Posts Tagged ‘Aussie Psych’

Sunfruits – “Mushroom Kingdom”

Aussies Sunfruits dropping in a last minute dose of psych-funk to let the summer slide away on a proper breeze. The band’s been kicking around for a few years, but this one caught my eye with an Ardneks cover and a dual release between France’s Six Tonnes de Chair and Australia’s Third Eye Stimuli. The song’s pulses into view on bass ripple, liquid-lounge guitar and a barrage of horns, all filtered through a beach party heat wave vibe that feels out of step with 2020, but aspirational all the same. There’s always plenty to love from the South Hemi psych market and the band have been paying dues over the past couple of years. Yet, this double A single, broken up by interludes feels like the band grabbing onto the sound that they’ve been searching for all along. The EP is out September 25th. Grab it now in a handful of limited colors.




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King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – “Honey”

Its been a little bit since I’ve had the Gizz on the site, which in King Gizzard years is something like a half-decade, I suppose. After the charred remains of Infest The Rat’s Nest stopped smoldering, they’re back with a new, more mellow feeling. The song recalls a pretty straight split between their microtonal temperament a few years ago and the acoustic sweetness of Paper Mâché Dream Balloon and its nice to have the band winding their way back to this niche. As much as most probably love the psychedelic blast that the band lays down, I’ve alway been fan of the softer side of the Lizard Wizard and this shows that off nicely. The video puts the chaos away for a bit as well, with the band’s Stu McKenzie solo and busking in the sunset. No full details yet, but if there’s more of this on the way, I’m game.



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Bananagun – “People Talk Too Much”

Aussies Bananagun smear the groove-streaked dance sound of West African and Brazilian funk with a dust-caked approach pulled from the camps of turntablism and reissue retrospectives. There’s a finely curated approach to tracks like “People Talk Too Much” feeling like the band have spent more than a few hours in deep-dive YouTube runs that creak into the early hours of the morning, inspiring a new bounty of grooves the next day. The band manages to make their take on the sounds feel lived in, with touches of fuzz, sun-baked choruses, and production that stops just short of 78 crackle. The band’s been littering the speakers with a few singles and now have a proper full length on the way from Anti-Fade and Full Time Hobby. Check the animated video for “People Talk,” a simple, but solid backdrop for the song’s head-nodding simmer and sizzle of horns. Feeling like a Daptone lost single or Soundway bonus cut, this one hits pretty damn hard. The record is out June 26th.

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Dragoons

Coming in pretty quickly after the band’s 2019 record Dragoons Are a Band!, the Aussie quartet’s latest scraps their past formula in favor of a wider sonic vista. While the last record still had plenty of ambitions for an indie-pop record – launching songs into extended breakdowns and gilding them with a light dose of extraneous instrumentation – on Horrorscope, those impulses have been elevated to the fuel that drives the album. While there are still songs rooted in grit-teethed indie grind and blunt force post-punk (“Horrorscope II”) the album plays with form, fusing psych-jazz itches and instrumental interludes into an album that plays like a suite of songs rather than merely an assortment of likeminded tracks.

Slashed with sax and soaked in organ, the record tips the scales between the fury of The Fall (something they share with members’ other band Clamm) and a proggier direction that’s lit on the coals of groove. Giving post-punk soul, the band plays like Parquet Courts pairing up with Al Doum & The Faryds. The angles smooth, but they still seem to cut just as deep. If this is the direction the band aims to wander then I’m game to follow them down into the dirt. While their peers are content to jangle and scuff their hooks with the scent of the ‘70s downtown debris, Dragoons seem to be searching for a singular spice, and for the most part they’ve found it. It’s a short shock of a record, but it’s proving to be one that I’m eager to return to again and again.

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Fabulous Diamonds

Aussie duo Fabulous Diamonds had an impeccable string of albums from 2008-2012 and then promptly disappeared off the map for the next seven years. This year they return on UK indie ALTER with a new LP and a bigger vision of their dub-glossed damage. Back when they were slinging discs on Siltbreeze and Nervous Jerk, the band was itching at the same wound that like-minded howlers Blues Control and Peaking Lights found themselves infected with. There was a faded, pre-dawn quality to the music, tumbling down a wormhole of disorientation and delirium and then bounced through the spring reverb within an inch of its life. They’re still not wholly dislodged from that mindset, but Plain Songs feels like someone bottled their sound and terraformed it into a seething organism — bigger, smarter, and more alive than ever.

There’s still the evil slink of tape hiss, but it doesn’t feel like a vehicle of necessity this time. There’s no Tascam noose pulled tight on their sound, rather singer Nisa Venerosa feels like she’s piping her humid vocals through six feet of imported wet topsoil, recording them with an expensive array of contact mics and condensers threaded throughout the room for total coverage. The underbelly of their sound is still haunted by noise, but, again it’s come to some of the logical conclusions of what they were setting up prior. There’s a dingy, collapsed-society, ‘end-stage capitalism devouring the tail’ kind of feeling on this one.

The corrosion here is more of a viral creep than a means to an end. They’ve embodied the spirit of a lounge act poisoned by years of exposure to heavy metals and carcinogens — giving their disease flight through sound, spreading it through the narrow alleyways of an unrepentant reality. They are the cure and the carrier. They’ve finally gone through the lens and into a Lynchian sound that’s as full as they deserve to be and it’s so good to have this pair back, finding the bile that flows through the night wanderers’s souls and giving it a home on two-inch tape.



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The Babe Rainbow

There’s something about Aussie band The Babe Rainbow that exudes a particular ease. From their countenance on down the band look and sound like they’ve never really had a bad day, or at least a day that they couldn’t turn around with a little surfing and barbecue. Those vibes permeate every inch of Today the band’s third, and most solid album. In the past they’ve embodied much of the same spirit, but the results have been hit or miss. They’ve wandered over the psych-pop map looking to pick at ‘60s sparkle, forest folk and lounge but the mixture was always just a touch wobbly. They came pretty close on last year’s Supermoon, an album that captured their wave of gauzy love but also took a few detours into spacey instrumentals that could meander the course of the record off track. The Babes hit on the head trip they were looking to spark but we sometimes got lost in the clouds along the way.

This time they tighten up the seams, still locked into the pocket of faded folk and grooved lounge psych, but playing up the pop half of their dynamic and fleshing it out with a West Coast downtempo spirit that belies their Aussie roots. The album seems like it might have taken a page out of the music direction for recent sleeper series Lodge 49 capturing it’s “melancholy on the bright side” ideals of aimless surf culture that the show distilled into something a bit more meaningful. Today embodies some of the same feelings — unscarred skies that stretch for miles, wonder and weirdness — given life through a constant roil of ‘60s strums and thickly plumed flutes. The band has been working to nail their niche and it seems that with this one they’ve finally begun to harden their grip on the board and ride right into the heart of the curl. The summer might be winding down for those of us up here, but this one still has a bit of solar bake to lay on the listener.






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King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

After a year of constantly reviewing King Gizz and crew it was nice to have a breather last year, probably as much for the band as for the public. That lets the band land back on the turntable without a hint of fatigue on their fourteenth album. Ever shifting in the stylistic sands, the band seeks to embrace various corners of downhome choogle and plasticine boogie with this run ‘round the turntable. The runup to this record gives good argument for digesting an album in its entirety, though. Thrown at the listener piecemeal, the disparate parts of Fishing For Fishies felt out of joint with each other, but once sequenced into a slide from countrified funk to future stomp the ties tighten and the band’s vision begins to make a bit more sense.

They kick the disc open with a kitschy callback to the vibes of “Vegemite” and both the breezy quirk and visual in-joke video feel like the days when the band had zero expectations heaped upon them, creating talking sandwiches covered in their national litmus condiment with a wicked smirk. Then album begins its slide into a history of funk n’ roll over the next eight songs, stopping off at ‘70s backporch grit, Stevie Wonder wiggle, and seven-foot-tall whoopin’ garage party platters. Ambrose sneaks in a hip-shaker that sounds like a Murlocs outtake, but fits the vibe nicely, giving the open-door hotbox hoedown another tweak.

They cool for just a moment, letting the sweat steam off their backs before taking the plunge once more. As they hockey stop into “This Thing” the band begins their slide towards the doxed, cold futurisms, though not without still a knowing wink in their eyes. King Gizz are kings of psych paranoia, but they’re forever having fun with it. The track snags a few trilling orchestral touches, but at heart it’s a stadium-sized rocker tipping towards excess and ecstasy. Then they strip the skeleton of funk down to back alley ambience with a touch of creeping menace before they lay open the portal to “Cyboogie.” The lock-stopped ‘80s psych-funk phenom has got boogie in its veins but murder in its eyes. It’s a pulsating finish to the band’s Frankenstein of retro-futurism and should probably slay the crowds in the live setting.

The album’s sleeve (and to that point the title) seems like a misstep to me, but those are purely aesthetic questions and shouldn’t tinge your enjoyment of the album. It’s just that the band’s visual direction, led by Jason Galea has been so consistently vivid that this seems like a first draft on the way to something more solid. No harm, though. It’s what’s inside that counts and this is one of the more fun releases in the band’s vast and ever-growing catalog.


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The Murlocs

While the Gizz might be gearing up for another rinse around the tub in April, you don’t have to wait that long for some harp-heckled weirdness outta OZ. Top flight Gizzard offshoot The Murlocs are back with their fourth LP and a more toughened and toned sound than they’ve displayed to date. Led by the sinewy swagger of Ambrose Kenny-Smith and the nimble bass of Cook Craig, they’ve always represented a more soul-drenched side of the equation, turning down the psychedelic splatter that hangs over their ludicrously monikered day job and doing the dirty work of making bodies move to the blues. That soul-glo is even more present on Manic Candid Episode as the band grinds out white-boy hip shakers that stick to the floor with sweat and tears. They’d always been able to hit that manic high, though, what’s interesting here is how tender Kenny-Smith lets himself get and how vulnerability really lends itself a new dimensions to the band’s equation.

The standout single “Comfort Zone” takes a lone-spotlight piano approach to ‘70s songwriting, jumping off from an Elton show-closer and giving it a twist through the band’s own rose gold filter. They continue the buttered slide through more tender territory on “Catch 22” and “Samsara Maya,” but much as they might want to temper, the twinkle in Amrose’s eye can’t help but lead them back to the fire eventually. Those harmonica hijinks return for “What If?,” “Withstand” and the title track to, admittedly, great effect. Its good to see them take the temperature down a few degrees, but its hard to argue that when they aim to singe, they leave an impression. This is the most varied and versed the band has sounded in a long time, feeling like this is the moment when they go from being a sidetrack diversion to headliners in their own right.



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Traffik Island

On his solo debut, Zak Olsen (ORB, Hierophants, The Frowning Clouds) casts a subtler shadow than he does with ORB. The record strips away any semblance of the doom-shaking freak fuzz and Sabbath hangovers that have permeated the trio’s work. However, the shaky, whimsical footprint of Syd Barrett remains. In fact, the affectation not only remains, but becomes the guiding light for Nature Strip. The record reclines in pools of purple light, slips through the kaleidoscope’s eye and revels in an impish glee that’s only been hinted at in Olsen’s other projects. Its not just the Madcap magician that makes his stamp (though it is indeed the boldest imprint), this appears to be an album built from the bricks of fragile souls. Its pop as purveyed by Kevin Ayers, Skip Spence, Roky and Twink, and Olsen has lovingly recreated a lush world of bemused wonder that would befit any of them.

As the volume and fuzz have ducked out of view Olsen eagerly replaces them with a palette of mercurial keys and chiming guitars, not to mention a bevy of swooning strings and flutes. The record is pastoral and peaceful, but with a mischievous smile. Olsen feels like he’s having fun playing the part of the damaged artist – indulging every inch of the studio while creating beauty and weirdness in equal measures. This bubbles over a bit with the almost too spot-on Syd dribble “Lazy Cat,” but in most other cases he’s drawn the caricature lysergic psych-folk with a steady hand and pleasingly good-natured wit. There was often a lingering darkness that made the works of the ‘60 acid-damaged set as tragic as they were enjoyable, but Olsen finds a way to imbue the genre with a playfulness that doesn’t end in pain.



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Bananagun – “Do Yeah”

Aussie psych-funk jam unit Bananagun issue their debut single for Anti-Fade and its a tumultuous riff on Bollywood beats and ’60s South Asian funk. “Do Yeah” is a simmering slice of pop that’s pulled like paisley taffy through the the decades, leaving a whiff incense and silk on the breeze. Though its a bit of a strange fit among the punks at Anti-Fade, the song and its pop-art video accompaniment are an amusing romp nonetheless. Sure this feels every bit like a band trying on hats, but they’re doing it with enough joy to infect listeners with an urge to dance. Check the band’s dose of freakout fuzz above.



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