Posts Tagged ‘aussie’

Possible Humans’ Steve Hewitt on bZARK – The Welcome Storm

If you’ve spent any time haunting the halls of RSTB you’d probably notice that I have a soft spot for Australian indie. While most of their countrymates have been mining the offbeat jangles of The Clean or the scratched punk proddings of Toy Love, Possible Humans have taken a scrape through some American alternative highlights – Dinosaur Jr., Volcano Suns, R.E.M. – and come out with a sound that’s payed homage to the era without becoming a complete love letter. Their debut was issued in a scant run of 200 on the great Hobbies Galore and now gets its own US / worldwide issue on Trouble in Mind. Steve Hewitt from the band sent over a pick for the Gems series and it shines some light on an Aussie nugget from his youth.

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Hideous Sun Demon – “Can’t Live Like That”

Been a while since I’ve had a track from Aussies Hideous Sun Demon, but they’ve been constantly plugging away in their homeland, slinging sweat rock for the indie crowd. With their latest EP, Good Time out now, they hit on another basher of a single. “Can’t Live Like That” espouses some level of self-care, at least to the point of not letting one’s health completely slip from view. Vocalist Vincent Simpson rattles off his woes before finally blurting, “Don’t Want to end up like Mark E. Smith, dead at 60, dead at 50, dead at 40, dead at 30”. The song starts off tightly wound, rhythm section clicking and then devolves into a cacophonous splash of sound. This year has been slightly quieter on the Aussie front for me, but this one proves there’s still a lot of juice in the South Hemi motor. Check the frothing video above.

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Sachet – “Nets”

A nice cut outta South Hemi enclave Tenth Court works as a great introduction to Melbourne’s Sachet. The foursome makes springy indie pop that’s tethered to a muscular strum, male/female harmonies swirl above a flex of bass and head nodding snap of drums. The band has emerged from the hollowed hull of Day Ravies and they share an affinity soft angles and gentle harmonies. “Nets” starts in sweet and swaddled, seemingly a doe-eyed indie-pop strummer before it turns the tension up in the second half, crashing through the speakers with steely sincerity. The song precedes their sophomore album of the same name set to be released in September. I’d advise keeping an ear out for that one.



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Hierophants

Aussie squirm-pop savants Hieorphants landed a propulsive chunk of post-punk on the chin of 2015 with their album Parralax Error. While the band issued a few singles before and after, its largely the last we’ve heard from the band until a surprise resurfacing this month on Anti-Fade. Spitting Out Moonlight is as twisted and taut as their previous effort, squeezing strains of synth-pop, jumbled jangle, and post-punk pounce into thirteen packed tracks that squeegee the soul. The band, which contains members of ORB, School Damage, The Frowning Clouds, and Ausmuteants revels in knocking the listener off their axis, while at the same time, providing just enough of a blistered beat to shake a dose of dance out as well.

The record benefits from a cache of strong songwriters, and while the needle vacillates through genres pretty freely, it all comes together like a lovingly curated mixtape adorned with shades of crushed velvet, plastic, and chrome. Peeking through the haze, the synth wobble of tracks like “Thoughts of Speech,” and “Carbon Copy” give the album a glue-huffed giddiness that’s immediately wiped to the waste bin by bent tin tangles guitar on “Memory Card,” and there are even a few prog-pegged whiffs that come seeping through the floor boards on opener “Shoemaker Levy” and closer “Everything in Order” with the latter taking the winked patter of Daevid Allen to heart. Its good to have the band back as they solidify their catalog with a sophomore platter as vital as the first. Who knows how long it’ll be before the stars align and a third hits, so enjoy this one while it lasts.



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Big Supermarket

If you’ve had an eye on Australia over the last year, then it would be difficult to ignore the lot of talent that’s been bubbling out of Hobbies Galore’s corner of the country. The label’s given us excellent records from Possible Humans, Alex McFarlane, Blank Realm, The Green Child, The Stroppies, and Blank Statements and they slipped this little gem out from Big Supermaket last year. The issue in the States has always been that Hobbies G’s works are hard to come by, so its always good news when someone like Tough Love gives a wider bullhorn to their bands (they’ve also issued Blank Statements and Stroppies records). Big Supermarket shares a great deal of aesthetics with their labelmates – employing the jangle vs. jitter of keys that The Stroppies prefer and the low-key charisma employed by MacFarlane on his own solo works.

The band’s an offshoot of Aussie stalwarts The Stevens, with songwriter Travis Macdonald taking the lead here. mumbling his way through the obfuscation and clawing at the haze of pop through a plastic bag. Worth noting that The Stevens also features MacFarlane (who runs Hobbies) so it’s all in the family here. There’s a more muffled charm to Big Supermarket than MacDonald’s previous haunts though, turning down the scrappy jangle for a more introverted wade into the lonely waters of downer pop. Compared to their compatriots they’re exploring a murkier muck at times, hiding their soapbox behind a soap-scummed shower curtain of bluster and noise. Big Supermarket’s drums lope and stumble, the keys lurch and the guitars scrape the dead skin secrets out of the back of the mind. There’s a discomfort that puts the band more in league with Total Control’s nihilistic scrape or Native Cats’ anxious anthems. If you missed this the first time around, then Tough Love’s giving you a second chance to creep into the bath, crank the transistor static and submerge for a listen to 1800.




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Possible Humans – “The Thumps”

Another top-notch jangler out of Melbourne and the hotbed of Hobbies Galore. Possible Humans blend roiling twang with the crunch of fuzz and a quick-step beat pushing it headlong down the hill. “The Thumps” builds on their previous LP and a single on Strange Pursuits (home to Day Ravies, Sachet). Like Stroppies, they’ve also cleaned up their act a bit for the new long player and their sound has cohered into a mash of the Stropp’s organ-laced jangle-pop, Twerps loose shuffle, and the taut bass work of The Go-Betweens. The first single offers a lot to love, so its understandable that hopes are high for the full-length coming April 1st. The record was recorded by Alex MacFarlane with the usual Aussie shine-up by Mikey Young. Grab a listen below.






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U-Bahn

The debut from U-Bahn arrives as a right proper wobbly chunk of New Wave weirdness out of Melbourne. The band, formed by synth savant Zoe Monk and guitarist/engineer Lachlan Kenny, holds nothing back in its dedication to the legacy of jerkin’ jitter-punk in its purest forms. The band’s eponymous LP is a frayed-nerve Booji Boy banquet of toasted-cone freak fritter – chomping down the detritus of DEVO, The Units, Starter, and Magazine then spitting them back as hot plastic pellets of song. There are quite a few that want to genuflect at the alter of Mothersbaugh’s heyday, but to truly don the Dome is to embrace the band’s boundless affection for subverting pop’s principles with a dose of torqued perspective.

U-Bahn aren’t just playing dress up in this regard, they’re swimming in the deep end of squirm rather than just soaking their sound in crushed angles of guitar and Stretch Armstrong bass wiggles. The record’s got an undercurrent of kink and cocked-eye towards technology – going so far as to construct a future funk interlude draped in samples from vintage erotica on “Damp Sheets” and waxing poetic about right swiping their way to ecstasy, placenta, the ruling class, and beta male blues over the rest of the slab.

The record’s both timeless and timely. The recent upswing of band’s embracing the plasticine snap of ‘80s miscreant pop is telling, and I say viva the bellyache bliss of Mind Spiders, Uranium Club, Andy Human & The Reptoids, Future Punx, Alien Nosejob, and Wireheads. Now add U-Bahn to the list. We’re back in an era of larger than life political pinatas, its time for some audible chaos to reign. If that starts with a dose of synth punk sizzle, that’s just fine with me.


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The Stroppies – “Nothing At All”

Bummed that not enough people have been prattling on about The Stroppies, but that’ll catch up to them later. The band’s proper debut is out in March on Tough Love and the second single clinches the quality of this jangle-high strummer. “Nothing At All” sees co-vocalist Claudia Serfaty take over and the keys that permeated their previous single, “Cellophane Car,” take a backseat. There’s more than a little love for Flying Nun in the driving rhythms and a boundless energy that’s beggin’ to break free. Perfectly swung pop that prickles with life over a bittersweet core. If you’ve been sleeping on the short format releases the band has proffered up to this point, then its time to get familiar with Whoosh.

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The Murlocs – “Comfort Zone”

Well if its a slow year for King Gizz (and it damn well should be, take a well-deserved break) then it seems time for the tangents to get back in the swing. The Murlocs’ last saw them on solid ground, steadily taking their place next to Gizz proper as more than just a side project. On “Comfort Zone,” though, Ambrose Kenny proves that he’s set to push this next album even further. With a vibe that’s definitely channeling ’70s Elton, the song stumbles and staggers through broken-soul motions with a deep well of heart and hurt. The accompanying video on the other hand posits some real Johnny Got His Gun feelings paired up with slasher/revenge fantasy fic. Not sure the two seem to correlate, but the song’s one of the locs’ best, giving some real heft to the anticipation for the upcoming LP on Flightless.

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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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