Archives for category: International Pop Underground

paperghostA new 4 song EP from paperghost has appeared out of the aether. It has the wonderful title “A Million Dead Dust Motes Hum To Life”. Here’s the opening track, “A Map of Things”

It has been three and a half years since the last Paperghost release. If this is a kind of electronic dream-folk, it is from a future in which dreams are monitored, recorded, mixed and played via some kind of glitchy synth-connected bio-ether-net, controlled by telepathic sentient insect networks.

Paperghost’s fractured yet cohesive futurist sound is a strange alternate-reality with enough conventional melody and rhythm to hold it together and work as rich and detailed subversive pop music. There is much here to explore…


Little Desert_HappyLittle Desert is a 5 piece dark garage/punk psych-rock punk ensemble from Melbourne. “Happy” here is a brand new song, just released ahead of a new EP slated for release in 2019. Buckle in – it’s a W I L D (but happy) ride…

There’s nothing held back here. This is pure, unrestrained, wild, searing garage-psych rock energy. Vocalist Esther Rivers’ delivery commands the song – an ode to sisterly love and embracing life.  In the engine room, Ash Wyatt (Red Red Krovvy/ Masses) propels the song with urgent floor-tom heavy drums, Bonnie Mercer (Dead River/ Breathing Shrine) adds the classic buzz-saw guitar, Ema Dunstan (Hi-Tec Emotions/ Synthetics) shakes the foundations with ominously low bass rumble and Roman Tucker (Rocket Science) provides that psych-essential swirling keyboard atmosphere.

Esther Rivers – “Written on the train on the way back from Scotland it’s our first curt, “optimistic” song with no hidden meanings. I wrote it about my sister as I left her behind after visiting her after ages and finding her in a really good place. We’ve gotten a bit more B52s with these new songs! A bit more groove but still with passion and the psych-out at the end. A bit of a punk edge too. We love playing this song at the end of the set.”

“Happy” is A-grade wild psych rock and roll. Can’t wait for the EP, and I’ll also be examining the Little Desert back catalogue. “Saeva” below has a hard-to-categorise, winning mix of psychedelic garage-rock and doomy/ proggy UK 1970s heavy metal. While you are falling down the Little Desert rabbit hole be sure to check out each of the members other bands in the links above. There’s much more to discover in this noisy Melbourne underground scene.


naenaeexpress20181240Carisbrook was the home of cricket and rugby in Dunedin until 2011 when Dunedin’s new covered stadium was opened. Only 10 cricket test matches were played at Carisbrook but some were the stuff of sporting legend. “Carisbrook” is a song from the self-titled album by Auckland band The Naenae Express about the NZ cricketer the band is named after, and his heroic last wicket stand in a test match at Carisbrook in 1985.

“There’s plenty of runs to get/ but nobody’s got them yet.” Chatfield came in to bat at No. 11, and proceeded to score an unbeaten 21 off 84 balls, the last wicket partnership with his captain adding the crucial 50 runs that New Zealand needed to win the match. It remained Chatfield’s highest Test score.

The band operating under the name The Naenae Express create a peculiarly summery New Zealand kind of sports-themed psychedelic pop, at times incorporating a kind of stoned Pavement and Beta Band vibe. Don’t know much about The Naenae Express other than Scott Kendall being the cricket-loving genius behind these well-crafted tunes. The self-titled album is out via their bandcamp page, with a cassette to come sometime.

Earth to ZenaEarth to Zena are a 4-piece band from Wellington describing themselves – very accurately – as ‘psychedelic shoegaze’. Here’s the remarkable “Celestial Skins” from their debut album, “Transmundane”:

“Celestial Skins” here represents the best of all the bands’ elements combined together. There’s muscular crushing space rock noise (Hawkwind, circa “Space Ritual”, with Lemmy on bass!) to open and close the song, and, in-between, passages of diaphanous dream-pop/ shoegaze wonder, plus a kind of free-flowing psychedelic rock reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane. The outro combines everything – plus added synth – in a celestial celebration of distorted glorious saturated noise.

Lead vocalist Renee Cotton also plays synthesizer, adding extra textures and melodies to the futuristic (and Hawkwind-esque space rock) elements of the sound, with Barton McGuire on guitar, Alex Sipahioglu on bass and Nic Allan on drums.

“Transmundane” is a great collection of strong songs, rendered with confidence and style, and also quite often with the amps and effects turned up past the point of no return. Give it a whirl for yourself!

Flo and Spicey

Please sit back, ensure your seat belt is securely fastened, your seat back is upright and your tray table is stowed away, as we prepare for take-off… it’s time to travel through space and time between Glasgow and Stockholm with Flo & Spicey on an “Adult Single”:

Flo & Spicey (real names Diana Jonsson & Colin Stewart) describe themselves as “a long distance studio collaboration between Glasgow and Stockholm. They make their music using old & discarded tech with a love for all things Joe Meek & Delia Derbyshire.”

It’s a kind of lo-fi retro-collage kind of magpie indie-pop where whistling kettles and stirring tea-spoons, railway station announcements, old TV soundbites and all kinds of noisy flotsam and jetsam are woven into bass and keyboard pop. It’s fun, it’s weird in a kind of Residents-meets-Stereoloab kind of way at times, and it’s all got a heart of pop as well.

Flo & Spicey’s Tea Set is highly recommended for fans of Broadcast and also contemporary exponents of this kind of dark, grainy experimental pop, like Exploded View.

Cyanide ThorntonAnother new Melbourne musical offering, this time from Cyanide Thornton via a self-titled album just out on Bedroom Suck Records. Here’s the opening track “Weight”:

“Weight” is a magical 6 minute journey, starting with the mesmerising snaking lead guitar part which is sustained in pools of reverb. At first gently, unpredictably  unwinding for the first few minutes of the song, before exploding before the vocals begin. That process of uneasy calm, building tension, exploding and release/ relief continues throughout the song.

Cyanide Thornton is Sienna Thornton (guitar, piano, organ and lead vocals) with Ellah Blake (drums, violin, vocals) and David Pesavento (bass, guitar). While the album is loosely “alternative rock”, the music on Cyanide Thornton’s self-titled debut has the kind of sparseness and drama of a peculiarly Australian kind of post-rock folk music. The sometimes minimal hypnotic starkness of the music, garnished with ornate reverb guitar parts, and the dark immersion of Sienna Thornton’s arresting voice and melancholic words build to crescendos of noise and emotion before falling back to reclaim the uneasy calm.

The Ocean Party Oddfellows HallThere are many ways to discover new music by bands you haven’t heard of before. The absolute worst way is reading about the death of a band member. Melbourne band The Ocean Party announced that their drummer, Zac Denton, who was also one of their song-writers and recording engineer, had passed away in hospital last weekend, just ahead of the release of their new album “The Oddfellows’ Hall” next week. One of his songs opens the album – here’s “Rain on Tin”:

The Ocean Party are from that fine Australian music-making tradition that brought us the likes of The Go-Betweens, Triffids, Lucksmiths, Steinbecks; emotionally resonant songwriting, channeling a sense of place, of memory, and reflecting on the roller-coaster of life and experience. You could add “Rain on Tin” to a playlist that also included “Cattle and Cane” and “Wide Open Road” and it would fit perfectly and beautifully.

Denton’s two songs on the album “Rain on Tin” and the equally wonderful “Home” show a range of songwriting and lyrical talents, and his simple, real recording beautifully captures the feel and space of a band playing together.

“Rain on Tin” ends with the line “my biggest fear is that I’m forgettable”. Denton’s contribution to The Ocean Party and other music ventures over the past 6 years, and our collective actions listening and sharing the music he has made should ensure that isn’t the case.