Posts By Madeleine Laing

LISTEN: Wives – ‘White Dogs’

, , No Comment

Wives

Wives are from Canberra and they know how to do it!

*link to video*

End of article.

Nah, we promise this is still a serious music blog. So, Wives are from Canberra and they know how to make music that makes its point, hits hard, no frills, no fuckaround. This new single is post punk at its best, minimal, cutting and cool. The video does everything that good Australian horror does – juxtaposes our perfect landscape with deeply flawed white culture. Beautiful pink galas and native flowers, framed in soft pastels, the chorus breaking into a scene from Summernats – a car festival that seems to attract an especially rabid kind of rev head.

Personally I love a good old fashioned rally down a mountain, but what’s happening here, either in fact or in clever editing, is something that seems about to boil over with violent excitement. Burnouts and shirtless dudes in speed-dealers and sombreros, terrible cars souped-up to all hell. It’s ugly.

The concept is clear, but never over explained. The refrain of ‘let sleeping dogs lie/ no comfort in this home’ will be familiar to anyone who’s felt the extreme discomfort of broad, hyper-masculine Australia. They perfectly capture the can’t-look-away fear of a drunken ‘sporting’ spectacle in ‘I peer inside / the white dogs mouth open wide’.

This is one of the most commanding tracks I’ve heard in ages, and I can’t wait to hear more from their new LP Doomsday, out April 4 on Black Wire Records.

FacebookBandcamp

Read Post →

LISTEN: Lowtide – ‘Southern Mind’ LP

, , No Comment

lowtide

Two weeks ago me and my boyfriend moved from Brisbane to Hobart. So you have to excuse me if I get a bit drippy and sentimental over Lowtide’s new record, a record called Southern Mind, a record that breaths transition, progression and a clear-eyed kind of optimism. A ‘letting go’ record with only a suggestion of melancholy.

Then there’s the other thing; Lowtide’s self-titled album, which, somehow, came out in 2014, is one of my favourite Australian albums of the last ten years. One I’ve never gotten sick of, still gives me the same kind of ache today. The main difference between that album and Southern Mind is the necessary letting go of lightness. There’s no such thing as an ‘effortless’ song or album, and most bands give up trying to pretend there is by their second record. So while nothing on this one seems as kind of incidentally perfect as Lowtide’s ‘Held’, the simple pop smarts they showed on songs like that one and ‘Wedding Ring’ have become something more complex, but just as listenable.

‘Elizabeth Tower’s’ ‘Open hands, go on your way / stand and deliver, your task is forgiveness’ is the album’s pop song, open-hearted and immediate, a perfect choice for the second single after the more scrappy ‘90s-feeling ‘Alibi’.  ‘A.C’, with its more straightforwardly pretty guitar melodies, opening up into spacious, introspective verses, may be the song that most resembles that first record, though sadder, more resigned. Though when Giles Simon [who’s since left the band] consoles with ‘separate yourself / you’ve had enough’ you still feel like it’s about giving up to move forward. It’s a striking song, particularly when all the atmospherics drop out for a few bars in the middle, leaving resonant guitar and bass and Simon’s vocals, matter of fact and unadorned. Final track ‘Fault Lines’ leaves you with Lucy Buckeridge’s impressively swooping, twisting vocals, sweet and searching. With its slow, steady rhythm developing over it’s 4 and a half minutes, it’s maybe the most structurally simple song, but also one of the more personal and intimate, the counterpoints of Buckridge and Simon’s voices, ‘you’re always on my mind / you used to say this all the time / you’re leaving’.  It works to end the album with a kind of meandering, band-wanders-off-into-the-distance fade out than a resounding bang.

We know why people dismiss shoegaze (or dream pop, which is… faster, brighter guitars? I understand genres) as kinda wussy, almost boring. It’s samey by nature, having a consistent tone, drawn-out effects, a sense of each song lingering through the next is all part of the charm, and if you need your music to beat you up to make a point then it’ll never be for you. It’s also the genre that attracts the most cliche kind of description. You know, people says ‘dreamy’ ‘wall of sound’ ‘reverb-drenched guitars’ in their 200 word new music piece and think you get the picture, when the real feeling of the music is much more complex and particular. Like, there’s nothing really dreamy about this record – it’s purposeful, composed, exact. And as much as, going in, I wanted it to be something romantic and pastoral about love and loss in a harsh southern landscape, it’s not that either. It’s beautiful in totally its own way.  And the only way to really find out how is to listen.

Buy this beautiful record via Rice is Nice here

facebook / Bandcamp

Read Post →

LISTEN: Total Control – ‘Laughing at the System’ LP

, , No Comment

total control

I finally got to see Total Control for the first time at the Opera House show. It was in Sydney so everyone basically stood there with their arms crossed the whole time, and it was a huge show so cunts called out for ‘Carpet Rash’, then didn’t really react or move for any other song, even like, ‘Black Spring’ or ‘Safety Net’. But whatever, I got what I wanted out of it – I got to see my favourite band play some of my favourite songs and I got to feel the anger and the energy and the melodies that tear you apart and look at all those men on stage and feel like I got some closure on something. After two staunchly beautifully complicatedly moving records they don’t owe us anything. But hey, this new record is something else entirely.

It doesn’t crack through like the other two, there’s less urgency and more playfulness. Maybe music in general has lost some urgency. With every new niche that opens up and every person that ages out of their scene and every new kid who books their first show we move away from the world of Serious Music that Henge Beat came out in. While it used to feel like genuine expression of anger and fear could change something, it’s now more like everything’s so terrifying it’s rolled over into being ridiculous. It’s hard to fathom how fucked we all are sometimes. I’ve moved to Tasmania and started hoarding car batteries. So let’s enjoy this very good and fun record.

It’s not the first time Total Control have had a sense of humour – those huge metal guitars in ‘Expensive Dog’, over the top in a ridiculously theatrical way, that felt like them having fun. But this is definitely the most irreverent we’ve heard them, despite the title track starting us off with a kind of sinister circus slide into madness, and the closing reprise finishing with something startlingly hectic. You’d be forgiven for thinking you were in for more of the same with those familiar obtusely serious, vaguely political lyrics; ‘celebrate intoxicants / laughing at the sentiment’, but you’d be wrong.

Because after that heavy intro we’re straight into the album’s strange and catchy highlight, ‘Future Creme’ with it’s toy-sounding instruments, Dan Stewart crooning ‘lost in the future / I am your milkman’ over a fuzzy groove and acoustic guitars, a strange echo-ey voice describes the process of cheese making in the middle. Have Total Control ever been weird before? Obtuse and abrasive, sure, but not silly. I love it.

‘Vanity’ again puts you off-guard with its preening stomp, it’s rolled ‘r’s and rhymes, Stewart announcing ‘guitar!’ before the most trashed-up, wacky guitar solo, like yeah, there’s the fucking guitar. This track might give us the most clear explanation of what’s going on with this record in the lyrics ‘when you stop having any fun / your mind stops loving anyone’. Maybe? ‘Vote Cops’ throws out a distorted play on a blues riff over Stewarts’ familiar matter-of-fact directives. The melody’s so hard to grip onto, it makes you wanna go back. Like what the fuck was that. The lyrics seem like the kind of obscure social commentary we’re used to ‘vote cops / more shops / more more more more’ and ‘get cred / move fast/ get spent / built’, but delivered in a newly resigned way.

Maybe they’re bored of big show-stopper riffs, cuz the electric guitar on this record seems like more of a noise or rhythm instrument. Most of the proper songs rest on light-as-air synth and acoustic guitar. The second half of the album, before the final jarring reprise of ‘Laughing at the System’ is all sweetness and light. ‘Luxury Vacuum’s swinging acoustic chords sound almost cheeky, after ‘Her Majesty, Budgie’’s pulsing and panoramic synth, and before the prettily weird bleep-bloops of ‘Cathie and Marg’.

This is the most happily confused I’ve been about a record in a long time.

Read Post →

LISTEN: Madboots & Areaboys – ‘2Hard’ EP

, , No Comment

madboots

Photo by Josh Watson 

Madboots have been around drawing crowds at live shows in Brisbane forever. They make a rare kind of RnB that’s funny and good, and put on live shows that are a mixture of pure hip hop showmanship and theatre. They open and close for rock bands and usually blow them out of the water. Madgif, their beat man, stands around on stage on his phone, wears full face bandannas, takes photos or makes cup noodles (one time), while Dewi Djamal Wilson and Angelica (Gel) Wilson rap, skit, and sing. Then their producer/scratch DJ, DJ Returnagain makes the music happen. They’ve put out videos and kind-of-mixtapes before, but 2Hard is them getting serious. Or nah, not serious, just like playing into the whole make an EP, premier it through a music mag with a video thing.

2Hard’s six songs make for a tight 17 minute EP (including remix) – they’ve got a short attention span, these songs give you the idea, the joke, the vibe, then disappear without outstaying their welcome. This is what they do. Whatever if you don’t get it.

It’s a great introduction for the uninitiated. You total get Dewi’s mix of sugar-and-sex ‘90s RnB vocals and Brisbane suburban talk-rap. She’s breathy and sweet on tongue-in-cheek opener ‘Cocktails’ then tough and dirty on ‘Snowy’; ‘put this pussy on ya like a winter coat-ah’, then bratty and hectic on ‘Facts’, a hard-hitting, totally nonsense song. The dynamics of Dewi’s vocals, supported by the more straight RnB hype of Gel’s backups, give these songs their likeable let’s-party-but-don’t-fuck-with-us character.

In an interview that I’m hoping one day will get out there (my fault, I keep not writing it), Dewi told me that the lyrics and song writing in general are often based on jokes, or ideas for music videos, or just some funny phrase she or Angelica can’t get out of their head, and it makes for totally un-laboured song writing. The joy for them is often in the production, in messing around with the sounds, in making things that sound like real songs they used to hear on the radio. Madgif’s beats lay the clever and layered but always smooth groundwork for the sunny West Coast vibes of ‘Respectful and Cute’, a light-as-air love song, or the album’s super catchy centrepiece ‘Headstone’.

It’s cool that after decades of ‘Aussie hip hop’ being the butt of every Triple J or festival bashing joke, our underground RnB scene is the one pumping out the music that you wanna listen to, and putting on shows you actually want to go to.

Facebook / bandcamp

Read Post →

HOT TAKE: Alex Cameron’s ‘Forced Witness’ is good

, , No Comment

Alex Cameron

Junkee is a media company that exists to get clicks, sometimes they post good stuff sometimes they post shit, it’s whatever. But that article about Alex Cameron, Kirin J Callinan and Client Liason being apologist for toxic masculinity kind of seems indicative of the media’s obsession with slowly stamping out of nuance in all kinds of art.

It seems purposely obtuse for anyone to say that by representing a bad man Cameron is benefiting Australia’s problem with toxic masculinity. Firstly, from the very start it’s clear his character doesn’t have power, he’s a loser. He’s a pathetic, creepy guy, and that we can know that and still want to listen to a whole record about him is testament to Cameron’s song writing. But there’s also no Australian references at all really – from Cameron’s upward and outward trajectory you’d guess this was targeted at his new American audience – he’s lived in the states for years.

There’s no leaving your kids in the car at the RSL here, it’s all motels and superclubs and getting shat on by eagles. If you follow Cameron or his sax player Roy Molloy on facebook or twitter, yeah sure there’s plenty of Aussie as stuff, but from the record alone there’s no reason to think the character is Australian. He’s a faded vegas grifter, the kind of guy who buys nunchucks, watery eyes, too rough handshake. We’ve seen it in movies, always the character who gets killed off in a funny way. It always feel like we’re laughing at that kind of guy with Cameron, his lame faded party fantasies in ‘Hacienda’, the Vaseline-lensed portraits of twisted sheets and fucking raw. It’s like porn, funny and gross and you feel guilty for liking it but almost everyone does.

But, for sure, I won’t tell gay people how to feel about the F word. If someone hears ‘Marlon Brando’ and it makes them feel degraded, regardless of context, that fucking sucks and Cameron should have found some other way to make the character seem even viler then he already is.

I guess the main confusion in that article was that the writer obviously likes at least some of these bands, some of these songs. They call them ‘clever’, ‘well-intentioned’, even ‘jaw-dropping’. They’re constantly second guessing themselves through the whole thing. Maybe they feel weird about liking songs where a guy sings about waiting to fuck his 17 year old girlfriend until her 18th birthday. But that’s what it’s like sometimes, the world’s fucked, got a lot of fucked people in it, and sometimes artists wanna represent those characters and also make really, really good pop songs.

Cuz Forced Witness sounds slick and sexy and cool – and cheesy and bombastic and cringey, it’s all part of the world Cameron invites us into. When you rub off a bit of the grease, ‘In my dreams I miss you / and I wake up to reality’s bliss’, is a fucking romantic line. His gift is one that allows you to dance along to ‘The Chihuahua’ even if it reminds you a bit of your ex who used to always try and touch your vagina in public, and even laugh at that guy while you do it. ‘The Chihuahua’ is full of great lines ‘Chasing pussy online cuz the dog’s feeling fine and he needs it’ – hilarious, ‘love’s a diabetic sweetness, love’s a fistful of bronze jewelry’ – great stuff. There’s also that kinda dance hall feel, the fizz and swing of brass and percussion that makes this song sound light as air while the lyrics stay mucky. It’s a bummer that people think they’re not allowed to enjoy such a fun song cuz the dude says ‘pussy’ a lot in it.

Of course people like Cameron and Callinan and all the dudes in Client Liason have benefited from white male privilege. Every white man has. To put limits on the way they can comment on this privilege seems backwards and pointless. I have benefited from straight white female privilege. You’ve probably got some privilege that you benefit from. From that point we start out, then we decide what to do from there. And what Cameron’s done is a lot better than pretending to be the sad guy who never gets the girl cuz she only chases sleazebags (the kind of cliché that ‘Marlon Brando’ so perfectly skewers), or a right-on warrior for equality getting limbered up for all the dick sucking he’s about to receive.

It’s cool that somewhere with money is publishing long form music journalism with a point. But if you think about it for more than one second, there’s a lot more going on in Forced Witness than fits into this article’s opinion of what art is allowed to say. And boy, it’s GOOD.

Read Post →

LISTEN: Mere Women – Big Skies LP

, , No Comment

mere women

If there was any justice in the world Mere Women would be like, as huge as Smith Street Band but with the critical respect of like, Total Control. I reckon they could have been The Jezabels three years ago if your average Triple J listener liked things that are good instead of things that are bad. I reckon they’re so amazing.

It’s hard to overstate how important Mere Women’s  last record Your Town was to me in 2014 as a hyper-dramatic, desperate 21 year old. To hear something with so much fire and fury and power in its naked desire. Made me feel more and more terrifically crazy at the same time. Three years later and there’s another Mere Women album. And it sounds a bit different. And for one second I felt that knee jerk reaction to whine ‘oh but I liked it befooooore’. But just for one second, because Big Skies delivers something broader in scope and sound, that still crackles with the same intense dis-ease as the best of anything they’ve done before.

There’s less of those catch-in-your-throat, defiant guitar melodies that cut all other post-punk aping guitar bands into ribbons. But you already knew they could do that. Did you know they could write huge-sounding rock songs with depth and texture that still sound whip-sharp and lean? Or two in a row, like they’ve given us in ‘Birthday’ and ‘Big Skies’?

The three elements that have always made up the base of their sound remain unchanged; the interplay between strident, aching vocals, white-hot guitar and powerful, eccentrically technical drumming. There’s just more and more sound filling up the space, rounding everything out and making it something less easy to categorise.

‘Drive’, with it’s ‘I give up I give up / pick me up pick me up’ crazed muttering repetition brings some of their old recklessness and desperation. The vocals, roll over each other, the changes in pace and melody building to tense frantic verses into choruses that almost give the closure of a huge release but hold something just back. There’s a lot of disparate, busy and fast-moving parts across this record that could have made a mess out of lesser songwriters. Instead it all sounds – not easy, there’s nothing really easy about the sound of this record – but natural. They even made an echoing piano ballad like ‘Curse’ fit in a way that doesn’t feel shoehorned in.

It feels weird to say that this is a darker album than Your Town, because that was some heavy shit. But I think Big Skiesencompasses more than the kind of obsessive love and desire that drove the older record. They’ve combined personal and political into a generalise feeling of discontent, anger and fear. That all this darkness never drags just shows how fucking good these guys are at writing songs – they move with pace and purpose, beautiful and terrible.

You can purchase Big Skies from Poison City Records right NOW

Facebook / Bandcamp

Mere Women are playing some shows supporting this record with some real hot shit supports:

CANBERRA Thursday June 22 w/Wives & Little Lunch at The Transit Bar

SYDNEYFriday June 23 w/ Marcus Whale & TAFEWRM at The Red Rattler

SYDNEYSunday June 25 w/ Oslow & Carb on Carb & White Dog & The Kirks at Urge Records

MELBOURNEFriday June 30 w/Terrible Truths & Spit at The Curtain

BRISBANESaturday July 8 w/100% & Ultra Material

Read Post →

LISTEN: Leafy Suburbs – Honda Jazz

, , No Comment

Leafy suburbs

When you work in retail and get to play your own music, you’re always looking for the holy grail: stuff that won’t piss of customers but also won’t make you want to attempt in vain to suffocate yourself with a paper gift bag. I thought this record from Leafy Suburbs was gonna be something like this – interesting enough but ambient enough to fade into the background. It isn’t really that. It’s a strange, surreal thing that I’m sure is making me a little weird to customers for the forty or so minutes of it’s run time.

There’s elements of a ‘nice’ kind of ambient jazziness, but it always gives in to it’s electro heart. Like the way the stuttering piano of (my favourite) ‘Useless Loop’ makes way rhythms that start muted but soon take center stage, or the clattering, droning build of ‘Trumpet Interchange’ (…yeah, I don’t know why I thought this was gonna be easy-listening).

A current of sweetness and optimism runs through this record – starting a couple of tracks in with more opening pop track ‘Complete’. This feeling sets Leafy Suburbs apart from a lot of what’s happening in local electronic music lately. Maybe it’s cuz they’re originally from Perth – who knows what the hell is going on over there. A few years ago we could have happily plonked it into the ‘glitchy’ category to waste away with all the other bedroom producers. But there’s definitely more dancefloor influence here – you get the feeling it was made by someone who’s been out of their house in the last few months. The jazz elements are central to the sound and never gimmicky; saxophone provides a melancholy wondering kind of melody behind the sharp drum machine of ‘Battery Acid’ – the album’s danciest track.

Honda Jazz is out now with a limited run of tapes through Moontown Records. Moontown is a label that releases music they like infrequently, and without to much shallow self-promotion. That’s a vibe we can get behind, especially when it gives us odd little gems like this one

Facebook / Bandcamp

Read Post →