Posts Tagged ‘Melbourne’

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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Primo! – “A City Stair”

Primo’s “A City Stair” is a buzzing, taut swath of jangle that’s quickly jumping the band up the list of Melbourne bands that should be on your radar. While the group had me at shaggy Melbourne post-punk, add in a crossover members who’ve spent time in Terry and The Shifters and its a sealed and signed deal. The track rumbles along on Amy Hill’s hungry bass line then takes a few zig zags through breathless guitar, trading jangles and jabs in equal measure. Bringing it home, the track melts down with a organ outro that shades the track nicely for a firm finish. The band’s album, recorded by RSTB fave Al Montfort is an absolute gem. My recommendation is to get on this one quickly. On one of the most solidly satisfying labels going, Upset The Rhythm. If you’re around EU/UK catch the band out, including a date with the always excellent Sauna Youth



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HoT To RoT – “Kindred”

Bless the crew at Hysterical Records, they have their fingers on the pulse of the Australian underground’s greatest feminist punk and each new release is a goddamn treasure. Case in point: the new single from Melbourne’s HoT To RoT is lacerating through every moment of its four minute pound. Built on a bedrock of paper shredder guitars, elastic bass and sore-throated vocals, the track is catharsis incarnate, swinging wild and looking to connected with friend or foe with equal regard. Like their contemporaries in Cable Ties, they know their way around the building blocks of punk, but the genius is in the execution, not the inspiration. To that measure the band has tapped the frustration of more than one generation and funneled disappointment into a deluge, crushing anyone in their path with a sonic hammer.

The track comes ahead of their upcoming EP for the young Aussie label and if this first taste is any indication, this one’s gonna be a crusher.


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Baby Blue – Do What You Like

Melbourne’s Baby Blue tap into a mournful ‘60s pop that swings between grey-skied girl group melancholy and a tough-kneed brand of garage pop. The band’s Rhea Caldwell packs a sharper punch on their sophomore outing, a five-song EP that employs some nice gloss touches that distance them from the bulk of their Aussie indie compatriots. Do What You Like finds more in common with West Coast US stompers like Bleached, though they share a great deal of crossover with fellow Aussie RSTB faves Bloods as well, putting them in good company.

While the breezy pop of opener “I Like You” feels pleasant, but overly familiar, the EP works its into darker dens as it wears on – adding a dark, caustic bite to “Dream Life” and a touch of progressive propulsion to closer “Fire and Ice.” Caldwell’s got her head ‘round the hooks but its when she adds power and darkness to her bag of tricks that the songs begin to stand out. If the standouts here are an indication of where the band is headed, then we should all keep an ear perked for Baby Blue’s next move.



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