NEW MUSIC: The Laurels – Sound System

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The Laurels are back with a new single/video, ‘Sound System’, their first with new member Kat Harley (Mezko) on bass and vocals.

As usual they’re working that hazy and fascinating space between genres that they’ve always navigated so well. Indie rock with art-pop melodies filtered through shoegaze and psych. This time round the song has a distinctly futuristic sheen to it, in keeping with its subject matter.

“High rise apartments and rent prices loom large over this paean to a future dystopian city, the inhabitants of which are doomed to a lifetime of evenings spent in queues waiting to eat at fine dining restaurants after a round of putt putt golf.” He continues “Sound System finds this group of part-time disc jockeys loading up their van with generators and loud speakers as they seek to reignite the street party.”
– Luke O’Farrell

The Laurels have Sydney and Melbourne shows happening soon:

The Lansdowne, Sydney
Saturday, July 20th
TICKETS

The Gasometer, Melbourne
Saturday, July 27th
TICKETS

INTERVIEW: The Laurels

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THE SCIENCE OF PSYCHEDELIA & BREAKBEATS

The Laurels have re-emerged from the studio with an adventurous take on their brand of psych rock that takes influence from both Primal Scream and Public Enemy. Singer and guitarist Luke O’Farrell takes Chris Familton inside the creation of Sonicology.

“I went a bit nuts, we all went a bit crazy in the studio working on these songs “ says O’Farrell, describing the long and intensive process of writing and recording Sonicology. They set up their own studio and “started getting samplers and experimenting with junk shop records, sampling them and making beats” before spending numerous hours recording and sampling themselves to avoid copyright issues. “It is very much a studio album. The guitar took a back seat on this album. If anything samplers were the main instrument. Even the guitars were fed into samplers and triggered and sequenced. It still sounds like us and is guitar heavy but the way we approached the recording was completely different to what we’d done before,” explains O’Farrell.

The genesis of the new album reaches right back to before the band started recording their previous record. “With Plains, we were playing those songs for six years before recording them and then you have to play them on the road for another two or three years. We really adjusted to that way of working as a live band. With this one we started getting into hip hop influences just before we started recording Plains – a lot of Public Enemy, a lot of funk and soul, stuff like James Brown. That was the headspace we were in after the Plains tour finished and then it was a matter of convincing the other guys to try something really different in the studio this time around.”

Between albums, drummer Kate Wilson (The Holy Soul) decided to leave the band and Jasper Fenton, who O’Farrell and Piers Cornelius had played with in other groups, was drafted in. “It wasn’t easy, it was very sad to see Kate go after that amount of time. We’re still mates and we still love her. With the new tracks and the way we wanted to approach them in the studio, that wasn’t what she wanted to do with the band. Jasper is also a multi-instrumentalist and a producer which really helped the recording,” says O’Farrell.

One hurdle to overcome after making an album steeped in studio production and different technology is how to present the songs live. O’Farrell explains that they’ve got their head around the songs now. “It’s taken us a few months going back and re-learning and adjusting songs. Their entire life has been in the studio, they weren’t really made for live performance but we’ve figured out a way to represent them live. There are three of us triggering samplers now but we’re not tethered to a click track, we want to still keep it loose and free and incorporate the samples from the album.”

“This album was more collaborative than anything we’ve done in the past,” says O’Farrell, when asked if the band is a collective vision or driven by one or two people. “There’s never really been a leader, we all have ideas bout how we want the band to sound and we try to incorporate everyone’s vision. It’s a mix of all of us and I guess that’s why we are still together after ten years.”

LIVE REVIEW: Witch Hats, The Laurels, Terza Madre, Melbourne Cans @ Red Rattler Theatre, Sydney (19/08/16)

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Melbourne Cans made the trip up to Sydney with their soulful, shuffling and shaking sound. There was a lo-fi backbeat to their songs, somewhere between the 80s Postcard Records sound and a woollier Royal Headache. Keyboards took the songs out of straight strum and sing territory, adding a psychedelic feel which worked well.

Terza Madre have been gathering a slow buzz and reputation. They are hard to pin down – hard to fit on small stages too, with the 7-piece, black-attired outfit adding an additional vocalist and a trumpet player at times. The music was considered and emotive, occasionally showing hints of 70s prog as they sang Italian pop songs with an almost gothic drama. Their set got better as they settled in. There is little to compare them to on the current scene which is good thing.

The Laurels are a band who have been in a period of sonic transition in recent times. With an imminent new album they showcased some songs from it, some old ones and even one written the night before. Luke O’Farrell was surrounded by a bank of digital instruments to add to his already impressive guitar pedal-board. They were loud – the bass still propels their songs, and with more tools at their disposal their sound has loosened and allowed more rhythm and flow into their guitar revelries.

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Witch Hats took the stage late to a thinning yet still enthusiastic audience. On their new album they’ve added more nuance and melody yet it’s still a primal sound, with singer/guitarist Kris Buscombe holding court centre-stage while stick-figure bassist Ash Buscombe carried the bottom-end whilst constantly bouncing and lunging to and fro. Live, there was a bristling fervour to their new songs, more urgency and attack in the delivery and when they hit extended sections the dissonance and noise entered the fray as the guitars fragmented over the dark pummelling grooves of the rhythm section. Their set added credence to this writer’s belief that of the current crop of post-punk/alt-rock Australian bands, there are few that can match Witch Hats.

Chris Familton

NEWS: The ‘At First Sight’ record fair and festival is fast approaching….

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On Saturday July 20th Carriageworks in Sydney will host At First Sight which is being billed as a ‘vinyl romance’ style festival with 11 bands and more than 10 DJs soundtracking the day while you peruse the record bins of record stores, labels and private sellers. This is a killer line-upof bands that you are unlikely to see all on the same festival stage. Great music, great concept – embrace it.

BANDS:

HTRK, along with Twerps, The Laurels, Beaches, Super Wild Horses, Straight Arrows, Songs, Holy Balm, Day Ravies, Client Liaison, and Shining Bird

DJs:

Yo Grito, Jimmy Sing, Count Doyle, Noise In My Head, Marcus King, Smokie La Beef, Basslines, Nic Warnock, Flash Back, Beat Club.

EVENT DETAILS:

DATES:                                 SATURDAY 20 JULY, 2013

TICKETS:                              $35

TIMES:                                 RECORD FAIR 10AM- 6PM, FREE

BANDS FROM 12PM, $35

WHERE:                               CARRIAGEWORKS, 245 WILSON ST, REDFERN

BOOKING:                          www.carriageworks.com.au

LIVE REVIEW: Nuggets: Antipodean Interpolations @ Paradiso at Town Hall (25/01/13)

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by Chris Familton

In a rare use of the Sydney Town Hall for rock n roll, Sydney Festival honoured both the original and seminal 1972 Nuggets 60s garage rock compilation and its recent Australian tribute Antipodean Interpolations of the First Psychedelic Era. The night was a chance for six of those bands to play short sets that gave a snapshot of their own Nuggets-spirited sound. It would have been amazing to see the hall packed to capacity, heaving to paint-peeling psych garage rock but though the crowd wasn’t disappointing it was still far from capacity.

The trio Bloods christened the stage with an endearing mix of enthusiastic and pop-leaning primitive rock. Though their cover of Farmer John wasn’t a touch on the original their other songs showed they can write catchy hooks. A band was needed to embody the spirit of ‘kicking against the pricks’ rock n roll attitude and The Gooch Palms were the ones to do it. The drums/guitar pair have their Cramps /Iggy schtick perfected and were only one song in when singer Leroy dropped his gold hotpants to reveal all before turning and proudly spreading his cheeks to the crowd. For all the aping and shock value they backed it up with some excellent primal theremin swamp rock that also drew from 50s rock n roll and doo-wop. Step-Panther took a few songs to get into their groove but they showed their are continuing to evolve, dropping some of their ADD song structures and making use of Steve Bourke’s great guitar playing. Melbourne representatives The Murlocs and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard felt like a double act – sharing members, sounding like authentic 60s garage rock outcasts and providing the peak of the events offerings. The Murlocs have a blues streak, complete with harmonica while King Gizzard threw in rnb basslines amid a ramshackle punk dive vibe. The sound of the venue best suited these acts with their white-hot treble sonics and while it was decidedly average overall, if any type of music was going to make the most of the acoustics it was this bunch. The Laurels always deliver but here they sounded out of place, their songs felt like lumbering, epic space rock, lacking the knife edge sound of the other acts. It was left to hometown heroes Straight Arrows to put the exclamation mark on the night and they staggered and lurched through a set of new and old tunes that concluded with a volley of toilet rolls into the audience.

The venue was oversized for this type of music but Nuggets was still fun, primarily due to the spirit of the audience and the bands. Hopefully the organisers take note and build on this foray into underground local music for future arts festivals.

this review was first published in Drum Media / The Music

NEWS: New label, album and single for The Laurels

We’ve been hanging for this one for a while now but finally Sydney’s The Laurels have announced their album will be released via Rice Is Nice Records in the second half of 2012.

Featuring Luke O’Farrell (vocals/guitar/loop sampler), Piers Cornelius (vocals/guitar), Conor Hannan (bass) and Kate Wilson (drums) they released to much acclaim the Wandering Star 7″ (2009) and the Mesozoic EP (2011) to much acclaim as well as continuing to build their reputation for superb live shows alongside a string of local and overseas acts. The latest track to come from the forthcoming album is Tidal Wave and you can check out the video below and/or grab a free download of the track at Soundcloud.

LIVE REVIEW: WOODEN SHJIPS @ OAF, SYDNEY (24/03/12)

written by Chris Familton

Newcomers DCM (Wolfmother’s Chris Ross and Daniel Stricker of the Midnight Juggernauts) set up their keyboards and effect units on the dancefloor in front of the stage and opened the evening with some glorious kraut-tinged electronica that was the perfect sonic calm before the storm to come. They showed a nice balance between pseudo ambient washes of sounds and some harder edged rhythms and synth tones that hinted at electronic/industrial influences like Cabaret Voltaire and other early 80s acts. The duo clearly know their boundaries and worked well within them, never letting a track outstay its welcome or lose its edge.

The Laurels only know one way forward and that is with volume and washes of heavenly guitars. They’ve been around a while yet they never disappoint. Tonight the mix softened their harsher edges but they still built up a head of shoegaze steam with their dual vocals weaving melodies amid the guitar carnage and Kate Wilson’s defiantly buoyant drumming. Black Cathedral was aired early, as were other tracks from last year’s EP and they yet again reminded the crowd why they are the best exponents of psych guitar rock in Sydney at the moment.

Wooden Shjips are a band that are in no rush to get anywhere in particular. From the moment they stepped on stage to their departure an hour later, they dragged the willing audience into their swirling vortex of heavy-lidded repetition, spiraling skyward guitar and that omnipresent motorik rhythm section.

Almost every song they played felt like it stretched on forever, burning a hole in your brain, deeper and deeper. Their magic lies in the simple form of that rock solid rhythm section that laid the foundation for Ripley Johnson to explore the sonic wilderness of his guitar and pedals. Between those two pillars stood keyboardist Nash Whalen, churning out endless organ chords that sound like The Clean and Spaceman 3 covering The Doors while on mushrooms. It almost seems redundant to mention the songs they played as it felt like one continuous piece of music in multiple parts. An early standout though was the frantic chug of Lazy Bones where the band changed gears from 33 to 45rpm and hit the open road. It was a momentary blip though as they settled back into their default tempo range and pulled the crowd back down with them.

As well as a hefty chunk of songs from last years West LP they also dove back further with tracks like Aquarian Time from Dos and left us at the end of their main set with a cover of Buddy by New Zealand’s Snapper, a perfect fit with the snarling, wired and droning psych rock of the original. Sounding much more muscular and defined than they do on their albums, Wooden Shjips were a brilliantly hypnotic experience that many of the audience were probably still re-living in their ears the following morning.

this review was first published on FasterLouder