Catching up on all the stuff I missed whilst I’ve been sick the past few weeks:
SM Jenkins – Out There in the Zone
It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from the Step-Panther camp, not since their excellent 2014 album Strange But Nice. Although the band might be in between records, frontman Steve Bourke has released a collection of solo material under the pseudonym S M Jenkins, which expand on the more plaintive side of SP songs like “Number One Fan”.
The collection has all the hallmarks of great 90’s indie rock – from J Mascis’ solo material to the more introspective stuff of Pavement and Wilco. There’s a intimacy to this music that feels like you’re locked under the sheets of your room, accompanied only by light plucking and Bourke’s scratched vocals. It’s surreal, hypnotising stuff that burns slow but lasts long after hits like “Boulder Valley” and “High Beamin'” have faded from the speaker.
The Green Bananas – The Ape
Speaking of pseudonyms, Owen Penglis of Straight Arrows fame has recorded a “novelty single” under the name The Green Bananas. It’s a romping, stomping good time that was born to play in ballrooms, to the shrieks of adoring crowds who are falling over themselves trying to get into gorilla costumes.
If we lived in a fair and just society, this song – nay, tradition! – would replace The Chicken Dance at all school socials; much to the benefit of our nation’s youth, who would evolve from 12 year old braindead Tinder stalkers into shimmying simians. A re-introduction to the devil’s rock n roll all over again that would send responsible adults careening in horror as the young ones become addicted to that crazy new sound!
The 7″s are currently sold-out, but I believe a second pressing is on the way. If you can’t wait that long, I’m 90% sure Repressed has a few copies as well.
Felix Lush – State of Mind EP
In recent times, it feels like there’s been a new class of bands starting up in Sydney who are providing a steady stream of excellent off-kilter pop. One such talent is Felix Lush, formerly of Claire and the Cops – in solo mode, he hasn’t altogether ditched his guitars, but he’s definitely taken them further back in the mix, eschewing the previous Ty Segall crank for washes of synth and vocals that glow with a lulling radioactivity.
With the crisp click of a precise drum machine and goth-inspired bass lines the shimmer like glass poised to shatter, Lush feels comfortable here. He hasn’t swapped out any of the rawness from his last project, simply transitioned it. It still sears, just with liquid nitrogen instead of a hot iron. When you want to brag to your friends about how you know the best music right now, don’t forget to namedrop “State of Mind” and “Lose My Cool”.
Jess Locke – Paper Plane
Listening to Jess Locke reminds me of the first time I heard artists like Cat Power, Laura Viers and Laura Jean. Just hearing something and thinking: “Shit, I’m in love with that. I am absolutely drop-dead, head over heels, kidney-leaking in love with that voice”. It’s a gentle lullaby that rocks ever-so-sweetly from side to side. It’s a simple song that overflows with Locke’s rich, heavenly voice. The title for the most charming song in indie rock doesn’t just have a challenger, it has a full blown usurper a rich, simple song, an example of indie rock charm personified.
Teeth and Tongue – Dianne
I don’t know heaps about Teeth & Tongue, but what I thought I knew of them was that they were a sort of melancholic, folky kinda project, no? That’s why I was taken aback by their new single “Dianne”, a romping pop number that leans right into some spiky synths. But surprise turned to salivation quickly over a song that wouldn’t be out of place on an album from The Go-Gos, or Blondie – confident, propulsive pop that latches hold from the first second, the mind getting pinballed around by the whiplash vocal dynamics of Teeth and Tongue’s Jess Cornelius.
Morning TV – Turquoise
Sydney’s Morning TV have grown on me enormously since their debut ear worm “Golden” first appeared. Lush dream-pop that stirs in heavy dollops of reverb over an absolutely superb voice. “Turqoise” works elegantly in slow-mo, humming upon a relaxed Blonde Redhead vibe. Not too shabby for a third single!
Catsuit – Starlet
Hobart, the land of a million great bands that don’t get near enough attention! Catsuit are one such band, a breezy pop group that sounds like if Kim Gordon, Shirley Manson and Kim Deal had made a band together, pairing smudged guitars with 90’s guitar pop sensibilities. It’s also kind of ironic that a song that takes the piss out of pop music and its stars serves as a perfect example of how great pop music can be.
RVG – RVG 7″
Preston is so much more than a Courtney Barnett song – it’s also the hometown of RVG, a fantastic band that take a spark to jangle pop, and electrocute into its grandest evolution yet. There’s something here that’s more dense and earnest than your average band singing about the dole, and it’s that quality that graduates RVG into a band that would make Yo La Tengo proud. Although only two songs deep into their careers, RVG will already impress the hell out of anyone with two ears and a craving for great pop.
Last but not least, some great new hardcore from Sydney. It’s two of the guys from AUSTRALIA making a fucktonne of noise, and making it well. For the desired effect, turn it up to a skin-peeling volume that will leave a ringing in your ears for days.