NEWS: Ups and Downs Release New EP Another Country

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.

TRACK LISTING

(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

ALBUM REVIEW: Jessica – The Space Between

JESSICA

THE SPACE BETWEEN

INDEPENDENT (via Bandcamp)

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.

Chris Familton

ALBUM REVIEW: Darren Cross – Keeping Up?

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.

NEW MUSIC: Dave Cherub – Chalk and Glitter

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.

NEW MUSIC: The Finalists – Learn To Live Without You

Sydney quartet The Finalists have released two singles ahead of the release of their debut album First tomorrow, on the Half A Cow label.

The Finalists’ debut single, ‘Ignore All The Hate (On Your Telephone)‘, a featured single of the week on 2SER 107.3FM, was an understated slice of melodic melancholia, draped in acoustic and electric guitars that sparkled and gently jangled. In contrast, ‘Learn To Live Without You, a concise and infectious, garage and jangle-pop guitar nugget, harks back to the golden age of the two and half minute pop song.

The song bursts into view on the back of a psychedelic intro before the drums strike a declamatory beat and 6 & 12-string guitars strum and chime in unison as Mark Tobin paints an optimistic picture of a broken relationship. The Beatles, R.E.M. and The Byrds in the Paisley Underground.

Tobin wrote most of this song in one afternoon on a 12-string acoustic guitar but as he explains, the song really came alive once they started playing it as a band. “The more we played it, the more psychedelic it became. We shamelessly channelled our heroes, The Beatles and The Byrds, and covered the song with 12-string guitars, Ringo style drums and harmonies. This song, like many others, is about the impermanence of relationships, and the realisation that sometimes there is nothing you can do to prevent an imminent painful loss.”

With a sound that draws on the group’s collective music history playing in a number of bands in Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand, they’ve concocted a blend of jangly guitar-based indie rock, with elements of psych-rock, shoegaze and post-punk threading through their debut album. 

You can hear the ghosts of Factory and Flying Nun Records, the evocative strains of The Go-Betweens and The Smiths and other Antipodean contemporaries such as Underground Lovers, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and RVG. 

First will be out via Bandcamp on Friday Nov 6th.

full disclosure – Chris Familton of Doubtful Sounds plays bass in The Finalists

NEW MUSIC: Wilding – Swipe Right

Cosmic psych pop is the order of the day on this new track from Melbourne artist Wilding. He’s got a brand new album called The Death Of Foley’s Mall out now on Half A Cow Records and ‘Swipe Right‘ is one of a series of character-study songs Wilding wrote about people who live in his neighbourhood of Coburg, Victoria.

This single has a a brilliant build and momentum through it and guitar and synth layers that fold in and on top of the track. Fizzing melodies and an infectious thread run through the song, recalling British acts like Blur and Supergrass. There’s also a jerky undercurrent that brings to mind Talking Heads.

The Death Of Foley’s Mall is out now.

SONIC KICKS: The Electorate

Sydney trio The Electorate release their debut album You Don’t Have Time To Stay Lost tomorrow, via Templebear Records/MGM. It may be their debut album but the band members have a rich lineage through a raft of Australian bands including Big Heavy Stuff, Knievel, The Apartments, The Templebears, Imperial Broads, Atticus and more.

The Electorate is: Eliot Fish (Bass/Vox), Josh Morris (Guitar/Vox), Nick Kennedy (Drums/Vox)

Guitarist Josh Morris says “I stepped away from playing music to study, work and be a parent. I’m kind of myopic and not a great multitasker. When my kids got to an age where I could pick up a guitar again I did. I had forgotten how much it meant to me, and reuniting with old friends Eliot and Nick to make music again felt like I was reclaiming a large part of myself I’d forgotten was there.”

The album was produced by Tim Kevin (The Apartments, Holly Throsby, Youth Group, Peabody, Buddy Glass) and mastered by JJ Golden (Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Neko Case, Soundgarden) in California. It finds them exploring indie and pop-rock in the wide and varied sense of those styles. There’s the emotiveness of Suede, the classic songwriting of Crowded House, surging power pop, the angles and avant swerves of Modest Mouse and the bristling riffs and rhythms of a number Australian 90s bands.

Drummer Nick Kennedy was kind enough to dig back through his musical memory bank to give us an insight into some of the albums that have musically shaped him.

The first album I bought:

Dev-O Live

Helping it get to #1!

An album that soundtracked a relationship:

Field Music – Plumb

The relationship I was having with myself!

An album that inspired me to form a band:

PJ Harvey – Dry

When that came out and I realised we were the same age I seriously had to

lift my game!

An album that reminds me of my high school years:

Siouxsie & The Banshees – Tinderbox

So many but this one sticks with me. 1986 was an amazing year!

An album I’d love to hear live and played in full:

Fugazi – In On The Killtaker 

… but I know it’ll never happen!

My favourite album cover art:

Leah Senior – The Passing Scene 

Just magnificent!

My guilty pleasure album:

There are no guilty pleasures, but I’ll say anything by The Police. Sting,

I know right?! But what a band!

The last album I bought:

Emma Swift – Blonde On The Tracks

If anything is gonna turn you onto Dylan it’s this!

The next album I want to buy:

Verlaines – Dunedin Spleen

A double LP by NZ’s finest!

https://theelectorate.bandcamp.com/album/you-dont-have-time-to-stay-lost

NEW MUSIC: The Budos Band – In The Tooth

Another slice of funk for DS readers today. This one is on the psychedelic side of the tracks – the new single from the always impressive afro-soul grooves of The Budos Band out of Staten Island NY.

The spy themes, the noir aesthetic – slinky, shadowy and mysterious – is all over the track as it snakes its way across its out of the speakers.

This is the title track from their brand new album, due out on Daptone Records on October 9th and marking the 20th year of the band and their 15th as recording artists.