Posts By Michael Kruger




Watching television the other day, I had the most depressing thought. All the athletes on screen – you know, the ones poised to make millions and millions of dollars – are younger than me.  At 21, I’m past it; I’m old news. I’m never gonna grow those few inches in height over summer.

And then comes LUCIANBLOMKAMP, a 19-year-old straight out of the heart of inner-city Melbourne. LBK, besides making me question my life’s accomplishments (I mean, my Arts degree was supposed to get me somewhere, right?), is quickly coming up in the world. Having supported the likes of XXYYXX and Rat & Co, the kid’s already got an EP to his name and a debut album coming out soon.

His sonic palette might not be revolutionary, but the eponymous five-track belies LBK’s age. In lesser hands songs such as ‘Lehsan’ could easily fall into mindless club fodder, but when that smooth, R’n’B inspired beat comes in alongside a cut up acoustic guitar sample it’s evident that LBK is taking his music in directions that few others have the imagination to do.

There’s also a deep sense of patience to the EP. The piano sample in ‘Rooms’ is enough not only to hook you right in but to carry the entire track – and it doesn’t even appear until well over a minute into the song. Even on ‘You and Me’, where the vocal line is front and centre, LBK adds subtle, unexpected turns to the production. As he intersperses the more pop-oriented track with pitch-shifted vocal harmonies and well-timed points of silence, it’s clear that this young producer isn’t content to let his melodies do all the heavy lifting.

There are more than a few electronic artists out there right now relying on a formula. In some ways that works: knowing when the fat beat is going to drop is part of the fun. However, that style also lends itself to lazy repetition and copycats, leading to a multitude of tracks that seem to blend into one. LUCIANBLOMKAMP, thankfully, is not part of that crowd. It takes time (and good headphones) to notice all the subtle touches on this EP. Above all, it shows potential and a willingness from LBK to push his craft.

Do yourself a favour, and get the whole EP as a pay-what-you-feel download on Bandcamp. And keep your eye out for new music from Lucianblomkamp dropping real soon.

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PREMIERE: Second Hand Heart – ‘Spending My Time’

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Second Hand Heart have been around these parts for a while. Jamming since 2006, this Melbourne via Ballarat five-piece have ‘spent their time’ (sorry, had to) preparing to release their debut LP. But they’re well on their way now, having just dropped the clip for lead single, ‘Spending My Time’.

While Second Hand Heart have blazoned a sort of sugary folk pop in previous outings, the video sees them adding a striking new dimension to their sound. With unexpected shadows and plenty of snare and rim-heavy percussion, there’s an almost Warpaint-like brooding – or even menacing – vibe to the song. On top of that, the whole thing is really, seriously, well produced. There isn’t a sound out of place or dulled in the mix. Wrap all those goodies into one basket, combine them with the band’s typically strong vocal harmonies, and you’ve got yourself a dirty rock-pop hybrid ready to sell to the kiddies.

Word is Second Hand Heart’s debut will be released mid May. Here’s hoping the album follows in this single’s footsteps.

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I first met Mladen Milinković after he played a show with his instrumental band, Amanita. Impressed enough with Amanita’s set, I thought it would be fair if I cornered Mladen to grill him about his guitar pedals. Since then, Mladen has become that guy I see everywhere – at festivals, gigs and random Thai restaurants. Yet Mladen doesn’t just hang round Brunswick St heeding questions from gear-nerds, he also records under the electronic moniker, Lalić. Keeping busy to say the least, he has now released new single ‘Story Goes’ from his upcoming seventh (yep, seventh) solo album.

The track begins and ends in ambience, with what sounds like a pitch-shifted nylon guitar panning between your headphones. Yet, while Lalić’s previous albums have floated around as largely instrumentals, between the ambience of ‘Story Goes’ sits a folk-ish guitar driven track, held together by Mladen’s heavily reverbed vocals. I usually get a little put off when my favourite instrumental bands begin to add vocals, but this is a cool switch for Lalić. The vocals don’t seem tacked on, rather they are reminiscent of some of Bradford Cox’s more spaced out works.

Word is that the new album will drop shortly. But if you like what you hear – or if you’ve got some serious essay writing to power through, check out the back catalogue and get a head start.

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LISTEN: Mangelwurzel – Dead Pets EP

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mangelwurzel dead pets

I was a couple of glasses of wine down on a packed Friday at the Evelyn, when Mangelwurzel, hit the stage dressed in costume. There were flowers, disco-balls, smiley-faced bras – everything a tipsy twenty-something could want. Mangelwurzel even brought an actual mangelwurzel*, celebrating in style for the release of their debut EP, Dead Pets.

The EP clocks in at just under ten minutes and wastes no time getting things done. Each track seems to subvert itself half-way through, careening off in different directions before finding its way back to the opening phrases. There’s a sporadic, almost bi-polar feel to the songs and the EP as a whole, where the seven-piece will swing from surf rock to hip hop, from smooth jazzy pop to heavy cymbals and distortion. Yet, there’s a complete coherence in the tracks as well. It’s like when someone walks into a messy room, cries “HOW CAN YOU FIND ANYTHING IN THIS DUMP?”, and you reply  “Shit, mum. I’ve got this”.

While each of the tracks are great in their own little right, the actual recording of the songs is a little underdone. It’s short of bedroom-style production, or rather (and in the nicest possible sense) there isn’t any production. During their set, the band revealed they recorded on an eight-track straight into Vegas. It’s a shame really, as there are points in the EP where the dense layering or dynamic shifts in the tracks could really have been strengthened by some extra production pointers. However, Dead Pets is indicative of Mangelwurzel’s potential and ability – a band that will still manage to sound great on a live recording when most others wouldn’t stand a chance.

If you have an opportunity to see Mangelwurzel live, drop everything, bring some friends, and do just that.

*Did you know these things even existed?!


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LISTEN: Seagull – ‘Written Word’

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It was raining on the beach yet our Austrian visitors still decided to swim naked. On the drive home, we listened to Seagull’s new album Ocean From Above. Through the car’s air conditioner, I could smell that someone was burning off in the distance. As we crossed over the West Gate, I tried to place Seagull’s sound. There’s a little bit of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy in there, a little bit of Sleep Decade, of Elliot Smith. As the album progressed I often felt as if I was listening to a darker version of Low; a haunting melody slowly (always slowly!), shifting with that typical Kishore Ryan (Kid Sam, Otouto) minimalist-style drumming.

Yet, Written Word – and the album as a whole strays into ambience much more than it ever does into darkness, or dissonance. Take the vocal track on WW, about two minutes in that cuts and loops over itself after Christopher Bolton mutters: “Soon enough, I’ll be on medication”.  And to say that WW is dark is to discredit the odd bits of humour that surface in Seagull’s lyrics. Bolton pauses as he sings “The end of our connection / came with The Age…. of civilisation”, as if to play on the image of society’s severed connections arriving with the morning paper.

As we reached home, unpacked the esky and the blankets, it struck me that Seagull doesn’t necessarily remind me of a particular band, but a mood. There’s a certain sadness inherent in their sound, in those delicate guitars and sparse melody lines. Yet Seagull don’t offer colossal, cathartic finishes. Rather, their form of sadness hangs around in an anti-climactic, repressed manner. And, as the opening seconds of WW started up, as Bolton’s voice began to waver, the only thing I can think of were naked Austrians running into the water, a long drive home and the smell of burning wood.


Listen to Ocean From Above in full here.

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