ALBUM REVIEW: New War – Trouble In The Air

a3166310976_10

New War
Trouble In The Air
Heavy Machinery Records

Last year Sarah Mary Chadwick released an album that she’d recorded on the Melbourne Town Hall Organ – the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. New War had already ticked that box in 2017 when they recorded this new live album.

While Chadwick created a grand widescreen soundtrack to her songs, her Melbourne contemporaries use the instrument in a much more varied way by utilising drones, pulsing rhythms and haunting melodies. Played by Jesse Shepherd, the instrument conjures up images of gothic churches, demented carousels, horror soundtracks and shadowy circuses. Those moods are enhanced by the cold electronic drums of Steve Masterson and Melissa Lock’s post-punk bass playing. Topped off by Chris Pugmire’s sinister incantations, the overall effect is one that draws a line back through Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire to Suicide, Nico and the dark side of Krautrock.

Nearly all the songs include a colour in their title, the exception being the accessible opener Bang On. I Am Position Yellow is a highpoint, wonderfully combining atmosphere, rhythm and melody, while Cocaine Blue is a beautiful piece of Joy Division-esque melancholy. 

The album no doubt had immeasurably more impact and resonance when experienced live, with the imposing Grand Organ imposing but never overwhelming the rest of the musicians. This recording serves as a fine document of the occasion.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Daniel McCagh – Altered States

a4154496530_10

Australian composer and sound designer Daniel McCagh has just released his debut album Altered States, an immersive and sonically detailed collection of compositions that range from visceral sheets of digital rain to delicate filigrees and textures. He manipulates acoustic instruments to place them in evocative settings where the organic and synthetic sounds become one. It sounds futuristic yet connected to human spirit, blood flow and creativity.

The title track buzzes and shudders like a scene from a sc-fi film, all tension and a gradual gradient of intensity and right across the album there’s a sense of graceful wounded beauty.

Altered States is out now via n5MD

 

ALBUM REVIEW: Underground Lovers – A Left Turn

A_Left_Turn_iTunes_Cover_2048x.jpg

Underground Lovers
A Left Turn
Rubber Records
★★★★

Underground Lovers are back with their ninth studio album, their third since they reactivated after a hiatus through the first decade of the 21st century. That return showed they were still in fine form with their blend of psychedelic indie rock and electronica and they’ve again produced a strong album that brings those elements together in perfect hypnotic harmony.

Their last album Staring At You Staring At Me focused on the guitar sound of the band, giving it more of a rock feel. This time around they’ve ushered their electronic explorations back into the fold, placing the album close to the work they produced on Cold Feeling at the end of the ‘90s. 

Early on, Bells sets the psych controls for the heart of the mind and just as viably, the dance floor, with its droning Krautrock sprawling across more than six wonderful minutes. They have the ability – like Spiritualized and Wooden Shjips, to find the sweet spot of a groove and ride it endlessly. Hooky ups the rock ante yet still in a warm embrace with the melodies of Glenn Bennie’s guitar and Vincent Giarrusso’s vocal incantations.

Shoegaze has always been another mainstay of the band’s sound and on Dunes and Lusher, Philippa Nihill sounds like a dream sister to My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins as the music shimmers, glows and gently shudders behind her. The single Seven Day Weekend is anthemic in its drum machine-powered rhythm and distorted see-saw guitars as Giarrusso trips out in full Shaun Ryder mode on the ode to carefree socialising. 

By the time we reach the conclusion of the epic nine minute closer Rocky Endings, there’s a sense of post-rollercoaster exhilaration in the wake of the album’s propulsive peaks and floating valleys. The song winds its wistful way for four minutes before taking off into the stratosphere on an interstellar space-rock mission of chiming guitars, pulsing bass and metronomic drumming that billows and expands gorgeously. A Left Turn is another sonic gem from one of Australia’s psychedelic finest.

Chris Familton

 

VIDEO PREMIERE: Life Strike – Dear Life

Life Strike BioPic July 2019 web

Melbourne post-punk trio Life Strike have a way of combining that genre’s obtuse angles and edges with a jangly lo-fi aesthetic. It positions them somewhere between the Dunedin underground guitar pop merchants of the 80s and a darker, more garage rock attack and smear. Here’s their brand new single and video from the album Primitive Future which came out last month. ‘Dear Life’ clears away some of the grit and grime and reveals a melancholic slice of downbeat hooks and heartwarming chord changes as  Patrick McCabe muses on environmental degradation.

Nick Pratt, a New Zealander who used to be in Deaf Wish, and McCabe (Dollar Bar), along with new drummer Scotty Brique are heading off for a run of East Coast shows over the next month.

TOUR DATES:

  • September 14 – Upstairs at the Gasometer, Melbourne w/ Chook Race, If So Why, Vale of Lights
  • September 20 – Tanswell’s, Beechworth w/ guests TBA
  • September 21 (arvo) – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney w/ Shrapnel, The Good Boys, S-Bends
  • October 12 – The Eastern, Ballarat w/ Lymes and guests TBA

EXCLUSIVE ALBUM STREAM: Fleeting Persuasion – Forever Caught

 

67802925_2444664608960829_2601679029417279488_o

We’re very pleased to be able to premiere a stream of the brand new album from Fleeting Persuasion, the latest nom de plume of Melbourne songwriter James Spencer Harrison. He’s previously released music under the name J M S Harrison but now, with a richer and denser full band sound on Forever Caught he’s launched it under Fleeting Persuasion.

Sonically persuading it is too, with echoes of The Cure, tightly woven post-rock and Australian acts such as Bluebottle Kiss filtered through Harrison’s own brand of heart-on-sleeve melancholia. It’s indie rock but the kind that resides in the shadows, always carving out new angles and creating interesting dynamics. Whether it’s the chiming sounds and clever shapes of ‘Written Out’, ‘Set Afoot’s urgent, aching melodies or ‘Make Plans’ which recalls the dark rock of Afghan Whigs, there’s plenty to explore and go deep with on this strong new iteration of Harrison’s music.

TOUR DATES:

Sept 7th – Labour In Vain, Fitzroy VIC with Del Boca Vista
Oct 18th – Botany View Hotel, Newtown NSW with Donna Amini and Foxlore
Oct 19th – Gasoline Pony, Marrickville NSW with Buddy Glass and The Finalists

NEW MUSIC: Slowcoaching – Between The Walls

0016808004_10

Here’s a nice new slice of sophisticated indie guitar pop out of Melbourne, Australia. Slowcoaching (the project of Dean Valentino) have a touch of Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever in their music through they mix it up with a sun-kissed and prettier melodic approach. This track sparkles and shines quite wonderfully and it follows their 2017 debut EP.