Posts Tagged ‘Avant-pop’

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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GN – “Home Business”

Coupla new ones up from the always excellent UK label Prefect Records, the label run by Owen Williams ( Joanna Gruesome, Ex Void ) and Mark Dobson ( The Field Mice), but “Home Business” from GN stands out for breaking a bit from the label’s past releases. Still sliced off of the indie-pop peg, but this one also has a serious infection of rhythm pushing the band away from the downcast Bristol set that the label often takes its inspiration from and instead cribbing bits of Talking Heads, Cleaners from Venus, and Arthur Russell over a propulsive slink. The band is the initialed output of Welsh, London based songwriter George “GN” Nicholls, and like pretty much anything that Perfect has put out so far, these scant bits only make the listener hope for more.

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Frank Ene

A compact, but powerful release from Frank Ene (Fresh & Onlys, Pure Bliss) gives rise to his darkened vision of pop. The songwriter paints songs in deep-blue tones, approaching the total darkness of the abyss, but becoming more radiant within his dour trappings. Ene has a delivery that feels perpetually stung with the numbness of drink. It’s weary, as if he’s been beaten emotionally or physically and is merely looking for that even keel to get him away from the pain. Longtime friend Wymond Miles assists with the production and his own penchant for creating works that are reverent to niche tones within ‘80s pop and post-punk can be felt reverberating through the record’s wires.

Its disingenuous, to nail Ene to the velvet crush of the ‘80s, though. There’s little that ties this record to any time or place. Instead No Longer exists in womb of feelings — scarred, caustic, lost, and appropriately for 2020, secluded. There’s a streak of Lynch in there, but maybe something even more discomfiting. There’s a sense that Frank’s trying to shed his own skin, to swim in the tides of despair looking for the self. If he’s come through the murky waters and out of the other bank, it’s hard to tell by the time the EP finishes. Perhaps his upcoming full-length will tune in a fuller picture. Still for those looking to the ache of Scott Walker or the slow-clot crawl of The Angels of Light, look no further than what Ene has prepared here.



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