Archives for posts with tag: Melbourne

Amaya Laucirica“Little Clouds” is the opening track from a new album called “Rituals” by Melbourne’s Amaya Laucirica.

Before pressing play on this opening track I read the information on the album Bandcamp page: “Amaya’s work blends the swirling contours of the Cocteau Twins with the wistful melodies of The Go-Betweens and the sonic depth of Yo La Tengo.”  Fair to say that raised an eyebrow and thought “yeah, right.”

Turns out that’s actually a fairly modest statement. Not only is that close to the mark, it’s only the half of it. OK the Cocteau’s reference relates only to the second half of their career when their starkly unique post-punk had mellowed out to lushly produced dream-pop. But there’s no denying that these songs have the kind of classic construction you would associate with The Go-Betweens circa “16 Lovers Lane”.

The widescreen cinema-scope surround-sound of those extravagant synth washes also evokes memories of another Australian classic – capturing the sense of space of The Triffids “Wide Open Road”. The songs, arrangement and production on the album also remind me a lot of the classic pop of 80s, particularly UK popsters The Lightning Seeds. Slickly produced, glistening pop, and such perfect songs washed in big lush reverb synth pads and with crystalline guitar parts and Amaya’s distinctive vocals providing a unique heart.

Thanks to When You Motor Away for the tip off on this future classic album.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Caroline NoHere’s a treat from Melbourne which casts a little magic. It’s “Alex”, the opening track from the forthcoming “Swimmers” mini-album by Caroline No:

There’s a gentle tension here, a song sounding like the band is playing it for the second or third time so it hints at stumbling at times as it comes together at the start but never does so. In the process it gives the music a kind of very human vulnerable immediacy which draws in and involves the listener.

Caroline Kennedy’s voice also draws in the listener. There’s perhaps some of the melodic directness of a reflective Dagmar Krause in Slapp Happy (matched by the music here) but also the kind of dreamy warm cadence of Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star, Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions) while – just to confuse and confound you further –  sounding like neither really.

Mick Turner (The Dirty Three) is a familiar name on keyboards and guitar here but the rest of the Caroline No back story  is a Melbourne mystery to me, so here’s what they say on their Facebook page:

“Caroline No is a project built around the songs of Caroline Kennedy (guitar and vocals) of Plums / Deadstar fame, with Ian Wadley (Mad Nanna, Bird Blobs, St Helens) on drums, then guitar, then moving to bass a few gigs ago with the arrival of David McMillan (Dag) on drums… Occasional keyboard player Helen Johnstone (Garbage and the Flowers) first appeared during the recording of what became the No Language cassette, which has just been re-released on vinyl by Cincinnati label Students Of Decay. Caroline and Ian first worked together on Don’t Tell The Driver, the most recent LP from Mick Turner (Dirty 3) as well as his ‘big band’ assembled to promote it. Around this Mick started work producing a Caroline No album Swimmers, due for release later this year. Think Velvet Underground, Blake Babies, Young Marble Giants, American Spring…”

Parsnip_Health_EP

Continuing PopLib’s  send as a gift tips for the month with the title track from an EP called “Health” from Melbourne art-pop new-wave garage-pop band Parsnip.

This opening song “Health” and the rest of the 7″ EP channels so many great ideas, delivered in winning style. There’s a bit of 60’s garage psych-rock (the wobbly organ), lots of post-punk and New Wave (the guitars), some vocals evoking a kind of punked up Shangri-La’s and a heap of characterful and smart left-field pop.

“Health is the first single from everybody’s new favourite band Parsnip” says their label Anti Fade, and they aren’t wrong there.  Send it as a gift to someone you want to impress and get a copy of the 7″ EP for yourself as your reward for being so thoughtful.

 

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.

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

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:

 

 

Bitumen by Steve FuzzFarm

Bitumen – photo by Steve FuzzFarm

“Honey Hunter” is a thundering-great slab of hot-cold post-punk from Melbourne band Bitumen.

It’s one of 4 excellent tracks on a recent 4 song split cassette EP from Melbourne underground label Vacant Valley.

Thundering drums set the pace and volume, then a skirl of squealing guitar riffs and rumbling bass comes in and all hell is let loose. This is beautifully crafted post-punk – a hint of the ice-cold pummeling sound of Clan of Xymox and some Gothic touches reminiscent of Skeletal Family but Melbourne has been the home of this kind of industrial futuristic pop music for even longer than Germany or the UK. Top shelf sounds.

Listen to the rest of the EP here too – related entity No Sister are also worth your time. There’s a bit more information on both bands in this interview in This Is Not A Drill.