New Music

LISTEN: Sweet Whirl – O.K. Permanent Wave LP

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The first time I listened to this tape my friend played it to me and I had to resist the urge to tell him to shut the fuck up multiple times over the next 40-odd minutes. O.K. Permanent Wave is one of the most solitary records I’ve ever listened to. It’s not lonely, the alone-ness is just a fact to be explored and examined, not judged. But that does make it weird to listen to with anyone else around. Hearing these songs is a deeply private experience.

Sweet Whirl is the solo work of Esther Edquist, vocalist and keyboardist of Superstar, but you won’t find much of the sunniness of that band’s floaty long-afternoon guitar music here. Edquist uses just her voice, an evocative electric bass sound that takes root deep down in your body, and occasional atmospheric recordings and room sound to create quiet, moving intimacy.

Gently clouded in echo, Edquist’s voice has a smoky impenetrability that’s kind of like Cat Power, and a bit of the understated sensuality of some of the more low-key parts of PJ Harvey’s Stories From the City… This might not be music for fucking but it could be music for thinking about making love. It’s obviously a total cop out to compare any female artist to such obvious touchstones but there’s something so serious and immediately classic about this record, and Edquist’s confident position in the centre of it, that it feels fitting to me anyway.

Individually the songs are hard to get a hold of, structures are suggestions to be considered, verses slip and slide past each other with rare repetition. The kind of thing that encourages total immersion rather than deconstruction or any kind of critical thinking. But I grab snatches of detached lyrics that hit home like the spectoral advice given in Girl, U or Magic Realness. These are stories told with the benefit of hindsight – she knows what can go wrong because she’s lived it. But we’re really the ones who benefit, from this beautiful bummer of a record.

O.K Permanent Wave came out as part of a series of 6 tapes from Melbourne label Nice Music (still working my way through them but I can tell you Various Asses’ tape is just as mad and cool as I thought it would be).

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LISTEN: Heart Beach – Kiss Your Face LP

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When people say things reflect ‘romance in modern times’ this is usually code for ‘depressing and heartless as fuck’. Hobart three-piece Heart Beach’s Kiss Your Face is, if not the antidote to all that (cause there’s a lot of it), at least a convincing counterpoint.

In relationships or friendships or whatever there’s always points where you have to decide if you’re gonna be openhearted about your feelings, or stay detached and guarded to possibly save yourself some humiliation. Kiss Your Face sounds like the best version of the former. It’s all here: thin walls of share houses, the giddy breathless feeling when you feel like you’ve lucked onto someone special, the woozy guilty feeling of getting blackout drunk a bit too much to deal with whatever, the small moments of doubt when you start to see how it might all fall away.

Heart Beach themselves have adopted the ‘scuzzy’ descriptor with enthusiasm, I assume cause it’s funny to say, and there’s definitely the right amount of cheekiness behind this record and their vibe in general. But to me that word also implies a bit of slackness, or half-heartedness maybe, that you’d struggle to find anywhere on Kiss Your Face. The guitar is fuzzy, distorted, but also tight and pointed. The angsty ‘Record’ shows they can write a big simple riff just like all the good pop punk bands, but then the intricate guitar of ‘Milk’ or jangly-country closer ‘Summer’ are as smartly pretty as anything you’re likely to hear from more overtly sophisticated Australian bands. ‘Summer’ is the euphoric ’80s Aus alt rock anthem we need for these times – I’m shouting along even before I’ve learned the words.

Kiss Your Face is warm and sweet record that stays grounded in its indie rock roots, with sneaky moments of heartache like slow burn epic ‘Sleeping’. That song’s maybe my favourite, huge in emotional weight, a spacing echoing gaze held for just the right amount of time. Having Jonathon and Claire McCarthy sing together across every song is a lovely move – clinging together against the often starkly open production of a lot of the record. This is a sweet record with no sugar high, just the sustained, unexaggerated niceness of love – and all the trouble that comes with it.

I just read that both McCarthys are moving to Canada next year – you gotta make this record huge so they come back.

Kiss Your Face is available through Spunk now.

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LISTEN: Bilby – Botanicals LP

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Bilby is the musical alias of Sydney artist and self-proclaimed emo-rap prince Harry Moxham, whose latest album, Botanicals, has just been released via Yes Rave.

Botanicals is a refreshing take on Australian hip hop, combining the lazy guitar of early Real Estate or Canberra’s Fossil Rabbit with sleek vocal hooks, trap beats, and infectious raps delivered with an adolescent exuberance not dissimilar from Yes Rave label founder Simo Soo.

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The understated execution and casual local references give it an authenticity absent from a lot of modern hip hop. Lyrically Moxham glides from poignant social commentary (“He wouldn’t shake my hand because I’m wearing pink, but you wish he could think as good as he can drink”) to jokey, endearing couplets (“Catch me Sideshow Bobbing with a rake. Catch me Apple bobbing with your date”). He tackles misogyny, bigotry, and the everyday pressures faced by young people today. All with a playful nonchalance that feels nothing if not honest.

The perfect soundtrack to be bumping this summer. Grab Botanicals as a ‘name your price’ download from the Yes Rave bandcamp store here.

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LISTEN: Various Asses – ‘Hood Team’

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Photo By Lauren Bamford

I don’t write much about dance music cuz I don’t know the right terms and I’m too vain to risk looking stupid. But this track, by Melbourne artist Various Asses, Aka Raquel Solier (who used to do excellent RnB stuff under the name Fatti Frances), is too good not to share. This is exactly what you wanna hear when a party’s really taking off – but it’s also the kind of thing that could really freak you the fuck out if you heard it a bit too far into the early hours. It’s a good time that’s just edging into darkness.

There’s drama here that’s missing from a lot of electronic music we’re hearing at the moment – the operatic, haunted house movie samples, snatches of vocals that remind me of ‘Toxic’ era Britney, the moments of silence that keep you on your toes but are short enough to keep dancing though, all backed by house music beats that your arse will move to seemingly on its own accord. This track has all the best parts of dance music – it’s dark, hot, unpredictable and fun as hell. Wrote all this to say you gotta listen to it.

‘Hood Team’ is coming out a seven-song tape called Loción’ that’s part of a run of six different cassettes Nice Music is putting out on November 20 – including one by Sweet Whirl (Superstar’s Esther Edquist) that I am, low key, incredibly psyched for. You can preorder Loción’  HERE.

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LISTEN: Hi-Tec Emotions – Hard to Handle LP

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I’m kinda jealous of the teenage girls who get to see bands like Hi-Tec Emotions in their first gig experiences. To hear a woman be unapologetic about their fears and desires and doubts is powerful. You know, instead of a bunch of dudes singing about how they’re too fucked up to feel love or whatever.

I wish I’d got to hear something like the desperate power of ‘Tears of Love’, or the raucously demanding ‘Look Around’, the first track and early single from their new record Hard to Handle, that kicks you straight into the deep end. That song, in tandem with ‘Beyond the Depths’s radical declaration ’I feel desire / and I want the power’, makes as commanding a statement of intent as you’ll hear. To admit want, or worse, need, as a woman is still something that makes people uncomfortable – but Hi-Tec Emotions do it with such stark clarity and power that you feel like it doesn’t have to be like that.

The music is all about maximum impact – the drums stripped back and frantic, bass nipping at the heels of the rhythm urging you to keep up, new-wave keys careen under Ema Dunstan’s ever-soaring vocals.

I wanna say it gets slightly heavy-handed with lines like ‘And I dream of a world where I can say / all the things I ever felt without debate’ and a couple of the more misty-eyed later tracks. But do I just feel that way cuz I’ve become allergic to sincerity? Because hearing this kind of bald-faced acknowledgment of inequality is still rare in the music I regularly listen to, so it makes me feel weird? Probably.

With Hard to Handle, Hi-Tec Emotions have made something that is utterly convincing in its outrage – the kind of thing I could see people fighting to the front row at shows to belt out those powerfully empathetic choruses as close to the band they can get. And, on top of all of that, a very fun record.

Hard to Handle is out on Listen Records this Friday November 4, when they’ll be launching it at The Tote with Spike Fuck (!!!!), Cable Ties and Suss Cunts. Go have a big shout.

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VIRTUAL MIXTAPE: 100%

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Illustrations by Lucy Roleff

Brisbane trio 100% make synth-driven post punk brimming with infectious grooves carved from primitive drum machine rhythms and suitably stony vocals.

Their self-titled debut, released via the always on point Moontown records in April last year, is a fully realised declaration, perfectly capturing the group’s musical vision. Their sound is a culmination of their diverse influences, from 80’s pop divas and 90’s house music, to their other musical projects including Rebel Yell, Cannon, and Heavy Breather. All of which makes perfect sense in the final result.

On ‘Lost Youth’, the lead single from their forthcoming EP You are 100%, the trio continue to deliver the goods with their most irresistible offering to date, along with an accompanying film clip which visually captures the mood of the song.

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For the ninth instalment in our Virtual Mixtape series the individual members guide us through some of their favourite movie soundtracks, a suitable theme considering some of the initial influences on the group’s sound were gleaned from synth-heavy film scores.

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Grace’s Selection:

HACKERS (1995)

I only watched Hackers about two years ago, stupid!! Fashion, music, the total misrepresentation of what they thought the future would be. The film follows teen hackers who rollerblade everywhere and hack into huge company computers for fun. Angelina Jolie is a total babe and I’m still searching for a mad quicksilver rashie that she reps during the film.

‘Halcyon On and On’ by Orbital (named one of the most inspirational/emotional songs of all time) opens the movie, it starts slow and builds and builds until that beat drops and you’re in the bloody groove 3 mins into the 9 min song (thank god it’s 9 mins). P.S. please also watch the film clip, it is made from BBC planet earth footage.

[Grace also designs and sells great stuff under the name Halcyon On + On]

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‘Cowgirl’ by Underworld, woah. This started me down a whole new path of dark tech. Repetitive, builds, drops, it is just so hypnotising. The little snares and shakers that keep adding one by one to create the hype before the bass drum kicks in is something that helps inspire ideas for the drum beats I create in 100% (obviously not at the pace of this song!).

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Of course ‘Voodoo People’ features in the final hack of the film. Jolie says “alright lets boot up” and then commences The Prodigy’s greatest track (~controversial~). All these songs are insanely captivating for me and possibly due to their repetitive nature, I just love them. Hackers for life.

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DRIVE (2011)

The Drive soundtrack is everything right about the music I love today. Synths, arpeggiators, electric drums, what more can I say. The score by Cliff Martinez drives [ 😉 ] the whole film with added bonuses of songs from College, Kavinsky and The Chromatics. Accompanied by Ryan Gosling’s face in a neo-noir crime thriller.

‘Tick of the Clock’ is another one of my slow build favourites. Not much really “happens” in it, but the underlying groove is something I could be absorbed in for hours.

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College & Electric Youth’s ‘A Real Hero’ is easily one of my favourite tracks on the album. It’s sad and beautiful, that’s all I can really say.

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If I had to pick a favourite of Kavinsky’s, I could not go past ‘Night Call’. An absolute groove, slow but punchy drums and a synth line that sticks with you. The vocals change between a distorted robotic male and a soft female vocal right at the point where a new synth sound comes in. It’s a perfect combination.

I never have and don’t think I ever will, get sick of listening to this soundtrack. A+++

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Lena’s Selection:

SUSPIRIA – GOBLIN (1977)

Music like this just becomes embodied by the scenes it’s given to. Goblin are intrinsically linked with filmmaker Dario Argento and the collaboration for the film Suspiria is one of the finest musical-cinematic scores in collaboration. You can get haunted with synesthesia from the sound of the italian technicolour seeping into this track. Its divine and sickly. I would love to see this performed by the Goblins live, but I would probably blindfold myself out of fear. Great original scores fill you with feeling and there is delirium in this opening number, regret and momentum. Drop out of Ballet school or else, become a witch.

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PRETTY IN PINK (1986)

I have an indefensible love for Brat Pack films and this, in conjunction with a desire for the macabre in the likes of Suspiria for example, is something I hope can come through in a project like 100%. Pretty in Pink is absolutely the best one in my opinion, it covers all the necessary ground and has a gorgeous soundtrack. I think that John Hughes would have by the time this film came through, conditioned some sense of responsibility for the taste of an audience who came out to see these films, as well as cutting ground for bands on the edge at that time. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s ‘If You Leave’ was written for the film and is the kind of cheesy bittersweet ambiguous love notes you want for an end credits-roll piece. Take note, we’ve written one for our next release and we’ll do it again.

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Chloe’s Selection:

THE WEDDING SINGER (1998)

I’m not usually one for rom coms, but this Adam Sandler masterpiece pulls my heart strings. The films aesthetic and soundtrack resonates with 100%, it’s cheeky and fun. I highly recommend purchasing the soundtrack – The Wedding Singer volumes one and two, you won’t be disappointed. Adam Sandler plays Robbie Hart, a hopeless romantic wedding singer and he’s never looked better.

The opening of the film features the song ‘You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)’ by Dead or Alive, sung by Sandler. This wedding party scene has it all, shoulder pads, mullets, breakdancing, cocktails and an outrageously large wedding cake. Everything I could ever wish for. This song is an upbeat 80’s synth hit, and matches the scene perfectly.

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‘Blue Monday’ by New Order is a personal favourite. It mixes a 70’s disco vibe with dark 80’s synth pop, both genres I am hugely inspired by. It’s a perfect sad dance track, just over 7 minutes long with driving drums and bass. This is a sound that greatly influences my synth playing. The song is heard during the club scene, neon lights and disco balls throughout.

‘White Wedding’ by Billy Idol is another favourite featured in the movie. Billy idol makes a guest appearance as himself in this film, seen sporting his signature biker wear and bleached hair. Hot hot hot.

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And how could I leave out The Boss. I’ve seen Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band live twice now with my dad, both times were inspiring and captivating. Springsteen’s energy and antics on stage is like nothing I’ve ever experience before. He’s a powerful rocker, giving it all. ‘Hungry Heart’ is a neat 80’s rock ballad, with a funky keyboard part to match. Five stars.

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You are 100%, the forthcoming EP from 100% is due out on Moontown Records soon so stay tuned.

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WATCH: Men With Chips – ‘Ardrossan’

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People say Adelaide is weird like Brisbane used to be but isn’t anymore. I say no one here was ever that weird, just like, hot and cranky. But maybe that’s why I have really strong good feelings about nearly every Adelaide band – seems like they’ve got the same kind of ‘maybe we hate each other but this town’s too small not to try and get along’ *community* thing as Brisbane. Idk I’ve never been.

Men With Chips are an Adelaide band that I have strong good feelings about, and they’ve made a ridiculous, but genuinely kind of unnerving video for their latest single ‘Ardrossan’ that oughta strike fear into a lot of hearts. Two words: jazz cult. Esteemed members of the Adelaide music community are hunted down on an overcast day at the innocuous SA seaside by overall-wearing horn players and killed(?) by bursts of loud random FREE JAZZ.

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The video was directed by Pat Telfer from Old Mate and Bitch Prefect, who really knows what he’s doing behind the camera; his clips always look great. It’s obviously a funny idea, and they pull it off with a commitment that, coupled with the jittery drumming and low bending bass of the verses, make it also pretty creepy.

The record, called Attention Spent, will be out on November the 4th, (preorder through Homeless here) though we’ve been previously given another taste with longer cut ‘And Counting’. This dankly terrific track coughs up gear grinding guitar and the same commanding vocals that only demand more attention as they get increasingly slurred and nonsensical. Everything Joel Robertson sings sounds simultaneously like a manifesto and a cry for help.

Ignore anywhere that says the record was out October 28th. Homeless Records, never change.

Men With Chips are playing the following dates in support of Attention Spent:

Friday November 11 – The Gunners Arms Tavern, Launceston

Wednesday November 16 – The Old Bar, Melbourne

Thursday November 17 – Dane Certificate’s Magic Tricks, Gags and Theatre, Melbourne

Friday November 18 – Lacklustre Records, Canberra

Saturday November 19 – Black Wire Records, Sydney

Thursday November 24 – The Wooly Mammoth, Brisbane

Saturday November 26 – 4ZZZ Carpark Show, Brisbane

Saturday December 3 – The Exter Hotel, Adelaide

Friday December 9 – The Bird, Perth

Sunday December 11 – Mojo, Fremantle

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P.S I heard that Dave Blumbergs, the bass player in this band, is working on some kind of Adelaide Underground Rock Opera. If anyone has more information please get in touch. Need this scoop.

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