Posts Tagged ‘Melbourne’

The UV Race – “Mr. Blame”

Up until this week it seemed like UV Race was simply becoming a band that got dropped into bios (feat mems of UV Race, etc). Not counting a few singles comps, the band hasn’t had a release since a smattering of 7”s in 2013 and 2014. Their last album was back in 2012, well before the Aussie underground had solidified its more international hold. The members went on to new pastures in Total Control, Terry, Dick Diver, School of Radiant Living and left behind the acerbic embrace of one of Australia’s most twisted well-springs of post-punk. Thankfully, though, they’re back at it this year with a new LP for Aarght on April 12th dubbed Made in China. The first cut, “Mr. Blame” buzzes with insistent keys, brittle, bashed guitars, sax stabs and gang’s-a-hollerin’ vocals. It’s a perfect return to the band that seems to be the germ of a lot of the loose-slung guitar pop that bubbled up in their wake. Excited to have ‘em back, that’s for sure. Dig into “Mr. Blame” and gird yer loins for the album next month.




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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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The Stroppies

Melbourne’s Stroppies have been building to their debut album for a couple of years, issuing a couple of great EPs for Hobbies Galore and another for Tough Love, who pick up their new LP, Whoosh, as well. Culling talent from South-Hemi bands Boomgates, Twerps, Blank Statements, Primetime and quite a few others, the band’s practically dipped to the pits in jangle-pop’s pedigree and they don’t disappoint on the longform listen. The band has a particular fondness for Flying Nun’s sweet n’ shaggy shake on the genre and they flip through shades of The Clean, Able Tasmans, The Bats, The Verlaines and even a touch of Look Blue Go Purple over two sides of sprightly strums and woozy organs.

The playful hand-off of vocals between Gus Lord and Claudia Serfaty adds a breeziness to their sounds, and like many of the best in the Nun stable before them, they aren’t content to be crowded into the corner with your ten-a-penny janglers. They purloin from many of the bags belonging to bands that laid the groundwork for this type of sound – letting the strings ring one minute, then buttoning them down into a rubbery twang the next. They splash enough organ on a few of the tracks (like the excellent “Cellophane Car”) that it seems the speakers will get slick with sound. They speckle the record with hooks, but aren’t too hung up on crafting anything approaching pristine.

Besides bouncing the lead back and forth between Lord and Serfaty, the band embraces the kind of dented harmonies that have long found a home among the Aussie underground. They all lend a hand in giving the sing-a-longs a sense of perfect imperfection. Which, come to think of it, seems to be the crux of The Stroppies sound altogether. The band is like a gorgeous vacation shot hung slightly askew, steeped in nostalgia, calm, and charm. Which isn’t to say that the album retreads the past. The Stroppies know their influences and use them as anchor points, but they let Whoosh soar of its own accord. The band has created an album that feels worn in, but worthy of keeping on repeat. I’d snag it now before it winds up collector fodder for future generations.



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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 Snakes – “Snakes Bday”

Melbourne’s Snakes draw from the ripped and ragged soul of old New York, rather than snagging the punk vein of their own hometown heroes. With the knocked askew sensibilities of The Voidoids, Heartbreakers, Electric Eels and in a decidedly non-NY grab, The Pop Group – the band’s debut for Anti-Fade has a split-lip edge that feels familiar but still dangerous. The band’s hardly been humming for six months, but there’s an urgency in “Snakes Bday” that feels like waiting longer would waste momentum. Sawed and sewn back up, the track jerks like its got a methadone drone in its soul and a freak furnace pushing it past the point of good taste. Doesn’t hurt that the band’s also got just a touch of the ol’ Jonathan Richman sneer in its delivery. For a first taste, this one has me coming back for more right away.



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Palm Springs

After already laying down a scathing record of post-punk with her band Mod Con and giving some heft to the guitar chaos in Tropical Fuck Storm, Melbourne’s Erica Dunn cuts the volume and sweeps out the quiet corners of the home recorded hearth for this low-key EP. Her cassette Palm Springs & Friends is calm and crackling, evoking the kind of private issue and margin-walking folk that birthed albums from Elyse, Dave Bixby, Susan Christie, or Chuck and Mary Perrin. Dunn nails the wet wool sound of intimacy that made those obscurities into the sort of records that were sought out with blood, sweat and black lung as collectors rifled through basements and boot sales. The record takes a high contrast approach to the bulk of what I’ve heard from Dunn and proves that she’s got equal options for careers on both sides of the volume knob.

Not only is the record tender in its trappings, but lyrically this is a far cry from Mod Con’s fang-toothed tumult. Dunn is wistful and warm, opening the record to an autumnal ennui that’s surprising but infinitely listenable. While the faint fluff of tape hum might frame this collection perfectly, there’s also a feeling that Dunn could take this to a larger life with ease. Much like this year’s jump by Anna St. Louis to a full spectrum sound, its easy to see how the songs on & Friends could find purchase in lush production. Then again, if this is just meant to be a hand-crafted curio of folk, far be it from me to make any assumptions. Whatever her ambitions under the Palm Springs header, Dunn’s captured some sort of magic that’s hard to shake.





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Cool Sounds

Melbourne’s Cool Sounds shift their spotlight from the “Real Estate dreaming of John Hughes subplots” sound they held on previous album Dance Moves and embrace a more languid, jazz-soaked vision of Aussie indie. While a stop-gap EP last year leaned towards a more austere acoustic vision, on Cactus Country the band again fleshes out the sound with rain stained sax lines, sunset twang that makes good on the promise of that title and a narcotic cool attached to the vocals that’s never in a hurry to push out of the permanent vacation saunter. The band once coined the term jazz-gaze to approximate their sound, but up until now it didn’t really feel like they were making good on it. While that’s still a bit of a smirking swing at how their sound shakes out, the comparison lands. Cool Sounds have baked this record on the boardwalks and beachfronts and tied the whole thing up in strains of “Baker Street” sax crushed out just a touch by the din of the waves.

At times the effect can push Cactus Country into the background music category, like quite a few of the lite jazz and drive time ‘80s references it’s evoking. Yet, the band has worked tirelessly on the aesthetic and even when they’re sometimes poking at the saccharine or cheesy (see: “Nylon”) they still feel genuine in their affection for the delivery and that gives the record its own gravity. There are some positively gorgeous moments on the record that melt away the frantic pace of 2018 and help hold the clock’s hands at bay for at least the thirty-odd minutes that Cactus Country spends on the speakers. For that respite, I remain grateful.

Ultimately the record feels like a faded and folded brochure for a long-gone vision of recreational living. The band succeeds in making it never feel like a modern take piped through a wood-grain filter, but rather a vintage find that’s just been packed in a dusted crate all these years. The nostalgia gives the record a slight tinge of bittersweet bliss and an aura of comfort that’s hard to resist. Cactus Country isn’t going to shake your foundations, but it might just soothe your soul, which is a welcome promise these days.



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Crepes – “As You Go”

It’s a nice surprise this morning to see that Aussie pop wranglers Crepes are back at it, with a new album scheduled for October 26th. Following on the low-key single “Bicycle Man,” which will appear on the album as well, the band releases the slinking, “As You Go.” The song retains the band’s attention to glossy pop, but this time they’re keeping things much closer to the vest. The track builds slow, not rushing too hard into the sunshine hooks that splattered their previous album, instead flashing a quick bite of pop on the chorus before releasing the song’s tension with a flurry of jazz-flecked guitar. The song, like “Bicycle Man” seems to be slicing some post-disco bass into their repertoire and it falls far from the current crop of Aussie indies that have taken root in the ‘90s. The first single had me pleasantly perplexed, but with “As You Go,” I’m properly excited for this new Crepes album.


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Cool Sounds – “Cactus Country”

Melbourne’s Cool Sounds swing back with another LP that follows up a solid stop-gap short player form last year. Still chasing the cool waters populated by Real Estate and other similarly minded US purveyors of languid dreams, the title track from their upcoming Cactus Country, is doused in a humid haze and underpinned with sparkling guitars. Loping along with no hurry in sight, the track practically squints in the sunshine, chugging some stutter-funk riffs that shake off a bit of the country twang that seeped into the Grudge EP. Making a move from Deaf Ambitions for a joint release between Melbourne labels Osborne Again and Hotel Motel (who released that aforementioned EP) the band is moving among some decent players in the Aussie underground. Looking forward to what the rest of Cactus Country has to offer.



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Loose Tooth

Melbourne’s Loose Tooth (not to be confused with the Father/Daughter band of the same name) had a promising EP out last year and with their debut for Milk! they more than make good on those promises. The full-length processes knotty post-punk bass lines and breathless jangles, then pastes them to wide-eyed indie pop for a record that’s constantly familiar and endearingly catchy. They’re passing over the threadbare fare that’s been popping up among their countrymen and instead pushing for a more polished sound that’s got its head in the past – think The Passions mixing it up with members Look Blue Go Purple and Close Lobsters – yet still winds up sounding timeless.

The crux of Keep On is the band’s ability to weave starry-eyed delivery with impeccable atmospheres. Snap on a keen use of three-part harmonies that never get syrupy and the makings of a damn fine debut begins to take shape. Their mastery of the moody vs. wistful approach to songwriting serves this up for fans of bedroom fare, with the band pining over an abundance of twisted love throughout the album’s eleven track run. They swerve from that humble pop path, though and the album elevates their love letters into a lush pop sound. There’s something sparkling happening in the details here – a hi-fi rumble, sax squawks, pillowy mounds of reverb. The deeper listeners get into Keep On the more it rewards with rippling subtleties and soft-touch hooks. While its definitely put together well, its not flashy and the band comes out all the better for it. Sadly, I feel that this one won’t get nearly its due on this side of the ocean, but for those paying attention it’s a lovely gem of a record.




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