New Music

INTRODUCING: The Night Terrors

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night terrors

Alongside contemporaries like NO ZU and Zanzibar Chanel, The Night Terrors incorporate all the elements of shlock horror, trance and kraut experimentalism into a weird chemical reaction of awesome. All of that is explored in The Night Terrors new record Spinal Vortex, out on Homeless Records (Bits of Shit, Sex Tape, Cuntz). 

The Night Terrors rocket through sonic territory at a break-neck pace – like the Batwing if it was piloted by Kraftwerk. Careening through walls of electronic-tinged instrumental post-punk, Spinal Vortex does this all in just under 40 minutes.

Spooky malevolence and violent synth uprisings stalking palettes of sheer theremin…this band has it all.

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PREMIERE: Dorsal Fins – ‘Fell’

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dorsal fins art

Dorsal Fins is brand new project led by Liam McGorry, trumpeter and songwriter for Melbourne soul collective Saskwatch. Initially conceived as a studio-only band, each track has been developed in collaboration with musicians from local acts Eagle and the Worm, the Bluebottles, New Gods and more.

Dorsal Fins have just dropped the video for latest single ‘Fell’, which features Ella Thompson (the Bamboos) on vocals. The track opens with a faded choral sample that could have been lifted from Walt Disney’s Snow White and lyrics that call up Lewis Carroll’s maniacal imagination: ‘All the doors were locked/too small to squeeze/you drank from a cup/that said “Drink me”’. Propelled by a clean piano line and rich, swooping bass, ‘Fell’ is fleshed out by gorgeous vocal loops and layers of synths and horns that sit low in the mix.

The video – a mishmash of vintage sci fi, foreign landscapes, rolling traffic and endless train lines – was made by Jason Galea of ZonkVision. Galea is also responsible for the distorted B-grade psychedelia of previous clip, ‘Nothing Left to Hide’.

Thankfully McGorry has dropped the studio-only conceit, and Dorsal Fins will be launching their upcoming 12”, Gripless, at Shebeen on Thursday, 3 April. Jacky Winter and DJs Martin King and Stu Mackenzie will be supporting. Incidentally, Martin King has just released his own reworking of ‘Fell’ – check it out here.

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INTRODUCING: Ben Wright Smith

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Ben Wright Smith

These kind of songs are best when they’re beaten up like bad fruit. If anyone’s seen Josh Tillman expose his soul through the power of dance you’ll know what I mean.

Over-thirties who assume the ‘troubadour’ hat are apparently capable of devising platonic love ballads in the key of Ryan Adams. That’s not to say those in our early twenties can’t throw down our gripes via song (see Ben’s other track ‘If Living The Good Life Is Easy (Why Is This So Hard?’),  but I guess we bestow more problems on ourselves than we credit ourselves for anyway.

‘Fictional’ is the latest offering from Melbourne’s Ben Wright Smith. Wright-Smith’s previous EP, Autumn Safari – full of traveling songs and slide guitar, landed him a few stints in the USA and Nashville in 2011. ‘Fictional’ isn’t as much of an instant earworm as his previous single, but it’s been flailing around in my music memory for over a week now.

It’s hard to reinvent the wheel when you’re flagging alt-country vibes. Everyone is judging you on your slide guitar abilities and how weird you can get writing poetry about your shoes. Bonus points if you’re Scandinavian. Or if you’re the guy who got convinced by Rhys Mitchell (Mouth Tooth, RedBerryPlum) that making a video about pool cleaners with a heinous compilation of ripple transitions and heat motion tracking is the only way to reintroduce balladry to the kids.

I’ll give Ben Wright Smith credit though; the almost Born Sandy Devotional gulls-and-guitar soundbite in the intro paired with his higher vocal range lends this tune a strange comfort. Compared to other harmonica toting compatriots like Fraser A Gorman, even Sagamore’s Sam Cooper, Wright-Smith’s faint nuances make each phrase resonate on.

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If you’re in Melbourne tonight, catch Ben Wright Smith at his final The Toff In Town residency with The Kite Machine and Gena Rose Bruce.

Ben Wright Smith’s upcoming record In Parallel is set for a May release.

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PREMIERE: Nathan Roche – ‘Call Back’

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nathan roche

Next month Nathan Roche will deliver the second instalment of his glorious ‘Newtown Trilogy’. It comes only five months after the release of part one, his first solo effort, Watch It Wharf. This guy is as prolific as he is self-deprecating: he’s played in seven different bands from Townsville to Sydney (most recently Camperdown and Out, alongside members of Royal Headache, Dead Farmers and Raw Prawn) and has described earlier albums as “shambolic, poorly recorded, unstructured and rapidly conceived”. He’s also written a couple of books (there’s a sterling promo video for the latest), with red pens provided at one launch party “for those who wish to personally edit” his work.

He may be underselling himself, but Roche’s breezy, piss-taking attitude sure is charming. It’s all over Watch It Wharf, a record packed with Lou Reed-channeling tracks set around the pubs and docks of the (formerly) blue-collar inner-city Sydney.

Follow-up album Magnetic Memories wears its influences proudly, drawing on Brian Eno’s early pop output and the Americana-laced oddities of post-Big Star Alex Chilton. Mind you, it’s still pretty dinky di, with tracks celebrating the Hollywood Hotel in Surrey Hills and contemplating the relative merits of Walsh and Gordons bays.

Magnetic Memories is smoother than the predecessor album, with woodwind from Millie Hall (Destiny 3000, Bridezilla) and Caroline de Dear (Day Ravies), and cello by 2SER’s James Newman. Roche seems stuck at a point on the cusp of the 1970s and 80s when old-style rock’n’roll was taking a second glance at the saxophone. So you can just relax and let the arrangements on the title track lick you behind the ear while Roche huskily croons, ‘Magnetic memories/I got a tropical disease’.

New single ‘Call Back’ is even better – a punchy number that rails against the lifestyle impositions of the modern mobile phone device. It’s got bouncy, Roxy Music-style keys and back up vocals drawn from Lou Reed’s seedy take on American soul music.

Magnetic Memories is coming out in April via Glenlivet-A-Gogh (which has taken over Roche’s own Fartpound Records imprint) on vinyl, CD and digital.


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LISTEN: Hawaii94 – Nightvision EP

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I think something got lost in translation in the presser from Hawaii94‘s Paris and Bordeaux-based record label: “Inside his room in Melbourne, Hawaii94 produces a fruity and intoxicating music”. Maybe ‘fruité’ has heaps of sexy connotations for a native French speaker. Whatever; I’m going to go with it.

Have a listen to the Nightvision EP from the Melbourne producer and try to see yourself anywhere other than a Malibu paradise with Toro Y Moi and Twin Shadow taking turns to serve you tropical fruit cocktails. Hawaii94 makes the ‘fruity chillwave’ genre so much his own that anyone attempting to snare that title would be kicked to the gutter as an imposter.

Hawaii94 is the pseudonym of Lee Nania, who subscribes to the bedroom ethic of artists like Flume and Bored Nothing. He takes that ethic and folds it through a soft lens, creating a dreamy haze not unlike local acts Kilter and RÜFÜS. The result is an EP packed with delicious, sunny tunes to dance the night away to. Instead of being a made-up fad, Hawaii94′s fruity chillwave could be one of the most selfless examples of bedroom pop going round.

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WATCH: T54 – ‘AC Parade’

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I like to imagine that the conversation around this video clip, from Christchurch three-piece T54, went something like this: “Hey man, we’ve gotta do a video for this clip, whaddaya reckon?” “How ’bout we just go down to those sweet mountains past mum’s house and stand around and throw rocks and shit?”

And it totally worked, thanks to the casual beauty of New Zealand and the casual excellence of this song. There’s something sweetly strange about the video; the camera lingers for awkward close-ups on band members who are obviously finding it very hard to keep a straight face, and any attempts to look brooding are fruitless.

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The song itself is that very popular mix of distorted rhythm guitar, pretty lead melody and high vocal, but these guys pull it off by keeping the track short and packing it with plenty of hooks and different parts so it never gets boring or repetitive. It also feels like the kind of track that would go off way more live, if its droning, dreamy fuzz tendencies were let off the leash.

And what do you know! They’re coming to Australia for three shows, with dates below:

Thursday March 20 –  The Old Bar, Melbourne (w/ Claws and Organs, Glaciers and Popolice)
Friday March 21 - Yah Yah’s, Melbourne (w/ The New Pollution and The Sunday Reeds)
Saturday March 22 – Grace Darling, Sydney (w/ Contrast and Miniatures)

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Food Court band

I met the guys from Food Court at a Halloween shindig in Redfern last year where they were playing support for Bad//Dreems.

Anyway, I was struck by how nice the guys were, as well as their drummer’s Prince costume, crucifix earring and everything. And when they hit the stage, by which I mean the living room, they blew me away so hard I thought there was a gale force wind tucked into their amp or something.

Thankfully, Food Court can capture their live nature pretty easily on tape. In fact, there’s almost no noticeable difference, besides the considerable lack of guitarist sweat. Food Court’s debut EP Smile At Your Shoes (now available for free from their Bandcamp page), is a rag-tag slice of ordinary guys doing extraordinary things.

New single and the final track from the EP, ‘She’s Away’ is a strong reminder of what makes these guys so great. Why dig for your old Screamfeeder and Jebediah records, when there’s amazing Aussie rock like this popping up?

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