Posts By Nicholas Kennedy

WATCH: Snake & Friends – ‘Missus and the Masses’

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al montford

If you’re kicking about checking out local Melbourne bands on a regular basis you’ve probably been (metaphorically) touched by the talented hand of Alistair Montfort. Dick Diver, Total Control, Lower Plenty, UV Race – the list of groups Montfort puts his name to rolls on and on. Now a new one’s set to join: Snake and Friends.

With what seems to be their first music video, a song called ‘Missus and the Masses’ has shown up on Montfort’s teeny tiny YouTube channel, and you can watch it below. It’s going to be showing up again on Snake and Friends’ debut LP, which, as far as I can tell, doesn’t have a name, date or any other info attached.

‘Missus and the Masses’ is about as scrappy as Montfort’s efforts in UV Race – though it’s perhaps not as unabashedly messy as the stuff that showed up on Homo. ‘Missus and the Masses’ teeters on the edge of acceptable standards of production, but you’ve gotta take the Montfort with the Montfort and love it for what it is. Always one to appreciate the simpler parts of Australian life, Al describes his video as “an ode to a couple frothy ones”, kicking off with a ne’er do well chant of “sink more! sink more!” and closing out with an elastic synthesizer screw-about.


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PREMIERE: Totally Mild – ‘Today, Tonight’

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When you release a debut album as good as Down Time, you earn the right to gallivant around Europe for two months playing in basketball courts and sharing stages with Terrible Truths. That’s what Totally Mild did; graciously capturing a trio of live tunes to for their latest EP Alive In Denmark, which is released this Friday (including two new songs absent from the band’s 2015 debut).

While ‘The Next Day’ and ‘More’ have had their time in the sun either on record or live, ‘Today, Tonight’ is pretty unheard within Totally Mild’s repertoire. Lyrically, it’s not uncommon ground for lead vocalist Elizabeth Mitchell. She airs her anxieties of impending loneliness as a constant hurdle in living life as a functional adult – “I am strong and sensible but I don’t want to be alone”. The song borders on balladry, accompanied by a single guitar swooning away under her vocals.

Totally Mild have reasserted their dominance for bold album artwork, with some Spike Milligan ‘Ning Nang Nong’ levels of microworld artistry happening here. Whether ‘Today, Tonight’ is material from some upcoming studio work or not, it’s good to see the Totally Mild wheels turning.

Alive in Denmark is out this Friday via Bedroom Suck Records.

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LISTEN: The Ocean Party – ‘Mess & Noise Critics Poll 2015’

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Mess & Noise, the highly respected underground music website, has been somewhat out of commission since mid last year. The Ocean Party, however, aren’t letting the site fade out of cultural consciousness. Lachlan, one of the group’s primary songwriters, says that 2015 is the first year the site’s respected critics poll has been absent since the Ocean Party started, and considering the stock they (and many others) put into those lists, a tribute of sorts was in order.

Their new eight track collection is made up of material that either didn’t make it onto Light Weight, or wasn’t considered up to snuff for their next record. This honestly makes me question their judgement, because Mess & Noise Critics Poll 2015 (yes, really) is a delight at times, and shows that if this is the stuff you’re ‘throwing away’, then you’re clearly from some sort of secretive society of prodigal songwriters with ridiculously high standards.

2015’s Light Weight, was bristling and bloodied – cracked skulls, black blood and dead men filled out its thirty eight minutes. It functioned as artistic endeavours often do – as a space in which the song writers (the Ocean Party has six) struggle and comprehend their lives and themselves, and Light Weight never shied away from uncomfortable realisations. Many of those frank sentiments have carried over into the material on Mess & Noise, with opener ‘Cool Boys’ wasting no time – “I put my hand through the wall/my heart just fell through the floor/my brains against the glass”. It remains clear as day that the Ocean Party harbours some of Melbourne’s prodigal songwriters, the riffs and melodies as sharp as ever.

On tracks like ‘Fight, Fight, Fight, Die’ the Ocean Party wears the discomfort of identity on its sleeve – asking simply “wrong body or wrong mind?” What’s identity though if you can’t even ascribe what you’ve done to who you are? ‘No Local’ has this boiling throughout it – “the best years of my life being no one/quarter of my life went by and I hardly noticed”.

Two instrumental tracks show up here too, but whether ‘Rivers’ and ‘Pleasure Ghost’ are actually instrumentals or just missing vocals is a question still hanging. The former errs into funk territory with a 80s pop soul guitar groove carried along by sharp drums.

It’s ‘Fun’ though, that is the best song of the group, carried through by its chorus. Fuzzed synths wash under a beautiful call of “I’m fading out again/just like I always have” –  a melancholic mantra of missed moments and half remembered festivities that ought to find its home reaching out from scores of voices at Meredith. It’s a song built to sing; and the fact that it didn’t make it onto a formal release is mind boggling.

Mess & Noise has the same minor issue of almost no thematic coherence aside from varying forms of misery, much like Light Weight did, but it’s got some absolute gems on it. So here’s a toast to the Ocean Party’s B-sides, the things that the rest of us call A-sides.


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LISTEN: Free Time – ‘Who Owns the Moon’

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Free Time is a one-quarter NYC, three-quarters Melbourne outfit headed by Dion Nania, who you might recognise as the former front man of Panel of Judges. Nania has been loitering around in the big apple for a few years, but since he touched back down in Melbourne, Free Time have been playing a few precious gigs here and there, most recently closing out Bedroom Suck Records’ Melbourne Music Week Bike Ride. They’re gearing up for an album release later this year, following on from their self-titled debut and a 7″ released through Underwater Peoples in 2014.

Their latest single, ‘Who Owns the Moon’, has musical touchstones in a bunch of local talent – and looking at the line-up here, that’s no surprise at all: Free Time is about the closest thing Melbourne’s got to a supergroup. Martin Frawley from Twerps on bass? Totally Mild’s Zach Schneider on lead?! Terrible Truths’ Joe Alexander on drums!?! Oh my stars.

Free Time is harnessing some of 2015’s golden boys of sick tunes, and on ‘Who Owns the Moon’, it’s nice to see they’re not just along for the ride – each brings their distinctive style to the picture, while thankfully not overpowering Nania’s vibes. Schneider’s wobbly, high-necked plucking is out in full force, plus Frawley and Nania work in tandem for a cooing, nasal vocal delivery (which sounds bad, but isn’t).

Free Time’s second album, In Search of Free Time, will be out in mid-2016.

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