New: Low Lux – Rivers Roll

Between understated chugging guitars, hissing drum patterns and atmospheric, wordless vocals, Low Lux have made a hell of a debut single. Like, sincerely, and abysmally fantastic. It’s serene, majestic pop of the highest order. And they’ve kinda fucked themselves.

Ya see, this song is too good, and in releasing “Rivers Roll”, they’ve inadvertently stirred the competition from their restless slumber. With this fell swoop of emotive, layered gorgeousness, they will have irked the kings and queens of the genre: Blonde Redhead.

There’s a reason why Blonde Redhead have stayed at the top of the dramatic-pop game for so long, and that is because they’ve assassinated any contender who dares to bellow, sway and seduce in the way that Low Lux have done. If Highlander taught us anything, it’s that there can be only one…

But ya know what? Blonde Redhead peaked at ’23’. Low Lux have just begun – there is room to MOVE! ‘Rivers Roll’ is just the beginning for these soon to be legends; when you come out of the gates this hard, it’s not hard to see that LL would crush Br in a battle of the bands. Move over you lacklustre 4AD-ians! All hail the new kings and queens of glorious pop!

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New: Big White – You Know I Love You

UPDATE: Big White have just been announced as the first local legends to sign to Caroline Australia. Good on ya!

After only the precursory single of “EOFY”, and a seance in the USA (feat. Burgerama and SXSW), old mates have launched their debut album on cassette form on the consistently reputable Burger Records. Already straddling a make-out sesh between The Feelies and Talking Heads, Big White have injected a blinding dose of New Order-esque “Round & Round” pop into the mix, providing dangerously ecstatic, tropical vital signs. With its college-pop lyrics, flamboyantly neon synth line, and broken record lovesick chorus, “You Know I Love You” is the song you’d chuck on if 80’s high school romance montages of the Brat Pack-ilk were a thing of real life, rather than John Hughes’ feverish fantasies. Catch Big White this Saturday, playing as part of Junkyard Fest’s 1st Birthday! Event here

Video: Ella Thompson – I Go Over

Even with this hard punk exterior, I’ve got myself a soft spot for the pop side of things, none more so than when GL released their triple-threat of “Won’t You See”, “Take Me Back” and “What Happened To Us”, and Dorsal Fins’ dizzying “Monday, Tuesday”. So, when an integral part of both groups, Ella Thompson announces that she’s got solo work, well fuck mate, I gotta check it out!

Part Catcall, part Grimes, Ella Thompson makes smooth synth music that sparks like a frayed power cord. But instead of being the kind of thing that leads to a six month absence and workers comp, “I Go Over” is soulful and wholesome, a real revitalisation of pop music.

New: Day Ravies – Under the Lamp EP

Is there anything sweeter in the world than hearing new Day Ravies stuff? Like, anything at all? I’d rather get new Day Ravies stuff in my earholes than get a signed cast photo of Fast and the Furious7. You know how much that photo would be? Like, heaps. Heapz!

Day Ravies is four people from Sydney that have record collections as vast as their talent to make fucking good songs. They put out a record in 2013 that was pretty top notch, as well as a 7″ on France’s Beko Disques, home to Parading, Wizard Oz, and PILLS. But now it’s Sam’s time to shine! Sam Wilkinson, aka that dude that you’ll see at every show in Sydney (usually sporting a Cool Sounds T-shirt) has taken time away from working in all of his bands (Shrapnel, King Tears Mortuary, Mope City, Beef Jerk, Disgusting People, etc.) to help record and release four songs of pop brilliance onto his cassette label Strange Pursuits.

No seriously, these four tracks stand up there with the best that Day Ravies have done. It’s a particularly strong EP; diverse, but still packed. It opens with “Sleepwalk”, a buzzing, Slowdive-meets-K Records twee aesthetic, tumultuous onslaughts of chugging guitar battered down with ethereal intertwining vocals and synths.

Move onto “Under the Lamp”, and nod along to careening guitars soar for minutes on end, then head into “Perennial”, which is the Jesus And Mary Chain trying to mimic the pop sensibilities of The Psychedelic Furs, done in a way that makes you forget that both bands have been around for longer than Day Ravies have been alive. Then ooze into “Prior Hour”, a jam that’s like if PJ Harvey had gotten into Ride instead of Steve Albini.

Going through this EP is a blur of wonder, and then it strikes you that these songs were recorded in the sessions for the upcoming sophomore album from Day Ravies. I’ve been assured that this material was stuff that just couldn’t make it onto the album, but by the same token….holy shit, there’s more were this came from???

Do yourself a favour, and pick up a freakin’ cassette from the Strange Pursuits Bandcamp. And come to the Day Ravies show on the 28th at the Union Hotel. Weak Boys and Bearhug are also playing and it’s free. Jesus Christ, do you need any more convincing?

Gig Review: Blank Realm

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Saturday, 24th January @ The Famous Spiegeltent

Fuck, there is nothing better than bedtime. 9pm swings around, and it’s time to hit the fucking sack. None of this grinding on a stranger until the sun rises its disapproving face. But Blank Realm, well, they’ve got that pull. There’s something about a band releasing the best album of 2014that makes this old miser want to shun his principles, and watch the shit out of a band that’s better than a Kevin Spacey marathon.

Midnight steamrolls the 24th into the 25th, but all yawns are suppressed as Blank Realm hit the stage of the intimate circus tent that is the Famous Spiegeltent. There doesn’t seem to be all that many people in attendance, maybe 100, but the atmosphere is one of complete adoration. Mottled lights sway across the stage as more stage fog sweeps forth than a production from the Royal Shakespeare Company. But the opening splashes of “Bulldozer Love” are enough to choke back the smoke, and light a grin up on every face.

There’s a very good reason why Blank Realm are considered the best live band in Australia, and, simply put, it’s because they are. Only a mere hour after watching TV Colours ruin my eardrums and bring me a gag reflex away from throwing up upon an unsuspecting crowd, Blank Realm still had the ability to astonish. A perfect storm of energetic, authentic and original made looking away from the stage a crime against humanity.

Relatively speaking, Blank Realm didn’t play too many songs over their hour-plus set, only about nine or so. But they made each note count, hammering every item with purpose and poise, and added special parts that those in attendance will most likely remember as being the frenzied finales that butts wouldn’t stop shaking to.

Musically, the band is spot on, despite some technical difficulties with Sarah Spencer’s keytar, which she thoroughly made up for by jumping around more than a 12 year old trying their first pinga. Watching Blank Realm on stage, it becomes obvious how different, yet essential to the final product, the band members truly are. The aforementioned Sarah Spencer is youthful energy incarnate, irrepressible in her mission of bouncing higher than any pogostick. Daniel Spencer (somehow) manages to turn his drums into a white-hot flurry, whilst also singing that beautiful yearning voice of his, which I’ve determined as something like Elvis on Quaaludes. Bassist Luke Spencer tries to mirror the effect of a mirage, twirling and twisting indefinitely whilst laying down some of the thickest and grooviest bass lines since Barry White was a sex god. And Luke Walsh became everybody’s new favourite guitarist, diversifying from crunchy Metallica riffs on an unnamed new song, to fluorescently depressed strums on “Baby I Can’t Reach You On The Phone”.

The neon aspects of Blank Realm’s music march to the forefront during their live performance. Sure, the onslaught of mottled lights that shrouded the band in a mixture of hazy purples, greens, reds and blues (much like their excellent “Baby…” video) helped, but the brighter-than-bright pop was somehow accentuated. It’s hard to think of a specific reason, but whilst Sydney slept, Blank Realm shone.

Another fantastic aspect of the show is Blank Realm’s ability to manoeuvre your emotions like you’re a Candy Crush jelly. The audience is stretched into glorious dancing territory during “Back To The Flood”, and a bonafide congo-line is formed multiple times. And then, somehow, they can transition into eyes-closed hurt, like the singed “Cleaning Up My Mess” or swagger-centric “Go Easy”. But the one mainstay of their performance is the ability to always keep an audience elated and transfixed – no matter the subject material, lucky attendees are ecstatic.

As the howls died down, and Blank Realm humbly moved on from the stage, it’s plain to see that, even though sleep deprivation is slowly killing me inside, these Brissy heroes had clearly moved everyone present. A fantastic set from a legendary band. Long live Blank Realm!

New: Chook Race – Dentists

Chook Race, after years of teasing the minds of everyone within earshot with perfect two minute jangle-pop sensations, have announced their debut LP { wait, whilst people applaud }

Their first track is “Dentists”, a tight number that sounds like Chook Race have been dusting off their Flying Nun Records. The Clean has fingerprints on this, what with jangle sounds bolstered with lyrics like “You’re always so inviting, but I just feel like having fondue”. Those lyrics aren’t irreverent, those are the words of Camper Van Beethoven from a parallel universe.

Album Review: Tempura Nights – Whine EP

I like to think of myself as a pretty thorough music journalist, a man of the quill-cloth, who digs as deep as is necessary in order to pull the best story imaginable, a creative hive from which some of the best hyperbolic nonsense has been spewed forth. That’s all a load of horseshit, obviously, because I’m lazier than a guy who types “metaphors for laziness” into Google to come up something witty to put into an album review on his shitty blog. However, I did at least read the description of Tempura Nights’ Soundcloud page. Apparently, this thing started off as a “joke band”(!) which leads me to reckon that if these guys created a “serious band” then Armageddon would surely follow. Tempura Nights, a joke band, I will remind you, have catchy as hell, bass-driven thrashers soothed out with dreamy vocals more healing that any losenger.

Formed within Brisbane’s burgeoning garage-pop scene, with members of both Major Leagues and Go Violets (RIP), Tempura Nights is a trio that distinguishes themselves with the slight edge they push into their songs. Don’t take that to mean they’re edgy – they don’t match up to Eminem in 2002 by any shape or form. But for a band with an infinitely pop sound, there is definitely something boiling beneath the surface.

Take “R.I.P Chix” – it’s a song that would fit in well with bands like Vivian Girls, La Sera, Best Coast and Summer Twins. You can easily picture yourself lounging on some Californian beach, ironically large sunglasses and broad-brimmed hat adorned, cheeky tattoo peeking out from underneath a vintage, yellow shirt. But there’s also a storm there, gnashing in the opening lyric of “All the girls I’d like to meet are dead”, delivered with a headbanging riff and a sweetly snarling sigh.

Tempura Nights manage to be both tumultuous and riveting, a perfect storm of mingling instruments locked into hazy melodies that soak themselves into your ears. As far as pop releases go, the “Whine EP” is perfect, a Breeders-ode that would make Kim Deal herself throw down her guitar in exasperation.

The beauty of Tempura Nights is how insanely easy they seem to make things. From the sickly-sweet “Brainroof” chorus that melts into a hollow, bellowing solo, to “Child Model”, which makes you want to jet to the nearest guitar and learn how to strum a chord and envelope the soul the same way Tempura Nights are able to.

At only four songs long, the “Whine EP” seems far too short, a quick in-n-out introduction to the make-out/fast food/vintage adoring world of Tempura Nights. But I feel as though all Tempura Nights need for the time being, to showcase a few detached, irresistible jams for the world to finally take notice to, and allow for them to pay their dues towards. Tempura Nights – they’re fun, but grounded and varied enough so that boredom doesn’t even broach the equation.

The “Whine EP” is out now on Heath Street Wax, and Tempura Nights are part of the MATES lineup, which also features Palms, Straight Arrows, Bad//Dreems, The Gooch Palms and bunch others (including yours truly playing a Judas Priest/Madonna only DJ set). Lansdowne Hotel, 25th Jan, tix here. See yoiz there

New: Blonde Tongues – Hey Good Lookin’

Here’s a small romance tip from your old mate Rye Rye: if you’re gonna hit on someone, screaming “Hey Good Lookin’!” at the top of your lungs in a horny banshee squeal is about as attractive as Hitler doing the splits whilst puckering his lips and staring you down. I’m pretty sure THAT video has made this all abundantly clear.

But Brissy’s Blonde Tongues (also, probably not something to accentuate on a date – if they see a pale white when you open your mouth, instead of the usual pink, prepare to be a government guinea pig for the rest of your life) make themselves crazy compatible with this gushing new song. “Hey Good Lookin'” combines sweeping guitars, with bone-crunching reverb, the kind that those new Velociraptor’s from the latest Jurassic Park trailer would be capable of. I want to marry this band, regardless of the cheesy one liners they might use to introduce themselves.

New From France: BCBG + Volage + Excusers

Aaaahhh, France, a country of lurvvvv, where you enter for 5 minutes, and leave a beret-wearing, baguette-toting, “S’il vous plait”-spouting example of indoctrination. Or at least, that’s what American WWII movies have taught me. I honestly know nothing about France, or Paris. But from the few examples of French music that have floated into my inbox as of late, it’s all a little bit of alright.

BCBG – Noces d’Argent 7″

According to old mate Google Translate, “Noces d’Argent” means ‘Silver Wedding’, which is really quite an accurate description of what occurs on this 7″. Only three songs and a remix long, it’s a beautiful, swirling palette of SIMPLY GORGEOUS songs. Put out by the one and only legend Nathan Roche, BCBG pack out their songs with atmosphere, like a Portishead that’s been taken hold of by Bjork. There’s a lot of serene beauty on here, and because of the language barrier (at least for my compatriots that only speak ‘Strayan) it becomes almost guaranteed that you’ll become lost in the music here. If Guillermo Del Toro had the same taste in music as he does with creating extraordinary worlds, as well as some semblance of nuance, BCBG would probably be his favourite band.

Volage – Heart Healing

If you’re a fan of The Growlers, Night Beats, or The Laurels, it’s doubtful that you’ll do anything less than explode with joy at the prospect of Volage. A decent garage-psych band out of everyone’s favourite city with a pointy thing in the middle, Volage love themselves some rollicking piano riffs and chugging guitars. When they adopt the freak-out pose of fellows like King Gizzard, such as “Loner”, that’s when shit gets really fun, and you want to try and bend your limbs into positions our Higher Power did not want you to.

Excusers – No Excusers

Alright, so I’m cheating here, in that Excusers are actually from Italy. However, their label, the always on-top-of-it Beko Disques (who have put out the likes of Day Ravies and Parading) are from France, so it works out. Fuck you, my blog, my rules. Anyway, these guys have created a gorgeous array of soft guitars that you can lie your head into. If this band was a pillow, they’d be of the highest-thread count, and stuffed with Golden Goose feathers. Rare and stunning, with a shining prescence, Excusers take things at a leisurely pace, spreading their sounds around with careful and delicate precision. Best track on here is “Youngest Buddle”, but they’re all bloody tops aren’t they?

Album Review: Andras & Oscar – Café Romantica

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‘Café Romantica’ was the perfect name for Andras Fox and Oscar Key Sung’s debut collaborative album. Neither are strangers to working in teams, with Oscar Key Sung’s fantastic work as Oscar + Martin, and Andras Fox’s butt-wiggling ride of Fox + Sui. Both artists have had extensive and profitable solo careers, with Andras Fox laying down multiple records that have garnered him instant fame and jealousy, and Oscar Key Sung dropping an EP earlier this year that sent the Internet alight. But when the two combine, and lose the classic collaboration ‘+’ symbol for the more sophisticated ‘&’, Andras & Oscar turn into a project with serious groove potential. Listening to this album makes you want to dance the night away with your best mates, and maybe even find that love interest that your fortune cookie assured you was going to happen.

But back to why ‘Café Romantica’ is the perfect name for Andras & Oscar’s introduction to the world. The name encapsulates the laid-back and easy-going nature of the record. It’s not trying to  break any world records, or start any arguments. It’s small-time feel good stuff for the culture guide. Oscar Key Sung’s vocals causing flames of infidelity to lick the insides of your partner is about as controversial as this album gets. Still, there’s something about the mixture of these musicians that pricks the ears, something to do with their subtly different styles. Andras Fox is eye-catchingly cultured and European, whilst Key Sung makes for more of a doe-eyed dreamboat, a young Johnny Depp to Fox’s Marion Cotillard.

But they work together exceptionally well, a chemistry blossoming the likes the musical world haven’t seen since Metallica and Lou Reed thrust themselves upon each other. For a less jokey reference, think of collaborations like Divine Fits, or Black Vanilla, where the sum of parts creates something that increases the talents of both parties. Something new is formed, something gloriously simple, and it becomes insane to think that this album wasn’t released earlier.

On “French Twist”, a beckoning finger extends through the funkiest bass lines this side of Parliament Funkadelic, but they waft along with these sappy synth works, and Key Sung’s alluring vocals. And the lightly twirling refrain of “We can talk it over” is battered down with some expert lounge sounds that wouldn’t be out of place in an opium den. The standout of “Everytime I Go” are thrusting in their bravado, but they’re bolted down with gently swaying ticks and tocks, clicks snaking along to tapping neon synths. Heartbreak sidles along with comfort in an intimate environment.

It really should be noted that whilst Oscar Key Sung provides the brilliant vocals, Andras Fox’s production cannot be understated. On standout “Looking Back”, when OKS looks on in a forlorn croon, the twinkling electronica and bass, that Fox most likely provided, turns a sobering R&B jam into something that is easily danceable, an added dimension that makes a dancefloor of a difference. The instrumentals, especially “Tutorials” also have that Fox charm surrounding them, and help introduce a little bit of plain gorgeousness.

Andras Fox and Oscar Key Sung have to be some of the most talented future exports Australia has. On their own, they’re perfectly fine specimens of Australian music. But together, they’ve created a sharp and leisurely effort that will be able to satisfy most. They help each other, build off their own sounds, and slap each other with influence and progression.At ‘Café Romantica’, Andras Fox and Oscar Key Sung are a special combination of lust, heartbreak, style and cool. It’s sophisticated pop at its best.

‘Café Romantica’ is out now on Chapter Music and Dopeness Galore. Andras & Oscar play together at Cut Copy’s curated Melbourne Music Week show, on Saturday 15th November, along with Roland Tings and NO ZU.