Photo by Helena Papageorgiou
The first single from Dag’s debut LP The Benefits of Solitude, ‘Staying up at Night’ came out last month. I wanted to write it up then but, honestly, I liked it too much. It’s too breezy and, despite the uneasy melancholy of the lyrics and Dusty Anastassiou’s naturally doleful voice, rolls by so easily. It’s is a pop song from the jaunty acoustic guitar to the warmth and fullness of the chorus to the bow ba-bow bow bow bass line. To try and stop and think about like, ‘why do I like this so much? How can I explain what’s good about it?’ felt like it would ruin something, so I let it pass by.
But here’s a second chance, cause we got the very lucky scoop of premiering the video. It’s the work of Brisbane director and musician Helena Papageorgiou, who’s been responsible for many of the best clips you’ve been seeing coming out of Bris lately. This is a (deceptively) simple but imaginative and lovable version of the ‘we’ll have the band play their song, with green screen stuff also happening’ kind of video.
In it Anastassiou, Sky McNichol (Bent), Josh Watson (Sewers; also mixed and co-produced the record) and Matthew Ford (Thigh Master), who make up the Brisbane contingent of the band (Anastassiou now lives in Melbourne and plays with different members there), play their instruments in a dingy share house-looking room, while out the windows animated illustrations spin and swirl.
The drawings are by Anastassiou himself: colourful fun and freaky pictures of UFOs and weird misshapen people and anthropomorphic houses. There’s a wild world going on outside the concrete walls the band are contained by – though they break out at the end, with some cool shots of those walking down some animated streets and losing their heads in the big city.
This clip doesn’t rest on a cute idea or one-watch novelty – you see something new and interesting in Anastassiou’s drawings and Papageorgiou’s animation with every repeat watch.
Benefits of Solitude will be out in February on Bedroom Suck
Facebook / Bandcamp
Read Post →
Hello and welcome to the first and possible only instalment of a new feature: mixtapes you may enjoy listening to at work or while relaxing and being low-key.
Here’s two odd ones, one from Melbourne and one from Brisbane, from two dudes who obviously also enjoy being low-key and making stuff in their spare time, and who have put out these releases for their friends and fans with little to no fanfare.
The good thing about doing that kind of thing is you don’t have to bother with album or EP ‘structures’. Hanibaf (Steve Rose, from excellent Brisbane band Sydney 2000)’s mix has about 22 songs and is 25 minutes long. Alex Macfarlane (Twerps, The Stevens)’s tape has four sides, 24 songs and is 40 minutes long. Macfarlane’s tracks run the gamut from sunken ambient music to spacey electronica to the kind of sweet poppy guitar stuff you might readily expect from someone who also plays in Twerps. His voice is naïve in a curious, wondering way and that keeps everything light and listenable even when the music gets weird.
Rose has made a hip-hop electronic record… Kind of? Like the beats and samples are chosen and put together really well and the first few songs are groovy as hell – but he also can’t resist doing a bit of noise and distorted guitar, cutting between low-key old soul record sounding sketches and hip-hop beats, and heavy, repetitive blues-rock guitar intros. It’s distracted and hyper but with so many smart moves that you can tell while Rose is mucking around, he knows what he’s doing (get into Sydney 2000, friends).
A lot of this stuff sounds like it was recorded off an iPhone onto another iPhone onto like a computer’s inbuilt sound recorder. But if you wanna get the full crunchy buzzy ambient effect you gotta listen to it (like me) through the speakers of a 2012 Sony PC laptop. Just, like, a warmer sound, you know?
If you have made a mix that sounds like something I might enjoy listening to at work or while relaxing and being low key you can send an email to email@example.com. Will help if you’re my personal friend/in Twerps.
Read Post →
I like Sydney band Den’s first single ‘Poltergeist’ a lot – I don’t wanna get into the whole Cotal Tontrol thing but please everyone feel free to continue to make things that sound something like my favourite band of all time, thanks. What really put me off about ‘Poltergeist’ was the film clip, which is maybe unfair, but you get to see a lot of self-serious angry boys tryna be unsettling and it all starts to grind you down. Still, that song sounded COOL and that bitey, gripping lead guitar line could stand up pretty good next to anyone you care to compare them to.
‘Current Riser’ is definitely more fun – I mean maybe the band are dead serious with that pop metal guitar and spoopy effects, but either way, they’re funny. And tough and exciting and it still get you all revved up. The vocals keep everything anchored firmly in post-punk territory, driving a straight thick line through the song to the end. Like ‘Poltergeist’, this is the sound of an outward-facing male anxiety. A fear that makes you aggressive rather than forcing you to look inward. But with ‘Current Riser’ DEN turn this into something tense, tight and frantic.
‘Poltergeist’ and ‘Current Riser’ with both be on Den’s EP, out November 11 on Rice in Nice.
Facebook / Soundcloud
Read Post →
Whether they’re trying to or not, on Life Admin Sydney’s Unity Floors ask a lot of questions. Like, is there still place for two normal nice guys in Australian music? Obviously in most genres and spaces, men still take up most of the room – but in alternate music media, we know girls are the ones doing the exciting stuff in pop and punk and techno and rock and roll. So what about these two guys bemused by girls and their designer clothes and their yoga on their lunch breaks, who still think moving to Melbourne might be the answer to all their problems. What about these two white dudes probably closer to thirty than twenty, playing drums and guitar and making sweet garage pop music.
What space do these men take up in music right now? Does anyone care? What’s worth talking about at the moment? With Restless The Ocean Party have made something untouchably beautiful, introspective and sensitive and political. They’re trying hard to earn their voices. Then there’s party-rock boy bands who play the sell-out tours and keep Weed Culture hanging around in music like a stain. In Brisbane, and probably other places, white boys who play guitar but wish they were hip hop stars make samples and heavy techno or blunt wild-eyed dumb punk music. Unity Floors aren’t really like any of this. They’re earnest and naive in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, with those jaunty fuzzy guitars that could be from anywhere between 1991 and now.
It’s a fun record, a domestic record to do the chores and ride the bus to. And yeah ‘Give and Take’ sounds like ‘Simple Feelings’ by Twerps but you know it wasn’t on purpose and they probably aren’t sitting around obsessively listening to Range Anxiety enough to pick it up. Just unlucky for them that Australian music writers definitely are.
Maybe we’ll look back on Life Admin as the last of its kind. Or maybe garage rock for boys is here to stay and I’m talking out of my arse. But listening to this record made me feel nostalgic for something I’ve always loved but only just realised had slipped away, and it’s nice to remember it at least one more time.
Life Admin is out on Pop Frenzy now. Unity Floors also do a great live show, which you can catch in Sydney, Melbourne or Hobart on their upcoming tour:
Hobart – The Brisbane hotel, Satuday October 8
Melbourne – The Old Bar, Saturday October 22
Sydney – Chippendale Hotel, Friday October 28
Facebook / Bandcamp
Read Post →
Brisbane two-piece Pleasure Symbols (Phoebe Paradise and Jasmine Dunn) have around for a few years, and despite being one of the most exciting bands in Brisbane the entire time have only just released their first EP. And if you told me they’d spent the entire time working on these four beautiful songs day and night I’d almost believe you. This is extremely sophisticated, darkly gorgeous music.
’80s Australian post-punk meets modern electronic pop structures and hooks, but with that goth-ish edge that makes people label this stuff ‘cold’, even though it’s actually as rich and golden as anything you’ll hear this year.
Yet it’s still gotta be called bleak – maybe cause of the suburban hell landscapes of the incredible video for ‘Underneath Your Skin’. But removed from these images the track – still intense and kinda scary, has a slinky, almost groovy feeling.
Pleasure Symbols don’t rely on forced minimalism and empty space to create a cool vibe – they do it with confidence and smart layering. There’s a lot going on here; the songs are heavy with feeling, desire, spite, delicate pain and anxiety, self-destruction – built subtly in Paradise’s voice. There’s not need for theatrics, the drama is there if you care to listen. Like on last song ‘Control’, a master class in understated slow-build sexiness.
Hopefully signing to new Brisbane label Death Valley Records means we might hear more from Pleasure Symbols before the end of the 2010s – but if not, we at least have to thank them for releasing what is probably the best EP of the year.
You can buy the record online HERE. Though if you’re in Brisbane I reckon take the train out to Morningside and pick up a copy (and a beer) from Death Valley Bar, cause it’s a cool pace and this is as good an excuse as any to check it out (also the postage is a bit spenny for locals).
Read Post →
Look, I could probably just post this song with ‘Heart Beach continue to rule’ and leave it at that. If you know the Tasmanian three-piece you know they make impenetrably solid, understatedly powerful indie rock.
New single ‘Brittle’ continues the trends of much of their debut self-titled record from last year: two guitars playing the same great riff, two low-key and likeable voices working together to drive the kinda nostalgic kinda hopeful lyrics forward. A steady beat, a terrific bass hook. Maybe that sounds like formula but it’s more like direction – Heart Beach make confident music. They know what they wanna say and they say it well every time.
The emotional ‘brittleness’ of this song comes from in the tension of trying to hold it together, to look like you’re fine on the outside while inside shit couldn’t be more wrong. The measured vocals come out like a speech rehearsed in the mirror. There’s a lot going on under the surface of those fuzzy guitars, the drums constant, spare and flat. I’ll rehash the Pixies comparison cause it’s there, but without the over-seriousness that usually plagues those who try to go for the serious Pixies vibe too hard.
The more poppy elements help to offset the cruelty of the phrase ‘I can’t believe that he got over you’, so it takes a few repetitions for it to really sink in. Then by the time it does the song is just about over, and you have to play it again. And again.
Heart Beach have just been signed to Spunk Records, and their next record Kiss Your Face will be out later in the year.
Facebook / Bandcamp / Website
Read Post →
People in Brisbane like to gently make fun of Thigh Master for opening pretty much any given rock show on any given weekend. But I don’t know, I think they’re the kind of band you can pretty happily see heaps of times – their sound is a mix of the familiar , catchy and emotionally affecting that’s at once comforting and exciting.
New single ‘Canned Opening’ is less frantic and furious than previous cut ‘Company’ – it’s kind of introspective but never earnest. Matthew Ford has such downer-boy vocal delivery that if the music was too over-serious it wouldn’t work at all – luckily these guys write hooks that go down easier than domestic beer, with funny little wonky pops of whammy-assisted guitar in-between.
‘Both Company’ and ‘Canned Opening’ will be released on their album, Early Times, out via new label Coolin’ By Sound in October. They’re savvy choices because they capture the Thigh Master vibe pretty perfectly: ‘I don’t like you, I don’t care for myself much either, but that won’t stop us from trying to have a good time’.
Thigh Master will be playing Big Sound next week if you happen to be heading down to that, and probably plenty more times at other places in the future.
Read Post →