Posts Tagged ‘Amy Hill’

Oscar Perry – “Perry Como”

Got a real dark streak of pop quicksilver here from Aussie Oscar Perry. With a cassette forthcoming on the ever excellent Hobbies Galore, Perry’s first single is delivered in a menacing spoken word screed over percolating ‘80s funk that’s beset with a drug-sweat vibration that makes the track feel like it might induce a panic attack at any moment. The song embodies an envisioned sad desperation of ’50 singer Perry Como. In quite a few ways this song shakes the same nerves as anything in the Darkside ourvre, though not quite as slick. The record centers around Oscar’s intense vocals, but ropes in some nice ringers from the Aussie underground including Jack Farley (Scott & Charlene’s Wedding), Amy Hill (Primo!, Sleeper & Snake), and Al Montfort (Terry, Dick Diver). The Silver Shadow cassette lands next week, but you can check out the twitchy vid for “Perry Como” now.

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Sleeper & Snake

Upset the Rhythm brings another stellar Aussie duo to the forefront of 2020 with the release of Sleeper & Snake’s sophomore LP Fresco Shed. Comprised of Amy Hill (Terry, Primo!) and Al Montfort (Terry, Dick Diver, UV Race) the band gives post-punk a rinse in disjointed folk brambles and flanneled jazz touches. What the band does best is capture an unhurried view, almost ambling at times, but without coddling the record in niceties. While they jangle through the folk breeze of “Rokeby” the saw of fiddle and a muffled bleat of sax keep things from ever becoming comfortable. In similar fashion, the band never let their hooks swim too close to the surface. Every time they feel like they might get brisk and wistful, a curdled tone sets us straight. The record is most certainly not meant to fade into the background. Hill and Montfort create warped pop for those already peeking over the edge and it’s a lovely din that demands your attention.

Keys stumble with harpsichord pomp, horns hide in cotton enclaves, and jangles float by in a static haze. There’s something almost inherently cable-access about the album, as if we’re all party to an uninterrupted transmission from an alternate pop universe, framed in yellowed linoleum and second hand shag. The fluorescent flicker inside the Fresco Shed takes a bit of adjustment but soon it hits like a heartbeat pulse. The pair pick out a homespun, earnest batch of songs that refused to be corralled into any contemptible genre. Even when they start to get close to a breezy jangle on “Lock Up The Loose” an amble of harmonica leads us all astray. Any look over their collective resumes assures you that they have the chops to make things easy, but Sleeper & Snake aren’t interested in easy. Somewhere within the labyrinth of the Fresco Shed we’re all lost in the melted sun sway of the band’s subtle charms. Once your internal temperature is reset to their fevered heat ripple, it all starts to make sense.



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Amy Hill on Pink Flamingos – We Never Close

Amy Hill has been a regular around here, having been RSTB faves Terry, Primo!, and Constant Mongrel. She’s got another record on the way with Al Montfort as the hard to pin down Sleeper & Snake. The band’s sounds are rooted in synth pop, but they incorporate a clash of jangles, muffled and delirious horns for a haunted edge to their songwriting. Its a post-punk record in the truest sense, feeling through the disparate waters for sounds that might compliment each other and just as often, shake the listener off balance. I’d talked with Amy after the last Primo! record, which was a fave but fates aligned for her to be able to contribute a pick to the Hidden Gems series this time around. Figuring with all the influences in her collective work some post-punk treasure might arise, but I love that this column always keeps me on my toes. Check out Amy’s pick — the Kiwi pub rock curio from The Pink Flamingos below.

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Sleeper & Snake – “Shoot Through”

Getting closer to the release of the sophomore LP from Sleeper & Snake. The project, which pairs Amy Hill (Primo, Terry) with Al Montfort (Total Control, Dick Diver, Terry) for a slinking, pop prod through uneasy pop waters. The latest single drapes itself over the listener, maybe a bit too close. It’s off balance, woozy, and wobbling in the way a friend might after one glass of wine too many. The metronomic beat persists, but the sway of strums and muffled sax give it a cottonmouth pop quality that’s ultimately endearing, as is the rest of the band’s upcoming LP for Upset The Rhythm. Fresco Shed is out October 23rd.

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Sleeper & Snake

With Amy Hill and Al Montfort on the marquee it seems as if their duo Sleeper & Snake should pound out a post-punk tattoo that’s built off of their jangle and jitter with Terry, Dick Diver, and Primo. As with their previous album however, which slunk out into the night last year, the new sounds from S&S are more of a noir dream half remembered through the cracks in the coffin of sleep. The pace crawls as Montfort and Hill sing heat-warbled harmony. Cello saws above a soft snap of drums before a bleat of sax cuts the song into chunks that don’t quite fit into any discernible crate. Unease curdles all around “Flats Falling,” like a nagging memory that won’t resolve or one that’s been pushed to the back of the mind and won’t stay put. Its an itch that refuses to be scratched. Montfort gives a bit of context to the song here as well noting, “Flats Falling is about corrupt, deregulated development in Australian cities producing shoddy housing options. These “investments” are fueled by gentrification and displacement, and they just fall apart. Realestate.com basically, don’t forget it’s all on stolen land in the first place.”

I dunno, living over here in a country disassembled by a real estate con artist and a few hundred or so profiteers, it all sounds a little far-fetched to me, eh? The forthcoming Fresco Shed is out in September from Upset The Rhythm and LuLu.



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Primo!

Aussies Primo! only strengthen their hold on me with the release of their second album for Upset The Rhythm — a cracking burst of post-punk that’s somehow both tightly wound and about to unravel at the same time. The sound is raw, not underproduced by any means, but not shined to please the masses either. The chords whack into the listener, crunching bones like a solid piece of timber broken in two —jagged but effective all the same. Aesthetics aside, the band’s got a good grip of hooks under the hood and they drive Sogni as hard as their last album. The guitars stretch with elasticity, crunch with a crinkle, drive breezily and then stutter-stop with glee. The bass comes atcha from all sides, formidable but still hungry. The band’s sound has space built in and nothing suffocates, even if it dominates. Tack on some three-part harmonies that jostle just a bit atop the whip-crack of drums and the album feels like its been hiding in the stacks for more than a few years.

That’s the real charm, and one that they’d employed on their last album as well. Primo! know their influences and they wear them well. The album could easily slip between the shelf-worn brittleness of Kleenex, Oh-OK, and Pylon but they don’t commit to one corner of the post-punk playground for too long. The sound skips from the pogo-pop of “Machine” to the rubber-legged saunter of “Rolling Stone” and never sounds out of sync with itself. The band shares two members with Aussie upstarts Terry, and there’s certainly a crossover appeal, but they come out like a softer, slyer version of the pop upset created within the confines of Terry. The lowered barriers make it a more sinister sister album to Terry’s last. Once inside the confines of Sogni the band’s no less cutting but they’ve already burrowed under your skin and once they’re in there, its impossible to shake ‘em.




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Terry – “Spud”

Ah bless ‘em there’s a new Terry tune about this morning. The band, fresh off the fallout from their third stunner I’m Terry, has a new 7,” Who’s Terry? and it bangs right in with their jangle-jerked political pop on first cut “Spud.” The band take their sights, suit up and get a ridicule riot in motion for the video, but underneath the Strangelove-ian clip, the band does what they do best – fizz n’ strum with a wink and a nudge and no small amount of catchy quirk. Damn fine janglin’ if you ask me. The single pops ‘round the turntable on July 19th.

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Constant Mongrel – “Experts in Skin”

Melbourne’s post-punk pounders Constant Mongrel follow up their excellent LP from 2018 with a double shot single in advance of their European tour. A-side “Experts in Skin” is a brittle, blistered cut that rolls in on Plasticine guitar needles before kicking over to a full-on hive of buzzing synths, sax and rhythmic rancor. The vocal bile from Tom Ridgewell captures their usual sneering, aloof attack, cutting through consumerism without an ounce of affection. The band’s long been one of the Aussie underground’s secret weapons, wrangling up players from Terry, Woolen Kits, and Nun and this 7” slab for Upset The Rhythm keeps their reputation solid. Nab a listen to the A-side below and look for the single in June or on the road in the EU.



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Sleeper & Snake

While Sleeper & Snake pairs up the great Al Montfort and Amy Hill, who’ve both found themselves in league as band mates in Terry, the album isn’t quite the pop pairing that it seems on the surface. The hint lies in the name – Sleeper & Snake. Last year Montfort released a record titled Snake & Friends which shied away from his strums, jangles, and geniality for a record that was steeped in offbeat electronics and free jazz fizz. This is, by many measures, an offshoot of that record and not quite a brand new beginning. Though the two hint at a duo dynamic throughout, crafting some bittersweet janglers like the first single “Sugar and Gold,” which recounts the sordid backstory of Queensland with a breezy beat and the pair’s time-tested askew harmonies.

Montfort peppers the album with plenty of his Snake-style freeform dropout fare, buzzing against the cloudy charms of the opener and fellow janglers “Wisdom Vermin” and “The Lucknow Sound.” At times they threaten to overwhelm the album, but there’s more here than just sound collage sandwiched between a couple of singles. The pair push the pop envelope on the triptych on side one, “Junction and High” (pts 1, 2, & 3). They ease in strumming, but less palatable than they’d offered on the opener – a moth-eaten pop song that’s only letting the chaos consume it as it works its way through the second and third movements. In this portion of the album they show the heavy influence of Elephant Sixers like Olivia Tremor Control and Circulatory System – holding a similar glee in letting their gold peek through the din for those willing to walk the maze.

For a debut it holds a lot of promise, though I know that both artists have so much on their plate this may be a one off, which would be too bad. Its got a lot of promise as a premise, though I’d think they should embrace that E6 mafia mentality full bore. If you whittle down the noisemakers under the 1:30 mark and stretch it out with a few more high concept pop like “Jangle and High” this could work its way towards jangle-psych bliss. Still, its by no means a miss for two Aussie pop smiths at the top of their game. Though for many their hand will be seeking the skip button or nabbing the needle, this is an ambitious swing with a lot to love.



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Sleeper and Snake – “Sugar and Gold”

The hits never stop from Al Montfort and Amy Hill. After a busy year for both with Terry, Primo, and Al’s low-key Snake & Friends release, the duo have a homespun record coming out together on Aarght. Guess that makes Amy the Sleeper in this case, but however you scratch it, the first track has a humble charm about it – sounding like stripped back Dick Diver with Terry’s sensibility for slightly off-kilter harmonies. The song tackles the sordid underbelly of Queensland, tackling its history of as the band notes “kidnapping, slave trade, colonial wealth and the illusion of a fair go,” proving that we Americans have no lock on the exploitation market. The accompanying video is full of helpful drawings to illustrate the points and the pair doing their deadpan best not to crack a smile. At this point I’m a sucker for anything either of these two have coming down the pike, but this is a humable hit nonetheless.

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