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24 Apr Premiere: Chelsea Bleach – ‘Public Safety’

Last week the Melbourne radio station 3RRR FM premiered Chelsea Bleach‘s debut single ‘Public Safety‘ and now we have the online premiere to share with the world.

Chelsea Bleach are a five piece band from Melbourne who you shouldn’t confuse with the Los Angeles band Bleached. Despite a similar raw ’90s punk garage sound. Chelsea Bleach sound closer to Sleater-Kinney or Ex Hex (without the lead guitar hooks).

Their debut single ‘Public Safety‘ deals with the angst generated from invasions of private space and property. The stabbing guitars create a tortured atmosphere, while the band shouts out “I shouldn’t have to explain. What’s mine is mine”.

They call the genre Wetwave and you can catch the single launch at The Old Bar in Melbourne on May 20th. Two Steps On The Water, Wet Lips & Habits DJs are also on the bill.

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19 Apr Album Review: Silent Jay and Jace XL – Sacrifice EP

 

I want to dance and sway upon first listen. I’m already looking forward to listening to each song again and again.

Sacrifice is an abundant source of  innovative production, authentic lyrics, nostalgic and humble homages, and honest poetry. The EP is a testament to the powerful art and dynamic creativity produced when two of some of Melbourne’s most praiseworthy musicians, Silent Jay and Jace XL, team up. The pair create music that transcends convention, yet they still manage to instantly hook you with their sonic artistry.

From as early as the ‘Intro‘ I can tell that this EP will be whole. It reminds me of a foreword in a novel; I feel alerted to the idea that this EP will be create a picture that is complete, with all colours full and vivid.  It is a warm welcome into the vistas of their experience, and the art they have to show for it. They draw you into a totally new setting that feels genuine and heartfelt.

Just Waking Up‘ is both enchanting and natural – it’s a rare feeling when your body clock follows the turns of the sky and you realise the day ahead of you is yours to share with those you love. I treasure those days. In this track, I also find a new way of loving rolling hi-hats. The combination of  harmonised vocals and undulating filters is so fresh, as is the glowing image brought by the sound of the morning birds tweeting at the end of the song.

The lyrics, which make me feel so nice and toasty at times, flow perfectly through the harmonious vessel that is Jace XL. Their music is so musically intricate and clever without ever being pretentious. ‘Sacrifice‘ comes in fittingly. It gives me nice dual feelings of familiarity from having a precious memory of hearing this live, as well as a newfound admiration hearing this in a new context. I am now able appreciate new extents to Silent Jay and Jace XL’s artistry, and details that I perhaps overlooked previously in this song.

From seeing them live alone, it is easy to recognise how artfully they carry the weight of each other’s sound. In ‘Rockabye‘, Silent Jay’s production is smooth, calming and gentle; Jace XL’s lyrics express an endearing sense of vulnerability, while allowing them to resonate in so many surprising ways. The dynamic between the pair is like a 1000 piece puzzle on the floor, dancing, twirling, meandering its way between infinite complete pictures again and again – but they make it seem effortless. The alluring tone of ‘Everybody‘ adds a striking shape to the EP. It stands out in a way that is exciting and delicious.

The feeling of satisfaction exists throughout the whole experience, but continues to shock me. This idea is accentuated in the journey throughout ‘Brisvegas‘. I wonder about the encounters and events that inspired it, as the song continues to develop in a whirling climax. I imagine (and probably hope) it to be the soundtrack of a tale set in the mystical town – Brisvegas.

Vibrate‘ is the perfect way to conclude the experience that became from Sacrifice. A high note and a cool down in one, the EP comes to a dignified end with this beautiful song in which I completely soak myself. Both musicians’ voices melt into each other.  I feel so positive about the idea that this EP is a debut, and I’m excited to see how Sacrifice will see the deserving pair of musicians thrive.

 

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01 Apr Au Dré – ‘Wanna Know’

 

Au Dré‘s latest song ‘Wanna Know’ just keep ticking the boxes of my internal ‘do I like this song?’ checklist. It’s silky smooth, and has a melody that is interesting enough to be unique yet draws on a number of older pioneering genres I enjoy, and it makes me want to dance. Though there are a number of elements to the track that are reminiscent of ’80s disco and funk, Audrey Powne‘s vocals are a fierce reminder of Au Dré’s effortless ability to refresh iconic sounds and put their own contemporary spin on them.

With lines like “you are a like a new designer drug and I don’t want very much”, and my favourite “when we get in bed, you better give me head!”, the track has me feeling so many emotions at the same time. I feel nostalgic, I feel vicariously empowered, I feel revamped and brightened. I feel liberated and want to roll my spine and shake my shoulders and hips. If ‘Wanna Know’ is anything to go by, which I’m sure it is, their forthcoming self-titled debut EP will be full of colour and vivacity. Their previous songs, as well as their live show, fizz with spirit and passion – especially given their live instrumentation and physical energy.

Catch Au Dré at the Gasometer Hotel on May 13th for their EP launch.

 

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08 Mar Premiere: Cosmic Rays – ‘Teen Bank Robbers On Heroin’

 

 

Matt Neumann is an absolute fixture of the Melbourne creative scene. You’ll spot him photographing for music sites, tending bar at the Northcote Social Club, or combustively howling as the frontman of local legends ScotDrakula. He sings, he dances, he crafts gems. So we’re understandably excited to present to you a new track and video from his fledgling side-project, Cosmic Rays.

Talk about just laying it all out there. It’s hard not to turn your head towards something called ‘Teen Bank Robbers On Heroin’, especially when its title is flashing at you in a multitude of colours, and the track – complete with accompanying video, also produced by Neumann – does exactly what it says on the tin. After an extended stare down between its stars Ashley Bundang (of Totally Mild and Zone Out) and Toby Marsh, they kick their adorable but sadly doomed plot into gear with a Tarantino-esque “Yeah, fuck it. I’m in.”

“Teen bank robbers, strung out on heroin…” drawls Neumann over an insistent beat, something along the lines of a warped copy of The Modern Lovers’ ‘Roadrunner’. The jangly scratches of guitar perfectly echo the relentless energy and naïve optimism that comes with young love, even in the face of a foreboding theme of inevitable death.

It’s always exciting for us to see musicians extend their reach beyond just the music in order to give us a broader sense of who they are as artists, and Cosmic Rays is proving to be a great example of why.

We’re looking forward to a new ScotDrakula album later in the year, and there’s also more on the horizon for Neumann in his Cosmic Rays guise. While we wait for the next instalment, here’s his previous clip for the menacing, laser-fuelled boogie ‘Do Nothing Twist’.

 

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18 Feb Premiere: Ciggie Witch – ‘Meet Me In The Middle’

 

Ciggie Witch are a constant in the unpredictable Melbourne guitar pop scene. The drawl of Mitch Clemens has you hanging off the lyrics, from the mundane through to the Carly Rae Jepsen references, while the slide guitar holds a presence that no doubt separates them from the pack.

Meet Me In The Middle’ carries a melancholic tone. The kind of Monday morning blues feeling. The sort where you’re sitting there watching bullshit day time soaps, mumbling inaudible insults at yourself for your actions on the weekend past.

The tone does in fact mirror the lyrical content, as Mitch reflects on his time as a state level racing cyclist at 15 or 16, never drinking. the reflection was brought on by a friend’s party, located on a road he used to ride down. The song is set five years following these rides, at the party. The party was a mess; Clemens wound up making a fool of himself and calling some girl who still had feelings for her ex – hence the tone.

In the context of the track, Clemens stated that “people often talk about feeling they have been somewhere before, but I more often get the feeling that I will be back in a place again, so the verses convey that feeling, as well as self- and Carly Rae Jepsen-referencing.” In keeping with this thought train, the video was shot at Fairfield Boat House, a spot his dad used to bring he and his sister to when he was younger. The return visit captured this feeling, while the simplicity of the ducks and the drab, wintery essence of the footage incorporate the mundane melancholia of ‘Meet Me In The Middle’.

As a package, ‘Meet Me In The Middle’ is a brilliant representation of Melbourne guitar pop, touching upon issues of a non-geographic nature, while offering what is an undeniably Aussie skew to the sound and delivery.

 

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11 Feb Ara Koufax – ‘Makers’

After making a name for themselves with the release of the emotive single ‘Brenda’ via Cut Copy’s imprint Cutters Records, Melbourne’s own Ara Koufax followed up with the release of ‘Adult Concepts’.

Now with the release of the EP, B-side ‘Makers’ has finally seen the light of day. Interestingly, ‘Makers’ stands as a counter point to the slow and at times atmospheric ‘Adult Concepts’, thought still holds the same level of sophistication in its arrangement. The B-side features a much more driven, even dancefloor-oriented sound that manages to express moments of light of dark without losing its direction.

Coupled together the tracks make for an EP that provides a whole spectrum of musical moments and, for the listener, fits in much more than a two song track-listing would suggest.

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11 Feb Premiere: Nocturnal Tapes – ‘Superficial Light’

My only exposure to Nocturnal Tapes‘ beach-side hometown was John Williamson’s twee road-trip ditty ‘Camel Train to Yamba’, which has probably unfairly coloured my opinion of the place over the years. Rather than anything vaguely approaching tacky Australiana, the duo have served up a smooth concoction of slinky guitar and skittering electronic production for their debut single ‘Superficial Light’.

This is no family road trip; more a solitary nocturnal drive down a winding coastal road, its gradual twists and turns drawing you into a trance. Eventually breaking into a surge of falsetto and rumbling synth, it’s easy to see the track reaching an enthralling crescendo in a live setting – one it earns after holding its cards tightly to its chest for the majority of its four-minute length. It’s the slow, creeping tension of a midnight run to the border – “will I get there?” – before scorching off into the sunrise.

Nocturnal Tapes have plenty of potential, and they’ve put together a slick and stylish emergence. This is just our first glimpse of their recorded sound, but they’ll be busy on the live front with a slot at Mountain Sounds coming up, together with a tidy little east coast tour (dates below).

Friday Feb 19: Oxford Arts Factory w/ New Lovers – Sydney
Saturday Feb 20: Mountain Sounds Festival – Sydney
Wednesday Feb 24: The Lass O’Gowrie – Newcastle
Friday 26 Feb: Hermann’s O’ Week Closing Party – Sydney
Friday March 4: Beach Hotel – Byron Bay
Saturday March 5: Ric’s Bar – Brisbane

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09 Feb Album Review: ‘Glory’ by Good Morning – They may not even be aware of their own potential

Overproducing an album can often be a sign of perfectionism, but just like any food manufacturing process, it can result in a loss of natural goodness. Many musicians love to write music, but they just aren’t natural songwriters and need to overproduce in order to achieve anything substantial. Then there’s Stefan Blair and Liam Parsons of Good Morning who, just like the titular character in the movie Good Will Hunting, are so naturally gifted and yet may not even be aware of their own potential.

Even other respected Australian songwriters such as Courtney Barnett or Marty Frawley (Twerps) may appear to write songs straight from a pure stream of thought, but even they need to chisel away at their craft in the studio. Stefan Blair and Liam Parsons often sound like they’ve just woken up, written a song, nailed it, and then recorded it straight away. The EP’s first track is even titled ‘Overslept‘, where they sing, “What in the world should I say?” They’ve recorded the song before they’ve even realised it’s recorded.

This isn’t to say that the duo are stumbling buffoons who keep getting lucky. They’re clearly talented guitarists who, by the end of ‘The Great Start‘, had me convinced that they had travelled from the future with an arsenal of stolen guitar parts. Then there’s the endless amount of memorable melodies that would make Mac DeMarco jealous because they sound far less formulated than Mac’s. That dreamy, soft, Brooklyn lo-fi period between 2008-2012 is definitely an influence on the duo, but whereas many of those bands were style over substance, Good Morning are substance over style.

You can’t often clearly hear what they’re saying outside of song titles, but it works as an exclamation point, in the same way you might think to yourself before making a statement out loud. When the band could just ride the assertive guitar hook in ‘Cab Deg‘ to carry the song, they pull off a catchy duo harmony in a way only conjoined twins should be able to pull it off. If you’ve seen their stage banter, which consists of regularly making fun of each other without any possible threat of truly insulting each other, you’d think they were brothers.

I’ve seen them cover the Victory Curtains & Blinds jingle at Paradise Festival, but it’s not all fun and games. They sing, “I’ve been drinking / It doesn’t change how I feel” in ‘Give Me Something To Do‘. ‘To Be Won‘ paints of the picture of a sorrowful person, staring out of a window while it rains outside, an image that actually featured on their first EP cover. There’s a longing for something more in the distance. The young band already travelled to NYC last year to perform. The ambition is there. The songwriting is there. The talent is there. Just exactly what Good Morning want to be is still a work in progress. The two main influences I keep hearing, Broken Dreams Club EP by Girls and Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter, are positive steps in an interesting direction. I’ve even seen the guys attend several electronic events in Melbourne, which would bring another dimension altogether to Good Morning.

Glory isn’t the album that’s going to make them a household name just yet. Maybe if they had condensed the 17 tracks they’ve released in the past 14 months into one album, that album would’ve made a bigger statement. However, the subtle diversity of Glory confirms that Good Morning aren’t restricted by parameters. Their only restriction is themselves. Once they start taking risks and the vocals become slightly more prominent, they’ll find themselves up the top with Tame Impala and Courtney Barnett.

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08 Feb Laughing Shadows – ‘Electric Lady’

Laughing Shadows is an anonymous new French house project from a longtime Melbourne-based producer. The project arose from a love of the electro scene that dominated the late 2000s and the legacy of the Ed Banger roster, as well as a motivation to put a modern interpretation on the genre.

Debut single ‘Electric Lady’ reflects this predilection for the French sound through both its production and release via French label Dga Fau Records. The track, produced in Australia and mastered in New York clearly draws heavily from the sounds of Breakbot and SebastiAn through its swirling synths, strings and a plucky top line. The single moves through its rhythms in a progressive, building manner, eventually culminating in a break down of delicate keys and chimes.

‘Electric Lady’ is set to be released via an EP with Dga Fau early 2016, with local shows to come.

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02 Feb Album Review: NO ZU’s ‘Afterlife’ is 45 minutes of warped bliss

Trying to describe NO ZU to someone who’s never heard of them before is a similar feat to trying to convince someone that you’ve been probed by aliens. You’ll spout fantastical, sci-fi theories; tales of wicked, neon lights scorching your eyeballs; looming figures from otherworldly dimensions armed with technology and ideas far superior to our own. Your voice gets more frenzied as the account reaches its fevered pitch, roaring through descriptions that feel hyperbolic but are actually understatements. Your brain searches to find the sort of exotic depiction that will do justice to a beast of this nature, but your friends, co-workers – and, eventually, your therapist – laugh it off as hallucinatory delusions.

And sure, there’s no definitive proof that Nicolaas Oogjes and his Heat Beat Leisure Wear compatriots aren’t from another planet. But whichever galaxy they do call home, they were kind enough to stop by Earth, and grace us with their second full-length, Afterlife, a delirious new peak of heart-pounding, nerve-frying, pupil-dilating music.

Melding disco, funk, new wave, electronica and more, NO ZU weave through their music with a flair and ease that seems unnatural for a group of mere mortals to conjure. There are many subtle touches apparent in Afterlife, from the shriek of a whistle, the smash of a bongo, the claw of a synth hooking its fingernails into your pleasure index – all these little flourishes combine to create a sound that’s huge and enormously gratifying. It all results in an album that not only demands repeat listening, but actually rewards it with newfound soundbites each and every time.

NO ZU are so weird, so strange and demented and twisted – but they’re contagious and infectious. It’s a terrifying prospect to attempt to pick a highlight to Afterlife – it’s easier to just admit that the whole thing is 45 minutes of warped bliss. Any attempt to refuse entry to the cult of the Heat Beat is to flirt with the impossible. Succumb to Afterlife, and NO ZU will reward with eternity.

Afterlife will be released this Friday 5 February on Chapter Music.

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