There’s a wonderfully warm and rolling feel to this new track from The Finch Cycle. It’s post -rock at its core but it also dials into that beautifully emotive 90s/early 00s indie rock sound of Australian bands such as Bluebottle Kiss – when it was as important for the guitars to lull and serenade as much as they needed to swerve and coruscate. The trombone gives the track an additional depth and melancholic tone and is a key ingredient to why the track works so well for us.
‘Forty Minus Zero‘, and it’s single partner ‘Ale Of Steam (live)’, are the debut release from The Finch Cycle (Melbourne VIC), an instrumental project for Bradley Murray (ex owner of Wireless Records and member of the band Sunny Disposition) who recorded it in a single day, in a converted barn, on a cattle farm estate, Rochford, Victoria, Australia.
Bradley Murray – guitar Daniel Zugna – guitar Kirsty Letts – guitar Andrew McLaughlin – guitar Brendan Bartlett – trombone Joe Magee – bass Michael Evans-Barket – drums
Once more Protomartyr take the four elements of rock ’n’ roll – guitar bass drums and vocals, and twist, caress and mangle them into a new version of the band’s ever-evolving sound. On their fifth album that sound is more urgent, disillusioned and anxious amid the record’s dystopian assessment of modern America.
There’s a desperate, pleading quality to singer Joe Casey’s words and the band complement and elevate his voice perfectly. With thrilling sonic veracity they lay down high velocity, post-punk textures, with balanced amounts of nuance and noise.
Jazz legend Jameel Moondoc guests on alto sax as well as other horn and cello players. On ‘June 21’ the female voice of Half Waif is a symbiotic foil to Casey’s wearied mantras as they work up a clanging krautrock noise. ‘Processed By The Boys’ documents the insidious creep of authoritarianism, the brilliant rush of ‘Michigan Hammers’ rails against exploitation for financial gain, while closer ‘Worm In Heaven’ is Casey looking back from the other side, contemplating one’s legacy.
There’s a lot to bum out the listener on this record yet musically it’s full of life and life-affirming creative protest. It’s a band finding new and thrilling ways to channel their music and convey their hopes and fears. It’s a full-blooded state of the nation address from the heart and soul.
Sydney band Golden Fang announce the release of ‘Don’t Take Your God To Town’, the first single from their fourth studio album, Here. Now Here. (produced by Jay Whalley of Frenzal Rhomb), due out on August 7th, 2020.
Golden Fang, a melodic guitar band that captures the joys and contradictions of life in Sydney’s Inner West, are an indie rock group in the truest sense – independently releasing their own unique blend of rock music since 2014.
Cast an ear back across the last three decades and you’ll hear the influence of the Pixies, The Drones and Straitjacket Fits mixing sonically with the dirty grooves of the Bad Seeds and The Cruel Sea. Like local Sydney acts such as Peabody, Bluebottle Kiss and Crow, Golden Fang are a band that know how to harness poetry and visceral rock ’n’ roll.
Receiving its world premiere on UK indie website Backseat Mafia, ‘Don’t Take Your God To Town’ announces its arrival with clanging guitar chords and a primitive rhythm before it blossoms into sweet and reticent vocal and guitar melodies. Musically there’s both a tumbling swagger and a haunting shoegaze quality, courtesy of the guest vocals of artist Donna Amini, that gives it a beguiling, contradictory sound.
‘Don’t Take Your God To Town’ is in tune with bands such as the Pixies, Nick Cave and even a touch of the Tindersticks – you get the picture: intelligent, driving music with a touch of gothic grit and a hint of late night smoky bars, a squinting eye and clenched teeth. Melodic malevolence at its finest. Golden Fangs indeed.” – Arun Kendall (Backseat Mafia)
Of the song, singer/guitarist Carl Redfern says, “‘Don’t Take Your God To Town’ was a song that took me a while to write. It started out specifically being about a dysfunctional personal relationship but eventually ended up being less specifically a dark groove and meditation on the feeling of dread and hopelessness I, and I’m sure many people, feel when looking at the seemingly endless parade of grifters and corrupt fanatics that infest social media and public life. The abandonment of reason in the denial of climate change, the horror-show of border policing and the sobering realisation that “we’ve” lost all these battles.”
From the melancholic, melodic classicism of opener ‘Clouds Go Round’ to the gritty power-pop of ‘Bad Actors’, the cowbell suburban hoedown of ‘Cowboy For Love’ (a love song dedication to good friend and confidant of the band – Jo Meares) to the punk rockabilly rave of ‘Jonny Your Money’s No Good’ and on through the dark gothic dissonance of ‘Tonight We’re Gonna Party Like It’s Dunedin 1989’ and the wandering autumnal psychedelia of ‘Gold Chains And Card Games’ – the range and depth on display across Here. Now Here. marks it as a cohesive statement of modern Australian guitar rock.
In recording sessions at his Pet Food Factory studio in Marrickville, NSW, during Australia’s black summer of 2020, producer Jay Whalley (of Frenzal Rhomb)has captured the sound of a band that doesn’t hide its rough edges. It celebrates the energy and swagger of their live shows and the artful belligerence of Redfern’s lyrics and delivery. The earthy quality of his voice and questioning lyrics add a layer of irreverence and intimacy to the music as it weaves and crashes around him.
“It’s the first album we’ve done where the line up has had a sense of stability about it and where we were writing and working on the songs with an eventual album being the main focus while putting the songs together,” explains Redfern. “For Here. Now Here. we allowed ourselves a bit more time so that we could get things as we wanted them rather than how they ended up on the day! In that regard I think we can say it’s our most considered album.”
“Musically the album has a harder or darker edge than our previous work but draws water from some of the same wells as we have on previous albums with songs about anxiety, personal reflection and nostalgia with a healthy dash of humour thrown in. We cycle through lots of songs pull them to pieces, chop them up and mould them till we’re left with a collection of tunes that everyone is happy with. We’re kind of like a rock n roll Rotary Club,” grins Redfern.
File this one under psychedelic but it’s not of the manic garage rock or pop variety. ‘Fingers Radio‘ by the Gold Coast’s Black Rabbit George locks into a liquid bass and metronomic drum pattern right from the start and averts its gaze. That synchronicity and anchor allows Paul George (Tijuana Cartel) to wander vocally, like he’s negotiating a trip or a dream, drifting in blissed-out awe through a fog. Guitar lines intertwine and curl themselves around the rhythm section – a subtle blend of North African and Asian influences that dial straight into the psych feel of the track.
The utterly hypnotic single is the first taste of his new album Warren, due for release on August 28th.
“I spent a lot of time isolated at home toying with ideas I’ve had over the years. I’ve pretty much lived in the studio for the last 6 months, just toying with where I can take the things I’ve learnt and how they all make sense together. ‘Fingers Radio’ is one of the songs that came from these sessions.”
Chiming guitar chords ring out, stepping through a melody that conjures up the sound of New Zealand indie rock of yesteryear, the skewed pop-nugget quality of Sonic Youth’s most accessible moments and the melodic brilliance of Australia’s Underground Lovers. The jangle is balanced by a warm guitar fuzz while a keening, nonchalant vocal rides the sonic wave.
Great stuff all round from Charlie Woods and Jake Mac, who have clearly also been influenced by fellow countrymen on labels such as Creation Records.
Straight outta the gates come The Earnest Spears with four-to-the-floor drums, wired, frantic, distorted and heavily reverbed guitar that flails and hammers in equal amounts. The vocals are pretty much indeciperable but hey, it’s all about the energy and the post-hardcore, psych-punk riff and pummel on ‘Liar‘, the first of a run of singles the Worcester, UK group have got coming in 2020.
Over the last few months, one of the things many people have been turning to during periods of isolation during the pandemic is music. Music for distraction, companionship, solace and joy. Whatever the reason, putting on a favourite album or discovering something new that pulls you in and hits the spot, intellectually or emotionally, can be a great and wonderful experience.
In this series we check in with musicians, journalists and broadcasters to see what has inspired repeat listening and provided some special sounds for these strange times.
Australian Suzie Stapleton has been living in Brighton in the UK for five years now, after the Sydney-raised musician spent the previous decade in Melbourne. Her long-awaited, self-produced, debut album We Are The Plague is set for release this Friday (July 31st) and follows her 2012 EP Obladi Diablo.
If you’ve ever seen Stapleton live you’ll know she’s one of those artists who invests 100% in her music – emotionally and physically. There’s a darkness to her sound – a swirling, magical atmosphere that draws from post-punk, gothic rock and dark folk. Stapleton’s lyrics convey a bruised beauty and that, combined with her brooding, rich and raw voice and her evocative guitar playing, puts her in the same sonic territory as PJ Harvey, Anna Calvi, Patti Smith, The Gun Club and Chelsea Wolfe.
Ahead of the release of her new album, Suzie kindly took the time to give us an insight into what she’s been listening to recently, during these strange times.
I haven’t left the house since mid-March except to buy food and go for long walks on the downs or on the beach if I can steal a moment there sans people – the only exception being the Brighton BLM protest. In this time my garden has become my sanctuary and escape. We live in a row of terraces and have a small concreted, courtyard garden. There are garden beds along the edges and two small trees on either side by the back wall that I sit between watching sparrows flit from one to the the other and the clouds float by overhead. I feel fortunate to have this oasis.
It is here that I have donned headphones and found solace in music. North Star Deserter is an album that has found it’s way onto my playlist during this period. Vic Chestnutt is such a visceral performer, his music and vocals hit you straight in the gut, his lyrics are great too. The band on this album are fantastic, tip toeing around him on the quieter moments and launching into full post-rock attacks on other tracks. It’s very well orchestrated.
I regret to say I only recently heard of Vic Chesnutt. I was turned on to him during a recording session in December with Crippled Black Phoenix. They invited me up to Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire to record some vocals and guitar on their upcoming album. Thrown in the mix for the album were a couple of covers – one of which is ‘Everything I Say’ from North Star Deserter (an amazing song) – sitting in the converted chapel listening to Crippled Black Phoenix bring it to life was a transportive experience.
I wish I’d known of Vic’s music earlier – especially whilst he was still alive. But that’s the beauty of music too, there’s alway new worlds to discover.
Humanist is a project created by guitarist and producer Rob Marshall. The day it was released I sent Rob a text saying “Congratulations – Amazing album. I was hoping to win all the album of the year awards but you’ve fucked that right up”.
Where to begin… The album has a cast of legends singing on each track – Dave Gahan, Mark Lanegan, Jim Jones, Mark Gardener… you can look that up. As impressive and as great as each guest is, it’s Rob’s guitar and production that really blows my mind. Especially knowing that he recorded the guitar and mixed the record at home with a very limited set up.
There’s not a dud track on this record, but of particular note are ‘Ring of Truth’ and its sense of foreboding, the epic ‘English Ghosts’, and album closer ‘Gospel’ which has a phenomenal build-up reminiscent of Rick Rubin’s production.
I was scheduled to tour with Humanist in March which was rescheduled to September and has just been moved again to February. I think we’re only just beginning to see the fallout from this virus. We’re starting to hear venue closure announcements in the UK and I fear it’s just the beginning. I dread to think what lies ahead with European tours in further jeopardy next year as a result of Brexit. I’m preparing for a dramatically different landscape.
It’s going to be tough for musicians to make ends meet. Recording costs generally aren’t recouped from online album sales and nobody makes any money from streaming (that is the greatest scam going, but that’s another rant…). We rely on the touring cycle to get in front of people, and a lot of album sales happen on the merch desk. I urge fans that are in a position to do so, to please support artists through this time and purchase music online, donate to live streams etc.
I recommend putting this album on your device, armouring up in a face mask, and going to run your errands. You may only be picking up some toilet paper, or grabbing a pint of milk, but you will feel like it is the end of days and you are preparing to fight the alien lizard people as they descend to finally take over the earth…
Abyss is such a solid album. The fragile, ethereal melodies against the aggressive production are entirely captivating. This is a dense sonic landscape from start to finish. ‘Iron Moon’ is perfection, with ‘After The Fall’ and ‘Crazy Love’ also must-listens.
I came to Chelsea Wolfe via Mark Lanegan’s cover of her song ‘Flatlands’ from Unknown Rooms, my other favourite album of Chelsea’s. Really I could have picked any of her albums they are all great. Her writing, vocals, and guitar complimented by Ben Chisholm’s production is a brilliant combination.
Suzie Stapleton’s debut album ‘We Are The Plague’ is out July 31st on Negative Prophet Records / Cargo Records
Today we’ve got a new track from the Sahara and El Djerid region in the south of Tunisia. Azu Tiwaline is a producer who blends dub-influenced and psychedelic desert electronica that moves and flows with a real fluidity and sense of spirit.
There’s a wonderful techno minimalism to her sound. Dark and precise, heavily percussive and spacious and intimate at the same time. The atmosphere she builds across the track is both tribal and sci-fi as the sound-effects spark and scatter across the stereo spectrum, above the winding hypnotic melodies and ominous percussive march – of which ultimately is a soulful sound built on amazing sonic architecture.