Posts By Madeleine Laing

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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Love signs pic

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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LISTEN: ScotDrakula – ‘Shazon’

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After last month’s single ‘O’Clock’ took the foot off the gas slightly, ScotDrakula are straight back on blistering form with this track ‘Shazon’, also off their forthcoming self-titled LP. Though still not quite as seethingly explosive as ‘Break Me Up’ or ‘Burner’ (ages) before it, ‘Shazon’ makes up for it in almost dangerous levels of head-nodding catchiness (though I was momentarily disappointed that they hadn’t named the song after everyone’s favourite aunt ‘Shazza’, as I thought on first glance).

The immediate, exciting bass riff that we’ve come to expect from these guys is back – as is Matt Neumann’s yowling, drawling vocal which always hits a perfect balance between deranged and relatable. There’s no superfluous parts or fat to be trimmed – the biggest appeal of a three-piece. Where a lot of psych-y garage-y bands are choosing to manufacture excitement by packing the stage full of members and the recordings full of superfluous jams, Scotdrakula keep everything tight and in constant motion. This is get up and shake it as confidently as your social anxiety will allow kinda music, and this band is one of the first I’ve seen live in ages where their set left me wanting more, rather than more than ready for a break and a beer.

Have a listen to the digital version of the ‘O’Clock’ / ‘Shazon’ cassingle here, where you can also go on a waitlist for hardcopies, since they sold out real quick. You can also check out the nostalgic (presumably, otherwise someone went to A LOT of trouble) found-footage video below.

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LISTEN: Pleasure Symbols – ‘Ultraviolence’

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Pleasure Symbols

‘Ultra Violence’, the first thing we’ve heard from Brisbane duo Pleasure Symbols is one of those tracks that immediately creates a video montage in your head. When I listen to this I see myself better looking, better dressed and more badass, smoking cigs and stalking the streets like a goddamn killer. This song makes me want to be a worse person, in the best way possible.

‘Ultra Violence’ is all cold bass, synth and drum machine. Vocals are monotone and dark, crushed under the malevolent buzz, only lightened slightly when the mildly hysterical treble-y synth comes in at the end, still spiralling you into the abyss. Definitely wanna hear more of this (well, what they’re calling) ‘coldwave’ business.

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WATCH: Multiple Man – ‘Persuasion’

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The first time I heard Brisbane two-piece Multiple Man for real was at this year’s Shedstock festival in June (which is a travesty considering how often they play in my town). I had ‘fallen asleep’ early and was lying in my tent when outside started what sounded like the most insanely fun party ever. The music was violent and dark but driven by these bouncy synths that made everything so bloody danceable.

I wanted to get up and throw my body around and yell for no reason but being too ‘sleepy’ I just lay on my half-deflated blow up mattress and had a fucken great time throwing shapes internally.

‘Persuasion’ is Multiple Man’s newest single, and comes with a suitably dark, Euro-electro inspired video by Alex Dunlop. The title track from their forthcoming EP, it sounds like someone found everything good about the 80s and put it in a dance song, when what they kinda wanted to do was tell you to go fuck yourself. It’s sexy, aggressive, fun and really, really cool.

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

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Nick Allbrook_

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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