Archives for posts with tag: post-punk
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.

Strathcona BandcampEveryone likes a mystery, right? Well here’s something mysterious and new from Dunedin. All we have is a song called “Seams” on Bandcamp and the band/ performer name strathcona pl.

An EP is promised in the future. Adding to the intrigue is that “Seams” is so good it draws you back to listen again and again to try to find clues in the DNA of the music because music can’t exist in a vacuum, it must come packaged with information – knowledge about its creator.

“Everything and everyone’s falling apart” observes the chorus over and over again before adding “in my dreams” and you really want to write down all the lyrics to try to decipher meaning from them but you also know this this would break the spell of only half-hearing these anxiety dream lines.  So, let’s instead focus on the music, because it’s a little unusual and just a bit intriguing, not sounding much like anything we’ve heard around the streets of this town recently.

The minimal-yet-complex interwoven guitar/ bass/ drum sound, staccato chop of the guitar and bass and the hushed vocals here remind me of Young Marble Giants.   But there’s other interesting undertones throughout which offer even more intriguing Post-Punk influences or perhaps just coincidences. The guitar playing and chord changes – those descending lines at the end of the chorus in particular – seem to carry a faint sonic smudge of a track off an early Cure album perhaps (circa “A Forest”).

So it’s a little bit folk, a little bit Gothic, some Post-Punk DIY or maybe even New Wave. And as much as it may carry these early 1980s UK echoes, it also hints at the folk-rock intimacy of The Spinanes (on Seattle label Sub-Pop’s 1990s roster) or the more DIY folk/ punk attitudes of artists on nearby K Records ‘International Pop Underground’ at the same time. So it’s all these things and yet, because it’s from Dunedin in 2017, it’s none of these things.

Finally, a search of Wikipedia helpfully informs us that Strathcona is an invented name from the 19th century, a way of referencing Glen Coe (Glencoe) in Scotland in a way that avoided any word-association with “massacre” and used by its creator as a place name across Canada. The ‘pl’ suffix could be an abbreviation of place, or Public Library.

So now we know everything, and yet we still know nothing at all.

 

 

Drahla_Jan2017“Is it real? Is it real?” asks Luciel Brown throughout this potent follow up to the thrilling debut “Fictional Decision” by Leeds-based trio Drahla – PopLib’s essential song of 2016.

The song is due for release in April on the Too Pure label’s singles club. Coruscating bass sets a platform for a typically cool and mysterious sing-speak stream-of-consciousness artful wordiness.

The song builds through dense layers of sonic energy as guitars buzz and menace before pulling back, introducing saxophone – some of the best wild skronking saxophone since The Stooges “1970” from their “Funhouse” album in fact – and then re-calibrating the volume for climactic ending.

It all adds up to a powerful statement and the fulfilling experience of a song merging elements of post-punk with art pop and noise rock and leaving some mystery and intrigue in its trail of beautifully dissonant noise.

The only band I can think of who may have been within striking distance of what Drahla are doing right now was Sonic Youth at the absolute apex of their dark abrasive melodic cool, around the time of their 1987 album “Sister”.

peak-body-by-claire-jansen-with-drawing-by-alyssa-bermudez

Peak Body – photo by Claire Jansen (w/ drawing by Alyssa Bermudez)

Peak Body are a duo from Hobart, Tasmania describing themselves as minimalist electronic post-punk and “Feeling” is one of many fine songs on the “Community 4” compilation of Hobart underground music recently released on Rough Skies Records.

Tasmania doesn’t feature much (or maybe even ever?) on PopLib despite regular posting of Australian underground pop. This compilation ought to rectify that omission – there’s a heap of treasure to be discovered here.

Peak Body is Emma Marson (vocals/guitar) and Jordan Marson (bass/keys/beats) and “Feelings” has all the fuzzy reverb-drenched pop charm you could ask for, equal parts melancholy & mystery and simple understated perfection.

Being conveniently ignorant about any aspect of the Hobart underground music scene I’ll just steal this brief explanation from the compilation Bandcamp page:

“…every song was written and recorded at the Hobart Underground Community Centre. The facility, true to its name, is located underground at a point in Glenorchy precisely between MONA and Mount Wellington (Hobart’s two great looming shadows) and was built for the sole purpose of allowing Hobart’s most vital musicians to hone their craft and reach their full potential, away from the distractions of their jobs, their families, and the daily violent fallout from Hobart City Council infighting. There is one set of doors leading into or out of the Community Centre tunnel, located behind a decoy trash pile at the Jackson Street Waste Management Centre, and they only open twice a year (at the June Solstice, and on the 29th of December, David Boon’s birthday).”

I get a feeling from the music and the further comments in the compilation info that Hobart may be a bit like Dunedin – out of the way, ignored by the rest of the country and the Australian music industry, a place musicians usually leave, whether to pursue their dreams/ ambitions or simply escape the small-city scene (the population is twice as big as Dunedin and about the same size as Christchurch).

Also the weather is similar because the Tasmania is on the whip-end of the Great Australian Bight’s intensification of the Roaring 40s. But on the plus side, they have strange mammals –  not just Echidna and Platypus, but creatures I’d never heard of such as Quolls and Bettongs.

toy-love-live-at-the-gluepot“Pull Down The Shades” closes Toy Love‘s “Live at The Gluepot 1980” album, which first saw the light of day as a Record Store Day release in NZ in 2012. Now it’s available as a digital album via Bandcamp and Goner Records, who were responsible for the initial release along with Auckland record store Real Groovy Records.

Dunedin’s proto-punk band The Enemy – who feature on the cover and inside the recently published photo-book “The Dunedin Sound – Some Disenchanted Evening” – disbanded in 1978 after a move to Auckland.

Three of The Enemy – Chris Knox, Alec Bathgate and Mike Dooley – went on to form Toy Love, adding Christchurch musicians Jane Walker (keyboards) and Paul Kean (bass).

Toy Love called time in 1980. Kean subsequently went on to join The Bats, a band which lasted a bit longer than Toy Love (over 30 years now and they are still releasing fabulous albums, with a new one out soon).

Knox acquired a 4-track reel-to-reel recorder, recording the infamous “Dunedin Double” EP which helped kick-start the careers of a handful of Dunedin bands and their Christchurch label Flying Nun Records.

Knox and Bathgate formed Tall Dwarfs and the rest, as they say, is now history…

 

 

drahlaI love the random acts of discovery that come via Bandcamp and people doing the simple act of sharing a link to something new. Sometimes what you hear invades your brain so quickly and completely that resistance is futile and you click ‘buy’and pay more than the asking price just because it is that good. Like Drahla and “Fictional Decision”:

It’s a simple idea. Bass, drums, voice and that quiet/loud dynamic we are familiar with from Pixies songs. Part spoken/ part sung/ part chanted words and phrases that are strange, mysterious, threatening (and also as artfully abstract as cut-up Broadcast song lyrics), are a familiar concept to minds perverted by years of the free-form imagination of Mark E Smith in The Fall.

But on this song by Leeds based trio Drahla these components – familiar concepts from post-punk and noise rock – are assembled and delivered in a way that allows them to take on new life and provide an an electric shock.

Maybe it’s the way that when the guitar comes in LOUD it’s just a blazing storm of dissonance and beautiful abstract fury. Maybe it’s the way that bassist/ guitarist and vocalist Luciel Brown maintains an air of indifference to the setting in which her incantations are delivered. Classic tension and release.

Either way, I’ve played this a dozen times tonight and all I can conclude is that I’ll be playing it another dozen times tomorrow… and after that as well.

Postscript: There’s a wonderful lo-fi synthpop/ artpop split release with Swords from a year ago which has two songs from Drahla. “Stereo Maze” gave me flashbacks to an old Amos & Sara cassette tape from a long time ago. The post-punk art-pop spirit is clearly strong in this band.

And then there is this enigmatic “teaser” for something I’d love to hear more from:

Ugly ShadowsA week ago Ugly Shadows released their first album “Kids of Tomorrow”, of which this is the title track.

Ugly Shadows are an Anarcho/ Post-Punk band from Istanbul, Turkey. It is now a nation undergoing a military coup and an even more uncertain future than the troubled times influencing the songs on their album.

Ugly Shadows are vocalist Gizem, guitarist Can, drummer Orkun and bassist Umut. Their music – only some of which is sung in English – is based on the early 80s UK gothic-Anarcho-punk style and they do a superb job of it. “Kids of Tomorrow” is another anthemic song reminding me of UK favourites Skeletal Family.