New Music

LISTEN: California Girls – Desire LP

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california girls

Sometimes, driven by yet another going-away drinks for a Brisbane mate leaving for ‘better opportunities’ down south, I’ve declared (unprompted) ‘I’d move to fucking CANBERRA before I’d move to Melbourne’ (cue: no one cares). But that statement is starting to lose its weight, as more and more weird and cool music is released down there – especially through the exceptional Moontown Records. Our great nation’s capital is starting to seem pretty happening.

Desire, from California Girls (not actually girls, not actually plural – actually Canberra dude Gus McGrath), is the city’s newest prime cut – hectic desperate dance music that perfectly captures those nights when you party hard not necessarily cause you feel like it, but because what else can you do?

If you’re looking for something to fill the Workshop/Multiple Man shaped hole in your synth-starved heart, this might do the trick. McGrath’s music, though, is without the moody, middle-distance detachment of those two bands. The vocals are a focus point almost as much as the beats, with lyrics that are personal (‘cherub-faced boy/ tears run down my cheeks’) but in a kind of throwaway way – like an accidental drunken overshare followed by a ‘nah, not really’.

Ambition and need and disappointment and resignation all pulse through this record. It’s called Desire maybe cause some of it’s about sex, sure; some tracks, like opener ‘Skin on Skin’, are grimy with suggestion. But there’s also a kind of generalised want, a dissatisfaction that drives so many of our biggest nights. This is obvious on ‘Holiday’, where McGrath lays out his plans to forget someone who’s gone on to bigger and better things: ‘I’ll put out an album/ I’ll go on a tour/ maybe I’ll go to Tasmania… You’ll see the wonders of the world/ I’ll probably get drunk’.

This is dance music before anything else, so obviously keep an eye out for a live show. I saw California Girls in a shit ‘rock & roll’ venue where the sound was way too low, and it still Went Off. Desire really hits its post-2am stride smack bang in the middle, with the Crystal Castles, X-tinnies vibe of ‘Euphoria’ and the slow-build trop-pop of ‘Hidden’ – but the whole thing is packed with opportunities for a bit of reckless abandonment and throwing your body around. This record is up there with the best local underground dance music around at the moment, in a scene that’s only getting more and more interesting and exciting.

Desire has already sold out on cassette but you might be able to snag a copy at a show, and a vinyl release is forecast for the near future.

Catch California Girls at the Moontown Records Melbourne showcase on 23 February. He’s also supporting Naked, alongside fellow Canberrans Wives, at the Phoenix on the 20th.

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LISTEN: Chook Race – ‘At Your Door’

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chook race

Brisbane record label Tenth Court is a pretty safe bet for good shit that’s worth your time. Melbourne three-piece Chook Race know how to make writing jangly hits look both easy and breezy. It’s a match made in SBS-game-show heaven. Keep your eyes peeled for Chook Race’s second LP, Around the House, coming out in a couple of months. For now we’ve got a taste with ‘At Your Door’, a scrappy treat that dreams about escaping it all in some deserted town, in a house you built yourself. At least until you remember that the shops close at 4 and you’re all out of papers. Or someone comes along and reminds you of what you’ve left behind.

Maybe I wish it went a bit harder – if they pushed that downbeat Boomgates guitar thing a bit further and made it feel like they actually had something to run away from. But they still do a pretty great job of making a single that’s immediately listenable but not immediately forgettable once its three minutes are up.

The whole album was apparently recorded in a day, which is a good sign – this isn’t fussy music to agonise over: it’s meant to be heard live or thrown on the record player on hungover afternoons. ‘At Your Door’ is a pretty good indication that Around the House is gonna be some solid blunt-edged guitar pop stuff that we (and I really mean I) can’t fucken get enough of.

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PREMIERE: Naked – ‘Critical Half-Arsed’ video

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Tasmanian experimental punk malcontents, Naked, are on the cusp of having a very big month. The three-piece made some waves in late 2015 with ‘Sprinters of the World Unite’, a ramshackle but intriguing piece of outsider noise. Around the same time it was announced that Naked would be releasing a full-length record through Brisbane label, Tenth Court, who released some stellar LP’s last year from the likes of Wireheads and Mope City. Pink Quartz is the name of the record, which is set to drop into our hot little hands on Friday, 5 February. To make sure we don’t forget, Naked is offering up a new single and video, ‘Critical Half-Arsed’.

‘Critical Half-Arsed’ is one minute and twenty seconds of buzzing and strained noise punk. Taken at face value, you might think the title accurately describes the offering, but in eighty seconds the band manages to fit a large amount of urgency and tension into the mix. Toothy guitar slashes and quick pummelling of the drums keep you on edge, as lead singer Kieran Sullivan offers a halted recollection of a deadly accident.

The clip sees the members of Naked rinsing off in showers and bathtubs fully clothed. It’s as if they are trying to wash themselves of some distasteful experience – a cleansing of something unshakable, something that can’t be unseen. Quick cuts build on the tense nature of the song, and it makes for a suitably unnerving accompaniment.

You can preorder Pink Quartz on digital or limited edition vinyl via Tenth Court now. Once the album drops, catch Naked on their extensive east coast tour:

Fri 5th – The Grand Poobah, Hobart w/ Native Cats, Orlando Furious (Melb) and Henry Savery

Sat 13th (arvo) – 4ZZZ Carpark, Brisbane w/ Thigh Master, Clever, The Mosaics and Hexmere

Sat 13th (eve) – Trainspotters, Brisbane w/ Cannon, Pillow Pro (Melb) and Rebel Yell

Sun 14th – Seespace, Lismore w/ Dracopede, Skinpin and Poetaster

Tues 16th – The Croatian Club, Newcastle w/ Nailhouse and Polyfox

Wed 17th – Rad Bar, Wollongong w/ Julia Why? (Syd), Orphans (Syd) and White Blanks

Thurs 18th – Marly Bar, Sydney w/ Julia Why? and Lenin Lennon (Facebook)

Fri 19th – The Union, Sydney w/ Mope City (LP launch), Point Being and Pillow Pro (Melb) (Facebook)

Sat 20th – The Phoenix, Canberra w/ Wives and California Girls (Facebook)

Sun 21st – Grace Darling, Melbourne w/ Faye Soft, Orlando Furious and Sweet Whirl

Mon 22nd – Northcote Social Club w/ Taipan Tiger Girls, The Bunyip Moon and Secret Valley

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SEQUENCE: Sampa The Great

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Sampa The Great-26

photos by Pat O’ Hara

We recently spent a cruisy Sunday with Sydney via Zambia songwriter Sampa The Great & her producer Dave Godriguez.

Sampa really hit her stride last year – rousing our attention with her expressive spoken-word prose, flanked by Dave’s progressive funk & jazz tones.

Pat shot series at Dave’s house in Newtown, before rolling onto their show on the rooftop of the Museum of Contemporary Art (how about that sunset, hey).

Get your free download of Sampa’s debut The Great Mixtape, then head along to one of her upcoming dates at Golden Plains, WOmadelaide or supporting Guilty Simpson. More information right here.


Sampa The Great-1 Sampa The Great-13 Sampa The Great-14Sampa The Great-17 Sampa The Great-2Sampa The Great-12 Sampa The Great-19 Sampa The Great-20 Sampa The Great-21Sampa The Great-23


(View full photo set below) 


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PREMIERE: S M Jenkins – ‘Mikrowave’

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SM Jenkins B+W

Forget cohabiting and childbirth. When all the records you once revelled in start reaching their milestone second and third reissues, that’s when it’s appropriate to start mourning your age. In just a few months, it’ll be almost 21 years since Pavement released their third record, Wowee Zowee –  an opus full of stoner oddities, and songs about castration, brazil nuts and other stuff only Stephen Malkmus could apply his half-baked, poetic genius to.

It’s a decent milestone to reference – as Steve Bourke has done. S M Jenkins (Malkmus’ alias on Wowee Zowee) is the new name of the Step-Panther frontman’s solo project. ‘Mikrowave’ is the first track off his upcoming EP, Out There In The Zone.

Bourke wrote and recorded the EP when he was living in “relative isolation” in Mittagong, in the NSW Highlands located 110KM out of Sydney. Bourke is on his lonesome here, so Step-Panther fans shouldn’t be expect the Superchunk anthems (cc: ‘User Friendly’, ‘Zombie Summer’) the band stirred up on Strange But Nice.

‘Mikrowave’ rolls on at a steady pace with the kind of breakfast positivity Kurt Vile rallied when he brought out ‘Walkin’ on A Pretty Day’. Try as you may – it’s hard to hate this song. Bourke’s nuances are affected with that self-effacing slacker drawl, here ironically singing about “saving time” instead of wasting it. Bourke notes that the track was about “trying to make the best out of whatever you’ve got going on”. And he does – as he murmurs some perspective over ‘Mikrowave’s melodic mid-tempo guitar line, assuring us that it’s alright to be just where you are. 


Out There In The Zone is set for release in late February.

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LISTEN: Australia Day 2016 – Podcast

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You don’t need to be the sharpest tool around to see that our country’s largest music poll – ironically held on Australia Day –  is hardly representative of the best local music being produced here (in our un-biased opinion).

To solve all that, Robbie’s made an Australia Day podcast. Plug in your headphones, swig something good and be that person who absolves all the cringeworthy cultural crimes, excessive meat consumption and heinous levels of ‘Hotline Bling’ outros that need to be drowned out wherever you’re BBQing across the nation today.

Happy listening.

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LISTEN: Good Morning – ‘To Be Won’

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good morning glory

‘To Be Won’, the latest single from Melbourne two-piece Good Morning, is largely a song of pauses and sighs. It’s like looking out the window of a train when you forgot where you’re going for a second. Or sitting at home watching nothing happen. It’s kinda like thinking about stuff but not doing a thing.

Previous single ‘Cab Deg’ had that same insistent guitar thing (maybe borrowing a little more than necessary from Deerhunter? Who could say.), pushing it into territory where words like ‘catchy’ and ‘immediate’ are called for. ‘To Be Won’ makes you want to listen by just sounding really nice, with plenty of warm room noise, the rise and fall of the guitar melody breathing steadily. The line ‘I tried, but it’s yours to be won’ has the same sweet relief that comes from cancelling plans, giving yourself a break and giving up on something you didn’t care much about anyway.

I like how it ends loose too – if they’d put one big finishing note in there it might have ruined everything, but they pull back before reaching outright sentimentality. Even when that old piano sound (used so often to beat you into nostalgia) appears, the song remains restrained, nudging towards a kinda wistful end. They know they might have to try again in the future, but right now chilling out is pretty chill.

Good Morning’s second EP, Glory, is out Thursday, 28 January.

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