New Music

LOOK: Melbourne Music Week 2015

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Photography by Nicholas Wilkins and Bec Cap

The team at Melbourne Music Week are notorious for transforming spaces. Previous years have seen the refit of former printing press the Argus Building and the Queen Victoria Market transformed to host shows. This year’s MMW saw the Royal Women’s Hospital restored to host a roller disco, lunchtime gigs and some serious late night parties. The corner of Grattan and Swanston St acted as this year’s festival hub, fitting so seamlessly into its surroundings that it was almost hard to remember what the corner previously looked like.

Nick and I got along to Live Music Safari, a music tour around Melbourne with fourteen live music venues opening their doors for free parties and gigs. Northside Records honcho Chris Gill dressed up as a disco ball for the Roller Jam x Rizky’s Block Party. We witnessed impressive pre-breakfast air guitar at Morning Gloryville, and decent DJs tearing up some afternoon sets at ‘The Hub’. Melbourne Music Week’s commitment to the independent music community, along with its ability to embody and respect the cities’ spaces makes it a definite week to look forward to when it comes around. Onto the next!

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PREMIERE: The Chills – ‘When the Poor Can Reach the Moon’

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Image by Jon Thom Moodie

A lot of the time here at Who the Hell, we’re covering bands that are in the larvae stage of their careers: tiny, slobbering creatures who are destined to become some big old butterflies. But in the case of the Chills, it’d be insulting to refer to them as anything but the biggest, grandest, most beautiful bugs in the sky. And yes, I’m aware that butterflies usually only live between one and twelve months, but THIS IS A METAPHOR, SCIENCE DOESN’T BELONG HERE!

Along with the Bats and the Clean, the Chills are one of the bands most closely associated with New Zealand’s Flying Nun Records and their 80s/early 90s heyday. It’d be damn near impossible to find a jangle-pop band in Australia right now (and there are many of them) who don’t cite the Chills as a major inspiration.

Although they’ve been gigging steadily, new material has been scarce. Last month, the band released their first LP in 19 years. It must have been an inspiring bunch of sessions because the Chills have gone right back in and recorded a Christmas single (a tradition that started approximately seconds after people figured out how much money can be made outta these things). Unlike the usual Michael Buble/Mariah Carey drivel, the Chills’ version of a Christmas single is fantastic, living up to the glorious standard of guitar pop that the band have been producing for the last 30 years.

‘When the Poor Can Reach the Moon’ is out on 11 December through the UK’s Fire Records, via Rocket Distribution.

The Chills will be making some rare appearances in Sydney and Melbourne next year, playing the Spiegeltent on 13 January as part of the Sydney Festival, then hitting up Max Watts in Melbourne on Friday, 15 January.

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PREMIERE: Neighbourhood Youth – ‘For Nothing’

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Let’s be clear, any rock song that can recall my years as a closet emo teen will instantly have my cold black heart – no matter how tenuous the connection. And this is pretty effing tenuous. Still, the light dusting of reverb on the opening riff on the latest single from Melbourne four-piece Neighbourhood Youth – ‘For Nothing’, coupled with the morose, hollering vocals were enough to get my attention (but I decided against punishing my face with eye-liner). This bustling guitar rock track is propelled by leading man’s solid vocal work with definite singalong infectiousness.

Aside from the obvious indie rock cred Neighbourhood Youth are channelling, the opening riffs remind me of the hooks off the last Title Fight LP. The melancholic undercurrent of the track reveals itself in the guitar melodies, and the band clearly have a grasp on how to construct a driving alt-rock song. It will be interesting to see how they expand on their ideas in their second EP, due out early next year.

It’s the kind of track that I want to see live as soon as I hear it, there’s a bubbling energy throughout that makes me think the guys would put on a sweet show. Melbourne Music Festival thought so too, slotting the boys in prime position alongside World’s End Press, Tiny Little Houses and Foreign/National last week.

Catch Neighbourhood Youth in the 11:15AM Saturday slot at Paradise Festival this weekend.

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LISTEN: Broadway Sounds x Paradise Festival Playlist

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Broadway Sounds have been shredding and sweating all over dance floors with their quasi afro disco / calypso beats over the last few years. The trio are playing Paradise Music Festival next week at Lake Mountain Resort – and because BS are all about ~ vibes ~ they’ve made a playlist to get you there and back. The playlist includes Amsterdam’s Hunee, Total Control and a good dose of Mondo Rock. All guarantees there’s no fighting over the stereo or enduring your designated driver’s Biggie Smalls playlist on the way up. Check it out below.

Final round tickets for Paradise are available to purchase at the festival website. If it’s likely that you’ll be FOMOing at work next week, check out this photo essay Bec and Ed shot at last year’s event that might change your mind.

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Pills make some great trip-hop. Pretty basic sentence, gets the job done. But do you have any idea of how rare that is in Sydney, let alone done well? We’ve got an overdose of incredible electronic stuff, a small army of fantastic hip-hop artists, but the melding of the two? You might as well be asking for the Knights to take out a premiership.

After a few promising singles, Pills have hit their stride with ‘Slugger’, a scowling grimace twisted into a syrupy spellbinder. A taunting mantra twirls around clipped production that wouldn’t feel out of place as the soundtrack to a snake charming session. It’s friendly – but you just know that if you let your guard down, it will bite you.

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Pills also have an awesome video to boot, featuring unsettling strobes, bottle-sipping bedroom boogying, and a general atmosphere that David Lynch wishes he could call his own. It’s disconcerting, weird and beautiful; a perfect match to the song itself.

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PREMIERE: Mope City – ‘W.O.Y (Wave of Youth)’ Video

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There’s a huge list of obvious reasons as to why record stores are still vital, but my personal favourite has to go to the art of the ‘recommendation’. It’s a lot harder than it sounds; trying to get the right balance between something that matches what the customer is interested in, but not too strange that it will alienate them. For example, you wouldn’t give a Cannibal Corpse record to someone who’s recently discovered The Living End, just because both involve guitars. I would, but I’m a bad person, and that’s why I don’t work in a record store.

The people behind the counters of Australia’s finest and longest lasting record stores have got the ‘recommendation’ down to an art. A few years back, in Sydney’s Red Eye Records, the clerk saw me perusing through Unity Floors and Day Ravies‘ albums, and suggested I look into a band called Mope City. BAM! Like that, a simple, “…check this out…” has turned an awkward ginger kid into an awkward ginger kid that has a new favourite band.

Fast forward to 2015, and the Sydney trio have surpassed their scratchy lo-fi beginnings of their first two EPs, and kept the adoration of that same weird child who’s now kind of an adult. Releasing a 7″ earlier this year of tight, post-punk inflections, Mope City have already followed up with a full-length album. Released on Tenth Court (Wireheads, Sewers, Thigh Master), Petri Dish features stand out, ‘Wave of Youth’, a track which echoes the band’s love of Slint, whilst maintaining the morbid pop aspects that made Mope City so great to begin with.

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Melancholic as a finding yourself 10 cents short of a coffee on a hungover Monday, Wave of Youth’ packs salad day nostalgia with plodding bass, call and response guitars, and dishevelled drums. The accompanying video, directed by the band’s own Matt Neville, throws together a pastiche of stop motion, silhouttes, and knick knacks sourced from the back of cupboards for a swirling pastiche of the youth Mope City sing about.

Petri Dish is out now on Tenth Court. Buy it here, or better yet, head to your local record store to grab it and cop a few new recommendations while you’re there.

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LISTEN: Max Quinn’s Onomatopenis – ‘Waterloo’

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Photo: Seshanka Samarajiwa


Fuck off John. Seriously, stop terrorising Max Quinn’s neighbourhood. Actually after listening to ‘Waterloo’ (named after the inner-Sydney suburb) I think I’ll be just fine here in Brisbane, thanks. Max Quinn has artfully turned his ‘povo urban youth’ experience into a neat slice of alt-pop punk on the first track from his forthcoming EP Carpool Tunnel Syndrome (a disease which I actually thought existed after many years of sympathising with Sharon Strezlecki because I thought she was heaps stressed from driving Kim around everywhere until someone corrected me: “car-pal tunnel, idiot”).

‘Waterloo’ wastes no time with bells, whistles or indie BS. It’s straight up story-telling, backed by a very listenable band. Perhaps Quinn’s hinting at a more direct approach to this EP, with his 2014 self-titled mini album (which was actually recorded in the residence that provided the inspiration for ‘Waterloo’) a pretty playful release full of offbeat quirks. Quinn is a witty song-writer – his lyrics move at a stream-of-consciousness pace without disappearing up their own butt in metaphors or becoming one-dimensional cliches.

It’s no surprise that the narrative is the real hook in this track, and the instrumentation gives Quinn’s story plenty of space to move. The vocal harmonies and layered guitar lines nail their job – you barely notice them at all because you’ve been swept up in all the hubbub and are busy screaming “fuck awff Jooohhhhhnn.” I love a good reverb soaked psych-wank as much as the next 22 year old, but Quinn’s sound is refreshingly earnest and I eagerly await Carpool Tunnel Syndrome.

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