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LABEL PROFILE: Moontown Records

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moontown

Founded by multi-disciplinary artist and musician Danny Wild in 2012, Moontown Records has become the home for a plethora of boundary-pushing artists with little regard for specific music scenes or communities. And while the origins of the label were humble to say the least, the far-reaching roster now counts artists such as 100%, Thhomas, Lalić and School Damage, among many others in its fold.

On why he decided to start the label Danny says there was no real plan or ambitions, but instead was a platform for him to introduce people to the music of outsider artist, Turtlenecjk, whose prolific output is a story in itself. The label organically perpetuated from there as a number of Danny’s friends were making music, which to him was “engaged, fresh and inspiring”.

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On the artist selection process Danny notes “there is no formula, it might be a friend sending a demo, an anonymous email, or me obsessing over someone/something I have chanced upon. I really don’t think it’s ever been the same over the 50 odd releases I have done so far. I generally steer away from any demos sent to me from a third party, whether it be an agent or manager.” He finds that the style or genre of an artist’s music is less important than their approach, choosing to work with people who are “passionate and dedicated, but not serious”.

The label has always had a strong emphasis on physical formats, mainly cassettes but more recently vinyl. When asked about this approach Danny explains it stemmed from his own fascination with collecting, starting with “skate VHS tapes then into zines, cassettes and records”. Aside from that he also prefers the texture and sound of these medium and that he “never really saw a digital release as ‘real’”. His thoughts on this are however changing with the current state of “hyper consumption and waste”. As any music fan still drawn to the tactile beauty of a physical release will attest, there is something gratifying and ultimately more rewarding about a tangible object. A feeling which only affects a certain type of person. And as the way in which people consume music continues to evolve, Danny’s view is somewhat romantic reflecting “I am a nostalgic person…Musicians agonise over their music and by the time it comes to release day it might be a year or more old, people then consume it in a flash and are done with it. At least with physical media it exists in the world, a chance encounter could happen at a record store or elsewhere – and that is exciting to me. Mystery is exciting!”

With 2 releases already under his belt for 2017 – a 12” by Brisbane post-punk trio, Bent, and a tape of electronic and ambient experiments from Perth’s Leafy Suburbs – Danny is planning on 2 more 12” releases before the end of the year. He doesn’t want to give too much away on the releases but says its “very exciting and influential music”.

So stay tuned for more intriguing music from this great label and in the meantime navigate your way through the wealth of amazing material in the existing catalogue.

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LISTEN: Mere Women – Big Skies LP

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mere women

If there was any justice in the world Mere Women would be like, as huge as Smith Street Band but with the critical respect of like, Total Control. I reckon they could have been The Jezabels three years ago if your average Triple J listener liked things that are good instead of things that are bad. I reckon they’re so amazing.

It’s hard to overstate how important Mere Women’s  last record Your Town was to me in 2014 as a hyper-dramatic, desperate 21 year old. To hear something with so much fire and fury and power in its naked desire. Made me feel more and more terrifically crazy at the same time. Three years later and there’s another Mere Women album. And it sounds a bit different. And for one second I felt that knee jerk reaction to whine ‘oh but I liked it befooooore’. But just for one second, because Big Skies delivers something broader in scope and sound, that still crackles with the same intense dis-ease as the best of anything they’ve done before.

There’s less of those catch-in-your-throat, defiant guitar melodies that cut all other post-punk aping guitar bands into ribbons. But you already knew they could do that. Did you know they could write huge-sounding rock songs with depth and texture that still sound whip-sharp and lean? Or two in a row, like they’ve given us in ‘Birthday’ and ‘Big Skies’?

The three elements that have always made up the base of their sound remain unchanged; the interplay between strident, aching vocals, white-hot guitar and powerful, eccentrically technical drumming. There’s just more and more sound filling up the space, rounding everything out and making it something less easy to categorise.

‘Drive’, with it’s ‘I give up I give up / pick me up pick me up’ crazed muttering repetition brings some of their old recklessness and desperation. The vocals, roll over each other, the changes in pace and melody building to tense frantic verses into choruses that almost give the closure of a huge release but hold something just back. There’s a lot of disparate, busy and fast-moving parts across this record that could have made a mess out of lesser songwriters. Instead it all sounds – not easy, there’s nothing really easy about the sound of this record – but natural. They even made an echoing piano ballad like ‘Curse’ fit in a way that doesn’t feel shoehorned in.

It feels weird to say that this is a darker album than Your Town, because that was some heavy shit. But I think Big Skiesencompasses more than the kind of obsessive love and desire that drove the older record. They’ve combined personal and political into a generalise feeling of discontent, anger and fear. That all this darkness never drags just shows how fucking good these guys are at writing songs – they move with pace and purpose, beautiful and terrible.

You can purchase Big Skies from Poison City Records right NOW

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Mere Women are playing some shows supporting this record with some real hot shit supports:

CANBERRA Thursday June 22 w/Wives & Little Lunch at The Transit Bar

SYDNEYFriday June 23 w/ Marcus Whale & TAFEWRM at The Red Rattler

SYDNEYSunday June 25 w/ Oslow & Carb on Carb & White Dog & The Kirks at Urge Records

MELBOURNEFriday June 30 w/Terrible Truths & Spit at The Curtain

BRISBANESaturday July 8 w/100% & Ultra Material

LISTEN: Leafy Suburbs – Honda Jazz

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Leafy suburbs

When you work in retail and get to play your own music, you’re always looking for the holy grail: stuff that won’t piss of customers but also won’t make you want to attempt in vain to suffocate yourself with a paper gift bag. I thought this record from Leafy Suburbs was gonna be something like this – interesting enough but ambient enough to fade into the background. It isn’t really that. It’s a strange, surreal thing that I’m sure is making me a little weird to customers for the forty or so minutes of it’s run time.

There’s elements of a ‘nice’ kind of ambient jazziness, but it always gives in to it’s electro heart. Like the way the stuttering piano of (my favourite) ‘Useless Loop’ makes way rhythms that start muted but soon take center stage, or the clattering, droning build of ‘Trumpet Interchange’ (…yeah, I don’t know why I thought this was gonna be easy-listening).

A current of sweetness and optimism runs through this record – starting a couple of tracks in with more opening pop track ‘Complete’. This feeling sets Leafy Suburbs apart from a lot of what’s happening in local electronic music lately. Maybe it’s cuz they’re originally from Perth – who knows what the hell is going on over there. A few years ago we could have happily plonked it into the ‘glitchy’ category to waste away with all the other bedroom producers. But there’s definitely more dancefloor influence here – you get the feeling it was made by someone who’s been out of their house in the last few months. The jazz elements are central to the sound and never gimmicky; saxophone provides a melancholy wondering kind of melody behind the sharp drum machine of ‘Battery Acid’ – the album’s danciest track.

Honda Jazz is out now with a limited run of tapes through Moontown Records. Moontown is a label that releases music they like infrequently, and without to much shallow self-promotion. That’s a vibe we can get behind, especially when it gives us odd little gems like this one

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LISTEN: R Hunter – Exclusive Mix

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r hunter pic600

Young Melbourne-based producer R Hunter, aka Asher Elazary, inhabits an intriguing zone where found sound, noise, and techno-leaning electronic music intersect. It’s a zone he shares with other contemporary fringe-dwelling artists like Sd Laika, Amnesia Scanner, and Dedekind Cut. His debut, Estrus, released via Nice Music late last year, is a saturated deconstruction of club music, in which pummelling rhythms emerge from sludgy collages of sound, only to drown again in the frenzy. This is music to soundtrack your next anxiety-fuelled nightmare, forward-thinking, introspective and challenging.

Starting out playing guitar, Asher followed a number of musical paths before deciding to focus his efforts on electronic music – something he’d previously only dabbled in. Currently studying classical composition, Asher is interested in “electronic music that deconstructs the genre and re-contextualises it outside of club spaces”. “The idea that an artist is able to communicate their identity and life experience through a certain choice of sounds, particularly via sampling and field recording,” he says, is particularly important to him.

Asher explores memories and different emotional spaces, processing sounds via “fairly destructive audio programs” he’s written, which form the structural basis of each hellish soundscape. “I guess I found it amusing to explore my own trauma through techno and electronic music,” he explains, “probably because I am absolutely terrified of clubs”. Asher also uses his live sets to address the origins of anxiety and trauma. He spent a lot of time designing tools that allow him to remix and loop elements on the spot, and he’s created intense audio-reactive visuals that he describes as “somewhere between the Gantz Graf [Autechre] music video and the Windows 98 maze screensaver” (the latter a playful reminder that his computer is always on the verge of a meltdown).

Asher is currently working on new music, moving away from dance music formats and focussing on the noise elements. His approach to writing music has also changed, with a new emphasis on live performance.

Before we get to hear new music from Asher, he’s created this mix for whothehell.net, with music from a host of international and local artists including Hyde, Pollen Trio and Marcus (not Singing), as well as some exclusive R Hunter material and remixes. Get down and dirty for the next 45 mins.

 

Tracklist:
Young Thug – RiRi (r hunter edit)
R hunter – Cvntvtv (r hunter edit)
Dedekind Cut – Fear in Reverse
SHALT – The Treatment
Hyde – Thunder Paint
Shxcxchcxsh -SsSsSsSsSsSs
Demdike Stare – Dyslogy
Marcus (Not Singing) – To be Possessed
Doll – Fun
R hunter – BoYz ToYz
Battle Trance – Blade of Love I
LOFT – Zissou
Frank Ocean – Nights (r hunter edit)
Grischa Lichtenberger – 002_0415_09_re1214_06_re_1114_27_re_ 1014_21_re_0614_20_lv_2g_2_b
Jenny Hval – The Great Undressing
Nina Buchanan – Wet
Helm – Olympic Mess (Beatrice Dillon remix)
Motion Graphics – City Links
Pollen Trio – Moon
Yu Miyashita – The Silent Pulse
Bataille Solaire – B.M.B.S.
Yves Tumor – Perdition
Allan Holdsworth – Endomorph

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LISTEN: Ferla – ‘Guilt Pop/Stay Posi’

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Melbourne’s Giuliano Ferla (or just Ferla) has dropped a double EP of break up tracks, the first half a re-release of his 2015 debut ‘Guilt Pop’ and the second half the more optimistic sounding ‘Stay Posi’, as if by projecting positivity Ferla can shake the heartbreak hangover. All tracks could be sung to an empty hall littered with party detritus, glittering streamers reflecting disco lights across the room as Ferla sings his sadness to no one in particular. It’s unequivocally a tale of heartache coloured by dystopian glamour, sometimes personal but also on a bigger scale like the vague fear that comes with living in a world a that’s about to take you down with it. The release isn’t short on ideas in the way that some “break up” records are overly indulgent (even with the self-reflectiveness in the title ‘Guilt Pop’). 

The pop I hear is Australian Crawl and Simple Minds rounded out with the darker layers of Lost Animal. Ferla’s croon booms across the entire release like a more elastic Jack Ladder, from the deep resonance on ‘In the Night’ to the falsetto in ‘I Can’t Let You Down’. Although it’s one of the older tracks ‘In the Night’ is still my favourite, it has this stalking pace that makes Ferla’s melodies that little bit more cathartic.

The opener ‘Breakups are Hard for Everybody’ is one I’ve seen a few interpretations of, a personal narration of intimate frustration against the backdrop of a world falling apart: “Bitch leave me alone / I said as I slam down the telephone.” After abruptly ending the call our hero continues watching news of suicide bombers and ebola. Everyones got their own problems, and perhaps this is a case of trying to get perspective on a personal situation by putting it in a larger context or having so little feeling left that you’re as numb to your immediate surroundings as you are to distant sufferings. 

From here the record moves through the motions, confused but determined to commit to the breakup on ‘I’m Nobody’s Baby Now’ (replete with a shred-the tears-away outro), the romanticised revisionism of ‘In the Night’, dealing with the consequences and reality of separation on ‘I Can’t Let You Down’, through to the fuck you finality and bouncy synth lines on ‘Wasted on You’. It was definitely the slow-burners that hooked me on Ferla, but he’s also adept at high energy synth rock even when tearing down a future he’d previously envisioned on ‘Children are Our Future’.

There are so many entry points to connect with Ferla emotionally across Guilt Pop and Stay Posi that the fact it’s also an incredibly compelling listen is almost a moot point. That is, if it weren’t for that combination making this the perfect soundtrack to purging someone from your life.

If you’re in Melbourne, you can purge head to Ferla’s EP launch at The Tote on Friday June 16.

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Listen: Sewers – ‘Invisible Hand’

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Sewers

Photo by Glen Shenau at Mount ARI in Brisbane

‘Invisible Hand’ is the first single off Sewers’ last ever album. They’re breaking up, moving on, moving up, moving away.

I can’t write about ‘Invisible Hand’ as if I haven’t heard the rest of Sewers’ as-yet-unreleased final record. I have and it’s great – seems cruel to say cuz at this point there’s no guarantee when it’s gonna come out or in what form, or if it will at all, but that’s the truth.

To say that this is the most pop album Sewers have ever done would be wrong. It sounds like they might be bowing to some external pressure (that’s never been there), or giving up some kind of authenticity (that doesn’t exist). ‘Invisible Hand’ shows that that’s not at all the case. It’s more like what Sewers have always done, shaved down to a point, made more direct and urgent.

What it really sounds like is a really good three-minute rock song. It sounds like cutting the fat and getting to the meat of the real shit. Hoisted was hard and heavy, crusted over with muck, Weight dealt with punch-a-wall masculine self-pity. Both good records, but for their final outing Sewers seem to know a bit more about who their enemies are and are striking with purpose. Maybe it’s cuz of the lineup changes, maybe it’s cuz they’ve grown up, maybe it’s cuz they knew this was gonna be their last strangled shout, but they didn’t piss away their chance to make something meaningful.

For someone as obsessed with masculinity in music as me, a band like Sewers will always be interesting because they write music that mocks aggression and toughness by being aggressive and tough – which is a hard line to tread. I always come up against the question how much self-awareness can you have without any self-improvement, until you become as bad as dudes who aren’t self-aware at all?

It’s a dangerous thing when people start telling you that being fucked-up and dark is what makes you interesting or good. It makes people nasty. It makes people sneer and posture about not giving a fuck about anything. Sewers seem to have fucked all that off with this song and this record, and given us something honest and cutting that sounds good as hell. This record is as un-posturing as rock music can be, I hope you get to hear it soon.

Anyway I asked Shan Corrigan who sings in the band if he had anything to say about the track and he sent me something much more interesting than most of the ‘this song’s about a picture of a horse I once saw’ stuff that you usually get, so I’ll just put it all up here.

‘This is the song that kept me doing the band. We’d just finished-up touring USA and I came back feeling pretty worn-out with the band. I’d written a few riffs beforehand and one of those I’d called ‘Invisible Hand’. I was taking this to the band for a rehearsal when one of the guys quit the band. I guess that meant we had to replace him and during the search for someone else, I started writing again.

Simultaneously some personal shit was going down and I was there, right in the dumps with it. I didn’t feel like I knew who I was and I was pretending to be something I wasn’t. I was beginning to question my grip on reality – I certainly lacked perspective and this song was me grappling with that – those inner contradicting ideas.

When you suspend your value base for so long for some sort-of self-aggrandising “art” experiment things can get a little hairy. It was a luxury to be able to just piss in the wind; moan and mope about existence. But I realised I was deluding myself by believing that others were responsible for how I felt about the world. I had worn the “poor me, why am I such an asshole, when I’m actually really sensitive and caring guy” straight-jacket for too long. Just plain ignorant and short-sighted. When in reality I’m not even a drop in the bucket and I’m lucky to be here – doing what I am. Most people don’t get a choice and that’s what/who this song is about. Yeah this is long-winded dribble but the band isn’t called what it is for nothing.

Thanks to everyone who played in the band, put out our records, recorded us, organised shows, did posters, played with us, came to our shows and/or supported us as collectively or as individuals. Peace out fuckos, all our songs are about love.’

IF YOU’RE IN BRISBANE GO SEE SEWERS PLAY ONE LAST TIME TONIGHT AT THE BEARDED LADY

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WATCH: Multiple Man – Power Fantasy

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multiple man

The new Multiple Man video is a piece of sun-drenched nostalgia that incorporates home video from Chris and Sean Campion’s childhood in Brisbane with grainy footage from Expo ’88. Lol. Nah it’s 5 minutes of weird shit. Disembodied torsos, fish-eye videos of flowers, pulsating 3D shapes, roses, statues and pillars – classic iconography of power and desire. The video was made by Tim Dwyer (Horse Macgyver) who mostly does live visual art work (and is one half of terrific experimental project Half High), and it shows. The pictures are driven by the vibe of the music, rather than any narrative, and would work really well accompanying the track live (which hopefully they’ll do, but you know, projectors are annoying).

Despite Chris moving to New York about two years ago, Multiple Man haven’t lost sight of what makes them good – they’re a party band, made for jerky, sweaty dancing – even the vocals are rhythmic in their monotone and the cheesy edge to the beats makes it all so goddamn fun. They’ve never tried to reinvent the techno wheel, but it’s hard to think of a band in Australia that does what they do better. Welcome back, maniacs.

This song is off Multiple Man’s latest record with the very silly title of New Metal. It’s out in America now on DKA and out soon in Australia on Paradise Daily. Chris is also popping back over to play some shows around the place in June.

‘5 NIGHTS OF FIRM HANDSHAKE ELECTRONIC BODY MUSIC’

June 9 – MELBOURNE at LAZERPIG with MULTIPLE MAN DJs

June 10 – MELBOURNE at YAH YAHS with CUTTING ROOM, NERVE, MILITARY POSITION and BITUMEN
DJs
MOOPIE (Jealous God, Blackest Ever Black, a colourful storm)
JESS SNEDDON

June 15 – CANBERRA at Pickle at POLISH CLUB with HORSE MACGUYVER, KARLI WHITE,
CALIFORNIA GIRLS and PICKLE DJs

June 16 –  SYDNEY at Angels at PORTUGAL MADEIRA CLUB with VARIOUS ASSES,
L.A SUFFOCATED, TRU and SEX HAVERS DJs

June 17 – BRISBANE at WOOLY MAMMOTH with KANGAROO SKULL, REBEL YELL, LEVANA, DJ DANGER DESTINY and DJ SAMMY D’ANGELO

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