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PREMIERE: Shag Planet – ‘Too Many Babes, Too Little Time’

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Shag Planet Press Shot 2Too many babes is a great problem to have. A great problem until you become physically overwhelmed at the site of beautiful people you want to sex so much that it hospitalises you. Then it’s definitely a problem. Jess and Em descended from Shag Planet not a moment too soon, chucking a synth and a wood block under that sentiment to regale us with the tale of a young woman’s truly explosive sexual awakening in their debut single ‘Too many babes, too little time’. The Melbourne (Victoria, Australia, Earth) duo describe their intergalactic pop as “cosmic bangers”. I don’t disagree.

There’s a crunchy guitar hook, lo-fi synth with some astral sounding effects and howling backing vocals in a slightly less developed synth punk of their LISTEN labelmates Stina Tester & Cinta Masters. The star of the dish here is really the narrative that hooks you from the beginning, you simply must find out how this woman escapes the clutches of monogamy. Without spoiling the ending I sincerely hope no one is currently so sexually repressed they meet the same fate as Shag Planet’s hero. Or that they have to leave this planet to feel comfortable with their sexuality.

Basically this track is fun as hell and 200% going to be stuck in your head for the next few hours (days, if you’re lucky). Prepare a response for when you accidentally begin to sing “toooooo many baaaabes, too little time” at random intervals in public, so far no one has been convinced that really I’m just singing an incredibly catchy song, no it’s really good, please, don’t tell my boss.
Shag Planet will be attempting to woo as many of you as humanly possible at the Old Bar in Melbourne on June 25th when they launch the single. Scott the paramedic will be on hand should babe-frenzy related medical assistance be required. 

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LISTEN: 0point1 – micro-flora

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microflora600

Mysterious Melbourne-based artist 0point1, aka Bob Streckfuss, returns with his latest collection, micro-flora. Following on from his beguiling 2014 debut, Clean Dirt, and the self-released follow-up EP, Embryo from a Collapsing Star, the music of 0point1 is startlingly original, melding digitally manipulated found sounds and instruments with intricate, skittering rhythms and ethereal vocals. The result is a unique marriage of the drama and cinematic grandeur of post rock with the erratic energy of IDM.

The cut-up field recordings and acoustic instruments which make up these rich sonic landscapes create an organic form of electronic music – a delicate tapestry that draws out similarities between the seemingly disparate complexity of animal architecture and computer software.

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LISTEN: Civil Civic – ‘The Hunt’

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Civil Civic the Hunt

It’s been five years since Melbourne expats Civil Civic released their debut record Rules – a driving mix of noise, post punk and math rock. The duo met via email in 2009, and began trading ideas between their homes in London and Barcelona. It could be a slow, convoluted process, but the results were manic and immediate, and often gleefully nerdy, with fast-paced songs changing key and time signature mid-flight.

Since then, the band has released a single with outsider artist and lo-fi pioneer R. Stevie Moore (it sounds a bit like the Cure fast-forwarded to 160 per cent), and guitarist Aaron Cupples produced the Drones’ outlandish new record, Feelin’ Kinda Free. Along the way they worked on a follow-up record, describing it early on as “a big, ballsy expansion and escalation of the sonic turf we staked out on our 2011 debut Rules, with more high emotion and destruction and joy and carnage.

“Even at this stage, with the long and punishing mixing process ahead of us, we’re already scared of the results.

“This thing is going to give people brain tumours (the awesome kind). All we wanted to do was make a jaw-droppingly awesome record, not some sort of hyper-music-weapon that gets us ‘black-bagged’ in our sleep and end up working for the C.I.A.”

First single ‘The Hunt’ has finally landed, making its Australian premiere right here. It’s an acrobatic number, veering between shimmering, harmonic chords and blinding electronic passages, all underwritten by relentless 909s, prog solos and a wash of noise – kind of like Fuck Buttons spliced with TNGHT. Aaron sums it up like this:

“You wake up late afternoon, your hair a mess. You smell like a bin. Breakfast is the rest of the falafel from the night before. You’re volatile, energised, funny as fuck. You don’t give a single shit what others think of you.”

‘The Hunt’ will be out 24 June on Civil Civic’s Gross Domestic Product label, via Believe Digital, with an album to follow in spring. Check out the teaser below:

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INTERVIEW: Pikelet

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evelyn morris

Earlier this month, Evelyn Morris released her third Pikelet LP, Tronc. After the expansive, full-band psychedelia of 2013’s Calluses, Morris returns to her roots on the new album, crafting experimental pop gems at home with a loop station and an array of analogue gear. She spoke to us recently, via email, about making the new record, her feminist practise and working with the LISTEN collective, patriarchy and white supremacy in Australia, and her upcoming launch show at Hugs & Kisses this Saturday night.

Hi Evelyn! We were really sorry/mad to hear about your gear; I hope it’s making its way back to you. Anything our readers can do to help?

I’ve been very fortunate in that everyone pitched in and crowdfunded the replacement of my gear! So I’m not feeling as awful as I did when it first happened, as it’s been somewhat affirming to have so many people rush to my aid like that. However there are some bits of gear on the list I posted on fb that can’t be replaced so… I guess just keep an eye out? If you happen to be a regular Gumtree or eBay shopper. Thanks for the sympathy!

Tronc is a pretty different record to Calluses. It’s recognisably Pikelet, but it sounds more lofi and possibly more eclectic than ever before. After working in a studio with a full band for Calluses, why did you decide to do a solo home recording this time round?

It happened rather naturally, given that I’ve had to squeeze my music practice in around my feminist practice with LISTEN, which consumed my time and energy for a good year and a half or so. The work I did with LISTEN also really highlighted my own insecurities as a musician and helped to allay some of those fears because I’ve started to understand that some of them are to do with living within patriarchy and within the binary. So exploring feminism has given me a renewed confidence – and hence recording on my own in my own way was both very interesting and much more possible than ever before. I always needed other people to validate my ideas prior to this record… so I released it as quickly as I could, because I needed to do that in order to stop myself from allowing those doubts to creep in that usually cause me to turn to others for advice. That process of self doubt slows things down immeasurably.

Tronc seems quite avant-garde; there are a lot of ideas in the mix (and what i think is the first Pikelet r’n’b track?). I was wondering if you could tell us something about the ideas you had in mind, and any reference points you had for the album?

I am so heavily influenced and inspired by music that’s around me, because that feeling of watching your friends get up and do something beautiful is like no other. So there are many of my friends’ musical inspirations infused throughout. Orlando Furious (Ben Snaith) is where I found an access point to r’n’b, though I suppose I was aiming more towards an experimental electronic track originally [on ‘the Neigbour’s Grass’] and my pop tendencies is how that aim ended up in r’n’b territory. Other local influences for this record would be Laura Jean, Rogue Wavs, Lalic and the collaborations I’ve done with Nick Allbrook have probably also had a big influence. Also more experimental acts in Melbourne are always keeping me refreshed… a band I’m in called Prophets inspires me greatly, as do artists such as Eves and Carolyn Connors.

My constant and ever-present reference point is Broadcast, and track 2 is an ode to Trish Keenan who tragically passed away not long after I had the pleasure of touring with broadcast. That track is named ‘Trish’, however on the cassette the track listing says track two is called ‘Tronc’ for some reason, I guess because I rushed the artwork along and didn’t notice it had been written indirectly until too late.

A lot of times, this sounds like a pretty angry record. On tracks like ‘the Neighbour’s Grass’ and ‘Interface Dystopia’ you talk about feelings of dispossession and disillusionment. There are places where you seem cautiously hopeful, too – making reference to human plasticity/possibility, and finishing up with a track called ‘Survived’. Could you talk a little about the themes of the album, and what kind of headspace you were in while writing it?

I have been dealing with all these themes for many years, however perhaps in a less direct way in the past. I have been stuck in a place of in-betweens my whole life in many ways. In-between the gender binary, in-between my favourite music styles but not really knowing where I sit, in-between poverty and comfort also not really always knowing how good I have it when compared to others… these strike me as fairly universal feelings for a large portion of the population, and especially for Australians that don’t opt to be as wilfully ignorant of suffering as we’re encouraged to be. We are living on stolen land and have been destroying that environment and First Nations people’s lives every day since we first arrived here. We continue to do so every day that we stay here without acknowledgment of the white supremacy infused in our culture. We are also simultaneously actively allowing for the suffering of refugees and asylum seekers to continue because we think we have a right to keep this place to ourselves. I don’t know how anyone could live in Australia and not be angry.

But it’s not just that Australian anger that I have expressed in these songs, it’s also the anger that has built up since realising my feminism more fully. The years wasted on hating myself and undermining myself because that’s how I have been raised in this structure… I’ll never get those years back.

There’s so much happening emotionally on this album though, and ultimately like any record, I wanted to find a way to capture those feelings so I could look back on them some day. I suppose the cautious optimism is the only way that anyone can look at these themes and not feel really stupified as to what we should be doing. You’ve gotta convince yourself of the fact that there’s purpose to continuing to work towards change.

What’s your favourite track on the album, and why?

‘Interface Dystopia’ is my favourite. It was a lot of fun to make; I recorded much of it on this very small little portable tape machine that my housemate loaned to me. It feels as though it speaks to something I’ve not been able to articulate before as well. Plus it’s a bit silly at times so feels like it’s in a nice grey area between the heavy themes I mentioned previously and also the absurdity of making a song about anything. The feeling of ridiculousness that we’re sometimes left with amidst all this intensity seems to have been captured. Like at times you feel like you’ve been caught with your pants down, and that you’ve made an absolute idiot out of yourself, exposing some privilege you’d not noticed before. Embracing that it is necessary to sit with those feelings and own up to mistakes is important to me. So the song couldn’t speak to those themes with a sanctimonious attitude. Because I’m just a bumbling idiot trying to get my head around this mess and find my most effective place in it just like everyone else.

How have your experiences working with the LISTEN collective informed Tronc?

Like I said above LISTEN has both impeded and contributed to my making music because though it took my focus for a while, it’s created a much stronger sense of myself and my abilities. It’s affirmed my right to do what I do via fighting for the rights of others in this city who I admire greatly. I am also giving myself more space to take care of myself which is something I learned through feminism, and a skill that people need to spend time developing in order to unlearn the capitalist mindset that work for money is all that matters.

I hear you’re going overseas for a little while. Is that for touring, or are you just looking to move somewhere else for a time? 

I’m doing a few short runs of gigs yes but mainly the trip is for a residency that’s for developing my piano pieces and my compositional skills. I’d love to live somewhere else sometime but don’t really know how someone goes about doing that really. Plus I do love Melbourne.

Who’s at the helm of LISTEN now? Do you think you’ll go back to working there when you come home?

Yeah LISTEN will always be a part of my life I think. I’ve taken a huge step back though and there’s a new crew of volunteers who are rising to the challenge of running it. It was always part of the plan for it to become the property of the community, because I don’t want my ideas to monopolise the organisation. When I return from overseas I plan to focus on the editorial and publication-oriented elements of the project and leave any events/structural organisational tasks and more public-facing aspects to other people

We’re really excited for your launch show next week! How are you finding it, playing these songs for a live audience?

Actually so far they’ve been incredibly challenging to perform! Mainly because of the heavy emotional content, and the fact that I didn’t have much time to road test them. So there’s been a lot of pressure in my mind leading up to the launch. That’s fuelled me to work very hard on them though and, despite the setback of losing my gear, I feel fairly good about them now.

Suss Cunts is a name we’ve been seeing around recently. Can you tell me a bit about them? How bout Ninetynine?

Suss Cunts is a band that some really good friends of mine are in. Helena Holmes is the bass player and has been one of my dearest friends for many years now. I was so happy when she started this band with friends, because she’s always been quite an integral person in some small music communities I’ve circulated in; I’m glad she’s also found a project she’s enjoying finding a voice in. They play kinda punk stuff.

Ninetynine have been around for ages and were a band I was super into before I got really serious about being in bands. So very formative as an influence for me. Amy Clarke (who is no longer in the band) and Laura MacFarlane were really up on a pedestal for me for some time. Cameron Potts who drums in that band was also an inspiration when it came to drumming, and he and I played together in a band called Baseball for around seven years and toured extensively with them.

Finally, I asked WTH contributors if they had a burning question for you and our photography ed. Bec wanted to know, “How are you so cool? you are a super inspo power woman.” Any advice for Bec?

That’s a very sweet question! I feel completely uncool almost all the time so that’s amazing. Thanks Bec. I dunno about advice… I think everyone knows themselves and their own lives best so maybe like… trust your instincts? Haha. I reckon everyone has a role to play within communities, and we all influence each other and inspire each other. I find it hard to imagine telling ‘me from the past’ all the things I’ve managed to do and be part of in the last five to ten years. They would never have believed any of it was possible.

Pikelet launches Tronc this Saturday, 21 May, at Hugs & Kisses with support from Suss Cunts and Ninetynine. RSVP here.

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LISTEN: Melt – ‘Neighbours’

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Melt

Here’s a word you don’t often associate with Canberra experimental, improvisational guitar artist Melt (Jordan Rodger from Wives, Primary Colours): concise. But here we are, with this concise, immediate guitar pop song as the first single off his upcoming record. He only allows himself a few bars of meandering guitar before it becomes rhythmic and driven, and drums come in and we’re pelting towards the end. ‘Neighbours’ is even more focussed than previous single ‘Sydney to Canberra’ off last year’s Theta Waves, though it shares the same tight, top-heavy drumming.

Roger has also kept up with the collaborative vibe of Theta Waves (which featured guests like Orlando Furious and California Girls), with Snowy (Liam Halliwell) of The Ocean Party, Cool Sounds, No Local etc on vocals. Here Halliwell does that thing where he follows up cute everyday observations with the perfect heaps-real line in ‘the neighbours watched me sleep, I didn’t mind/ Remember what we could stand about each other?’. There’s maybe four sentences of lyrics in total, repeated over and over. Then an abrupt stop. Then a little more pretty guitar to coax the track to a close. But that’s all they need to make sure you’re left with a strong feeling of nagging desperation.

There’s a little disclaimer on the Soundcloud for this song, letting you know that the rest of Melt’s new record probably won’t be this easy. It’ll probably just be beautiful, cool and surprising instead. Keep an eye out on Friday, 20 May for the cassette, out via Cinnamon Records.

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Free Time Announce Australia-wide Tour

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free time

Melbourne-based guitar pop dudes Free Time have announced dates for a couple of shows across Australia, kicking off in June. Their second album In Search of Free Time came out in April and it’s a riotous little gem of loose guitars and meandering vocals that sounds damn fine live, so you should really head on down to your local designated Free Time outlet on one of these dates to catch them. Check out all the info below, and RSVP on Facebook. You can also check out the new video for the song ‘All Four Seasons’.

Thursday, 2 June – The Bird, Perth with the Spunloves & Silver Hills

Saturday, 4 June – Mojo’s, Fremantle with Peter Bibby, Kitchen People & Regular Boys

Saturday, 25 June – The Union, Sydney with Straight Arrows and Tim & the Boys

Friday, 15 July – The Tote, Melbourne with Beaches

Saturday, 16 July – Trainspotters, Brisbane with Cannon

 

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LISTEN: Tralala Blip – ‘Oceans of Love’

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tralala blip

With all the kind of dark-leaning, ‘go the fuck off’ electronic music we’ve all enjoyed listening/ getting trashed to lately, it’s sometimes a relief to just bloody relax. ‘Oceans of Love’, the title track from the new (…ish) EP by Tralala Blip is about as chill and pretty as it gets.

Tralala Blip are from Lismore in northern New South Wales, where cashed-up sea changers and real-deal hippies collide in beautiful mountainous bushland. This might be why they sound like not much else around at the moment – they’re isolated enough to do their own thing, but close enough to Brisbane to catch some ears (this latest LP is out on Bris label Tenth Court). They’ve been around since 2007, releasing albums of super intriguing experimental pop at a relaxed pace.

‘Oceans of Love’ is pure escapism – pools of water and light and all that nice stuff. The bass grooves along at the perfect head-bobbing pace, never deviating from its mission to make you feel real good. The video features a turtle swimming around looking at stuff, which is exactly what you feel like watching when you listen to this song.

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There’s a lot of hypnotic, out-there sounds on the record to love, with many of the songs mining more unsettling territory than this one, if that’s your vibe. You can hear and buy ‘Oceans of Love’ via Tenth Court.

Tralala Blip are playing the Opera House on 25 May as part of TEDxSydney.

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