Archives for category: International Pop Underground

Peak Body EPBack in January we introduced Peak Body via their song “Feelings” on the “Community 4” compilation of Hobart, Tasmania underground music. “Feelings” is on their debut EP, out today as digital download and cassette. Here’s another song – Life’s Hard” – from the EP:

Peak Body describe their sound as minimalist electronic post-punk – which it mostly is, particularly on the perfect “Feelings”. The addition of tremolo and surf twang guitar to “Life’s Hard” transforms the early 80s attitude and Young Marble Giants styled tension into something even more intriguing and menacing.

Later on the EP there’s more tremolo and twang and a reduction in volume and pace with the last two songs, “Girl Gang” and “Diamonds”, sounding like they wouldn’t be out of place as roadhouse slow-dance songs from the first series of Twin Peaks.

Top sounds once again from the Hobart underground.

 

Sachet_Portion Control_TVfireA few weeks ago we introduced “Melted Wires” from Sydney ban Sachet, a single ahead of an album. The album “Portion Control” is out now;  here’s “Follow Car” from it:

Sachet feature two members from Ray Davies – Sam Wilkinson (guitar) and Lani Crooks (lead vocals, keyboards, guitar) – so it should be no surprise that there’s a common thread between the two bands in spiky guitar-based post-punk pop.

The songs are concise, ultra-melodic and self-recorded by Wilkinson, perhaps on a 4-track cassette, judging by their grainy, smudged character.

The music on “Portion Control” channels the contemporary 21st-century DIY garage crunch of the likes of The Oh Sees and Ty Segall, while also providing intriguing hints of the minimalist post-punk pop of Young Marble Giants within some of the songwriting and arrangements at times.

“Portion Control” is an inventive, hyperactive album and well worth grabbing a copy of the LP.

 

Christopher El TruentoAnd now for something completely different. If you have a soft spot for DJ Shadow’s “Entroducing” (and who hasn’t?) you’ll likely love the inventive pocket-sized beats & sampling miniatures collected on an album called “it’s been ________ lately” by Aucklander Christopher El’ Truento. Here’s a taster called “aaaaAA”:

There are 25 tracks on “it’s been ________ lately.” Most are around the 1 minute mark. Each one is crammed with soulful beats, funky modern jazz grooves and enough out-of-left-field experimentation to keep the most easily-distracted mind fully focused for the duration.

“it’s been ________ lately” is like an overseas holiday, with each track a new destination, a new experience. It’s a winter tonic for the imagination of home-bound aural travelers.

 

 

Sunrise RakiuraThese Early Mornings are back with a few standalone singles recently uploaded to Bandcamp. Here’s the latest one, “Ledges” –

“Ledges” exists in an atmosphere of (apparent) effortless DIY . The song follows the elliptical shuffling repetition, unhurried yet, oddly lop-sided time signature, and blurred guitar strumming we’ve come to know and love from These Early Mornings.

This time out there’s a sharper definition to the woozy sounds, including a second guitar motif weaving a melodic counter-rhythm in behind. There’s also a sharper definition to the  lyrics, revealing more of the distinctive universe created by These Early Mornings.

Possible HumansThis fine twisting, moody creature of a song called “Toroid” comes from a recent 7″ single on Sydney label Strange Pursuits, by Melbourne band Possible Humans:

“Toroid” sometimes hints at an eclectic array of electric psych-pop favourites. Those first snaking guitar lines hint at The Clean, the melodic rise and fall of the vocal melody may trigger a warm rush of Guided by Voices memories and it inhabits the kind of imaginary 1960’s psychedelic power pop world Television Personalities constructed during their first few albums. However, it turns out to be not much like any of these things in the end, instead carving out its own odd space in the world by not conforming to any particular influence and sounding both timeless and mysterious at the same time.

Possible humans have 5 members. Three are brothers. Two wrote a song each on this single. Neither of the two songs on this single appear on their forthcoming (sometime) album, which features songs written by all 5 members. So, when they say of the album – “it’s a big fun mess of Free Rock, in the jailhouse sense, and the wheelhouse sense, as in silly as wheels, when your mind is gone” it’s an invitation to keep an eye out for that album.

In the meantime we should all snap up this 7″ in preparation. And watch this video they made for the single “A” side “Cuz” too:

 

 

SachetIt’s been a while since we checked in on Sydney underground pop label Strange Pursuits. Turns out there’s a log jam of snappy punk-edged melodic garage-pop waiting for our ears. Here’s the thrilling staccato blast of Sachet with “Melted Wires”:

It says “First ‘single’ from debut LP ‘Portion Control’ by Sydney outfit Sachet. LP due August 2017 on Strange Pursuits.”  On the strength of “Melted Wires” that Sachet LP will be top of the PopLib shopping list come August.

Sachet are Lani Crooks and Sam Wilkinson of Day Ravies along with Nick Webb and Chris Anstis. “Melted Wires” continues in a similar vein to the compulsively melodic earworm guitar-pop template perfected by Day Ravies on their fabulous “Liminal Zones” album, but now stripped back to barking guitar, sparse keyboard, crunching drums and voices.

It’s cracking stuff – the guitar in the verses evokes the spirit of Dr Feelgood’s Wilko Johnson and the song charges along with the feral energy of an early Fall 7″ with Crooks delivering a crisp and threatening vocal.

Perfect as all that sounds, the chorus flips the song into lush melodic pop with layered vocal harmonies. Add in an instrumental bridge pulling post-punk shapes and angles, and you’ve got the kind of inventive bittersweet garage-pop genius which makes you hit ‘repeat’ again and again. Can’t wait to hear more from Sachet.

 

 

SaturationsHere’s an atypical track called “Run Electro” from a new album called “Saturations” by New Brighton, Christchurch musician Blair Parkes.

“Run Electro” is an attention-grabbing song, bursting with luminous colour and surging along on an insistent rumbling bass line with phased distorted organ swirls, like a kind a super-charged Stereolab on steroids.

It’s a bit of an odd one out on a curiously sequenced album which seems to morph from reflective guitar folk-pop at the start into more effect-driven shoegaze territory before exploring even deeper into electronic synth-pop.  It’s not the sort of album you can dip into for a quick listen here and there and come away with a sense of what it is all about. It rewards the full journey.

“Saturations” is a curiously timeless collection of songs. The first 4 songs of the songs could fit comfortably in the late 80s/ early 90s NZ/ Australian reflective guitar pop scene, while the second half of the album crackles with more electronic energy, sometimes reminiscent of UK synth-pop band Frazier Chorus.  Both halves of the album are bursting with fine songs.

 

Listening to this Blair Parkes album has sent me on a trip back to NZ pop underground of the late 1980s. Keen students of obscure Flying Nun Records releases may recognise Blair from All Fall Down (FN0989) and The Letter 5 (FN169).

Parkes’ blog post here on the All Fall Down years is also a fascinating insight into the life of a young musician playing in an obscure ‘2nd wave’ Flying Nun Records band in the mid to late 1980s in New Zealand.

As a bonus here’s the Bats-meets-Triffids styled perfection of All Fall Down’s “Black Gratten” from 1987: