(photo: Karl Scullin)
Ooooooweeeeeee. It’s time for some new Pikelet everybody.
‘Pressure Cooker’ is a groovin’ jam replete with the characteristically scattered vocals of lead, Evelyn Morris.
What this Melbourne based four piece does well, is provide ‘alt-pop’ that goes completely against the grain. As a band that’s a staple on community radio, Pikelet who makes you think about the construction of music than what’s presented through perceived national tastemakers. Tagged as ‘psych pop’ on their Soundcloud, it seems ‘Pressure Cooker’ does exactly that. From the get go, you’re immersed in those Pikelet synths, furthering that with woozy trip with reverb-laden guitar lines, and ever-subtle arpeggios.
While I think a band like Pikelet transcends labels, it’s tracks like ‘Pressure Cooker’ that really does make you think about Morris’ vocal style. Morris’ reminds me of Dirty Projectors’ Amber Coffman. They both possess a voice that fronts as hollow, almost ghost-like at points – but underpinning all that there’s some subterranean soul that’s waiting to be released, given the right context – just like Coffman on Major Lazer’s ‘Get Free‘.
And it’s only on this track which Morris hints at this, her voice working well within restraint particularly on the refrain “these are our darkest days”. The overall feel here makes you think this track could be a shoe-in for a video clip with projection art, dusty floorboards, and distant looks from the foursome (…maybe).
Pikelet will launch ’Pressure Cooker’ at the Tote Hotel, on Friday June 7.
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Australian instrumental rock bands are generally a very underrated and under-heard species. With a little bit of creativity and imagination In this genre, bands get the chance to purely focus on the wondrous avenues music alone can take them to. Bands such as Mr. Maps (Brisbane) and Apricot Rail (Perth) are doin’ it right. So are Ghost Notes.
Ghost Notes are a six-piece instrumental band from Brisbane who’ve been kicking around since 2009. They’ve released a brand new single ‘Go Where It Takes You’, which follows on from their incredibly rich By Cover Of Night LP. The track sticks to the band’s signature jazzy, post-rock element, with that stark lead trumpet taking us all for a wander. And while we’re all in Gatsby mode, this could make a fitting soundtrack to that intense moment where Leo decides to snort diamantes.
The glorious thing about this 6 minute epic is the mystery and romanticism captured in the lead melody. The track sits on top of an unsettled and messy percussive bed of sounds. Listening to Ghost Notes is like watching the highlights reel of a good film in your mind; it’s unpredictable and exciting. More people should definitely be paying attention to this band, and this entire genre in Australia.
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‘Stray Current’, the first single off Baptism of Uzi’s upcoming 10″ EP, is quite a departure from the band’s previous output. These guys have krautrock and hair metal running in their veins – they’ve supported Can’s Damo Suzuki and Neu!’s Michael Rother, and their compositional style is reportedly modelled on early Black Sabbath. The band’s previous tracks have names like ‘Crushed’, ‘The Drought’ and ‘Dead by Dawn’; essentially proggy jams bound together by the towering riffs of guitarists Bojan Stojanov and Tom Battersby.
An earlier incarnation of ‘Stray Current’ saw a release on a 2011 EP; I’ve got the cassette on my shelf with its $9 price-tag. This is a different animal altogether though. There’s a ‘Brit-Invasion’ feel and long, noodle-y bits that draw the whole thing out by an extra minute or so. The new version retains the track’s (excellent) central hook, but it’s been stripped back, slowed down and distilled into a far purer pop single. The rough-edged guitars and warped keys have been cleaned up and supplemented with handclaps, a concise riff, and spare, reverb-heavy chords.
‘Stray Current’ was mixed ‘by some dude who did Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears’, according to the band’s Facebook, which perhaps explains a thing or two. They recently described themselves to Triple J Unearthed as ‘a Daft Punk/Thin Lizzy hybrid of sorts’, which pretty much sums it up. The band haven’t strayed too far, though – there’s still a spaced-out jam in there for the psych fans, but for everyone else this is just a flippin’ great pop song.
Baptism of Uzi are launching their Stray Currents EP on these dates:
Friday 28 June, at Brighton Up Bar, Sydney with guests TBA
Saturday 6 July, at Northcote Social Club, Melbourne + Turtlenecjk and Atolls
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Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the full 36-track compilation through Ge.tt here.
Paula y Los Besos – Bailar
Paula y Los Besos is the new musical adventure of singer, songwriter and poet Paula Trama. The band just released eight songs in the form of two EPs that range from acoustic-punk upbeat tunes to tender folk ballads. Bailar is a cover of T. Rex’s Cosmic Dancer, with Spanish lyrics adapted by Paula herself. You can hear and download both EPs from their Bandcamp page.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Swimming – Triplebrie
Adelaide’s Swimming are sisters Katie and Angie Schilling and friend Sam Reynolds. Triplebrie is the first single from their new record Yes, Tonight. There are plenty of layered vocals and looped sounds on the album, but Swimming’s simple outlook on acapella really does its best in an acoustic setting. The trio also sell tea towels as merchandise, so we can’t really say anything bad about this band right now.
Fijuka – Behave (From Now On)
First a drum machine, then a Billie Jean-style bassline and finally synthscapes that embed the voice of Fijuka’s Ankathie singing one of the weirdest declarations of love we have ever heard. Fijuka stands for DIY pop with an art school touch. Watch the music video for some Rhönrad wheel action.
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
FAROFF – Brazilian Star Wars
Can you imagine the Star Wars troopers having fun in a slum in Rio de Janeiro, listening to funk carioca in the summer and surrounded by girls? This is not a new track, but Brazilian Star Wars shows one of the best moments of DJ FAROFF, the name used by Leo Bursztyn, PHD in economics and former guitarist of Brazilian band Móveis Coloniais de Acaju.
Australia needs a new pop chanteuse. Preferably one who’s not going to splay jazz hands or bore us with sad folk music. We think Seja is probably a good fit for the title. She’s interesting, mysterious and isn’t really Aussie at all (Seja was born in Germany). After spending years playing synths for Regurgitator and Sekiden, Seja’s been a solo venture and is releasing her second record soon.
‘Like Fireflies’ is the brand new track from Seja’s upcoming record All Our Wires. The track is a burst of sonic-pop, fused with Seja’s trademark breathy vocalesque and heavy synth work. It’s a little bit St Vincent – and dare I say, even Dido in parts. Either way, Seja’s not shy about space oddities or that Korg, and all that makes us think that this is the kind of brassy, dreamy pop we need more of around here.
Some words from Seja about ‘Like Fireflies’:
“I wanted this song musically to have a continuous groove in the drums and bass ala Stereolab and Can. Ben Ely (Regurgitator) leant a hand playing bass and contributed a great running, bouncy bass line that fits in with the upbeat, ‘squelchy’ synth sounds I picked. When we demo-ed this song it had a really bizarre drum loop that really syncopated, so when we were tracking the album it was important for me to have some of this rhythmical strangeness, without alienating the listener too much. Mirko Vogel and I had lots of fun taking turns at making the craziest noises we could on the Korg MS-20 for the intro.
The song is about being madly in love with someone and going through the motions of wooing them, being shy in the courting processes, shouting it off the rooftops, to togetherness, to compromise, to supporting one another in crisis and all the other great things that happen in a relationship with a solid foundation. It is also about the process when you fall in ‘friend-love’ with someone new, then see how your friendship develops with that person in a platonic way…”
Catch Seja on these dates:
June 23rd – Blackbear Lodge, Qld.
July 5th – Brighton Up Bar, Syd.
July 6th – Grace Darling, Melb.
All Our Wires is out in June.
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‘Passions’ is the first single off the debut record by Melbourne MOR evangelists Montero. Led by Ben ‘Bjenny’ Montero, whose album art, posters and video clips are by now a fixture of the local music scene — and whose voice has an eerie similarity to Bryan Ferry’s — the band includes Chapter Music honcho Guy Blackman on piano and WTH favourite /longtime purveyor of adult contemporary sleaze Geoffrey O’Connor on guitar.
Together they make lush, 70′s indebted soft rock with kitsch orchestral flourishes. They’ve got a 7″ out already, and a two-track digital release celebrating the life and times of Wheel of Fortune co-host Adriana Xenides. The latest single opens with a 60′s futurist synth tone and Ben Montero’s creepy invocation, “Nobody does it to you like baby does”. At one point he manages to rhyme “random cruelty” with “ambiguity”, and the band throws in a baroque, psychedelic breakdown at the end for good measure. For what’s essentially a pastiche, Montero makes it so damn fine.
The Loving Gaze is due out on 16 August via Mistletone.
Montero will be launching ‘Passions’ on these dates:
Thursday, 20 June – Goodgod Small Club, Sydney (+ Early Woman, Drown Under, DJ Marcel Whyler and Circle Pit DJs)
Friday, 28 June – LuWow, Melbourne (+ The Ancients and Swim Between The Shags)
In case the obvious wasn’t apparent enough – yes, Greyjoy is a Game of Thrones reference. These Perth guys aren’t just a bunch of tv-gruffs though. Their sound is a lot more interesting than horsemeat consumption, the plague or the gratuitous bad sex offered by said reference, so you should probably listen up.
A project between Karlin Courtney and Matt Crocket, Greyjoy came around somewhere in between meeting through friends and purchasing a Juno 6 two years ago.
Greyjoy definitely have a ‘Sydney’ sound going on. The interwebs makes the state by state divide a little less divisive these days, but it’s not to say that bands still don’t hop onto scenes and sub-scenes in their own pockets of town. While some people are still set in tunnel vision that everyone from Perth is either pedal-heavy or still frothing over Xavier Rudd, “garden shed” producers making sunny-synth pop like these guys prove otherwise.
Greyjoy’s debut EP is one for late nights and early mornings. Marked by equal parts sunny-side-up pop gems (‘Strangers’, ‘Distance’) and others which live on the slow burning descend (‘Emerald’) this is a great effort for a first release. I find it difficult to digest synths with the same seriousness that I once did in 2007, but for every pastiche going in their description (including the Thrones reference), these guys make it work.
Greyjoy are releasing their self-titled EP on Wednesday, but for now you can stream an exclusive listen below.
2. Idle Thoughts
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Amongst the huge volume of surfer-rock outfits currently pouring out of Geelong, Atolls are leading the pack. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard bass guitarist Lucas Skinner – who you’ll hear on lead vocals here) started Atolls as a side project. After penning couple of demos, he quickly recruited Oli Grinter and Sam Ingles to expand on Atolls’ sound.The fuzz-pop trio now have an excellent debut EP Hair Machine in their mitts, which includes scrubbed up versions of previously released demos ‘Water’, ‘Mumble’ and ‘Worn’.
From the poppy jolt of ‘Mumble’ to the bolder and grungier offering, ‘Worn, Hair Machine will send you on a blissful psychedelic trip. The trio truly excel in laidback, shoegazey guitar work, although livelier tracks ‘Old Rosie’ and ‘Darkness’ will definitely pull you out of the haze .The cover artwork still creeps me out, but it’s a good disclaimer for the audio/visual mind-melt ahead.
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If you’re about to head out tonight, you should take a listen to the latest offering from Alex Cameron, (otherwise known as the babe from Seekae).
Having been a fan of Seekae since they first came out, I’m forever obliged to take a listen to whatever comes next from this Sydney based trio. The last we heard from the Seekae boys was the stunning ‘Yech‘, a mello, down-tempo jam laced with soul-rnb undercurrents. For some, it seemed as though the band departed from +Dome’s aesthetic into more of the brooding, less abrasive sounds of The Sounds of Trees Falling on People.
And first out of the solo project stables is vocalist/percussionist, Alex Cameron.
It’d be a disservice to not acknowledge the fact that you’d be hearing this track through the lens of Seekae, considering that’s how we’ve come to know Cameron up until this point. But that said, it’s also a disservice to rely solely on Seekae to get Cameron’s latest offering. But you really don’t need to anyway. At points, this track is reminiscent of Twin Shadow circa Forget.
This track seems to inhabit a space which is almost pseudo-80s, with its liberal use of synths. Cameron’s vocals are subdued, creating a character according to his Soundcloud:
“A voice like honey and lyrics that sting…He knows what he’s doing and although he’s nobody’s fool, he is a slave to love.”
The legacy that Seekae has left over their two albums has done more than enough to hold future solo releases in good stead. It’s now up to Cameron to mark a definitive step away from the band to make it all count.
Photograph: Alan Weedon