only way it should be.

‘Illegals in Heaven’ is available this Friday, September 4th through Bedroom Suck Records. You can pick it up from their Bandcamp here. They’ll be playing the At First Sight Festival in Sydney on November 14, alongside My Disco, Total Giovanni, NO ZU and more. You actually can’t miss this gig – it’s imperative that you are there.

Album Review: Day Ravies – Liminal Zones

Day Ravies have been busier this year than Tony Abbott’s publicist. Fresh from releasing a cassette EP on the new label Strange Pursuits, and a 7″ laaate last year, the band with an affinity for Kinks puns have finally released their follow-up to 2013’s ‘Tussle’. And as expected, it’s a weird, askewed take on pop that unveils yet another dimension to Sydney’s finest.

To fully appreciate Day Ravies and their encompassing knowledge of all things noise-related, you’ve gotta take a look at their side-projects. Mope City, Shrapnel, Disgusting People, and stints in Weak Boys, The Cathys, Beef Jerk are among a select few of the guises you can catch members performing under. They’re in high bloody demand is what I’m trying to say, and no genre is inescapable from the hands of Lani, Sam, Nev and Caro.

Whilst their previous record ‘Tussle’ was mostly concerned with sidling alongside shoegaze and twilight shades of pop, the band feel invigorated on ‘Liminal Zones’. There’s a thrust and excitement behind the songs, naive, open-eyed wonder that froths beneath the surface. There’s a bubbling intoxication that oozes into the songs here, and each track buzzes with the sound of a band that’s been inspired.

Well, of course they’re inspired Ryan, ya fuckwit – they’ve released more material in the last twelve months than most bands release in their careers. IS IT ANY FUCKING GOOD? Well, have you checked out their previous singles? The lead up to ‘Liminal Zones’ has seen cuts like “Fake Beach”, “This Side of the Fence” and the former Shrapnel tune “Hickford Whizz”, which has been reinvigorated and Day Ravies-ified. i.e a whole bunch of noise has been smacked down on top. All three point to very different, but all fantastic, factions of the Day Ravies camp. “Fake Beach” sighs and huffs in equal measures, an existential crisis kept whirring in a bottle, whilst the latter two bristle with a bit more oomph than is expected from a usually delicate band.

But the singles are more of an indication of the album as a package – Day Ravies twist through genres like Natalie Portman twists through mental anguish in Black Swan. They’ll spearhead delightful noise with pixie-dust sprinkled pop on “Halfway Up a Hill”, queue up the jangle buttons and sloshy feedback on “Pulse Check”, and lay down strident alternative rock on “Couple Days”. This consistently stirred genre pot makes the whole process feel like eating skewered kebab blindfolded. You never know what you’re going to get, or what flavours will jump out in the next bite. Roasted capsicum and tender beef? Grilled onions and a slice of chicken? WHO THE FUCK KNOWS!

Unpredictability is key to Day Ravies’ sound on ‘Liminal Zones’, but rather than encourage uncertainty, it gives the whole album a flavour than can be sorely missed in other shoegaze/pop releases. Also, the band are having too much fun, and are so assured in each song. They’ve never sounded more confident, and that rubs into whomever happens to be wearing the headphones at the time.

‘Liminal Zones’ is out now on Sonic Masala/Strange Pursuits, pick it up here. Day Ravies are gonna be playing a few shows pretty soon as well: 24th of July in Manly, 21st of August w/ Wireheads, Weak Boys and Thigh Master, VOLUMES Festival on the 29th , and an album launch on November 9th at the Roxbury in Glebe

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”.

New: Blank Realm – River of Longing

It’s a dark, dark day when the news of fresh Blank Realm goes right underneath my all-encompassing gaze. I mean, fuck, these guys are incredible, and other people (OTHER. PEOPLE.) have been pumping fists to the latest from Blank Realm’s wondrous skulls.

Lawrence English of the forever intriguing Room40 label has taken over production for Blank Realm’s first album made in a studio, which seems like a really smart tradeoff. You give a little by stepping away from the DIY recording, and going into a studio, but you keep it weird by enlisting by one of the smartest guys who’s got a knack for moulding freaky sounds.

But let’s focus on the stars here – Blank Realm. All their albums have been fantastic, and “River of Longing” shows the band are looking to maintain that consistence. Sprawled out over four queasy pop minutes, Blank Realm begin with a jugular splicer of a post-punk chord, and then moves into the slanted, jangly bittersweet serenading that has marked their previous music so distinctly. After a swooning chorus that will dry out your tear ducts, Blank Realm unleash their hidden secret of jamming as much glazed noise into as crammed a pace as possible, and ramming all that colourful clammer into a dizzying finale.

Video: Harvey Eyeballs – Anybody Can Play the Drums

It seems hypocritical to praise a song that is solely about how easy it is to start a band because literally anybody can play the drums, guitar and a bass, and yet here I am, with my dick in my hand, no closer to beginning that Eddy Current Suppression Ring/Run DMC mashup group that I’ve always threatened.

Brooklyn’s Harvey Eyeballs make that temptation so much sweeter, with a series of hypothetical goadings about how fucking uncomplicated it is to play the drums. Shit, they even set up a template of 60’s garage pop, not dissimilar to the sounds of Bleached, Wyatt Blair and Richard In Your Mind. It’s really triumphant, fun stuff, and almost makes me forget all the pains of working in conjunction with people that is such a necessary part of being in a “band”.

New: Hideous Towns – Heart Attack/Skin 7″

Jesus, Hideous Towns are just beautiful creatures, aren’t they? You could totally see David Attenborough doing an entire documentary on them. “Now, look, see here…they delve into that beautiful pasture of noise there…you see that don’t you? It’s a hunting tactic, a process in which the band make themselves as attractive as possible, yes, to lure the unassuming punter into their blinding sheen, and consume them. Remarkable, isn’t it?”

After their spot-on self-titled EP from last year, Hideous Towns have gone and provided everyone’s favourite nature documentarian with enough material for several documentaries. It might only be a two song 7″, but the sheer amount to marvel over, the gaze of Blonde Redhead-meets-The Moles shoegaze pop is just pure goddamn gorgeousness. Hideous Towns are really onto something!

Catch ’em play OAF on the 25th of July w/ The S-Bends, Aloha Units and Hunch!

PREMIERE: Mallee Songs – Water

You plebeians have all heard of Beko Disques, yeah? French label that’s supported Australian music in the same way that goon supports the drinking habits of students everywhere? They’ve put out records by Day Ravies, PILLS, Cool Sounds, KID XL, Hideous Towns and Parading, just to name a fraction. That’s the kind of resume that get’s employer’s mouths salivating.

Hence, it’s a fucking pleasure to premiere a new track from Beko Disques stable. An amalgamation of Melbourne, Geelong and Japan injections, Mallee Songs has developed from a solo project to a fully-fledged band. And oh, how full of a sound do they possess! Woods, Ducktails, and DIIV all shine through here, gooey guitars splashing onto some goddamn SERENE vocals. Did it hurt, Mallee Songs? When you fell from heaven? ‘Cos you’re an angel. A fucking angel, mate.

 

New: Day Ravies – Fake Beach

Sydney’s Day Ravies return with some whirring pop that will blast through your skull faster than some of those War Boys can chase down renegade wives. If you don’t get that reference, go and watch Mad Max. I mean, Jesus that movie’s been out for over a week, could you have dropped the ball any harder?

If you don’t have the opportunity to watch the best movie of 2015, then just hunker down with this gem. There’s a lot to digest in the mere two minutes that Day Ravies ahve given us, a slow-build that starts off relatively simple, and ends in an ecstatic marriage of sounds. Buzzing keys, thumping bass, and askew guitar that prods and pushes through the clamour like a blind but ambitious echidna burrows itself out from underneath the dirt.