Features

VIRTUAL MIXTAPE: Jonathan Boulet

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Virtual-Mixtape_Lucy-Roleff

Bands and artists are expected to borrow their schtick from a variety of sources. Often, the back story is just as interesting as the output itself. We’re kicking off a new series where we ask artists to make a mixtape based on a genre they’re into, but not necessarily associated with. Sometimes harmony, sometimes hardcore Jonathan Boulet gives us some insight into his ‘doom rock’ brain-chasms below. HTML hi-fives to Lucy Roleff (for illustrating our new national emblem above) and Greg Stone from Feral Media for putting this together.

Jonathan Boulet _ Virtual Mixtape

Greg Stone: I first became aware of Jonathan Boulet as the drummer/vocalist in the now defunct Sydney band Parades, an indie pop/rock group who seemed poised to take on the world, albeit for a brief moment. So it came as no surprise when Jono’s solo project stole the spotlight with its irrepressible pop hooks and sing along choruses. A talent that caught the ear of indie powerhouse Modular, who quickly released his self titled debut album.

Fast-forward to 2014 and Boulet’s most recent album Gubba (released via Popfrenzy), finds him indulging heavier rock moments revealing yet another side to his musical oeuvre, a side previously hinted at through his side-project SnakefaceConsidering this, it is certainly fitting that his mixtape is on the heavy side of things. A cathartic journey through sludge rock, post punk, hardcore and other distorted sub genres best enjoyed at maximum volume.

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1. Sleep – ‘Jerusalem’

Never actually listened to this front to back. We did it the other day while we were on tour driving between Sydney and Brisbane. The heavens opened up as they always do right as you go past Byron Bay. It was getting dark, we were speeding through a typhoon – zero visibility, moments from our imminent doom……with the perfect soundtrack.

‘Stoner’, ‘Doom’, ‘Sludge’ – whatever it’s called, it just doesn’t seem to ever lose its appeal to me. You can get sick of anything, but this is something I come back to most weeks.

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2. Swans – ‘Oxygen’

Michael Gira’s vocals are just straight out funny. I like his sense of humour. I just want a copy of the acapella for this one. Once again, Swans punish their audience with their unrelenting barrage of hits, slides, bends topped off with that undeniable groove.

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3. Destruction Unit – ‘Slow Death Sounds’

When that guitar comes in it just tears through the speakers like a chainsaw hitting a bloated stomach. That kind of reckless sonic annihilation would make many recording engineers queasy. That’s exactly why it’s perfect.

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4. The Men – ‘LADOCH’

I love how this song feels like it’s over but somehow they get a second wind and it’s back on. This band moves on so quickly from album to album but I’m glad they took the time to blow some steam and indulge in some righteous sonic violence before continuing on to safer territory.

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MAP February 2015

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February’s MAP has landed, with music presented by 19 blogs from around the world. Brisbane’s Nite Fields – whose moody debut album, Depersonalisation, has just dropped on Felte – are representing Australia this month. Head over to our Soundcloud to hear Robbie’s January MAP podcast, as well as a special Australia Day mix of some of our favourite local MAP entries from the past 12 months.

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 19-track compilation through Dropbox here.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Enero Sera MioHasta Encontrarte

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“January will be mine” is the translation of singer-songwriter Sol Fernandez’s artistic project. Her music is a perfect match of soft melodies and dream-pop with carefully crafted arrangements and sound landscapes. This track is from Enero3, her latest work, which is being released through Bandcamp.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Nite FieldsPrescription

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Prescription is the second single from Brisbane four-piece Nite Fields’ long-awaited debut record Depersonalisation. While the intricate guitar work and broody vocals echo The Church, there’s a humid, curiously distant tone here that is something totally their own. Starting with sparse prickly guitars and splashy drumming, the song folds in on itself towards the end, becoming slightly claustrophobic but in an intimate, whispery way. Nite Fields keeps you at arm’s length – you have to squint through the haze of effects and layers to get a hold of anything solid, but once you do, you’ve already fallen hard for this moody and mysterious band.

CANADA: Ride The Tempo
WillowsThe Shape I’m In

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Johnny McArthur and Eric Moore make up the electronic duo Willows. They venture into uncomfortable territory melodically. The swirling repetitive underlying of The Shape I’m In resembles the dizzying sensation of intoxication. The bursts of energy are like the highs that come back to the inevitable lows.

CHILE: Super 45
Sin ÓrbitaAtardecer

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Sin Órbita is a duo formed by Paula Roa and Martin Perez Roa, who last year released their first record, Neón EP (Sudamerican Records). Flirting with electronica and soul, the band are a mixture of Massive Attack trip hop cadence and AlunaGeorge sensuality.

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FEATURE: Sugar Mountain Festival 2015

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Photography by Bec Capp

 

There are certain things that should be left unsaid in order to avoid conflict. At this year’s Sugar Mountain festival, Nas bulldozed through that rule with charming American gusto: “Man, these buildings – it’s like we’re in the projects”. Hold it there, mate. If you were looking for one sure-fire way to turn Sugar Mountain’s inner- city white kids bright red, this was it. The Victorian College of the Arts isn’t exactly the same place Jenny used to sing about. But you can’t really blame Nas for getting a bit carried away—this year’s Sugar Mountain played itself out like an epic.

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We were made to wait two years. 2014 saw the festival get a much-needed injection of cash from the Mushroom Group. This was like Broad City’s comedy central moment. And boy did they sure deliver the goods—Nas’ Illmatic (in full), Kim Gordon’s art rock experiment Body/Head, and surprise appearances from Neil Finn and Dev Hynes via video link during Kirin J Callinan’s set. Throughout the day, though, you got a sense that this festival wasn’t riding off sheer spectacle. Sugar Mountain bills itself as a “summit of music and art”, but that tagline forgoes the most important assertion of all—this festival does so much to distill and communicate a Melbourne story that’s wholly our own. For some of this city’s inhabitants, our ‘indie’ culture is increasingly bleeding into a mainstream definition of Melbourne. We’re a city that boasts of coffee that’s second-to-none, a music city that bites the hand that feeds it and wins, and a city that “demands some level of civic engagement beyond simply walking the streets.

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From the inner-city’s gentrified masses to the sports-luxe goths roaming Melbourne’s CBD till the early-morn, Sugar Mountain was a summit for Melbourne’s disparate microscenes. If we’re a city defined by villages, then the villagers flocking to Sugar Mountain would all have a link to an ‘alternative’ culture that’s continually eroding into ever more niche divisions. The club kids could’ve stayed with the 2 Bears while Kim Gordon resonated with the crowds old enough to remember Sonic Youth. Melbourne, though, was in fine form: Twerps, Chela, Slum Sociable, Banoffee, NO ZU, Oscar Key Sung, Ash Keating, Leif Podhajsky—if you thought there couldn’t have been a more ‘Melburn’ festival than Paradise, then Sugar Mountain sure blew that out of the water.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget our local craft beer and gourmet food trucks.

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As much as this could’ve devolved into an insular Melbourne love-in, SM felt more like a celebration of local and international artists who have contributed to the city’s broader culture. TwerpsMarty Frawley revealed that his Mum studied painting at VCA. I’llsHamish Mitchell (as Sangkhara) and collaborator, Nicholas Keays did the video art for Oscar Key Sung and Cassius Select. Lauded Melbourne photographer Prue Stent helped to create Sugar Mountain’s art direction. Ash Keating’s multi-storey abstract painting, arguably the festival’s artistic centrepiece, adorned the VCA (of which he’s a graduate). The very fact that Sugar Mountain hosted art reminded us that we’re a city that we do ‘culture’ without tokenism, sometimes.

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People actually went into the VCA’s exhibition spaces and viewed Leif Podhajsky’s mixed- media works—the same could be said of Hisham Baroocha’s sitting next door. If most major galleries are afraid of declining audience numbers (apart from MONA), then Sugar Mountain went on to show that it’s not that hard to re-contextualise visual art’s consumption (despite parts still being shown in a traditional white cube). The idea of mixing a music festival with visual art is a promising one—a decision that lends itself to Melbourne’s inherent thirst for involved civic engagement (ahem, MPavilion, NGV’s Friday Nights).

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So as much as it could’ve been criticised as a festival where privileged inner-city white kids dance to Nas like they’ve been through their fair-share of #struggles, Sugar Mountain is at its best when it lets Melbourne tell its own stories through a mix of local and international artists who have directly or indirectly contributed to our collective identity. For a generation raised on a late-90s definition of pop culture—one where hip hop, R&B, and pop reigned supreme—Sugar Mountain gave everybody the chance to relish a interpretation of popular culture, which made the Johan Rashids of this city sit alongside Body / Head without fear of being caught in their shadows.

It’s these moments which remind us all, that hey, not only have we got one world, but we’re actually making a contribution to it even though we’re stuck at the end of the earth.

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MAP January 2015

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The first MAP of 2015 is here, featuring tracks selected by 18 blogs from around the world. Sydney’s AFXJIM is representing Australia this month with ‘Distant’, the lead single from his second LP, out now through Feral Media.

All 18 tracks are available below, to stream or download at your leisure.

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 18-track compilation through Dropbox here.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Mariana PärawaySirena

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Somewhere between Mendoza and the Andes, Mariana Päraway becomes a mountain siren who sings about entangled fates in her latest album, Hilario. Mariana’s music navigates through pop, folk and electronic landscapes resulting in a deep, refined sound exploration.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
AFXJIMDistant

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Sydneysider Travis Baird is a multi-instrumentalist who earns a living scoring video installations, playing as a session musician and performing on tour with the likes of Melodie Nelson and Sounds Like Sunset. AFXJIM is Baird’s solo project, which consists of home recordings pieced together from loops, drum machines and field recordings of everything from kindergarten classroom chatter to police radio transmissions. It’s a subtle fusion of experimental electronica and acoustic songwriting, falling somewhere between Tortoise-inspired post-rock and the folktronica of early Four Tet. Distant is the title track off AFXJIM’s second LP. Carried on a bed of slide guitar and rumbling percussion, the track’s centrepiece sample features singing “recorded to MiniDisc in a bus-top karaoke bar in the Costa Rican backwoods”.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
DuaniAproveita

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Aproveita is the first single from Duani’s debut solo album, which will be released this year. He became famous in Brazil in the 90s, playing forró (a very danceable rhythm strongly related to the Northeast culture of the country) with the band Forroçacana. In this single, he plays all instruments and sings. The lyrics are a manifest about comprehension in love and its different ways of desire, packaged with black music and soul.

CANADA: Ride The Tempo
Morning ShowI’m Listening

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Alt-folk trio Morning Show features members of Bed Of Stars and The Archers. The multi-instrumentalists show a pallet that is heavily influenced by Canadian peers such as Dan Mangan, Hey Rosetta! and Wintersleep. I’m Listening is a beautiful, balanced single you will have on repeat.

CHILE: Super 45
Tus Amigos NuevosParaná

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If we have to blame someone for why Chilean rock has been overshadowed by the pop scene, all darts would point to the extreme seriousness with which most of bands go on stage. Luckily, Tus Amigos Nuevos have been refreshing the idea that rock can be cathartic, danceable and, above all, very funny. This year they promise to be even more so thanks to their second album, from which Paraná is the first single.

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MAP December 2014

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Melbourne garage rockers ScotDrakula are the Australian submission for this month’s Music Alliance Pact, the excellent ‘Shazon’ featuring alongside tracks from around the world – from Denmark to the Dominican Republic.

Check out all 17 entries below, and keep your eyes peeled for Robbie’s Mapcast, coming soon to Soundcloud.

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 17-track compilation through Dropbox here.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Pablo Dacal y Fer IsellaLos Caminos

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Singer-songwriter Pablo Dacal (MAP February 2009) invited fellow musician and friend Fer Isella to perform a concert together. In return, Isella proposed that they record an album. After years of conversations they finally got together, then the two artists visited Ulises Conti (MAP March 2009) at his Buenos Aires studio and invited him to produce the album. Right there, the newly-form trio recorded piano, vocals and other arrangements. The resulting album is called Los Caminos and here’s the self-titled first single.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
ScotDrakulaShazon

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Steeped in a love for fuzz and 60s rock’n’roll, Melbourne trio ScotDrakula transcend the novelty of their name with songs so catchy they make Gangnam Style look about as appealing as week-old haggis. The band has just released their debut album and it’s drowning in two/three-minute garage super-soakers. Shazon is irresistibly charming, enough to convert the stalest individual to a headbangin’ conqueror of the dancefloor.

CANADA: Ride The Tempo
LYONCut Me Loose

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Cut Me Loose is the latest track from Toronto’s Lauren Malyon aka LYON. It’s a difficult one to get out of your head once you listen to it, like the girl next door you can’t forget.

Hear the full list after the jump:

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MAP – November 2014

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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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MAP October 2014

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Our submission for MAP this month features minor spandex indulgence from The Twoks. Don’t forget to check out our Soundcloud for our monthly MAPcast podcasts.

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 21-track compilation through Dropbox here.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
UbikaFahrenheit

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Hard rock guitars, solid bass and drums plus strong female vocals are the formula behind Ubika. Fahrenheit is the first single from their latest album, Amigos Del Bosque, and it’s inspired by Ray Bradbury’s novel. The song has a video directed by Diego Stickar, which you can watch here.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
The TwoksFirst Light

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The Twoks are a Melbourne two-piece comprising Xani Kolac on violin and vocals, and Mark Leahy on drums. Initially the solo instrumental project of Kolac, who studied jazz and improvisation at Victorian College of the Arts, the duo is now renowned on the local live circuit for their unpredictable sets which feature Kolac on loop station and a smorgasbord of effects. On The Twoks’ latest release, First Light EP – which boasts crisp production from Tony Buchen (The Preatures) – Kolac’s improvisations have been whittled down to concise retro-pop tunes in the vein of Pat Benatar or Kate Bush.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
BaleiaBreu

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Breu is one of the strongest songs from Baleia’s debut album, released last year. They first caught the attention of the indie press in Brazil with a jazzy cover of Justin Timberlake but in their album they show a handful of influences, resulting in experimental indie-rock that dabbles in baroque pop and folk.

Hear the full compilation below.

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