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INTRODUCING: Rolling Blackouts

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Look, Australia has always been a hotbed of incredible jangle-pop acts, especially in recent years. Twerps, Dick Diver and the Ocean Party have provided a wealth of consistent and reliable guitar pop, ensuring that any arts student within hearing distance can bop their head along.

But Rolling Blackouts have been around for a number of years, and the lack of attention regarding this band is astounding. They’re incredible! Subtle, nonchalant brilliance taking place in our own backyard, how about that?! Maybe it’s the fact that these guys have been caught up in their more successful – and decidedly different – projects, which include Graveyard Train and Cash Savage & the Last Drinks. But with the recent release of their first fully-fledged EP, 2015 is shaping up to be the year of the Rolling Blackouts.

The Melbournites do everything right: their hooks are catchier than an addiction to meth after 10 minutes in Walter White’s laboratory. And although the riffs are consistent, the Talk Tight EP ranges from the alt-country finger-picking of ‘Clean Slate’ to the long-faced ‘Wither With You’, a spiritual descendent of the Go-Betweens/Triffids/Even As We Speak. Wherever you press play on this EP, you’ll be greeted warmly by a bright guitar and simple lyrics.

As a sidenote, on standout ‘Wide Eyes’, between shimmering waves of shoegaze, there are a few nods to various Sydney locations – like South Dowling St and Clovelly. Could this be an extending of the olive branch to end the rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne??? Time will tell – all that needs to be done now is wait for Rolling Blackouts to release their next masterpiece.

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Kucka – ‘Recovery’

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Despite recent collaborations demonstrating her ability to nail a pop hook, with ‘Recovery’ Kucka (aka Laura Jane Lowther) has created a tasty slice of experimental pop. The first track off her next EP shirks structure for melodies and off-beat rhythms that run into each other and then disappear, as Lowther poises her characteristic industrial electronic samples for collision with her warped fairy vocals.

The instrumental break (sans-instruments) of ‘Recovery’ is a gnarly structure of broken glitch that shoots you right through to Kucka’s candied syllables towards the end of the track. Syllables is as much as I can confirm because I can’t be 100% sure that she’s saying real words – not that it really matters. The point is that Lowther has somehow made a song for riding Nyan Cat across a dark portal of pixelated unicorns and menacing rainbows into another dimension – a journey that would definitely require recovery. Maybe that’s what it’s about?

We’ll be seeing a lot more of Lowther in the coming months, with a run of free shows across the country kicking off in Brisbane at the end of May.

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PREMIERE: Beast & Flood – ‘Abie Poe’

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Beast & Flood are a Sydney trio who make music that sounds like protest – that is, if you can protest a sinking feeling in your stomach. Listening to their knotty, anguished rock, it’s clear these guys feel there’s something broken. The guitars are menacing and the drums punch and stagger, while the vocals swing from dissonant dissertations to an outright wail.

Beast & Flood have been gigging in and around Sydney for more than three years now, but they’re yet to put out a full-length album. They have four releases under their belt so far – three EPs and a blistering single, ‘Amber’. A number of these tracks have now been collected and re-recorded, along with some new material, to form the band’s debut LP, Laguno, which is out 22 June through No Safe Place.

‘Abie Poe’ is Laguno‘s second single, following last month’s ‘Look at the Fish Swimming’. (An exuberant little number in it’s own sharp-edged way, ‘Look…’ might be Beast & Flood’s first properly ‘pop’ song). They’ve spent a lot of time in the studio with this stuff – starting recording in July last year and finishing up in February – and it shows. These tracks are sprawling, composed of several movements, and landing in intensity somewhere between post-hardcore and ’90s emo.

‘Abie Poe’ (named after a character of the same name from Nick Cave’s And the Ass Saw the Angel) opens with swooping chords and chiming harmonics, like Sonic Youth in one of their more melodious moments, before drifting into harsher twists and turns, screams and then release.

Beast & Flood will be touring the new album across the east coast from June to August. Catch them at one of these dates:

25 June – Rad, Wollongong

26 June – Blackwire, Sydney

9 July – Rics, Brisbane

10 July – The Bearded Lady, Brisbane

11 July – Beatdisc, Parramatta

16 July – Phoenix, Canberra

17 July – Metro, Adelaide

18 July – Vice Bar, Melbourne

24 July – The Brisbane Hotel, Hobart

1 August – Hamilton Station Hotel, Newcastle

7 August – The Boatshed, Manly

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LISTEN: Tempura Nights – ‘Mr Tone’

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The only note I took on first listen to this song was ‘PIXIES’– cause although Brisbane four-piece Tempura Nights have shown varied influences in their short life span, this track sits firmly in the late-’80s, early ’90s alternative territory. The wordiness of Rezende’s verses also recalls a bit of Speedy Ortiz, more in the way the lyrics sound than the words themselves. Just have a listen to that abrasive guitar tone and how low the bass grinds along, and tell me you get anything other than 90s teen movie angst.

It’s never a good idea to say what YOU think a band is writing about, you almost always end up looking like a moron, but if ‘Mr Tone’ isn’t about that weird old white guy who eats whole onions on the TV, then it should be. Cause there’s plenty of spite here. It’d be cool to see Rezende get more fired up, break through that smart snarky voice that she does so easily and really get into a bit of yelling. But you get the point anyway: Tempura Nights have no time to take shit.

Though they do seem to have a lot of time to spend in the studio – Tempura Nights work on songs for ages. This can often be a bad sign, cause there’s nothing worse than good music being way overworked and picked over. Thankfully, on ‘Mr Tone’ the band have stayed away from anything too tricky (though it could do without the gang vocals at the end – sounds like PNAU or something) and brought us an extremely solid single from a group that’s delivering on its promise.

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INTRODUCING: White Gums

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White Gums is a brand new solo project out of Newcastle, dealing in pristine, laptop-crafted music birthed over “countless nights of insomnia, passion and dreaming”.

Of the three tracks on White Gums’ solid debut EP, Float, ‘DesreveR’ is the one that has grabbed everyone’s attention, and it’s not hard to see why. Built around crisp 808 flicks, warm, pulsing sub-bass and a Jónsi-style falsetto, the track masters the subtle climax and drops some nifty glitch work near the end too.

The other two tracks, ‘Float’ and ‘Rattle’, are as textural as their names suggest – weaving chimes, gamelan hits and found sounds into dense rhythmic collages. It’s a small shame that the beats introduced towards the latter half of each aren’t as imaginative.

While electronic music of the ‘intelligent’ variety is eternally at risk of sounding designed for a menu screen, with Float White Gums has managed to craft a sound that is both serene and compelling.

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MAP – May 2015

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Our Australian MAP selection for May comes from Arvo Tanty - the solo project of Michael Dolan who formerly played in perth. Picture heavy, ostentatious synth accordion draped around your cerebrals in stereo sound. It sounds like luxury. IT IS IGOOD.

Some other gems worth noting include jazzy sounds from Brazil’s Otis Trio, and a track released in 2000 by Copenhagen band Speaker Bite Me which is receiving acclaim in Denmark and its first vinyl release in over fifteen years.

You can grab a zip file of the full 19-track compilation through Dropbox here.

 

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
El GnomoSuicidas Melodías

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This new musical project by Martin Reznik (La Filarmonica Cosmica) almost started as a game in 2012, when he recorded several songs on a weekly basis. Some time afterwards, while reviewing the material, Martin realised he had an album in his hands, so he spent the next months polishing the songs and re-recording some instrumental tracks. He also invited musical friends to participate in what became a folk album with a soft psychedelic vibe. Suicidas Melodías is one of these collaborations, in which singer-sonwriter Sofía Viola lends her wonderful voice. You can download the full album from Bandcamp.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Arvo TantyWhite Hum Valley (Hello)

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Arvo Tanty is an introduction to producer Michael Dolan’s solo material, following his work with electronic outfit Perth. White Hum Valley (Hello) is a grandiose, cinematic Casiotone orchestra track where slow, effacing rhythms pulse and dissolve at surface break. Dolan says the song was inspired by Joni Mitchell, Mort Garson’s Plantasia and his yearning to make a “Nintendo soundtrack of some kind”.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Otis TrioMontag’s Dream

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Montag’s Dream, the opening track of Otis Trio’s debut album 74 Club, probably refers to the main character of the novel Fahrenheit 451. The dark jazz they create fits perfectly with the despair related in the book.

 

Listen to full song selections below:

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INTRODUCING: These Guy

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Brisbane fella Joe Saxby has been putting music out under the moniker These Guy just short of a year now, but what a year it’s been. He released his debut EP, To Say or Do, late last year, and the recent addition of two band members has seen These Guy (that grammatical awkwardness trips me up every time) gather momentum throughout 2015.

‘Always Right’ is the latest track from These Guy, and it builds on the EP’s clear strengths – namely Saxby’s penchant for harmonies that reverberate around your head and his ability to balance instrumentation so that it floats weightlessly above the vocals.

The creeping melancholy of ‘Always Right’ will be an absolute treat for any fans of Deerhunter, or even Saosin’s acoustic tracks, but for god’s sake don’t listen to it if you’re pining over someone. Or do – emotional purging will probably ensue. Beautiful track though.

These Guy are playing shows sporadically around Brisbane, so keep an eye on Facebook to catch them.

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