NEW MUSIC: Manorlady – Ready Go Fade Away

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Guitars that rock and guitars that caress at the same time are often hard things to come by. Shoegaze made an art form of it and so many bands still mine that vein of beautiful noise. Some mix it with psych rock, others with dream pop or post-punk.

Manorlady were raised in the Mojave desert of Eastern California but now they’re based in Santa Cruz.  They’re a three-piece and based on this track they’ve got a really nice balance of noise and melody happening and they don’t stretch it into overindulgence. There’s some 90’s alt-rock (on the same astral plane as Smashing Pumpkins), My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins in the mix and it works well.

They’ve got a new album called No Bitter Ends on the way, due for release at the end of March. Hit their Bandcamp page to preorder a copy if you like what you hear.

SONIC KICKS: Darren Cross

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Defiantly independent and creatively driven, Darren Cross is always seeking new ways to translate his ideas and influences into music. Whether it was in the heady days of indie/electro guitar punks Gerling, as a DJ and electronic music producer, as one half of folk noir duo Jep and Dep (with Jessica Cassar) or as a solo artist.

Under his own name he’s released two solo albums that have both blended and negotiated a harmonious co-existence between neo-folk acoustic guitar and Kraut/psych pop songs from a parallel universe. _Xantastic was Springsteen and Kraftwerk meeting at the crossroads while last year’s PEACER found Cross broadening his palette into more meditative folk and hypnotic cosmic dance vibes. It’s a wonderful collection of songs, always pushing and pulling and questioning musical conventions. The possibilities are endless in Cross’ world and his genius resides in the ability to pull the disparate melodies, rhythms and lyrical ideas into conventional song formats.

You can catch Cross on tour with fellow sonic traveller Jamie Hutchings through NSW in March and April as well as a show at the Petersham Bowling Club on March 10th with The Finalists and The Ramalamas.

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SONIC KICKS: THE ALBUMS THAT SHAPED ME

 

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The first album I bought.

Maybe The Young Ones with Cliff Richard… it had ‘Living Doll’ on it. I thought the Young Ones were so cool!!

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An album that soundtracked a relationship.

Tortoise – TNT – I guess being in a band is a relationship right? This was Gerling’s interstate driving album. Such a great album and such a buzz that we supported Tortoise twice. Disco dancing with half of them after the shows was a rite of passage to me anyway!

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An album that inspired me to form a band.

Probably AC/DC – T.N.T. but seeing Angus Young on Rage doing a live guitar lead at an early AC/DC concert that sounds like the foundation of ‘Thunderstruck’ really blew me away. AC/DC were the bad gang’s music at my high school.

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An album that reminds me of my high school years.

As a whole, probably Nirvana’s Nevermind, but that’s boring! I also really loved Living Colour’s VIVID. ‘Cult of Personality’ really blew me away. My friend gave me cassette of the album.

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

David Bowie’s Blackstar, but it’s impossible now. I loved the album when it first came out, just before David died. I love the songs and the especially the production. Always next level. A great gift to leave us. x

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My favourite album cover art.

My Bloody Valentine – Loveless. it looks exactly like the album sounds. Also Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted– The artwork on my new album PEACER is a nod to those two albums! Early 90’s – all about magenta man!

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A guilty pleasure album.

Cyndi Lauper – Essential Collection. I actually just did some shows in Europe and the album was on a plane music playlist! I forgot how great she is – her vibe, songs, voice and look. So great!! Not too guilty I guess, but yeah she’s done a few of those TV talent shows that made me wanna puke but 80’s Cyndi is top notch!

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The last album I bought.

Sleaford Mods – Austerity Dogs on vinyl. My friend in Berlin played this too me just recently at 4am after I had just played some shows on my latest Euro tour. I bought it the next day. Fucking amazing. FIZZI are my fave band this week.

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The next album I want to buy.

Best of Tony Joe White. Another friend in Berlin did the same thing – whacked the record on the record player at 6am after a solid night of boozing! I know BT from Love Police toured him in Sydney a few time but I never made it before he passed away! Such a great album. Super groovy, almost Krautrock beats sometimes. A converted disciple I am now!

ALBUM REVIEW: The Beasts – Still Here

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The Beasts
Still Here
Bang! Records / Rocket

A new album from the remaining members of the Beasts of Bourbon (under the name The Beasts) is a bittersweet thing in light of the passing of bassist Brian Hooper and more recently Spencer P. Jones. The name of the band and the album are self explanatory and though there’s enough to justify the band coming together to record new music and tour, there’s the unavoidable sense of a band operating on dwindling returns.

The album was recorded only a couple of weeks after their last gig with Hooper and is made up of songs formed from, in their words, sketchy ideas plus some jams and covers. Jones is there, but he only made it onto one track, the slow and swampy blues crawl of At The Hospital.

Things get off to a good start with the one/two punch of Perkins’ On My Back and Kim Salmon’s heavy grunge/garage-rock track Pearls Before Swine. Both possess the right amount of grit and sleaze, worthy additions to the Beasts’ canon of work. Warren Zevon’s My Shit’s Fucked Up gets a passable workout, as does Zappa’s The Torture Never Stops, which fares better with its loose and queasy sound.

It’s All Lies and Your Honour sound like half-baked ideas – one-riff jams that were fleshed out long enough to justify calling them songs. The flip-side to them is the shadowy drone and grind of Don’t Pull Me Over, a sign of the band’s willingness to still effectively explore the avant garde end of primal rock n roll, an inner city cousin to Springsteen’s Nebraska. 

What The Hell Was I Thinking sounds like a late-night Rolling Stones jam and gloriously so. Searing electric slide and acoustic guitars weave a drunken dance while Perkins laments his actions in his wonderful country howl and croon.

All in all Still Here is a flawed beast but I guess they always were weren’t they. That was, and remains, the band’s charm. A collective throwing together of ideas that works often and fails sometimes.

Chris Familton

ALBUM REVIEW: Cass McCombs – Tip Of The Sphere

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Cass McCombs
Tip Of The Sphere
Anti- / Cooking Vinyl Australia

For a number of years, across seven albums, Cass McCombs flew under the radar for the most part. He was recognised for his work but it wasn’t until the critical acclaim and success of Mangy Love in 2016 that he went overground and found himself the talk of the indie world. That album was a fairly direct affair with a smooth veneer and darker themes lurking beneath the surface. Now, on Tip Of The Sphere, McCombs has taken a more circuitous route with a more cohesive, hypnotic and searching sound.

There’s a bucolic feel to much of the album, ‘Estrella’ being a typical example of the way McCombs weaves a 70s folk aesthetic into dreamy indie rock. There’s a fair amount of repeated phrases and insistent bass rhythms that add to the heady, aqueous and meditative vibe. ‘Real Life’ is like Tim Buckley jamming with Porno For Pyros with its percussion, strummed guitars and new age mysticism. The album centrepiece ‘Sleeping Volcanoes’ is a real highlight with cascading guitars, primitive yet pulsating bass and McCombs’ way with constantly renegotiated vocal melodies forging a gentle path through the song. ‘Prayer For Another Day’ is a more intellectually astute cousin to Kurt Vile, heading closer to the newer work of Steve Gunn. 

Perhaps sensing a need to inject some aural unease into proceedings, ‘American Canyon Sutra’ is a queasy trip through spoken word over a minimal drum machine that distracts rather than provide an engaging contrast. It’s only a momentarily blip before the cosmic psych folk resumes and the album closes out with the ten minute countrified jazz-fusion noodling of ‘Rounder’, a glowing reverie of sun kissed guitars that embarks, mid-song, on a psychedelic journey that sounds like it could wind on endlessly into the cosmos.

All in all this feels like an intimate set of creative and explorative musical expositions. Eloquent, contemplative and for the most part intriguing and absorbing.  

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Hinkley – Popular Attitudes About Magic & Sexuality / Blackout District

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Hinkley are a band hailing from Rochester NY and they’ve got a nice mix of Sparklehorse and Flaming Lips with a dash of the backwoods vibe of The Band thrown into the mix. Definitely on a melodic, cosmic 21st century indie tip. These two tracks are good examples of what you can expect to hear on their album Purblind which is out now via streaming services and to download from Bandcamp.

 

NEW MUSIC: Catsigns – Smokin’ The Clouds

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This is sky-high psychedelic indie rock from Anthony Braun Perry (formerly of The Growlers). When your head is in the clouds you may as well smoke ’em in this heady, dreamy, drug-like gem of a song that drifts along with a nursery rhyme quality and some fine woozy guitar playing.

Debut LP  from Catsigns, The Fine & Mellow, coming soon on Pop Cautious Records.

NEW MUSIC: Casual Male – Takin’ It Easy

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Casual Male are a band out of Brooklyn, NY led by Tim Lappin. They’ve got a new EP out called EP and it finds them dialling into the kind of indie sound that embraces rhythm, clever lyrics and plenty of sharp turns and infectious melodies, not dissimilar to the route well trodden by Spoon and The Walkmen.

‘Takin’ It Easy’ is a moody slow stagger of a song that whispers in your ear and weaves a gritty guitar sound around a sparse framework. It’s all in the feel.

Check out the EP on SPOTIFY and Bandcamp.