New: Marcus Whale – Vapour

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Marcus Whale is as integral to Sydney’s cultural identity as the Harbour Bridge, or directing patrons towards the casino at 2am. Not only does Marcus appear in a variety of guises, from the experimental pop of Collarbones, to the throbbing darkness of BV, but he’s also at the front of every show worth going to in this city. He’s often the guy you can count on to be dancing in a room full of people too nervous to.

That type of multi-faceted and bold personality makes for raw music, which is exactly what you’re in for with “Vapour”. It’s six and a half minutes of uncompromising, endlessly interesting music. Whispy blasts of air, the cricks of a door, a murmur from a watching Predator, an urgent beat…all carried through upon Whale’s voice, which wafts delicately, gazing above the constantly shifting soundscape.

Marcus Whale has always pushed the boundaries of sound with all of his projects, but here, in solo mode, he’s colliding so many different styles and structures, he’s come up with something actually original. The absolute madman has actually done it!

“Vapour” is an exercise in making music without borders and genre. I have no idea how to classify it; I honestly don’t know how Marcus is creating the sounds he has managed to, and that pushes me to simply enjoy this song without feeling that usual compulsion to compare it to something else. Don’t bother trying to capture it, just take it in, all of it. Once you’re finished, just take a second and think about how weird, and mysterious, and cool, and fantastic that song was. Then listen again.

Marcus Whale’s debut LP Inland Sea is out on Good Manners on June 10th. He’ll be launching the album at Newtown Social on the 15th of July

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New Electronica: Rainbow Chan + Dro Carey + Broadway Sounds + Ara Koufax + Kllo + OCDANTAR + Cliques + TEES

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If you head to the club tonight, and the DJ doesn’t drop one of these sick beats, then sorry, you went to the wrong club and your DJ sucks.

Rainbow Chan – Last

Rainbow Chan recently dropped “Nest”, the first single from her upcoming debut album, which showcased an even stronger willingness to incorporate all those pop leanings hinted at on her first few tracks. Now, “Last” doubles down, with rippling pools of synths spurred on by constantly evolving percussion from chimes to spliced hi-hats. Plus, there’s a chorus in there that was surely custom-made in a pop warehouse featuring a cast of ex-Destiny Child’s ghostwriters. That syrupy “Honey, honey” chant is enough to melt steel beams.

Dro Carey – Dark Zoo EP

Dro Carey has to be one of the most impressive electronic artists in Australia, right? He’s been doing that sort of complex and paranoid take on UK Garage for a few years now, but this EP sees a new extension to the Dro Carey dynamic, with a Kucka collaboration that showcases his poppies stuff yet. Still, “pop” is a loose word for “Queensberry Rules” – it’s still murmurs and bubbles with a twisted aesthetic. The EP also features that stellar single “Grow Lithe” – like a migraine pulsing underneath your skull, this thing distorts aggressively; a surefire way to keep a dance floor contorting at 3am.

The Dark Zoo Ep officially drops next week on the 20th via Soothsayer – plenty of other hits on there, so get on it.

Broadway Sounds – Exclusive Love/Digital Influence

Broadway Sounds are heading to Glastonbury! How great is that!? But also, not in the least bit surprising, considering their constant stream of good-time funk/electronica/disco/afrobeat/fuck knows banger salads. Just listen to “Exclusive Love/Digital Influence”, a song that can’t sit still for a millisecond. It jumps around upon a perky, unpredictable spray of disco synth that bathes in the titular commandment of “EXCL-USIVE LOVE / \ DIGITAL INF-LUENCE”. This song is an authoritative gesture from the Gods of Getting Down, and who are you to deny them?

Ara Koufax –  Kissy Fits

As soon as “Kissy Fits” kicks off, it becomes clear that you’re in for some jaw-clenched, fists-bundled techno. Ara Koufax stretch tension over their six minutes, chewing on football samples and murderous beats. It’s heavy stuff that remains menacing and intensive, but never overextends into something cartoonish.

Kllo – Bolide

Kllo are back with an extra letter and a serene new single in “Bolide”! The team up between Simon Lam (I’lls, Nearly Oratorio) and Chloe Kaul has just gotten hypersensitive – this is the kind of song you put on after you fall asleep in the sun, and end up with third degree burns all over your body, and you need something even more soothing than mere Aloe Vera.

OCDANTAR – Time in Flux EP

The solo project of Josh Delaney (Rat & Co, SMILE, Smooch Records Co-Head Honcho) has just put out an EP of slow-burning, Jon Hopkins-esque atmospheric electronica. It’s slow, sparse and beautiful stuff, full of texture. If it were a .jpeg, we’d call it high-res, a bare minimum of 300 pixels. The biggest highlight has to be “Sad Child”, a crisp, delicate mourner led by haunting vocals more mournful than the Adrien Brody’s natural facial expression.

Cliques – Dotted

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Cliques are the Anglerfish of the electronic world. They sit in near silence, in a place so dark you wouldn’t be able to see anything even if you had a trusty Bic. Then, a small, dim light appears…faint, bouncing, happy. It feels wrong to approach it, dangerous even, but it’s so beautiful. It bobs closer and closer, but something doesn’t feel quite right. It’s so close, and so bright, and then…the jaws open wide, terror rises to its haunches, and you’re vacuumed into the stomach of one of the world’s most unique predators.

TEES – Got the Feeling

Look, if this came out in the 90’s alongside Underworld and Orbital, TEES would probably be the biggest things in the world. Actually, it doesn’t really matter about context – even coming out in 2016,  with “Got the Feeling” and that top notch propulsive dreamy house beat, I fully expect TEES as headliners for the next Coachella.

 

New Guitar Pop: Ciggie Witch + Scott & Charlene’s Wedding + Gentlemane + Terry + Chook Race + Shearin’ + Cousin Tony’s Band New Firebird

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Just a couple A+ delicacies for your Wednesday night if you’re in the mood for a bit of a jingle jangle:

Ciggie Witch – Walking the Tracks

One of the crowning achievements of my short life thus far is when Ciggie Witch dedicated a song to me at the Fitzroy Bowls Club during a Bedroom Suck Presents gig. Side note: the combination of those three pronouns has made that sentence the most Australian line of dialogue ever written.

Anyway, sink your teeth into this new hazy beauty from the Ciggie Witch camp. This time round, old mate Zach expresses his anxieties of balancing happiness in a song as sick as Steven Seagal’s ponytail.

Scott & Charlene’s Wedding – Delivered

Been a while since we heard the flashy twang of S+CW, and it’s bloody to good to have them back! There’s that some old yelp, that same old propulsive melody, and a chorus that’s born to be belted from the bedroom of frustrated folks all around Australia.

PS wait for the guitar solo at the end there – feels like you’re being used as mouthwash in the bill of a pelican, tossed around in a machine of bleeding reverb. 10/10

Gentlemane – The Year of Trip

This album is typically more lost in love that your typical jangly record, but you know what? That’s alright by me. I’ve been feeling a little Romeo-esque lately, and I wouldn’t mind listening to a bit of “Lost in the Moment” or “She’s My Angel” as I tearfully yell Shakespeare at the balconies of two-up’s in Newtown on a Saturday arvo.

Terry – 8 Girls 

Terry might not support the nationalists, but they do support cowboy hats and cut-off denim vests that sport their own name in diamonds. Oh yeah, and they also support really tough, leathery pop music born to be blasted from the pub jukebox right after a Saints song from Prehistoric Sounds.

Chook Race – At Your Door 

This song came out before Season 6 of Game of Thrones, which in blog terms means that it’s probably too old to attempt to attach a hashtag to. However, I’m still gonna give it a go, because the scratchy pop styling of Chook Race will never stop be endearing, and it’s always better late than never. Go on, press play, no regrets here.

Shearin – Budget Cuts

For me personally, there’s probably nothing better than hearing a harsh voice spit pure fury over political indignation, shitty policy and a beautiful little jangle pop line. Oh, and look at that, that’s the exact description of Shearin’s “Budget Cuts”! Aren’t you bloody lucky! Also, it’s probably been at least a few weeks since you heard someone scream “that fat cunt Joe Hockey”, so make sure you tune into “Budget Cuts” for that alone.

If you’re free Friday, make sure you head along to the Chippendale Hotel, as Shearin’ are having their EP launch, and will see some support from Nick Nuisance and the Delinquents as well.

Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird – Melbourne Bitter

This song doesn’t really fall into the guitar pop territory, but the song’s called “Melbourne Bitter”, and that’s good enough for me. This song absolutely bloody rules, and I needed to find a way to sneak it in somewhere. Besides, this blog never had any integrity to begin with, why start now?

Album Review: Spookyland – Beauty Already Beautiful

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The first time I heard Spookyland, I didn’t get it. Weird voice, skyrocketing guitars, overtly epic atmosphere – why is everyone losing their shit over this? Spookyland was the sort of band that folks were going out of their way to tell you about, regaling you with tales of this skinny Sydney lad sporting high cheekbones and a heavy leather jacket, who could hold a crowd in the palm of his hand. I’d chuck on “The Silly Fucking Thing”, and I couldn’t see it.

Then, after one fateful night at The Lansdowne, it clicked. Whatever piece was previously missing snapped into place for me, and I was on board the Spookyland bandwagon. It was the same phenomenon that had occurred with some of my favourite bands like Radiohead and The Birthday Party; one second, you’re pissed off that none of it makes sense, and then the band manages to inject something that allows you to immerse into the crowd of believers, the cult of Good ShitTM.

For me, what it comes down to is the power that Spookyland exude. It’s not the same sort of power that’d you’d get from a Stooges or a Metallica record, but something more sophisticated. It’s thought out, developing over the course of a song, so that by the time Marcus Gordon and co. hit their finale, your spine is bent permanently out of place. It’s the way that voice twists and turns, reverting from mourning to triumphant in the space of a verse and chorus; how the guitars crash and burn like the sea in the grips of that 1000 Year Swell that Patrick Swyaze always spoke about.

There’s a nice range on Beauty Already Beautiful, but Spookyland always manage to retain a definitive style. They range from the cymbal-crash, lip-curled country swagger of “Big Head” and “Can’t Own You”, to the more poignant moments of “True”, to the glowing anthems of “God’s Eyes” and “Champions”, which show off Spookyland’s strength in holding their strengths to their chests and picking the absolute right moment to unleash hellishly good moments. And let’s not forget about the fucking one-two-fuck-you of “Bulimic” that doesn’t just knock you out cold, but pummels you into the dust. Two – read it, fucking TWO – minutes of unrelenting shredding, each note reaching right through your soul and individually tugging at the hairs that course your body in an effort to say, “OI, ARE YOU LISTENING TO THIS!??? HOW GOOD IS IT!????”

Spookyland have got their signature style down to a T. It’s delivered in a spectacular and unique fashion, and when they reach that bit further, you’d be hard pressed to find a dry eye in the room. Don’t be a fool – if you don’t get it, don’t wait around like I did for these blokes to come around and smack you in the face with the Good ShitTM. Sit down, put the headphones on, and make sure that this band rattles your being to the core like I know they can.

Also their highly recommended live show is coming to Sydney and Melbourne, with the extra punch of YEEVS opening both shows. Spooky land play the Newtown Social Club tonight (11 May), and tomorrow at Shebeen.

New: Middle Kids – Edge of Town

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A few weeks back, I was walking past my boss’ office on my way to assault a plate of nachos, when all of a sudden, I heard the kind of song that forces you to let a plate of Doritos slathered in mild salsa go to the dogs. It was this indie rock track that belied all the other shit I’d heard recently, led by a voice that would be enough for Angel Olsen to up and leave it all behind.

It was a brilliant, exuberant and cathartic release, a real chiropractic sort of song in that when your neck snaps 180 degrees to discover more about it, you end up fixing that spinal fracture you’ve held since last year’s footy season. A few bars in, I was hooked.

“Mate, what the fuck is this?”, I exclaimed, whilst holding a serrated blade to his throat. “It’s Middle Kids! It’s the fucking Middle Kids!”, he cried, eyes rolling around his head in a panic. I pressed the knife a little closer, the threat demanding more.  “I can’t give it to you yet, it’s not meant to be officially released for another couple of weeks!”. Blood trickled from the wound I was slowly sealing into his flesh. Normally, I’d just add the body to my tally of foes that had crossed me in the past. But with those vocals soaring above me – I don’t know. Ya can’t commit a cold-blooded murder in the middle of such a beautiful song. Ya just can’t.

Cold steel clanged to the ground of the cubicle. “When this finally hits the Internet….you let me know”. And with that, my obsession with Middle Kids, as well as a termination notice from my old work, had begun.

PREMIERE: Library Siesta – My Valentine

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As a small child, I was involved in a traffic accident that scarred me for the rest of my life. I was at Woolies, right between dairy and fruit, cruising in the infant section of the shopping trolly. It was a T-300 model, to be precise. Anyway, my fuckstick of a brother decided it would be hilarious to thrust the trolly into light speed, forcing it beyond a controllable momentum. Sure, the first few seconds were fun, possibly even thrilling. But when the milk section started looming closer and closer, I knew that my life was about to change. I was the Titanic, on course to hit an immovable iceberg. The crash couldn’t have been more melodramatic if James Cameron had directed it himself. Now, whenever I pass a supermarket of any sort – Coles, Woolies, shit, even IGA – a shiver propels itself through my spine, and I can taste the drip of low-fat cow products coursing their way down my cheek. It’s still hard to know where the milk stopped and the tears began.

However, if there was anything that was going to shock my trollyphobia out of me, it’d probably be this new clip from Library Siesta. “My Valentine”, a track ripped from their great debut Future Haunts, takes a Go Pro, an abandoned trolley and LS’s irrepressible charm, and combines them with a bunch of You Am I-inspired guitar solos. It’s a helluva time, and enough to think that maybe…maybe…I’ll be ready to face my fears and buy moderately priced veggies without having a nervous breakdown.

Album Review: Big White – Teenage Dreams

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Dulwich Hill is renowned for…fuck. I have absolutely no idea, hey? Does it have nice parks? A decent pork roll shop? Or is it like Macdonaldtown, a place that’s technically on the train line, but you’ve never actually been there, or know anyone who lives there.

Nah, but the old D-Hill actually does lay claim to  The Surgery, a share house full of art school students that feels like its churning out all of the hits lately. Its a bastion of skewed pop productivity, from the looming post-punk blast of Den, to David Byrne’s latest project FLOWERTRUCK. But sitting high and mighty at the top of the soon-to-be Brill Building 2.0 is Big White, a five piece that Creation Records would have sliced throats to sign back in the day.

Their debut Teenage Dreams was recorded in Berlin a few years back, and fuck knows why its only getting a proper release now. Oi, knock knock, record execs, don’t ya know a hit when you see one? It’s called “You Know I Love You”, and it makes the feet split apart and engage in the sort of toe-tapping hi-jinks that only Kevin Bacon used to be able to summon. Or hey, if that doesn’t tickle the soles of your feet, how about a helluva romp like “Dinosaur City”, which has allegedly cause ruptures in the Earth’s mantle from all the stomping that accompanies every Soundcloud play. Hey Japan, guess what, there’s another 9.0 headed straight for you, courtesy of those no-good pop enthusiasts.

Look, here’s the deal. Big White know their way around a pop song, that much is glaringly obvious; but that’s not what makes Teenage Dreams a jaw dropper. The full spectrum covered by Big White makes this album the one that you want to tell all your friends about, even the weird ones on Facebook that probably added you for identity theft. Take the title track that hits a little to close to home for those going through their quarter life crisis and manages to put the words “Pingers” and “Nickelodeon” together. Or the glistening epic “American Twins”, a song that makes you want to lounge in bed, drink cheap red wine and watch old Steve Buscemi movies simply because the song name checked him and you forgot how great he was. And “I Can’t Tell”, a song that pairs depressing and brilliant in a riveting parallel – how can they sing “I can’t tell whether my girl cares if I’m dead or alive,” yet make you want to shimmy like you’re in an Outkast video?

If this is your first interaction with Big White, make sure it’s not your last. This is only the debut from these guys, and it’s pretty phenomenal, hey. Now they’ve finally got the ol’ record contract locked down, expect MORE, MORE, MORE hits for many years to come. If you’ve already heard about Big White…fuck, you read a fair few words just to have your opinion of “Yes, Big White are one of the best pop bands going around” vindicated.

Teenage Dreams is out now, and you can grab it here.

Album Review: AUSTRALIA – Portraits of Places, People and Movies

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1983. Australia. Fuck yeah. According to Wikipedia, some real crazy shit went down ’round this time: Jonathan Thurston was born, Parramatta romped the Eagles in the finals, and Bob Hawke went on national television and told everyone to get drunk after we won a boat race. Also, some of the all-time singles this country has ever produced were birthed during this period. “Rain”, “Reckless”, “I Hear Motion”, and this absolute national treasure. The kind of songs that you’ll scoff at from your hip share house, until it’s 3am, the pub’s run dry, old mate’s kicking you out and you’ve got your arm around someone you met thirty seconds ago screaming, “THROW DOWWWN YOOUUUURRR GUUUU-UUUNS”. 1983. Australia. Fuck yeah.

It’s this precise time period that AUSTRALIA (the band) are attempting to encapsulate, that golden era of pub rock when this country really struck a musical identity. It’s a brave move – right now, most bands in this country are either making plaintive guitar pop, or garagey punk. No one has thought to hark back to a phase that is often ridiculed, unless it’s during the aforementioned gloriously drunken hour of 3am. But AUSTRALIA succeed because they don’t just emulate the music that they likely grew up with, but actually understand its simple pleasure: to get people to dance, instead of mosh, to guitars.

Sure, their debut still carries the trademarks of their forbearers: Aussie Crawl, Midnight Oil, The Models, and Goanna all pop up as obvious soundchecks in AUSTRALIA’s music. Shit, the record even evolves in the same way you would expect an 80’s No.1 Album would: Hit, Hit, Mega Hit, Introspective Ballad, Fodder, Fodder, Absolute Belter, And A Big Sweeping Gesture to Close.

But when you hear a song like “Wake In Fright”, or “Breathe In”, there’s that something there where you know it ain’t mere replication. It’s the sharp stabs of guitar, the warm, encompassing buzz of synths, the baritone bellow that stirs you equally in the heartcage as it does the feet. It’s the anthems paired right next to the songs you’d love to listen to roaring down the highway, alone after a breakup. It’s the way that if you close your eyes, AUSTRALIA catapult you decades before you were born, to the seat leaning against the Lansdowne bar, stuffing spilling from the soiled seat cushion, jukebox blaring the soon-to-be classic “Who R U?”. The place stinks of piss, someone’s chucking up in the alley outside, and the pub is heaving with dancing bodies.  Fuck, it feels good.

Portraits of People, Places and Movies has its weaker moments, but as a whole package, its a record that delivers something that shouldn’t be feasible in 2016. Why the fuck would the kids want to listen to the music their parents forced on them? Because AUSTRALIA’s making that music, goddmit, and it sounds good. Who knows? Maybe thirty years from now, someone’s gonna come stumbling out of the bowlo, air guitar in hand, barking, “LOVE! IS BETTER! COME TAKE ME UNDER THIS WATER!”.

Portraits of People, Places and Movies is out now, grab it here. They’ll be playing the ‘Gong on April 1st and Brighton Up Bar in Sydney on the 2nd, both shows with YEEVS (!) and Phantastic Ferniture (!).

New From Sydney: Phantastic Furniture + Georgia Mulligan + Morning TV

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I’ve been heaps busy with wrapping up at work and uni, so I’ve gotten pretty lazy on the Internet side of things. NO MORE! Here’s a few tunes from Shitney you should familiarise yourself with:

Phantastic Ferniture – Gap Year

A nation of kids have just finished high school – according to numbers I’ve just made up, 50% will go on a gap year to “find themselves”. They’ll head to Europe on their parents’ dollar, pick up a range of STD’s and get too drunk to remember any of it, except for the part where they got, like, SUPER HIGH in Amsterdam. Bro, you totally gotta go.

The only “Gap Year” worth actually taking is the one from Phantastic Ferniture – lush, delicate and enough heartbreak to make Vin Diesel well up with tears and start complaining about all the dust in the room, the hats go off to this song, and this band. There’s huge things for them next year, so make sure you buy ’em a beer in a vain attempt to hitch a ride on their coattails to fame.

Georgia Mulligan – White Lies

More incredibly beautiful stuff outta my hometown, “White Lies” stands out for Georgia Mulligan’s incredible voice, in much the same way that Die Hard stands out from action movies because of Bruce Willis’ ability to deliver one-liners perfectly.

Although she initially started off with a series of covers, “White Lies” shows Mulligan embarking into original territory with the kind of ease that makes you scream, “Jesus Christ, why didn’t you start doing this earlier”. It helps that “White Lies” is a total ear worm, but not the kind that you’ll be able to replicate yourself due to the fact that you’re tone deaf and your voice sounds like a pair of aardvarks rooting in a dustbin compared to Mulligan’s. To get the full satisfaction of this song, you’ll just have to keep hitting repeat.

Morning TV – Golden

The only time to bother with morning TV (the concept, not the band) is whilst waiting in dentist offices, or when you’re so drunk that you just NEED to see how big Richard Wilkins’ head actually is. Now, there’s another decent reason to look that shit up.

Morning TV are a brand new band, serving up some nice slices of dream-pop. Think Unknown Mortal Orchestra meeting the drowsy swoon of Craft Spells or Wild Nothing for a drink at some new, trendy bar that hasn’t been completely overrun with dickheads just yet. On the morning TV spectrum, “Golden” falls somewhere close to the joyful antics of Karl Stefanovic, as opposed to the disturbing chortles of Kochie.

New: Buzz Kull – Nausea

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 6.19.42 pmIt’s been a long time coming, but Buzz Kull have finally followed up on last year’s “Dreams” and announced a full length album! Fuck yeah, goths of the world unite! This is a day as glorious as that time Robert Smith said he was going to re-animate the corpse of Ian Curtis for a Christmas single!

Seriously though, it’s been two years since that first Heat EP, and it was starting to feel like maybe Buzz Kull was going to fold before granting us with a full length. Luckily, “Nausea” is here, a pungent puncture that has moved light years on from the early atmospheric dissonance of “Fallen Flower” and “Vision & Lights”

Short and sharp at only two minutes long, “Nausea” does exactly what it says on the tin, lighting a flame at the pit of your belly, allowing all that stomach acid to start churning around the base of your body, brewing and burning until your whole being is thrashing around, vibrating with the trill of ill.

Buzz Kull are gonna be playing a show in a few weeks at the Record Crate in Glebe – Jan 3rd, supporting Kid Trails; Skull & Dagger, and Agroclam are also gonna play!