Posts Tagged ‘Aussie Indie’

Cool Sounds – “Crimson Mask”

While its a bone cold January in area, down South Hemi way its just warming up and the sun-scrubbed air on “Crimson Mask,” the new single from Aussies Cool Sounds feels just right. The song’s as hammock-slung as anything that the band has released, letting buttered strums lay on top of a skitter-slide beat with the band laying back into their reclined pop pocked once more. The new record, Bystander follows nicely on their solid More To Enjoy from 2019. The band’s breezy charm and percolating pop have always been their strong suits and it seems that there’s plenty of that to count on when the album lands February 12th on Osborne Again.

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Pop Filter

Ok, here goes, the last review of the year and then I’m going to get a week of rest before 2021 kicks into gear.

With one great album from Pop Filter on the books for 2020, the second only seems like a bit of a year end gift. The band, which pivoted from their previous incarnation as The Ocean Party following the tragic passing of member Zac Denton, brings a more subdued set that might actually fit better under their previous moniker. The record is certainly dredging up some of the raw heart feelings that The Ocean Party often toyed with. While Banksia found joy even in times of turmoil, Donkey Gully Road is the faded flannel underside to that record. The songs here hit like sighs, as if the first album was putting on a brave front but with the second they’ve let the pop veneer slide to better heal through melancholy saunter. Like their days in The Ocean Party, the band don’t force hooks forward on DGR, but instead let them work their way under the skin with a subtle twist of the knife.

There’s a feeling of last call hovering around the album — a walk out into the streetlights that’s concurrent with the nagging feeling of not wanting to go home. That said, the album’s not as downer as I’m making it out to be. Its comforting all the same, ambling and finding an inner peace somewhere between the pangs that hit the heart without warning. By the end they’re even back to their almost upbeat selves, with the plucky swing of “Checkin’ Out” wiping a few tears from the eyes. This record feels more like a companion piece to Banksia than a standalone follow-up, and with the close proximity it might be well to treat it as such. Both records work as a cypher to opening the other up more fully — a pop choose your own adventure worth embarking on to be sure.



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Permits

Melbourne’s Permits come together like so many of the great bands circling the loose-knit scene in Australia these days — a few friends who all populate other great bands (in this case the Shifters, Pop Singles, Dag & Chook Race) knot up with a one-day session and wind up with a record that feels immediate, yet never half-baked. The band hit the studio in 2019 but due to pandemic life finished this one out over the course of 2020, swapping overdubs between the members via email. While the pedigree of bands the members are culled from speak to the crooked-smile careen that plays out here, the members seem to also be bringing the best out of one another in the studio, and more importantly having fun while they do it.

Pinned to a twang-riddled jangle, the songs on Time Permits are shaggy n’ shambolic, but not without a chewy pop center that’s hard to slough off as accidental. Underneath the saunter of drums and waggle of guitar, keys blush at the seams, a power-pop heart bleeds out the sleeves, and a tender brush of folk colors in the corners. The record takes a few listens to really slip under the skin, but once it does, its apparent that there’s a lot to return to here time and again. As with quite a few others this year, its a damn shame this one is coming out so late in the year, as I feel people are sleeping on this a bit, but here’s hoping this gets a few people into the ragged magic the band are making on Time Permits.




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Ostraaly

Still making a valiant attempt to round back on some of the great albums that got lost in the shuffle for me over the last year before I tie up 2020 and this album from Melbourne’s Ostraaly is definitely deserving of another look. The album came out on Cassette way back in January, but if you missed out like I did on the band’s slightly askew avant-pop, then now’s the time to at least grab it digitally. Like many of their fellow country-mates, this record shirks the frills for a spare sound, tinged with post-punk in places, but just as often wobbling woozily into genre’s that feel right in the moment. “Struggling” has a country lilt to it that’s only further amplified by the barroom piano pound. They stay loose as they toss the listener the following rumpled romp, “My Baby,” though the twang here starts to curdle in all the right ways.

The band manages to work in caustic folk pop that cribs from Josephine Foster alongside VU violin shivers that tangle with speak-sung incantations. By the time they swing into the last half of the LP, the light touch starts to fade and the band careens into what surely must be the highlight of their live show the back to back hits of “Kants” and “Daddyswims.” A crunch of fuzz barrels out of the start of “Kants,” which froths like a Fugs tune in the sun. Then they cap this one with a perfect pop strummer that gets stuck in your head for days. Over a galloping beat and knock down strum, Ostraaly tears out the quivering notions of their earlier folk and bent pop offerings to prove that when pressed they can and will knock you to the floor with a pop song, they just don’t feel the need to pack ‘em in edge to edge. Love this album and I’m longing for more from the band, or at the very least a US distributed vinyl version in the new year. A guy can hope, eh?




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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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Mixtape: Frank Infatuation – Jangle Pop Heirs to the ’80s Underground

It seems only fitting that this latest mixtape should grace the site on the same day that the Strum & Thrum review posts. The compilation and its focus on overlooked jangle-pop provided a seed of inspiration, alongside other notables like Sarah roundups Shadow Factory and Temple Road, Take The Subway To The Suburbs and, naturally, the C86 comp. I figured if we’re going to round some of the gems of our current era up later on, might as well have a good starting point. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this does not have the geographic specificity inherent in some of those. While it rounds up a particular sound of jangle / indie pop, the bands here swing from the U.S. to Australia and New Zealand, with stops in the UK. Though someday, someone will have a wealth of opportunity rounding up the sounds of San Francisco in the Aughts/Teens and it will be well worth a listen. For now, this one should find a bit of a crack in the clouds and give you an hour’s worth of bittersweet sunshine.

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Civic – “Radiant Eye”

Hey its Bandcamp Friday once again, which means that the inbox is stuffed to bursting and I’m desperately trying to parse through the best of the glut. Aussies Civic return today with a new double-sided scorcher that puts their frenetic brand of punk at the forefront and adds a nice touch of horns. Not something I was expecting to enter the Civic arena, but “Radiant Eye” torches through the speakers with a whiff of ozone on the air and the band follow it up with a beaten and battered cover of The Creation on the back, making the familiar rally cry from Rushmore feel like less of a ‘60s jangler and more of a sonic scorcher in times when sitting still truly feels like a luxury. If you’re throwing around a bit of monetary support today, you could do worse than to give Civic some coin for this AA vision of punk bash.




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Smarts

A jittery shot in the arm reaches the masses today with the proper debut from Smarts. The band brings together some ace Aussie talent, with members of Living Eyes, Ausmuteants, Parsnip and School Damage in tow. Smarts captures the kind of fork in the light socket jolt that spread through the Midwest around the tail of the ‘70s, injecting punk with a stable of bands who were heavier on damaged scope than effortless cool. They knit together Devo’s caustic worldview with the jagged edges of underground currents like The Pink Section, Pere Ubu, MX-80, Dow Jones and the Industrials, and Geza X. Though they’d drop down nicely next to current squirm-punk purveyors like Uranium Club. While planty of punks, especially in their vicinity are looking to the smashed glass school of riff wrangle, Smarts wield their fury with a sense of fun.

The band has an admirable ability to not take themselves too seriously, while still drawing quite a bit of blood musically. The pace is breathless and its pretty easy to see how multiple players behind Living Eyes and Ausmuteants are in the mix here. The latter’s sense of chaotic drive comes to mind more than once over the course of the album’s scant playing time, though they don’t drop too heavily in the shadow of their former bands. The blasts of sax from Stella Rennex lace the record with Downtown ‘70s vibes. The chewed foil guitars butt heads with ozone-crusted synths and Billy Gadner’s nasal delivery gives this one a perfectly fried-nerve approach. The best of the ‘70s twitchers weren’t in it because picking up a guitar made you cool, they were tearing apart the rock idol with each ragged riff. Who Needs Smarts, Anyway is born out of that bloodline and it jolts just as hard.


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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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