NEW MUSIC: Flaccid Ashbacks – On and On

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What at first sounds like a generic noisy indie rock song from New York psych-pop explorers Flaccid Ashbacks takes some really interesting twists and turns over its five minutes. From a Sunny Day Real Estate emotive outlay through to a mid section with sharper edges and into its contrasting country strum that sounds like Pavement. It adds up to a restless yet still captivating sound and comes from the Flaccid Ashbacks’ new album Come On Come On, a record that jumps all over the place, normally with constantly inventive and appealing results, like The Strokes and Mac DeMarco covering Arctic Monkeys songs through a hallucinogenic lens.

EXCLUSIVE ALBUM STREAM: Fleeting Persuasion – Forever Caught

 

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We’re very pleased to be able to premiere a stream of the brand new album from Fleeting Persuasion, the latest nom de plume of Melbourne songwriter James Spencer Harrison. He’s previously released music under the name J M S Harrison but now, with a richer and denser full band sound on Forever Caught he’s launched it under Fleeting Persuasion.

Sonically persuading it is too, with echoes of The Cure, tightly woven post-rock and Australian acts such as Bluebottle Kiss filtered through Harrison’s own brand of heart-on-sleeve melancholia. It’s indie rock but the kind that resides in the shadows, always carving out new angles and creating interesting dynamics. Whether it’s the chiming sounds and clever shapes of ‘Written Out’, ‘Set Afoot’s urgent, aching melodies or ‘Make Plans’ which recalls the dark rock of Afghan Whigs, there’s plenty to explore and go deep with on this strong new iteration of Harrison’s music.

TOUR DATES:

Sept 7th – Labour In Vain, Fitzroy VIC with Del Boca Vista
Oct 18th – Botany View Hotel, Newtown NSW with Donna Amini and Foxlore
Oct 19th – Gasoline Pony, Marrickville NSW with Buddy Glass and The Finalists

NEW MUSIC: Johnny Conqueroo – Rock and Roll

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Struttin’, shimmering, hard-hitting, vocal shredding, pouting, soulful rama-lama rock ‘n’ roll of the highest form is the order of the day on this track from Johnny Conqueroo (a Lexington, KY trio). Riff rock, MC5-styled shakedown, funk and groove-laden garage rock are all thrown in the musical blender. There’s nothing intellectual about this, there doesn’t need to be. It’s ROCK AND ROLL.

Johnny Conqueroo have a new upcoming EP, Taking it Easy.

NEW MUSIC: Reunion Island – Erasto Dream

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Texans Reunion Island (now based in Brooklyn and Dallas) deliver a finely tuned and sparkling synth swathe on this track of instrumental electronica, recorded at Soma Studios with John McEntire (Tortoise), who also contributed drums to the album the song comes from – Collapse.  There’s a Krautrock and kosmiche vibe to the song with it’s metronomic rhythm but over the top of that digital sounds spark and scatter across the stereo spectrum, giving life and perpetual motion to the track.

Reunion Island is Ashley Cromeens, Matt Leer, and Brad Loving.

ALBUM REVIEW: Aldous Harding – Designer

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Aldous Harding
Designer
4Ad / Remote Control

Aldous Harding’s artistic trajectory continues to billow skyward on her third album, the second produced by John Parish for the 4AD label. Long gone is the stark and fragile folk of her debut, though it still lurks under the surface of what is now lush and detailed avant chanteuse pop music.

The quirkiness of Harding’s vocal delivery has always been debated but it is a crucial component of what makes her music so compelling. She’s dialled it back on this album, ironing out some of the quirks and as a result the overall impact of this record feels slightly diluted. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of highlights. Early on, the title track is a light tripping affair with a brief chorus that dismantles the flow and gentle funk feel (reminiscent of Devendra Banhart) before it resumes for a summery run to the end of a song that seems to question the retention and spark of creativity. 

Baroque psych folk sounds enhance much of the record and come courtesy of woodwind instruments on songs such as ‘Zoo Eyes’ while ‘Treasure’ draws Harding’s vocals to the foreground. It’s good to see that the focus remains on Harding and her voice and that any temptation to make thing bigger and busier have, for the most part, been resisted.

First single ‘The Barrel’ is prime Harding with its almost hip hop backbeat over a brass sounding instrument and piano, which features widely across Designer. The song deals in issues of conformity, settling down and having parameters placed on one’s situation. Much of the album seems to one of questioning and doubt, looking for a strong moral compass to guide one through the vagaries and vulnerabilities of life. “I don’t know how to behave” Harding sings on the exquisite closer ‘Pilot’. Riding on a Tears For Fears melody and a bare piano she intones her concerns and fears. It may be decorated in almost theatrical avant-folk details but it’s a remarkably bold statement to end another strong and intriguing album from the New Zealand songwriter.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Charcoal Burners – Winged Bird

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Taken from their album The Best Day You Could Imagine, released earlier in 2019, here’s Charcoal Burners‘ excellent song ‘Winged Bird’.

The Dunedin, New Zealand band (the vehicle for songwriter Andrew Spittle) blend some fine dense and distorted guitars into lacerated and weary indie rock music that recalls Sebadoh, Husker Du and Swervedriver and JPS Experience. The brilliance of the song lies in its cascading wash of melody that both soothes and discombobulates the senses with its mix of psych and shoegaze elements.

 

ALBUM REVIEW: Big Thief – U.F.O.F

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Big Thief
U.F.O.F.
4AD

What started with a debut album in 2016, that introduced a fragile and poetic songwriter and her band, has blossomed into a fascinating and quickly evolving career for Adrienne Lenker and the rest of Big Thief. They’ve been touring relentlessly, Lenker even having time to record a well received solo record last year. From Masterpiece to Capacity and now U.F.O.F, the quartet have gently worked away at the canvas of folk and knotty guitar music that draws on both conventional song structures and avant garde curiosity.

This album continues the mystery and beauty of their previous releases while adding even more depth and textural minutiae. There are drone-like textures,  found sounds – like the rolling effect at the start of ‘From’, and fascinating percussive elements that rise and fall in the mix. There’s a feeling of perpetual motion in many of the songs due to the looseness of the arrangements and the playing which makes the music sound both improvised and highly arranged. ‘Jenni’ imagines a Cat Power-fronted Tortoise in the way they use organic instrumentation and allow volume and tone to fluctuate as the song slowly unfurls.

The straightest moment comes right at the start of the album with opener ‘Betsy’ and its sparkling acoustic guitar, gently shuffling drums and Lenker singing in a lower-than-normal register. It’s intimate and affecting and pulls the listener right into the album from the get-go. ‘Contact’ is dreamy and meditative until, as if waking in terror, the guitars gain sharp edges and Lenker emits piercing screams.

If they didn’t already, now Big Thief unequivocally have your attention. Lovers of inventive music would be foolish not to join them on their post-folk journey.

Chris Familton