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LISTEN: Heart Beach – ‘Brittle’

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Heart Beach

Look, I could probably just post this song with ‘Heart Beach continue to rule’ and leave it at that. If you know the Tasmanian three-piece you know they make impenetrably solid, understatedly powerful indie rock.

New single ‘Brittle’ continues the trends of much of their debut self-titled record from last year: two guitars playing the same great riff, two low-key and likeable voices working together to drive the kinda nostalgic kinda hopeful lyrics forward. A steady beat, a terrific bass hook. Maybe that sounds like formula but it’s more like direction – Heart Beach make confident music. They know what they wanna say and they say it well every time.

The emotional ‘brittleness’ of this song comes from in the tension of trying to hold it together, to look like you’re fine on the outside while inside shit couldn’t be more wrong. The measured vocals come out like a speech rehearsed in the mirror. There’s a lot going on under the surface of those fuzzy guitars, the drums constant, spare and flat. I’ll rehash the Pixies comparison cause it’s there, but without the over-seriousness that usually plagues those who try to go for the serious Pixies vibe too hard.

The more poppy elements help to offset the cruelty of the phrase ‘I can’t believe that he got over you’, so it takes a few repetitions for it to really sink in. Then by the time it does the song is just about over, and you have to play it again. And again.

 

Heart Beach have just been signed to Spunk Records, and their next record Kiss Your Face will be out later in the year.

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INTRODUCING: Golden Syrup

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Golden Syrup

Golden Syrup is the new experimental pop act from songwriter and sound artist Sara Retallick. You might recognise her sweet-toned pipes from Melbourne band Jimmy Tait, whose 2013 AMP-nominated record Golden was a favourite here at WTH.

On debut track ‘Didn’t Go Home’, Retallick takes a sharp turn from her former indie rock project. Woven out of samples, field recordings and tape manipulations, the new material is spare, sinister and oddly ritualistic. Droning bass notes and a work-gang rhythm underpin Retallick’s incantatory vocals, while shards of noise and disembodied laughter unsettle the track’s placid surface.

‘I went to your birthday party/and I didn’t go home again,’ she sings, darkly. Seldom has a song about hooking up sounded quite so creepy.

Golden Syrup’s single launch party is this Friday at the Gasometer. Moon Rituals, Time for Dreams and Superstar side project Various Asses will be supporting, plus Laura Jean will pop in for a DJ set. RSVP on Facebook.

Golden Syrup Gasometer

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LISTEN: Thigh Master – ‘Canned Opening’

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Thigh Master

People in Brisbane like to gently make fun of Thigh Master for opening pretty much any given rock show on any given weekend. But I don’t know, I think they’re the kind of band you can pretty happily see heaps of times – their sound is a mix of the familiar , catchy and emotionally affecting that’s at once comforting and exciting.

New single ‘Canned Opening’ is less frantic and furious than previous cut ‘Company’ – it’s kind of introspective but never earnest. Matthew Ford has such downer-boy vocal delivery that if the music was too over-serious it wouldn’t work at all – luckily these guys write hooks that go down easier than domestic beer, with funny little wonky pops of whammy-assisted guitar in-between.

‘Both Company’ and ‘Canned Opening’ will be released on their album, Early Times, out via new label Coolin’ By Sound in October. They’re savvy choices because they capture the Thigh Master vibe pretty perfectly: ‘I don’t like you, I don’t care for myself much either, but that won’t stop us from trying to have a good time’.

Thigh Master will be playing Big Sound next week if you happen to be heading down to that, and probably plenty more times at other places in the future.

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LISTEN: TEEF Records – Imperium In Imperio II

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imperium2

Tommy Faith, founder of the always entertaining and on point Australian music blog Sound Doctrine, started TEEF Records in 2014 and has since clocked up a string of cracking releases from relative newcomers Spirit Faces, Anatole, Arthur Wimble and, most recently, Yon Yonson.

Mid-last year TEEF released Imperium In Imperio, a compilation of exclusive tracks from a veritable goldmine of local talent including Collarbones, Setec and Electric Sea Spider amongst many others. While the TEEF roster leans towards bedroom pop and electronica, the extensive list of artists featured on the compilation cover a lot of ground, stylistically speaking, without losing the sense of cohesion needed to make such releases succeed. And to top it off, the profits from the release were given to OXFAM’s Nepal relief fund, after a devastating earthquake struck the South Asian country in May last year.

Here we are a little over 12 months later, and Tommy’s at it once again with Imperium In Imperio II. Keeping with the eclectic nature of the first compilation, the 18-track second instalment features a slew of great artists with equally diverse and engrossing offerings – from the exquisitely squashed hip-hop entry from Sampa the Great, and the hypnotic warmth of Tracy Chen, to the ghostly 2-step groove of IljusWifmo. Once again the proceeds will be donated to OXFAM, this time for the Syrian refugee appeal, helping OXFAM provide food, water and sanitation to some of the 13.5 million people who have fled their homes over the last five years.

Grab this amazing compilation now and not only will you support this great cause, you will also show some much deserved love to your new favourite label, TEEF.

LISTEN: Military Position – ‘Made to Fight’

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military position

Photo by Chloe Alexandra

‘Timeliness is for fucking NERDS’ – me to myself justifying writing about this song from Military Position (Harriet Kate Morgan, from Melbourne) weeks after it was released. I’m sure other things have come out that less people have heard of that deserve attention but are they this heavy with tension and danger and that gutsy industrial techno that I can’t get enough of right now? Nah.

There’s hints of Kirin J Callinan in Morgan’s vocals – that authoritative kind of Australian accent most of us nasal creeps will never pull of – but she’s fucking around even less. Everything here is laced with threat.

It’s the feeling of being followed, clenching your fists and standing up tall. Tick tock drum machines in the last minute making everything sound even more ominous. Whatever their counting down to, I don’t know if I want to see it.  It’s a tough fucking song that works as a response to, as well as a mirror for, masculine aggression. It’s the blood beating in your ears when you don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into. It’s sick.

‘Made to Fight’ will be out on a forthcoming release called Black Noise C30 on Trapdoor Tapes

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INTERVIEW: Em Gayfer of Rock4Renewables

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yes friends

If you’re out and about in Melbourne you’ve probably been touched by the ambition and grace of Em Gayfer in one sense or another; chances are you’ll recognise them foremost as the vocalist for the fearless Chelsea Bleach, but they’ve put their hand to their fair share of grassroots activism too. This brings us to Rock 4 Renewables, a micro-activism festival to push for renewable energy in Victoria. Far be it from me to explain the whole thing – instead, I spoke to Em recently about R4R’s upcoming gig at The Old Bar on 14 August.

What can you tell us about Rock 4 Renewables?

Rock 4 Renewables is a fundraiser event to raise money for Yes2Renewables – a Friends of the Earth collective. The group has been campaigning in Victoria for over four years to ensure legislation around renewable energy is fair in the state. We’ve been able to get the Daniel Andrews government to commit to repealing the worst of the state’s anti-wind farm laws, as well as commit to a Victorian Renewable Energy Target!

After some major wins, however, this grassroots organisation is running low on funds. We’re calling for Melbourne’s rock n roll community to support us in raising some much needed money so that we can keep working in Victoria to secure a 100% renewable future for the state!

The gig will feature some of Melbourne’s great musical talent, including Huntly, Elizabeth Mitchell (Totally Mild), Brat Farrar and Lalic. We’ll also have a raffle with some amazing prizes going on the night.

How did you get involved in the project?

I’ve been volunteering with Yes2Renwables for over two years. This event will be the second Rock 4 Renewables we’ve hosted – we called on the Melbourne music community to help us out a few years ago in raising some funds, so when we were having financial troubles, it was a good first place to start.

I’ve been volunteering with Yes2Renewables for over two years now and am pretty active in Melbourne’s live music scene. Combining two areas I’m really passionate about seemed like a great solution to me!

What can you tell us about the artists on the bill?

We’ve been lucky enough to secure an absolutely amazing lineup for the event, and just goes to show that Melbourne’s musos are ready to rally behind a great cause. We’ve got Huntly, who describe themselves as “doof you can cry to” and who recently released this amazing EP. Elizabeth Mitchell from Totally Mild will be playing a dreamy solo set, Brat Farrar will be bringing his fuzzy new wave style. Lalic will also be joining us with their experimental psych stylings. And we’ll have DJ Nature Girl playing tunes in between bands, so there will really be no reason to leave the dance-floor!

The event mentions the Victorian state government undertaking “ambitious renewable energy goals”, for the uninformed, can you tell us what these entail?

During Tony Abbott’s prime ministership, the renewable energy sector was dealt a harsh blow, with the national renewable energy target slashed by 20%. This meant that in Victoria, the renewable energy sector was stunted and no new projects were being built due to uncertainty over what would happen in the future.

In light of this, the Yes2Renewables campaign worked hard to ensure the Daniel Andrews government committed to renewable energy in Victoria. The main way to ensure this has been through a Victorian Renewable Energy Target. Recently, the Andrews government announced two renewable energy targets for the state: 25% by 2020 and 40% by 2030 – which is a great step towards transitioning to 100% renewables!

What kind of renewable energy mediums (or methods) is the state government supporting?

Plans for how the VRET will be implemented are still underway so we still don’t know exactly what the state’s renewable energy sources will look like. Their plans show so far that the targets will double the amount of wind energy capacity in the state by 2020 and triple it by 2025, not only increasing the amount of renewable energy but also creating 10,000 jobs which is pretty awesome.

Where to from here?

Victoria’s renewable energy targets are an important step in ensuring a clean energy future for Australia, but there are still a number of other steps to take. The VRET has set a strong baseline for Victoria, but across the country we need to see renewables growing. As well as this, across Victoria, communities have been calling for a permanent ban on unconventional gas (fracking) and are currently awaiting a decision from Resources Minister Wade Noonan, so there are still a number of other environmental threats outside of just increasing the amount of renewable energy in the state that need to be addressed.

Rock 4 Renewables poster

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WATCH: Shady Nasty – ‘Upwardsbound’

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shady nasty

“NEVER WILL I EVER KNOW” goes the cry on Shady Nasty’s hellfire post-punk debut single, ‘Upwardsbound’.

You’ll scream it into singer Kevin Stathis’ face sometime soon I reckon, mutual spit flying across the space between band and audience. Reminds me of going through my La Dispute phase, catching them play an under 18s show at Irene’s Warehouse in 2010, where 16 year olds slammed into each other like amateur wrestlers, basking in the cacophony of angst and noise and Jordan Dreyer’s hyper-poeticised versions of heartbreak.

This isn’t to compare those two bands on any musical level though – Shady Nasty are cut from a wholly different cloth. ‘Upwardsbound’ is scattershot in all the different things it tries to achieve, but it succeeds in every area. Stathis’ wry, knowing vocal delivery; that pin-prick guitar, ascending over the verses. It all converges in a stadium-sized tremolo freak out, over which Stathis cries “but I can’t not feel that I’m sick with envy”. While the sounds Shady Nasty are bringing through aren’t untapped, their delivery is something damn original.

The video going along with ‘Upwardsbound’ has its own sinister edge, but somehow it achieves this with fruit abuse, dry ice, and some liberal head wobble. The band tries to keep up appearances in a cute domestic setting, but the instrumentation makes it sound like the world is ending outside.

As someone comments on ‘Upwardsbound’ on the group’s Facebook page: “there’s tunes, and there’s top notch ridgey didge grungey inner west makeyathink classic tunes”.

Check out the video below, directed by Anna Philips and Sam Brumby.

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