VIDEO: Ducktails – Surreal Exposure

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Matthew Mondanile (Real Estate) solo career as Ducktails gets better and better with each new release. From hypnagogic woozy lo-fi beginnings to the excellent refined indie pop of The Flower Lane Mondanile seems to be on a quest to refine his sound to sparkling effervescent melancholic pop songs. On the evidence here, from his upcoming St Catherine LP (July 28th), he’s getting closer and closer.

Here he is having a summer domestic hang time with Mr Mac DeMarco on the new single ‘Surreal Exposure’.

NEW MUSIC: Ducktails – Headbanging In The Mirror

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Matthew Mondanile’s (Real Estate) side project Ducktails can’t really be called that anymore. Now he’s on the verge of releasing his fifth solo album St. Catherine which features guest vocals from Julia Holter and James Ferraro. It follows The Flower Lane, one of our favourite albums of 2013 and Ducktails’ finest to date. Below you can hear ‘Headbanging In The Mirror.’

1. The Disney Afternoon
2. Headbanging In The Mirror
3. Into The Sky
4. Heaven’s Room
5. St. Catherine
6. The Laughing Woman
7. Surreal Exposure
8. Church
9. Medieval
10. Krumme Lanke
11. Reprise

St. Catherine will be available on July 24th on CD (WIG361CD), Digitally (WIG361D), standard edition LP (WIGLP361) and on limited edition coloured vinyl LP (WIGLP361X) through Dom Mart. St. Catherine is available through Dom Mart HERE and through iTunes HERE.

FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF 2013

DS 2013 faves

2013 was a pretty strong year for music. From the established artists hitting their late-period straps to newcomers breathing new life into old forms, it felt like a year where a whole range of styles rose to the top.

There were plenty of surprises with new albums appearing out of the blue from Bowie and MBV and also irritating marketing campaigns that felt like they were bleeding their albums dry before they were even released. I’m looking at you Daft Punk and Arcade Fire.

As usual here at DS we kept our ears closely tuned into what was going on in Australia and New Zealand with both countries producing a wealth of great albums. Records from this part of the world make up 40% of our favourite records in 2013. Let us know what seduced and moved you this year and let’s do it all again in 2014.

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1. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away

A record that perfectly blends rich narrative and darkly cinematic sonic backdrops. One of Cave’s finest works and the moment where his and Warren Ellis’ musical collaboration becomes fully realised.

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2. Bill Callahan – Dream River

On his exceptional new album, Bill Callahan (formerly Smog) has recorded his most peaceful and meditative set of songs. There is a bucolic, contemplative feel to the eight songs on offer as they weave across percussive landscapes, led by flutes and hypnotic guitars. Sonically the album is rooted in pastoral folk, much of it soaked in dub-heavy reverb and delay. The focus though is firmly on Callahan’s voice, high and focused in the mix as he delivers typically brilliant lines like “All I want to do is make love to you in the fertile dirt with a careless mind”.

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3. Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze

Vile has gone from strength to strength with each album and this is his finest yet. Finely tuned hazily motorik songs that sit in the pocket and keep drawing you in deeper and deeper with each listen.

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4. Jason Isbell – Southeastern

Isbell’s coming of age as a songwriter, though not that he was in any way a slouch in that department prior to Southeastern. He doesn’t waste a word, he builds phrases with economy and poetic grace while encasing them in that rich southern drawl.

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5. Houndmouth – From The Hills Below The City

This was a real surprise record that came out of nowhere for me. It was recommended by a fellow Americana fan and reminded me of the best of what the Felice Brothers do when they blend irresistible melodies with sharp yet not overly polished harmonies and an instrumental mix of country and folk.

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6. Bryan Estepa – Heart vs Mind

A relatively unsung hero amongst Australian songwriters and possessing an angelic voice, Estepa embraced his inner pop and rock obsessions to craft this record that pulls influences from The Jayhawks to Hall & Oates. This is a superb album that excels in effortless, meticulous and timeless songwriting.

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7. Bad/Dreems – Badlands EP

Mix small town pessimism, youthful optimism, suburban nihilism and a lo-fi aesthetic and you have some of the ingredients that make the essential sound of Bad//Dreems. Badlands is another crucial addition to the canon of classic and quintessentially Australian releases.

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8. Wooden Shjips – Back To Land

This is the Shjips doing mainly what they always do, locking into psych drone grooves and riding them into the sunset and/or sunrise. Repetition is the key. They’ve let more light into this one and it opens up their sound into some new areas, rewardingly so.

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9. Ducktails – The Flower Lane

The solo project of Real Estate’s Matt Mondanile, this is an album built on 80s dream pop with sax solos and warm glowing melodies. Easily the best in show for this kind of music.

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10. Kirin J Callinan – Embracism

The agent provocateur of Australian art rock realises his ambition with this wide-ranging album that blends dissonance and a healthy pop heart. Victoria M is one of Embracism’s high points, tempering the intensity with gorgeous, swelling piano and bittersweet baroque pop in the vein of Suede. Elsewhere we get Callinan channeling David Sylvian on Scraps, Bowie on the schizophrenic Chardonnay Sean and Suicide on Way II War. Debut album of the year.

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11. Popstrangers – Antipodes

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12. Austin Lucas – Stay Reckless

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13. Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys – Ready For Boredom

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14. Ooga Boogas – Ooga Boogas

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15. The Drones – I See Seaweed

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16. Mazzy Star – Seasons of Your Day

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17. Vista Chino – Peace

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18. Civil Civic – Rules

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19. Basko Believes- Melancholic Melodies

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20. Sharpie Crows – 12 Omeros

21. Caitlin Rose – The Stand-In 

22. Iron & Wine – Ghost on Ghost

23. Phosphorescent – Muchacho

24. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II

25. Eleanor Friedberger – Personal Record

26. Mark Kozelek & Desertshore – Mark Kozelek & Desertshore

27. Daughn Gibson – Me Moan

28. The Phoenix Foundation – Fandango

29. Courtney Barnett – The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas

30. Mark Moldre – An Ear To The Earth

31. Anna Calvi – One Breath

32 .Matthew E. White – Big Inner

33. Califone – Stitches

34. The Haxan Cloak – Extinction

35. DJ Koze – Amygdala

36. Zomby – With Love 

37. Jen Cloher – In Blood Memory

38. Savages – Silence Yourself 

39. Forest Swords – Engravings

40. The Necks – Open

DS Favourite Songs of 2013

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It’s always a mighty challenge to narrow down all the songs you’ve heard in one year and slot them into order on a nice tidy list of 20. I’m sure I’ve missed a handful of gems but these are all songs that have either captured my imagination, feet, ears or all of the above and made me think “damn that is a great song”.

1. Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener

2. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street

3. Houndmouth – Penitentiary

4. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – So Good At Being In Trouble

5. Bad//Dreems – Caroline

6. Wooden Shjips – Everybody Knows

7. Kirin J Callinan – Victoria M

8. Ooga Boogas – Sex in the Chillzone

9. Ducktails – Under Cover

10. TV Colours – Beverly

11. Popstrangers – Heaven

12. Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys – Any Day Now

13. Eleanor Friedberger – When I Knew

14. Sharpie Crows – Thanks You Ladies For The Spread

15. Bill Callahan – Small Plane

16. Neko Case – Night Still Comes

17. Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture of You

18. Arcade Fire – We Exist

19. Suede – Barriers

20. Depeche Mode – Heaven

Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street

Houndmouth – Penitentiary

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – So Good At Being In Trouble

Bad//Dreems – Caroline

Wooden Shjips – Everybody Knows

Kirin J Callinan – Victoria M

Ooga Boogas – Sex in the Chillzone

Ducktails – Under Cover

TV Colours – Beverly

Popstrangers – Heaven

Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys – Any Day Now

Eleanor Friedberger – When I Knew

Suede – Barriers

Sharpie Crows – Thanks You Ladies For The Spread

Bill Callahan – Small Plane

Neko Case – Night Still Comes

Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture of You

Arcade Fire – We Exist

Depeche Mode – Heaven

2013 MID YEAR FAVOURITE ALBUMS

2013 mid year faves

Here we are again at list time, halfway through 2013 and already there have been a swathe of great albums released. We’ve been listening to an eclectic mix of stuff as usual including dub electronica, skronking freeform saxophone, abrasive art rock, retro-leaning post punk and heartstring americana. These are the records we’ve loved the most from what we’ve heard this year. There will be others from the last six months that we’ll discover as the rest of the year rolls out but we can at least highly recommend these ones – in no particular order…

  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away
  • Protomartyr – No Passion All Technique
  • The Phoenix Foundation – Fandango
  • Kirin J Callinan – Embracism
  • The Drones – I See Seaweed
  • Fat Freddy’s Drop – Blackbird
  • Jason Isbell – Southeastern
  • DJ Koze – Amygdala
  • Eleanor Friedberger – Personal Record
  • Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol 3: To See More Light
  • Zomby – With Love

ALBUM REVIEW: Ducktails | The Flower Lane

ds album reviews

by Chris Familton

square-600-2Rating9Ducktails is the solo project for Matt Mondanile whose regular music day job is with laid back indie guitar popsters Real Estate. As their profile has grown, so too has the level of attention Ducktails music has received as it has evolved from relatively lo-fi and fragmented beginnings to a fully fledged and comparatively slick form as evidenced by the exceptional new album The Flower Lane.

Side projects are often a chance or excuse for a musician to get self-indulgent with more obscure interests, safe in the knowledge they still have their main band to reach a wider audience. Mondanile may have given that impression on earlier records like Landscapes from 2009 but that was also the point at which an identifiable sound and personality began to emerge. The Flower Lane  considers all he has done to date and takes it to a logical conclusion where pop, R&B, kraut, yacht and indie rock all collide in a smooth and synthetic place. It all drifts by like a lightheaded daydream but that doesn’t mean it lacks sonic or melodic substance. There is a gentle and beguiling sense of hidden depth to the album like that weird moment of realisation when you are floating on a boat at sea and you suddenly become aware of the great expanse that lies beneath you. The depth to this album lies in the musical history it has absorbed and reconfigured.

The last album that so effectively dialed into the overexposed and overanalyzed use of nostalgia in contemporary music was Destroyer’s Kaputt and The Flower Lane throws up numerous tangential and connective moments to that record, whether it is the easy listening saxophone on Under Cover or Assistant Director’s burbling funk-lite sounds that were so prominent in the 80s. Another nod to that period of musical history comes with Planet Phrom, a cover of the 1989 song by Peter Gutteridge (Snapper, The Chills). It shows that Mondanile possesses a panoramic view of music from the mainstream to the obscure and finds merit in areas of both extremes.

While guitars jangle through effects pedals that evoke some Johnny Marr flashbacks Ducktails isn’t afraid to let the music stretch and spread its wings on the expansive krautrock psych of International Date Line which ironically comes in at 1:58 just as you begin to get excited about the possibilities of where it might head. Instead of indulging us Mondanile diverts into R&B infused space soul with a Moog solo, processed drums and Stereolab sounding vocals on Letter Of Intent and it works wonderfully, both as a standalone track and in the context of the whole record.

If you had a hankering for anyone from Style Council to Prefab Sprout, Scritti Politti or Felt then this will a record that will remind you of those times and the sonic palettes they dealt in. The Flower Lane is Ducktails’ most immediate and best album that reveals more and more with repeated listens. Its clarity reveals its subtleties and confirms Mondanile as the intelligent and bold songwriter that he has always hinted he might be.

this review was first published on undertheradar.co.nz