Posts By Madeleine Laing

LISTEN: You Beauty – ‘Illywhacka’

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“I’ll be damned if this perfect fruit is left to rot on the tree,” You Beauty singer Will Farrier proclaimed just after recording wrapped up on Illywhacka, the band’s second record after last year’s footy saga Jersey Flegg. It’s another pub-rock opera, about a Love Rat online scammer who falls in love with his target – and now it’s been let loose on the world, Farrier’s confidence is absolutely justified.

You know how boring and lame it is when the media try to talk about online dating or Tinder or hookup culture or whatever? This record has done something kinda genius, bypassing all that shit to make a love story between middle-aged people in (what seems like) the late 90s absolutely relatable. You know all the way through this record that the protagonist is a scammer, but you’re kinda tricked by him in the same way as Dee, the woman he’s scamming. He’s a conman and a fuck up but a charmer all the same.

Songs like ‘Strong Connection’ and ‘Romeo and Julie’ are, fuck it, genuinely sexy. They’re intentionally cheesy and over the top, and you know this is just a liar trying to buy time with platitudes so he can string his prey along – but try and stop yourself doing the tucked elbows, swinging hips, clicking fingers dance to the groovy rhythm section that pulses all the way through the first half of this record. That just magnifies the brutality of ‘Pin Drop’, a disjointed, off-kilter crisis for our confidence man, which leads into the dark, spiralling ‘Same Damn Thing’. With its rapid spoken-word verses and poppy chorus, I’ll admit this didn’t make much sense to me as a single. But in the context of the record, it absolutely works to transition from sleazy grooves, shining with sweat, to dark, grinding emotional rock’n’roll ballads – when our conman realises his terrible mistake and ends up on TV being berated by Tracy Grimshaw, then in court, then prison.

I didn’t think anything was gonna top ‘Illywhacka’ (which I went on about when it was released in July) for my favourite song of the year, but every time I listen to this record I find something else to love. You Beauty have given us an epic story, rich in lyrical detail, but never at the expense of a hook or a sing-along moment.

It doesn’t hurt that Farrier can absolutely belt it out. In ‘Fast and Scrappy’ he alternates between a fast-talking crim, dishing out advice, and a man totally redeemed by love, singing in euphoric, passionate verses – while Dee waits outside (but for how long?). His voice and character and confidence at the centre of this record are the secret to why it works. He’s also not afraid to get a little real, singing in a moment of reflection on ‘Flake and Chips’ that “all these books and things / they make you think you’re sick if you’re alone”. So under the fake surface of this love story there’s some real shit – or maybe I’ve been conned too. Either way, what an album.

You can buy Illywhacka right now via Rice is Nice or iTunes.

You Beauty are celebrating the launch of the record in Sydney at the Union Hotel Newtown on 31 October with Flowertruck and Marky Vaw, with more shows for the rest of us early next year.

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LISTEN: The Ocean Party – ‘Light Weight’

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ocean party light weight

Not to too get personal, but this Ocean Party record came at exactly the right time for me. I’ve been in one of those drawn-out phases where everything you do seems shit and interacting with the world seems excruciating. Whenever I wrote anything positive about a band I sounded like a drooling fan, and anytime I wrote anything negative it sounded petty and pathetic, and I was like why the hell do anything at all? And then this goddamn band releases their fifth record in as many years – and it’s not Guided By Voices, Ryan Adams-style prolific-ness where you wade through shit for scant gems. Nah, every song is really good and together they make something more than really good. And suddenly stuff’s worth doing again, because there’s a chance one day you might do something that’s almost as good as this record.

There’s self-doubt here, sure, and defensive cynicism, but then moments of clarity and honesty that knock you over – like on subtle and delicate mid-record highlight ‘Anything’. This record is a balancing act that never falters. Whoever thought to follow the coldness of lines like ‘Every drag smells like a butcher’s knife’ and ‘you said can I stay with you/ I said I didn’t care’ with that jaunty little ‘do do do do’ guitar in the title track should get an automatic ARIA. And then to follow that up with the snarly groove of ‘Phone Sex’ – a song full of spit and regret – and then single ‘Guess Work’, with a chorus that comes readymade for mouthing along to at shows and verses political and pointed… I’m gonna stop just describing it song by song now, but you get the idea; there’s a lot going on and it all just works.

The most impressive thing about the Ocean Party for me is their refusal to be any one thing. With so many singers and songwriters, you get some songs that have almost no chorus and some that are all chorus, some that hit on lofty world themes and some that focus on day-to-day minutiae and interrogate tiny moments. A lot of the songs on Light Weight look back on mistakes, missed opportunities, the good that’s gone (‘here it comes… there it went’), but musically they’re always moving forward, pushing the boundaries of what a band has to be, what everyone keeps telling them they are, and making better and better songs for it.

Buy the record now HERE through Spunk.

Mouth along at one of the Ocean Party’s remaining shows on what’s been an EXTENSIVE album tour.

22nd October – Finbox, Wollongong
23rd October – Thyme To Taste, Yass
24th October – The Tote, Melbourne
25th October – Birdhouse, Wagga Wagga
30th October – The Eastern, Ballarat
31st October – The Metro, Adelaide
6th November – The Bird, Perth
8th November – The Newport, Fremantle
14th November – The Brisbane Hotel, Hobart
15th November – Fresh Cafe, Launceston

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LISTEN: You Beauty – ‘Illywhacka’



This single from Sydney (ish) band You Beauty (who brought us a gem of realist nostalgia on last year’s football romance themed Jersey Flegg) has been out for a couple of weeks – eternity in music blogging terms. I’ve been listening to it so much in that time that I kind of assumed everyone else was too and knew it was one of the best songs of the year so far, and didn’t need me to tell ’em shit. But we still got a presser wanting WTH to write it up – so maybe not all of you have actually heard it. You should. It’s great.

‘Illywhacka’ is apparently about a jaded internet dating scammer who falls in love with his victim, and it’s equal parts romantic and cynical. Those ’80s pup-rock crooner vocals are about as dreamy as it gets, with a wandering bass line leading your heart around – up until the chorus when the tight, insistent drums and shouty vocals remind us it’s a game, a con, and you just say ‘I love you’ cause you like the sound. I think the reason I can’t stop listening to this track is the momentum – it slides from sweet verse to driving chorus so easily that it’s always over too soon, and you gotta go back to catch your favourite part again and again.

If the album, also called Illywhacka and due out later in the year, has more stuff half as good as this single, we’re all in for a treat.

You Beauty are playing a gig at Black Gold Studios in Thirroul on Sunday, 2 August, before they head up to Brisbane for another show at the Milk Factory on Saturday the 8th.

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LISTEN: Ultra Material – ‘EP’

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I like shoegaze that goes a bit hard. In a lot of new bands, the genre’s merging with the more accessible ‘dream pop’ has diluted the essential ‘beautiful noise’-y ness of it for me. But that’s what Brisbane four-piece Ultra Material deliver on their first proper EP (appropriately titled ‘EP’): something essential – a heavy and lovely package of songs tied with a bow. I love the manic, unchained quality to the drums, especially on bolt-outta-the-gates opener ‘Crash’, and the unnerving wails on ‘Pleased To Meet You’.  They’ve got a handle on pop melody and structure, but they’re also not afraid to freak you out a little.

Sarah and Matt Deasy, singer/bassist and drummer respectively, used to make icily mellow sounds of a similar vein in their long-running and wonderful duo Do The Robot, and this EP feels like a natural progression from that insular and intimate project. They’ve added another couple on guitar and vocals, and synth, fleshed out the sound until there’s no stillness left at all, and turned their gaze outwards to envelop the listener, rather than leaving us on the outside looking in.

With an album to come later in the year, you can purchase Ultra Material’s EP on beautiful cassette (Matt Deasy also screenprints some of the best band posters and t-shirts in Brisbane as No.7 Print House, so it’s an object well worth having) or digital from their Bandcamp right now.

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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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