NEW SINGLE: Dinosaur Jr – Garden

photo by Cara Totman

For single #2 from the forthcoming new Dino Jr album, Lou Barlow takes centrestage with his song ‘Garden’. The video clip for the song was directed by Lou and Adelle Barlow, with illustrations by John Moloney and animation by Chloe Hemingway.

Of the song and video Lou says:

“Everyone seemed to want a disruption in the order of American life, it seemed necessary. Then it happened. It began as a bitter lamentation but as I was finishing the lyrics, singing over the instrumental version of the song while driving to J’s through the miles of farmland that separate his studio in Amherst and my home in Greenfield (Massachusetts), I saw a sign on a shed: Back to the Garden. I was looking for a resolution, where do we go when faced with such dramatic confusion? Back to basics, back home, back to the garden. Luckily I was able to complete the vocals and instrumentation for the song just before the quarantine. 

There wasn’t a video planned for the song but since my wife Adelle and I had started making holiday ‘specials’ for my YouTube channel this past December, we thought we could knock one out for Garden. I wanted to capture the two of us holding hands on a levy overlooking a scenic bend in the Connecticut River (very close to where the first Dinosaur video, Little Fury Things, was filmed!). Adelle thought we should incorporate the whimsical paintings of Dinosaur Jr’s tour manager John Moloney. He routinely dashes off caricatures of J, Murph and I when we travel. I told John about our ideas and he thought it would be easy to video the band playing the song. So, John and Adelle quickly captured the band playing the song on their iPhones on a cold February afternoon and I edited it all together in iMovie. Then we had Chloe, the real vid expert at Jagjaguwar, put the paintings by John and Adelle into the mix, and that’s it! Thanks for watching.”

The new album Sweep It Into Space will be released April 23rd via Jagjaguwar.

NEW MUSIC: Nonagon – The Family Meal

See-sawing tension and a mix of post-hardcore and post-punk styles makes this new track from Chicago trio Nonagon a real delight. On ‘The Family Meal’ there’s the knottiness and angles of Fugazi mixed with the reaching melodies of Sunny Day Real Estate as the song lurches and churns.

This new single comes from their full-length LP They Birds, released on March 3rd, 2021.

NEW MUSIC: The Lonesomes – Dog Days

‘Dog Days’, the brilliant new track from The Lonesomes starts off as post-punk by numbers with it’s straight drums, bass pulse and doom-laden shadowy vocal but then, after the straight-line/tension-build it all goes snaky riffs and a lull in proceedings before a dark 80s video game synth takes over proceedings and ratchets up the intensity, kicking the song into sonic pulverising overdrive. Intense and manic like a robot on a spiralling bender, it all crashes down in monolithic hard rock chords before the final oxygen-depleting run to the finish line.

The Lonesomes are a trio from the Gold Coast, QLD and as vocalist/drummer Matt Callan explains, the songs direction a marked change for the band. “We wanted to write an atmospheric track, that kept toying with the idea of gradual additions of sound. Starting the song with a robotic drum-beat that just rolls along and a bass line that follows the same structure as each element gets added the song gets more intense and climaxes into a wall of heavy sound. We wanted to create a dark sense of unease in the track, A car in a forest driving through the fog, coming or going, running from something or towards it. Nobody knows. As dumb as it sounds that’s the visual we got from it straight off the bat.”

ALBUM REVIEW: The Lemonheads – Lovey (30th Anniversary Edition)

THE LEMONHEADS

LOVEY (30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION)

FIRE RECORDS

In 1990, Lovey was a huge step forward for Evan Dando and his Boston band The Lemonheads. It was their major label debut on Atlantic Records after releasing their first three albums in the previous three years. Those records were a collision of noisy melodic punk rock. Part Black Flag, part The Replacements. Co-founder Ben Daily had left the band prior to Lovey and that gave Dando the opportunity to rejig the band’s sound to more of a country and indie/alt-rock blend. 

This reissue has been superbly remastered to give Lovey a greater warmth and sonic richness, further accentuating the sense that this was the start of a new chapter for Dando. The album contains absolute classics such as ‘Half The Time’ and ‘Ride With Me’ as well as their version of the Gram Parsons’ ‘Brass Buttons’. The variety of Lovey is what really elevates it – with the alt rock swerves of ‘Ballarat’ and ‘Lil Seed’ and the tumbling remnants of their punk past on ‘Left For Dead’. It was a turning point for the band and one of the landmark early releases of 90s alternative rock.

The 2xLP/CD formats come with a deluxe book with expanded liner notes and unseen photos as well as an eight song triple j Live at the Wireless session from their tour of 1991. 

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Mt. Mountain – Aplomb

Mantra-like, hypnotic, fluid and rolling. That’s the first impression of Mt. Mountain‘s new track ‘Aplomb‘. It sits in the psych rock camp but it possesses a looseness that’s a defining factor in what makes the song so great. Propelled by some fine bass playing and guitar that is equally important as a rhythmic tool, singer Stephen Bailey intones lyrics over the Krautrock moodiness and warm cymbal splashes below.

The song is the first single from the Perth band’s forthcoming new album Centre (Feb 26th, 2021). The band have shared stages with notable down-under comrades like King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and ORB, as well as a long list of international heavy-hitters including Sleep, MONO, Thee Oh Sees, Acid Mothers Temple and Moon Duo.

FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF 2020

Despite the weirdness and social and political fracturing of 2020, there were still plenty of great albums that saw the light of day – and that light was a salvation for many. You can check out our Post To Wire (alt-country, cosmic Americana & dark folk) Favourite Albums of 2020 HERE and Favourite AU & NZ Albums of 2020 HERE.

Here are our 40 favourite albums of the year, ranging from alt-country to electronic, ambient to indie rock, post-punk to soul.

* Full disclosure – I worked on the publicity campaigns for the Golden Fang and Buddy Glass albums

40. Khruangbin – Mordechai REVIEW

39. Jessica – The Space Between REVIEW

38. Choir Boy – Gathering Swans

37. Buddy Glass – Wow & Flutter

36. Darren Cross – Keeping Up? REVIEW

35. Cinder Well – No Summer

34. Arbor Labor Union – New Petal Instants

33. Califone – Echo Mine

32. Shopping – All Or Nothing

31. Baxter Dury – The Chancers

30. Luke Vibert – Presents: Amen Andrews

29. Cable Ties – Far Enough REVIEW

28. The Phoenix Foundation – Friend Ship

27. Blake Scott – Niscitam

26. Thurston Moore – By The Fire

25. Makaya McCraven – Gil Scott-Heron – We’re New Again: A Reimagining

24. Billy Nomates – Billy Nomates

23. Brian Eno & Roger Eno – Mixing Colours

22. Drive-By Truckers – The Unraveling REVIEW

21. The Bats – Foothills

20. Suicide Swans – Through The Years

19. Bill Callahan – Gold Record

18. Jeff Tweedy – Love Is King

17. Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters

16. Neil Young – Homegrown

15. Rose City Band – Summerlong

14. Golden Fang – Here. Now Here.

13. Protomartyr – Ultimate Success Today REVIEW

12. Courtney Marie Andrews – Old Flowers REVIEW

11. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Sideways To New Italy REVIEW

10. James Thomson – Golden Exile REVIEW

On our favourite AU/NZ album of 2020, Thomson delivers his most accomplished work to date… ‘Sunday Girl’ is the closest Thomson’s got to a pop song, ‘Roll Away The Stone’ is smoky, winding blues, while ‘See The Wheels’ could roll on forever with its effortless groove. ‘Fatal Ribbon Highway’ is a dreamy slow dance, cosmic, heavy-lidded and sparkling and just one example of the diversification Thomson has brought to his impressive songwriting on Golden Exile.

9 Arlo McKinley – Die Midwestern

A new name for us and what a way to announce your arrival. Restrained songwriting with some exceptional lyrical content, Die Midwestern is built on poetry of the finest quality, delivered in a wonderful roughed-up country voice.

8. Moodymann – Taken Away

We couldn’t stop listening to this when it came out. Like a mix of D’Angelo circa Black Messiah, soul-jazz and futuristic electronic space funk. It was all in the rhythms, the breaks and the soul of it all. Deep hypnosis par excellence.

7. SAULT – UNTITLED (Black Is)

An album (and its follow-up UNTITLED (Rise)) completely of it’s time politically and socially, yet timeless in its blend of soul, funk, r&b, trip hop and more.

6. RVG – Feral REVIEW

Feral found them presenting a fuller sound with even greater depth and clarity in the guitars and the spotlight still firmly on Romy Vager’s declamatory yelp and melancholic musings.

5 Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Reunions REVIEW

For us, Isbell was off his game on his last album The Nashville Sound but here he’s fully resumed his mantle of one of the finest songwriters of his generation. Lyrically and melodically there are gems galore right across Reunions. It was one of those albums that constantly inspired repeat listens throughout 2020.

4. Coriky – Coriky

Coriky are half of Fugazi (Ian Mackaye & Joe Lally) with Amy Farina (The Evens) and it’s the iconic DC band that they swerve closest to in the stop/start, quiet/loud dynamics and lyrical repetition, though it’s a less caustic, more intimate and organic vibe overall. Great drum sound on this damn catchy and gently visceral record.

3. Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death

The Irish quartet sought to find different angles to approach their second album after the success and touring of Dogrel. They were hugely successful too. Widening their palette, going for denser guitar textures and rhythms that dug deeper and with more insistency. The vocals were just as earnest if more detached, observational and aloof. The key success to the album was that they showed they weren’t one trick ponies and look to be in it for the creative long haul.

2. Bob Dylan – Rough And Rowdy Ways

Once again Bob brought the element of surprise with this immense piece of work. Bold, literary, graceful, funny and highly moving. We thought his muse may have taken an early retirement with the endless touring and American songbook albums taking up his creative real estate. But no, Bob was back, hunched over his typewriter, casting an eye over the last century of pop and political culture, weaving in heartache and devotion. Nobody can bring together universality and the minutiae quite like the master.

1. Young Jesus – Welcome To Conceptual Beach

An intoxicating blend of post-rock and indie rock that in my mind ranged threw up comparisons to Talk Talk, Lift To Experience, Talking Heads, Wild Beasts and Radiohead. This was an album that created a sonic world to escape to, with heady and evocative ideals and some incredible dynamics in the arrangements.

NEW MUSIC: A Burial At Sea – Nice From Afar, Far From Nice

There hasn’t been a lot of heavy music this year that has moved us and it was a refreshing surprise when we came across this track from instrumental Irish group A Burial At Sea. It’s post rock at the metallic end of the spectrum where changes happen in an instant amid the guitar crunch and clever drumming.

What makes these guys standout from many other exponents of the same kind of thing is that they have a two-piece horn section. When they enter for a defining mid-song interlude, the pummelling metropolitan chug is replaced with desert vistas under wide open skies, like Calexico jamming with Isis. It all collides in the final third where the sound billows and blossoms in an eruptive, cascading coterie of guitar notes.

The track comes from A Burial At Sea’s sea-titled album that came out last month. Check it out on Bandcamp.

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