Posts Tagged ‘Aussie Indie’

Romy Vager on Psychedelic Furs – Forever Now

Still plenty of essentials on the way in this strange timeline we’re on and RVG’s sophomore LP is pretty high on that list. The band’s debut was an emotionally fraught, tumultuous record that stood high with ‘80s classics from Echo and the Bunnymen, The Go-Betweens, or Siousxie Sioux. The band has only refined and expanded on that sound with their follow-up, out soon on Fire Records and Feral aims to be one of the best of the year. Naturally, that put the band’s songwriter and driving force Romy Vager high atop the list of inquiries for a Hidden Gems, and she digs further into that ‘80s influence with a spotlight on Psychedelic Furs’ mid-period gem Forever Now. While its predecessor may have gotten all the acclaim for the John Hughes tie-in, this one begs further exploration and Vager explains how it came into her life and the impact its had on her own writing.

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The Stroppies – “Burning Bright”

This is another Aussie export that’s just not getting the love it should over here. The STroppies hooked up with UK label Tough Love last year for their debut, Whoosh and it was a subtle suite of jangle-pop buttered with a bit of synth that kept pace with the best releases of the year. The band’s hitting back this year with a mini-LP of sorts that’s only eight tracks, but still packs that same soft slap that made the album a necessary pickup. “Burning Bright’ turns down the heat of their jangle and replaces it with a rambling guitar line and some rolling ripples of piano for a song that helps relieve the ache inside. The song’s about a couple trying to find common ground and realizing that they’re just not going to align, but the split seems to happen amicably. Though there isn’t a clash of sparks, the melancholy sighs still sting a bit. Look Alive is out June 5th.



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Sachet – “Arncliffe Babylon”

Mid-last year Aussies Sachet released the standalone single “Nets,” which would not seem to be an actor piece and the title track of their upcoming album for Tenth Court. This week the quartet have a new low simmer jangler and its pushing Nets up the anticipated pile for sure. “Arncliffe Babylon” has an undeniable ‘90s quality to it, or rather, it has several that all pile together for a song that’s hitting several tips of the tongue at once. There’s the low-slung baseline that rips its riff straight out of slacker-punk pages – loping and bobbing with a bubbled indifference. The guitars are over toasted like an afternoon snack forgotten in the toaster over and just caught before the flames take hold. Then there’s the vocals of Lani Crooks, who’s delivery is wedged somewhere between the alt-rock quiet cool of Kay Hanley and Anna Waronker. There’s been plenty of ‘90s revivalism, but somehow the soft-punch and loosely braided melodies of Sachet feel like the right impulses are making their way back around. The album is out shortly on Tenth Court.


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PRIMO! – “Machine”

Another gem out of the Aussie cabal of excellent musicians today. In anticipation of their upcoming second album, PRIMO releases the driving jangler “Machine” — a sandpapered, yet loosely slung bit of post-punk if there ever was one. The band’s seemingly perfected their sound on this one, and it stands as one of the band’s most engaging songs yet. The standout single crackles with life — anchored by the brittle drum snap, worn-in guitars and those four-part harmonies that make it all gel just right. The band pairs the song with a motor-heavy video that has a ‘70s charm. There are plenty of Aussie exports that tend to get overlooked here and PRIMO’s last album got glossed over here, hoping that audiences abroad don’t make the same mistake twice.

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Cable Ties

On their sophomore album, and first for US label Merge, Aussies Cable Ties retain the fire in their bellies, but stoke it with a few helpings of melodic pop and a quiet contemplation that may have been missing in the past. Throughout their early singles the band was a sonic jackhammer, tearing through injustice, sexism and classism while spitting in the face of a world that long since turned its back on the youth of today. Their first album refined the point on their knives, and did pretty good job of sharpening the rest of their blades as well. With a wider canvas they spared no one who’d earned their ire, and it quickly became evident that anyone on the receiving end of Jenny McKechnie’s gale force vocal torrents were lucky to get out with only a racing heartbeat and a clutch of psychic scratches. On Far Enough, the band barrels into maturity with the same bile in their throats, but also a good deal of calm contemplation as well. They balance their poles of their personality, and now when McKechnie lays into the full force of her anger, its a payoff that hits the listener with the whiplash force that makes the pummel all that much more powerful.

She picks up the lash from so many punk predecessors, and while there’s definitely a cocktail of Tucker, Hanna, and Styrene as the easy to top notes of the bunch, she and the Ties have taken the full force of progressive punk into their tank and turned out a record that’s much more than the fumes of its fuel. They chum the waters with the brooding calm of “Lani.’ They swallow the constant lump in their throats on the dizzying “Pillow,” — driven by bubbles of bass and vocals that cool to a croon. They’ve even captured the complexity of where we lie in wait at the start of 2020 with “Hope” — a song that brims with doubt and desire. Its a societal push-pull with uncertainty, age, generational distance, and the ideals of activism in the face of mounting evidence that no amount of rivets will stem the tide when the dam bursts.

Woven between these careful shadings lie the paint-peeler anthems that nail the fuckers to the wall, and when we hear the crack of bone on concrete its a satisfying snap indeed. On “Self Made Man,” Sandcastles” and in the titanic swells of “Anger’s Not Enough” the band shows that their fire’s never faded. Where the other songs stoke the coals and let the glow warm the listener, here they prove that those coals can build to a blaze bound to burn. What’s best about Far Enough is that it needs time to settle into the system. Their early singles and debut were instantly gripping, but like the best works this one takes a few runs through before it all locks into place. The builds and crouches become clear, the abrasive progressiveness of “Anger’s Not Enough” snaps into their place on an album that’s not a wild swing at its aggressor, but a patient plan of attack that topples its targets in good time.



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Cold Meat

There’s a time for cool waters and calm heads and there’s a time for the righteous infection of fire-forged punk. Somehow its been time for both in these past couple of weeks, but right about now the latter is feeling pretty apt. Perth scorchers Cold Meat have graduated from their early short-form firestarters to a full length that showcases their pounding, primal, elastic scratch. Built on a foundation of tire-thick rubber riffs, the band kneads and pounds the basics of punk through an emotional and musical ringer. The riffs are meaty and land with enough force to bruise heavily. The bass ricochets around the speaker space with a sinewy menace. While squarely in the mold of punk purveyors like Magazine, X-Ray Spex, or The Adverts, they borrow the alternating current corruption of post-punk terrors — finding common ground with the hot bile invective of The Au Pairs and the writhing discomfort of Pylon.

None of the garments of the past quite fit them, though, and that’s to their credit. They chafe at categorization, but Cold Meat mostly look to take a hammer to the societal mirror and do it with a wicked smile on their face in the process. Doesn’t hurt tat they’ve got the twenty megaton howl of Ashley Ramsey in their corner as well. While the music beneath her squirms in pain, Ramsey rounds up every last inch of sneered and seared animus and hurls it at the listener. I’m a sucker for a voice that packs a versatile volley of grievance, pain, disappointment, and derision and she nails the nuance every time. While I can’t say I levy Andy unsettled scores with ZZ Top and their fanbase as the band seems to, elsewhere Cold Meat seem to bring good reason and welcome harbor to their various picked bones. Its a record of its time — bred on the scraps of the past but fueled with the earned anger of a younger generation left in the cold to fend for itself.



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The Native Cats – “Sanremo”

A short while back I shared the a-side to Tasmanian band The Native Cats’ new single for Rough Skies and now the band has sent over a new video for the flip. Not as bracing as the front side, but no less affecting, “Sanremo” is a gauzy creeper doused in post-punk and just a touch of shoegaze haze. The song buzzes with an incessant energy like raw nerves being slowly dulled by their surroundings. The video is equally narcotic, with singer Chloe Alison Escott being dragged towards a body of water like some sort of baptismal captive, shrouded in a veneer of pinks and purples. She gives a little insight into the clip below.

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Martin Frawley – “Nowhere To Be Seen”

Ahead of an Australian tour, the ex-Twerps frontman Frawley returns with another shaggy shaker that follows his lowkey but loveable album from last year. “Nowhere To Be Seen” pins its hopes on a knuckle-crack beat, bouncing bass line and alternating strums and piano trickles. Frawley found his niche over the course of Undone at 31 with a heart-on-his-sleeve approach that was full of confessional ballads that were soaked and smirking at the end of the bar. This one’s a little more trepidatious, through still letting the emotions rise through to the surface of the skin. It’s a song full of small disappointments and personal reflections that perhaps we could all use. Recommended you get more familiar with Frawley, if you aren’t’ already.



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The Stroppies – “Holes In Everything”

Aussie janglers The Stroppies return in fine form today with a new mini-album that wraps up their recording work from the last year. Vaulting off of their excellent album from last year, the band continues to capture the overcast sway of kiwipop from days past, calling back echoes of The Clean, Able Tasmans, and Tall Dwarfs. They buoy their sunny strums with heavy-sighed harmonies and a hummable heft of organ that gives the song staying power. The band’s sticks to your ribs more than some of their peers with an ability to let angst and insecurity bask in the sun of their strums – giving their songs a more substantial kick then some of their cohorts. They continue their run at UK label Tough Love and while this might be another short one (something the band seems adept at) these eight songs still feel like a vital part of The Stroppies’ path. The LP descends to the decks on May 1st.



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Traffik Island’s Zak Olsen on Public Nuisance – Gotta Survive

Keeping the wheels turning on Hidden Gems and pulling more and more psychic diggers into the fold. This week the honors fall to Zak Olsen, the Aussie indie utilitarian who crops up in quite a few RSTB faves, to be honest. From the fractured pop ooze of Hierophants to the crushing grooves of ORB, Zak has done time in The Bonniwells, The Frowning Clouds, and keeps time in his own solo work as Traffik Island. The latter’s work caught my ear a few years back with a spot-on deep-dive into loner folk, but of late the band has embraced an aesthetic of psychedelic beat driven on an engine of Library Music funk. Zak gives some background on California garage band Public Nuisance and how their Nuggets-era works came into his life. Check out Zak’s take on the band’s works below and head to Flightless for the latest Traffik Island thumper.

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