Posts By Melissa Tan

PREMIERE: Olympia – ‘Honey’ video

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Olympia

Olympia’s new track was inspired by photos of ‘red honey’ – the result of one Utah beekeeper’s idea to feed his bees Candy Canes instead of planting some flora like any other sensible beekeeper would. On ‘Honey’, Olympia (Olivia Bartley) says:

“Honey is about the influence we have on each other. The moment when something happens; you run into an ex, or you open your hive and the honey is the wrong colour. You have this, ‘Is this what I look like? Is that who I am?’ moment.”

The video was shot by director Alex Smith, whose credits include Jack Ladder’s glam-down with Sharon Van Etten, PVT‘s ‘In The Blood’ – or perhaps this low budget one featuring some guy named Chris Martin in soggy thermals stumbling across a beach.

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The video for ‘Honey’ is as stoic as the song itself. Olympia dons a Polly Jean jumpsuit and stance, and has all the lighting controls to power a substation or a late night viewing on Rage. Flash footage of Ballet Russes dancers in the 1930s pique the guilt that Bartley alludes to when she sings ‘Every lover you’ve turned your back on / Turns up new in someone else’s arms / I don’t want to see who I am in you, now’. 

Although the ‘studio’ here is arranged for prime-time, she’s playing live for an empty audience. Won’t stay that way for long.

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‘Honey’ is available to purchase on iTunes now.

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EXCLUSIVE: Nadia Reid – ‘Call The Days’

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nadia-reid

New Zealand’s Nadia Reid sings about the catharsis that comes with about moving to a new town in ‘Call The Days’. While Reid stems from the same ‘nu-folk’ ilk as Hollie Fullbrook (Tiny Ruins), Aldous Harding and our own Laura Jean, Reid’s diction holds a great weight that surpasses her peers. 

This track comes from her debut album Listen to Formation, Look for the Signs – the follow up to her 2011 EP Letters I Wrote and Never Sent. ‘Call the Days’ was recorded by Ben Edwards at Lyttleton Records (Aldous Harding, Marlon Wiliams).

Nadia says that the track was the first song she penned after moving from Christchurch to Wellington; spurred on by a “panic attack” and being “worried about making the right choices in life”.

On the surface, ‘Call The Days’ isn’t a difficult listen – the verses pace along steadily with Reid’s glowing resolve at the helm. There’s a string-like quality to Reid’s diction; her warm falsetto morphs in unison with the cello at times that you forget that both are entirely separate from each other. Reid deals with the misgivings of circumstance quite positively – in the same way that Laura Marling uses token steering-the-ship references and seasonal references (‘I threw out my winter coat / I cut the sleeves off all I’d known’) that same defiance remains here.

And like Laura, it still surprises me how some people still generally reference ‘age’ as an extraordinary justification to make a resonating folk track – as if youth’s poetic schitck these days is only capable of dropping bass and bad raps.

Reid lived and played music in Christchurch for many years before moving to Wellington, both pre and post the earthquake. Sure, the track happened in the midst of displacement and change, but it stays in the comfort of melancholia both in theme and arrangement. It always pivots back to the sane point, hovering around the same central chord.

Reid marks each verse with the phrase ‘I was so sure’, over and over again. It’s an honest self-affirmation, and an important one at that.

Nadia Reid’s debut LP Listen to Formation, Look for the Signs is out via Spunk on March 27th. 

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PREMIERE: Gordi – ‘Taken Blame’

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Gordi

Gordi’s new track ‘Taken Blame’ does its best ‘keep calm’ impression (without the bad spin-offs and aggressive font). Her debut track ‘Nothing’s As It Seems’ made its first appearance here late last year, and her latest single ‘Taken Blame’ is just as gossamer as the first.

It could be nonchalance or just restraint, but Gordi’s delivery treads along in a way that lets in light to an otherwise insular space. Lyrically, the subject matter is a little grim, but she maintains a transformative outlook. ‘Taken Blame’ adopts a beautiful arrangement, with Gordi’s nuances interrupted by the occasional off-beat or elevated vocal harmonies that bookmark the verse.

Whirling production/echo FX in the mixing department are all nice aesthetic flourishes. It sounds like listening to a live performance in a small room with massive ceilings. You get the feeling that without all of it, Gordi’s pastoral vocal would still lend this track the same weight. In this way, she tends to the same patch as Felicity Groom and even Sharon Van Etten, who’ve groomed their alto to the tune of honest post-love songs. There’s many years to go before Gordi could pass with the chutzpah that SVE reveals when she sings about errands and bathroom habits, but she might get there.

I’ve never seen Gordi perform, but I feel like I have many times.

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Gordi is playing Mordialloc Festival on the 28th and touring with Winterbourne throughout March. See below for details.

 

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INTRODUCING: Fonz Whaler

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Fonz-Whaler

Snubbing out lyrics ain’t such a bad thing when you have bands penning medleys about religious icons and shrines to fruit. Tom Kakanis is Fonz Whaler, a Brisbane guy making instrumental music out of his “brain oven” – which I’m sure is how all this fiddly ambient loitering incubates in the first place.

Fonz Whaler’s debut EP is a smoggy recount of solitude – fuelled by playful melodies, bow-legged instrumentals and every weird conversation you’ve probably had with yourself after 2am. This EP reminds me of some of Lalic‘s more downtempo tunes. And like Lalic’s work, there’s something special about lo-fi recordings like this which still cut clean sounds without suffocating in distortion or crying about the suburbs ’cause it can. 

Kakanis does attempt vocals on a few tracks, but it’s his instrumental-only version of events that do best. ‘Milestones’ kicks off with a succession of peppy guitar pluckings, the sort Andrew Bird would mount in his trophy cabinet, maybe on a Christmas album. That glorious treble guitar continues to bubble away in ‘Projections’. ‘Life on the Mandoline’ could be the motion picture soundtrack for a ridiculous coming of age biopic set in Crete, but it’s most definitely a song about a glorified fruit slicer.

You know, whether this is a baked dribble for soundscapes or vita C for the imagination, it’s been a nice way to kick off my leisure time. It’s all yours for $3, right here.

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PREMIERE: Sagamore – Longer EP

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Sagamore - Longer EP

I have good feelings towards this band – and generally anyone who thinks employing a horn section is worthwhile, so I’m going to call this one out as a decent dad-jam record worth your ears (Fraser A Gorman not trailing far behind). Melbourne’s Sagamore are putting out their new EP, Longer – recorded over the span of a year between Christmas Hills, Thornbury and North Melbourne before being mastered by Lawrence Greenwood (Whitley) at his Hiss and Hum studio.

Sagamore aren’t changing any frontiers of sound – although but they seem a little more interested than the rest of jangle-gate. They’ve set themselves in a comfortable counterpoint between middle America and a Thornbury backyard. The interchangeable harmonies between Sam and Sophia are warm (‘You Can Take Me My Love’) and rhythms are replete with community hall dance moves from yesteryear (‘Iodine’, ‘Feelings’). Longer is sets off at a slower pace compared to the hook driven self-titled release. The band do edge on running bar chord devotionals and lyrical repetition into the ground, but lead Sam Cooper manages to deliver any leftover passiveness into a warmth only Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy could run off with. 

Sagamore are launching Longer at the Gasometer Hotel in Melbourne tomorrow, followed by a stint at the Queenscliff Music Festival on the weekend.

Longer is out on the 28th of Nov via Flightless. 

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MAP – November 2014

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map

Our feature act for November’s instalment of our monthly MAP series are pop stalwarts Open Swimmer. The band features members of The Harpoons, Seagull and Melbourne via Glasgow singer Ben TD. You can listen to all the other good stuff our pals from blogs around the world are featuring this month in the list below.

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the full 22-track compilation through Dropbox here.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Tomás FerreroCuando Te Hablo

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In March 2013, a mixed group of musicians gathered together in Cordoba and Buenos Aires to play some songs and sound pieces composed with lyrics taken from the work of a federal collective of artists called Esta Vida No Otra. Some of them recorded the results several months later, and those tracks were then released as a compilation titled 15 Artistas Cantan Esta Vida No Otra. The song we have selected from this album, also available for free at Bandcamp, is Cuando Te Hablo by Tomás Ferrero from the band Rayos Láser.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Open SwimmerSugar Bowl

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Open Swimmer’s version of pop is jarring, even discordant at first, but it’s this blatantly simple approach that has us hooked. (Dirty Projectors fans, pay attention now.) Sugar Bowl is a brilliant introduction to the band; playful yodelling is cut and pasted along a steady 4/4 drum beat, while witty banter takes the fore. Songwriter Ben TD was based in Glasgow for seven years, touring extensively and landing multiple sessions on BBC Radio One and a stint at T in the Park before settling in Melbourne. The band comprises some of Melbourne’s most admired independent music alumni (The Harpoons, Seagull). Expect to hear a lot more from this group.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Alessandra LeãoMofo

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Alessandra Leão shows off her experimental side with Mofo, taken from her new EP, Pedra De Sal. Avoiding the world music sound from other works, this song has dark music and some weird programming that fits the angst of the lyrics.

CANADA: Ride The Tempo
Beach SeasonMidnights

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There’s not actually much out there on Beach Season besides the fact the project is from Calgary. The smooth vocals of Midnights complements the hip-hop influenced rhythms. This is a duo that won’t be much of a mystery for long.

Listen to more below:

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