NEW MUSIC: Leizure – Nightmare

The first thing that struck me about Danish band Leizure is how much they remind me of some Australian bands, in particular the much-missed The Scare as well as Melbourne group Witch Hats who have been pretty quiet for a few years now. Given the sound and influences those bands no doubt share, a line can be drawn through Iceage, Ought, Viagra Boys, Birthday Party, Gun Club and other gloriously nihilistic-sounding acts.

In all of these bands there’s the howl and intellectual angst of slashing guitars and primal vocals over post-punk rhythm sections and Leizure do it damn well. ‘Nightmare‘, complete with it’s skronkin’ horns, comes from the band’s excellent new album Primal Hymns which came out at the end of October on Five Foot One Records. It looks to be their debut LP after an EP and a string of singles and it stands tall as a gripping, sonically hedonistic and wild swinging post-punk/art rock record.

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

ALBUM REVIEW: Jessica – The Space Between

JESSICA

THE SPACE BETWEEN

INDEPENDENT (via Bandcamp)

One half of folk-noir duo Jep and Dep (also featuring Darren Cross of Gerling), Jessica’s debut album takes the sound forged from that musical partnership and crafts it into her own ethereal and immersive world. Cross is still on hand as producer and engineer but it’s clear from the outset that this is Jessica’s singular and personal vision.

Devoid of drums, the eleven songs drift and creep along like mist on a moor. Heavily draped in resonant reverb that creates an ambient, cathedral-like atmosphere, the billowing vapour trails hanging heavy in the air, shrouding her songs that explore the themes of death, loss and memory – formed from her experience as a survivor of a mass shooting in Strathfield, NSW when she was seven.

There’s a half-grasped memory quality to many of the songs, buried in a hypnagogic haze, while others such as ‘Womb Tomb’ are lifted skyward and ‘Has It Come To This’ has the DNA of a classic torch song.

Vocally, Beth Gibbons (Portishead), Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins) and Aldous Harding’s early work are clear influences on the way Jessica hauntingly layers her voice. By playing electric guitar, she avoids straight folk and creates more emotionally visceral textures, bringing to mind PJ Harvey and the more elegiac playing of Mick Turner (Dirty Three). Time and the listener’s full attention are essential to fully appreciating the depth and expansive beauty of The Space Between.

Chris Familton

ALBUM REVIEW: Darren Cross – Keeping Up?

Darren Cross returns with a new album called Keeping Up? In recent years he’s explored folk noir with Jep and Dep, his own eclectic solo albums and a pair of instrumental acoustic folk albums under the moniker D.C Cross.

Here he orbits planet Gerling closer than he has since the band split back in in the late 00s. It’s still a totally different musical creature but the synthetic/humanistic/subtly anarchic blend that band explored at times is still rippling through Cross’ DNA.

There’s a cosmic nostalgia at play. Dreamy, fragmentary and hypnagogic in the feelings it portrays and the visage it conjures up, this is Kraftwerk disconnected from their machines and cast into an interstellar dream state. Hi-brow, lo-fi – allowing the machines to wonder and reflect. There’s a sense of suspended reality, a remove from the chaos of reality, pressing pause on the VCR, cleaning the hard drive, looking for a way to process and cope with the avalanche of data we consume and are unwittingly fed with each day.

Drum machines are treated like arhythmic heartbeats, lazily loping along with a melancholic funk in their step. Synths wash and cascade like ultra slo-mo and woozy waterfalls. There’s an overwhelmingly immersive quality to the music. Drug-like, womb-like – that intrinsic memory of holding your breath underwater as a child and feeling at peace in the aquatic cocoon.

Keeping Up? is a battle for optimism in the face of decreasing digital odds. It’s a non-smoking area for mental health and a dystopian glance back at the malaise of the industrial age.

NEW MUSIC: Dave Cherub – Chalk and Glitter

There’s some clever stuff going on with this glorious new single from Dave Cherub. Sweet soul music meets 60s psych pop, country-folk and the kind of skewed indie guitar rock that bands like Built To Spill and Flaming Lips mastered.

‘Chalk and Glitter’ comes from Dave Cherub, the self-titled debut album from the Vancouver country-folk singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist of the same name.

Thirteen songs, written in 30 days, recorded in a single year; this record finds Vancouver music veteran Dave Cherub writing, performing, producing and mixing every note of the record he’s always wanted to make. The result is a single piece of country-folk hewn from the beautiful backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, arranged in a mosaic that straddles the line between heartbreak and happy place.

NEW MUSIC: The Finalists – Learn To Live Without You

Sydney quartet The Finalists have released two singles ahead of the release of their debut album First tomorrow, on the Half A Cow label.

The Finalists’ debut single, ‘Ignore All The Hate (On Your Telephone)‘, a featured single of the week on 2SER 107.3FM, was an understated slice of melodic melancholia, draped in acoustic and electric guitars that sparkled and gently jangled. In contrast, ‘Learn To Live Without You, a concise and infectious, garage and jangle-pop guitar nugget, harks back to the golden age of the two and half minute pop song.

The song bursts into view on the back of a psychedelic intro before the drums strike a declamatory beat and 6 & 12-string guitars strum and chime in unison as Mark Tobin paints an optimistic picture of a broken relationship. The Beatles, R.E.M. and The Byrds in the Paisley Underground.

Tobin wrote most of this song in one afternoon on a 12-string acoustic guitar but as he explains, the song really came alive once they started playing it as a band. “The more we played it, the more psychedelic it became. We shamelessly channelled our heroes, The Beatles and The Byrds, and covered the song with 12-string guitars, Ringo style drums and harmonies. This song, like many others, is about the impermanence of relationships, and the realisation that sometimes there is nothing you can do to prevent an imminent painful loss.”

With a sound that draws on the group’s collective music history playing in a number of bands in Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand, they’ve concocted a blend of jangly guitar-based indie rock, with elements of psych-rock, shoegaze and post-punk threading through their debut album. 

You can hear the ghosts of Factory and Flying Nun Records, the evocative strains of The Go-Betweens and The Smiths and other Antipodean contemporaries such as Underground Lovers, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and RVG. 

First will be out via Bandcamp on Friday Nov 6th.

full disclosure – Chris Familton of Doubtful Sounds plays bass in The Finalists

NEW MUSIC: Champion Motorist – Dear Liars

‘Dear Liars’ is a new track from Melbourne post-rock duo Champion Motorist. Andrew McLaughlin (guitar & synths) and Paul Shea (drums) are clearly at the atmospheric post-metal end of the post-rock spectrum and this track, from their new EP Slight Return, travels a magnificent arc from the scene-setting tension and slow build dynamics through to the four minute mark, where that dissipates into the aether before returning with even more crunch and muscular intent.

McLaughlin spent a decade treading the boards with Melbourne group Radiant City after having played in band with Shea when they were younger. Reconnecting after twenty years, these songs apparently came quickly. You can hear it too, in the way they favour simplicity and a steady sense of order and control in their compositions.

Bands such as Smashing Pumpkins, Mogwai and Russian Circles come to mind when listening to Champion Motorist. Check out the full EP over on their Bandcamp page.