Posts By Madeleine Laing

LISTEN: Various Asses – ‘Hood Team’

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various-asses

Photo By Lauren Bamford

I don’t write much about dance music cuz I don’t know the right terms and I’m too vain to risk looking stupid. But this track, by Melbourne artist Various Asses, Aka Raquel Solier (who used to do excellent RnB stuff under the name Fatti Frances), is too good not to share. This is exactly what you wanna hear when a party’s really taking off – but it’s also the kind of thing that could really freak you the fuck out if you heard it a bit too far into the early hours. It’s a good time that’s just edging into darkness.

There’s drama here that’s missing from a lot of electronic music we’re hearing at the moment – the operatic, haunted house movie samples, snatches of vocals that remind me of ‘Toxic’ era Britney, the moments of silence that keep you on your toes but are short enough to keep dancing though, all backed by house music beats that your arse will move to seemingly on its own accord. This track has all the best parts of dance music – it’s dark, hot, unpredictable and fun as hell. Wrote all this to say you gotta listen to it.

‘Hood Team’ is coming out a seven-song tape called Loción’ that’s part of a run of six different cassettes Nice Music is putting out on November 20 – including one by Sweet Whirl (Superstar’s Esther Edquist) that I am, low key, incredibly psyched for. You can preorder Loción’  HERE.

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LISTEN: Hi-Tec Emotions – Hard to Handle LP

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I’m kinda jealous of the teenage girls who get to see bands like Hi-Tec Emotions in their first gig experiences. To hear a woman be unapologetic about their fears and desires and doubts is powerful. You know, instead of a bunch of dudes singing about how they’re too fucked up to feel love or whatever.

I wish I’d got to hear something like the desperate power of ‘Tears of Love’, or the raucously demanding ‘Look Around’, the first track and early single from their new record Hard to Handle, that kicks you straight into the deep end. That song, in tandem with ‘Beyond the Depths’s radical declaration ’I feel desire / and I want the power’, makes as commanding a statement of intent as you’ll hear. To admit want, or worse, need, as a woman is still something that makes people uncomfortable – but Hi-Tec Emotions do it with such stark clarity and power that you feel like it doesn’t have to be like that.

The music is all about maximum impact – the drums stripped back and frantic, bass nipping at the heels of the rhythm urging you to keep up, new-wave keys careen under Ema Dunstan’s ever-soaring vocals.

I wanna say it gets slightly heavy-handed with lines like ‘And I dream of a world where I can say / all the things I ever felt without debate’ and a couple of the more misty-eyed later tracks. But do I just feel that way cuz I’ve become allergic to sincerity? Because hearing this kind of bald-faced acknowledgment of inequality is still rare in the music I regularly listen to, so it makes me feel weird? Probably.

With Hard to Handle, Hi-Tec Emotions have made something that is utterly convincing in its outrage – the kind of thing I could see people fighting to the front row at shows to belt out those powerfully empathetic choruses as close to the band they can get. And, on top of all of that, a very fun record.

Hard to Handle is out on Listen Records this Friday November 4, when they’ll be launching it at The Tote with Spike Fuck (!!!!), Cable Ties and Suss Cunts. Go have a big shout.

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WATCH: Men With Chips – ‘Ardrossan’

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men-with-chips

People say Adelaide is weird like Brisbane used to be but isn’t anymore. I say no one here was ever that weird, just like, hot and cranky. But maybe that’s why I have really strong good feelings about nearly every Adelaide band – seems like they’ve got the same kind of ‘maybe we hate each other but this town’s too small not to try and get along’ *community* thing as Brisbane. Idk I’ve never been.

Men With Chips are an Adelaide band that I have strong good feelings about, and they’ve made a ridiculous, but genuinely kind of unnerving video for their latest single ‘Ardrossan’ that oughta strike fear into a lot of hearts. Two words: jazz cult. Esteemed members of the Adelaide music community are hunted down on an overcast day at the innocuous SA seaside by overall-wearing horn players and killed(?) by bursts of loud random FREE JAZZ.

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The video was directed by Pat Telfer from Old Mate and Bitch Prefect, who really knows what he’s doing behind the camera; his clips always look great. It’s obviously a funny idea, and they pull it off with a commitment that, coupled with the jittery drumming and low bending bass of the verses, make it also pretty creepy.

The record, called Attention Spent, will be out on November the 4th, (preorder through Homeless here) though we’ve been previously given another taste with longer cut ‘And Counting’. This dankly terrific track coughs up gear grinding guitar and the same commanding vocals that only demand more attention as they get increasingly slurred and nonsensical. Everything Joel Robertson sings sounds simultaneously like a manifesto and a cry for help.

Ignore anywhere that says the record was out October 28th. Homeless Records, never change.

Men With Chips are playing the following dates in support of Attention Spent:

Friday November 11 – The Gunners Arms Tavern, Launceston

Wednesday November 16 – The Old Bar, Melbourne

Thursday November 17 – Dane Certificate’s Magic Tricks, Gags and Theatre, Melbourne

Friday November 18 – Lacklustre Records, Canberra

Saturday November 19 – Black Wire Records, Sydney

Thursday November 24 – The Wooly Mammoth, Brisbane

Saturday November 26 – 4ZZZ Carpark Show, Brisbane

Saturday December 3 – The Exter Hotel, Adelaide

Friday December 9 – The Bird, Perth

Sunday December 11 – Mojo, Fremantle

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P.S I heard that Dave Blumbergs, the bass player in this band, is working on some kind of Adelaide Underground Rock Opera. If anyone has more information please get in touch. Need this scoop.

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LISTEN: EXEK – ‘Biased Advice’

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One of the things music writers do that I hate the most is calling music ‘cinematic’ BECAUSE 1) literally any music can be used to score a film, means nothing and 2) what, it’s dramatic? It’s moving? It easily conjures up a lot of images? Well, say that.

Biased Advice by Melbourne band Exek easily conjures up a lot of images – dark rooms fogs basements faces pressed again cold windows sinister shit.

Biased Advice was released earlier this month so I’m a little late on writing this up. Actually, really really late considering half of the record is made up different versions of songs released in 2014. But these are pretty distinct version, rerecorded with new permanent band members and instruments. Biased Advice is way more fleshed-out, though the sound is far from full. The emptiness of these songs is what makes them creepy and interested.

Distant, echo-y production, clattering percussion, snare hits linger and hiss. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint where the sound is coming from. I listened to it a lot home alone one night and had to get up more than once and check there was no one in the house. Though there’s also an underlying undeniable groove to these songs, the way they’re propelled by simple slow-burn bass lines – and the way ‘A Hedonist’ kind of sounds like a fucked ‘Chick Habit’ – makes the menace intriguing.

Highlight ‘Replicate’ gives us fragments of cynical, disaffected declarations, a searing guitar line and strings that hound the listener into attention. Tossed off lyrics like stick figured/ adolescent/ disinfectant/ replicant/ it reminds me of you’;  That’s not interesting / that’s old news’, are short-hand for cynical disaffected listeners to pick up on and make meaning out of. It’s music based on mood – to spell it out would ruin it.

Side B of the tape is all one sixteen minute song, ‘Baby Giant Squid’, which sounds like the name of a fucking Pond song but the psych touches Exek utilize throughout this record are way more squat than stadium. The final track slow-builds from a dreamy, sci-fi soundscape of screeching guitars and low-key jazzy bass into a cacophony of bells and chimes, before a long spacey fade-out.

Go see Exek at Maggot Fest this weekend if you’re going. And ask them to come back to Brisbane thanks.

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WATCH: Dag – ‘Staying Up at Night’

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Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Photo by Helena Papageorgiou

The first single from Dag’s debut LP The Benefits of Solitude, ‘Staying up at Night’ came out last month. I wanted to write it up then but, honestly, I liked it too much. It’s too breezy and, despite the uneasy melancholy of the lyrics and Dusty Anastassiou’s naturally doleful voice, rolls by so easily. It’s is a pop song from the jaunty acoustic guitar to the warmth and fullness of the chorus to the bow ba-bow bow bow bass line. To try and stop and think about like, ‘why do I like this so much? How can I explain what’s good about it?’ felt like it would ruin something, so I let it pass by.

But here’s a second chance, cause we got the very lucky scoop of premiering the video. It’s the work of Brisbane director and musician Helena Papageorgiou, who’s been responsible for many of the best clips you’ve been seeing coming out of Bris lately. This is a (deceptively) simple but imaginative and lovable version of the ‘we’ll have the band play their song, with green screen stuff also happening’ kind of video.

In it Anastassiou, Sky McNichol (Bent), Josh Watson (Sewers; also mixed and co-produced the record) and Matthew Ford (Thigh Master), who make up the Brisbane contingent of the band (Anastassiou now lives in Melbourne and plays with different members there), play their instruments in a dingy share house-looking room, while out the windows animated illustrations spin and swirl.

The drawings are by Anastassiou himself: colourful fun and freaky pictures of UFOs and weird misshapen people and anthropomorphic houses. There’s a wild world going on outside the concrete walls the band are contained by – though they break out at the end, with some cool shots of those walking down some animated streets and losing their heads in the big city.

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This clip doesn’t rest on a cute idea or one-watch novelty – you see something new and interesting in Anastassiou’s drawings and Papageorgiou’s animation with every repeat watch.

Benefits of Solitude will be out in February on Bedroom Suck

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LISTEN: Alex Macfarlane – ‘Cassette 2016’ & Hanibaf – ‘First Time Caller’

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alex-macfarlane sydney-2000

Hello and welcome to the first and possible only instalment of a new feature: mixtapes you may enjoy listening to at work or while relaxing and being low-key.

Here’s two odd ones, one from Melbourne and one from Brisbane, from two dudes who obviously also enjoy being low-key and making stuff in their spare time, and who have put out these releases for their friends and fans with little to no fanfare.

The good thing about doing that kind of thing is you don’t have to bother with album or EP ‘structures’. Hanibaf (Steve Rose, from excellent Brisbane band Sydney 2000)’s mix has about 22 songs and is 25 minutes long. Alex Macfarlane (Twerps, The Stevens)’s tape has four sides, 24 songs and is 40 minutes long. Macfarlane’s tracks run the gamut from sunken ambient music to spacey electronica to the kind of sweet poppy guitar stuff you might readily expect from someone who also plays in Twerps. His voice is naïve in a curious, wondering way and that keeps everything light and listenable even when the music gets weird.

Rose has made a hip-hop electronic record… Kind of? Like the beats and samples are chosen and put together really well and the first few songs are groovy as hell – but he also can’t resist doing a bit of noise and distorted guitar, cutting between low-key old soul record sounding sketches and hip-hop beats, and heavy, repetitive blues-rock guitar intros. It’s distracted and hyper but with so many smart moves that you can tell while Rose is mucking around, he knows what he’s doing (get into Sydney 2000, friends).

A lot of this stuff sounds like it was recorded off an iPhone onto another iPhone onto like a computer’s inbuilt sound recorder. But if you wanna get the full crunchy buzzy ambient effect you gotta listen to it (like me) through the speakers of a 2012 Sony PC laptop. Just, like, a warmer sound, you know?

If you have made a mix that sounds like something I might enjoy listening to at work or while relaxing and being low key you can send an email to editors@whothehell.net. Will help if you’re my personal friend/in Twerps.

 

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LISTEN: Den – ‘Current Riser’

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I like Sydney band Den’s first single ‘Poltergeist’ a lot – I don’t wanna get into the whole Cotal Tontrol thing but please everyone feel free to continue to make things that sound something like my favourite band of all time, thanks. What really put me off about ‘Poltergeist’ was the film clip, which is maybe unfair, but you get to see a lot of self-serious angry boys tryna be unsettling and it all starts to grind you down.  Still, that song sounded COOL and that bitey, gripping lead guitar line could stand up pretty good next to anyone you care to compare them to.

‘Current Riser’ is definitely more fun – I mean maybe the band are dead serious with that pop metal guitar and spoopy effects, but either way, they’re funny. And tough and exciting and it still get you all revved up. The vocals keep everything anchored firmly in post-punk territory, driving a straight thick line through the song to the end. Like ‘Poltergeist’, this is the sound of an outward-facing male anxiety. A fear that makes you aggressive rather than forcing you to look inward. But with ‘Current Riser’ DEN turn this into something tense, tight and frantic.

‘Poltergeist’ and ‘Current Riser’ with both be on Den’s EP, out November 11 on Rice in Nice.

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