Posts By Madeleine Laing

LISTEN: Treehouse – ‘She’s A Mystic’

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treehouse

‘She’s a Mystic’ is the first single of a forthcoming cassette called Centre of Their World from Hobart three piece Treehouse. Everyone I know has been spending their work lunch breaks looking at Hobart real estate and dreaming about getting away to that picturesque but vaguely sinister island. But maybe it isn’t so dreamy – there’s a lot of good loud cranky stuff coming out of Tas at the moment (I’m thinking of Naked here as well). Which, you know, makes it way more interesting.

The song goes for almost six minutes, usually a bad sign in punk music, but the incessant-ness is hypnotic rather than boring, especially with that melodic aching lead guitar driving through the middle. You can’t call things scuzzy any more cuz it makes people think of Dune Rats, but if you could maybe this song would be kinda scuzzy. Singer Callum Cusick is doing some good strangled shouting, like he’s coming apart at the seams. He sounds like he genuinely might feel Bad, and that’s always good listening.

There’s a break in the middle, and then the song amps up a bit, like Cusick wondered out of the room for a beer and came back with more grievances to air and renewed energy to yell. The last minute is especially desperate, and this song is a great example of the power of repetition to build tension. The end isn’t much different from the start, but it feels twice as intense.

There’s no date yet, but expect Centre of Their World out on Vacant Valley sometime soon.

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LISTEN: Melt – ‘Neighbours’

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Melt

Here’s a word you don’t often associate with Canberra experimental, improvisational guitar artist Melt (Jordan Rodger from Wives, Primary Colours): concise. But here we are, with this concise, immediate guitar pop song as the first single off his upcoming record. He only allows himself a few bars of meandering guitar before it becomes rhythmic and driven, and drums come in and we’re pelting towards the end. ‘Neighbours’ is even more focussed than previous single ‘Sydney to Canberra’ off last year’s Theta Waves, though it shares the same tight, top-heavy drumming.

Roger has also kept up with the collaborative vibe of Theta Waves (which featured guests like Orlando Furious and California Girls), with Snowy (Liam Halliwell) of The Ocean Party, Cool Sounds, No Local etc on vocals. Here Halliwell does that thing where he follows up cute everyday observations with the perfect heaps-real line in ‘the neighbours watched me sleep, I didn’t mind/ Remember what we could stand about each other?’. There’s maybe four sentences of lyrics in total, repeated over and over. Then an abrupt stop. Then a little more pretty guitar to coax the track to a close. But that’s all they need to make sure you’re left with a strong feeling of nagging desperation.

There’s a little disclaimer on the Soundcloud for this song, letting you know that the rest of Melt’s new record probably won’t be this easy. It’ll probably just be beautiful, cool and surprising instead. Keep an eye out on Friday, 20 May for the cassette, out via Cinnamon Records.

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LISTEN: Tralala Blip – ‘Oceans of Love’

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tralala blip

With all the kind of dark-leaning, ‘go the fuck off’ electronic music we’ve all enjoyed listening/ getting trashed to lately, it’s sometimes a relief to just bloody relax. ‘Oceans of Love’, the title track from the new (…ish) EP by Tralala Blip is about as chill and pretty as it gets.

Tralala Blip are from Lismore in northern New South Wales, where cashed-up sea changers and real-deal hippies collide in beautiful mountainous bushland. This might be why they sound like not much else around at the moment – they’re isolated enough to do their own thing, but close enough to Brisbane to catch some ears (this latest LP is out on Bris label Tenth Court). They’ve been around since 2007, releasing albums of super intriguing experimental pop at a relaxed pace.

‘Oceans of Love’ is pure escapism – pools of water and light and all that nice stuff. The bass grooves along at the perfect head-bobbing pace, never deviating from its mission to make you feel real good. The video features a turtle swimming around looking at stuff, which is exactly what you feel like watching when you listen to this song.

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There’s a lot of hypnotic, out-there sounds on the record to love, with many of the songs mining more unsettling territory than this one, if that’s your vibe. You can hear and buy ‘Oceans of Love’ via Tenth Court.

Tralala Blip are playing the Opera House on 25 May as part of TEDxSydney.

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LISTEN: Carla Dal Forno – ‘Fast Moving Cars’ / ‘Better Yet’

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carla dal forno

Carla Dal Forno has previously released stuff as part of Melbourne/Berlin experimental acts Tarcar and F ingers, who’ve got those  ‘bleak’ ‘dark’ ‘cold’ ‘difficult’ tags stuck on so tight, mostly only weird dudes can really be bothered to get into them.

But I reckon you could get pretty into this track, weird dude or no. In ‘Fast Moving Cars’ Dal Forno is having one of those calm ‘this is how I feel, take it or leave it’ conversations that you have in your head but which never come out right in real life. But somehow Dal Forno’s made it come out perfect; you know exactly what she means when she’s telling whoever to ‘do something exciting’ and ‘yeah, come on, be reckless’. The song’s all subterranean bass and vocals, with an undercurrent of spacey buzz. Taunting vocal melodies delivering lines like ‘I get turned on by fast racing cars’ bring a bit of attitude – if not exactly ‘personality’ to her hypnotically monotone delivery.

YouTube Preview Image

The video is simple and cool, too – for a song that’s about the desire for new experiences and the exotic and exciting, it has this typically Australian bush setting, recognisable from school trips and family trips and friend trips. It’s nostalgic but kind of spooky, following a girl as she walks down a path through the trees, into the river and swims away. Probably just to the other side but ~who knows~?

The B side, ‘Better Yet’, is maybe a little more typical of the cold electronic stuff we’ve been hearing a bit of lately, but it’s even more spookily beautiful – hooded robes/ candles/ ‘trying to find your way out of windowless rooms’ shit. It give me an intense feeling of unease.

 

Dal Forna lives in Berlin these days, ‘Fast Moving Cars’ is out on London label Blackest Ever Black and it has about 11,000 views on YouTube by now, so she’s already doing better than me or you. Still, have a listen.

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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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