NEW MUSIC: Strange Things – I Feel Fine

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Strange Things from Vancouver, British Columbia recently released their Sunshine EP and one of its highlights is ‘I Feel Fine’, a tumbling cascade of distorted guitars and howled vocals that flies along on sustained notes of electricity and an endless groove. The heavier psych end of shoegaze is the order of the day here.

NEW MUSIC: Heavy Harvest – Candy

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Stand back, turn it up and hold onto something. Swiss trio Heavy Harvest hit the afterburners on this blistering one and a half minutes of hardcore noise rock. Think Jesus Lizard in a blizzard, or a practice session in a shipping container with METZ and Shihad. It’s brutally good and a sample of their new album Iron Lung which explores all corners of intense, heavy, unhinged noise rock. Sonic catharsis of the highest order in these fucked up times.

 

NEW MUSIC: Fontaines D.C. Release New Single and Announce New Album ‘A Hero’s Death’

FONTAINES D.C - A Hero's Death

Fontaines D.C., who released one of our favourite albums of 2019, are back with a new single ahead of the release of their second album A Hero’s Death on July 31st. The album title-track is a great first single too – with that trademark energy and verve of the band and some added texture and melody thrown into the mix.

Singer Grian Chatten has this to say about the song and video:

“The song is a list of rules for the self, they’re principles for self-prescribed happiness that can often hang by a thread. It’s ostensibly a positive message, but with repetition comes different meanings, that’s what happens to mantras when you test them over and over. There’s this balance between sincerity and insincerity as the song goes on and you see that in the music video as well. That’s why there’s a lot of shifting from major key to minor key. The idea was influenced by a lot of the advertising I was seeing – the repetitive nature of these uplifting messages that take on a surreal and scary feel the more you see them.

The title came from a line in a play by Brendan Behan, and I wrote the lyrics during a time where I felt consumed by the need to write something else to alleviate the fear that I would never be able follow up Dogrel. But more broadly it’s about the battle between happiness and depression, and the trust issues that can form tied to both of those feelings.”

NEW MUSIC: Alex Henry Foster – The Hunter (By The Seaside Window)

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Alex Henry Foster recently released the video for his single ‘The Hunter (By The Seaside Window)‘, the centrepiece of his new album Windows In The Sky. The song is an epic 14 minute piece of post-rock, with an ebb and flow of tension, poetry and ascent into grand, sprawling and expansive electric guitar playing that at times reminds us of Lift To Experience. Interwoven with Foster’s (mostly) spoken word are indecipherable recordings of a female voice – in another language, which adds to the mystery and intrigue.

“The Hunter (By the Seaside Window) emerged from a 30-minute jam of a noisy, out-of-breath and tortured kind of dark, spiritual, emotive, and redemptive sonic journey. It reflects on the symbiotic notion of inner struggles feeding the growing illness of the relationship between the different entities we kept on feeding within oneself, as a sort of an out-of-step addiction to pain and resignation, but also to hopelessness and mercy, as much as to salvation and grace. The cycle only ends once we decide to let go, whatever it may mean for anyone’s beliefs… as we are both the hunter and the prey” – Alex Henry Foster

Alex Henry Foster (AHF) is a Canadian musician, singer-songwriter, author, producer, and composer, best known as the frontman of Juno Awards nominee Post-Rock / Noise band Your Favorite Enemies. The impressive and gripping short film for The Hunter was produced and written by Alex Henry Foster’s longtime collaborator, French filmmaker Jessie Nottola.

NEW MUSIC: War Strings – Tragedy (Lovesong)

 

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Bittersweet swerving guitars and sonic verve are two of the defining aspects of War Strings‘ single ‘Tragedy (Lovesong)’. Think New Order, The Cure, Girls and the dense static and fuzz of Swervedriver all combine to form a transatlantic blend of angst and shoegaze. Tough and tender, the song is a gem of the kind that inhabits that sweet spot where melody meets melancholy.

War Strings is the work of LA musician Andrew Stogel who, after suffering a major head injury, began channelling his creativity, from his recovery bed, into a batch of songs that make up his debut LP, due out in 2020. You can also check out his other single, released earlier this year – ‘My Alien Heart’.

 

ALBUM REVIEW: New War – Trouble In The Air

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New War
Trouble In The Air
Heavy Machinery Records

Last year Sarah Mary Chadwick released an album that she’d recorded on the Melbourne Town Hall Organ – the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. New War had already ticked that box in 2017 when they recorded this new live album.

While Chadwick created a grand widescreen soundtrack to her songs, her Melbourne contemporaries use the instrument in a much more varied way by utilising drones, pulsing rhythms and haunting melodies. Played by Jesse Shepherd, the instrument conjures up images of gothic churches, demented carousels, horror soundtracks and shadowy circuses. Those moods are enhanced by the cold electronic drums of Steve Masterson and Melissa Lock’s post-punk bass playing. Topped off by Chris Pugmire’s sinister incantations, the overall effect is one that draws a line back through Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire to Suicide, Nico and the dark side of Krautrock.

Nearly all the songs include a colour in their title, the exception being the accessible opener Bang On. I Am Position Yellow is a highpoint, wonderfully combining atmosphere, rhythm and melody, while Cocaine Blue is a beautiful piece of Joy Division-esque melancholy. 

The album no doubt had immeasurably more impact and resonance when experienced live, with the imposing Grand Organ imposing but never overwhelming the rest of the musicians. This recording serves as a fine document of the occasion.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: HYG – Be Here

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HYG are a Canberra psych band who’ve already released an EP a couple of years ago and now have this cool new single out. ‘Be Here’ finds its groove and rides it for all money. It’s big and fuzzed-out with heavy stomping drums and bass that provides the repeating melodic phrasing amid the noise and heavy riffage. There’s a simple idea at the core of the song but they know how to stretch it out, adding and removing elements to create the feeling of droning perpetual motion. It’s dark and ominous like an approaching electrical storm.

 

INTERVIEW: Cable Ties

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CABLE TIES, LONG JAMS AND LOUD AMPS

Between festival appearances and European tours, Cable Ties’ Jenny McKechnie chats with Chris Familton about their new album Far Enough and explains the band’s 30-minute riff test.

Picture three figures, closely grouped between numerous amps and drums, hunched over their instruments in the middle of a large warehouse as heavy guitars at full volume fill the voluminous space and make their way through cables to an analogue desk. That was the scene as Melbourne trio Cable Ties laid down the tracks that make up their second album Far Enough.

With engineer and producer Paul Maybury (Rocket Science) behind the controls, the band knew they were in good hands after working with him on their debut album. “We love Paul so much,” enthuses singer, songwriter and guitarist Jenny McKechnie. “Personally speaking he’s really good at knowing what you’re capable of. When we went in and recorded our first 7” he got us playing it again and again and I think that made the single something that we couldn’t foresee at the time. On this record he’s both the recording engineer and the producer so he knew how far he could push it to get the best out of us and when to tell us to shut up and that we got the best take.”

The band have built up a strong reputation over the last half decade for their blistering and impassioned live shows and McKechnie identifies the essence of those performances as something they’re always striving to embody when they’re in the studio. “What we always want to do with a record is achieve that similar live feeling of excitement and capturing those emotions obviously has to be done in a different way because you can’t feel the bass in your lungs when you listen to a record.”

Sonically there’s a clear progression and evolution with Cable Ties’ sound on Far Enough. It’s heavier, more primitive and they’ve added a weightier 70s rock framework to their punk sensibilities. As McKechnie explains, it’s a sound born of experience and a deep and intense exploration of the power of the riff. “From recording the first album to recording the second one it was a matter of having a lot more miles under our belt, playing a lot more and getting a sense of who we are and what we wanted our sound to be – which was different to the first record. This one’s got a bit more of the primitive rock ’n’ roll thing going on,” says McKechnie. “It’s a bit heavier and that came out us going into the rehearsal studio and jamming on a riff for at least 30 minutes. If you can’t do it for half an hour it’s not worth it!”

The synchronicity of McKechnie’s playing with drummer Shauna Boyle and bassist Nick Brown is key to their sound and how astutely they can turn three minute punk songs into six minute hypnotic workouts. “It comes from jamming a lot and we’re all obsessed with repetition, the build and release of tension and chasing that cathartic rush and feeling that you can get from long jams and loud amps. That’s what we love about rehearsals and being in the band and so that’s what comes out on the record.”

Anyone who has heard Cable Ties is left in no doubt that this is a band who wear their hearts and beliefs on their collective sleeves. McKechnie populates her songs with intelligent, poetic and passionate commentary on a range of social, cultural and political topics. It’s something she’s always done as a form of catharsis and raising of awareness. “Even when I was writing folk songs in my bedroom as a teenager I’ve always written about political issues because I’ve always gotten really upset about them and needed a way to process them. That’s what I’m continuing to do to this day,” she explains, before adding “With this album it’s taking a bit of a jump from the last one in that it’s doing that and also starting to be a bit more self-reflective as well.”

With international and national tours ahead of them, including an appearance at SXSW in the USA, Cable Ties’ first priority is the release of their new album, says McKechnie proudly. “We worked really hard on it and I put all my feelings on it. I don’t really hold back much!”

Far Enough is out now on Poison City Records and Merge Records.