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

NEW MUSIC: Empasse – Ultraviolet

Let’s kick off the new week with some really nice post-rock sounds out of Kirikiriroa (Hamilton) in New Zealand. If you dig the type of music created by Mogwai and Jakob then this will be your kind of thing. ‘Ultraviolet’ is moody, dark and ominous even when it’s not heavy. It’s cinematic too, but still operates in a compositional rock format.

Empasse is the work of Nick Johnston, a local government bureaucrat by day and musician by night. Some of Nick’s previous bands include post-rock band Sora Shima, and indie pop bands The Changing Same and Dynamo Go.  

Nick describes the Ultraviolet EP as a “soundtrack to a story that is not well known in New Zealand outside the Waikato Region where I live” – the story of the town of Rotowaro, a former mining village that was entirely removed in the 1980s to make way for an opencast coal mine. The mine fuelled the Huntly Power Station, the largest thermal power station in New Zealand which has been identified as responsible for over half of New Zealand’s carbon emissions from electricity generation. 

“Ultraviolet is about the damage and wounds that we cannot see – in this case, it is the rural communities that have battered over many generations to grow and power our larger cities, as well as the carbon emissions damaging the health of our planet.” 

NEW MUSIC: Koalra – Dear Daylight

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Hailing from Chicago Illinois, Koalra cut some fine indie rock shapes on this single ‘Dear Daylight’. There’s the rough and tumbling guitars – part jangle, part visceral screes – post-punk rhythms and a voice that hollers and sings with a beautiful melancholic angst. It all fits together just right on the single, one of many great tracks on their EP Surprise Lights.

Koalra call themselves a noise punk band and there’s undoubtedly that in the abandon and frantic pace of their songs, but they also dial into that sweet spot between energetic flailing and clever, twisting guitar shapes, in the lineage of Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr and No Age.

NEW MUSIC: Dei Lucrii – Devil’s Thumb / Scathe By The Bull

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Dei Lucrii are a psychedelic noise-punk quartet based in Los Angeles California who’ve just released their new EP Devil’s Thumb.

Below you can check out the first two tracks from the release, both of which hit the accelerator and burn ominous rubber across the melting highway bitumen. There are shades of stoner rock and punk, with a dark and heavy underbelly, in their sound. You can also hear the desert influence, giving it a western-noir vibe amid the distortion and weighty rhythms.

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NEW MUSIC: Blue Canopy – St. Albans

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Here’s a really nice slice of 60s-tinged, indie guitar pop from Portland-based artist Alex Schiff who records under the name Blue Canopy. The vocal layering in particular grabbed our attention with their tripped-out Beach Boys vibe. ‘St. Albans‘ comes from his debut EP Mild Anxiety which is out now.

“St. Albans is about an old friend who I lost touch with, but consistently visits me in dreams. It’s probably my only falling out (outside of romantic relationships) that felt like a breakup. The relationship was a little toxic, but we were very, very close. We were also songwriting partners through college, and when I decided to end our band, he decided he didn’t want to ever speak with me again. The song is part reminiscent/memory lane and part my feelings about it now after all these years. I showed him the record (we communicate a little bit now) and that was his favorite song! It’s also a little bit Beatles-esque which is his favorite band, so that’s a little bit of a nod to him.”

NEW MUSIC: BastienGOAT – Hexane

 

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There’s a great blend of cold industrial percussion and hot-blooded bass tones throughout this new track but US electronic producer BastienGOAT. Hailing from Pinole, CA, he’s just released his new Fumes EP – two tracks that carve some hard pummelling rhythms with haunted sci-fi sounds. A nod to the dynamics of drum & bass but firmly placed in the techno realm. There’s also a playfulness amid the heavy bass and moody atmospherics.

 

NEW MUSIC: Champ Major – Enjoy

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Madison Major of Brooklyn, New York is Champ Major, an experimental folk artist who’s aesthetic is one of creating a sonic environment to match her songs and stories. In the case of ‘Enjoy’ from her EP Receipe For Baking Two Humans Together, it’s a thick and foggy sound, akin to a radio transmission from a distant time and place. Acoustic guitar and a yearning voice is all Champ Major needs to convey her imagery and emotions.

NEW MUSIC: Anonymous Friends – Amos

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Anonymous Friends – straight outta Somerville, Massachusetts with their debut EP Anonymous Friends Start A Band. Great sound too – shades of Fugazi, Polvo , Girls Against Boys, Bailter Space and the like. ‘Amos’ does the loud quiet loud thing well with a tight rhythm section and some noisy Pixies six-string racket smeared across the top of it all.