February’s MAP has landed, with music presented by 19 blogs from around the world. Brisbane’s Nite Fields – whose moody debut album, Depersonalisation, has just dropped on Felte – are representing Australia this month. Head over to our Soundcloud to hear Robbie’s January MAP podcast, as well as a special Australia Day mix of some of our favourite local MAP entries from the past 12 months.
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 19-track compilation through Dropbox here.
“January will be mine” is the translation of singer-songwriter Sol Fernandez’s artistic project. Her music is a perfect match of soft melodies and dream-pop with carefully crafted arrangements and sound landscapes. This track is from Enero3, her latest work, which is being released through Bandcamp.
Prescription is the second single from Brisbane four-piece Nite Fields’ long-awaited debut record Depersonalisation. While the intricate guitar work and broody vocals echo The Church, there’s a humid, curiously distant tone here that is something totally their own. Starting with sparse prickly guitars and splashy drumming, the song folds in on itself towards the end, becoming slightly claustrophobic but in an intimate, whispery way. Nite Fields keeps you at arm’s length – you have to squint through the haze of effects and layers to get a hold of anything solid, but once you do, you’ve already fallen hard for this moody and mysterious band.
Johnny McArthur and Eric Moore make up the electronic duo Willows. They venture into uncomfortable territory melodically. The swirling repetitive underlying of The Shape I’m In resembles the dizzying sensation of intoxication. The bursts of energy are like the highs that come back to the inevitable lows.
Sin Órbita is a duo formed by Paula Roa and Martin Perez Roa, who last year released their first record, Neón EP (Sudamerican Records). Flirting with electronica and soul, the band are a mixture of Massive Attack trip hop cadence and AlunaGeorge sensuality.
PONCHO is little collaboration between Melbourne rapper Baro and his mate Mitch, aka Ancentric, who worked on Baro’s breakthrough mixtape HOWGOODISGOOD?. The pair have just released a three-track EP called Awkward Love Songs on Soundcloud, featuring previous single ‘grab me as i fall’.
Baro touchstones like Mos Def and Erykah Badu are still discernible here, but this stuff is more King Krule than Joey Bada$$ – minus the UK youngster’s weary, streetwise barbs. Poncho songs are all sweet and breezy, as exemplified by the major sevenths and scattered handclaps on EP opener and standout track, ‘the Summer’s Over So Where Do We Stand?’.
Awkward Love Songs is here to tide you over till Baro’s new EP drops sometime very soon.
Olympia’s new track was inspired by photos of ‘red honey’ – the result of one Utah beekeeper’s idea to feed his bees Candy Canesinstead of planting some flora like any other sensible beekeeper would. On ‘Honey’, Olympia (Olivia Bartley) says:
“Honey is about the influence we have on each other. The moment when something happens; you run into an ex, or you open your hive and the honey is the wrong colour. You have this, ‘Is this what I look like? Is that who I am?’ moment.”
The video for ‘Honey’ is as stoic as the song itself. Olympia dons a Polly Jean jumpsuit and stance, and has all the lighting controls to power a substation or a late night viewing on Rage. Flash footage of Ballet Russes dancers in the 1930s pique the guilt that Bartley alludes to when she sings ‘Every lover you’ve turned your back on / Turns up new in someone else’s arms / I don’t want to see who I am in you, now’.
Although the ‘studio’ here is arranged for prime-time, she’s playing live for an empty audience. Won’t stay that way for long.
Sydney duo Porsches have the whole Australian summer electro pop thing down with their debut single ‘Horses’. In fact they nailed the brief so perfectly that Sweat It Out! Music took notice, signing the boys off the back of the single.
Carl Fox and Jesse Sewell produce taut, bouncing beats that bubble underneath spaced out, synth-washed vocals. The track is sprinkled with a calypso/steel drum-type effect to boot.
It’s your classic Sweat It Out! recipe for a smooth, sophisticated electronic act that’s more than just trite triple j fodder. Although it’s already pricked the ears of a few major commercial TV stations, ‘Horses’ doesn’t rely on those banger clichés that make summer pop so damn annoying.
With this much attention for their debut, Porsches are setting themselves up for a bright 2015 indeed.
John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Henry Fonda: gunslingers. Forty years since the last time anyone saw a Wild West movie, these guys live on in the cultural lexicon as idols -chiselled, steel-gazed figures of masculine lore. The mere mention of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly is enough to turn anyone over the age of 50 into a mess of horny nostalgia.
Putting that gross imagery aside for just one moment, there is a new crop of youngsters looking to rip the title of ‘gunslinger’ from Clint’s bony, liver-spotted hands. Gunslingers are a Melbourne four piece that thrash with the fury and tension of a Mexican standoff and coat their tunes in a layer of fuzz thicker than the salt on the edge of the best Margarita in Tijuana.
They’ve just shared the new clip for ‘I’ll Always Be Waiting’, a tune that follows in the path of pop-soaked garage heroes Palms, Velociraptor and Dune Rats. The latter even gets a cheeky shout-out in the clip. Gunslingers continue their lo-fi garage approach in their videos, which feature patchy, VHS graphics. They keep the sun-soaked vibes rolling throughout, with gratuitous shots of beerz, poolz, and guitar soloz. Gunslingers? More like Funslingers, amirite? (please don’t hurt me).
Gunslingers will launch ‘I’ll Always Be Waiting’ at Melbourne’s John Curtin Hotel on 21 February, with support from Covers and Pretty City.
Michael Skinner hasn’t been to the Mallee. The region’s stately, arid plains, hidden beneath the ocean for most of the Earth’s history, are nevertheless a good analogue for his band, Mallee Songs. Their music is deeply influenced by the dark alt-country sounds of the 90s – particularly American artists like Jason Molina, Mark Linkous and Will Oldham. Those songwriters are present in Mallee Songs’ solemn lyricism, restrained feedback and vicious guitar solos.
Last year Mallee Songs released Gum Creek and Other Songs, a compilation of Skinner’s early home recordings. Cleaning out these scattered folk songs was a final step in his transition from bedroom to stage. He wrote the forthcoming album with a four-piece band, drummer Pascal Babare also producing.
‘Since the Kingdom’, a pretty, Silver Jews-like track, is the lead single from the new record. In the video – premiered here – Skinner wanders, jaded and sleep-deprived, through the Australian countryside, stalked by wordless strangers. Meanwhile, someone, somewhere is playing a lament: ‘All my brothers in a slow decline / I need a new feeling to describe / the arc of a mountain in a cloudless sky’.
New Zealand’s Nadia Reid sings about the catharsis that comes with about moving to a new town in ‘Call The Days’. While Reid stems from the same ‘nu-folk’ ilk as Hollie Fullbrook (Tiny Ruins), Aldous Harding and our own Laura Jean, Reid’s diction holds a great weight that surpasses her peers.
This track comes from her debut album Listen to Formation, Look for the Signs – the follow up to her 2011 EP Letters I Wrote and Never Sent. ‘Call the Days’ was recorded by Ben Edwards at Lyttleton Records (Aldous Harding, Marlon Wiliams).
Nadia says that the track was the first song she penned after moving from Christchurch to Wellington; spurred on by a “panic attack” and being “worried about making the right choices in life”.
On the surface, ‘Call The Days’ isn’t a difficult listen – the verses pace along steadily with Reid’s glowing resolve at the helm. There’s a string-like quality to Reid’s diction; her warm falsetto morphs in unison with the cello at times that you forget that both are entirely separate from each other. Reid deals with the misgivings of circumstance quite positively – in the same way that Laura Marling uses token steering-the-ship references and seasonal references (‘I threw out my winter coat / I cut the sleeves off all I’d known’) that same defiance remains here.
And like Laura, it still surprises me how some people still generally reference ‘age’ as an extraordinary justification to make a resonating folk track – as if youth’s poetic schitck these days is only capable of dropping bass and bad raps.
Reid lived and played music in Christchurch for many years before moving to Wellington, both pre and post the earthquake. Sure, the track happened in the midst of displacement and change, but it stays in the comfort of melancholia both in theme and arrangement. It always pivots back to the sane point, hovering around the same central chord.
Reid marks each verse with the phrase ‘I was so sure’, over and over again.It’s an honest self-affirmation, and an important one at that.
Nadia Reid’s debut LP Listen to Formation, Look for the Signs is out via Spunk on March 27th.