Archives for posts with tag: Australian

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.

 

 

Terrible TruthsNo idea how I missed hearing Terrible Truths‘ wonderful self-titled album released late last year. Here’s “See Straight” from it.

This song – and the rest of the album – is excellent. Taut, brisk, angular post-punk, propelled by muscular bass and busy drums, with the guitar darting around spraying lead melodies and lashings of chorus effects and/or reverb around the place.

Their post-punk is generally played more straight rock than the brutalist neo-funk of the likes of Bush Tetras, Delta 5 and Mo-Dettes but there’s something of the angular rhythmic precision and spikiness of those bands in Terrible Truths’ sound and in the vocal interplay.

But forget the distant past, there’s also a more recent parallel in Australian music, with the phenomenal Bushwalking distant cousins to this sound (their album “No Enter” another release to check if you like what Terrible Truths have to offer).

Terrible Truths are now based in Melbourne, drawn there from South Australia mostly. Guitarist Rani Rose and bassist Stacey Wilson share vocals and  Joe is the drummer – originally from Brisbane, and, I’m guessing, possibly one of the people behind the phenomenal Bedroom Suck Records (recently relocated the Melbourne from suburban Brisbane) who released Terrible Truths’ debut on LP/ CD.

Here’s the video for “See Straight” –

 

Day Ravies_Liminal Zones press photo
PopLib usually features songs rather than album reviews. It’s hard enough to write about one song let alone a dozen or so. But an exception will be made for the exceptional “Liminal Zones” – the 2nd album just released by Sydney band Day Ravies.

Day Ravies have been a fixture on the PopLib stereo for the past few months since discovering their early 2015 releases – the “Hickford Whizz/ Taking Your Time” 7” single and the perfect 4 song cassette EP “Under The Lamp”. Both these exploratory releases indicated Day Ravies were moving a little further from their debut album “Tussle” and its generally ‘shoegaze’ daze.

In hindsight though, “Tussle” is a much broader, satisfying album revisiting it now than it was on first impressions. Amongst the gazey guitar effect shimmer there are plenty of hints of the raw guitar/ keyboard pop side developed further on “Liminal Zones”.

If there’s a new sonic template on “Liminal Zones” it’s the ‘co-lead’ role of keyboards – often outrageous squirty synth – duelling with the swooping, restless guitar lines. There’s not much shoegaze influence to be heard now but what’s here instead is a wondrous mix of a distinctly Australian gritty post-punk/ New Wave with something more timeless and European. Amongst an album of standout tracks an early favourite is the precocious New Wave art-pop of “Nettle”.

“Liminal Zones” has a solid foundation provided by Caroline de Dear’s weighty overdriven bass lines and Matt Neville’s inventive drumming (and occasional drum machine programming). Over top Sam Wilkinson’s guitar playing oscillates between scouring fuzz, swooping feedback dive-bombs and chiming chorus pedal effects. Lani Crooks’ keyboards dial in an exuberant mix of 80’s New Wave, European motorik, garage rock and Day Ravies’ own variation on Stereolab via Broadcast. Often all this is swirling around in the same song.

The other essential part of “Liminal Zones” is the more confident mixing of vocals which highlights another of Day Ravies’ strengths. Lani Crooks’ measured and sophisticated cool plays well against Sam Wilkinson’s melodic rasp. The variety and personality from each the two voices is a big part of the album’s appeal for me.

Sometimes (like pre-album single “Hickford Whizz”) those angular lead guitar lines, and Sam Wilkinson’s vocals, may suggest a reminder of the early sounds of Australian post-punk pioneers The Go Betweens . Other times (like the sombre “Skewed”) dark psychedelia of The Church in their early form may come to mind.

But there’s also frequent use of sounds and sensations which bring to mind My Bloody Valentine, Broadcast and Stereolab. However, the way these tracks are crafted, arranged and recorded, together with the character the members of Ray Davies all collectively imprint on their songwriting, adds up to a distinctive and recognisable sound of their own.

“Liminal Zones” is a perfect combination of characterful songs and an eclectic variety of styles and sounds. It’s consistently fresh and engaging and frequently delights and surprises. It’s also a bit rough-hewn and home-made which keeps it real and vital for me. A new Australian classic album.

“Liminal Zones” is released on Day Ravies’ own label Strange Pursuit (CD and DL) and also on Sonic Masala (LP – neon pink & standard black options). Beko Records in France (which released the excellent 7″ single earlier this year) is stocking the album in Europe if you are in that part of the world and want to save on postage.

Primitive Motion

A well-constructed two-note/ two-chord song is a wonderful thing. And Primitive Motion – from Brisbane – are another wonderful thing from the Bedroom Suck Records label from Queensland, Australia. Primitive Motion’s “Audible Darkness” comes across like very early Stereolab on a tight budget. It’s less retro space-rock than just timeless and dreamy weird-pop.

The glorious slow throbbing opener “Bodies of the Placid Furnace” and then, further into the album, “Kaleidoscope” and “River Flow Your Face” each carry subtle echoes of the kind of addictive tunes Robert Scott has contributed to recent albums by The Clean.

However, the overall the tone of the album is a cheerfully glum colourburst of woozy budget synths, toybox drum-machines and reverb-heavy voices. There’s variety aplenty and among the melodic dream-pop there are some odd little experimental ambient soundscape touches, as if Eno was making music for kids space cartoons.

I like this Primitive Motion album a lot. It is worth spending time with and treating yourself to a copy of the LP.

SACW

Day 13 of our unofficial Aussie Music Month and tie for an oldie (2011) but a bit of a classic – ‘Footscray Station’ by Scott & Charlene’s Wedding.

This recording was before their big breakthrough and a move to bedroom Suck Records and overseas release of ‘Any Port in a Storm’ on Fire Records. ‘Footscray Station’ here is live & loose & channels The Clean (Anything Could Happen’) & Bob Dylan in equal measures.

This is probably more of that cliched Aussie ‘Deadbeat Rock’ – although they refer to it rather better as “pop-grunge character building”. Whatever they call it, Scott & Charlene’s Wedding refined it to an art-form.

Tajette O'Halloran Photography http://www.tajetteohalloran.com/

Tajette O’Halloran Photography
http://www.tajetteohalloran.com/

No month of Australian Music would be complete without mention of Courtney Barnett, a young Melbourne musician taking the world by storm (well, sell out shows on a never-ending world tour right now). She’s doing that by elevating ‘slacker’ pop (which I’m guessing is a step up from ‘Deadbeat Rock’) into a literary & music art-form.

So, for Day 12, here’s ‘History Eraser’ from one of Courtney’s first two EPs (now combined into a double LP called ‘The Double EP – A Sea of Split Peas’ ).

Everyday life transformed into something disarmingly honest, funny & sometimes sad, with brilliantly told stories. I’ve said here before that Courtney is the Alan Bennett of indie-pop in terms of her ability to tell vivid stories about everyday things with honesty and wit…. plus still making these work as great slouchy pop tunes with killer chorus hooks.

You should have this. It is available from her own label Milk! Records which is based in Melbourne and run along with friends (in case you were worried how she will post her LP to you when she is on tour).

Day 11 of unofficial Australian Music Month, because, you know, if it’s good enough for NZ to have a month of self-reflection, then it’s good enough for Aussie. Goodness knows they need all the love they can get these days. Look, here they are even turning against their own cultural icons:

deadbeat

So, as that tweet seemed to be directed at most of the catalogue of my favourite Australian labels, I thought I’d see what RIP Society (Deabeat Central) had to offer. This new release ‘ Leaf’ from Rat Columns caught my ear.

Don’t know if this is ‘deadbeat’ or not. It might just be a bit sad & subdued – therefore downbeat rather than deadbeat. But it is mighty fine guitar pop and has a little hint of Orange Juice/ Postcard Records pop (listen to track 3 ‘Pink Mist’) amongst the trebly clatter and subdued vocals.