Archives for category: Pop Lib

Drahla October 2017“Silk Spirit” is a brand new track from Leeds based trio Drahla, previewed on their Bandcamp page ahead of the release of their first EP “Third Article” on 24 November:

The “Third Article” EP is 4 new songs, available on a one-sided 12″. If you are late to the Drahla party there were two glorious and essential 7″ singles “Faux Text” and “Fictional Decision” released in the past year.

“Silk Spirit” continues the promise of those singles – mystery, noise, melody and another intriguing talk-sing stream-of-consciousness from guitarist/ vocalist Luciel Brown, as if recalling a detailed fever-dream.

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AJ Sharma

“Red is the Colour” is a wonderfully odd, unsettling and dark track from the new album “Tabla Diablo” by Dunedin avant-folk musician AJ Sharma.

If very early Bonnie “Prince” Billy/ Palace Brothers is your thing, or the singular vision of Dunedin’s Alastair Galbraith, step right into the world of AJ Sharma. He’s a fellow traveler in fractured and direct outsider music, played simply, obeying no rules save the ones he makes himself.  Guitar, voice, and the atmosphere created by those sounds vibrating the air in a room, as recorded expertly in its raw honesty by Forbes Williams.

“Red is the Colour” features an additional vocalist adding a kind of ghostly backing vocal. It sounds like a very small child. It’s more unsettling than cute though, possessing the song with an disturbing otherness. Perfect of course for the atmosphere of an AJ Sharma album, described by label CocoMuse Releases as: “An assemblage of real life characters all dealing with death in their own way: Art Teachers, Outsiders, Rock-Gods, Poets, Prophets, Trees, Stars, Tortoise, Bar-Flies, Friends, Family, Cosmic Forces, Visionaries and the Unknown.”

I have a 7″ lathecut by AJ from over 20 years ago, recorded in Invercargill, release 1994. In between times he has been part of the fabulous late 1990s/ early 2000s Dunedin band Jetty and released an album called “Santo” in 2008 “The Road Back” in 2010 and “You are a Traveler” in 2013.  There have been other small run lathe cut singles and tracks on compilations… usually hard to find.

AJ Sharma’s “Tabla Diablo” album (LP) is available in Europe from Zelle Records and in NZ and the rest of the world from CocoMuse Releases.

 

Strathcona pl EPFollowing on from “seams” from the mysterious stratchcona pl, shared here back at the end of March carrying the promise of an EP some time in the future… here is that 4 track EP

“holds and releases” is an oddly wonderful lyrical puzzle floating within a musical skeleton of acoustic guitar + voice + ambient sounds + occasional drums. Just listen:

Once again; so now we know everything, and yet we still know nothing at all.

 

Beaches by Darren Sylvester

BEACHES (photo by Darren Sylvester)

Continuing the heavy psych theme, here’s a blissful Sunday Psych-out fuzzfest called “Arrow” from Melbourne five-piece band BEACHES:

BEACHES have just released (September 2017) a double album of ultra-melodic psychedelic rock called “Second of Spring”. Actually, it’s a bit more than *just* psych rock, as the double LP format allows the band to mix their usual 60s/ 70s psych-rock via German 70s experimental motorik and 80s New Wave goodness with even more shoegaze melodic pop stylings to great effect, as “Arrow” here shows.

Some songs may even remind anyone who has established a long-running relationship with Australian alternative guitar music (guilty here) of the fuzzy melodic power-pop goodness of the likes of 80s/ 90s bands The Hummingbirds or Someloves. To my ears BEACHES more natural propulsive and joyful psychedelic stylings are way more preferable than the over-worked self-indulgent noodling of some of their much more vaunted Australian psych-rock contemporaries. Enough said!

BEACHES are Antonia Sellbach on guitar and vocals, Alison Bolger on guitar and vocals, Ali McCann on guitar and vocals, Gill Tucker on bass and vocals and Karla Way on drums and vocals.

They’ve been playing and releasing singles, EPs and albums as BEACHES since 2008. You really ought to dig back into their catalogue for stunning gems like the 2013 release “She Beats” which features even more motorik psych+melodic fuzzrock wonders.

Triumphs_2017.jpgDunedin’s heavy viscosity sludge rockers TRIUMPHS return with an epic second album called “Computer Man” – available in a few months as a double 12″ LP. Here’s the shortest song “South of Denim”

If you like the crushing tones, twisting riffs and pile-driving drums of “South of Denim” you’ll love the whole album.

TRIUMPHS is guitarist John Bollen and drummer Mathew Anderson. “Computer Man” follows their excellent 2015 debut “Beekeeper​/​Bastardknocker” and it seems to have more of everything. As you would expect it’s mostly crushingly heavy, yet the album is also full of moments of sublime transcendent calm – try the start of the title track and the start of the 10 minute epic “Twang of the Void”.

In places the album is as menacingly dark and doom-laden as death-metal, as precise and patterned as math-rock, as adventurous as post-rock, and sometimes even as trippy and atmospheric as psychedelic rock. TRIUMPHS instrumental exploration of these various styles is complex but crafted with personality and always much more than an exercise in technique.  It’s an album that belongs in a wide range of record collections.

Minimum Chips

Minimum Chips is one of the great band names of the modern era. Fortunately that evocative name is matched to exquisite music. Their label Chapter Music describe their sound as ‘lo-fi jazz pop’ but have a listen to “Jolly Jumper” and make up your own mind.

“Jolly Jumper” is a new recording by the band, and it is included on “20 Big Ones – 1992 – 2012” which celebrated 20 years of Chapter Music, the Melbourne label which brought us the likes of Dick Diver, Bushwalking, Twerps, The Stevens, The Cannanes, The Goon Sax, and… well, the list is quite long. The album was released in 2012 to coincide with the label’s 20th anniversary show and has re-appeared on the Chapter Music Bandcamp page today, which presumably means it has been repressed.

“Jolly Jumper” seems to me to transcend ‘indie-pop’ whatever that is, although it is clearly independent and clearly pop. It is the kind of thing you might imagine in a fever dream involving members of Stereolab and Broadcast forming a secret group and releasing a single on Sarah Records or some other equally unlikely kind of musical fantasy in an alternative universe.

The guitar and organ meander; interlocking, overlocking, unravelling, reforming patterns again in hypnotic and exultant ways. The drums are crisp and adventurous and there is no jazz in earshot, save for some experimental organ chords towards the ending (and what a dramatic ending). The vocals sound distant yet close, the words being sung almost sound French, yet it’s an Australian singing in English. Mystery upon enigma. Of course, I’ll be carefully, patiently discovering the rest of this band’s back catalogue for years now.

There are 19 other songs on the album. They all have their magic and help tell a story of a label giving a voice for over 20 years now to people the more commercially-focused mainstream part of the ‘music industry’ ignores. It’s a good entry point to explore the label catalogue. Chapter Music is a very good musical rabbit hole to fall down.

Chapter Music is a long-standing label established by a then 17-year-old Guy Blackman in Perth in 1992, before relocating to Melbourne. Read more about Chapter Music in interview with Guy here.

Chapter 20

Jane Weaver_Modern Kosmology“The Architect” is the title track from a new EP from UK musician Jane Weaver which follows her essential album “Modern Kosmology” (which also includes “The Architect”…)

If you haven’t heard “Modern Kosmology” – released earlier this year – you really ought to give it a listen. Or just, you know, BUY IT! On impulse. As I did a few months ago.

It was one of those “Hi-Fidelity” moments, although Dave from Relics in Dunedin is no John Cusack. Still, he was playing a promo CD of the album and I ordered a copy of the LP on the strength of a couple of tracks that had been playing.

It’s quickly become one of my favourite albums of the year. “The Architect” here is one of two tracks to feature drummer Andrew Cheetham. The other is the opening track “H>A>K”. His drumming is fluid, loose, and inventive and gives the futuristic electronic soul-funk of “The Architect” a nicely human mode of propulsion.

There’s nothing else quite like “The Architect” (or “H>A>K”) on “Modern Kosmology” though and that’s one of the reasons the album is such a satisfying experience from beginning to end. It’s a special kind of psychedelic-electronic-dream-pop-motorik trip. A journey through the time & space of Jane Weaver’s imagination.

There are moments throughout the album that remind me of the diverse sounds of Broadcast, Stereoloab, Bachelorette, Fast, Neu, Can, Popol Vuh… goodness knows what else. But the key is these are just moments, and there’s also much here that is floating in its own musical universe… making it a contemporary classic album.

Here’s a wonderful 10 minute video documentary about Jane Weaver and the recording of “Modern Kosmology”.