NEW MUSIC: Slark Moan – Honesty

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Almost a Beach Boys sound at the start of this new track from Slark Moan. From there it opens up into cascading piano notes before settling on a rubbery bass groove and classic baroque and power pop shapes. Vocal harmonies soar skyward while Ringo-style drums keep the song in check, while also adding some nice rhythmic colour behind the vocal, inhabited by the wandering ghost of Harry Nilsson. This is classic psych pop/rock of the retro variety but executed with skill and dreamy precision.

The song comes from his sophomore album Superstition for the Consumer Romantic (out August 9th), which took about a year and a half to craft. Sloan also spends much of his time on the road touring as a hired gun for an assortment of alt-country/pop acts such as Kelsey Waldon, Margo Price, Sam Outlaw, Erin Rae and more.

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

NEW MUSIC: David Ellis – Eyes To The Sky

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T-Rex, Devendra Banhart, freewheeling melodies soaring over folk and acoustic psych boogie sounds – those the are the elements at play on this delightful track from English songwriter David Ellis. ‘Eyes To The Sky’ breezes along on a warm, spring current of air with a bucolic and organic vibe that perfectly balances wide-eyed innocence and some serious songwriting craft.

‘Eyes To The Sky’ comes from his new LP Misty Heights album, due out on August 15th.

NEW MUSIC: Champ Major – Enjoy

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Madison Major of Brooklyn, New York is Champ Major, an experimental folk artist who’s aesthetic is one of creating a sonic environment to match her songs and stories. In the case of ‘Enjoy’ from her EP Receipe For Baking Two Humans Together, it’s a thick and foggy sound, akin to a radio transmission from a distant time and place. Acoustic guitar and a yearning voice is all Champ Major needs to convey her imagery and emotions.

NEW MUSIC: Glenn Echo – Overwhelm

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Glenn Echo is a musical project from Matt Gaydar out of Brooklyn, NY and we were instantly drawn into this track ‘Overwhelm’, with it’s warm and intimate sound. Really nice chord changes in the verses of the song as it gently weaves together its varied sonic elements. I like a track that knows its strengths and how to work with them and not try to build them into something that they’re not, or add extraneous parts to the music. This track builds but never outgrows it’s initial charm and attraction.

‘Overwhelm’ is the first release off an EP set to be released in 2019.

NEW MUSIC: Timothy Eerie – Transformation Of Things

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A suitably trippy clip for this psychedelic somnambulant space jam from Timothy Eerie. The group hail from Austin, TX and based on this track they’ve found a damn good angle on imbuing blissed out English psych and US West Coast sounds with a post-modern dream sheen.

For fans of Mac DeMarco, Chad Van Gaalen, early Pink Floyd, CAN and The Byrds

NEW MUSIC: Mark Moldre – Fever Dreams I

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Mark Moldre returns with the first taste and title track of his forthcoming new album Fever Dreams. This album has been a long time coming and it follows the fine An Ear To The Earth from 2013.

‘Fever Dreams I’ is a jaunty, noisey and unsettling journey into the psychology of virally-induced broken sleep. Moldre’s previous releases have been more melodic and often folkier in nature where this track points to a wider embrace of noisier textures and a wider palette of sounds, Distorted guitar sprays hard panned from the right speaker while a competing and complementary banjo adds a manic, fevered quality to the song and the rhythm section marches on with ominous insistency.

Hit up Moldre’s Bandcamp page for a free (name your price) download of the track.

Fever Dreams I

I’ve got these Fever Dreams they keep me up at night
I’ve got these Fever Dreams they keep me up at night
And as my mind fills up with darkness
Well all that I can wish for is the light

They say a storms a’comin – lightning divides the night sky
And the trees they are a howlin’ – lightning splits up the night sky
And the electric impulses in my brain
Mean I don’t even hear when it starts to rain

And from my bedroom I hear the opening of a door
There’s a tappin’ at the window and the opening of a door
Slow footsteps moving closer
Creeping slowly ‘cross my kitchen floor

Am I sleeping?
Out in the back yard someone’s weeping
Misconception
These dreams have altered my perception
Fears intersected
Even my sleep is now infected

And old man Bellfield is sharpening his axe
Yeah old man Bellfield by the woodshed is sharpening his axe
And as the woods grow ever darker
Mr Bellfield is covering his tracks

I’ve got these Fever Dreams they keep me up at night

 

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!