Posts By Madeleine Laing

Nick Allbrook: “It’s just doing a dumb performance for people wanting to have fun”

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Thanks to a calendar mix up, I was late to this interview with Nicholas Allbrook (of POND, Mink Mussel Creek and Allbrook/Avery).  He’s just released a solo album called Ganough, Wallis and Fortuna, so luckily I cut out the long part at the start of our chat – which was just me apologising profusely and Nick having to reassure me that everything was fine and that he was totally chill. Nick had been drawing on the whiteboard but wiped it clean before I got there. When I told him I would have liked the see his drawings, he talked about these monks who had once come to his school who’d done beautiful intricate sand paintings and then tipped them into the ocean and that he liked that idea. This is totally the kind of thing you’d like to think someone as thoughtful, nervous, and interesting as Nick Allbrook would be into.

ML: You got here yesterday right?

NA: I saw Felicity Groom who was great, but it’s all a bit overwhelming to stay out. Even though I wanna see bands I just can’t, it’s too much.

Even just like walking in here (the Judith Wright Centre, hub of BIGSOUND activity)…

It’s fuckin’ weird hey? You gotta like, say the same thing to everyone cause that’s all people know.

Is this the start of a tour for you?

Nah, just the one show. I’ve been doing a few shows at home in Melbourne.

How’ve they been?

Somewhere between enjoyable and horribly painful.

‘Whispers of Beauty’ sounds very…’Pond-y’ to me. Was that written early?

I guess it’s as much ‘Pond-y’ as anything else is ‘Nick Allbrook-y’. The only difference is the little name that shows up in Streetpress. It’s all the same. There’s no division from what is Pond, and what is me. It just gets put on a different… saleable unit.

I guess with one you get to work on with your mates a bit more.

Exactly. Though I can still work on ‘Nicholas Allbrook’, I’m doing the quotation mark thing with my mates. All the Pond dudes helped me on various songs. That’s what I’m talking about, why the labelling of stuff is so bizarre. I played drums on one of Joe’s ‘solo’ album songs and it’s weird, it’s all just the same stuff.

Does recording at home help you feel more comfortable?

Sort of. I kind of had to make a sanctified space to make it feel less comfortable; to make it feel like I was there for a reason. When I had my recording doohickies in my room it just doesn’t even…I don’t even do anything. Or I do, and there’s an overly casual no-end-to-it kind of feeling like ‘this is just a shitty demo, it’s just something I’m doing just next to my bed, why make it good?’

Do you feel like you make better music when you’re under pressure?

I don’t think there’s any. Sometimes pressure would work definitely. Especially in an improvisational way, but sometimes I’ll just be like sitting around relaxing and something good will happen. There’s no rules.

And are you approaching the shows in a bit more of a low-key way than with Pond?

Yeah absolutely. It’s not as much of a festival, a spectacle. And ’cause I’m you know, alone – you don’t just wanna. I get very nervous about putting yourself out there like, ‘It’s Nicholas Allbrook! Lights, camera! Everyone look at this guy!’

I just can’t help but underplaying it a lot. Probably the same reason I wear slippers every day. Don’t want to just be strutting around in Cuban heels. I’d feel uncomfortable.

 

(read the full interview below)

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Who the Hell’s Guide to BIGSOUND

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Apart from being one of the few places in the world where old white dudes drink for free, BIGSOUND (if you don’t know) is also a great place to see new Australian bands – and your old favourites – which is something we’re pretty keen on. Here’s who we reckon will be worth checking out between beers at the LIVE portion of this year’s festival. You can check out the whole lineup and pick up last-minute tickets here.

We’ll also be instagrammin’ live for the festival at @whothehellnet if you wanna see us attempt to find a filter that might make Fortitude Valley Mall look good.

Jesse Davidson: Wednesday, 8.00 p.m. – New Globe Theatre

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Jesse Davidson is an Adelaide eighteen year old (and he already supported Mac Demarco this year. Jesus.) making really subtle, lovely pop music with warm, dynamic vocals. He does mumbly angst just as well as soaring… angst. His latest single ‘Ocean’ is precise but dreamy – nothing seems out of place or accidental, and the end result is something very pretty.

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Bad//Dreems: Wednesday, 9.40 p.m. – The Brightside (Outdoor)

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It’s no secret that we’re fans of these guys, but if you haven’t seen them live yet, you’re missing out. Bad//Dreems specialise in heavy downer vibes and grab-you-by-the-throat melodies. With a debut album on the way, there’s sure to be plenty of new stuff to sink your teeth into.

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Blank Realm: Wednesday, 11.20 p.m. – New Globe Theatre

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Okay, not exactly an underground find, we know, but Blank Realm is a truly world class act and if you’re not already planning on seeing them well… you gotta. They write riffs like no one else and are probably gonna be the most fun act you’ll see all festival – the perfect band to get sweaty and messy and a bit dirty to at the end of the first night.

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INTRODUCING: Mid Ayr

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Mid Ayr is Brisbane’s Hugh Middleton – when he’s not playing guitar in alt folk bigshots The Trouble With Templeton. Debut single ‘My Mayhem’ is the first recorded taste we’ve got of his solo work, and it’s pretty sweet.

Anyone who’s got a passing interest in Templeton knows that Middleton is a talented guitarist, but the best part of this song is how measured it is. There’s a tendency at the moment for acoustic artists to rush into soaring, dramatic choruses without building an emotional core to carry them, and Middleton totally avoids that here. His lyrics are full of anxiety and tension, mumbled regrets and confessions, so that when the big cathartic chorus comes in you actually feel like something’s getting resolved.

‘My Mayhem’ keeps up a great pace, with handclap percussion all the way through. The song just skips by, leaving you wanting more.

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INTRODUCING: Mere Women

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‘Heave Ho’ is the second single off Mere Women’s latest album, Your Town. It’s a super dark and often sinister look into regret and our uncanny ability to make the same mistakes over and over again. Their last record, Old Life, came out around two years ago, and I’m really kicking myself for letting them pass me by for so long. This track, and the rest of Your Town, has so much to love: bad arse vocals, dark,  post-punky synths, and off-balance but totally catchy guitar lines.

‘Heave Ho’ is the sound of someone begging to be bailed out. Singer Amy Wilson’s voice is powerfully beseeching when she sings, ‘This love’s too hard / this love’s too hard’. That line, repeated again and again in combination with the tight and stony drums, pounds her pain right into your heart.

We get a moment of respite in the middle of the track with a spiralling and spare piece of synth. The tight drums skipping along underneath make sure that none of the momentum is lost before a tough and striking guitar line comes in and it’s all hurt and struggle again. But then, another switch – in the last minute the song throws us a taunting hook: ‘It would be so easy / it would be so easy’. Wilson’s voice is stronger now, and more authoritative. It sounds like she really could make a change and leave this hard love behind.

The number of distinct parts to this song, and the record as a whole, is impressive. There are enough great melodies and beats on here to fill at least a couple more albums from a lesser band, but these songs never feel crammed in or suffocated. With Your Town, Mere Women have made it clear that they can’t be slept on any longer.

Your Town is out now on Poison City Records

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INTRODUCING: Love Signs

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This single is the first chance anyone outside of Brisbane has had to hear the lovely Love Signs, who have risen from the ashes of girl group devotees Johnny and The Fembots and played some very impressive shows around town in the past few months.

‘Wish At Home’ has a  kind of school dance vibe – if school dances were actually about locking eyes across a softly lit room with the love of your life rather than drinking too many Woodstocks and throwing up behind the bike sheds.

There’s a whole lot of sweetness here, but also sophistication – and most of it comes from Izzy Mellor’s voice, which can’t help but take centre stage, it’s so full and classically beautiful. The instrumentation is subtle but distinct, a guitar twinkling away in the background and the rhythm section mixed with a restraint that helps to give the song its gauzy aesthetic.

The romantic feel is complemented by sighing lyrics about heartbreak and loneliness, and it’s an excellent introduction to such a sleek nostalgia band. Hopefully Love Signs have a lot more where this came from.

Talented AND generous, Love Signs have made this track available for free download on Soundcloud.

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FEATURE: Shedstock 2014

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Shedstock is the pretty genius brainchild of Donnie Miller and Innez Tulloch of Roku Music and recording studio Nowhere Audio. For the past few years it’s been running as the DIY festival to end all DIY festivals – a kind of pals-only thing on a family farm with a stage made out of wooden pallets. This year, with the help of some crowd funding, they built a real stage with a roof and walls and everything, and put on the biggest party northern New South Wales has ever seen.

There was music from the truly great Blank Realm, Brisbane’s best sad-band Keep On Dancin’s, the always excellent Roku Music, local badarses Woodboot, cold synth queens and surprise highlight Pleasure Symbols, scrappy legends Cannon, the ‘90s-bush-doof-meets-shady-electro-pop of Multiple Man, and the seriously demented Unpeople and Cobwebbs, to name hardly any, all playing in the obscenely beautiful surroundings of the northern rivers.

A music festival with no dickheads, good music all the time and heaps of rad dogs and chickens to play with during the day? Heaven.

To get into the DIY spirit (and maybe because I don’t own a real camera) I shot some photos on disposable film – and hey, they turned out alright!

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PREMIERE: Tempura Nights – ‘RIP Chix’ (video)

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A couple of months ago we featured Tempura Nights’ first single ‘R.I.P Chix’ (spoiler: it’s excellent), and now we’re premiering the Brisbane trio’s first foray into video format.

Keeping up the dreamy theme that runs through the washed-out track, the video is like the daydream you have when you’re three hours into an eight-hour shift – the kind of fantasy where you lay around with your good-looking mates and smoke cigs and play music and have pillow fights and braid each other’s hair. It’s total wish fulfilment, but done with the kind of wink-and-nod, tongue-in-cheek attitude that makes Tempura Nights so likeable. (Look at those white cut-off shorts and tell me this is a band who take themselves too seriously).

The video looks a hell of a lot better than your average DIY clip, with some pretty, sun-drenched shots by director Jennifer Embelton of Somersault Visuals. It’s clean and striking; the perfect visual introduction to a band that’s well worth watching.

Look out for Tempura Nights’ first EP White Whine, which will be out in the coming months.

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