Posts By Madeleine Laing

LISTEN: Whitney Houston’s Crypt – Whitney Houston’s Crypt 7″

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whitney houston's crypt

I wish there was some part of my life that gave me an excuse to have a good hard scream. I reckon it’d be healthy. I reckon I’d stop grinding my teeth. There’s just not enough opportunity in our lives to get really fucking dramatic – but on this new self-titled 7”, Newcastle’s Whitney Houston’s Crypt have snatched theirs with both hands.

A thick red mist hangs over these three songs. You gotta just shut your eyes and hold on tight for a lot of it. The wonky guitar on first track ‘Twosome’s Threesomes’ gives you something to grab onto – it’s reassuringly catchy – but then a drum break gives way to a period of even more intense screaming and you’re back in the mire again. They’re mining a rich emotional vein, everything is covered: angry, pissed off, mad as hell, despair, rage, fuck you, etc.

These feelings are never more brutal than on single ‘Hatoful Boyfriend’, which gives short sharp bursts of repetitive guitar and strangled, gasping shouts on a track that is short and sharp and bursting with, well, hate.  Closer ‘Michael Hotchips’ (yeah, they’re also not taking themselves too seriously, thank God) is the most musically hardcore track, with that fast thunderous drumming and bombastic teeth gnashing and wailing vocals to match the guitars sliding out of control like they’re gonna spin right off the planet. But, miraculously, it all holds together until the final shuddering stop.

You can get the Whitney Houston’s Crypt 7″ through Vacant Valley right now. They’re coming to the end of the launch tour for this EP (sorry), but I’ll be seeing them in Brisbane at the last show on 9 April at Trainspotters, with Clever, Twinrova and Rebel Yell. Hope it’s nuts.

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LISTEN: Mere Women & Gold Class – Split 7″

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mere women gold class

Mere Women and Gold Class are coming together to release a split record, and if you can think of a team-up that makes more intuitive sense, you’re out of your goddamn mind. The two bands have a lot in common – razor sharp guitar lines that tear their way through insistent, impeccable drumming (Mere Women, in particular, have got one of our very best in Katrina Byrne) and stark, powerful vocals. They’ve also both got that ‘no warnings, no prisoners’ approach to live shows that’ll blow your head off – so try and get along to their double headline shows after release day in May.

On Gold Class’ debut record, It’s You, it always seemed like singer Adam Curley took the higher status – belting out declarations from above, which we eagerly scooped up – but on ‘Standing At The Fault’ he’s allowed himself to be a little self-pitying, a little raw. A lot of this feel is because of the recording, which is looser than most of the stuff off their debut record, and Curley’s more breathless way of singing. Gold Class – with their incredible trajectory to stardom – sometimes come off a little pointed in their ambition, so it’s cool to see them make an unexpected move. Or maybe this is all calculated. Whatever, it’s a good song.

On ‘Numb’, Mere Women do what they do best and beat you into submission with the brutal force of their need. Singer Amy Wilson’s great gift is turning desperation into power, which she showed so well on 2014’s Your Town, and it has not weakened with time. Throughout the song she repeats the lines, ‘nothing feels as good as it used to / nothing fills the void like you do’. (Put that up against Curley’s ‘you’ve been gone forever/or maybe that’s how forever seems to me’, and we’ve got a hint of what the vibe of this split might be). Flyn Mckinnirey makes the track soar with dramatic, searing guitar lines, and whatever’s going on with those sharp rattling cymbals is terrific. Wilson’s closing line, though – just belting ‘Noooooooooo’ for the last minute of the song – really says it all.

Watch this space for the split record, out in May via Black Wire Records, recorded by Tim G. Carr and Rohan Sforcina, and mastered by Mikey Young.

They’ll be playing two co-headline shows – at Northcote Social Club on Saturday, 21 May, and Newtown Social Club on Friday, 27 May.

Mere Women: Facebook / Bandcamp

Gold Class: Facebook / Bandcamp

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LISTEN: Black Cab – ‘Uniforms’

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black cab

We’ve been waiting far too long for another local band like Cut Copy to unite the dancefloors and house parties and festivals of Australia. Nite Fields probably could have done it if they had any ambition to be popular in this country (and, you know, why would they?). Blank Realm have the vibe but are maybe a little too rough and tumble for that weird subset of partiers who still listen to the radio. California Girls are going too hard to care. Add your favourite of the hundreds of others who almost cracked the formula for electro-success to this list.

But Black Cab have got it: the polish, the choruses ready-made for sing-alongs under blinding lights, the universal, vaguely romantic lyrics (‘boys can boys can/and the girls can have it all’) and vocals in the monotone English new-wave style that sound vitally important even when the words are banal.

‘Uniforms’ does everything a good dance song should – swells and pulses, builds up and repeats until you think you could really dance forever. Flashback: me and everyone else at Golden Plains. ‘I love this. I LOVE THIS. This is a GREAT SONG’. It sounds like a strobe, arpeggiated and bright. And in case you needed more proof of the broad and impeccable taste of Mikey Young, here he is on guest keys. Must have been a lot of fun.

Black Cab launch ‘Uniforms’ in May at Melbourne’s Howler and at the Newtown Social Club in Sydney. Those of us outside the big smoke will have to wait (we’re used to it). The band’s hinted at a vinyl release later in the year, so hopefully it won’t be too long.

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WATCH: BENT – ‘Skelton Man’

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The premise of this video from Brisbane three-piece BENT is pretty simple: wake up, mess around with breakfast stuff, writhe around on the kitchen benches, look deranged in an attractive way. A couple of ideas and a whole lot of fuck-it confidence that they’ll work out. The song itself, from their Bent EP, released in early January on Moontown Records, is like walking around in circles and bumping into things – metal things mostly. It’s also very well recorded: all the pieces stand out and apart and grab your attention equally.

The vocals are bratty and dramatic. I wanna say maybe too dramatic, but that’s just cause I listen to too much auscore shit and now whenever I hear vocals that are at all dynamic from someone who can actually sing it freaks me out. Singer Heidi Cutlack kinda freaks me out on this track anyway, especially when she yelps that childish kinda-funny, kinda-sinister line ‘Where is your milky???’ over and over.

Cutlack made this video. She also does the art and makes the merch – and I reckon that even if BENT hit it big (or as big a band that sounds as weird as this could), she still will. This is a real DIY band, and that means more than just playing a few house shows from time to time. They’re totally involved in every part of their look and sound (they definitely know exactly the kind of no wave-ish stuff they’re aping better than me, so I’m not gonna embarrass myself by guessing) and they make you want to get involved as well.

Watch this cool weird video and then listen to the record. They’ve been playing on heaps of sick lineups in and out of Brisbane lately – I’ve never seen them but I did hear they’re the reason bands aren’t allowed at Heya Bar in the Valley any more – so catch them live if you can.

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LISTEN: Clever – ‘Your Eyesore’s Sweet’

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clever kewdi udi

When you’re kinda into punk music you get to hear a lot of bands that sort of play at being aggressive – in a posey rock’n’roll way – but it’s rare to hear something that legitimately shakes you up. Brisbane’s Clever have got me shook right up. Once I saw them play at a bowls club in the middle of the day next to bain maries full of make-your-own taco ingredients and it put me on edge for hours before I even touched one drug.

You can hear that charged-up brutality on the band’s first ‘single’, ‘Your Eyesore’s Sweet’, from their debut record Kewdi Udi, out 11 March on Homeless Records. It’s in the jumpy drums and bass, and Mitch Perkins’ relentlessly menacing vocals – I’ve listened to this song 10+ times (it only goes for 2 minutes) and can’t hold on to a word he’s saying. Fred Gooch from the Wrong Man holding this whole aural tyre-fire together with that sawing, immovable guitar.

If you’re a certain kind of person, hearing that Clever is made up of members and ex-members of Sewers, the Wrong Man (as mentioned), Psy Ants and Per Purpose is gonna be enough. For everyone else, this is powerfully – purely – sick stuff.

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LISTEN: Velcro – ‘Velcro’ LP

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velcro velcro

This Velcro record was recorded in 2013 and released just last week. I’d say ‘finally’ released, except I thought this came out ages ago and I’d already listened to it – so for me it was more of a pleasantly confusing surprise (REAL FANS may feel differently).

I guess because of that it reads as a testament to the things that never change. You still know what it’s like to not wanna go outside, to float around, to think about moving interstate – even though you know ‘green grass won’t last forever’, as singer & songwriter (but not singer/songwriter) Curtis Wakeling of the Ocean Party reminds himself on the lush ‘Sydney’. All I remember about 2013 was a feeling of profound boredom and restlessness –you know, like every early/mid/late-20s middle-class Australian. This is the ultimately relatable territory that this record claims.

The whole things is super matter-of-fact. Even when Wakeling sings about being hard to be around, or ruining things and watching people leave, it never feels like he’s trying particularly hard to make you feel one way or another – it is what it is. Comparatively, that nice’n’easy pop guitar skips along underneath (and sometimes on top of) the low-key, downbeat words. Ashley Bundang from Totally Mild backs Wakeling up for a few tracks, sounding like she was recorded while walking around the house singing to herself – intimate and unaffected.

Are there standout hits? Nah, it’s all pretty good – I like ‘Victoria’ for the chanty vocals and that plinky keyboard, which sounds so sunny against lines like, ‘it’s not easy to make friends / when everybody judges me / and I’m hard to be around’. The back-to-back combo of ‘Stranger’ and ‘Whine’ works well; both romantic tracks in an anxious, doomed kind of way.  Maybe your fave will be the slinky and gently-paced ‘Neglect’, or the almost-hopeful closer ‘12 Hours’. It’d be cool if this release meant Velcro were clearing the way for more recording. If so, see ya in 2019. If not, still pretty cool.

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LISTEN: California Girls – Desire LP

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california girls

Sometimes, driven by yet another going-away drinks for a Brisbane mate leaving for ‘better opportunities’ down south, I’ve declared (unprompted) ‘I’d move to fucking CANBERRA before I’d move to Melbourne’ (cue: no one cares). But that statement is starting to lose its weight, as more and more weird and cool music is released down there – especially through the exceptional Moontown Records. Our great nation’s capital is starting to seem pretty happening.

Desire, from California Girls (not actually girls, not actually plural – actually Canberra dude Gus McGrath), is the city’s newest prime cut – hectic desperate dance music that perfectly captures those nights when you party hard not necessarily cause you feel like it, but because what else can you do?

If you’re looking for something to fill the Workshop/Multiple Man shaped hole in your synth-starved heart, this might do the trick. McGrath’s music, though, is without the moody, middle-distance detachment of those two bands. The vocals are a focus point almost as much as the beats, with lyrics that are personal (‘cherub-faced boy/ tears run down my cheeks’) but in a kind of throwaway way – like an accidental drunken overshare followed by a ‘nah, not really’.

Ambition and need and disappointment and resignation all pulse through this record. It’s called Desire maybe cause some of it’s about sex, sure; some tracks, like opener ‘Skin on Skin’, are grimy with suggestion. But there’s also a kind of generalised want, a dissatisfaction that drives so many of our biggest nights. This is obvious on ‘Holiday’, where McGrath lays out his plans to forget someone who’s gone on to bigger and better things: ‘I’ll put out an album/ I’ll go on a tour/ maybe I’ll go to Tasmania… You’ll see the wonders of the world/ I’ll probably get drunk’.

This is dance music before anything else, so obviously keep an eye out for a live show. I saw California Girls in a shit ‘rock & roll’ venue where the sound was way too low, and it still Went Off. Desire really hits its post-2am stride smack bang in the middle, with the Crystal Castles, X-tinnies vibe of ‘Euphoria’ and the slow-build trop-pop of ‘Hidden’ – but the whole thing is packed with opportunities for a bit of reckless abandonment and throwing your body around. This record is up there with the best local underground dance music around at the moment, in a scene that’s only getting more and more interesting and exciting.

Desire has already sold out on cassette but you might be able to snag a copy at a show, and a vinyl release is forecast for the near future.

Catch California Girls at the Moontown Records Melbourne showcase on 23 February. He’s also supporting Naked, alongside fellow Canberrans Wives, at the Phoenix on the 20th.

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