ALBUM REVIEW: Low – Double Negative

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Press play and the first thing you’ll hear on the new Low album is the equivalent of a digital sandstorm.

Slowly but surely, out of the static and sonic scree comes the voice of Alan Sparhawk, sounding like a ghost trying with all his might to re-engage with the physical world. It’s a fascinating way to open an album; a new approach for Low and one that sets the scene for their most experimental and strangely beautiful record to date.

There’s a strong David Lynch aesthetic at play across Double Negative. That blend of a sense of foreboding and unease mixed with tender and affecting musical emotiveness. ‘Dancing And Blood’ continues to ratchet up the tension and usher the listener further into the present. Producer BJ Burton has worked in Bon Iver’s studio and you can certainly hear elements of the creative deconstructionist approach to traditional song that has happened within those walls. Mimi Parker takes the lead vocal on ‘Fly’ and it’s a powerful moment, almost backwoods ecclesiastical in the way it billows and urges. The defiance is short lived though as ‘Tempest’ submerges their voices in grainy, almost all-consuming decay. The clouds part momentarily before the connection is again violently disrupted.

‘Always Trying To Work It Out’ is a soulful suffocated pop song while ‘Poor Sucker’ is unsettling and laced with existential dread. When ‘Dancing And Fire’ emerges with pristine, clean guitars and an unprocessed vocal from Sparhawk, it sounds positively calming, Parker’s voice acting like a tonal echo chamber. “It’s not the end, it’s just the end of hope,” they sing, and it sums up the album’s themes of standing up for one’s beliefs, the danger of losing optimism and how the negative forces in the world are warning signs to correct things before it’s too late.

Low leave us with ‘Disarray’, a robotic dance at a death disco and a plea for change; “Before it falls into total disarray, you’ll have to learn to live a different way.Double Negative is bold and powerful music, fusing the avant-garde and traditional song with both friction and harmony. It’s unnerving, visceral and wholly compelling.

Chris Familton

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NEW MUSIC: Mylk – Your Name

 

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Melbourne alt-rock quartet Mylk released a two track EP Full Cream earlier this year and below you can check out ‘Your Name’. It’s a curious song in that it begins sounding like a Talking Heads/Vampire Weekend/Strokes-sounding slice of clever indie guitar pop before it takes flight like a lit firecracker and morphs into a bratty grunge sound. The quiet/loud dynamic works well, balancing the quirky verses with the roaring teen-styled rage of the chorus. It all amounts to a fine piece of songwriting juxtaposition.

 

 

NEW MUSIC: Joey Sweeney & The Neon Grease – On Monday

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Joey Sweeney hails from Philadelphia and as well as writing some great music he also does a very good thing in donating proceeds from his sales to charities. In the case of his album Catholic School, which ‘On Monday’ comes from, half of all profits from album sales, both digital and physical, will go directly to Rock To The Future, a non-profit organization that provides music education for Philadelphia’s underserved youth, at no cost to them or their families.

“They’re tearing the old church down”

Saxophone carries across the song like a bittersweet summer breeze as Sweeney paints a scene of a city and a person’s experience and connection to it. It’s a slowburn of a song that hits its straps with dualing organ and keyboards hinting at a less-pretentious Arcade Fire influence, an affinity with Wilco and a Springsteen obsession. It all amounts to a thrilling journey of a song over its four minutes. Great clip too.

Catholic School on Spotify

NEW MUSIC: Fidelity Project – Shift

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Fidelity Project released their EP Out From Under three months ago and this is the song from it that caught our attention. ‘Shift’ has that billowing, aqueous sound where it quickly finds its dreamy groove and just rides it right through the entire song. Cymbal splashes, indie rock guitar that sits somewhere between Johnny Marr and War On Drugs with a vocal from main guy Brian Hall that places it in the realm of Mercury Rev and other ethereal rock bands.

Check out the full EP on Spotify

 

NEW MUSIC: Darren Cross – Sur La Vague (Drive Me Nuts)

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The sonic alchemist that is Darren Cross (Jep and Dep, Gerling) has released the second single from his new LP Peacer. ‘Sur La Vague (Drive Me Nuts)’ is a persistent ear-worm of a track. Over a Krautrock rhythm he weaves a mantra-like vocal peppered with hovercraft synths and saxophone. It’s that sweet blend of downbeat and uptempo – a kaleidoscopic, left-of-centre, pop nugget that brings to mind LCD Soundsystem and Fujiya & Miyagi. It’s also brilliantly enhanced with a suitably skewed and maniacal video clip.

For the full #DARRENCROSSPEACER experience, head to his Bandcamp page to buy the album on vinyl/CD/digital.

If you are in Sydney you can get along to Cross’ album launch at the Golden Age Cinema & Bar in Darlinghurst tomorrow night (September 6th). Music kicks off at 9pm. Entry is free.

NEW MUSIC: Silent Feature – Stiffs And The Saints

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A recently released single from Brisbane band Silent Feature. ‘Stiff And The Saints’ careens along on pop’ish hooks and some fine indie rock guitar. They’re a tougher take on the sound of The Shins, echoes of country rock bouncing off their walls… power pop too, particularly 90s glam sound that Redd Kross were mining.

 

NEW MUSIC: Bad Sav – Hens Teeth 

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The wonderfully named Bad Sav are releasing their debut album on September 21st via Fishrider Records in New Zealand. The trio is comprised of Death And The Maiden guitarist/vocalist Hope Robertson and bassist/vocalist Lucinda King, plus Shifting Sands guitarist Mike McLeod (on drums here).

We’re digging the blend of chugging rhythms, dreamy vocal delivery and guitars that jangle in a distant fuzzed out way – like Dinosaur Jr and Bailterspace in a dream pop haze.