I’lls (pronounced ‘isles’; fingers crossed they’ll change this soon and save us all the confusion) have had a pretty sweet time since their self-released EP, Thread, came out in 2011. They had played just one gig – I’m assuming it was a good one – before being offered a slot at Parklife, and they’ve since opened for acts like Chet Faker and Flume. Sydney label Yes Please picked them up and is about to put out their next EP, A Warm Reception.
‘Speak Low’ is the second single from the upcoming release, and it’s a delight. Grounded by Simon Lam’s gorgeous vocals and the band’s warm, velvety production, the song opens with electronic sputtering, looped keys and a solid, live drum beat. The vocal harmonies build towards a stunning outro that floors me every time. There’s a lovely, arpeggiated guitar in there that’s reminiscent of some Radiohead tracks – that is, the cuddly, less paranoid, less ‘Knives Out’ Radiohead – but let’s not get hung up on that. Just give in, because this is lovely stuff.
A Warm Reception is due out on 17 June.
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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. 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 mastered ‘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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‘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)
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