NEW SINGLE: The Finalists – Hunting Knife

The third single from The Finalists‘ debut album First, ‘Hunting Knife’ finds the band digging into a big bright sound that showcases their love of chiming and dreamy guitars, lively drums, melodic bass lines and melancholic hooks aplenty. Across its three minutes, songwriter Mark Tobin sings of a catastrophist who starts smoking again because he believes the world will end before he gets cancer.


All we need’s fresh water 
A magnesium fire starter
A hunting knife 
Marlboro Lights 
And a big box of Amoxicillin

The band’s debut single, ‘Ignore All The Hate (On Your Telephone)‘, which was a featured single of the week on 2ser 107.3FM, is an understated slice of melodic melancholia, draped in acoustic and electric guitars that sparkle and gently jangle. In contrast, their second single ‘Learn To Live Without You, whichpremiered on the AU review, is a concise and infectious, garage and jangle-pop guitar nugget, harking back to the golden age of the two and half minute pop song. The track was selected by The Guardian for their Best New Australian Music column and playlist for November 2020.

NEW MUSIC: Restless Leg – The World’s A Room

Restless Leg 2021. Photos by Joshua Morris

As Sydney band Restless Leg prepare to release their new LP Dream Buffet on June 11th, they’ve released the video for its second single ‘The World’s A Room’, directed by Darren Cross.

The opening track to the new album, the single is an infectious, hook-laden slice of jangly guitar pop, reminiscent of the heady sounds of New Zealand band The Bats and their numerous Australian contemporaries trading in melodic indie rock. It’s one of those songs that sways and bobs with freewheeling exuberance, another gem from a band that has mastered the recipe for mixing spirit and verve with poetry, guitars, hooks and melodies.

“This was the last song written for Dream Buffet, at the height of the COVID-lockdown in Sydney in 2020. It was probably around the same time that D.C. Cross released his record of classical guitar compositions (Terabithian) of which he said ‘were not at all concerned with the current social state [i.e. the pandemic]. Total escapism through music’. In stark contrast ‘The World’s A Room’ stares directly into the time-bending tic-toc of lockdown and invites you to dance, by yourself, to some Flying Nun compilation tape you dug out from the early-1990s. It kinda comes at the same problem, but from a different angle,” explains the band’s songwriter, Ben Chamie.

DREAM BUFFET  EAST COAST TOUR

JUNE
Sat 12th – The Servo, Port Kembla NSW – with guests Dropping Honey and Birdsville
Sat 19th – Sonic Sherpa Records, Greenslopes QLD (3pm instore)
Sat 19th  – Can You Keep A Secret? Woolloongabba QLD – with guests Full Power Happy Hour (5-7pm) 
Fri 25th – The Factory Floor, Marrickville NSW – with guests The Electorate and Knievel

AUGUST
Fri 13th – The Brass Monkey, Cronulla NSW – with guests Froggy Prinze and Looch Lewis & The Press Gangsters
Sat 21st – Nighthawks, Collingwood VIC – with guests Minibikes and The Barebones

ALBUM REVIEW: Squid – Bright Green Field

SquidBright Green Field

(Warp Records / Inertia Music)

The last year or two have felt like yet another golden period of forward-thinking UK music. There has been a fascinating sonic collision of indie, jazz, post-punk, art-rock and avant-pop that has thrown forth various musical enigmas such as Black Midi, Black Country, New Road, Shame, Dry Cleaning and the various jazz-based incarnations of Shabaka Hutchings. The spirit of experimentation and a willingness to stretch or ignore boundaries and genre limitations runs through these and many more as they take music deeper into the 21st century.

Formed in Brighton, Squid signed to the legendary electronic label Warp for their debut album, a sign of their propensity and ability to meld dance with intellectual art rock and avant garde soundscapes. That might sound like a recipe for a messy sound but the band’s strength is how they wrangle those sounds, allow for space when necessary and let fly with flurries of rhythm, discordancy and heady emotion when the songs require it.

Lead vocalist Ollie Judge possesses a commanding voice that barks and yelps and occasionally sings and which may well be a deterrent to some potential listeners. There’s a clear line back to the declamatory style (and at times, obtuseness) of Mark E. Smith as well as LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy. Judge employs a range of stylistic approaches to his voice – on ‘Documentary Filmmaker’ he even channels the moody austerity of Interpol’s Paul Banks, a respite for those who prefer a more traditional approach.  

The psychedelic and untethered nature of the album allows ‘Narrator’ to begin like an even nervier Talking Heads before it descends into ecstatic and dystopian howls and shrieks over a persistent cyclical Krautrock rhythm. ‘Pamphlet’ and ‘2010’ doff their caps to Radiohead circa Kid A while ‘Peel St.’ echoes the frantic musicianship of Black Midi with its wondrous dexterity. 

Squid have also drawn from outside their own ranks with a horn and string ensemble featuring the likes of trumpeter Emma-Jean Thackray and saxophonist Lewis Evans from Black Country, New Road. Interspersed between the hyper funk workouts are synth passages and manipulated field recordings that possess musique concrète and soundtrack qualities that create unsettling vibes akin to the Wicker Man film. 

All these strands and disparate elements add up to quite the intoxicating and dizzying collection of highly kinetic and compositionally wide-ranging songs, designed as much for the listener’s cerebral experience as they are some futuristic No Wave, dance-floor. Bright Green Field is an album to go deep with. Layered and aurally tactile, it offers up seemingly endless musical revelations, like travelling through an art exhibition of the greatest pop-art pieces on a fast-moving travelator.  

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Mazeppa – Tree

We’re digging this recent track from the Israeli Haifa based psychedelic band Mazeppa. It definitely has a Nancy Sinatra and Siouxsie Sioux meets Jefferson Airplane in a cosmic shoegaze dimension vibe about it – referencing psych rock across the decades but still sounding wholly contemporary as it stretches across its expanding sonic universe. ‘Tree’ has just the right amount of distortion, groove and screes of atmosphere, balanced with some wonderfully swirling production on it.

The band recorded their self-titled debut album with producer Benjamin Esterlis, entirely in an analog studio in Italy.

NEW MUSIC: JW Francis – Maybe

JW Francis hits a super-melodic collision of indie pop and woozy, rich and warm hazy psych funk on this new track. You can hear the influence of acts such as Beck and Phoenix alongside contemporaries Mac DeMarco, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and even the more commercial indie pop strains of Boy Pablo. ‘Maybe’ is fun but it’s not frivolous, with sonic details in the rhythm section providing particular rewards.

Born in Oklahoma, raised in Paris, living in New York City, assistant to a Nobel Prize Winner, licensed New York City tour guide and Murder Mystery business owner.

VIDEO PREMIERE: Prudence – Better

Sydney musician Tom Crandles, better known as Prudence has a brand new four song 7″ Untitled EP out today (May 14th) via Endless Recordings. Featuring the tracks ‘Celestial’, ‘Chlorine’, ‘Better’ and ‘Relief’, it showcases the lush and baroque avant-pop that Crandles has been developing across a handful of tracks and an EP over the last few years.

We’re very pleased to premiere the video for ‘Better’ here on DS today. On the song, and the wider EP, Prudence filters the sound of David Sylvian, Talk Talk and numerous other auteurs of forward thinking art-pop into his own sound. Melodies run strongly through the bass guitar while tones and textures drift and blur across the speakers. It’s a beguiling mix of ornate and intimate songwriting with sonic obfuscation and a dreamy, narcotic-infused atmosphere – with Crandles’ voice leading you into the ether with quiet drama.

Director McLean Stevenson says of the clip for ‘Better’, “We shot this in Tom’s late grandparent’s abandoned, half burnt down home a few weeks after Tom met Dom (the actor) in hospital. It was shot on a 2017 Chinese manufactured Android device.”

From a wholly solo project for Crandles, Prudence has developed into a full live band with pianist Aleesha Dibbs, bassist Kat Harley and drummer Liam Hoskins.

Untitled is available to order digitally and on 7″ via Bandcamp and on the usual streaming services.

NEW MUSIC: The Goon Sax return with new single and album announcement

photo by Elliott Lauren

Brisbane trio The Goon Sax are back with the first single/video from their forthcoming new LP Mirror II, due out on July 9th on Chapter Music (Aus/NZ) and Matador Records (rest of world).

The first single, ‘In The Stone’, shows the band changing gears from their quirky bedroom guitar pop and exploring no wave, avant pop and post-punk sounds. There’s still that unique homespun feel they always bring to their songs but there’s also a clear indication that the new album is a big step forward in their collective songwriting.

Mirror ll, recorded in Bristol at Invada Studios, owned by Geoff Barrow of Portishead and Beak, with producer John Parish (Aldous Harding, PJ Harvey), is the result of three years of writing, and some considerable time spent apart: Louis relocated to Berlin and worked at a cinema (he sings in German on the track ‘Bathwater’), Riley and James formed an angular post-punk band called Soot. All three experimented with abstract, atonal sounds before recapturing the essence of The Goon Sax: “pop melody,” Louis explains. “The first two albums are inherently linked. They had three-word titles; they went together. This one definitely felt like going back to square one and starting again, and that was really freeing.”

NEW MUSIC: Bandicoot – Dark Too Long

‘Dark Too Long’ is a song that Swansea, UK band Bandicoot describe as a “frenzied cry of desperation from the depths of excess and loneliness, influenced by the driving rhythms of NEU! and Can.” After the initial ambient drift of the intro, it tumbles along in synchronous perpetual motion. There’s the unhinged end of the Radiohead spectrum in play here, as much as a swaggering art pop aesthetic in the production and precision of it all.

They’ve since released another new single Fuzzy which heads in a fun glam direction and which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Supergrass record.