Posts By Grace Pashley

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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LISTEN: Dr Sinha’s Jazz Lobotomy – ‘ Grown Man’

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[Very Jerry Seinfeld voice] What’s with the upsurge in jazz collectives these days? Honestly let’s go back to slacker rock’s hey-day where every band was just a bunch of same-same blokes who didn’t go around waving their talent in your face and make you wish you stuck with those high school clarinet lessons. Make music bland and complacent again? Seinfeld and Trump in the one intro? I digress, but Melbourne’s Dr Sinha’s Jazz Lobotomy have got me all excitable and riled up. Five very accomplished musicians led by Chinmay Sinha have come together to produce a debut track that’s a clean, complex FU to big dumb boys.

Actually, I get the feeling it’s about male identity at large, and the things that come up when your gender brings up issues that are also exacerbated by your culture and race (Sinha is Indian-Australian) and how you’re meant to work that shit out while the world tells you it’s not an issue, kindly shut up and get over it. If you weren’t paying attention you’d get carried away on the clever arrangement of tight harmonies, melodic raps and warm keys when the lyrical content is the real kicker. The conversational interludes re-focus the track, as Sinha recaps an anxiety-induced downwards spiral and other identity issues.

Sinha was kind enough to provide us a few of the tracks he pops on to help stem the gushing tide of anxiety, as well as a few that explore different experiences, because as much as I love slacker-rock we need to be conscious of consuming different voices. So get scrolling for some Koi Child, Public Opinion Afro Orchestra, The Bombay Royale and Fulton Street. 

Melbourne babies can catch Dr Sinha’s Jazz Lobotomy in full swing on February 26 at Bar Open.

Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener

“Courtney is a legend and Avant Gardener is one of those classics that will last forever.”

 

D D Dumbo – Satan

“I find the themes of this song quite cathartic. D D Dumbo’s singing style is also super comforting. He’s a real innovator.”

Public Opinion Afro Orchestra – The System

“Local Afro Beat legends, continue to light the fire that Fela Kuti started. You can feel the fire in their hot grooves too.”

Harvey Sutherland – Bermuda

“I could dance to this all day, everyday.”

Koi Child – 1-5-9

“I heard them last year on Triple R or PBS and I had to Shazam the tune in the middle of a freeway (I recommend not doing that…). Would love to play a gig with this band one day.”

Kirkis – Bristil Paintings

“Kirkis is part of that initial scene with Hiatus that really allowed a high musical standard to blossom in the Melbourne scene. In my opinion, a lot of kids would’ve become unafraid to dig deeper and innovate because of artists like Kirkis.”

AB Original – ICU feat Thelma Plum

“AB Original are heroes because of their activism. Makes me feel inspired and motivated to create change.”

The Bombay Royale – Karle Pyar Karle (Cover)

“One way to forget your troubles is to listen to Bombay Royale’s take on old school Bollywood classics.”

Fulton Street – Problems & Pain

“Melbourne locals, classic soul for your soul. You could really sweat out your qualms dancing to this groove.”

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WATCH: Chelsea Bleach – ‘Shedding Skin’

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Chelsea Bleach

Chelsea Bleach are B U S Y. They’re writing, recording, mixing, mastering, playing all of the shows, figuring out how they can fit more guitars into the fold (there are three at time of writing). They’ve also made a film clip for ‘Shedding Skin’, the opening track off their debut EP ‘Decent Connections’ which they released at the end of 2016 and you can watch it here on this website so don’t say we never do anything for you!!

If you’ve been consumed furiously making new years resolutions and worshipping jesus and binge drinking over the past few weeks I’ll give you the lowdown on the good thing the kind folks of Chelsea Bleach have gifted us. Their guitar riffs and vocal melodies are heavy on a cool nonchalance that brings to mind the Seattle-based garage rock of Chastity Belt, but with rougher edges. It’s not as hard or fast as Melbourne mates Cable Ties or Wet Lips, and actually the sparser elements call to mind Hobart rock dogs (they said it so it’s fine) Naked.

Decent Connections keeps the take-no-shit lyricism of lead single ‘Public Safety‘, neatly packaging what it’s like to be not-a-white-guy in public: “Watch my back / leave no tracks,” and applying this sentiment to personal growth and relationships, gradually working through the 20-something feeling of not knowing why or what you are doing at any given time. Each track abruptly shifts between pretty different components, flipping the song’s mood back and forth multiple times during the lifespan of each track. ‘Daydreams’ could have been produced by Courtney Barnett with its sunburnt slide guitars and vocals sliding up and down a three note melody, until the switch is flicked to an agitated chorus speeding through wilful indifference: “Everything changes yeah / nothing really matters to me.”

‘Shedding Skin’ carries the same menacing guitar line as ‘Public Safety’ and Chelsea Bleach’s three guitarists (Prani, Bridget and Em) really feel like they’re in sync on this one, working towards six-stringed symbiosis. The overall sound teeters on punk, threatening to topple over into all out mosh but instead channeling all their thrashy energy into sections of tight, virile bar chords. The tension works a dream.

The video for ‘Shedding Skin’ is an assortment of cameras in the direction of the Chelsea Bleach crew, and possibly others. The tangle of limbs makes it hard to discern the exact number of bodies BUT it does look like fun. I think maybe too much of my view of Melbourne comes from DIY music clips but to me the video looks like your average Tuesday arvo in a Melbourne sharehouse? Chelsea Bleach are DIY til they DIE, with guitarist and backup vox Prani the mastermind behind the video and drummer Jay mixed, mastered and recorded the whole heckin’ EP too.

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If you’re in Melbourne go and check Chelsea Bleach launch this thing into the stratosphere with Cable Ties, Palm Springs and kandere @ The Tote on January 20, Facebook event here.

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LISTEN: Two Steps on the Water – ‘God Forbid Anyone Look Me in the Eye’ LP

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2steps

Album art by Lee Lai

God Forbid Anyone Look Me in the Eye, the debut album from Melbourne trio Two Steps on the Water, dropped just over a week ago. Smack bang in the middle of 2016, the year of woke Facebook bubbles and a music industry that’s rolling over from it’s rock dog decades and letting diversity seep in, if it’s loud and persistent enough. Enter: June Jones. A formidable songwriter, guitarist and singer willing to unpack transness, trauma and a raft of other internal gordian knots backed by the country/folk/punk (or emotion punk) coupling of Sienna Thornton on violin and Jonathan Nash on everything else. Both help with the vocals throughout, tempering Jones’ throttling falsetto or providing the hooks upon which she drapes delicate, devastating melodies.

Initial reviews of their debut have ranged from gentle “it’s not everyone’s cuppa” to outright “not getting it”. It’s definitely a record that requires a response, not at all something to casually play in the background. The track from which the title phrase is pulled ‘My Medusa’ turns from lulling violins turn to flamenco-y guitar to a crescendo of Jones, Thornton and Nash demanding “Don’t look me in the eyes/ I need to breathe.” It’s the early introduction to transness, anxiety and other heady themes Jones’ spits out with gripping eloquence.

It’s followed by ‘Baby and the Bicycle’: “Just leaving the house is political / baby wants a form that’s neutral.” There’s no relief from Jones’ heavy one way conversation at any point on this record, but she translates her pain and heeartache in a way that’s captivating and even funny. The density of each track makes me think we’re barely glimpsing the surface of what Jones is capable of; this bare catharsis that we have the privilege of witnessing is just a selection.

On top of the lyrical bedrock of God Forbid… is the ferocious nylon-stringed guitar that receives her anger, fear and frustration and shoots out propulsive rhythms at lightning speed. Thornton’s violin parts oversee the whole operation, piggybacking Jones’ voice with harmonies and counter-melodies. Nash covers the drums, bass and the organ that quietly backs the “relationships can get royally fucked” track ‘Ships in the Night’. The almost equal attention given to violin, guitar and voice across the album brings the lyrics into sharp focus, and the 9 minute closer ‘Words in my Mouth’ ties them all heart-wrenchingly together in an ear-splitting falsetto, a physical reaction to the pain of years past and ongoing.

Two Steps don’t write songs for the attention of straight cis (me af) music writers or ~lovers~, and Jones’ unapologetically honest account of being queer, trans, in love, healing and every space in between is exactly the kind of sentiment you should be able to wear on your sleeve as a songwriter. You could say Jones’ is mining her past experiences on God Forbid… if it weren’t so clear that she is still working through all of this every day. Just listen to every song, pay attention and take what Jones is saying to heart. It deserves your attention.

I’ve heard excellent things about the Two Steps live show, and you can catch them at the end of this month in these places:

Melbourne – August 19th

Brisbane – August 27th

Sydney – August 26th & 29th

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LISTEN: Make More – Spend Life LP

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While we’re trying so hard to have a legitimate winter right now, Brisbane trio Make More are dragging me back to Queensland summer. Their debut record Spend Life gives off the sticky feeling of living every moment under a relentlessly bright sun, the kind that makes you look happy even when you feel like shit. Spend Life is a succinctly packaged debut that blurs the lines of every genre it draws from, with each two-word titled track rarely breaking three minutes. The whole thing sounds urgent, the guitars sweating under the suppressed cynicism of each lyric. 

The best thing about Spend Life is that its strengths do more than compensate for its (few) weaknesses and prove there is still room to produce something original on an indie rock record. Six-stringed melodies bury sharp observations about relationships both intimate and universal. It took a few listens to unearth gems like the lone phrase in opener and lead single ‘Best End’: ‘You’re an idealist with no idea / I heard you went on a trip around the world / now you’ve think you changed it.

Lyrically each track is built off a passing thought sprouted from a feeling – disillusionment, disappointment and certain apathy seethe underneath distractingly big riffs with the end product forceful optimism: if I shout things that suck underneath insistently peppy guitars things will get better, or at least it’s worth a shot. ‘Dead Hands’ is a balance of harmonised guitars and counter-melodies, heady bass and stunted, one-syllable-at-a-time vocals, while title-track ‘Spend Life’ closes the album appropriately enforcing the finality of the past and how history is an immovable shit etc. It must be an important theme for the guys, because this is one of the only tracks where the vocals take precedence over guitars in the mix.

Errol, Josh and Simon (surnames unknown/mind your own GD business you nosey B) also play in punk band To The North, and have pasted that band’s propulsive rhythm section straight into Spend Life, injecting feverish punk moments and pushing the sound away from the guitar pop brush I want to paint Make More with. It’s hard to call an album free from any comfortable verse-chorus-verse structure any flavour of pop, but it’s a decision that has paid dividends as an important point of difference between Make More and other jangle punk bands like Boomgates and Thigh Master. Think less Dick Diver, more Unity Floors

Make More are feeling feelings, and feeling them fast. They’ve made an album out of influences that constructed differently have been proven to be offensively boring (part indie rock, part punk, part melodic guitars) but have done it with subtlety and skill. Spend Life is a great record to turn up loud and scream your grossest most undeniable secrets to.

Sneak a listen here ahead of the official release through Black Wire Records and Lacklustre Records, and catch the album tour (dates below).

 

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LISTEN: These Guy – ‘Lunchbox’

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cover art

I’ve always liked the idea of transporting my vegemite sang and muesli bar in a compartmentalised, carbon neutral (obviously) lunchbox, but in reality I just shovel last night’s pizza into a plastic bag and hope for the best. I have no idea how Joe Saxby, Josh Coxon or Eddie L’Estrange pack their sammiches or why a lunchbox is relevant to their debut collection of tracks as These Guy, and to be honest I’m not sure they do either. And that’s ok, we’re all just figuring it out and that’s fine.

Lunchbox begins with ‘The End’, where These Guy’s broad spectrum of alt-pop influences bleed together in a spin cycle of sounds that unfold over the album’s duration. ‘Coming Around‘ is the first punctuation point and one of the earliest singles, combining the indie pop ethos and sad boi pathos in what is a foundation theme on Lunchbox. Quirky synth hooks bubble up on most tracks to buoy each pessimistic lyric, refusing to let Saxby be sad about things he is justifiably shitty about (see: closing track ‘The Main Thing’, an 11-minute sprawling psych middle finger to long distance relationships). Despite this, Lunchbox is a significant upswing in mood from These Guy’s debut EP when it was Saxby’s heavily overcast solo project.

Techno pop track ‘Biscuits’ and ‘The Main Thing’ have featured in These Guy’s live set for a while now, but hearing them packaged up on Lunchbox makes the pivot from “everything is doomed’ sad to “silver-lining” sad a whole lot sharper. There are just so many quirks built into each song it’s hard to keep track of the ideas, from the disco synth hooks, full fret shredding and sax solos on ‘Over Before it Begins’ to the jangle pop guitar melodies of ‘Suburban Restaurant’, one album could hardly provide enough space to flesh them out.

Yet it’s the clean execution of these ideas which propels These Guy above the white noise of cookie cutter indie pop, with lofty vocal melodies, frenzied instrumentals, delay-heavy synths and a generous peppering of guitar licks all balanced by clever production. Lunchbox is like a pleasant hallucinatory experience, you’ll go places you didn’t know existed and come out wondering where the hell you’ve been and how you can get back there.

Here’s a treat for youse ahead of the album’s launch on June 16th.

 

You can see this play out in all it’s technicolour glory at Brisbane’s Black Bear Lodge on July 15th.

 

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LISTEN: Shag Planet – ‘Too Many Babes, Too Little Time’

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Shag Planet Press Shot 2Too many babes is a great problem to have. A great problem until you become physically overwhelmed at the site of beautiful people you want to sex so much that it hospitalises you. Then it’s definitely a problem. Jess and Em descended from Shag Planet not a moment too soon, chucking a synth and a wood block under that sentiment to regale us with the tale of a young woman’s truly explosive sexual awakening in their debut single ‘Too many babes, too little time’. The Melbourne (Victoria, Australia, Earth) duo describe their intergalactic pop as “cosmic bangers”. I don’t disagree.

There’s a crunchy guitar hook, lo-fi synth with some astral sounding effects and howling backing vocals in a slightly less developed synth punk of their LISTEN labelmates Stina Tester & Cinta Masters. The star of the dish here is really the narrative that hooks you from the beginning, you simply must find out how this woman escapes the clutches of monogamy. Without spoiling the ending I sincerely hope no one is currently so sexually repressed they meet the same fate as Shag Planet’s hero. Or that they have to leave this planet to feel comfortable with their sexuality.

Basically this track is fun as hell and 200% going to be stuck in your head for the next few hours (days, if you’re lucky). Prepare a response for when you accidentally begin to sing “toooooo many baaaabes, too little time” at random intervals in public, so far no one has been convinced that really I’m just singing an incredibly catchy song, no it’s really good, please, don’t tell my boss.
Shag Planet will be attempting to woo as many of you as humanly possible at the Old Bar in Melbourne on June 25th when they launch the single. Scott the paramedic will be on hand should babe-frenzy related medical assistance be required. 

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