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. 

Facebook Update

FEB 22ND UPDATE: We’re back baby!! Looks like the FB oracle has come to its senses and reinstated our FB page!

Unfortunately Doubtful Sounds has been caught up in the Facebook / Australian Government stoush over news content on the platform today. It’s the perfect example of the collateral damage that has occurred with a large number of non-news sites having their content stripped from their FB pages.

We are a music blog, not a news outlet that would be involved in negotiations with FB over being paid to have our content on their platform. We are an independent, non-profit music blog who does not run or place any paid advertising or have any employees. It’s solely an outlet for my music reviews and interviews, done solely for the love of music and the desire to contribute to the community of musicians and music fans, primarily in Australia and New Zealand but also right across the world.

Fingers crossed that sanity will prevail and we’ll back up and running very soon. In the meantime, subscribe here on the website and if you don’t already, follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

cheers,

Chris

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

NEW MUSIC: Iceage – The Holding Hand

News in today today Iceage have signed with Mexican Summer and released a brand new single ‘The Hold Hand’.

“The song lives in a slurred world, movements are elastically stretched out and strength is found in weakness while you find it hard to tell the difference between fume and matter. Gently the swaying intensifies, feel it escalate. Reach out for the holding hand, it seems almost within scope now.” – Elias Bender Rønnenfelt

Lead singer and lyricist Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s voice crawls over slow-marching percussion, and as scorching guitar and Nils Gröndahl’s piercing violin layer in, the song rises to a noisy peak. Listen to the song now + watch the Anders Malmberg directed video below.

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.

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