NEW MUSIC: Pansy – Woman of Ur Dreams

Wonky, wobbly guitar lines tumble and cascade out of the speakers with a li-fi charm on this new track from Pansy. It’s got that ramshackle vibe that reminds me of Australia’s RVG and Blank Realm. A 60’s backbeat and garage/surf-pop chime and jangle makes this a real gem.

More than three years ago, Vivian McCall, of the band Jungle Green, began transitioning, a process which inspired the songs that make up her self-titled debut album as Pansy. It comes out on the Earth Libraries label on April 2nd.

NEW MUSIC: Loco Tranquilo – Golden Flower

Here’s a really nice upbeat slice of indie folk-rock from San Francisco artist Loco Tranquilo (Julian Gervasi). Surf guitars wobble, shimmer and jangle over the bubbly punch of the rhythm section. Gervasi adds the psychedelic folk vibe with a vocal style reminiscent of Devendra Banhart – that free-spirited, trippy, grinning-at-the-sun kind of sound.

Recorded at Coyote Hearing Studios in collaboration with local producer Mackenzie Bunch (French Cassettes and Tino Drima) – it comes from his upcoming concept album being released later this year through eclectic, post-genre label Text Me Records.

Loco Tranquilo’s soft and dreamy melodies were apparently inspired by nights spent on top of coloured mountains making songs about the stars, being inspired by the beauty of nature, and meeting fellow musicians and artists on a bohemian journey towards California.

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

Bats Galore… New music from within and around The Bats

Dunedin and indeed NZ music royalty The Bats have been pretty busy of late. They released their new LP Foothills last year, to wide acclaim, and earlier this month they also intriguingly released an instrumental version of the album on Bandcamp which gives a really interesting twist on the songs, allowing the rhythm section of perpetual motion and those sparkling guitars to take centre stage.

During the pandemic, Bassist Paul Kean and guitarist Kaye Woodward have formed a humble supergroup of sorts by teaming up with Alec Bathgate (Tall Dwarfs, The Enemy) and Hamish Kilgour (The Clean) to record a couple of songs of darkly hypnotic, underground psychedelia. Hopefully more recordings are on the way!

Robert Scott always seems to be working on something new and he’s teamed up with Dallas Henley to release Level Four, an album of low-key, mostly acoustic songs that wind through some lovely melodies. The 14 tracks feature bass, Omnichord, guitar, vocals and keyboards. 

NEW MUSIC: Toledo – Dog Has Its Day

This new track from Toledo caught our ear with its super laidback vibe – all jangly guitars, backbeat drums and hazy falsetto vocal. It reminded us of a cross between Kurt Vile and Sydney’s CJ Stranger but on a much more mellow tip. Folky indie guitar dream pop.

Toledo is the project of Daniel Alvarez and Jordan Dunn-Pilz from Brooklyn, NY and this track comes from their new six song EP Jockeys Of Love, co-produced and mixed by Jorge Elbrecht (Wild Nothing, Ariel Pink, Frankie Rose)and out now via Bandcamp (digital and red 12″ vinyl) and streaming services.

NEW MUSIC: Damien Binder – Here It Is

Damien Binder is back with his new single ‘Here It Is’, the first taste of his forthcoming fifth solo album. New Zealand readers will be familiar with the trajectory of his career which began as the frontman for Auckland post-punk band Second Child from the late 80s and through the 90s. Damien’s now based in Perth and has teamed up with producer Matt Gio for this first single that beautifully marries his moody alt-rock roots with a melancholic yet uplifting indie pop/rock feel.

The song is Binder’s first release since his 2016 album A New World, which garnered strong critical praise, is the first single from his fifth solo album currently in production with producer Matt Gio (Katy Steele, Birds of Tokyo, Abbey May, Rudimental), due for release later in 2021.

Of the new track and forthcoming record, Damien explains that “I wanted to try and break away from my usual choices and reimagine the songs. I had heard some of Matt’s work including one of my fave’s – Katy Steele’s ‘Human’, and knew together we could find a new context for the songs, plus he really liked them which helps!” 

‘Here It Is’ marks a distinct departure in Binder’s sound while still retaining the core elements of his distinctive songwriting style. It’s a multi-faceted example of the way his craft has evolved over the years.

At its core, the strength of Damien’s emotive and nuanced songwriting resonates strongly via the song’s universal themes and the way he seamlessly conveys both melancholy and optimism. Reflecting on the writing of ‘Here It Is’, Damien describes it as “a kind of meditation on appreciating the moment, gratitude and impermanence.”

On the surface the track sparkles and swerves with an indie pop production and sonic aesthetic courtesy of keyboards, digitally enhanced drums and acoustic guitar. You can also hear the distant and formative strains of Damien’s early musical years, in New Zealand band Second Child, via his ability to blend melody through the ever-shifting dynamics of the song.

Dry Cleaning Announce debut album New Long Leg

photo by Steve Gullick

Following their run of sublime EPs, Dry Cleaning have announced details of their debut studio album and have shared a new single ‘Strong Feelings’. I’ve been a huge fan of their releases to date and the way the blend deadpan poetry with taut post-punk riffs and rhythms. ESG meets Life Without Buildings meets Black Country, New Road.

The South London group of Nick Buxton (drums), Tom Dowse (guitar), Lewis Maynard (bass) and Florence Shaw (vocals) will release New Long Leg on 2 April via 4AD / Remote Control Records. The 10-track long-player, which includes ‘Strong Feelings’ and last year’s single ‘Scratchcard Lanyard’, was recorded over two weeks last summer at Rockfield Studios in rural Wales with producer John Parish (PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding).

Following on from their 2019 EPs Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks and Sweet Princess, New Long Leg is more ambitious and complex, with Shaw’s spoken vocals tightly intertwined with the band’s restless instrumentals. With lyrics preoccupied by themes like dissociation, escapism, daydreaming, complicated feelings of love, anger, revenge, anxiety, the kitchen, lethargy, forgetfulness, and survival, Shaw says, “the title is ambiguous; a new long leg could be an expensive present or a growth or a table repair.”

New single ‘Strong Feelings’ is a love song, of sorts. Shaw says, “it’s about secretly being in love with someone who doesn’t know it, and Brexit’s disruptive role in romantic relationships.” Its accompanying visuals, directed by guitarist Dowse, came about after Google searches brought together an informational video on road building basics from New Zealand and Massachusetts-based glitch artist, Sabato Visconti. Watch the video here.

Dry Cleaning was formed by friends Tom Dowse, Nick Buxton and Lewis Maynard after a karaoke party in 2017 inspired a collaboration. They wrote instrumentally to begin with until six months later Florence Shaw, a visual artist, university lecturer and picture researcher by day – with no prior musical experience – turned up to a band rehearsal armed with reams of her own collected writing and a copy of Michael Bernard Loggins’ Fears Of Your Life to read out over the music. Before long she was the group’s frontperson, contributing words of her own, and serving as the perfect foil to the band’s music.  

New Long Leg will be released on 2 April digitally and on CD, cassette, standard black vinyl and limited-edition yellow vinyl. 

NEW MUSIC: Simon Robert Gibson – Song For Gyn

Gynia Favot was a much loved and respected Sydney musician (DisneyfistHalf Miler,Modern Giant) who sadly lost her battle with cancer in 2020. There was an outpouring of love from her fellow musicians and friends, both during fundraising efforts for her treatment and in the wake of her passing. 

Simon Robert Gibson, who firstplayed with her in Disneyfist, was compelled to write and record this heartfelt tribute to Gynia, initially in stripped-back solo form. Upon hearing it, John Willsteed of Halfway and The Go-Betweens (one of Gynia’s favourite bands) contacted Simon and added some stunning guitar parts and atmospheric elements. The memory and spirit of a departed friend, immortalised in song.                                  

“Gyn and I were close friends and bandmates for my whole adult life. I first met her when I joined the band that would become Disneyfist in the early 90s. I loved that band, great chemistry and I thought we were pretty special live. That was mainly due to Gyn’s presence on-stage. Off-stage she was extremely warm and funny. We got along from the first moment and stayed close until the end. We played together in various bands, swam together, travelled together, lived together, wrote together…she was a constant in my life in one way or another since we met. (I was still sending her my demos for her opinion right up to the final couple of months). Even though she had been sick for a couple of years, her passing last year still came as a massive shock, one that I still haven’t fully processed. I don’t remember writing the lyrics of this song, I guess I scribbled them down in a cafe quickly. When I wrote the whole thing a few days later, it all came very quickly. I didn’t second guess, just sang and played what felt right. Played it into my phone, left it a few days then recorded it. It was emotionally very tough to do it but I knew I needed to and I felt better once I had. I did it for me really, but then I sent it to my brother, who also loved Gyn, and he was overwhelmed. That’s when I realised it might be something special that a lot of her friends might also appreciate.”

“One of the last things she said to Mark Hyland (Disneyfist bass player) was “Don’t forget me”, I guess this is my way making sure she’s not forgotten.”– Simon Robert Gibson