NEW MUSIC: Theory Of Why – Wrapped Up In Snow

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Theory Of Why is a studio collaboration project between Anton Kropp and Julia Nova who met as college radio DJ’s at the University Of Maryland WMUC station where they continued to write and play music long after college, not stopping after they went separate ways.

‘Wrapped Up In Snow’  comes from their self-titled debut album and has a mix of Breeder’s 90s rock sounds and a darker, more exploratory psych and Krautrock drive. Their self-describe blend of influences such as Stereolab and Wooden Shjips is a pretty accurate one in terms of this track.

 

NEW MUSIC: Kerchief – Til The End

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A sultry slice of indie pop/rock this afternoon from American trio Kerchief. They’ve just released their debut album Fluke and ‘Til The End’ is a great example of the way they subtly approach shimmering and sparkling guitars, softly unfurling melodies and a danceable element that gets under the skin. We’re hearing Jen Cloher and Placebo as possible influences on their sound.

NEW MUSIC: FortEver – Hwy 62

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Shoegaze guitars that recall Smashing Pumpkins’ Gish, dubbed out hypnotic drums, psych-folk acoustic guitar, MBV trippy effects. There’s a whole bunch of stuff going on in this instrumental track from a Californian act that we know very little about other than it is the project of Scott Fairbrother who has had music placed in a few TV shows and games such as Grand Theft Auto. It’s entrancing stuff – melodic and meditative at the same time.

NEW MUSIC: Engine Summer – Outside The Curtain

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There’s a strong LCD Soundsystem sound on this track from the Chicago band Engine Summer. It comes from their recently released EP Indiana. There’s more than just that particular influence going on here though. Bits of post-rock and post-punk are built into the DNA. Skronking guitar notes warble and scatter and the groove is of the utmost importance, much as it is with other contemporary acts such as Parquet Courts. There’s also a Kiwi connection here with the mastering of the new EP done by Dion Lunadon of A Place To Bury Strangers, The D4 and Nothing At All!

LIVE REVIEW: Khruangbin @ Metro Theatre, Sydney

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Khruangbin, Harvey Sutherland
Metro Theatre
14 March 14th, 2019

by Chris Familton

This was a night of very few voices given that both acts on the bill were primarily instrumental trios. It was the music that did the talking and it transformed the Metro into a wall-to-wall sea of bodies-in-motion and conjured up a celebratory vibe in the room.

Harvey Sutherland, the self-described funk-synthesist, was up from Melbourne to open the show and by the end of the first song he’d won over the audience with his blend of soul, funk, house, disco and of course the aforementioned funk. The rhythm section were quite astonishing in their fluidity and precision as they constantly found new ways to build rhythmic detail and dynamics into the music while Sutherland wove his cosmic keyboards into melodic dance floor excursions. It was an infectious set that brought to mind Steely Dan filtered through Jamiroquai.

Khruangbin have built their brand on a visual aesthetic that melds black, straight-fringed wigs with explosions of colour and choreographed stage moves delivered with a knowing half-smile and semi-detached cool. That was enhanced on stage with an excellent light show – simple, bold and dramatic utilising colour and shapes, much like the trio’s music, on this first of two sold out nights at the venue.

It quickly became clear that they’ve spend a lot of time and effort into structuring their sets so there is a balance of peaks and valleys, from the hard funk breakbeat of Maria También to the dreamy, sweet and soulful soft tones of Cómo Me Quieres. As a trio they balance each other out wonderfully. Laura Lee is often the most compelling focal point with her knee drops and hip swivels and constantly light-dancing bass-lines, while Mark Speer roams his side of the stage, also in endless motion as a player but with a kind of roving commission to explore all stylistic facets of his guitar, from psych rock solos to dub echoes and flurries of hyper-melodic Thai funk. Holding it all down and providing a framework for which to hang the songs on was drummer DJ Johnson, his playing channeling everything from hip hop breakbeats to James Brown and Portishead.

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Their breakthrough album Con Todo El Mundo provided a large portion of their set but there were also dips back into their debut The Universe Smiles Upon You, with White Gloves being a particular highlight and one of the only songs to feature all three on vocals. As the set progressed we got a strange interaction between Lee and a lonely looking green telephone which seemed kind of pointless and a successful attempt by Speer to get everyone in the room to introduce themselves to the person standing next to them.

Before the encore the entertainment factor peaked with a medley that saw seamless transitions between songs by Ol’ Dirty Bastard, A Tribe Called Quest, Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game, and culminating in the crowd joining in on the chorus to Spandau Ballet’s True (via PM Dawn). 

What the trio showed was their ability to translate their music from the intimacy of their recordings to the live stage, where they balanced nuance with deep grooves, hypnotic and sensual rhythms, humour and exceptional musicianship.

NEW MUSIC: Deep Sea Peach Tree – Zanzibar

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Woozy, aqueous, dreamy, tripped-out vibes are dripping out of the speakers with this great track from NYC’s Deep Sea Peach Tree. It looks like they’ve been around for a few years with some EP and single releases  and an album, Vaguely Navy (2017), already under their belt. Some of their stuff reminds of the much-missed Girls.

NEW MUSIC: Superego – Loose

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The tumbling drums were the first thing that caught my ear on this track. A rhythmic collapse into the song as it takes flight on guitars that chime and cascade in shoegaze waves. The vocals are detached, afterthoughts almost. Certainly not central but casually integral to the song as the bassline sways with a dead-eyed swagger and another crashing chorus careens around the corner. Great stuff from this Midlands, UK quartet, with their debut single.