NEW MUSIC: Wine Flies – Business

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Some wonderfully weird-pop here courtesy of Wine Flies, the solo project of Swedish musician Henrik Lennartsson. It hits that same spaced-out, fever dream vibe of John Maus and Ariel Pink with a warped, lo-fi production aesthetic that accentuates the haunted feel of the music.

“Business was the result of me, merely improvising keys over a beat. I never know what I’m gonna get, since I don’t write the songs beforehand. I’m not at all classically trained in any form, I always just play whatever chords or notes I know until I get something that sounds alright (at least to me). My biggest inspiration is all the bad/boring music I’ve ever heard, because it makes me feel absolutely no pressure what so ever. I simply aim to create something listenable, preferably a hit, but mostly just barely okay. I’m basically just trying to have fun with it, because why not? 

I’d say that my fuel/drive in all of this comes down to the concept of irony. It completely destroyed me as a person, when it first hit me as a younger man, but it is also now the thing that makes me sane and keeps me going, because life is ridiculous, and so am I.“

 

NEW MUSIC: John Beltran – Childhood Memories

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It’s the tension and mood of this piece that caught our ear when we came across it online. The way that John Beltran sonically suspends the mood before introducing the tentative snippets of piano that flutter and suggest, like a butterfly unfurling wet wings. The back half emerges with greater weight on the back of swells of synthetic drift that rise and fall with heavy emotion.

This piece comes from Pure Sounds of Michigan an ambient album that invites listeners to take a sunrise-to-sunset tour of Michigan, from coast to coast. The album is set for a May 22nd release on Detroit-based Assemble Sound, and was imagined, created, and released by Michigan’s tourism arm, Travel Michigan as a part of the Pure Michigan campaign, in conjunction with the label.

The music was executive produced and mixed by composer Blair French, mastered by Eddie Logix, and features songs composed by the likes of Michigan-based heavy hitters John Beltran, Waajeed, and Windy & Carl, along with up and coming names such as Greater Alexander, Dave Graw, Todd Modes, and more.

 

ALBUM REVIEW: Kevin Morby – Oh My God

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Apparently Kevin Morby went into the studio and recorded this album two years ago, before he released his last record, City Music. It sounds quite different to that album, different to his breakthrough album Singing Saw as well. What came out of those studio sessions is a concept album of sorts, one that is tied into the theme of religion, by someone who states that he’s not in the slightest religious.

With that in mind, it’s an interesting set of songs that explore the place, role and ramifications of religion, both at a personal and societal level. He leverages gospel music, angelic choirs and rhythm tracks built on handclaps, weaving them into his folk-flavoured indie rock. Morby’s ability to sound like a pastoral balladeer one minute and a street-wise poet the next is on full display as the songs unravel. At his best he’s a fine and convincing blend of Dylan, Reed and Cohen.

He’s got a clever way with lyrics too. “Do you want to play chess in my chest” he sings on ‘Piss River’ and on ‘Savannah’ he he follows the line “Sometimes I let my silence become the conversation” with an abrupt pause to emphasise the point. The arrangements on Oh My God are a real delight. Often sparse, with warm sounding organ, piano or jangly guitar and regular enhancement by lonely minimal, solo horn accompaniment. There are glorious interruptions of 50s doo-wop (‘Congratulations’) and Velvet Underground/Bowie chug (‘OMG Rock n Roll’) but the overwhelming mood is more reflective and gently interrogative than those exceptions.

Across Oh My God Morby plays with and eloquently investigates religion with equal amounts of respect and irreverence while placing his songs in artful and evocative musical settings.

Chris Familton

 

NEW MUSIC: Benefits – Strains

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Benefits is the musical project of Sydney songwriter Mason Lewtas plus Ben Cauduro (Keys), Matthew Bilic (bass), and Jordan Quilty (drums). Based on the indie rock hooks of ‘Strains’ he’s got a good thing going on in the songwriting dept. Guitars sparkle and charm over a relaxed vocal melody and a melodic set of finely balanced riffs that swing and hang in the air with tough nuance. This looks to be his second single after last year’s similarly catchy ‘Waste My Time’.

 

FIRST LISTEN: Prudence – Major Tom

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Sydney artist Prudence releases his debut EP Major Tom tomorrow on Bandcamp and streaming platforms. Prudence is songwriter (and bassist for DMAs) Tom Crandles who also releases music as Au.Ra with Tom Jenkins.

Major Tom’s six tracks were recorded in Margate, Kent UK, completed in Sydney and finally mixed in Auckland earlier this year. The results are a kaleidoscopic blend of post punk, new wave melancholia and art rock.

They are songs that dig into dark corners one moment and shine psychedelic colour wheels of sound across the speakers the next. Languid guitar chords hang in the air on songs such as ‘Caramel’ while ‘Save It For Me’ is an intoxicating blend of New Order and liquid pop dance-floor shapes and ‘Euphoria’ is an aching wander through rhythm and dark synth textures.

Major Tom is out May 10th on Forged Artifacts.

 

NEW MUSIC: Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Affluenza

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Two of the guys from S U R V I V E, Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein, who are best known for the soundtrack work on Stranger Things, have composed the music for Rashid Johnson’s dramatic directorial debut Native Son, which was Sundance’s opening night film.

Based on Richard Wright’s seminal novel of the same name, the modern reimagining of Wright’s 1930’s coming-of-age drama chronicles Bigger Thomas, a young African-American man who takes a job working for a highly influential Chicago family — a decision that changes the course of his life. HBO Films and A24 released the film on April 5th with Milan Records releasing the score on the same day.

‘Affluenza’ is a billowing, gaseous synth bed that envelopes the listener with a tense and foreboding quality.