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ALBUM REVIEW: Ghost Wave – Radio Norfolk

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Three years on from their debut Ages, Ghost Wave sound a wholly more authentic and lived-in proposition. Ages sounded like the sum of its influences (UK indie, Krautrock, NZ 80s alt-guitar pop) and they mastered them exceedingly well, but Radio Norfolk takes those sounds further and deeper, co-mingling and cross-pollinating with more sonic grit and subtlety.

Psychedelia has permeated music strongly in recent years, much of it centring on garage rock and folk music. Ghost Wave take the elements of trippiness and narcotic haze to a rhythmic and repetitive place. There is a stoned danceability to much of the album where the bass and the drums provide the movement and drive of the music. It can be uplifting and bright (‘Honey Punch’, ‘Don’t Ask Me’), snaking and smoky (‘Blues Signal ’79’) or insistent and pulsing (‘Snow Cone Descent’). That combination of moods creates a wonderful flow to the album akin to both the predictability and variability of rolling ocean swells or a road trip through hills, valleys and plains.

Producer Sonic Boom (Spaceman 3) has tied together the band’s sound superbly, It never descends into dreary drone from a lack of ideas or noise for noise sake. The balance is there and a surprisingly rich batch of melodies rise to surface on repeat listens. The xylophone on ‘Spaceman’, the range of effects applied to the guitar lines and Matthew Paul’s incantations and vowel bending vocals are all elements used to add shape and colour to the songs.

Radio Norfolk is kaleidoscopic in nature and psychedelic by design yet never at the expense of the song at the heart of each track. That balance of vision defines what is an exemplary and timeless take on hypnotic rock music.

Chris Familton

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INTERVIEW: The Laurels

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THE SCIENCE OF PSYCHEDELIA & BREAKBEATS

The Laurels have re-emerged from the studio with an adventurous take on their brand of psych rock that takes influence from both Primal Scream and Public Enemy. Singer and guitarist Luke O’Farrell takes Chris Familton inside the creation of Sonicology.

“I went a bit nuts, we all went a bit crazy in the studio working on these songs “ says O’Farrell, describing the long and intensive process of writing and recording Sonicology. They set up their own studio and “started getting samplers and experimenting with junk shop records, sampling them and making beats” before spending numerous hours recording and sampling themselves to avoid copyright issues. “It is very much a studio album. The guitar took a back seat on this album. If anything samplers were the main instrument. Even the guitars were fed into samplers and triggered and sequenced. It still sounds like us and is guitar heavy but the way we approached the recording was completely different to what we’d done before,” explains O’Farrell.

The genesis of the new album reaches right back to before the band started recording their previous record. “With Plains, we were playing those songs for six years before recording them and then you have to play them on the road for another two or three years. We really adjusted to that way of working as a live band. With this one we started getting into hip hop influences just before we started recording Plains – a lot of Public Enemy, a lot of funk and soul, stuff like James Brown. That was the headspace we were in after the Plains tour finished and then it was a matter of convincing the other guys to try something really different in the studio this time around.”

Between albums, drummer Kate Wilson (The Holy Soul) decided to leave the band and Jasper Fenton, who O’Farrell and Piers Cornelius had played with in other groups, was drafted in. “It wasn’t easy, it was very sad to see Kate go after that amount of time. We’re still mates and we still love her. With the new tracks and the way we wanted to approach them in the studio, that wasn’t what she wanted to do with the band. Jasper is also a multi-instrumentalist and a producer which really helped the recording,” says O’Farrell.

One hurdle to overcome after making an album steeped in studio production and different technology is how to present the songs live. O’Farrell explains that they’ve got their head around the songs now. “It’s taken us a few months going back and re-learning and adjusting songs. Their entire life has been in the studio, they weren’t really made for live performance but we’ve figured out a way to represent them live. There are three of us triggering samplers now but we’re not tethered to a click track, we want to still keep it loose and free and incorporate the samples from the album.”

“This album was more collaborative than anything we’ve done in the past,” says O’Farrell, when asked if the band is a collective vision or driven by one or two people. “There’s never really been a leader, we all have ideas bout how we want the band to sound and we try to incorporate everyone’s vision. It’s a mix of all of us and I guess that’s why we are still together after ten years.”

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ALBUM REVIEW: Xylouris White – Black Peak

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Many may have expected the collaboration between Jim White (Dirty Three) and Cretan lute player George Xylouris to be a one-off collaboration but now they’re onto album number two which features Xylouris singing on more tracks and the pair digging deeper into their primitive jazz and post-rock sense of musical adventure.

The mood of the album varies from languid to visceral. ’Forging’ is a galloping piece of pagan acoustic metal that thrills with its speed and momentum while other tracks explore minimal mood, drones and percussive dissonance with similar verve and free-spiritedness.

Black Peak feels instinctive and symbiotic, a masterclass from two musicians taking their traditional instruments right out to the edge of avant-garde darkness.

Chris Familton

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NEW MUSIC: ROYA – End Times

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Roya is a six piece band from Brooklyn with a strong pedigree: singer Rahill Jamilifard fronts Habibi, drummer Hamish Kilgour is a member of legendary band The Clean, Jay Heiselmann is from the critically acclaimed Grooms, and bassist Alix Brown is previously of The Lids, Jay Reatard and Golden Triangle.

This is their latest release, to mark theUS political events of the last 24 hours.

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NEW MUSIC: The Tambourine Girls Preview New Album

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The Tambourine Girls are releasing their self-titled debut LP this week and in the lead up they’ve posted a lyric video for the album track ‘Ignaz Semmelweis’ and a video interview with frontman Simon Relf chatting with Marcus from Spookyland about some of the tracks on the album.

The Tambourine Girls were formed by Relf (formerly of Deep Sea Arcade) and signed to Chugg Music before partially recording the new LP with producer Tim Whitten (Powderfinger, The Go-Betweens, Hoodoo Gurus and Augie March). Early singles from the album were ‘Police‘ and ‘Cupo‘.

Album Track Listing:
01. Southern Change
02. The Tambourine Girl
03. The Clamour
04. Cupo
05. Song for Gerard
06. Watching the World
07. Ignaz Semmelweis
08. Townes van Zandt
09. Much Older Now
10. Ghosts
11. Police
12. Johnny Be Or Don’t. Whatever
13. Lay Down