Archives for category: International Pop Underground

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We first met Foxy Morons back in January through tracks from two fine Hobart, Tasmania underground music compilations. Here’s another song from them – “Home” – which comes from a self-titled 6-song cassette EP, released last month by Wrong Place (right Time) Records.

The music on “Home” – all languid strummed guitars and cascading fairground organ – sounds like it could have come from an early single by The Chills played at the wrong speed.

The guitars here are strummed in the classic Velvet Underground chug. Attitude is elevated above slavish attention to technical mastery, as it always should be. It’s all about the song and the performance and the experience it represents.

“Home” is a simple song about trying to avoid returning to a cold house, and looking for a dog. In the fog of course. As with Dunedin bands, it appears weather, cold houses and pets offer plenty of inspiration for songwriting in Hobart, Tasmania.

There’s plenty of other fine songs on the EP and the cassette looks like it’s getting another production run so head on over  to the Wrong Place (Right Time) Bandcamp page.  While you are there, check the back catalogue items from Foxy Morons and other Tasmanian lo-fi & DIY music gems on display.

 

 

AuvaAüva hail from Boston, Massachusetts, in the US of A and “Glitter & Weed” is from a recently released 3 track EP available for free download. It’s wonderful, so go forth and discover it and the rest of their back-catalogue too:

It’s one of many great indie pop songs (mostly available via the artists’ Bandcamp pages) discovered via this an excellent playlist “How Did We Make It This Far?” from The Shadow of the Wall music blog.

Aüva’s “Glitter & Weed” reminds me of Canadian band Alvvays. The music is chiming synth-backed guitar pop, packed with sing-along melodic hooks and wonderful lyrics like “Glitter and weed and LSD / All of my friends moved in with me.”

The combination of the dolorous voice of Jack Markwordt (I’m assuming he’s the male lead voice on these) and the brighter, lighter voice of keyboard player Miette Hope also gives the song (and the rest of the EP) a nice kind of human contrast, particularly combined with the wry, articulate lyrics in these “sweet and sad songs about friends and lovers” (according to their Facebook page bio). It’s the kind of literate pop that fans of Anthonie Tonnon, Jens Lekman, and the above-mentioned Alvvays should instantly appreciate.

Drahla_Jan2017“Is it real? Is it real?” asks Luciel Brown throughout this potent follow up to the thrilling debut “Fictional Decision” by Leeds-based trio Drahla – PopLib’s essential song of 2016.

The song is due for release in April on the Too Pure label’s singles club. Coruscating bass sets a platform for a typically cool and mysterious sing-speak stream-of-consciousness artful wordiness.

The song builds through dense layers of sonic energy as guitars buzz and menace before pulling back, introducing saxophone – some of the best wild skronking saxophone since The Stooges “1970” from their “Funhouse” album in fact – and then re-calibrating the volume for climactic ending.

It all adds up to a powerful statement and the fulfilling experience of a song merging elements of post-punk with art pop and noise rock and leaving some mystery and intrigue in its trail of beautifully dissonant noise.

The only band I can think of who may have been within striking distance of what Drahla are doing right now was Sonic Youth at the absolute apex of their dark abrasive melodic cool, around the time of their 1987 album “Sister”.

terror-steady-holidaySteady Holiday provided one of PopLib’s highlights of 2016 – a fine debut album called “Under the Influence”. Now there’s an EP called “Terror”, an instinctive reaction to the events of 8 November in the US.

This is recognisably Steady Holiday – from the beguiling lighter-than-air voice of songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Dre Babinski, right through to the richly detailed arrangement including the warm nostalgia of syrupy  movie-soundtrack strings.

But beneath the carefree surface a menacing synth pulse modulation carries the sense of unease suggested by the title. And lyrics like “bless your children, just don’t come here” and “stay on your side of the line”, which contrast the effortless melodic glide of the song, are a reminder of the language of hateful xenophobia and attempted manipulation of public sentiment against migrants from the 2016 US Presidential election.

“Terror” is the title track of a 5 song EP and the song also has a suitably nightmarish video, which you can view at The Fader.

On a lighter note, Steady Holiday has a strong Instagram game. Consistently creative and frequently hilarious and worthwhile following if you want to keep up with the latest news… like finding out about this new release, which is also, irresistibly, packaged together with the album in a digipack CD.

motte_bandcampMotte (Christchurch violinist, composer and sound explorer A. Clark) has released a fine and other-wordly album of ambient experimental improvised violin, voice and synth called “Strange Dreams”. Here’s the opening track “Thin Air” which is as good a place as any to start your experience in this strange and beautiful soundscape.

It’s an album that defies conventions as much as classification. Depending where you venture you’ll find satisfyingly rich and layered ambient experimentation to rival the classics of Brian Eno and Laraaji – particularly where loops and reverb are used on the violin to create layers of subtle melodic and rhythmic textures.

There’s also adventurous modern classical music (eg: “Bathhouse”) that at times fleetingly evokes the spirit of  Ralph Vaughan William’s “The Lark Ascending” although addition of unusual impressionistic synth tones and percussion textures keeps it well towards the experimental end of the classical spectrum without sacrificing any of its luminous musical qualities.

There’s a kind of modernist experimental take on folk and pop music too in the songs with conventional vocals, like the sublime smokey mystery of the title track and “Give it to Me”.

It truly is an album of strange dreams and one that will reward repeated listening.

“Strange Dreams” is out on LP from new label CocoMuse and available here.

ewahtvopbeachpanarama“As The Sun Goes Down” is the opening track from the debut album “Everything Fades to Blue” by Tasmania based EWAH and the Vision of Paradise. It’s a belter of an album – epic, cinematic and just a bit dark. Well worth a moment of your time to get lost in the desert at night “As The Sun Goes Down”.

But don’t stop there. Linger a while and take the whole trip here. The album is classic Australian alternative post-punk rock in the tradition of The Triffids, Roland S. Howard, or Spencer P. Jones. From the lush production, menacing tremolo guitar, shimmering New Wave synths and keyboards and thundering drums, to the storytelling in the lyrics, it’s all here.

Presenting this stylish ‘cinema-noir’ album is guitarist, vocalist and songwriter EWAH and her band The Vision of Paradise, a recent discovery from the fine Hobart underground music compilation album “Community 4” where their “Walk the Night” was a standout track.

For another perfect example,  listen to the song the band takes its name from – “Vision of Paradise”. Over a majestic 7 and a half minutes the song builds from atmospheric mantra to a swelling tidal wave of keyboard, drums and guitar feedback before easing back again to fade to silence.

“All Summer Long” is another song which immediately conveys a sense of landscape, distance, and shimmering heat through its atmospheric wide-screen arrangement and lethargic pace.

These are just a couple of highlights. The album really deserves to be listened to as a whole piece, working together as a collection of thematically-linked stories mixing light and dark, affection and menace, beauty and beasts, triumph and disaster.

“Everything Fades to Blue” was released a few weeks ago on LP. I reckon it’s worth adding to your collection.

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MarineVille from the cover of their “Face” 7″ from 2012 on Epic Sweep Records

MarineVille hail from Wellington and play a raw and distinctively New Zealand version of “driving rock” music. “75 Watts Frosted” is the opening track from their 4th album “Penguins Ate My Chips” which is out in a few weeks on LP on Zelle Records.

The line-up of the band which recorded “Penguins Ate My Chips” is led by guitarist/ vocalist Mark Williams and includes a few names folks may remember from some other NZ bands. Denise Roughan (Look Blue, Go Purple, 3Ds) plays bass, Greg Cairns (The Renderers, The Verlaines, Constant Pain) plays the drums, and Jeremy Coubrough (Tlaotlon) plays  keyboards.

“75 Watts Frosted” is a rip-snorting opening track. Part motorik beat, part wild fairground ride. Imagine Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” mixed with The Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz” played by the Able Tasmans and you are on your way to understanding the loopy genius of this classic slice of urban New Zealand storytelling rock and roll.

“Penguins Ate My Chips” was originally self-released by Williams in 2015 on cassette. The LP version (out 15 March 2017) on Austrian label Zelle Records, which specialises in Southern NZ sounds, is a suitable acknowledgement of an album that fits comfortably into the beer and sweat-stained fabric of the NZ alternative rock underground.  The download also contains the live album 15 Wax Tears, recorded in 2011 and originally released on cassette in 2012.