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LISTEN: Max Quinn’s Onomatopenis – ‘Waterloo’

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Photo: Seshanka Samarajiwa


Fuck off John. Seriously, stop terrorising Max Quinn’s neighbourhood. Actually after listening to ‘Waterloo’ (named after the inner-Sydney suburb) I think I’ll be just fine here in Brisbane, thanks. Max Quinn has artfully turned his ‘povo urban youth’ experience into a neat slice of alt-pop punk on the first track from his forthcoming EP Carpool Tunnel Syndrome (a disease which I actually thought existed after many years of sympathising with Sharon Strezlecki because I thought she was heaps stressed from driving Kim around everywhere until someone corrected me: “car-pal tunnel, idiot”).

‘Waterloo’ wastes no time with bells, whistles or indie BS. It’s straight up story-telling, backed by a very listenable band. Perhaps Quinn’s hinting at a more direct approach to this EP, with his 2014 self-titled mini album (which was actually recorded in the residence that provided the inspiration for ‘Waterloo’) a pretty playful release full of offbeat quirks. Quinn is a witty song-writer – his lyrics move at a stream-of-consciousness pace without disappearing up their own butt in metaphors or becoming one-dimensional cliches.

It’s no surprise that the narrative is the real hook in this track, and the instrumentation gives Quinn’s story plenty of space to move. The vocal harmonies and layered guitar lines nail their job – you barely notice them at all because you’ve been swept up in all the hubbub and are busy screaming “fuck awff Jooohhhhhnn.” I love a good reverb soaked psych-wank as much as the next 22 year old, but Quinn’s sound is refreshingly earnest and I eagerly await Carpool Tunnel Syndrome.

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LISTEN: Lily & the Bellows – ‘White Lies’

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white lies

Two things happened on 21 October 2015. First of all, every dodgy news outlet in the world scrambled over itself to find an original way to tell everyone that this was the day Doc Brown and Marty McFly travelled to in Back to the Future Part II. The result was a flood of increasingly depressing memes that sucked out the entire spirit of the film.

The second thing that happened was Sydney soul-poppers Lily & the Bellows released their latest track, ‘White Lies’. Now, at first, these two events don’t seem related at all. How could the degradation of a beloved 80s film and a swinging pop number from a group of Sydneysiders be connected?

Well, here’s a theory for you – Lily & the Bellows actually travelled through time with Doc and Marty. Their sound rings clear as a dance floor ditty from the 1950s of George McFly. Lily & the Bellows were meant to be playing a support slot for Bill Haley and His Comets. Just as they were about to step onstage, the troublesome duo whisked them off in that bloody Delorean of theirs. Now they’re stuck in 2015 with nothing to do but release that fantastic song they’d been working on moments before.

The signs are all there – organ, plucky guitar, serene melodies: Lily & the Bellows were destined to be the hitmakers of their time. Luckily for us millennials, we get to claim them as our own. Suck it, Baby Boomers – this golden oldie belongs to us!

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LISTEN: Twelve Point Buck – ‘As Warm as Toast’

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Twelve Point Buck are some quiet achievers, slowly plodding away, developing their sound and consistently putting out releases every few months. The drip feed (although almost certainly unintentional) has the effect of building anticipation for future efforts and providing a neat moment to take stock of how they’re slowly but surely exploring every fuzzy-nook and garage-centric cranny of their sound.

As Warm as Toast, the second EP from the Sydney-based four-piece, sees them cultivate the heavier elements of their grunge sound, but always with a point of difference. The lead single, ‘Happy Djong’, is spliced with foreign-language samples that preface distorted licks and drum breaks. The four tracks succinctly summarise their ability to make blithe uptempo tunes and nihilistic slowburners with equal skill. 

What really attracts me to their sound is their refusal to pander to indie rock conventions, taking pride in their brooding structures (see, for example, ‘Forte Piano‘, which is essentially a succession of verses seamlessly running into one another). Twelve Point Buck are good in a way that I can’t typecast, because they really just sound like they’re doing their own thing.

You can download As Warm as Toast for $0, and keep an eye on what they’re doing because it’s probably going to be something you won’t want to miss.

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MAP: October 2015

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Our submission for this month’s edition of the Music Alliance Pact comes from ‘fresh to death’ Adelaide four piece, Fresh Kills. The guys have just released a double album comprising We Are and The People – what they describe as a “sprawling collection of 22 genre-pashing soul-punk anthems”. It’s loose. Real loose. And don’t just take our word for it.

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 18-track compilation through Dropbox here.

Listen to the full list below.


LISTEN: You Beauty – ‘Illywhacka’

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“I’ll be damned if this perfect fruit is left to rot on the tree,” You Beauty singer Will Farrier proclaimed just after recording wrapped up on Illywhacka, the band’s second record after last year’s footy saga Jersey Flegg. It’s another pub-rock opera, about a Love Rat online scammer who falls in love with his target – and now it’s been let loose on the world, Farrier’s confidence is absolutely justified.

You know how boring and lame it is when the media try to talk about online dating or Tinder or hookup culture or whatever? This record has done something kinda genius, bypassing all that shit to make a love story between middle-aged people in (what seems like) the late 90s absolutely relatable. You know all the way through this record that the protagonist is a scammer, but you’re kinda tricked by him in the same way as Dee, the woman he’s scamming. He’s a conman and a fuck up but a charmer all the same.

Songs like ‘Strong Connection’ and ‘Romeo and Julie’ are, fuck it, genuinely sexy. They’re intentionally cheesy and over the top, and you know this is just a liar trying to buy time with platitudes so he can string his prey along – but try and stop yourself doing the tucked elbows, swinging hips, clicking fingers dance to the groovy rhythm section that pulses all the way through the first half of this record. That just magnifies the brutality of ‘Pin Drop’, a disjointed, off-kilter crisis for our confidence man, which leads into the dark, spiralling ‘Same Damn Thing’. With its rapid spoken-word verses and poppy chorus, I’ll admit this didn’t make much sense to me as a single. But in the context of the record, it absolutely works to transition from sleazy grooves, shining with sweat, to dark, grinding emotional rock’n’roll ballads – when our conman realises his terrible mistake and ends up on TV being berated by Tracy Grimshaw, then in court, then prison.

I didn’t think anything was gonna top ‘Illywhacka’ (which I went on about when it was released in July) for my favourite song of the year, but every time I listen to this record I find something else to love. You Beauty have given us an epic story, rich in lyrical detail, but never at the expense of a hook or a sing-along moment.

It doesn’t hurt that Farrier can absolutely belt it out. In ‘Fast and Scrappy’ he alternates between a fast-talking crim, dishing out advice, and a man totally redeemed by love, singing in euphoric, passionate verses – while Dee waits outside (but for how long?). His voice and character and confidence at the centre of this record are the secret to why it works. He’s also not afraid to get a little real, singing in a moment of reflection on ‘Flake and Chips’ that “all these books and things / they make you think you’re sick if you’re alone”. So under the fake surface of this love story there’s some real shit – or maybe I’ve been conned too. Either way, what an album.

You can buy Illywhacka right now via Rice is Nice or iTunes.

You Beauty are celebrating the launch of the record in Sydney at the Union Hotel Newtown on 31 October with Flowertruck and Marky Vaw, with more shows for the rest of us early next year.

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LOOK: Totally Mild – Europe Tour

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Totally Mild recently returned from a two month jaunt touring around Europe with Terrible Truths. Here’s some snaps the band took on tour – playing in-stores in Paris, filming video clips in German gyms and chowing down on vending machine burgers.

Totally Mild have been nominated for three Age Music Victoria awards in the ‘Best Album’, ‘Best Emerging Artist’ and ‘Best Band’ categories. Voting is open to the public until November 6th, so swing some kudos to your favourite local acts here

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Palm Springs

Three years ago, a three-track demo appeared on Bandcamp credited to Palm Springs, a duo comprising Melbourne songwriter Erica Dunn and drummer Raquel Solier. The lead track was a dark country ballad called ‘Winning & Losing’ – a real heartstopper. Its gruff blues riff staggered through an ocean of cymbal crashes, matched by Dunn’s vocals, bellowing with the shock of rejection: “I never thought that I’d be the one who would lose / I never thought I’d be the one cut loose”.

The duo went quiet after that. Dunn travelled the US and played in a host of other bands – including Harmony and the SMB – while Solier focused on her experimental RnB project, Fatti Frances, and later had her first child. But last week Palm Springs’ official debut finally landed, in the form of twin seven inches 300 Acres / The Last Hour and Mexican Gem / Golden Dust, each with a complementary digital version featuring a handful of bonus tracks.

The releases were recorded at the same time, during a session held late last year at Melbourne’s Headgap Studios, and were intended to become a single album. The songs, however, were written at very different times in Dunn’s life and, after some thought, she decided they didn’t sit quite right together. So they were split into the sparse, pastoral folk of 300 Acres and the fuller, more diverse Mexican Gem – which ranges from the opener’s motorik hum (it sounds almost like the first Stereolab EPs) to the fingerpicking ditty ‘A List’.

Both collections are filled with aching dirges, guitar strings that buzz and bend, solos played down low, Solier’s loping drum beats and Dunn’s rich, dusty vocals. They call to mind 90s-era Drag City Records, traditional rhythm and blues, Sharon Van Etten and early Cat Power ­– even Paul Kelly, at times. These tracks are simple and strong; classic bare-bones songwriting.

Palm Springs are launching the seven inches this Saturday, 24 October, upstairs at the Tote with Sarah Mary Chadwick and Sweet Whirl. The vinyl’s out now via Rice is Nice and Dunn’s own (delightfully titled) Palm Springsteen Records.

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