New Music

LISTEN: Twerps – ‘I Don’t Mind’

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Twerps‘ second album is finally out next week. Its title, Range Anxiety, presumably refers to ‘second album syndrome’ – the fear, surely lurking in the heart of every buzz band, of not being able to live up to the promise of their debut record. This is something which Twerps frontman Martin Frawley openly admits to in interviews, and which he seems to be deflecting in the album trailers for Range Anxiety that depict him as some kind of crank auteur (and, later, a washed-up alcoholic).

The band’s made a few changes since their last LP. The talented Alex MacFarlane has been recruited on drums and has made his presence felt – the shift towards crisper tempos and a rather twee eccentricity on the Underlay EP and recent single ‘Back to You’ smacks of MacFarlane’s other band, the Stevens. Also, as has been evident in their live sets for a while now, Julia McFarlane is sharing more of the Twerps’ songwriting burden, having helmed two tracks on Underlay, as well as ‘Shoulders’, the second single from the forthcoming full-length.

Screwing with the formula is almost certainly a healthy thing for a band to do, but it’s a gamble. For Twerps, shared songwriting may have diffused some of the pressure of of making that difficult second album. Frawley has said he was left feeling exposed by the personal material on 2011’s Twerps, and he speculated last year that the new album would be ‘more of a joint record, less of one dude whinging about everything’. In fact, collaboration follows the shape the band’s life is now taking, with Frawley and McFarlane en route to getting hitched.

But while McFarlane is a decent lyricist, and her nimble guitar playing has provided the band with at least half its personality and pep since the beginning, her writing style feels unnaturally heavy alongside Frawley’s easygoing pop. She tends towards vocal melodies with a nursery-rhyme simplicity – albeit more of a nod to traditional folk than to Peter Combe – and with a sometimes grating circularity.

So after McFarlane’s anachronistic sounding ‘Shoulders’ (and the enjoyable but kind of dinky lead single, ‘Back to You’) it’s a relief to hear a track from Range Anxiety that genuinely lives up to the hype. ‘I Don’t Mind’ starts out lazily enough, swapping between Frawley’s slow drawl and McFarlane’s skipping guitar, with only the rumbling rhythm section and a hint of feedback to presage the thrill of the song’s frenetic final bars. As the tempo increases and layers build, the track culminates in a sense of urgency that utterly belies lines like ‘I don’t mind if you go / I don’t mind if you stay … let’s waste away … I don’t mind’.

Range Anxiety is out next Friday, 23 January, through Chapter. Twerps will play a backyard set at Polyester Records on the day, with limited tickets going to the first 40 people to preorder the album at the store or through the Polyester website.

They’ll be playing the new tracks for you again the very next day at the massive Sugar Mountain festival. Limited tickets are still available here.

Twerps’ Australian dates:

Jan 24 Melbourne­ – Sugar Mountain

Jan 28 Brisbane – The Tivoli *

Jan 29 Sydney -­ Enmore *

Feb 1 Melbourne -­ Palais *

Feb 3 Perth – Astor Theatre *

Feb 27 Melbourne -­ Melbourne Zoo #

March 7-9 Meredith – Golden Plains

* with Belle and Sebastian

# with Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks

You can see the band’s US tour dates here.

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INTRODUCING: Le Pie

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Le Pie

Who doesn’t love pie? Whether it be the home-cooked apple variety that spawned an infatuation with Sean William Scott, or the meat pie grub catcher that you can buy for $9 at the SCG, pie has thoroughly wormed its way into the collective conscience. Now, with the introduction of Le Pie, the world is about to get even friendlier with everyone’s favourite pastry delight.

Wrung from Newtown, Le Pie has only one single to her name, the heart-fluttering ‘Secrets’. But a few seconds in, you can already see that she’s going to be a star. She’s built on the same teen-crush pop panache that Go VioletsMeg Mac and Airling do so well. ‘Secrets’ is a surefire tearjerker, with an ability to evoke emotions we all didn’t even know that we had.

Maybe this is all a bit too flowery, but Le Pie makes a connection that most pop songwriters find unattainable. The fact she’s been able to do so on her first single is remarkable. Le Pie is sure gonna break hearts this year.

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LISTEN: Nite Fields – ‘Prescription’

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It’s been raining fucken heaps in Brisbane lately – that kind that doesn’t cool anything down but just gives you immediate jawline pimples and back sweat. Nite Fields don’t sound like a lot of other stuff around here (and they’re not TOTALLY a Brisbane band anymore, but we’ll claim ‘em), however there’s a hot and heaviness to this new track that suits. The sparseness of the first 30 seconds turns humid and heavy, the husky smoothness of Danny Venzin’s voice, which might be a little too polished at first, becomes more claustrophobic as the song spreads out like fog.

Their record, Depersonalisation (out Feb 3), was mixed by Nigel Lee-Yang from HTRK with touches from local Scraps. They’re on New York label Felte now, but they haven’t let too-coolness get in the way of making music that sounds like it took some guts and sweat.

When ‘Prescription’ premiered at Fact they called it ‘elegiac’. I’m not 100% sure what that means, but it sounds cool so it’s probably fitting. I think it sounds good as hell and a bit like the Church, which is sick. This record’s gonna be one for hot nights or stark, grey days. Something to make mundane moments seem kind of moody and profound. So you probably better pre-order it.

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INTRODUCING: 100%

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For a city that enjoys close to 3,000 hours of daylight per year, Brisbane sure has a knack for producing stellar music of the gloom-ridden variety, and 100% look set to continue that trend well into 2015.

The enigmatic trio – set to make their live debut next week, alongside local faves Multiple Man and Pleasure Symbols – sound a little bit like the Sisters Of Mercy gone pop, or the Pet Shop Boys on a nightmarish acid trip in the Nevada desert.

But the recently released demo EP (suitably titled DEMO) shows 100% have more up their sleeve than 80’s revivalism. ‘Eagle Street’ opens in a wash of Balearic synth atmospherics, while an off-kilter industrial rhythm is gently coaxed to the fore. ‘Prisoner’ glides effortlessly along an irresistible synth and 808 shuffle, recalling Tender Buttons-era Broadcast. Stand-out track ‘Phantom Game’ marries sepulchural, thrumming bass with a slick R&B groove, while short and sweet closing track ‘Come With Me’ calls to mind Day Ravies‘ recent shoegazing excursions.

Catch 100% on 16 January at the Bearded Lady in Brisbane.

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STUFF WE LIKED IN 2014

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2014 has been another great year for Australian music, cementing the perception both here and abroad that there’s something very special going on down under. Courtney Barnett continued her project of total world domination, touring the globe, selling out show after show back home and putting out a lovely little mixer on her label, Milk Records.

We heard stunning new albums from Total Control and Blank Realm, which were utterly deserving of the international acclaim. Cut Copy gave the Melbourne dance scene a critical shot in the arm, bringing some terrific acts together on the Oceans Apart compilation. The managers behind Pond and Tame Impala launched their own imprint, Spinning Top Records, bringing the charming Peter Bibby into our lives, with his drunken burble and shifty grin. Sydney label Plastic World expanded its catalogue of stylish retro club music, curating EPs from the likes of Retiree, Savoir and GL. The local hip hop scene did what had hitherto seemed impossible and produced a number of very promising MCs and producers. And, in one of the biggest surprises of my year, old mate Chet Faker put out a track that didn’t make me feel nauseous (though it did sound quite a lot like James Murphy).

Faced with such an embarrassment of riches, we figured it would be unfair – not to mention too difficult – to fashion a definitive list of the year’s best releases. Instead, our contributors have come up with their personal top three moments of the year in Australian music. If you’re a real stickler for lists you can always check out our newest Spotify playlist, featuring 100 of our favourite tracks from 2014.

Read the team’s contributions below.

(more…)

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INTRODUCING: Mope City

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Mope City copy

Australia’s in the shitter at the moment. We’re currently run by a bloke who outdoes the definition of misogyny whilst also being the national Minister For Women. That’s an irony to cruel for a higher power. Often, the best sort of bands present themselves to soundtrack dire times. Lo and behold, here’s Mope City.

Featuring members of Day Ravies and few others of Sydney’s finest, Mope City have kicked around for a while. The band have two creatively titled EPs to their name, Disneybland and Boo Fuckin Hoo. Where their former material rekindled the likes of Teenage Fanclub, their latest, Halfway House is a mid-fi pop choke-chain that brings out the darker elements in their music.

The production in this EP sums up with Mope City are aiming for, more firmly than previous material. Only three songs long, the material is tightly wound – but slides from rainy day pop, to more perturbed vibes. For an Aussie climate where the bitter heat is the least of our problems, Mope City provide an uncomfortably appropriate soundtrack.

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Mope City will be performing on the following dates in support of the release:
Jan 8th – Liberty Social, Melbourne (w/ Tam Vantage and Pure Moods)
Jan 10th – The Metro, Adelaide (w/ Wireheads and Men With Chips)
Jan 16 - The Haunt, Brisbane (w/ Bent + W.D. Fordy & Shrapnel + Karl’s Dog + Falco)
Jan 22nd – The Union, Sydney (w/ The Cathys + Avoid Island)
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Mope City’s Halfway House 7″ is out now through Tenth Court.

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LISTEN: Flower Drums – ‘Bad Websites’

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Flower Drums

It’s been a big year for Perth’s Flower Drums. The four-piece made their breakthrough at Laneway Festival in February thanks to Triple J Unearthed, and have since released a string of impressive singles. While their latest single ‘Don’t Wait’ looks set to propel the band off into a Flume-ian trajectory, ‘Bad Websites’, their previous single is also an intriguing listen.

‘Bad Websites’ opens with the kind of hiccupy rhythm you’d expect to hear sputtering from a bastardised Casio. However the track quickly changes course – dropping some lush synth pads that fall on just the right side of chill-out soundtrack cheese. Leigh Craft’s cooing vocals and gentle guitar ramblings blend subtly into the chorus, which is a near-perfect synthesis of delicate falsetto, silky-smooth synths and funky guitar licks.

With their debut EP 28 Mansions due for release early next year, it’s looking like 2015 could mark the start of even bigger things for Flower Drums.

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