NEW MUSIC: Fox Grin – Black Tree

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New music in the sense that it’s new to us… Fox Grin (Atlanta, Georgia) actually released their LP King Of Spades back in January of this year but we’ve only just come across this great track, ‘Black Tree’, in the last couple of weeks. It’s a upbeat shimmer and dance through art-rock and avant-pop. Downbeat by nature but thoroughly on the up musically, it cuts a fine sartorial figure as the infectious rhythm section pulses below all manner of guitars and keys. It sounds like Beck buried in a kaleidoscopic studio with Field Music.

Check out ‘Black Tree’ and find your way through to the full record on Bandcamp or hit up the usual streaming services.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders – Blue Poles

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The sense of Jack Ladder’s career to date is that he’s constantly been searching for his lost soul sound. The early bluesy rock n roll to the introspective troubadour, the gothic synth sounds of Hurtsville to the brighter colours of Playmates. Blue Poles is named after the Jackson Pollock painting and yes it does draw on all manner of styles but this time around he pulls them together into a cohesive set of nine songs. It’s also the first record he’s self-produced, another clue as to why this feels like the album that is most uniquely and naturally his own sound and vision.

‘Can’t Stay’ is the first introduction and transports the listener back to the junction where post punk met pop art, immediately reminiscent of peak-era Thompson Twins with their twinkling synths and fascinating rhythms wrapped up in pop music. ‘Dates’ takes that scene setter and turns it on its head with a repetitive glam stomp, like prime Roxy Music with Ladder shapeshifting between Eno and Ferry. It’s infectious stuff, enough to induce self-indulgent lounge room strutting. Another song, another colour added to the canvas. ‘Susan’ is all dark and shadowy hues, Cohen circa ‘Everybody Knows’, but Ladder gets pleasingly perverse with a tale of a car accident fatality and and husband calling his wife to join him in the afterlife.

Bowie is never far from Ladder’s orbit and ‘I.N.M.’ is unabashed funk of the Thin White Duke variety, complete with skewed scattershot guitar courtesy of one Mr Kirin J Callinan. ‘Tell It Like It Is’ is of the same ilk, Ladder getting louche and mysterious, dropping great lines such as “Our love is like a door with no handles, you kick it down…”

‘Blue Mirror’ is an exceptional song. The mood it conjures, the nod to ‘Moon River’, the languid swirl and solemn pulse of the music that recalls David Sylvian, the crown prince of austere pop. Ladder finds the perfect backing for his soft bellow of a baritone. Sometimes it has sounded too knowing or a touch too sardonic in other settings. Here it meshes seamlessly. First single ‘White Flag’ is another melancholic highpoint of Blue Poles. Built on little more than a breakbeat and simple tremolo-laced guitar notes Ladder sings ‘I surrender, surrender to be free, in your chains is where I’m gonna be’, conjuring a mood of giving in rather giving up.

‘Feel Brand New’ feels like a respite from the blue mood of much that precedes it. It’s a good old fashioned rock n roll tune with guitars ringing high in the mix, throwing out unabashed and catchy hooks with the kind of optimism you get on a new morning that promises possibilities instead of weariness. Ladder leaves us with ‘Merciful Reply’. An Orbison-styled, solemn yet grand gesture. It harkens back to the lachrymose ballads of yesteryear, yet in Ladder’s hands it rings true and artfully heartfelt.

Blue Poles draws on a sense of romanticism, one steeped in melancholy yet ultimately not fatalism. There is dark humour at play and some fine wordplay on display and it sounds exceptional. This is Ladder’s finest record to date, his maudlin opus par excellence.

Chris Familton

DOUBTFUL SOUNDS – Spotify Mix Series

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We’ve got a new series of mixes happening over on Spotify. As is our want, these are all over the show. One minute you’re in downtown LA in the 80s, next you’re off to New Orleans in the 20s before a quick jaunt to Auckland in the 1990s. Dub, post-punk, glam metal, ambient, pop, country and jazz. Anything goes.

Catch up with the first three mixes below….

ALBUM REVIEW: Joan As Police Woman – Damned Devotion

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Joan Wasser is now six albums deep into her solo career and she continues to refine and explore her polymorphous sound that takes in soul, jazz and pop music.

If her last album, The Classic, felt like a slight misstep, Damned Devotion is a return to what Wasser does best – blending mood and atmosphere with classic soul, contemporary R&B and modern technology. There’s an exhilarating sense of both space and intimacy in Wasser’s songs, impressively enhanced by the production of Thomas Bartlett and Parker Kindred. Swelling synths, fractured electronic beats are the backdrop to Valid Jagger, Rely On sounds like a take on the industrial urban soul of Portishead, while Talk About It Later is futuristic Curtis Mayfield with both dark rock and gospel undertones.

“I start to wonder what about my life I can’t settle on” she sings on closer I Don’t Mind. It sums up the questioning nature of many of her lyrics as Wasser explores both the self and the emotional obstacle course of modern life. The highlight comes with the single Tell Me – a heavy yet sweet, neo-soul groove with a perfectly weighted and irresistible hook of a chorus. Damned Devotion is grounded in traditional musical forms yet it blossoms with sonic experimentation and emotional depth.

CHRIS FAMILTON

PREMIERE: The New Single from Dave Graney & Clare Moore

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Dave Graney & Clare Moore (The Moodists – Dave Graney and the Coral Snakes and currently Dave Graney and the mistLY) have been making music together since the late 70’s with shared involvement in over 30 albums.

Doubtful Sounds are pleased to premiere their brand new single ‘Song Of Life’, with an accompanying clip featuring footage of the sartorially elegant pair in Luxembourg last year. The song follows their 2017 album Let’s Get Tight.

‘Song Of Life’ is a lush and slinky, jazz-tinged slice of lounge pop. It sashays out of the shadows on a low, loose and liquid groove, recalling everyone from David Sylvian to Morphine, Style Council to Serge Gainsbourg.

Dave Graney & Clare Moore 2018 Tour Dates:

  • Feb 7th Dave Graney and Clare Moore at Smiths Alternative in Canberra, ACT
  • Feb 8th Dave Graney and Clare Moore at DisGracelands, Wollongong, NSW. SOLD OUT!
  • Feb 9th Dave Graney and Clare Moore at the Agrestic Grocer, Orange, NSW
  • Feb 10th Dave Graney and Clare Moore at the Metropole Guesthouse in Katoomba, NSW
  • Feb 11th Dave Graney and Clare Moore at Dangar island Bowling Club, NSW,
  • Feb 16th – Dave Graney an the mistLY at the Grand Hotel, 124 Main st – Mornington, Victoria
  • Feb 17th – Dave Graney solo at the Gem bar , Wellington st Collingwood.
  • Wed 21st Feb, a WORKSHY event at Geelong Library in Victoria
  • Thursday Feb 22nd, a WORKSHY event at Avid Readers in Brisbane.
  • Friday Feb 23rd Dave Graney and Clare Moore at the Bison Bar in Nambour, Qld
  • Saturday Feb 24th Dave Graney and Clare Moore at THE JUNK BAR in Ashgrove , Qld – SOLD OUT 4pm matinee show now added! SOLD OUT
  • Sunday Feb 25th Dave Graney and Clare Moore at THE JUNK BAR in Ashgrove, Qld.(4pm SOLD OUT
  • New Show added for 7pm Sunday 25th )
  • March 11th Dave Graney and the mistLY at SOUNDS IN THE SECRET GARDEN – the Events Foundry,74 Brougham st, Geelong.
  • Sundays in April – Dave Graney and the mistLY at the Croxton Hotel front room – Coburg, Victoria
  • April 28th – Dave Graney and the Coral Snakes – Dashville/Gumball Festival – NSW
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“The Serge Gainsbourg/Lee Hazelwood/Jim Morrison/Scott Walker/Skip Spence/Ern Malley/Lenny Bruce of Australian music. A genius songwriter with effortless presence and command, and yet also an invisible chameleon, a reflecting surface, an anonymous conduit.” – Stewart Lee

INTERVIEW: The Black Seeds

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It has been five years since The Black Seeds released their last album, but after internal changes and abandoned recordings the Wellington reggae/soul outfit are back and firing on all cylinders with their new album Fabric.

Back in 2014 The Black Seeds were immersed in the recording of a new album, one that head Seed Barnaby Weir was touting as ‘a Black Seeds fully original mixtape’. At the time he was optimistically anticipating a 2015 release, but then… nothing eventuated. Now, a new album has indeed finally emerged but it isn’t the same one they were working on in 2014.

“At the time we we were working on that album and Mike Fabulous (guitar) and Tim Jaray (bass) were still in the band. We got about 50% of the way through and then those guys decided to leave the band, at different times, and so that was the main delay,” explains Weir. “It was totally amicable, they’d both been in the band for 13, 14 years and Mike was also doing his solo project (Lord Echo) and wanted to focus on that. Tim has kids and wanted to focus on them and so while it was a challenging time and it was a shame we didn’t get to put out that album we were working on, it was also a good time to realise that we could still continue and that we wanted to continue. That was the main holdup and why it has been five years since our last album.“

Rather than continuing the work they’d started on the abandoned album, Weir was keen for the new lineup to be on whatever new record they would release. “We did totally change our stance and content and direction. We started off with a new bass player and Ned Ngatae, who wasn’t a new member but he became the full-time guitarist. We wanted to make sure that going forward we got all the guys on the album and make it a good solid release. We didn’t want to use the half album we’d made, we wanted to start afresh and make a commitment to that. As a  result, none of the songs were rushed or token inclusions,” says Weir.

In terms of the content of Fabric, Weir explains that the sound and the theme of the album is one that encapsulates all of the elements that make up the band. “When you start to collate songs for an album it starts to have its own life and build steam and momentum but it’s not necessarily purposeful and discussed. It’s more organic creatively and it starts to appear and get its own character. The fabric of our lives and the world, our community and existence plus the physics angle and particles of energy all came together as a theme that I delved quite deeply into.,” Weir reveals. “As a band I think we probably pushed the envelope a bit more on this album. It does sound a bit different but I’m glad it does and I’m really happy with the tones and the patterns and that it doesn’t all sound the same.

Now approaching their 20th year as a band, Weir looks back fondly on those early formative years and is equally excited about both The Black Seeds’ present state and future possibilities. “In the beginning we were a bunch of guys who were volunteers and DJs at Radio Active in Wellington and we just had a love for music and in particular for American soul, Jamaican SKA and dub and there weren’t many bands in the late 90s who were doing that. Initially we played full, elongated, heavy dub jams and it was quite instrumental. With the first two albums we made a shift and started making more songs and started becoming a more serious band rather than just a party band,” recalls Weir, before adding… “The fabric of the Black Seeds is a long term experience as musicians and we’ve always had that emotional and philosophical element in our music. I think this time around we’ve put together quite cohesively. We’re looking to the future and feeling good about it!”

Chris Familton

ALBUM REVIEW: Chain & The Gang – Best Of Crime Rock

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With bands such as Nation Of Ulysses, Weird War and The Make-Up, Ian Sevonious has been a underground garage rock provocateur for nearly 30 years. As Chain And The Gang, he’s distilled the essence of what does, right down to it’s bare rhythmic essentials – drums, bass, guitar and vocals.

They’re a highly economical and effective combo, stripped to simple gang chants, sparse riffs and grooves that snake and pulse with vaguely sleazy appeal. The remit of the band is a kind of rock ’n’ roll reverse psychology – Devitalize, Why Not, I See Progress and others embracing deconstruction with a playful approach to ultimate nihilism.

This is primal garage rock with infectious, minimal R&B rhythms and they nail it with tongue-in-cheek attitude, strut and swagger.

Chris Familton

 

French Disco Boogie Sounds (1975-1984)

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For total indulgence and unabated dance floor pleasure you can’t go past this compilation of French soul, pop, funk and disco tracks from 1975-1984. Selected by Charles Maurice, the album was released last year on the Favorite label. Hit the Bandcamp link below to stream and/or buy the album on 2LP, CD and digital formats.

In their words:

Helped by a close connoisseur friend, DJ and collector Charles Maurice presents a fine selection of what he thinks represent best the amazing energy of this specific movement and period. With 10 rare titles, all produced between 1975 and 1984, he shows a perfect picture of what you could find in French record stores at that time.

On one hand, tracks by Overdrive, Marché Noir, Didier Makaga or France-Lise, were produced by underground artists and labels from the French Caribbean and African community and also filled with the raw spirit of this Tropical stamping. On the other hand, tracks by Beckie Bell, Kelly, Le Club, or Bernard Guyvan, were released by major labels such as Trëma, Carrere, Disques Vogue, or Pathé Marconi, thanks to confirmed independent producers, acting not only in France, but also in Canada and the US. 

Today, Favorite Recordings and Charles Maurice are very proud to shed some light again on these gems, and hopefully offer them a new life on your turntable.