Posts By Madeleine Laing

PREMIERE: Snowy Nasdaq – ‘New Jangle 2012′

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With song titles like ‘Ironic Life’ and ‘Dolewave 2015’, the new EP from Snowy Nasdaq (Liam Halliwell) reads initially like an exercise in self-awareness, except it’s more thoughtful than defensive – and way too good to be a joke. This is the second release of the year from Snowy Nasdaq, with the ‘Snowy Life’ band featuring members of The Finks and Cool Sounds in tow.

It’s hard to say anything really meaningful about a record that’s saying so much about itself, so really my job here is to tell you to listen to it. And tell you that you gotta sit with it. The way the vocals are mixed low with Halliwell singing more nasally than ever, the guitar pointy and insistent but without the immediate catchiness of Soft Focus, means some of these tracks slip through your fingers the first few times. But once it hits, you notice so many good lines and clever intricacies worth a bit of time.

Despite Halliwell’s assertion in his excellent handwritten press-release that it documents (hypothetical) “new love and its eventual demise” (the same presser also contains the claim that Canberra, where this record was recorded with Halliwell’s brother and their childhood friend, is “Australia’s greatest city”, so who knows what the truth is) New Jangle 2012 isn’t a particularly romantic or heartsick album – it’s concerned too much about what everyone thinks about you and what you think about anyone else to really get into personal relationships.

‘Dead Weight/Broken Nose’ is the only song that really talks about the feelings of being in some kind of relationship, though it’s still insular and kind of a downer. “I never thought I’d occupy myself with the thought of someone else”, Halliwell sings before the song changes halfway through into a gentler, flighty tangle of guitars – his vocals at their softest, singing to some “you” that looked good with a broken nose to match his own.

Whether he’s referencing it or not, when Halliwell writes about summer 2012 as ‘the golden era of jangle’, I think of Woollen Kits’ record Four Girls, probably my favourite Australian album of all time and how for better or worse, the ‘jangle’ sound has morphed since then. Four Girls was a mostly-upbeat, astute and outward-facing record that wasn’t afraid of sounding a little ugly. In 2015, what we’ve got is a lot cleaner and less celebratory, but more intricate. With people like Halliwell around to push limits at what it means to be making this kind of music, whatever jangle/dolewave/dumb shit we come up with to call it by then –  looks like in 2018, it’ll probably still sound pretty great.

New Jangle 2012 is out on French label Beko Disques and available to buy here.

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LISTEN: Tempura Nights – ‘Mr Tone’

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The only note I took on first listen to this song was ‘PIXIES’– cause although Brisbane four-piece Tempura Nights have shown varied influences in their short life span, this track sits firmly in the late-’80s, early ’90s alternative territory. The wordiness of Rezende’s verses also recalls a bit of Speedy Ortiz, more in the way the lyrics sound than the words themselves. Just have a listen to that abrasive guitar tone and how low the bass grinds along, and tell me you get anything other than 90s teen movie angst.

It’s never a good idea to say what YOU think a band is writing about, you almost always end up looking like a moron, but if ‘Mr Tone’ isn’t about that weird old white guy who eats whole onions on the TV, then it should be. Cause there’s plenty of spite here. It’d be cool to see Rezende get more fired up, break through that smart snarky voice that she does so easily and really get into a bit of yelling. But you get the point anyway: Tempura Nights have no time to take shit.

Though they do seem to have a lot of time to spend in the studio – Tempura Nights work on songs for ages. This can often be a bad sign, cause there’s nothing worse than good music being way overworked and picked over. Thankfully, on ‘Mr Tone’ the band have stayed away from anything too tricky (though it could do without the gang vocals at the end – sounds like PNAU or something) and brought us an extremely solid single from a group that’s delivering on its promise.

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LISTEN: Angie – ‘Out of Age’

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It’s always kind of bugged me that not being able to really sing has never stopped dude musicians from giving it a crack, and being liked. Most of female-fronted bands, even the most underground, that get any attention have a ‘pretty’ voice front and centre. There’s nothing pretty about the vocal on Sydney artist and musician Angie’s newest single ‘Out of Age’. It’s monotone, almost tuneless and rubs up against the guitar line like steel wool. It’s attitude that’s important here – a stretched kind of desperation that keeps you on edge for the whole song, an uneasy balance between drone and hook.

‘Power Pop’ were never words I thought I’d be ascribing to Angie after her excellently dark and dogged first EP Turning, but she herself calls this a track “a pop tribute”, With a guitar line as huge as the one here, the shoe fits. But that guitar just repeats over and over – never breaking into the big sunny chorus that you’d expect from someone other than Angie. It drills itself into your head and stays there.

‘Out of Age’ is the first single off Angie’s forthcoming record Free Agent, due out later via Rice Is Nice this year. And an exciting one, because it tells us that anything could happen – throw your expectations in the trash.

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The presser for Totally Mild’s debut record Down Time gets on the offensive straight away – saying to forget about dolewave (strong words considering they’re named after the Aussiest show ever after Burke’s Backyard) and get on board with this new sound. Well, you’ll pry broadly accented mates singing about ciggies and stained carpet from my cold dead hands, but I like this a hell of a lot too.

Totally Mild’s ‘new’ sound has some strong Geoffrey O’Connor vibes to me. It’s less aggressively produced and hedonistic, but there’s that same woozy darkness in his voice as there is in singer Elizabeth Mitchell’s – both breathy and gauzy but with real underlying pain. These are relaxed, slow-paced songs, but by keeping the majority under the three minute mark, the guitar tone sunny and the harmonies plentiful, the band have managed to keep the record from dragging. A highlight for me is ‘When I’m Tired’ – a catchy, cheerful track about night terrors and fire. Happy-sounding songs about bad shit get made all the time, but rarely with the subtlety and smarts that these guys show across this whole record.

So whether you’ve ACTUALLY been hunting an alternative to the current Melbourne jangle-centric scene, or you just wanna hear something cool, Totally Mild are worth your time.

Down Time is out today through Bedroom Suck on digital and vinyl.

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INTRODUCING: Leather Towel

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leather towel

Some songs make you feel tough as hell – you walk down the street listening to them and even if you don’t like fighting you’re daring everyone you walk past to start something. This new single from Melbourne’s Leather Towel, a band that features members of Nun, Ausmuteants and Exhaustion (!!!), is kind of one of those songs – but it’s also kind of just about Mexican food. And that’s what I like best about Australian punk music: so much of it is fucking hilarious while being, simultaneously, downright terrifying.

‘Nacho Chips’ (apparently from a forthcoming record due in February through Aarght and Hozac Records) is on edge for the whole of its less-than-two-minutes runtime. From the jittery high-hats to the frantic vocals to that bass riff that makes me feel a bit sick but in a way that I like a lot – the whole thing is wound up like a spring that goes off almost immediately. It also seems like it’d go nuts live, but Leather Towel don’t play much and only in Melbourne. Still, an excellent song.

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LISTEN: Day Ravies – ‘Under The Lamp’ EP

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I’d always thought of Sydney’s Day Ravies as a kind of over-earnest band – one of the best things to come out of this shoegaze/psych revival period, definitely, but not particularly fun. With this EP, they’ve proved me well and truly wrong.

One highlight is the overblown synth on ‘Perennial’, the most dramatic and upbeat track, with the teasing vocals in the chorus (‘I left you wondering’) taking joy in their own mystery. Then there’s that distorted guitar on ‘Sleepwalk’, almost country at times, playing a lead line that stumbles all over the song, knocking everything else out of its way and having a great time doing it. The raw buzzing slab of noisy guitar on every song balances out the breathy vocals beautifully, and acts as a strongly grounded base from which the lighter layers of their sound can spiral out.

With ‘Under The Lamp’ Day Ravies have made their sound fresh again, and maybe finally kicked that ‘jangly’ tag that’s inexplicably clung to them  since their first release. They’re also a band that’s extremely confident and respected in what they do, so it’d be cool to see them push things further and get more experimental with future releases – go a little Frank Reynolds and get real weird with it.

‘Under The Lamp’ has been released on the band’s own brand new label Strange Pursuits, and you can get it as a cassette or download from Bandcamp.

Catch them on tour along the east coast in support of their recent ‘Hickford Whizz’ 7″:

Thursday, 12 March – The Curtin, Melbourne, w/ The Ancients + White Walls

Friday, 13 March – The Hotel Metro, Adelaide, w/ EMU + Yabbies

Saturday, 21 March – The Foundry, Brisbane, w/ Per Purpose + 100%

Saturday, 28 March – Union Hotel Newtown, Sydney, w/ bearhug + Weak Boys

Thursday, 9 April – The Phoenix, Canberra, w/ Black Springs + Mind Blanks

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LISTEN: Nite Fields – ‘Prescription’

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It’s been raining fucken heaps in Brisbane lately – that kind that doesn’t cool anything down but just gives you immediate jawline pimples and back sweat. Nite Fields don’t sound like a lot of other stuff around here (and they’re not TOTALLY a Brisbane band anymore, but we’ll claim ‘em), however there’s a hot and heaviness to this new track that suits. The sparseness of the first 30 seconds turns humid and heavy, the husky smoothness of Danny Venzin’s voice, which might be a little too polished at first, becomes more claustrophobic as the song spreads out like fog.

Their record, Depersonalisation (out Feb 3), was mixed by Nigel Lee-Yang from HTRK with touches from local Scraps. They’re on New York label Felte now, but they haven’t let too-coolness get in the way of making music that sounds like it took some guts and sweat.

When ‘Prescription’ premiered at Fact they called it ‘elegiac’. I’m not 100% sure what that means, but it sounds cool so it’s probably fitting. I think it sounds good as hell and a bit like the Church, which is sick. This record’s gonna be one for hot nights or stark, grey days. Something to make mundane moments seem kind of moody and profound. So you probably better pre-order it.

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