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LISTEN: Spirit Bunny

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Spirit Bunny cover

Brisbane trio Spirit Bunny deal in a unique brand of noise pop, although the term ‘pop’ in this instance refers to the short, sharp catchiness of their songs as opposed to any subscription to traditional structures or formulaic song writing.

Their self-titled debut album is an explosion of overdriven synth, rollicking drums, and circuit-bent 8-bit craziness. This is electronic music with the earnestness and urgency of a live band.

Brimming with raucous energy, the band bursts out of the gates with opener ‘Disco Horesride Montage’, a suitably animated introduction followed by the equally infectious instrumental cut ‘Bunny Battles’. And even when the pace drops back on the bouncy, hip hop inflected ‘Screaming Keys’ the palpable energy remains. The band rarely comes up for breath until the latter stages of the album, where tracks like ‘CRT Screens’ and ‘Gold & Brown’ introduce a slightly more pensive mood. But even on these tracks it’s not long before the band continues their aural assault, as if rejuvenated by the brief respite.

Spirit-Bunny

Aside from the obvious influence of the chiptune scene, there are nods to bands like Battles but with a scrappy, garage band tenacity. This is not background sound to lull you to sleep, this is brash, insistent music that demands your attention.

The band are wrapping up a national tour in support of the album with just a hometown Brisbane show remaining. For those of you who missed catching the band on tour, hopefully it won’t be too long before they head out on the road again. Until then, grab a copy of this fantastic debut now.

Brisbane launch:

May 20th @ The Bearded Lady

w/ Low Season and Leavings

 

Bandcamp / Facebook / Twitter

WATCH: Pregnancy – ‘First Kiss’

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Pregnancy

Yeah, that tape got released last year, Pregnancy did the whole Northcote Social Club she-bang and everything for it – but some songs are born for long everlasting life, and ‘First Kiss’ is such a song, given a new shot of life as the shiny lead single for Pregnancy’s upcoming LP, Urgency.

Pregnancy always struck me as having some awkward growing pains, at least from where I’ve stood in the audience. You could probably spot the genesis of the project a little while off during shows for The Ocean Party, where Denton would sometimes, if he was feeling up to it, have a sneaky boogie with himself or even jump into the crowd. Denton is all stiff dance-moves and low-register but, in a way, it feels like he’s pulling from the same book as artists like Alex Cameron or even his band-mate Snowy’s other project ‘No Local’ (in which Denton plays drums).

Lone dude with a microphone in a semi-formal get up; a pastiche of 80s romanticism at its finest. The synths are urgent, the guitars angular, the melodies heartbroken; everything’s perpetually running in the rain to a betrayed lover, asking for one last chance. The video shows the band playing cosy in a small room, juxtaposed with images from Pregnancy’s February tour.

Give it a watch below, get a taste of Denton’s dance-moves and perhaps buy the tape.

Head along to the ‘First Kiss’ single launch this Thursday, May 4 at the Tote, with support from Frances Fox, Tenderhooks and Qwerty.

Urgency is out in July via Melbourne’s Lost & Lonesome Records.

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LISTEN: Angie – ‘Shyness’ LP

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shyness

When I wrote about Angie Garrick’s first solo album Turning in 2013, it was a very different time. You could say you liked ‘garage rock’ without being heavily side-eyed at a house show (and I was writing shit like ‘soul crunching riffs’ seemingly without wincing myself to death). I don’t stand by much of what I said back then, but even that me was smart enough to see the power of that brave and brutal album. Then on Free Agent she went a bit rock dog, putting herself front and centre. Braver still maybe for a woman in Australia.

Shyness is the best thing she’s done by far. It is absolutely grim. It’s crushingly beautiful. Garrick’s monotone vocals resigned; ‘Nothing in Store’s singalong chorus of ‘nothing to count on / nothing in store’, followed by tracks based around rich and heavy sounding piano. Everything echoes for a thousand miles in each direction, like Garrick reaching out – but then it’s so insular as well. How can something with so few parts do so much damage, how can a record that often sounds restless leave you with a feeling of contentment? I don’t know, but Shyness does it.

I won’t pretend to know much about the piano or instrumental music in general, but ‘On Being Blue’ is something so special to me. There’s the stunning way the piano chases itself around in circles, pausing hesitant then striding on with confidence. In other places it’s joined by fractured guitar catching up then falling behind, then catching up again, both instruments woven together loosely but with purpose. Even when the music is beautiful, Garrick’s vocals bring a sense of foreboding. She’s living in a world of whispers and shadows, keeping you at arm’s length even when you desperately want to be let in. A lot of musicians will say stuff like ‘I don’t really think about how other people are gonna feel listening to my music when I make it’, which is mostly bullshit, but Angie I’d believe it. Shyness is a graceful, poised record captures the precious weight of isolation.

Angie is on tour later this month. She’s also playing the Repressed Records show at Vivid on June 1. Total Control are playing. See you there.

FRI MAY 26 – 107 PROJECTS, SYDNEY
w/ KNITTED ABYSS, SPIKE VINCENT & TABLE
TICKETS | MORE INFO

SAT MAY 27 – AINSLIE ARTS CENTRE, CANBERRA
w/ THUNDERBOLT CITY + MORE TBA
TICKETS | MORE INFO

SAT JUNE 3 – SOME VELVET MORNING, MELBOURNE
w/ SUPPORTS TBA
TICKETS ON THE DOOR | MORE INFO

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LISTEN: Setec – Cotton Bones

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Cotton Bones cover

In 2014, Brittle as Bones, the intimate debut from Setec, aka Sydney artist Joshua Gibbs, was released via artist collective Feral Media. Combining gentle melodies, ramshackle percussion and looped acoustic instruments with deftly chosen samples, the album created a warm and delicate world, each track immersing you in gentle evocations of a different time and place.

Over the past few months we’ve heard rumblings of a follow-up LP, and today we’re excited to present lead single ‘Cotton Bones’. Opening on a minimal piano loop, with spectral echoes dispersed among pitter-patter rhythms, the track recalls the dusty layers of Grizzly Bear’s Yellow House or Four Tet’s early folktronica.

There’s a melancholy to ‘Cotton Bones’ – perhaps typical of Setec’s nostalgic approach to song craft – which is belied by a breezy chorus. The song gradually blooms into a bright singalong moment, as Gibbs adds his own voice to the gauzy source material.

Sydneysiders can catch Setec launching his new single at the Gaelic Club next Saturday. The gig is hosted by Skydreams, with support from Spirit Faces, Imperial Broads and Okin Osan. Full event details on Facebook. You may also be lucky enough to pick up an extremely limited lathe-cut vinyl copy of the single, with 3 alternate sleeves.

Stay tuned for more news on Setec’s second album, but for now slide into ‘Cotton Bones’ for a while.

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WATCH: Geryon – ‘Somehow’

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Geryon Press

Geryon has The Touch. The secret recipe to balancing drum loops, pitch-shifted vocals and other modulations in a way that can translate complex feelings without many actual words at all. ‘Somehow’, the opening track off the Melbourne electronic artist’s debut EP ‘We Don’t Talk About the Ghost’ came out mid-2016, and now there’s a video to boot. If you have done yourself the disservice of waiting until now to listen to the EP in full, take this as a timely reminder to rectify immediately. The whole output is meticulously constructed, each song a delicate but sure-footed step into the light from stormy beginnings on ‘Somehow’, through the twisted slow dance of ‘Moulding Golden’ before arriving at the subdued pop of the closer ‘1 of U’, featuring fellow warped internet-pop pioneer kt spit.

‘Somehow’ has a benignly sinister beginning, the violin of Sienna Thornton (also of Two Steps on the Water) and some deep sea monster-sounding effects stalk you in a hovering way that makes it hard to tell whether a real threat is present, or if the fear is all in your head. Honestly if Geryon stalked me through a haunted forest I’d be totally cool with it because in the end you’re rewarded with this really great revelatory climax: “Somehow you see / everything i want to be”. Turns out the fear was worth pushing past this time.

After I wrote this, Geryon told me that the track is about intimacy, how when you can find it with someone it’s almost as if another world opens up. The track’s icy, sparse beginning takes on new meaning as the synths swell up, enveloping the tension with warmth. The clip brings this world to life; an eerie storm inhabited by dancing figures, conceptualised and executed by Geryon and multimedia artist Vaxx with help from fellow musicians and artists Wahe (of Kandere), Brooke Powers, Callan, Hiro Mcl and Astrid&, whose figures dance across the storm loop. It almost looks as if the storm clouds and lightening is being projected onto someone’s living room wall, and each dancer is taking their turn asserting their place in a world they’re all working to create.

Geryon’s song-crafting ability is on full display in this track. It’s haunting, it’s beautiful, and it’s a godsend to be able to listen to a track about intimacy/relationships and not have to listen to some dickhead cry into his guitar about being friendzoned.

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VIRTUAL MIXTAPE: Sebastian Field

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Virtual-Mixtape_Lucy-Roleff

Illustrations by Lucy Roleff

Sebastian Field is probably best known as the golden-throated front man for Canberra-based quartet, Cracked Actor. However he is also a member of gentle folksters, Burrows and more recently has focused on his solo project, the fruits of which will appear on his debut album, Picture Stone, later this year.

I first became aware of Sebastian’s work via Cracked Actor’s jaw-dropping full-length debut, Iconoclast, a work of majestic beauty underpinned by his distinctive falsetto. The band’s penchant for writing intelligent pop songs with an experimental flair carried through to the two EP’s which followed it; Upstructures, and the stripped-back Duo, both of which were released last year.

On the strength of his work in both bands, Sebastian’s solo outing is shaping up to be a cracker, and certainly one we’ll be keeping a close eye on.

For his contribution to our Virtual Mixtape series Sebastian has selected the incomparable Squarepusher, with an essay titled ‘Squarepusher’s Fantastic Obsession with Science Fiction’. Over to you Sebastian…

Seb-final600

Being a human (a human being) who’s been on the planet for *some* time now, my capabilities to achieve enthusiasm and excitement have deteriorated from the levels that I once used to be able to engage in. It’s a real shame. Things repeat themselves. Disappointments occur. Realities set in. It’s hard to maintain the same heights of vigorous elation that one used to feel. How bleak – but also really interesting and by proxy very exciting and enlivening to observe personally, lolz.

I can remember days when I would get so overwhelmed with anticipation for new Squarepusher music. In particular 2008’s Just A Souvenir. In the months leading up to its release, I was a bottle of bubbly, about to blow (blue tick of verification). I got it while interstate with some friends, detached from them for some time to enjoy the first listen. It was a few hours, I played it back to front a couple of times over directly into my brain through my headphones. I was so happy.

Anyway, for some reason I’ve felt it necessary to prelude this article with that introductory blurb because I think maybe it’s just nice to reminisce, isn’t it – aside from the present, all you have are your memories (which is a nice gift, really, that the experience of consciousness gives to you). Also, in being a bit self indulgent here, I feel I’ve given myself the opportunity to link to a track that has no real attachment to the overall subject, apart from being a track by Squarepusher.

Squarepusher – ‘Tommib’ (Go Plastic)

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A Band From Another Planet

For a while now, Squarepusher (Tom Jenkinson) has had an ever present obsession with concepts of science fiction, permeating them through his releases blatantly. It’s all the way through his releases from 2001’s schizophrenic Go Plastic to 2015’s nightmarish (and unfortunately underwhelming) Damogen Furies. The most obvious of his indulgences hitherto is perhaps the coming-to-fruition of his imagined science fiction future band, initially imagined on the aforementioned Just A Souvenir (JAS) and created in real life on his follow up release, Shobaleader One – d’Demonstrator.

In conversation on JAS, Jenkinson describes that the premise of the album originated from a daydream in which he was visited by a band performing in front of a large, glowing coathanger. The band played abstract math rock/jazz fusion/classical inspired compositions as surreal occurrences took place, such as parts of the drummers kit rapidly switching places with itself and the guitarist harnessing the ability to accelerate and decelerate time. As mentioned before, clearly an indulgence, Jenkinson tries his darnedest to replicate the experience of his daydream on JAS. It’s a lot of fun, you should listen to it if you’d like to. Anyhow, not satisfied with his efforts on JAS, he felt it necessary to have one more stab at directly replicating his vision by putting together Shobaleader One, the real life band from another planet.

Unfortunately, the (as of now) only recording put out by the band is pretty plain and underwhelming. Sorely missing the palette of Jenkinson’s solo studio abstractions, Shobaleader One – d’Demonstrator comes off as emotionless, two dimensional and really, really cold. That might be the point, even, being an alien band from another planet but the experience of sitting through the album is not very pleasant. The first track is brilliant, though, haha. I love it!

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WATCH: Rebel Yell – ‘High Authority’

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rebel yell

I think one of the things that sets Rebel Yell apart from a lot of other one-person electronic bands is Grace Stevenson’s impeccable taste. It’s all over this video, for ‘High Authority’, her first single since last year’s ‘Mother of Millions’ EP. She’s working with director Triana Hernandez, a Melbourne writer and director who’s burst onto the scene with some powerful and beautiful videos (she also made Various Asses’ recent clip for ‘Down Down’ – which so. Fucking. Gooood.). It’s especially in the clothing, from brand new Brisbane fashion designer Ellen Chandler, which Stevenson cites as the clip’s main inspiration.

‘When I first saw the outfits that Ellen had done for her graduate collection I started getting ideas – the video is based highly around the clothes, a fashion film style I guess. Her outfits are amazing and super confusing to get on! They’re all made up of other garments and at one stage I had pant legs coming off my arm! Originally I wanted the film in the desert, with a lizard, but time, money and an actual place to film it made that difficult.’

Instead of heading to the outback and auditioning reptiles, Stevenson settled on one of the scrubby beaches and brown rivers that make up most of South East Queensland’s less-than-postcard-perfect coastline. It’s an area she knows well, growing up around the Sunshine Coast – she scouted locations while visiting her folks.

The video itself revels in a kind of dirty glamour – it’s DIY but never looks cheap or half-arsed. They used a VHS camera and in some scenes, the car headlights as lighting. There’s a grainy road B-movie kind of feel – which lead to a decidedly un-Hollywood moment during the shoot. ‘We had a break at my mum’s house in Eumundi before it got dark, then used my car lights for the lighting out off a dirt road. I, being highly intelligent, turned off the car but left the lights on. So we waited about an hour or so for YOUi Assist [ML:is this a plug? Can we have some money?] to revive my battery. My mum did bring us some dinner in takeaway containers though, so that was nice.’

The song kind of speaks for itself – it’s bombastic, direct and, yup, heaps authoritative. The B-grade movie vibe continues in the sound, but now it’s a space horror – lazers and squelching effects. Like, cat-suited lady aliens biting the heads off human men or something.

Stevenson has a background in dance, and the sharp shapes she makes in the video shout power and control, thanks to the help of local dancer and choreographer Erika Goldsmith. ‘Erika choreographed the dance sequence at the end of the clip’ Stevenson says, ‘I remember she taught me a dance at school when we were both kids, and I’ve been doing her Rhianna dance classes this year, so we’ve known each other for a long time. Erika advised me on things that would look cool to do in the setting with the outfits, but some of it I had to ‘freestyle’ – that was when my car died.’

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If you’re in Sydney you can catch Rebel Yell at Body Promise as part of Vivid on June 10