Archives for posts with tag: Day Ravies

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.

 

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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.

 

 

Moeraki Skyline

‘Tis the season for gratuitous, infuriating, pointless, reductive “Best of the Year” lists. So here’s PopLib’s list contribution.

It’s not a “best of…” but just a most-played/ favourites list. Mostly stuff you may not have heard (unless you check this blog regularly) but worth a few minutes of your time to check out over the “festive” season. “PopLib Recommends…” might be a better description.

  1. Day Ravies – “Liminal Zones” (Strange Pursuits/ Sonic Masala)

“Liminal Zones” has been thrashed around here this year; at home and in the car for months on end. I know every song intimately and still get a thrill when it’s playing. Keyboards and synths duel with swooping, restless guitar lines on this wondrous mix of honest, gritty self-recorded contemporary Australian post-punk/ New Wave.

2. Leaf Library – “Daylight Versions” (WIAIWYA)

Just bloody beautiful: an album of melodic, meditative anthems to the sea and natural world from a London band using hypnotic repetition, a few chords and drones to remarkable effect through the ebb and flow of song dynamics and instrumental and noise arrangements. I hear echoes of Broadcast, Stereolab and Tortoise in their sound and unconventional approach but the end result is a distinctive Leaf Library soundworld.

3. Death And The Maiden – “Death And The Maiden”  (Fishrider)

I’ve broken my own golden rule of not posting stuff here I release on the label I run, but I can’t ignore this album because it has been one of my 3 most-played albums in 2015. It’s part electronica – slow dance/ trance arpeggio synth lines and clattering percussion – and part futuristic post-punk guitars and bass. But it’s the human heart of the voices which bind it all together into something special and unique. It helped me through a dark time in the first half of the year and I’m eternally grateful to the songs and the people involved for creating a world in which it is possible to lose yourself for 40 minutes in music that is dark and melancholy but also mysterious, coolly beautiful and, ultimately, positive and uplifting.

4. Sam Hunt with David Kilgour & The Heavy Eights – “The 9th” 

“The 9th” is legendary New Zealand poet Sam Hunt orating his – and others – poetry, set to a backing of atmospheric psychedelic guitar music. The album gives David Kilgour (The Clean) and his band The Heavy Eights freedom to explore free of song structure, although some songs do have a chorus of sorts. The atmosphere of the music is a perfect combination for Sam’s words and voice, providing more than just background.

5. Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus – “beauty will save the world” (Occultation Recordings)

An extraordinary album of lush, sometimes unsettling and ghostly “apocalyptic folk” mixed with arcane religious/ spiritual laments and incantations, some industrial electronic sounds, and spoken word samples. It’s a haunting, misty and compellingly beautiful album listened to in its entirety, a soundtrack to an imaginary European art film.  This Liverpool collective have been creating occasional intriguing multi-media performances and a handful of album since the 1980s. This is their best yet.

6. Knife Pleats – “Hat Bark Beach” (WIAIWYA)

There’s an easy familiarity about the frantic-paced pop on “Hat Bark Beach” – all 12 songs are in the 2 minute to 2 & 1/2 minute range. Sometimes Knife Pleats channel the kind of primal 80s indie-pop frenzy of The Shop Assistants, other times perhaps the pulsing sophistication of early Stereoloab. The upbeat/downbeat songs here are bursting with fuzz & jangle pop, propelled by insistent simple drumming and topped with glorious pop melodies and engaging vocals.

7. Shunkan – “The Pink Noise” (Art is Hard)

Los Angeles musician Marina Sakimoto, with a full band version of Shunkan, recorded The Pink Noise in Lyttelton during two years in NZ, most of that time based in Invercargill.  The album is a fully-formed fuzzy pop masterclass that moves away from the DIY bedroom recordings of her 2014 “Honey, Milk & Blood” EP. The songwriting, vocals and all-round performance by the band is sensational. Even though Marina has recently relocated back to LA, there’s a case for continuing to claim Shunkan – and certainly The Pink Noise album – as a product of NZ’s lower South Island for a while longer.

8. Totally Mild – “Down Time” (Bedroom Suck Records)

Queensland label “Bedroom Suck Records” continues its hot run of form, releasing a heap of gems over recent years. “Down Time” was my pick of their 2015 releases. It’s a beautifully constructed collection of wryly wistful pop featuring twangy guitars and soaring vocals.  There’s nothing ‘slacker’ about Totally Mild’s Aussie guitar pop. It’s bright and airy, sharply focused, deliciously melodic and its simple perfection will take your breath away.

9. Heather Woods Broderick – “Glider” (Western Vinyl)

Heather Woods Broderick accompanied Sharon van Etten on her March 2015 tour of NZ on keyboards and vocals. SVE mentioned Heather – a multi-instrumenatlist and regular contributor to others’ recordings and tours – had her own album coming out, so I tracked down “Glider” from her US label. It’s another album to lose yourself in. These woozy, drifting soundscapes of lush and dreamy reverb and delay-drenched atmospheric dream-pop sit somewhere between Cocteau Twins and Mazzy Star.

10. Wormstar – “Turning Red”

Wormstar is an Auckland based DIY artist/ band and “Turning Red” channels the spirit of so many of my favourite bands – notably The Pastels (Scotland), Pavement (US), The Stevens (Australia) and The Clean (NZ) – so it’s no surprise it’s wormed it’s way into a starring role on this list. Fuzz and jangle guitar pop with heartache melodies and plenty of fresh and weird excursions for good measure.

Honourable mentions – Nadia Reid – “Listen to Formation, Look for the Signs”, Ela Orleans –  “Upper Hell”, The Shifting Sands – “Cosmic Radio Station” “Cosmic Radio Station”, The Granite Shore – “Once More From The Top” , Jay Som – “Untitled” “Untitled”, Anthonie Tonnon “Successor”, Chastity Belt – “Time To Go Home” Salad Boys – “Metalmania”, Space Bats, Attack! – “Space Bats, Attack!”, Govrmint – “Pipe DRM”

Shrapnel

Shrapnel appears to be a solo/ side project of Day Ravies’ guitar abuser, Sam Wilkinson. That alone would be enough for me to take an interest. Day Ravies’ “Liminal Zones” is still my favourite album of 2015, hands down, no competition, end of story.

But one listen to “Pearl in the Rough” – one of two pre-release songs available to stream on the Strange Pursuits Bandcamp page ahead of the limited edition 30 copy cassette release of  Shrapnel’s “Carpet Tuggers” album – is enough to trigger a Pavlovian buy-now reflex without a second thought.

“Pearl In The Rough” is a big lumbering monster of garagey psychedelic guitar noise. It has some of the combustible spirit of a fiery live performance by The Who circa “Armenia City In The Sky” and the audacious swagger of The Pink Fairies at their wildest best, or even The Scientists, if you prefer a more geographically-appropriate Aussie scuzz-rock reference point.

Two things are obvious from this Shrapnel song: (1) Sam Wilkinson is a hell of a guitarist and (2) he’s writing enough great songs that don’t fit Day Ravies that he can bang out an album of lo-fi DIY guitar-psych mayhem.  I’m going to have to dig out the cassette deck again for this…

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.

PopLib_Top5_Picture1
Here’s the second unnecessary list from the mid-way point in PopLib’s year of music discovery 2015. This one is PopLib’s favourite 5 songs posted so far this year.

OK, it’s actually 6 songs, but the two songs sharing 5th equal on this list total just over 3 minutes together. Anyway, these are the songs played the most, loved the most so far in 2015. Pretty simple…

5 = Jim Nothing – Raleigh Arena

Christchurch 4-track portastudio cassette tape mangler Jim Nothing encapsulates the spirit of fuzzy lo-fi guitar pop in 1 minute and 18 seconds with “Raleigh Arena” from his “Zig Zag Blues” cassette.

5 = Shunkan – Our Names

The first single in advance of a debut album due later in 2015, “Our Names” is a different sounding Shunkan to the name we were first introduced to a year ago via the self-recorded cassette EP “Honey, Milk & Blood” and the following electronica excursions on シュンカン I . The Shunkan of “Our Names” is now a 5-piece band (one of the best live bands around the south of NZ at the moment) and the song a stirring 2-minute fuzz-pop anthem full of melodic hooks.

4. Jay Som/ Melina Duterte – Forget About It Kid

From that Cure-inspired chorus guitar to the epic chiming guitar parts and synth wash, the combination of elements of 80’s post-punk with dreamy synth-pop gives this fine song by young Californian Melina Duterte (also going under the name Jay Som) depth and substance.

3. Ego – Moon

These Sydney youngsters have delivered an unlikely space-rock anthem that sounds contemporary while also unwittingly recreating some 70’s style soft-rock magic through those reverb-washed harmony vocals. Supple, under-stated drumming and earworm guitar melodies give a hint of a band with much potential.

2. Birdation – Hen’s Teeth

Within the murky overblown distortion and submerged vocals of “Hen’s Teeth” lurks a brilliant song. But the structural murk itself contributes so much to the mood struck here. Hard to believe something as massive sounding as this is performed live by just one person. But anyone who has seen Hope Robertson play as Birdation (or in her many other guitarist guises) knows what she can conjure with a jumble of pedals, ancient drum-machine and sundry electronic devices, including the unexpected sonic properties of an e-cigarette.

1. Day Ravies – Under the Lamp

The whole “Under The Lamp” EP – and the 7″ single preceding it – is wonderful. Can’t stop playing it. Every song is a favourite but “Under The Lamp” is just so perfect. The sonic churn and swoop of the guitar evokes My Bloody Valentine, but the vocal melody would shine on a Broadcast album and the whole thing is wrapped up in a Stereolab-esque keyboard swirl, without sounding derivative of any of these bands. A second Day Ravies album is out in July. Can’t wait.

It’s the middle of the year and everyone seems to be making mid-year “best of…” lists; Top 10/ 20/ 50/ 100 songs/ albums/ shows etc.

You can either ignore a bandwagon and get run over by it, or jump on board. So, in the spirit of contributing more completely subjective and totally unnecessary mid-year lists PopLib will compile a few over the next few days.

To start off, here’s PopLib’s “Top 5 Videos” so far in 2015. Of course “Top” is meaningless. These are just 5 videos I’ve watched a lot and have enjoyed. They are all made on a budget, some are quite simple ideas, but all are compelling and interesting.

“Hickford Whizz” by Day Ravies

Can’t get enough of the latest Day Ravies releases at the moment. This Sydney, Australia 4-piece band have a new album out in July. But already this year they’ve released some of my favourite music. There’s a brilliant 7″ single – which “Hickford Whizz” here is from – and a 4 track cassette EP called “Under The Lamp” which is dazzling and a fresh blend of styles and sounds and ideas. This video is a mix of stop motion live action and animations. A reminder in here of the stop-motion creativity of Chris Knox on Tall Dwarf’s “Nothings Going To Happen”.

“Dear ___ ” by Death And The Maiden

Dunedin doom-wave/ post-punk/ electro-trance trio Death And The Maiden released their debut album a few months ago. It is a special record and one that takes a while to reveal it’s secrets and take a grip on your heart. I’ve had a head start over everyone else, but the compelling, soothing but slightly disturbing video for “Dear ___ ” is your chance to catch up. There’s a sense of existential reflection about most Death and The Maiden songs and the video by Erica Sklenars raises its own ambiguous questions in a very subtle way about reality, image, decay.

“Actually” by Rozi Plain

English musician Rozi Plain has an album out on a small Scottish label Lost Map and “Actually” was the song I discovered Rozi Plain through (having been found the Lost Map website looking for a Tough Love release). The hint of Robert Wyatt in the song, words, phrasing and non-conformist pop spirit of the song was enough to hook me. This simple video is perfect for the song.

“All The Stars” by The Shifting Sands

Port Chalmers trio The Shifting Sands are lucky to have a creative partner in visual artist and video-maker Veronica Brett. Her three videos for songs from The Shifting Sands first album “Feel” were animations. But this latest video combines a bit of everything – live action puppetry, stop motion animation and computer generated animated backdrops. A perfectly intriguing video for this song, which is on their 2nd album “Cosmic Radio Station” scheduled for release in September. It was also featured on last year’s compilation album “TEMPORARY – Selections From Dunedin’s Pop Underground 2011 – 2014”

“Our Names” by Shunkan

Shunkan combine the considerable talents of relocated Los Angeles musician Marina Sakimoto, her Invercargill flat-mates, and Christchurch based drummer to produce some of the best hook-laden noisy pop the south has experienced in recent years. “Our Names” is from a debut album out sometime this year on UK label Art Is Hard.

[Disclosure: The Death And The Maiden video and The Shifting Sands video are from releases on the label I run, Fishrider Records, but I’m sure you’ll excuse a bit of self-promotion when it involves recognising the creativity of some very talented video makers].