Posts By Madeleine Laing

INTRODUCING: Totally Mild

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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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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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LISTEN: Pool Shop – ‘Lower Now (demo)’

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Pool Shop is the solo project of Major Leagues guitarist Jamie Fryer, and though it’s been a thing for a couple of years now (lucky Melbourne people have even had a couple of chances to see her live since Fryer moved from Brisbane in mid-2014), this demo is the first track she’s recorded. ‘Lower Now (Demo)’ is lo fi and sparse but full of promise and crystalline beauty.

The down-and-out sweetness of the vocals is ‘Lower Now’s most immediate element, drawing you in from the first breath. Fryer’s delivery is clipped and restrained, hinting at some pretty deep hurt below the surface, but never really letting you in. She also gives us a taste of her talent for beautiful, shoegazey guitar lines with a drawn-out riff that comes in towards the end of the song and fades out far too quickly. Everything about this track seems designed to make you want more, so let’s hope this is a sign of great things to come rather than just a lovely one-off.

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LISTEN: Love Signs – ‘Hold You Down’

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One of the best things in the world for music writers/fans in general is when a brand new band you loved from the very start exceeds even your expectations – and Brisbane four-piece Love Signs have totally done that for me.

Their previous single, ‘Wish at Home‘, was a mood piece, dreamy and romantically downbeat. With ‘Hold You Down’ they’ve given us a real single, a beautiful jangly pop hit with guts as well as atmosphere. A lot of this comes from the added lead guitar (which they freely admit takes a lot from the Go-Betweens – but when has that ever been a bad thing?), which cuts a spiralling path towards the layered, driving chorus. Izzy Mellor’s classic breathy vocals also work really well against the cynical lyrics to create a bit of friction in all that prettiness.

It’s just so cool to see a band deliver on their promise and develop this confidently in such a short space of time. It’ll be worth keeping an eye on Love Signs.

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LISTEN: Teen Sensations – ‘Monster Beach Party’

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Jeremy Neale seems to have a new hobby: releasing what are ostensibly novelty songs, but then making them too goddamn good to be novelty songs. With his solo band earlier this year he put out ‘Stallion Rider’ – a power metal song so outside his usual sound it had to be at least kind of a joke, but done with an obvious love and respect for that kind of music. It was so badarse it gave meaning back to a way overused descriptor: fucken EPIC.

Now with Beach Boys worshipping surf-pop outfit Teen Sensations he’s gone and done it again, releasing the Halloween-themed single ‘Monster Beach Party’ on new Brisbane label Heath Street Wax. Sure, this kind of thing aint for everyone (lookin’ at you, SRS Music fan), and I know, I know – you’re ten seconds in and you’re hearing teen-idol vocals and lyrics about zombies and werewolves and it’s all a bit cute. But then that vocal hook in the chorus comes in, and the wonderful songwriting that makes this band so hard to dismiss as a joke shines through.

Yuri Johnson’s also given it a bit of sad surf guitar in the chorus, which is a smart move because this, combined with Neale’s semi-pleading ‘I avoid the sunlight baby, so stick around’, gives you some emotional pathos that takes this song out of the realm of ‘forgettable fun’ and into ‘Hang on – this is actually good’ territory.

You can check ‘em on tour on the east coast in the next couple of months, on the following dates:

Sat 29 November – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane (with Love Signs)

Fri 5 December – The Gallery Bar, Sydney (with The Electric Vogues & Dr. Spaceman)

Sat 6 December – The Toff, Melbourne

Thurs 11 December – Alhambra Lounge, Brisbane (with Pluto Jonze).

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