Posts Tagged ‘Mikey Young’

The Living Eyes

One of the most consistent exports from the Aussie underground comes via Anti-Fade Records’ agit-punks The Living Eyes. On their third LP for the imprint they continue to sneer ‘n shred their way through a dozen compact punk nuggets that feel like they’re handed down from the conglomerate schools of The Saints, Richard Hell, Pere Ubu and Toy Love. While keeping things distinctly Aussie (and sharing a searing similarity to labelmates Ausmuteants) they’re kindred spirits to the kind of itchy, agitated, raw-nerve of punk that festered in the American Mid-West some 40-odd years prior.

The difference is that while they seem to carry the outsider jitters in their very DNA, they’ve also found a way to inject an incredible amount of catchiness into the core of their songs, much like South-Hemi heroes Eddy Current Suppression Ring before them. That band’s Mikey Young pops up in the supply chain here on mixing and mastering duties, so you know things are kept brittle and pushing well into the red. The band has always been a fave around here but I have to admit they’ve outdone themselves on this one. They’ve never sounded more vital, electric or combustible as they do on Modern Living.

At the risk of beating the drum too hard in their praise, this is one of the rawest, most delightfully jagged pieces of punk to roll down the belt this year. Its been a good year for unrest and a bad year for everything else, but this one jolts like a car battery to the tongue. It’s chomping tinfoil like breath mints and dusting any contenders that are hoping to paddle through their wake. I know we’re all looking for a salve these days, and it’s nice to sink back into a malted hazed of indie stupor sometimes, but Modern Living is a good reminder to stay agitated and jolt a few others on your way out of the room.




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David West with Teardrops

Ah goddamnit, just when the term supergroup lost its last shred of meaning, David West had to go and assemble The Teardrops, a backing band that would fit the term if they really needed a set in stone label. Thing is, they don’t. The record plays like a collaboration of friends sketching out the best Aussie pop that’s been hurtled down the belt this year. Featuring Bob Jones of Eaters, Louis Hooper of Rat Columns, Mikey Young of Total Control/Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Raven Mahon of Grass Widow, the friends in particular flesh out a well-oiled pop machine that churns hooks and makes it all just look effortless. It would be impressive on its own if West hadn’t also cobbled together the charming new Rat Columns record earlier in the year, making this his second spotless classic of 2017.

Cherry On Willow is rife with cream-thick basslines that squirm underneath a frothing batch of new wave pop cut high with enough sparkling pleasures to fill out any dream playlist. Taken together, though, the album zigs though the many tessellations that made new wave and post-punk such indefinable genres. He’s dubbing out to blissed atmospheres one minute and cutting us down with knife-edge guitars in the next. West is a master pop chameleon, but his most enduring quality might be his ability to stitch stylistic gaps without making an album sound woefully disjointed.

Cherry On Willow sounds like an arc, a journey mapped out by someone writing a soundtrack rather than an album. He’s put together the highs and lows with precision. West nails down the euphoria and giddy sheen on the title track, then dives into melancholy on “Time To Forget” and the haunting “Swan’s Beat.” There’s plenty to love on his third solo album proper, and for those that are already in David’s corner this album comes as no real surprise, but a pleasure nonetheless.




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David West with Teardrops – “Swan’s Beat”

After already turning in a great releases with his bands Rat Columns and Rank/Xerox earlier this year, David West goes for the triple with a new one from his solo (yet very collaborative) band The Teardrops. The record pulls in members from Eaters, Rat Columns, Total Control, Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Grass Widow. “Swan’s Beat” looks to the big, syncopated drums and outsized guitars of the ’80s that would also serve as fodder for 90s hip-hop samples. Though, as much as he claims a Billy Squire influence here, West tempers the excess with cold n’ humid vocals a la Martin Rev and some flecks of dub that give the track a very modern take with a hot flash of nostalgia rattling around in your ears. This actually doesn’t fall too far from the spooky ambience of his standout from Rat Columns, “Blinded By The Shadow,” and its leaving me very eager to get more of this record on the speakers.




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Premiere: The Lovebirds – “Ready To Suffer”

San Francisco is full of guitar rock of the jangled variety but rising above the typical Mission fray soars The Lovebirds. They’re packing a satchel full of chiming chords here, but rather than throw a nod to SF’s ’60s roots, they channel College-ready literate charmers and powerpop dandies alike, drawing a line from the Groovies on down to Elvis Costello and Teenage Fanclub waiting in the wings. “Ready To Suffer” flicks at the subconscious, feeling familiar in a way that pushes it out of time, like a lost b-side from the archives of any of those bands.

It certainly doesn’t holler fresh-faced kids about town, that’s for sure, but that’s to the band’s credit as scholars of their influences. Add to the quality tunes some mix n’ master duties from RSTB faves Glenn Donaldson and Mikey Young respectively and this is a tight package and prime introduction to a band to watch.




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Mikey Young on Third World War – S/T

There have been a lot of names on my wishlist for this feature, but standing near the top has been Mikey Young. If you’re unfamiliar, then you clearly reside outside of Australia, and have little to no interest in what’s currently pouring out of nation’s coffers lately. Young is a driving force of two of the best bands of the past decade, Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Total Control. Add to that a hand behind the boards on pretty much every other indie release that hits the shelves and it solidifies the fact that the man is beyond integral to the new wave of Australian indie. As with all entries to Hidden Gems, this feature seeks to find an album that’s been overlooked by the majority and shine a little light on it. Below Young tells how the proto-punk debut from Third World War came into his life and the impact its had on his own works.

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RVG

RVG is the overarching name for the Romy Vager Group. The short, but impressive A Quality of Mercy swims with visions of ’70s and’80s heroes, wandering through touches of The Go-Betweens, Echo and The Bunnymen, The Cure and Patti Smith. The album indulges heavily in the lush, dark-rimmed tones of The Bunnymen the hardest and Vager’s voice is a dead ringer for the smeared stylings of Ian McCulloch. She’s enmeshed in the extravagant gravity and widescreen approach that made the goth darlings such longstanding obsessions year over year.

The record borrows a silk-screen of style, to be sure, but that style is nothing without substance. That’s where the band pounds the anvil harder than most adopters of minor key moroseness and ringing guitars. They aren’t just wistful for the aesthetics, Vager digs into disenfranchisement, pleas for some scrap of understanding and does it with a stately dignity that can’t help but round back on her similarities to Patti Smith. As she sings it feels like the gravity in the room reorients itself to the speakers, and reportedly the effect is visited tenfold in the live setting, where the band have kept audiences in rapt attention.

Increasingly we’re in a return to long incubation periods, brought about by bands regaining the means to self-release and experiment over time before finding their footing. In that respect it’s rare to find one so firmly and forcefully formed. RVG are a band that knows exactly who they want to be and then simply pulls it off in a manner that feels effortless; crafting songs that hang on the rain like old favorites. If this is the beginning for RVG, then I, for one, can’t wait to see where they’re headed.




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White Bleaches – “Mystery Child”

Melbourne’s Mystery Child come with a crack team behind the boards (King Gizz’ Stu McKenzine recording/Mikey Young mastering) and they deliver on the hopes of those that have taken them in. Their latest single has a loose-slung garage-surf feel to it that’s just the right combination of shaggy and catchy. The a-side drops a fuzzed out groove with sun in its hair and a dark ripple snaking through the bass. You can feel the Gizzard influence, but they’re definitely keeping things restrained, no J Dwyer howls blistering the paint, just smoke ring cool with a dash of psych sneer. They actually find a lot of common ground with Black Lips during their Ronson days to drop a point of reference. The flip is a bit lighter in tone, with a pop top beat that shakes the shutters and makes for a beachside highlight when paired with the tanned to distraction vocals that fleck the track. Not a bad showing. Hopefully they keep the tech team in tact and turn this momentum into a full length for Flightless. Aussie garage psych that’s bone-dried and best here.




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Mikey Young – “Socks”

Well, it should be no small secret that I love Mikey Young around here. The Aussie veteran of bands like Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Ooga Boogas and Total Control has gone on to be one of the country’s great mastering engineers and more than that, a litmus for great bands that bubble up from the underground. So, its with plenty of excitement that Young has a solo release of his own on the way. It’s not what I would have pegged or expected to be honest, but keeping us on our toes is what the man does best. The first entry in Moniker Records’ new synth series “Your Move,” it finds Young wading into bubbling ’70s synths that thankfully skew more to the Kosmiche than the Italo-horror side of the coin. He’s found himself in the midst of glowing Germanic tones, fluttering with a wide-eyed wonder and no shortage of head nodding beats. The series is intriguing and this is a great first entry to be sure. Check out “Socks” below:





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V/A – Follow The Sun

While the new crop of Australian indie is being etched and codified presently, US archive house Anthology has been doing their best to begin to dig into the independent ’60s and ’70s past of the country, mapping out some of the Nuggets-era fodder that’s been long overshadowed. The label has explored bands that mapped the country’s surf culture through reissues of Tamam Shud and Tully and now they’re teaming up with Aussie luminary in his own right Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control, mastering on every essential new Oz release) to scour the bins for a collection that encapsulates not just a sound, but the sound of Australia in the ’70s.

The collection, like Lenny Kaye’s now iconic roundup of garage, cherry picks gems that were consigned to local fan culture rather than world shaking hits or hints of things to come from artists in their infancy. Unlike Nuggets’ ranks though, they twist the dial from loner folk to psychedelic fizz, prog-jazz glints to lush singer-songwriter territory. The only real consistency seems to be that each track feels like an instantly necessary addition to your life. It’s full of faded sun melancholy and a feeling that inside the bubble of Australian pop, the outsider could be king.

The double LP set is a perfect companion to the relatively recent Down Under Nuggets release, which scratches a much shallower surface of the ’60s and gives the overview of acts that found their way out (see: The Bee Gees, The Easybeats) alongside some gems that would stretch the pocket book. In a way, using the ’70s as their touchstone lends itself to much less homogeny and much more experimentation. Follow The Sun winds up a dream classic rock station set to sink into the sea. It’s getting harder these days to do these kind of comps right, but this is hitting all the marks.



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Los Tones

Syndney four-piece Los Tones lay down a twang-slung vision of garage rock as filtered through the ghosts of The Blues Magoos, The Electric Prunes and The Monks, but hewing closest to the cracked world view of The Seeds. On a more contemporary note they share common ground with Night Beats and fellow Aussies The Murlochs but that’s all just to get you in the right longitude of where the band is coming from. They’re running the fuzz high and hectic, and binging on surf vibes sanded into a rough-cut leather lacquer. Every track on What Happened feels like it would benefit handily from a psychedelic oil light show and at least a pint of Wild Turkey and best of all, the band feels like they’re having a hell of a good time.

It goes without saying these days that garage swagger has seen generation after generation embrace the twin tone irreverence of a sneer and a throaty howl, but that’s not to say that it can’t still hit just as hard. You’ve been down these roads before but that’s discounting how much fun is to be had with Los Tones on the speakers and tomorrow’s consequences far out of mind. I will always have a soft spot for the kind of garage record that keeps a glint of mischief in it’s eye. So, that said, feel free to crawl into last night ‘s clothes and grab Zombie (in requisite Tiki cup) and get things up to full torque for this album. Los Tones seem like they’re more interested in keeping the vibes toasted than worrying if you feel like it’s all been done before. It’s being done right and that’s all that matters.




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