Posts Tagged ‘Tough Love’

The Stroppies

The Stroppies pulled themselves out of the home recording hunker and into the studio for their debut album, a shambolic yet homespun record that had hooks to spare. They wrote the follow-up with a less measured approach — forged on the road and then recorded quickly at home. Though unlike their pre-album EP, this one has hallmarks of the musicianship that developed throughout Whoosh!. With a melancholy streak threaded through the songwriting they trade pianos and jangles in tandem to create a record that’s built to close down the bar in your basement any night of the week. There’s an intimacy to their songs. The hours spent curled in the backseat of the van come gushing out, but there’s a comforting melodicism that can’t help but turn these indie snippets into eagworms that tug at the brain in an uncommon fashion.

The whole EP is built on a tug-o-war between the down and out dourness of much of their contemporaries and a giddy hook cavalcade that looks to The Clean for inspiration and comes out succeeding nicely. Look to standout track “Holes in Everything” and its easy to see how the band has picked up the same seasick sway that their predecessors hooked into and they seem comfortable in the buoyant bobble through pop’s unsteady waters. The band’s been building steam for some time, and last year’s full-length solidified them on the watchlist for good, but Look Alive! proves that the album was no fluke. This is a nice hinge piece, a transition that’s refined and rambunctious, bittersweet and blustery. Aussie fans get in on this now, it feels like they’ll only soar from here on out.




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The Stroppies – “Burning Bright”

This is another Aussie export that’s just not getting the love it should over here. The STroppies hooked up with UK label Tough Love last year for their debut, Whoosh and it was a subtle suite of jangle-pop buttered with a bit of synth that kept pace with the best releases of the year. The band’s hitting back this year with a mini-LP of sorts that’s only eight tracks, but still packs that same soft slap that made the album a necessary pickup. “Burning Bright’ turns down the heat of their jangle and replaces it with a rambling guitar line and some rolling ripples of piano for a song that helps relieve the ache inside. The song’s about a couple trying to find common ground and realizing that they’re just not going to align, but the split seems to happen amicably. Though there isn’t a clash of sparks, the melancholy sighs still sting a bit. Look Alive is out June 5th.



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The Stroppies – “Holes In Everything”

Aussie janglers The Stroppies return in fine form today with a new mini-album that wraps up their recording work from the last year. Vaulting off of their excellent album from last year, the band continues to capture the overcast sway of kiwipop from days past, calling back echoes of The Clean, Able Tasmans, and Tall Dwarfs. They buoy their sunny strums with heavy-sighed harmonies and a hummable heft of organ that gives the song staying power. The band’s sticks to your ribs more than some of their peers with an ability to let angst and insecurity bask in the sun of their strums – giving their songs a more substantial kick then some of their cohorts. They continue their run at UK label Tough Love and while this might be another short one (something the band seems adept at) these eight songs still feel like a vital part of The Stroppies’ path. The LP descends to the decks on May 1st.



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Peel Dream Magazine – “Up and Up”

I’d been into Peel Dream Magazine’s debut, though it always seemed like the prelude to something – a faded photo of what they wanted to be in another time. With a new LP on the way, the band gives a preview of what that might be with an EP for Tough Love Records. Chasing the tail of Stereolab through the labyrinth of soft-focus psychedelia, “Up and Up” is a hazed strummer laced with melancholic keys and a faraway look in its eyes. The song swoons until it gets lost in the clouds, dissolving into the shimmer off of the water vapor world it occupies until the band becomes one with the glimmer. High hopes on what’s next with the introduction of this track. The EP lands at Tough Love on November 29th with promises of more to come from the label and band on the horizons.




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Big Supermarket

If you’ve had an eye on Australia over the last year, then it would be difficult to ignore the lot of talent that’s been bubbling out of Hobbies Galore’s corner of the country. The label’s given us excellent records from Possible Humans, Alex McFarlane, Blank Realm, The Green Child, The Stroppies, and Blank Statements and they slipped this little gem out from Big Supermaket last year. The issue in the States has always been that Hobbies G’s works are hard to come by, so its always good news when someone like Tough Love gives a wider bullhorn to their bands (they’ve also issued Blank Statements and Stroppies records). Big Supermarket shares a great deal of aesthetics with their labelmates – employing the jangle vs. jitter of keys that The Stroppies prefer and the low-key charisma employed by MacFarlane on his own solo works.

The band’s an offshoot of Aussie stalwarts The Stevens, with songwriter Travis Macdonald taking the lead here. mumbling his way through the obfuscation and clawing at the haze of pop through a plastic bag. Worth noting that The Stevens also features MacFarlane (who runs Hobbies) so it’s all in the family here. There’s a more muffled charm to Big Supermarket than MacDonald’s previous haunts though, turning down the scrappy jangle for a more introverted wade into the lonely waters of downer pop. Compared to their compatriots they’re exploring a murkier muck at times, hiding their soapbox behind a soap-scummed shower curtain of bluster and noise. Big Supermarket’s drums lope and stumble, the keys lurch and the guitars scrape the dead skin secrets out of the back of the mind. There’s a discomfort that puts the band more in league with Total Control’s nihilistic scrape or Native Cats’ anxious anthems. If you missed this the first time around, then Tough Love’s giving you a second chance to creep into the bath, crank the transistor static and submerge for a listen to 1800.




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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 Stroppies – Cellophane Car”

Great news arrives from the South Hemi today with the announcement that Melbourne’s Stroppies have a proper debut on the way from Tough Love in March. The band’s been charming fans of wobble-pop and Kiwi-leanin’ jangle for some time, spitting out a lauded EP and a couple of choice 7”s over the past couple of years. The band’s sound is largely indebted to The Clean but retains many other slacker-smirk hallmarks that pock marked members’ previous bands (Boomgates, Twerps, Blank Statements, Pimetime). The first single is nothing short of another stunner from the band’s expanding catalog – sprightly jangles pinned to sauntering organ with not a spot of polish in sight. Their embrace of the shaggy dog ethos of Aussie’s best indie gives the album a lived-in earnestness and keeps them counted among the most endearing proponents of jangle in a field stuffed with competition in their homeland.

Check the video for “Cellophane Car” above and get ready for Whoosh in March.

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The Stroppies – “Maddest Moments”

Melbourne’s Stroppies have been hashing things out in the short format following their debut cassette (and subsequent vinyl reissue on Tough Love). The a-side to their latest single “Maddest Moments” solidifies their rough-edged, smoke-ring sound but ekes in a promise of something more to come. It’s a no-frills jangler that chews on social anxieties, brimming with a subtle sweetness. This, along with their “It’s A Hit” platter from Hobbies Galore show the band working through the kitchen studio recording process and off the cuff riffs, but heading back towards the softer blows of their deubt. The video riffs on the live band clips that stack the channels, but with a pinprick of malaise that shows the band being bored by their own process. Looking to see where these guy are headed, but enjoying the journey just the same.



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The Stroppies

Sadly, The Stroppies eponymous tape slipped out in May and I was wrapped up elsewhere and missed it. Then I dropped the ball again when Tough Love picked it up for a painfully brief run of 100 on LP a few months back. Third times a charm though, right? Another scant run from TL puts this one back on the radar and pretty high on the “records you missed out on in 2017” list. As with pretty much the entirety of the Aussie underground, the members of The Stroppies find themselves in many of your other favorite bands – Dick Diver, Boomgates, and The Stevens to name a few, but this lineup begs them entry to the quickly evolving Antipodean canon of jangles and misanthropes in the South Hemi.

The record was cobbled together in kitchen recordings, but doesn’t suffer for it’s humble beginnings. There’s plenty of snap strutting through these tracks, but also a a kind of easy warmth that feels like some friends finding fun in their common loves. Built on a bed of jangles, the band expands the typical young Aussie sound with the addition of tottering keys and gnawing stings that pull this ever so slightly towards the new wave and college rock impulses of The Go-Betweens. It’s a solid set for a debut, pocked with a bit of hiss that makes it feel like a well-kept secret. The Stroppies leaves plenty of wonder as to where they’ll go next. This feels like the early days of Dick Diver and despite the obvious carry-over of Steph Hughes between both bands, it’s ticking off a lot of the same boxes that endeared that band to me with each successive record. These guys are ones to watch for sure.



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