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.
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.
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.
Cosmic psych pop is the order of the day on this new track from Melbourne artist Wilding. He’s got a brand new album called The Death Of Foley’s Mall out now on Half A Cow Records and ‘Swipe Right‘ is one of a series of character-study songs Wilding wrote about people who live in his neighbourhood of Coburg, Victoria.
This single has a a brilliant build and momentum through it and guitar and synth layers that fold in and on top of the track. Fizzing melodies and an infectious thread run through the song, recalling British acts like Blur and Supergrass. There’s also a jerky undercurrent that brings to mind Talking Heads.
We’re excited to be premiering the brand new single/video from New Zealand legends The Bats. The track comes from their forthcoming album Foothills, out Nov 13th via Flying Nun Records.
There’s a warm and heavy-lidded dreamy quality to ‘Gone To Ground’, in large part courtesy of the use of EBow on the guitars and the way drummer Malcolm Grant gently propels the song along. A rich atmosphere pervades the song, perfectly capturing a wistful sense of retreat.
Robert Scott on ‘Gone To Ground’ — “Hide and seek, do we want to be found…. maybe not. Many people have gone to ground in these tricky times. A slight sense of unease pervades the song with the spooky strains of an E bow filtering through the trees. You could walk the marshes and go far. It’s funny how you can draw connections between a fictitious tales and present day life.”
The video clip was created by Sports Team and Annabel Kean has said on the ‘Gone To Ground’ video, “This is by far the longest we’ve spent on a video. We started about a year ago when we heard an early mix of the song, but the discovery of perpetual motion by way of spinning veges really opened a can of worms. Then it took us three attempts to pluck up the courage to light a guitar on fire.” Co-director Callum Devlin adds, “It was a total collaboration, and a very instinctive process. We wanted to try and capture what we felt listening to the song. There’s an uncertainty and a mystery to the lyrics that I feel lead us somewhere a bit more conceptual.”
Foothills is the band’s tenth album, on top of their many singles, EPs and compilation releases and over 35 years they’ve never put a foot wrong. The new album was recorded in Spring 2018 at a country retreat pop-up studio. At that time, 15 songs were captured and immortalised in the Canterbury foothills of the Southern Alps, Aotearoa (New Zealand). Only too well, The Bats know the possibilities, potentialities and sonic vistas that arise when one takes the reins for the recording process in a beautiful place that’s on home turf.
Robert Scott, on the making of Foothills has said “Time marches on… finally, we found a gap in our busy lives and chose a week to convene. We found a house that is usually inhabited by ski field workers — Kowai Bush, near Springfield about an hour west of Christchurch and of course nestled in the foothills of the mighty Southern Alps. The songs had been written, demo’d and arranged for some time, but still with a little room for trying things out in the studio. Many carloads arrived at the house, full of amps guitars and recording gear, we set up camp and soon made it feel like home; coloured lights, a log fire, and home cooked meals in the kitchen. We worked fast, and within a few days had all the basic backing tracks done, live together in one room, the way we like to do it – it’s all about ‘the feel’ for songs like ours.”
We loved ‘Blue State’, the first new single from the band and this one kicks with the same dark intent. Choppy verses that emerge into a widescreen rock chorus that swings like a heavyweight. Shades of QOTSA with a side serving of Fugazi just below the surface.
“’Close to the Edge’ is a commentary on a communication breakdown” states Joel Byrne, “it’s essentially the soundtrack to a really bad argument, in particular the kind that tend to be carried out over social media. The main riff (and overall track) is intentionally a bit nasty and vulgar because it represents the uglier side of people’s personalities that tend to come out in the heat of the moment, particularly when their opinion or ego is challenged.”
The track comes form their forthcoming new album NIL which is set for release on Friday 20 November via Part Time Records / Remote Control.
The Aotearoa/New Zealand trio Wax Chattels release the final single from their new album Clot, out September 25 via Flying Nun and Captured Tracks.
The vitriolic choruses of ‘Cede’ are in AmandaCheng’s (bass/vocals) native language — Taiwanese Hokkien — and are an indignant confrontation about Cross-Strait relations and self-determination.
Amanda Cheng on ‘Cede’ — “I am angry. Saying “you don’t know who I am” in Taiwanese Hokkien is to say “you don’t get to tell me who I am”. You don’t just scream like this to put on an album — you scream like this because it’s the only thing you can do.
This song is an affront to the near-silent cultural genocide that’s taking place — the censorship, the militant threats — and the international community’s insistence on practicing diplomacy with economics at the front of mind. If it takes a loud song that’s half in an unfamiliar language for people to ask, “what’s that about?”, then so be it.”
Amanda Cheng on the video for ‘Cede‘ below — “I set out to make a video that was unenjoyable to watch; unhinging a domestic, ‘safe’ setting. To contrast the blunt lyrics, the thematic statements in the video are more subtle — there’s a geopolitical narrative there, but you’ll miss it.”
The video was directed by Amanda, with the helping hands of Annabel Kean and Callum Devlin of Sports Team.
We came across JW Francis for the first time last year and we were impressed by the irrepressible psych pop rush and tumbling melodies he concocted. He’s hit the nail on the head again with the recently released single ‘New York‘.
He locks down the insistent rhythm and drapes it in tumbling, slightly askew, dreamy guitar lines. Wonderful stuff.
“I’m a licensed tour guide of NYC. This place has taught me so much. I wanted to write an homage, but also express how I feel, which is mostly contained in the first line of the song ‘I’ll sleep when dead.’”