Posts By Annie Toller

INTRODUCING: Staunch Nation

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Something odd is happening in Australian hip hop at the moment. No, I’m not talking about Milwaukee Banks, who have sent local blogs into a spin with their steezy, Southern-style rap . There are no false American accents from the blokes I’m thinking of; they’re true blue, rapping about V8s, warm beer and Dunhills, and heading out in the Holden, balaclava clad, to hold up a 7-Eleven. There’s profligate use of the C-bomb, and it seems they spend everyday “punchin’ cones with hoses and stealing munchies from the grocers”.

Ray Chanel, MCGC, J-Willy, J Palm, T-Billz and John Savage (AKA J Saavy) are Staunch Nation, a crew hailing from the outer suburbs of Sydney and the nation’s capital (presumably from out Tuggeranong-way). They might sound suspiciously like the popular front of the Southern Cross Soldiers, but don’t worry – these fellas are #based as. Staunch Nation are just spreading the good word about how sweet it is to be in western Sydney sipping Rio Bravo in the summertime. Their overriding message, as told to Noisey’s Kane Daniel, is that “Everyday is a celebration, so inhale deeply and get broccolized like we’re back in the Triassic doing gymnastics”.

These guys don’t pay much heed to the usual rap signifiers. Their Tumblr features Warney and Russell Crowe pretty heavily, as well as the Footy Show, Plucka Duck and, for some reason, the Gympie IGA. They’ve also got a kind of unsettling fascination with Steven Seagal.

They’re not much interested in the traditional hubris of the genre, either. Here’s Staunch Nation on swag:

“My dress code is strictly polo and thongs”

“I’m Prince Charming with a gap in my teeth/Cassanova with a bum bag and poise like a sheik”

On their stacks:

“I’m covered in bling and when I take a shit/I hear ka-ching, ka-chingy, ka-chingy-ching-chingy”

On b*tches:

“Feel slightly sexual, melt her like lava/then go to the plaza and buy myself a fur coat/made from 100 per cent llama/then say ‘I love ya’”

Staunch Nation’s flow might be a bit clunky, but – the best surprise here – the tracks are underpinned by some very appealing production. Fizzy and bold, with innovative little plays on trap, it references the warm, minimal beats of early 90s hip hop.

Hear Staunch Nation’s first single, ‘Summa Crusin’, below.

If, like me, you can’t get enough of Ray Chanel et al, you can follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Soundcloud. A second video, for the single ‘Mainies’, will drop on 27 July, and debut mixtape Finesse is due out in August.

Sydney-siders can catch them playing alongside Milwaukee Banks, Moonbase Commander and Mike Who at Goodgod on Wednesday, 13 August. It’s one of those VICE ‘free with RSVP’ parties, so get in on it here.

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INTRODUCING: Hentai Magi

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Hentai Magi is the solo project of Sydney-sider Roberto Klaic – or the ’20th Century Boy’, who, according to his self-mythologising, was “spawned out of a young man who had reached the end of his evolutionary state and found transcendence in the sonic dimension”. Press release bravado aside, I’m amazed this guy is still flying so low under the radar. Perhaps the sinister nomenclature – not to mention the necklace made of bones – has been scaring the punters off. Beneath the sci-fi and gothic symbolism, Hentai Magi’s debut EP is a very consistent little collection of pop songs. 

The pagan overtones are realised to some extent in the circular grind of Klaic’s compositions, which tend towards drone despite the abundance of melodic hooks. The tracks are composed of screwed up organ sounds, probably guitar generated, alongside drum machines, booming bass, synth arpeggios and guitar solos that are reminiscent of pop savant Wild Nothing. The EP, strong on themes of forgiveness and the will to forget, feels like it was written in the wake of some emotional distress. Klaic has tortured these pop songs with bursts of noise and blown out drums that at their loudest sound like fireworks, and the climactic passages brim with elements that thud up against one another like it were a contest.

Hentai Magi achieves a strange balance between aggression, contemplation and pop; the schizophrenic dark side of Japanese counterculture meeting the ritual chants of a summer solstice.

You can stream the EP below, or get the whole thing for yourself as a name-your-price download on Bandcamp.

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PREMIERE: Bearhug – ‘Borderlines’

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Sydney’s Bearhug are back with their first full-length release since 2012′s Bill, Dance, ShinerSo Gone will be out on 12 September through Spunk, and we’ve got the first taste for you in the blistering opener, ‘Borderlines’.

Bearhug has undergone some line-up changes, having lost a member since the Over Easy EP came out in April last year, and with those changes has come a major overhaul of their sound. While earlier releases smacked of My Morning Jacket and Being There-era WIlco, the band now names acts like Sic Alps and Fugazi as influences.

So Gone was recorded by Straight Arrows frontman Owen Penglis, who’s worked with most Sydney DIYers worth mentioning, including Royal Headache, Angie and Palms. Penglis now has a bona fide studio to work in (a step up from the kitchen of his Surry Hills share house), and the difference shows: Bearhug’s new single isn’t scrappy so much as searing.

‘Borderlines’ is all feedback and screaming guitar solo, underpinned by the drummer’s motorik tick and plenty of fuzz box. A brief but driving instrumental number, the track’s an exciting teaser of what’s to come.

So Gone tracklisting:

01. Borderlines

02. Aimee

03. Animal

04. Habit Wave

05. Chlorine

06. Acid Town

07. Catacombs

08. In Rapture

09. The Glow

10. The Sky

11. Until We Say

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PREMIERE: Caitlin Park – ‘Wake Up in a Whirr’ video

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‘Wake Up in a Whirr’ is the third single from Caitlin Park’s sophomore album, The Sleeper, which was released through Create Control in May. Like much of Park’s work, the track holds together a huge number of elements – in this case frenetic guitar, layered vocals, drums improvised from wooden wine boxes, found sounds and field recordings from destinations as far apart as Cambridge and Times Square – while still conveying a sense of simplicity. The song spins beneath Park’s smooth, confident vocal, like that surreal and vivid dream which forces you bolt upright at three in the morning.

As with the wonderful ‘Lemonade’, the video for ‘Wake in a Whirr’ features some stylish androgyny, focusing on a boxing match that’s been elegantly shot in black and white.

Today Park also releases the ‘To Breathe You Out’ EP, featuring collaborations from Kira Puru, Emma Russack, Shanna Watson and Jessica Venables.

Park and her band begin their tour for The Sleeper tonight at Sydney venue the Vanguard, following up with gigs in Melbourne and Brisbane. Dates below.

Friday, July 11 – The Vanguard, Sydney with Joyride

Friday, August 1 – Bella Union, Melbourne with Emma Russack and Shanna Watson

Saturday, August 2 – The Hive, Brisbane (All Ages) with Fieu and Sahara Beck

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INTRODUCING: Setec

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Setec is Josh Gibbs, a Sydney-based multi-instrumentalist who stitches together organic samples – guitar loops, hand claps, voice – with field recordings, found sounds and snippets from old records to form nostalgic collages that recall the crackly bowerbird aesthetic of the Books.

In February 2012 Gibbs released the first Setec EP, Longer Letters – three tracks of improvised vocals and field recordings produced over two days in a city studio. A second EP, I’ll Be Good, followed six months later on Wood and Wire. Featuring layers of vocals and guitar loops, the EP is deliberately structured around a few samples and found sounds, and the seams are designed to show. Gibbs treats these foreign objects in the manner of the Avalanches or, say, Jens Lekman – as sources of inspiration to be framed and played along with.

On new single ‘Water or Concrete’ Setec is moving away from abstraction, bringing his voice, a sweet falsetto, straight to the centre and decorating it with a swooping mandolin and the sounds of chattering strangers. It’s his best track yet.

Setec’s debut album, Brittle as Bones, will be released soon, and he’s set to appear on Feral Media’s next Strain of Origin compilation alongside artists like Lower Spectrum and Power Moves. Catch him and his loop pedal playing a set this Thursday at Surry Hills venue the Forresters.

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INTRODUCING: Alyx Dennison

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Alyx Dennison is probably best known as half of Sydney duo kyü, who released their first album in September 2010 and disbanded shortly thereafter. Dennison went on to work with psychedelic oddballs Richard in Your Mind and Jonathan Boulet, amongst others. She then spent some time overseas, where she began to pen some solo material – dropping a little teaser, ‘LAX’, mid-last year.

Dennison has never claimed to be a particularly skilled instrumentalist, and on ‘LAX’ a lightly picked guitar operates as a simple framing device for her dexterous voice, which swoops and trills almost like a bird.

A debut album, recorded by David Trumpmanis (Sarah Blasko, Bluebottle Kiss, Peabody), is due out in August through Popfrenzy. The first single is ‘I Don’t Love You Anymore’, another sparsely constructed track which, led by Dennison’s powerful voice and the pounding of what sounds like a single tom, is reminiscent of kyü’s neo-primitivism. The drumming functions like a barometer of Dennison’s mood, rising and falling as her intensity builds and wanes, the song ending in a crescendo as the two elements are looped and layered atop one another.

Keep your eyes peeled for album launch dates in August.

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EXCLUSIVE: Aldous Harding

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New Zealand’s Aldous Harding has quite the origin tale. Busking on the pavements of South Island town Geraldine, trying to earn enough for a ticket to see Maori roots artist Anika Moa, Harding was overheard by Moa herself – and ended up not only catching the show, but performing in the opening slot.

The full story, however, goes back a little further. Harding, whose mother is a folk singer and whose father plays the blues, got her start in Lyttelton, a port town on the outskirts of Christchurch (and, incidentally, the setting for Peter Jackson’s ’96 schlock horror film, The Frighteners). There she was discovered by Kiwi country stalwarts Ben Edwards and Delaney Davidson playing under her own name, Hanna Harding, alongside band The Easterns.

Harding’s self-titled debut, co-produced by Edwards, was released locally in April, on Lyttelton Records. Today we can announce that the album will get an Australian release through Spunk on 25 July. To celebrate, Harding will showcase her music on a string of dates along the east coast. The tour, in support of fellow New Zealander and Spunk signee Tiny Ruins, will include two free solo shows – one at Melbourne’s Public Bar, the other at the Midnight Special in Sydney.

Streaming below, Aldous Harding lead single, ‘Hunter’, has been characterised by Harding as a ‘gothic fairytale’. This is folk music, simple and bleak (not unlike Melbourne’s own gothic country band, Jimmy Tait), with Harding’s fragile coo reminiscent of retiring, 60s-era folk singers Vashti Bunyan and Linda Perhacs. ‘Hunter’ seems to occupy a place outside of time, opening with the refrain, ‘He’s a hunter, he’s a good man/Be brave when he brings you nothing home’ and closing with a vision of blood streaming down a river.

You can catch Aldous Harding on these dates:

Tuesday, 1 July – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane w/ Tiny Ruins

Wednesday, 2 July – Newtown Social Club, Sydney w/ Tiny Ruins

Thursday, 3 July – The Midnight Special, Sydney (free)

Sunday, 6 July – Public Bar, Melbourne (free)

Tuesday, 8 July – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne w/ Tiny Ruins

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