Features

LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR: HDSPNS

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Someone pointed out that there wasn’t enough NZ love on this blog. In case you missed last week’s spoiler, we’re teaming up with NZ mega-blog Under The Radar who’ll be bringing you a Kiwi band every week for your ears.

This week, UTR’s Courtney Sanders talks HDSPNS:

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HDSPNS

HDSPNS (pronounced HDSPNS) are a four piece who have been playing the shit out of Auckland recently, mainly because they’re that rare breed of creature: an incredibly hard working band. They released a five track album – the EAI EP, late last year and it represents the sound they have been honing nicely: driving post punk heavily influenced by the glitchy maths-rock of Battles, Foals and Liars.

‘Total Clarity’ is the single from the aforementioned EP and I’m bobbing up and down to it on my clinical office chair while I write this because that is what it does to me / everyone. Relentless, icy drumming compliments the lyrics nicely. Sitting high in the mix they’re like a monotonic call to arms and arguably the track’s centre point. HDSPNS are due to release an proper album this year and I’m look forward to a full-length rhythm zone-out at work…

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EXPAT: Islander

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We’re pretty grateful for the volume of amazing new artists that email us every day. That said, every now and then it’s real good to hear new music for what it is, without the intention of trying to verbalize or justify why it sounds the way it does. Hugh Gavin emailed us late last year with material from his band Islander. Somehow his email only resurfaced recently, but I’m real glad it did.

Hugh’s dad is an opera singer. While that could go on to make a good Donny Benet style bio in theory, Hugh’s done a notable share of us own solo work. He made the move over to London when he was 15 after some convincing from his opus-toting dad. Impressively, the first support slot he played was with Laura Marling and Myles Mumford (who played as a solo act at the time). Hugh spent the next few months touring with Communion Records with his band Wise Man Said.

However, he soon realised he wasn’t a “folkster”. Since taking a break from that side of things, he’s spent the last few years developing his songwriting, forming his band Islander two years ago.

Hugh has kindly taken a series of photos for us – from his home in Kentish town, to the studio, to night lights and back again.

 

(PS. Worth having a look at this Loudon Wainwright cover too. Such a voice.)

 

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LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR: Popstrangers

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Last December, I went to New Zealand. Rode a horse, ate my weight in burgers, hung off the side of a cliff, had a good time.Really don’t know why any able minded Kiwi would bother moving here to live in a small suburban shack. Or bother refining their vowels for that reason either.

We’ve got away with pillaging from our pals across the Tasman for a long while, so we’re settling years of bad-blood with some happy blog trading instead. For that reason, we’ve decided to team up with NZ mega-blog Under The Radar who’ll be filling that Kiwi shaped void in your life with an NZ band every week.

First up, UTR’s Courtney Sanders gets y’all reacquainted with one of our old favourites…Popstrangers!

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Popstrangers are a three piece band who have been kicking around Auckland for several years now. Drawing on The Dunedin Sound (they were also briefly signed to Flying Nun Records) for inspiration the trio – lead by understated frontman Joel Flyger – have gone about marrying The Verlaines and The 3D’s to heavier compatriots Bailterspace. Never derivative, these influences are stripped down and applied to Popstrangers contemporary observations; ones that suggest a lot of time hanging around listening to Bradford Cox and co. It’s slacker rock sans flannel shirts, and all the better for it.

Earlier this month Popstrangers released their debut full length album Antipodes on cult New York-based label Carpark Records and played a bunch of album release shows at home and in your fair country. The album’s title suggests endless days in idyllic locations, and while this is partly true, Flyger admits it was the darker side of isolation that he was concerned with while writing: It’s all about isolation and wanting to do something different. When we wrote these songs it was kind of a weird time: I’d been doing the same thing for like five years. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I wasn’t happy with what I was doing”.

‘Roy Brown’ is the third single from Antipodes and combines the pop sensibilities of earlier singles ‘Heaven’ and ‘What Else Could They Do’ with the thematic palpability of the instrumental tracks on the album. A lot of conflicting emotions vie for attention here and considering this band are defining the ‘New Zealand Sound’ of this generation, that makes perfect sense.

 

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LOOK: PBS Drive Live 2013

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The community radio sector is something which all of us as ‘taste-markers’ will inevitably have to peruse on a daily basis.

Whether it be the vitality of Melbourne’s 3RRR or Sydney’s FBi, community radio stations have I’m sure, granted you with a multitude of new experiences and insights into the artists you’ve come to know and love.

And Melbourne’s Progressive Broadcasting Service (PBS) is no different. Home to “little heard music”, PBS has been many a watershed moment for teens, or even adults, wanting to break the shackles of the ear-bleeding homogeneity of commercial radio (since 1979). While Triple J serves the informed Australian listener to adequate degrees, it’s stations like PBS who go leaps and bounds in promoting music that may excite, intrigue, or present a whole new perspective to your perception of ‘taste’. Whether it be Hip-Hop, Latin, or Rockabilly, the station consistently presents a grid that doesn’t shy away from inaccessibility. Having said that, it’s this relative packaging of niches that provide the necessary grounds for getting into musical styles that you probably wouldn’t have even given thought to previously. It’s for this very reason why I’ve discovered some properly good Gospel, Ska, and Ethio-Jazz that I probably would never have discovered – even with the internet at my disposal.

However, despite the dedicated (and unnoticed) work of volunteers and community broadcasters from around the country, the very future of some 37 stations is in limbo.

Thanks to cuts in funding to the tune of $1.4 million, community broadcasters will no longer be able to maintain the costs associated with digital broadcasting. While the current federal government has committed $2.2 million at present, $3.6 million is needed to ensure that all community stations keep their digital broadcast capabilities. As it stands, federal funding of digital transmission and connectivity costs amount to less than $100,000 per station. So, considering that you’d have to be a luddite to not know the future of analogue, this issue has gone beyond just being a big deal.

Considering the impact that community radio has had on all of us at WTH, we thought it might be worth talking about. So, take a read when you have the time, make some noise, and sign the petition, here.

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MAP January 2013

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35 dayum reasons to wet yourself over neo-psychadelia from Romania, Finnish grooves or maybe our own D.D Dumbo… who kind of sums up the sound of THE WORLD in our minds right now anyway. Enjoy the first round of MAP for the year.

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 35-track compilation through Ge.tt here.

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ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
El Festival De Los ViajesLos Altos
El Festival De Los Viajes is a psychedelic rock band with a sound that has an epic atmosphere and lyrics that play with your imagination. Los Altos is our favorite track from La Reserva De Los Lieros, their third album.

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AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
D.D DumboTropical Oceans
Oliver Hugh Perry is D.D Dumbo. Perry makes music from his house in Castlemaine, a small rural town 120km from Melbourne. Tropical Oceans is a perfect cue to his unique brand of technicolour lo-fi that spans genres, blues hooks, African folk – and a sound that no one else from anywhere is really making at the moment. Sometimes the best releases never receive as much credit as they deserve, and this is one of them. If music is supposed to make you feel goddamn otherworldly, 2013 is going to be a good year for D.D Dumbo.

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AUSTRIA: Walzerkönig
Nowhere TrainAshes
Nowhere Train is a project of seven folk musicians from different bands. After a train tour through the country and a documentary about it, the supergroup’s first album, aptly named Station, recently saw the light of day. It was featured on national television and Austria’s most popular website. Ashes, a song about a perfect moment, was written on tour by globetrotter Ian Fisher (Missouri/Berlin).

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BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Tulipa RuizCada Voz
Tulipa Ruiz is one of the major new Brazilian singers and is acclaimed by critics and the public alike. Cada Voz is the track that closes second album Tudo Tanto, available for free download on her website, and has its instrumental performed by the experimental band São Paulo Underground.

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CANADA: Quick Before It Melts
Daniel RomanoMiddle Child
Get out yer hankies, ‘cuz this one’s gonna make you ball like a baby. Daniel Romano’s transformation into the reincarnated George Jones is now complete, right down to the leisure suit he wears on the cover of Come Cry With Me, his third solo album in as many years. The former Attack In Black frontman has become an impeccable storyteller, and this tale of an estranged son trying to make sense of the senseless will break your heart by the time he gets to the first chorus.

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CHILE: Super 45
MotivadoFerrer
For lack of a better label, the music of Motivado (Mario Martínez) could be classified as ‘space Latin house’. After the praise he got for Bobby Fischer, his debut EP, Motivado delivered his second EP, Stasi, just as the past year ended and it exceeds what he accomplished on his first work. Yes, this is experimental music, but extremely danceable. Ferrer is one of three tracks on Stasi EP, a free download from the Discos Pegaos netlabel.

CHINA: Wooozy
Summer Fades AwayThank You
Summer Fades Away is an instrumental/post-rock band from Changsha. They released their second album We Meet The Last Time, Then Departure through 1724 Records last November, which features more classical elements. Though the band announced they were going on hiatus, fans still hope they could be back soon to make more beautiful music.

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DENMARK: All Scandinavian
North FallCurve
Originally a one-man project by singer-songwriter and guitarist Anders Belling, North Fall turned into a full indie-rock ‘n’ alt-folk band in 2011 and released their first EP late last year, from which Curve is taken. The whole, excellent thing is yours to download on SoundCloud along with seven tracks from Belling’s time as a lone rider.

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: La Casetera
DkanoEl Bolo Bolo
Rapper Dkano mocks the rise and fall of a fictitious dembow artist nicknamed Bolo Bolo, in reference to so many one-hit-wonders that this local genre produces, as opposed to true hip-hop. El Bolo Bolo is taken from Dkano’s upcoming album Señales.

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ECUADOR: Plan Arteria
FabrikanteChanteoma
Making songs only with the voice is a risk that can produce impressive results. Francisco Valdivieso, better known as Fabrikante, is an artist who uses the flexibility of his voice to create unique compositions based on a powerful beatbox and original vocal loops. Chanteoma is the first single from his debut album, which will be out early this year.

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ENGLAND: The Guardian Music Blog
Public Service BroadcastingIf War Should Come
Public Service Broadcasting is the operations name of one J Willgoose Esq and his cohort Wrigglesworth. Imagine the Pet Shop Boys if they were obsessed with the war. They’re an electronic duo from London who use samples from old public information films, archive footage and propaganda material from WW2 and ally them to a variety of beats and backing from krautrock to drum ‘n’ bass. If War Should Come, from The War Room EP, is typical of their approach, with its found voices and sense of looming menace as the broadcaster warns of impending battle.

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EXPAT: High Highs

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There aren’t any specific inroads to make waves overseas if you’re an Australian artist, but moving to the US, Berlin, or some subcultural hub in Europe with good pastrami and a nice local is probably a good place to start. While Gotye is probably carving out a spot for his potential Grammy and Tame Impala have sold out enough shows in the US to afford proper shoes now, there’s still a ton of our Aus dudes making us proud over yonder. It’s hard to keep track on all our exports. It’s only when these bands make their prodigal return to the internet with a new collaboration, or bathrobe photos with German groupies that reiterates what we’ve been missing out on all along.

High Highs are Jack Milas and Oli Chang – an Aussie duo who’ve been based in Brooklyn for the last few years. It’s all hydrogen harmonies and blissful acoustica from these guys who’ve toured Stateside, had some nice words in P4K and sat down for lunch with Elton at Christmas. They’re returning back here in Feburary for Laneway, so probably best to get reacquainted.

We’ll be ransacking photo piles of Aussie artists overseas over the next few months, so if you’re an Aus act living overseas keen on sharing photos of good vibes, tour pizzas or your general nomad lifestyle, mail us – editors@whothehell.net.

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