Posts Tagged ‘Tenth Court’

Sachet – “Nets”

A nice cut outta South Hemi enclave Tenth Court works as a great introduction to Melbourne’s Sachet. The foursome makes springy indie pop that’s tethered to a muscular strum, male/female harmonies swirl above a flex of bass and head nodding snap of drums. The band has emerged from the hollowed hull of Day Ravies and they share an affinity soft angles and gentle harmonies. “Nets” starts in sweet and swaddled, seemingly a doe-eyed indie-pop strummer before it turns the tension up in the second half, crashing through the speakers with steely sincerity. The song precedes their sophomore album of the same name set to be released in September. I’d advise keeping an ear out for that one.



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Mope City

While its tempting to battle the deluge of current events with dips into sunny distraction and plastic pop, there’s something comforting about slipping into a narcotic pool of blissful disconnect. For a good swath of the ‘80s and ‘90s there was a production pinpoint to turn to when just such a sound was needed. As much as Steve Albini built his empire of sound on the unflinching light of austerity, his counterpart Mark Kramer built his own brand basking in the warm glow depression pop. Sydney’s own downer step-children Mope City are echoing the highlights of Kramer’s production canon – from the woolly jangles and slightly askew harmonies of Galaxie 500 to the grey-skied vocal wallow of ‘90s Low. Its only appropriate, then, that the band should dial up the legend himself to put a mix and master on their sophomore LP.

The band’s songs echo their moniker like a mission statement. There are cracks of light in that peek in through the blinds, but for the most part the band is lacquering the inside of the bell jar with the windows closed and the fumes bring on enough of a buzz to dull the pain awhile. It’s clear that of their aforementioned alt touchstones, the group has spent the most time with the catalog of Boston’s finest slowcore trio. Mope City’s got Galaxie’s disaffection and echo-chamber anesthetics pinned to the floor, though the band lacks the luster of Wareham’s liquid mercury guitar solos and their absence is definitely felt. The duo’s pulling off depression pop and a slowcore revival admirably well, if not necessarily moving the dial forward all that much from its 1990 heyday.

News From Home succeeds the most when it breaks just a touch out of its own head. The key change breather and ebullient strings on “Excuses Start To Thaw” floats the song to the top of their heap along with the slouched swagger of “Medicine Drawer”. Its clear that the band is onto something, and separating themselves quite nicely from the pervasive trends that abound in their home country’s indie union. The best mope-pop worked well when we listeners could believe there was some kernel of hope inside. When Mope City rest on their heels and let the dirge overtake the day then it muddies the songs a bit too much, but when they nail the balance of hope and despair, the record becomes much more than an homage to an era separated by time and 9500 miles of tide.



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RSTB Best of 2018

So, it seems that 2018 is finally coming to an end. It’s been a hell of a year by most standards, but musically its been damn entertaining. Perhaps its fair that there’s some bright spot in all the chaos. Not to diminish the chaos, but when the negativity is at an all-pervasive fever pitch, its feels good to have something to hold onto. I’ll choose to remember 2018 as a banner year for music and for the birth of my second daughter rather than the year that page refresh politics threatened to give me an ulcer any day. Below are my favorite albums of the year, taking care to highlight some that might otherwise get forgotten. They’re in (quasi) alphabetical order with no other particular weight on the list. Keep your eyes out for a few more year-end features this week before I reset for the new year. As always, thanks for sticking with RSTB for these 12-odd years or so.

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Rex Wonderful & The Silk Sheets – “Mimosas”

Already spreading the Wireheads family out with the recent announcement of Dom & The Wizards, the Adelaide band has now grown a third arm in the form of Rex Wonderful & The Silk Sheets. The fancifully named side project was formed over a drunk brunch aftermath and brings together Wireheads’ Dom Trimboli, band videographer Alex Gordon-Smith, Liam Kenny (Workhorse, Wireheads) Elena Nees (Alume), and Dana Ashford (Gentleworms). Their first single is an ode to those hazy afternoon origins and it shows the normally acerbic Wireheads members playing things a bit cooler, melting into a ’70s strut that’s at odds with both the nervy cocaine rock of The Stones and the methadone shakes of VU, Iggy and the punks that swam back against their current at the same time. The single, along with five other tracks will be released as a cassette on Tenth Court this week and I’m interested to see where they take this tangent. Check out the Gordon-Smith directed video for “Mimosas” and lay back into the band’s stonewashed groove.



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Mope City – “Medicine Drawer”

Aussie trio Mope City dig into ’90s downer rock on the first single from their sophomore LP for Tenth Court. The album, appropriately featuring a mix job from iconic ’90s producer Kramer (Galaxie 500, Low), is preceded by the slow burn single “Medicine Drawer.” The track indulges in the same mescaline aesthetics of many bands the producer would put his stamp on, dirging its way through a cloud of ’90s disaffection that brings back more than a tinge of high school hankering. The song is ringed by a halo of cold humidity and the guitars pull themselves tight around the hangdog vocals of the band’s Matt Neville. Interested to see how this fleshes out into a full length affair when the record hits in October.



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Wireheads

Its starting to get frustrating shouting into the dark about Wireheads. Dom Trimoboli and his deck shuffled band of musicians have been consistently finding the spark to light up the parched outback punk that threads is way through their releases and it feels like someone should be taking notice. They pick up the thread of sandpapered alternative that waxed experimental in the ’90s, feeling every bit like they’re holed up at Fort Apache rather than a hidden island in Anacortes, Wa. But, to follow their muse, the band again returns to the American Northwest for aid from discordant divining rod Calvin Johnson, a match that seemed serendipitous two albums ago and now feels like perfect symbiosis.

With Johnson at the boards, this record expands on the magnification of hooks that took place on Big Issues, producing some of the band’s downright catchiest songs to date. Their sound began to coalesce on Arrive Alive, letting Trimboli become comfortable in surroundings that weren’t as barbed as their debut, but here he sounds more confident in his prowess than ever. There’s no shortage of dissonance, but it’s coating some real pop nuggets here. Rolling their strums and squalls in the shattered glass trappings of The Fall and the jittery explosiveness of The Pixies, Wireheads are making the kind of weird, wandering, addictive records that used to flesh out the world of college radio long before CMJ took a tumble.

I hate to try to squeeze a little life out of the expression “they don’t make ’em like this anymore” but it might just be the best way to sum up Lightning Ears. Wireheads are a band making records for themselves, clearly not giving two shits what stylistic notions are de rigueur, home or abroad, they simply channel the shaggy beauty that rumbles underneath the itchy skin of of Aussie indie, poking at the comfortability of slacker pop in the process.




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Wireheads – “Indian Pacific Express’

Getting to be a regular occurance around here, Wireheads have an album on the way via Tenth Court. The first cut is even more refined than I’ve heard them in the past – janglin’, plunking piano and a smooth keel running through Dom Trimboli’s vocals. This sounds like a natural progression from the material they’d cut into on Arrive, Alive, clean burning Aussie jangle with just the right touch of vulnerability and visceral punch. Definitely got eyes out for the new album.


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Workhorse

The debut tape from this Adelaide band is much more than their humble moniker would attest to. While the songs are certainly not full of flash, Harriet Fraser-Barbour’s songwriting isn’t workmanlike or rote indie by any means. The songwriter, who also plays as part of RSTB favorites Wireheads as well as Fair Maiden, crafts smoky-eyed alt-country that’s warm and inviting. The tracks are by all means laid back, but exuding an air that’s cool and collected rather than adopting the oft imitated slacker charms of many of her countrymen. Fraser-Barbour is the cool older sister projecting an unrattled air, even if there’s a dark strain of torment running through her.

The songs on No Sun simmer with a lost summer quality, the kind of feelings that burn bright and fade into Kodachrome memories that seem timeless and yet trapped in amber. The album feels like it’s been around the bins for ages, despite having just reached the world, but that’s just a testament to the players enlisted and Fraser-Barbour’s skill behind it all. It arrives fully formed and to that effect, leaves Fraser-Barbour as one to watch moving forward for sure. If this is just the beginning, I can only expect she’ll find purchase on greater heights moving forward. Fraser-Barbour may be taking her first turn as bandleader here, but quite honestly, she’s nailing it out of the gate.




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Chook Race

Amping up the pop from last year’s About Time LP, Chook Race are due to issue their new album on Brisbane’s always awesome Tenth Court and the ever reliable Trouble in Mind here in the states. They’ve smoothed the wrinkles and delivered an album that draws on Flying Nun’s jangled past as well as some more Americanized indie pastiches that feel welcome in their hands. While the dreaded D word hasn’t crossed into the US with regards to Aussie pop, abroad Dolewave rules and Chook Race have largely steered clear of what would normally be the hallmarks of the current indie ripple, though they do have a tendency to meditate on the everyday hangups that quirk up our lives. They break apart from the pack though and trade shaggy swagger for a crisper sense of melody and a sparkle that gives the songs on Around The House a yearning quality that’s less aloof than it is quietly lonesome and incredibly catchy.

The band have a handle on winsome pop that’s not knotted up in rote lackadaisical jangle as much as it bounds from the bounce of strings to driving buzz in an instant. The band kicked the surf out of their system for the most part and found a new friend in the heart of the Athens, GA songbook – think more R.E.M. and Elf Power than Pylon and B-52’s. They knock around a mix of guy/girl vocals (how come we never say man/lady? Is it that rock keeps us forever young?) in perfect volleys, spiriting the album along to an almost cruelly quick conclusion. They leave the fans wanting more, while providing a salve for the troublesome clouds of daily life. Honestly, its hard to ask for more than that of a pop album these days. It soothes the savage burn, complements a cup of tea and you can shake ‘n shimmy to it.



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Chook Race – “Hard To Clean”

Melbourne’s Chook Race put out a scrappy but fun album last year that showed more than a few crinkles of promise and they’re making good on it this year with a follow up through Tenth Court on the home court and Trouble in Mind here in the States. They’ve never sounded cleaner or more at ease than on their new single “Hard To Clean.” The track is a crisp pop number that belies its hooky charms with a bittersweet bleat running under those jangled harmonies. The video seems like more of a lark, but hell some nice nostalgia for the heyday of the Thighmaster or Sit and Be Fit is always a worthwhile trip. A solid sender and laying a pretty good dose of anticipation for the rest of the album comin’ up down the way.

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