ALBUM REVIEW: Underground Lovers – A Left Turn

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Underground Lovers
A Left Turn
Rubber Records
★★★★

Underground Lovers are back with their ninth studio album, their third since they reactivated after a hiatus through the first decade of the 21st century. That return showed they were still in fine form with their blend of psychedelic indie rock and electronica and they’ve again produced a strong album that brings those elements together in perfect hypnotic harmony.

Their last album Staring At You Staring At Me focused on the guitar sound of the band, giving it more of a rock feel. This time around they’ve ushered their electronic explorations back into the fold, placing the album close to the work they produced on Cold Feeling at the end of the ‘90s. 

Early on, Bells sets the psych controls for the heart of the mind and just as viably, the dance floor, with its droning Krautrock sprawling across more than six wonderful minutes. They have the ability – like Spiritualized and Wooden Shjips, to find the sweet spot of a groove and ride it endlessly. Hooky ups the rock ante yet still in a warm embrace with the melodies of Glenn Bennie’s guitar and Vincent Giarrusso’s vocal incantations.

Shoegaze has always been another mainstay of the band’s sound and on Dunes and Lusher, Philippa Nihill sounds like a dream sister to My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins as the music shimmers, glows and gently shudders behind her. The single Seven Day Weekend is anthemic in its drum machine-powered rhythm and distorted see-saw guitars as Giarrusso trips out in full Shaun Ryder mode on the ode to carefree socialising. 

By the time we reach the conclusion of the epic nine minute closer Rocky Endings, there’s a sense of post-rollercoaster exhilaration in the wake of the album’s propulsive peaks and floating valleys. The song winds its wistful way for four minutes before taking off into the stratosphere on an interstellar space-rock mission of chiming guitars, pulsing bass and metronomic drumming that billows and expands gorgeously. A Left Turn is another sonic gem from one of Australia’s psychedelic finest.

Chris Familton

 

NEW MUSIC: ACUA – Keep Spinning

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ACUA are a post-punk band from Cologne who sit somewhere in the sweet spot between the aforementioned genre and the more hypnotic side of dream-pop, shoegaze and indie rock. ‘Keep Spinning’ is the their latest single and finds the fairly new band blending synths and guitars into a really nice sound (reminiscent of RIDE), balanced between drift and drive, where texture is everything.

NEW MUSIC: Caoilfhionn Rose – Being Human

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‘Being Human’, by Manchester songwriter and producer Caoilfhionn Rose (pronounced Keelin) is one of those tracks that combines mystery, beauty, lush production and a voice that possesses effortless melodic qualities. It comes from her debut LP Awaken, out now on Gondwana Records.

Mixing pastoral folk, light psychedelia and indie sensibilities the song is a good reflection of the overall strength of Awaken as an album. Recommended!

NEW MUSIC: Easy Street – Get On

Australian band Easy Street throw a Dylan-like urging vocal and some loose-limbed exuberance into the musical blender on this new track ‘Get On’. It’s one of those songs that feels purpose-built for the fast approaching warmer months.

Hailing from Sydney, the quintet have a great carefree and melodic, garage psychedelia going on in their sound. We’re looking forward to hearing more from the band.

NEW MUSIC: Mofer – Sometimes

You know when you hear something that sounds so familiar, the sum of their influences but you can’t nail them down to any degree of specificity? That was how felt on hearing this track from German band Mofer. It’s steeped in the history of post-punk, with the anguish-tinged, staring-at-the-horizon vocal, that Stephen Morris-like drumming and guitars that skate across the surface of the song. It has a great 90s melancholic indie guitar rock vibe to it too.

‘Sometimes’ comes from the band’s recently released EP Ghosts.

NEW MUSIC: Dear Boy – Heaven Moves

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“A really nice, new English indie guitar tune” I thought to myself when I first heard ‘Heaven Moves’ by Dear Boy. I was wrong though! The band hail from Los Angeles and they’re starting to gain some attention with their mix of English jangly post-punk and pop-tinged melodies. They recently finished a run of dates with James and Psychedelic Furs which gives a further idea of the kind of sound they have. ‘Dear Boy’ reminds us of Ride and Boo Radleys with a dash of Prefab Sprout thrown into the mix. A really nice tune.

Dear Boy released The Strawberry EP earlier this year and this track is a bridge between that release and a full-length album.

NEW MUSIC: Vanessa Van Ness – True True Shot

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“Molly Ringwald was my saviour…”

Gothic guitar pop with a post-punk twist is the order of the day on this new track from Vanessa Van Ness, a Melbourne-based guitarist, singer, songwriter, and producer from Venice Beach, Los Angeles. There’s a roll call of influential women in the song, over a minimal backing of guitar and percussion. ‘True True Shot’ has a really nice mantra-like quality to the it. Slightly ominous yet meditative.

 

ALBUM REVIEW: Chastity Belt – Chastity Belt

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Music is about mood and the way it sonically hits the ears, heart and mind just as much as it’s about the stories and ideas conveyed by the lyrics. The appeal of Chastity Belt’s new self-titled album lies in both elements but it’s the overall sound and the warm dreaminess that billows out of the speakers that provides the strongest appeal and connection point.

All four band members share lead vocal duties and they’ve spoken of adding more dynamic harmonies and violin on this record. Those changes are key to the overlapping, drifting and lightly psychedelic sound across the ten songs. Structural experimentation, such as the drums taking a minute and a half to enter the fray on Elena, take the song structures away from standard rock shapes and closer to post-rock or a dream-pop version of Sonic Youth, bereft of their sharper edges. In a way the album sounds like lo-fi jangly guitar songs recorded in high fidelity, given the rich and lush treatment given to the recordings. The result is immersive and, once the listener lets go, quite immersive.

Many of the songs unfurl slowly, gently revealing their melodies on repeat listens as they seep in. A distant descending guitar riff on Rav-4, the counter playing on Half-Hearted that works like a beautifully disembodied version of Verlaine and Lloyd duelling in Television. Split is another gem, bathed in reverb and a tumbling verse that breaks through the clouds into a skyward chorus, it again shows the band quietly pulling at the threads of guitar pop – like The Smiths and some of the bands that emerged from the underground scene in ‘80s New Zealand.

The album never reaches the peak and immediacy of the single Different Now from 2017 but taken as a whole and listened to accordingly, there’s a beauty in the textural nuance and overall gentle hypnosis of the album.

Chris Familton