New Music

INTRODUCING: Solid Effort

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Solid Effort are the latest band to emerge from the smog of the coal coast. Growing up in a depressing little city dumped on top of a natural wonder seems to have a salutary effect on creativity, with groups like Shining Bird, the Pinheads and Step Panther all breaking out of Wollongong over the last couple of years.

Now based in Sydney, Solid Effort have been together less than a year but have already supported foreign acts like Tonsstartsbandht and the Courtneys. Their debut EP is out soon on the Gong’s Le Boogie Records and the ‘Sydney-based, Wollongong-inclined’ No Safe Place (which just released Beast & Flood‘s long-awaited, knotty first album).

‘One Loose Wire’ is the first Solid Effort track to see the light of day (aside from a couple of jams, like this little number). It’s a loping, sweetly melodic punk song that takes its cues from bands like Guided by Voices, Sebadoh and the Minutemen. The track shuffles along at a mesmerising pace – practically sleepwalking through buried vocals and soft bursts of harmonica.

Solid Effort will be appearing at the No Safe Place August residency on 21 August at the Record Crate in Glebe and 22 August at Wollongong’s Rad.

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LISTEN: You Beauty – ‘Illywhacka’

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This single from Sydney (ish) band You Beauty (who brought us a gem of realist nostalgia on last year’s football romance themed Jersey Flegg) has been out for a couple of weeks – eternity in music blogging terms. I’ve been listening to it so much in that time that I kind of assumed everyone else was too and knew it was one of the best songs of the year so far, and didn’t need me to tell ’em shit. But we still got a presser wanting WTH to write it up – so maybe not all of you have actually heard it. You should. It’s great.

‘Illywhacka’ is apparently about a jaded internet dating scammer who falls in love with his victim, and it’s equal parts romantic and cynical. Those ’80s pup-rock crooner vocals are about as dreamy as it gets, with a wandering bass line leading your heart around – up until the chorus when the tight, insistent drums and shouty vocals remind us it’s a game, a con, and you just say ‘I love you’ cause you like the sound. I think the reason I can’t stop listening to this track is the momentum – it slides from sweet verse to driving chorus so easily that it’s always over too soon, and you gotta go back to catch your favourite part again and again.

If the album, also called Illywhacka and due out later in the year, has more stuff half as good as this single, we’re all in for a treat.

You Beauty are playing a gig at Black Gold Studios in Thirroul on Sunday, 2 August, before they head up to Brisbane for another show at the Milk Factory on Saturday the 8th.

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PREMIERE: Bahasa Malay – ‘Kasseta’

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Bahasa Malay is the solo project of Bulgarian born, Perth based artist Nora Karailieva.

Karailieva moved from Bulgaria to Montreal in her early teens, and began making music under the guise of Nora Zion. She released two EPs with ALAIZ – a collective of producers located around Laval and the South Shore area of Montreal.

Karailieva’s work has diversified each time she’s made a new home. Since 2013, she’s been based in Perth playing shows with the likes of Mei Saraswati, and pairing up with local musicians – her collaborative record with Leon Osborn via Die High Records one to bookmark. 

While her repose as Nora Zion lent more to experimental R&B stylings, her output as Bahasa Malay explores a much more earthy expanse of sound.

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The video for ‘Kasseta’ was filmed and directed by Karailieva. The video, much like the track is comforting and almost unsettling at once – almost like tuning into a lullaby from the bottom of a metal well. Clinkers and guttural samples tide in time with visuals of powerlines, cathedrals and muted bells. At first listen, it seems like Karailieva’s vocals are at constant discord with the instrumentals but this almost makes it bear the weight of spoken word.

‘Kasseta’ features on Bahasa Malay’s debut album, Balkans. The album was previously released digitally, but will be re-issued as a limited cassette run by the good folk at Pouring Dream.

The track is available as a free download from Pouring Dream’s Bandcamp, right here.

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LISTEN: Leisure Suite – ‘Sweet Gin’

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Melbourne electro-pop duo Leisure Suite have dropped ‘Sweet Gin’, an extremely smooth, R’n’B-influenced glimpse into their sophomore EP, which is slated for release later this year. It’s the pair’s first completely self-produced track, and they’ve stripped back the instrumentation – which is to say that where there once was the odd guitar lick here and there on their debut EP, now there are none. Instead, downtempo beats steer Leisure Suite down the yellow brick road of spaced out hip-hop production.

Even the builds feel light, with Bridgette Le’s vocals allowed to do all of the leg work – and boy am I ok with that. She doesn’t need to explore much of her range because every note that leaves her mouth is disarmingly lush. ‘Sweet Gin’ has clocked over 6000 listens since its release four days ago. Either people were desperate for more Leisure Suite or you just can’t listen to Le’s voice less than about 100 times. Either way, it’s a pretty irresistible morsel of warm electro-pop.

They’ll be launching the single in their hometown at Hugs & Kisses on the 25th of July.

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LISTEN: Ultra Material – ‘EP’

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I like shoegaze that goes a bit hard. In a lot of new bands, the genre’s merging with the more accessible ‘dream pop’ has diluted the essential ‘beautiful noise’-y ness of it for me. But that’s what Brisbane four-piece Ultra Material deliver on their first proper EP (appropriately titled ‘EP’): something essential – a heavy and lovely package of songs tied with a bow. I love the manic, unchained quality to the drums, especially on bolt-outta-the-gates opener ‘Crash’, and the unnerving wails on ‘Pleased To Meet You’.  They’ve got a handle on pop melody and structure, but they’re also not afraid to freak you out a little.

Sarah and Matt Deasy, singer/bassist and drummer respectively, used to make icily mellow sounds of a similar vein in their long-running and wonderful duo Do The Robot, and this EP feels like a natural progression from that insular and intimate project. They’ve added another couple on guitar and vocals, and synth, fleshed out the sound until there’s no stillness left at all, and turned their gaze outwards to envelop the listener, rather than leaving us on the outside looking in.

With an album to come later in the year, you can purchase Ultra Material’s EP on beautiful cassette (Matt Deasy also screenprints some of the best band posters and t-shirts in Brisbane as No.7 Print House, so it’s an object well worth having) or digital from their Bandcamp right now.

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PREMIERE: Perfume Garden – Splintered Time

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Errol Hoffman sprang on to the scene as Perfume Garden in 2013 with the drum-machine backed post-punk of the Light Sail EP. It was a debut characterised by a blend of ominous synth drones and wandering guitars reminiscent of early Cocteau Twins. 2014’s Initial Vision EP followed suit, cementing Hoffman’s six-string prowess while introducing a more beat-driven production style.

Splintered Time is the latest release from the Brisbane producer and serves as both a culmination and departure from his past work.

Musically, Splintered Time builds on layers of grainy Casio chords and distant drums with warped lo-fi leads that would feel right at home in Bowie’s Low or Jodorowsky’s Dune, had it ever been made. Songs like opener ‘Endless Sentence’ push and pull in a slow progression that feels distinctly more cinematic then most modern electronic music.

Hoffman cites several sci-fi film scores as key influences for Splintered Time, including Blade Runner and its anime successor Cyber City Oedo 808. This can be heard in the album’s ‘80s style production, which Hoffman achieves through a mix of sampling keyboards and a healthy dose of reverb.

The record positively revels in the retro-futurism it so proudly wears on its sleeve, calling to mind everything from Vangelis’ film work to the more recent Oneohtrix Point Never. It’s an album that manages to remain dark and brooding without becoming suffocating, approaching the isolation of the 21st century with an eye for beauty, as well as melancholy.

Although Splintered Time is entirely instrumental, it manages to conjure up powerfully emotive images of decaying cityscapes and solitary figures, all the while giving a sense of gloomy romanticism that makes everything seem like its as it should be.  It’s the perfect soundtrack to enjoying your own post-apocalyptic fantasy on these long mid-winter nights. 

Splintered Time is out through Feral Media on the 20th of July.

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LISTEN: Donny Love – ‘Carnivorous Man’

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Gold Coast beach blues quartet Donny Love are sad for your heartbroken arse, ladies. They get it, you’re sick of serial sleazebags but that’s probably just because you live on the Gold Coast. In fact, their grasp of your feels are SO FIRM they slip into your head and sing about your issues in first person towards the end of their latest track ‘Carnivorous Man’.

The track works with the band’s knack for time signature breaks and fast-paced vocal lines. ‘Carnivorous Man’ could be the female rebuttal of an earlier track, which uses a similar structure to deplore the age old ‘good guy needs sex too’ dilemma. Andrew Hodges’s lyricism is a standout, and I’m pretty happy to accept “true love constipation” as the only metaphor for emotional unavailability I will need ever again. His quick-witted snipes are sped along by snappy guitar licks that would give The Growlers a run for their money, in fact I think the room would have reached peak beach goth when Donny Love supported the California ~*dreamboats*~ on a handful of their east-coast dates earlier this year.

The ‘Carnivorous Man’ tour continues at The Bearded Lady in Brisbane this Friday in their finest “comfy sandals”, with shows in Melbourne and the GC to follow.

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