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PREMIERE: Jarrow – ‘Last Monday’

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The name of Dan Oke’s first EP is Legitimate; a credible slice of reassurance every musician needs to know that their music is Out There and in the ears and hearts of the people Dan Oke makes music under the guise of Jarrow. He recorded the EP between his home in Footscray and a beach house in Anglesea. Oke sent us an email last week with this tune, and I’ve spent the rest of the week over his excellent older material flavouring the best-of scuzzy drum machines and Connan Mockasin’s Caramel.

Here’s the internet debut of ‘Last Monday’, so feel spesh everyone. It’s a lo-fi, upbeat strummer, with the treble switch turned up somewhere between Snowy Nasdaq and the dust balls gathering at Fergus Miller’s feet.

According to Oke, the track is about routine consequences of routine drinking on a school night, presumably penned around the Bermuda Triangle of venues (Tote, Gaso, Old Bar).

Support Jarrow by purchasing his debut EP, Legitimate, available on Bandcamp from the 14th of May.

 

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LABEL PROFILE: Breathlessness

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Breathlessness is a tiny, close-knit label formed in Hoppers Crossing, a suburb on Melbourne’s outer edges, where the label’s founders and current signees grew up. (A number of them even lived on the same street). The first Breathlessness releases appeared last year – Vulpix’s debut EP, Swarms, and Finx by Splendidid – and the label’s third outing, the self-titled EP from psychedelic duo Sun Bazel, came out in March.

The collective consists of only five or six core players: Jordan Barrow of Vulpix moonlights as a guitarist in Zac Terry’s band, Splendidid. Daniel Prieto, who plays bass in both oufits, is releasing his debut EP as DPDP (titled Afterglow) through Breathlessness in June. And last summer two members of the Splendidid live band, Jack Foy and Harry Hayes, wrote the material that became Sun Bazel’s first release.

Both Vulpix and Splendidid make sweet-sounding dream pop that could have come from a four-track abandoned circa 2008 and unearthed in someone’s basement like forgotten treasure. Built from rippling arpeggios and close, fuzzy drums, these tunes are heavy on the reverb and not afraid to enter the red. Sun Bazel’s psych-pop, meanwhile, circles woozily, composed of deceptively simple lines of detuned synths and phasered guitar.

Breathlessness is hosting a label party at the Shadow Electric Bandroom this Sunday, 26 April. (Stay calm – they’ve explained everything you need to know in this easy-to-follow tutorial). Splendidid and Vulpix will be performing live, and there’ll be DJ sets from Sun Bazel and DPDP. Erik Scerba, who mixed and mastered most of the label’s releases, will also be DJing. Scerba makes Tumblr-fied hip hop beats as Yoshimitsu, his sounds skipping from cloud rap to glo-fi and warped muzak. Don’t miss it.

Tickets to Sunday’s show are available through the Shadow Electric website.

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INTRODUCING: Groeni

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Groeni

Wellington’s Al Green has been making music as Groeni for a little while now but has started grabbing some international attention with the recent release of his new EP, Hewn. The sophomore release is five songs of beautifully down-beat electronica, which fits somewhere nicely in the continuum between Vacation-era Shlohmo and the more recent Caribou stuff.

I first saw Groeni at Chronophonium festival back in January and  was taken aback by how developed the sound was for something that began life as a bedroom recording project. Reverbed 808’s rang out across the fern-covered Tapu Valley and I swear I’ve never heard a more perfect match of sound and environment in my life.

Labels like ‘post-dubstep’ or ‘bass-music’ get thrown around a lot these days and are enough to make you want to lose your lunch. Groeni, however, distills the best of those sounds into a warped, yet graceful whole which will have you day-dreaming in no time.

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PREMIERE: Kinder – ‘Black and White Burning’

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Kinder

When one revivalist band dies, another springs up in its place (wherever the tambourines and Noel Fielding hairdos go). Some of Melb’s best loved locals have gone onto other ventures, like psych-doom and dabbling with German prose. Instead, pals from some of Melbourne’s hardest working gig guys (The Frowning Clouds, The Messengers & Dirt Farmer) have put their collective riff hands together and formed Kinder. This new single is the follow up to ‘Fall Back Down’, released in October last year. ‘Black and White Burning’ isn’t a lesson in literary torching, isn’t a chiaroscuro STI – but a track with some some potent pop hooks and generous hums all over. It’s a bit Bad Dreams, a little bit ‘nouj.

Kinder have been keeping busy, playing plenty of shows. The band’s debut LP Dorigo Rise will be released this year.

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Oh Mercy – ‘Sandy’

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The amount of music floating around on the internet right now is verging on the incredible. About 12 hours of audio are uploaded to Soundcloud every minute. For the consumer, this is a pretty neat deal – there really does seem to be something out there for everyone these days. Plus we’re seeing unprecedented opportunities for collaboration and cross-fertilisation.

For musicians trying to pursue a career in pop music, however, there’s a serious problem: namely, how to get the attention of bloggers, DJs and other industry types who are, more often than not, clique-y and fatigued from sifting through reams of one-sheets for bands they don’t really care about.

Marketing, I’d like to think, can only get you so far. More importantly, you’ve gotta be able to write and produce a track that cuts through pretty much immediately. Of course, this approach is kind of a blunt instrument. There are always going to be songs that deepen significantly over repeated listens, and bands with more experimental or cerebral aims. For music like that, isolating a core audience is probably the most important first step. To really break through, though, something more dramatic is going to be required.

In this new series, ‘First Impressions’, we’re going to subject a bunch of songs to the immediacy test – getting our contributors to review a track they’ve heard only once. Kicking things off is Jackson Rumble (in a step up from his last attempt to review a track without having listened to it at all), with his take on ‘Sandy’, the latest release from Melbourne band Oh Mercy.

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Straight outta the blocks you can tell this comes from a place that worships at the altar of respectable modern rock tropes. Driving kraut rhythms, tremolo’d guitar, analog strings, girl’s name for a title. And whatshisname of Oh Mercy has a timbre to his voice and a way with a lyric that actually makes you listen to what he’s saying. Two lines in and I kind of want to know what’s going on, and why this chap is so terrified of being alone.

There’s tension here, as we wait for the War on Drugs-style, head-out-the-car-window, flying-down-the-highway payoff. As he beckons her to “come closer”, begs her not to leave – the rhythm motoring along – I’m waiting for the payoff: in which Sandy either walks out the door or crumples into his arms.

But I feel like the song takes a mis-step in the bridge, applying the brakes rather than launching into the stratosphere, as the best Springsteen-esque guitar chuggers tend to. Nevertheless, it kept me hanging on, eager to know how it would end. And in fairness, the song resolves like most things in life probably do – with a wheeze rather than a bang.

You can catch Oh Mercy playing the Newtown Social Club in Sydney this Wednesday, 22 April, and Melbourne’s Gasometer Hotel on Saturday 25 April.

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BEHIND THE SCENES: Okenyo – ‘Just a Story’ video

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A few days ago, Sydney neo-soul artist Okenyo dropped the video for ‘Just a Story’, the slinky and dexterous lead single from her forthcoming EP, Mirage - and we got a sneak peek at the behind-the-scenes photo shoot. As you would expect from Zindzi Okenyo (remember this tour-de-force appearance?), the results are sexy and very stylish.

Photography by Shantanu Starick

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More photos after the jump

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WATCH: friendships – ‘Monarch to the Kingdom of the Dead’

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When premiering friendships’ latest vid, the UK’s Clash Magazine lead with a description of Melbourne being a “hub for the arts”. Yes, this is true. Our CBD council boats of its arts prowess, and we’ve had a knack for producing globetrotting creatives who romanticise the bluestone-lined streets of Melbourne’s inner suburbs. Each one has its fair share of Melburnian tropes at the ready – cafes with Edison lightbulbs, white tiles, or a disinterested barista put-on for effect.

But, the Melbourne represented in this clip isn’t what you’d initially jump to if you’re looking to romanticise our fashionable inner city. The suburb, Footscray isn’t going to be featured in some Monocle roundup anytime soon. It’s one that hasn’t really given into the full force of gentrification, where wave after wave of immigration still continues to makes its mark. In the vid local cameos such as Ming Ming’s, Franco Cozzo or Little Africa shine like time warped diamonds in the rough.

It’s always funny to see this place get featured. It’s romanticised by outsiders who consider it ‘exotic’ — it’s ‘Footscrazy’ or ‘Footscary’ to others. It’s a world where a technicoloured multitude of random shit greets you at a dollar shop, where said colours have faded from years of neglect. friendships’ Misha Grace (a Footscray resident) produced this in collaboration with Melbourne-based artist Ami Taib. So it’s funny to see them capture the ‘burb’s mundane reality.

For a long time, listing Footscray among Melbourne’s ‘cool’ haunts would’ve been a no-go. But now a string of younger Melburnians are capitalizing on cheap rents and large post-industrial spaces, and hosting Laneway is sure bound to shake off perceptions that it’s the inner city’s poorer cousin.

But for past or current residents, we just get on. Nobody’s getting knifed anytime soon, and nobody’s getting deprived of some ridiculously cheap okra. So take this video as an interesting juxtaposition of Footscray in its current state of flux — a perfect reading of the old and the new: a place where a gun shop can turn into an Ethiopian restaurant.

friendships are heading to the US in late May and are holding an art-show tour fundraiser. ‘Digestiblez’ will show at Friday May 1st at Forgotten Worlds, Collingwood. DJ sets from the duo and RaRa.

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