NEW MUSIC: Abracadabra – Dirty Pan

There’s a wonderfully deadpan, stylised quality to this new single from Oakland CA duo Abracadabra (duo Hannah Skelton and Chris Niles). It’s pure 80s synth pop – the good kind where robots and fashion were the future, Kraftwerk were kings and neon was a colour.

There’s also a playfulness to the music of ‘Dirty Pan’, a day-glo utopian sound built on lush washes of keyboards such as The Fairlight CMI and pulsing, robotic drums. It’s like Stereolab and Cabaret Voltaire jamming on the international space station.

Many of the songs reflect upon our fragility as humans, our inability to predict or control the future, and the struggle to remain stable despite the chaos of urban life on a deteriorating planet.”

Abracadabra’s self-titled debut album will be out on July 24 via Anniversary.

SPECIAL SOUNDS FOR STRANGE TIMES: Romy Vager (RVG)

Over the last few months, one of the things many people have been turning to during periods of isolation during the pandemic is music. Music for distraction, companionship, solace and joy. Whatever the reason, putting on a favourite album or discovering something new that pulls you in and hits the spot, intellectually or emotionally, can be a great and wonderful experience. In this series we check in with musicians, journalists and broadcasters to see what has inspired repeat listening and provided some special sounds for these strange times.

RVG have always garnered great reviews but they’ve hit the jackpot with the recent release of their album Feral, gaining stellar reviews locally and internationally. Romy Vager, the creative force behind RVG (Romy Vager Group) kindly took the time to give us an insight into what records she’s been listening to and loving over the last few months.

Read our review of Feral.

“On Feral, Vager’s dissection of how it feels to be sidelined and disenfranchised is treated poetically and ultimately there’s a sense of hope and resilience that rises from the near perfect musical backdrop.”

Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains (2019)

“I’ve been forced to watch my friends enjoy ceaseless feasts of schadenfreude”. That’s a magic line, it’s a line Leonard Cohen could’ve written. The whole album is killer but those first three tracks, they’re like Harry Dean Stanton smoking bongs with the four horsemen of the apocalypse. 

I really also love the song ‘She’s Making Friends, I’m Turning Stranger’. I feel that one in my soul. Sometimes it feels as if some people are Eloi and some are Morlocks and there’s not a lot anyone can do about it. 

Daisy Chainsaw – Eleventeen (1992)

I’ve been listening to this again because it reminds me of a dear friend who passed away recently and who I always thought was the personification of this record. She liked this band and I feel the connection to her when I play it. Music’s good for that. I love how unhinged this record sounds. It’s like nothing else. I love the childlike language of it. It’s like a fucked up Alice In Wonderland but in a good way, not in a Tim Burton way. 

The Kinks – Face To Face (1966)

I keep thinking about when we were in London, we went to listen to Ray Davies in conversation at Rough Trade. You had to buy his new record to speak to him afterwards so instead we just stood in the corner and silently stared at him. We were in awe. I mean there was THE Ray Davies. He’s better than the fucking Beatles! 

Every Kinks record before 1974 is my favourite record but Face to Face is hitting me the hardest in quarantine. ‘Too Much on my Mind’ is the song I keep singing to myself in the shower. I love the simplicity of it, it’s beautiful and it’s true.

Sleaford Mods – Eton Alive (2019)

“He’s dead, yeah, he died. Can’t you remember? That’s what you’re here for”. I love that delivery. Adelaidians have a similar deadpan reaction to death as British people do. People from the East Coast are taken back by it. I guess that’s why they think we’re all serial killers.

This record has barely left the turntable since December of last year. One thing I’ve learnt about punk music, if you don’t have a touch of humility and tenderness then it’s just vanity and posturing. Unrelated but there’s a line from The Residents that says “ignorance of your culture is not considered cool”. I can almost hear that sentence in Jason’s voice. I love this band. 

NEW MUSIC: Mockcharge – Marauder

New York metal trio Mockcharge deliver in spades on their recent single ‘Marauder’, with its breakneck speed riffs, deadly screams and at its mid-point it drops gears and gets low-slung and sleazy before a hi-hat count-off sends the song to its crashing conclusion. To our ears it sounds like a beautiful collision between Motörhead and White Zombie.

Of the track the band say: “This song was inspired on classic action movies and games such as Doom and Call of Duty. It tells the classic story of the Rambo like guy who is the only one that can win the war. It’s a fun song to play and it’s been fun to listen, just like watching Rambo II and playing Call of Duty.”

Mockcharge

Ed Marson – Guitar and Vocals

Tatiana Turin – Bass

Donnie Hogue – Drums

ALBUM REVIEW: Khruangbin – Mordechai

Khruangbin

Mordechai

Dead Oceans / Inertia

After a busy few years touring and riding the wave of attention that their last album Con Todo El Mundo brought them, Khruangbin retreated to their Texas studio to begin work on their third album. Earlier this year we got a mixed bag EP with Leon Bridges but that was a stop gap. Mordechai is the band spreading their wings wider and drawing together stronger thematic qualities.

The other noticeable change on Mordechai is that most tracks feature the vocals of bassist Laura Lee Ochoa. Previously they were predominately an instrumental trio but here they’re playing vocally-enriched songs without losing any of that wandering, free-spirited musicality that has defined them. Ochoa’s lyrics are fragmentary in nature, mantra-like and perfectly in keeping with the drift and hypnotism of the music. Thematically, many of the songs deal in the idea of memory – Time (You And I), One To Remember, So We Won’t Forget all deal in the concept of remembering. 

Musically, Ochoa, Mark Speer and drummer DJ Johnson cast their poly-sonic net even wider. From African and Asian guitar funk to Jamaican dub, cosmic jazz to tropical psychedelia, they pull from all manner of pan-global sounds. It’s still a thrilling concoction that sounds otherworldly, eternally infectious and upbeat in spite of its melancholic soul. 

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Montecore – Ott Sauce

Straight out of the gates into a krautrock, psych sprint from Chicago group Montecore. The song comes from their One Night album that came out in May and they’ve already followed it up with a new album, House Fire Themes, which hits the same frantic, hyper-melodic hypnotic sweet-spot, Those kinds of songs that could (and should) go on endlessly as guitar solos fire off into the stratosphere, drums hit like a metronome and bass-lines tie it all together like Peter Hook on a bender.

ALBUM REVIEW: RVG – Feral

RVG

Feral

Our Golden Friend/Fire Records

RVG’s new album finds 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.

Quality Of Mercy already had the defining ingredients of the RVG sound – The Smiths-like insistency and nimbleness of the rhythm section, those sparkling, chiming and shimmering guitars and Vager’s voice a commanding strident force out in front. What Feral does do is highlight some sharper songwriting with more space and dynamics, in a wider, more sonically detailed sound courtesy of producer Victor Van Vugt. 

You can particularly hear the sound of The Go-Betweens and Echo & The Bunnymen amid the jangly post-punk and garage rock. It’s simple, melodic indie guitar pop but those guitars sound perfect in the way the notes tumble and cascade from the speakers, all frantically free-falling and forlorn. 

I Used To Love You is a heartbreaking ballad par excellence with its ache and swoon perfectly conveyed, while Photograph sends the listener out on a high. Tentative at first, it builds into a glorious rallying cry. On Feral, Vager’s dissection of how it feels to be sidelined and disenfranchised is treated poetically and ultimately there’s a sense of hope and resilience that rises from the near perfect musical backdrop.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Harrison & Dunkley – In CD

‘In CD’ is a collaborative release from UK duo Stuart Harrison and Peter Dunkley who have played in post-punk bands together in the past but more recently reconvened to explore intstrumental minimalism in the vein of Phillip Glass and Steve Reich.

‘In CD’ is a piece in two parts. The first section is built around keys and guitar circling, looping and overlapping as they build up a hypnotic pulsing post-rock sound. At the track’s mid-point the mood changes, while some of the central repeating motifs still drive the piece along, albeit with a more subdued and reflective tone.

Says Stuart Harrison: “We don’t think that In CD sounds anything like In C – but we took some of the compositional elements, and in particular how Riley instructs ensembles to play his piece, as ‘inspiration’ as we constructed our music. We compose through a process of continual improvisation without necessarily having a defined outcome or even a structure, which tends to take us into unexpected. We’re constantly surprised at what we produce! With this piece, however, we took certain motifs and played them in slightly different ways on different instruments, particularly in the second section.”

Says Peter Dunkley: “Actually, it should have been ‘In DC’ as the first part is in D and the second C. We thought In CD was funnier, though!” 

Check out their profile on Spotify for a bunch of other new compositions.

NEW MUSIC: Tallinn – At The Freeport

Liquid bass, stuttering heartbeat rhythms and melodies that fold in and out of the mix, overlapping dancing with free-spirited interplay. These are the hallmarks of Tallinn’s track ‘At The Freeport’, an art-pop song that inhabits a beautiful sonic space.

The song comes from Varieties Of Exile II, the second in a series of EPs from the New York-based experimental pop project of Scott Whittaker.