24 Oct Premiere: Tuscan Ruins – ‘Miel’

Relatively unknown producer Tuscan Ruins launched their first EP ‘Miel‘ on cassette tape last Thursday. With previous work under the name Runsthevoodoodown via Potatoheadz, ‘Miel’ brings an evolution to the Melbourne producer’s sound.The hangovers of their previous work remain – crunchy sounds and a brooding aesthetic – but there is more of a narrative to the most recent release.

Listening to ‘Alone at the Tyrrenhian‘ brings to the forefront of your mind the works of Aphex Twin, especially their ‘Selected Ambient Works Volume II‘. The pulsing rhythm of ‘The Windswept Harbour, Her Curtained Navel‘ punches through the milieu of the other more atmospheric tracks, gravitating towards a more traditional techno sound.

The tape launch at Skydiver Record Store in Collingwood saw a handful of people and some friendly dogs down for a few cases of budget beer (Clue: the name of the lager rhymes with “spun”). Given the meteoric rise of some of Melbourne’s lo-fi artists (such as Rudolf C, Hymns, Shedbug) Tuscan Springs is one to watch.

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05 Apr Premiere: Otis Thomas – ‘Gina’

Photo by Kane Lehanneur

Good chance you’ve been there. Lusting for someone on the other side of the planet. Staying up all night messaging across the internet, living in “pixel dreams,” as Otis Thomas describes it.

Gina‘ is about that exact situation. In this case it’s Oliver from Otis Thomas, who is singing concerningly about his long distance relationship with Gina. Oliver “just can’t get enough” and he’s “coming apart at the seams.” There’s a good chance that between waiting online for replies from Gina, sitting at his computer with his guitar, he pieced together the outline of this song. Judging by how polished-yet-not-too-polished the track is, he worked on it over multiple online chats until “quarter to four.” That tired haziness audibly wobbles out of his throat.

If you enjoy Dick Diver‘s ability to recap a real life situation like it’s a Sunday morning chat in the backyard, under natural lighting between watering plants and drinking organic tea (feeling wholesome in other words), then welcome Otis Thomas to your share-house playlist.

Otis Thomas are playing with SOOK and SCK CHX for the SCK CHX EP launch at the Botany View on the 13th of April.

Listen to Otis Thomas’s last album Dog Dreams:

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14 Feb Premiere: Curves – ‘Marcel’s Booth’

The Melbourne existential-neon five piece Curves have kindly given us the honour of premiering their latest song ‘Marcel’s Booth‘, the second single since their 2016 All Made Up EP.

If Total Giovanni is Melbourne’s modern version of Talking Heads, then Curves are Melbourne’s modern Depeche Mode. Curve’s ties to new-wave extend beyond the layers of deep synth sounds to the visual on early ’80’s MTV music videos. Singer Patrick Mooney comes from the film world, which plays an important role in Curves’ music. Every lyric reads like a script, from “Dancing alone in a New York Apartment” to “And everyone’s having fun.

Curves transcend you to an alternative universe where new-wave revivalists James Pants and Twin Shadow are the world’s biggest stars. Everything is a little warped, the sounds suck you in and out. Even the track title was originally ‘Marcel’s Diner’ not ‘Marcel’s Booth’, so you know exactly where they are, but if you’ve seen Twin Peaks you know that weird unusual things happen in diner booths.

Even the timing of releasing the song on Valentine’s Day adds to the romantic intimate experience, a feeling you can really only get from a movie.

Curves are expected to perform regularly around Melbourne this year and release their second EP, too.

Watch Curves live in the Ripe office back in December 2017.

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28 Jan Premiere: Bōnewoman – ‘ACTIV8’

There’s a fine line when it comes to cryptic lyrics. You can either come off extremely pretentious or you can stimulate curiousity — the second outcome is how I felt after hearing Bōnewoman‘s new single ‘Activ8‘. With lyrics such as “Beautiful mind map explosive aptitude” and “Cultivating a moss heart in a mother of pearl terrarium. Incubating a resilient dynasty,” it’s not super clear what narrative Bōnewoman is describing, unless you really investigate. Which may be annoying for the average music fan, but that level of lyrical depth is fascinating to myself and I’d like to come across it more often in the local neo-psychedelic-jazz scene.

When Lorien sings other lyrics that are a little more relatable such as “be what you want to be” and “move like water,” instead of these being the notable moments, repeated over and over, they’re used to give you enough time to process the more cryptic lyrics. The group vocal delivery adds to the mystery, because the credits actually say only Lorien-Summer Moysey, despite there clearly being layered vocals. Again, the more mystery the better. It’s not just Lorien that’s impressive, the band is both tight and in sync, while containing just enough sporadic energy. Especially the drums, which don’t just keep up the time, but add some oomph and spice to the chorus.

You can hear clear influences or comparison from groups such as Dirty Projectors, Hiatus Kaiyote, early Tune-Yards or even more recently Tetrahedra. But instead of coming across as a poor imitation, there’s a sense of purpose and knowledge behind all their decisions. They’re not just throwing random ideas out there, their cryptic lyrics teases and leaves me curious for future release. I need to know more about Bōnewoman and in their own lyrical words – “A cryptic mind is infinite.”

Bōnewoman are aiming to record a 7 inch in the coming months. The video clip was produced by Lorien with the help of Felix Billington Kleinman and Mark Luman Millhouse. You can catch Bōnewoman at their single launch at The Evelyn on January the 31st.


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25 Aug Video Premiere: Workhorse – ‘Alone’

The Adelaide voyaging-garage rock band Workhorse have crafted an exemplary video for their anxiety filled song ‘Alone‘.  Not only this, but their debut seven track cassette titled No Sun has also just been dropped via a digital release, thanks to the Brisbane label legends Tenth Court.

The star of the video is Harriet Fraser-Barbour, whose other band Wireheads makes regular appearances in our weekly playlists. The song expands with exploratory guitars and a twangy sense of freedom, paired with softly spoken vocals and a sense of nervous energy. This energy is met and reinforced with lyrics such as “Everytime I see your face, I get scared of my new age” and “And now I know”. The lyrics capture a sense of concern and realisation, the emotive narrative of the track oscilating back and forth between these concepts.

Fittingly, the video reflects these mind frames, blending the nostalgic and the new. There’s a montage of vertical mobile phone footage inside of 16×9 ratio landscape footage. The vertical footage deals with themes both familiar yet isolating — selfies, mirror shots, skateboarding alone, drinking alone and driving alone. The landscape footage captures something more esoteric and less tied to the every-day, with shots of the outback, animals playing, sunsets and a rainbow.

I’ve likely looked too deep into the video for ‘Alone’, but just like any piece of art, my interpretation could serve others well. The next time you’re feeling alone, play this video to remind yourself to look outside of your own state of mind and experience the world around you.


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31 Jul Premiere: Pillow Pro – ‘Sex Appeal’

Photo by Daniel Ford

Synth-pop duo Pillow Pro‘s new single ‘Sex Appeal’ sounds like you’ve boarded a lux private jet with your lover and flown through a sea of pink clouds in a neon sky, drinking from a bottomless glass of expensive champagne -– the perfect daydream to indulge in as you’re lying on your bedroom floor.

This track is a perfect execution of the way vocalists/producers Christobel Elliott and Sophie Millis merge their vocal styles while sounding disarmingly distant from one another. Over a snapping beat and hazy soundscape, the two shift between reflective spoken word verses — a nod to the likes of Uffie — and sensual harmonies reminiscent of R’n’B artist Kelela.

Lyrically the duo bring sexual expression to the forefront, reclaiming their sexuality in a space where artistic integrity can be so easily dismissed due to the bias’ inherent in the music industry.

You can catch the track above, with the accompanying music video set to be dropped soon.


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08 May Premiere: Girlatones – ‘You’re My Friend’

As Melbourne’s weather descends into bleaker winter temperatures, Girlatones‘ poppy single ‘You’re My Friend’ has arrived like a warm ray of sunshine. Backed with surfy riffs and soaring vocal harmonies, this track is a head bopping ode to friendship, all done in good honest humour. On first impression, the track teeters somewhere between the noise pop of The Breeders and Best Coast’s earlier work. The quirk here though is in vocalist Jesse Williams’ detached delivery. The heartwarming dedication of “You’re my friend and we’ll stay together until the end”, before the proposition “There is something I want you to understand/Could it be clearer?” portrays a strong element of self awareness.

The track shows a departure from the sound they explored on their debut EP Everybody’s Making Pop Music, exchanging acoustic garage jangle pop for more bubblegum-inspired surf pop.

Following on from the release of their debut EP, the quartet are currently in the midst of working on their self-produced first LP, which is set to reach your ears later in the year. For now, you can catch Girlatones’ brand of sunny indie pop at The Old Bar on the 14th of May for their single launch, with supports from Caroline No and 19th Century Strongmen (click through here for more details).

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16 Mar PREMIERE: Niine – ‘It Never Was Up To You’

Coined as ‘avalanche pop’ with stunning vocals, warm guitar, blending keys and bass structure, Niine‘s ‘It Never Was Up To You‘ slowly compounds each element onto the next, instigating rolling movements of sound.

Based in Melbourne, Niine’s debut track has been lying dormant on their Bandcamp for the past 8 months and deserves to be in the spotlight once again via their fresh looking Soundcloud. As they carefully explore varied genres, each movement trickles into the next with charismatic neo-soul vocals, exhilarating psychedelic guitar and bass, percussion and keys that bring a cohesive clarity.

The re-release marks Niine’s return to the studio to work on their debut ep.

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10 Mar PREMIERE: The Attics – ‘Alright’

The Attics are from Colac, a town two hours outside of Melbourne. You would think by the bliss nature of ‘Alright‘, that Colac was a sunny beach town, but it’s actually inland. My only guess is that maybe the band spend a lot of time at the lake. However, unlike some other breezy bands — who perhaps spend too much time at the beach — The Attics still sound like they’ve spent a lot of time indoors, working at their craft.

For example the low-energy background instrumentation in ‘Alright’ could initially sound lazy, but under the microscope it’s carefully put together. The subtle glisten is just enough to keep you warm, without bogging your mind down in the details. They’ve used layers of sound without over-complicating the track, leaving the listener with an immediate impression. The key here is delivery of the chorus — “I believe everything is alright / I believe in the best of you”. Their use of a content approach — rather than generic, overly joyous and bombastic yelling often used to emphasise a chorus — makes ‘Alright’ rather hard to dislike.

If you dig the early work of Kisses, Smith Westerns or Craft Spells, then keep an eye on The Attics. ‘Alright’ is the first single from their debut LP due out later this year.

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14 Feb PREMIERE: SAATSUMA – ‘Isolate’

Melbourne-based electronic duo SAATSUMA have signed, sealed and delivered yet another amazing track – getting their 2017 off to a cracking start.

Isolate‘, their newest single and set to be released on their forthcoming album, is a well mixed, dynamic and rhythmic track with signature SAATSUMA sampled and layered vocals that carry you through the track as the momentum builds.

It’s a track that makes you think – whether you focus on the strong composition and arrangement by Memphis Kelly and Cesar Rodrigues, the lyrical think-tank or the mixing and mastering by Dream Kit (Declan Kelly) and Adam Dempsey, there is an element for all throughout ‘Isolate’.

Kelly’s vocals are soft but focused, with an Australian-voice that is distinct and melodic. It’s an enthralling sound she creates that is then backed solidly by Rodrigues’ synth work that builds the track up as it picks up the pace.

Following on from their other single releases – ‘Storm‘ and ‘Floating‘ – it’s exciting to see SAATSUMA hone their craft, push their creative bounds and follow through on a sound that is unique across the board. From their cohesive live sets to their recorded material, there is nothing but praise for the electronic duo.

March 10th – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney March 17th – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane
March 18th – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne March 24th – The Hills Are Alive, Victoria

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