The first thing that struck me about Danish band Leizure is how much they remind me of some Australian bands, in particular the much-missed The Scare as well as Melbourne group Witch Hats who have been pretty quiet for a few years now. Given the sound and influences those bands no doubt share, a line can be drawn through Iceage, Ought, Viagra Boys, Birthday Party, Gun Club and other gloriously nihilistic-sounding acts.
In all of these bands there’s the howl and intellectual angst of slashing guitars and primal vocals over post-punk rhythm sections and Leizure do it damn well. ‘Nightmare‘, complete with it’s skronkin’ horns, comes from the band’s excellent new album Primal Hymns which came out at the end of October on Five Foot One Records. It looks to be their debut LP after an EP and a string of singles and it stands tall as a gripping, sonically hedonistic and wild swinging post-punk/art rock record.
The EP, featuring covers of iconic songs by Wire, XTC, The Comsat Angels, The Korgis and The Passions is out now via Basketcase Records/Redeye Worldwide
Australia’s favourite jangly guitar/paisley popsters Ups and Downs return with this five track EP of covers of much-loved new wave and post punk tunes from the ’80s!
They say the past is ‘another country’, and it is well worth revisiting as Ups and Downs lovingly reclaim alternative classics by XTC, Wire, The Passions and The Comsat Angels.
One of the EP highlights is the band’s gorgeous take on The Korgis hit ‘Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime’ (written by James Warren). They perfectly capture the swoon and melancholic sway of the song, treating it with a gentle strum and shimmer. The icing on the cake comes in the form of legendary Australian-expat Rick Springfield who contributes a beautiful and yearning psychedelic guitar solo that adds a classic Beatles-esque feel to the recording.
Elsewhere the group convey the melodic rush of Wire’s infectious classic ‘Outdoor Miner’ with spirited headiness, they make XTC’s ‘Are You Receiving Me’ one of their own, find a tough-edged drive to The Comsat Angels’ ‘Independence Day’ and apply a darker and warmer moodiness to The Passions’ ‘I’m In Love With A German Film Star’, with sublime results.
The EP cover artwork has a fascinating back-story, as Darren Atkinson explains, “The girls on the cover were fans of Ups and Downs back in the late ‘80s and used to follow us around to gigs and send us presents. On one occasion they sent us a package that had photos of them dressed up as us, taking the piss out of various official promo shots,” he laughs.
(1) Are You Receiving Me – (XTC, 1978) “XTC have influenced all of us over the years. Are You Receiving Me is a classic exploration of isolation and breakdown in communication. We kind of slowed it down and twisted it around a bit.” – Alex
(2) Independence Day – (The Comsat Angels, 1983) “It’s one of those touchstone songs that helped the band define its sound in the early days. It’s been part of our repertoire since just about day one. Its dark and angular nature continues to cast its shadow over what we do.” – John
(3) Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime – (The Korgis, 1980) “It’s a beautifully sad song that continues to haunt me to this day. We’ve even iced the cake by getting a bona fide rock star, Rick Springfield, to play lead guitar on it. Rumour has it that Ups and Downs are Rick’s second favourite band after The Church and I’m OK with that.” – Greg
(4) I’m In Love With A German Film Star – (The Passions, 1981) “We were early Passions fans and used to play this song live regularly in the 80s. We even used a photo of their album cover in our psychedelic live slide show. It’s a song that still moves me nearly 40 years after first hearing it.“- Peter
(5) Outdoor Miner – (Wire, 1978) “We started playing Outdoor Miner live in the late ’80s. I have no idea what the lyrics are about, yet the song is almost heartbreakingly melancholic. Wire have always been able to find beauty among the noise and chaos.” – Darren
A well-known figure in the Sydney music scene, Simon is best known as a drummer with his musical outings stretching way back to the thriving indie-rock years of the Sydney music scene of the ‘90s.
A founding member of the much-loved Disneyfist and later Modern Giant, Simon was also an original member of the acclaimed Aerial Maps, along with his brother Adam Gibson.
Along the way Simon has played and recorded with many Australian bands, with long stints in legendary Half A Cow Records soul/popsters, Sneeze, plus Lazy Susan, the Simon Holmes-led outfit, Fragile, and his own later ensemble, The Coolites.
With a love of travel, surfing and adventure, Simon’s life has taken him down many a dusty road and to many a backstreet bar. This restless spirit saw him settle in Vietnam for almost a decade, a location where he found a home and where he played an instrumental role in a burgeoning rock scene whilst also working as a high school teacher and writing songs for a number of local bands. The majority of songs written in that period eventually ended up on the three releases for his surf-rock band The Coolites.
The next adventure was a move to Bali to follow his other life-long passion, surfing, a location which in turn led to a whole swathe of new songs …
The Great Ongoing, out now via Bandcamp, feels like a musical memoir, both in the words Gibson sings and the music in which he places them. These are top-shelf indie guitar songs, of both the freewheeling and introspective kind. Jangling guitars chime and occasionally bristle amid warm and wistful melodies. Horns and keyboards add a depth of sound and frame the songs in a way that recalls the melancholic poeticism of Australia’s finest – The Go-Betweens and the Triffids.
‘Now Often Feels Like Then’ casts an eye back over youthful experiences and endeavours, odes are sung to heroes such as Joe Strummer and Anthony Bourdain and day-to-day objects such as battered books, coffee & wine, motel signs and summer streets are littered throughout Gibson’s descriptive songs. The voices of his fellow musicians, Alannah Russack in particular, act as echoes and memories – an additional layer of sonic nostalgia.
“It’s really my one and only proper break-up song,” says Gibson. “I spoke most of the lyrics on my phone recorder just after things fell apart but I couldn’t face writing it until three months had passed. I found some Polaroid photos in a drawer that made me sit down and transcribe the bits on the phone and then write it. Even after I wrote it, I never played it,” he reveals. “I couldn’t face it for about another year…” Simon Robert Gibson on the single ‘Three Months’
When pressed on the album’s themes, Gibson is quick to sum it up as his perspective on the important things in life. “I guess just the idea of staying positive, to keep moving, stay creative, surf, value friendships, accept that things change and enjoy the new whilst being proud of your past. Honour your own history and use it to build the future.”
Converting that positivity into something personal and creative is something that Gibson has wanted to bring to fruition via his own unique musical lens, for a while now. “People always saw me as a drummer, which is great, I love the drums, but I didn’t want to be just that. I wanted to use all those incredible experiences I’ve had through playing with so many awesome people and build something new from them.”
“I’ve been lucky enough to play with some of my favourite songwriters ever,” Gibson enthuses. “Tom Morgan, Nic Dalton, Simon Holmes, Alannah Russack, Pete Fenton, Paul Andrews, my brother Adam Gibson and a bunch more, I’ve always been a fan as much as a musician, and the time just felt right to make a statement under my own name. I love authenticity, things from the heart, songs that elevate day-to-day life to something more, and this bunch of songs seemed to have those things, and so I thought it was time to send them out in to the world.”
“I’ve had an incredible life to this point and I see the album as a bunch of snapshots of different aspects of my life that somehow come together and give some version of the whole. As my mum always said, “you’re a long time dead”, so you might as well do cool stuff when you have the chance!”
One half of folk-noir duo Jep and Dep (also featuring Darren Cross of Gerling), Jessica’s debut album takes the sound forged from that musical partnership and crafts it into her own ethereal and immersive world. Cross is still on hand as producer and engineer but it’s clear from the outset that this is Jessica’s singular and personal vision.
Devoid of drums, the eleven songs drift and creep along like mist on a moor. Heavily draped in resonant reverb that creates an ambient, cathedral-like atmosphere, the billowing vapour trails hanging heavy in the air, shrouding her songs that explore the themes of death, loss and memory – formed from her experience as a survivor of a mass shooting in Strathfield, NSW when she was seven.
There’s a half-grasped memory quality to many of the songs, buried in a hypnagogic haze, while others such as ‘Womb Tomb’ are lifted skyward and ‘Has It Come To This’ has the DNA of a classic torch song.
Vocally, Beth Gibbons (Portishead), Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins) and Aldous Harding’s early work are clear influences on the way Jessica hauntingly layers her voice. By playing electric guitar, she avoids straight folk and creates more emotionally visceral textures, bringing to mind PJ Harvey and the more elegiac playing of Mick Turner (Dirty Three). Time and the listener’s full attention are essential to fully appreciating the depth and expansive beauty of The Space Between.
Darren Cross returns with a new album called Keeping Up? In recent years he’s explored folk noir with Jep and Dep, his own eclectic solo albums and a pair of instrumental acoustic folk albums under the moniker D.C Cross.
Here he orbits planet Gerling closer than he has since the band split back in in the late 00s. It’s still a totally different musical creature but the synthetic/humanistic/subtly anarchic blend that band explored at times is still rippling through Cross’ DNA.
There’s a cosmic nostalgia at play. Dreamy, fragmentary and hypnagogic in the feelings it portrays and the visage it conjures up, this is Kraftwerk disconnected from their machines and cast into an interstellar dream state. Hi-brow, lo-fi – allowing the machines to wonder and reflect. There’s a sense of suspended reality, a remove from the chaos of reality, pressing pause on the VCR, cleaning the hard drive, looking for a way to process and cope with the avalanche of data we consume and are unwittingly fed with each day.
Drum machines are treated like arhythmic heartbeats, lazily loping along with a melancholic funk in their step. Synths wash and cascade like ultra slo-mo and woozy waterfalls. There’s an overwhelmingly immersive quality to the music. Drug-like, womb-like – that intrinsic memory of holding your breath underwater as a child and feeling at peace in the aquatic cocoon.
Keeping Up? is a battle for optimism in the face of decreasing digital odds. It’s a non-smoking area for mental health and a dystopian glance back at the malaise of the industrial age.
There’s some clever stuff going on with this glorious new single from Dave Cherub. Sweet soul music meets 60s psych pop, country-folk and the kind of skewed indie guitar rock that bands like Built To Spill and Flaming Lips mastered.
‘Chalk and Glitter’ comes from Dave Cherub, the self-titled debut album from the Vancouver country-folk singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist of the same name.
Thirteen songs, written in 30 days, recorded in a single year; this record finds Vancouver music veteran Dave Cherub writing, performing, producing and mixing every note of the record he’s always wanted to make. The result is a single piece of country-folk hewn from the beautiful backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, arranged in a mosaic that straddles the line between heartbreak and happy place.
There’e an insistent and completely hypnotic twitch and neck snap to this track from Irish post-punk group Sprints. The tension is briefly alleviated with burst of distorted guitar before the declamatory vocal of Karla Chubb resumes her megaphone stance centre stage. Like New Zealand trio Wax Chattels, Sprints revel and excel in a mix of monolithic precision and sonic chaos theory and it works beautifully.
“Drones is very literally about my struggles with imposter syndrome. I think being a female in music, I struggle a lot with feeling like I have something to prove. It’s not okay for me to just be good, I have to be great. I have to prove constantly why I am deserving to be on the stage, or holding that guitar or that microphone. That pressure can be very difficult to deal with, and I think a lot of the times you doubt yourself then, am I actually able to write? Or is this all shit? Drones is about my experiences with dealing with this pressure, but realising that a lot of people have these struggles. The bars fill, the car parks fill, life seems to go on and on, and we can become so focused internally on our issues that you don’t realise that maybe while I was wishing I was someone else, they’re also wishing the same thing.”
There’s an EP coming shortly, hit up Spotify to hear two other singles.
Rama-lama girl-group garage rock sounds are the order of the day on this choppy slab of primitive rock n roll from Abby Jeanne. The song is one of those tunes that rattles and rolls, gets under you skin and shimmies and shakes its way through your subconscious.
Abby, a New York City borough of Queens resident, is an advocate for psychedelics (LSD, Magic Mushrooms) and her new single, “Stop and Listen” is written from the perspective of someone who’s friends are beginning to experiment with psychedelics.
Abby has already released two albums, including last year’s Music Box Dancer, plus a bunch of singles.