Posts Tagged ‘Mikey Young’

The Green Child

Sometimes it’s hard to resist a combination of favorite forces, and such is the case for The Green Child, which brings together the long-distance relationship of Raven Mahon (Grass Widow) and Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control). The duo jumps off from their inspirational namesake, Herbert Read’s 1935 utopian, communist, sci-fi novel for a sound that’s slaloming into the valley of retro-futurist synth, with a dollop of jangle. The two have mostly shed their past personas to find common ground in works that are antiseptic, but with a human heart. They dress up in the veneer of ’80s new wave, synth wave and goth and work the weave of the three into an oddly invigorating set for the dawn of 2018. If a certain measure of numbness is anthemic in the new age of world politics and daily life, then The Green Child is a magnetic beacon – part armor, part intoxicant.

The record feeds off of Young’s recent excursions into instrumental synth and it’s apparent that the same inspirations for his entry to Moniker’s “Your Move” series also fueled the bedrock of The Green Child. Though, here he’s less interested in the Kosmiche serenity than striving to balance Mahon’s distillation of icy detachment with the the proper amount of Teutonic cool. By the end, the record finds an even keel in a subdued slickness that wards off the caustic deluge of modern life. There’s something comforting in the future perfect sounds that the band rouses up out of the weeds. With the year just cracking in, The Green Child’s eponymous debut is a balm for these modern times, taking inspiration from somewhat psychedelic and strange texts, to endure some what strange and unbelievable times.





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The Green Child – “Traveler”

As the year winds down its time to get excited about 2018 recs already, and topping the list is this collab from faves Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control, Lace Curtain) and Raven Mahon (Grass Widow, Bridge Collapse). The record eschews the comfort zones of both, going for a synth-driven sound that’s dark, terse and sinewy. The pairing feels like a good fit, with the two having built the record over the last couple of years since meeting at an Oakland show in 2014. The band’s name was inspired by Herbert Read’s 1935 utopian, communist, sci-fi novel called The Green Child and the novel plays a part in some of the album’s lyrics as well.

The record features fellow traveler Al Montfort (Terry, Total Control) and finds a home on RSTB fave Upset The Rhythm January 12th. Highly Recomended!




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Total Control

While a good majority of the Aussie indie releases tend to get glossed over here in The States, Total Control seems to have struck a chord. Their releases on luminary labels Sub Pop and Iron Lung probably go a long way in that regard, but that’s not to discount their unique slant on post-punk impulses in any way. Following on their laser-focused 2014 album, Typical System, for Iron Lung, they hop to the short format with a 12″ EP that’s clean, yet eclectic in its influences, but also one of the most cohesive shots across the bow they’ve put together yet.

The record is bookended by pt. 1 and 2 of the title track, a chaotic rip of nervous energy and pointed punk anthem respectively. The rest of the EP has shuttled aside some of their noisier nuances to amp up their off-kilter pop senses instead, littering the tracks with duct-taped beats and sprightly strums that might have found their way to the cutting floor previously. It’s hard not to hear a slight extension of Terry’s excellent LP from this year peeking through – with members Al Montfort and Zephyr Pavey acting as guiding lights in both bands. Still, Laughing at the System is as essential as any other piece of the Total Control puzzle and by no means a frivolous aside. While they’ve begun shading in the bite with a bit of levity, they’re still offering up a few of their most acerbic flayers. Total Control contains some of the top players from the Aussie underground and this release proves how potent they can be even when time is a factor.

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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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