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INTRODUCING: Staunch Nation

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Something odd is happening in Australian hip hop at the moment. No, I’m not talking about Milwaukee Banks, who have sent local blogs into a spin with their steezy, Southern-style rap . There are no false American accents from the blokes I’m thinking of; they’re true blue, rapping about V8s, warm beer and Dunhills, and heading out in the Holden, balaclava clad, to hold up a 7-Eleven. There’s profligate use of the C-bomb, and it seems they spend everyday “punchin’ cones with hoses and stealing munchies from the grocers”.

Ray Chanel, MCGC, J-Willy, J Palm, T-Billz and John Savage (AKA J Saavy) are Staunch Nation, a crew hailing from the outer suburbs of Sydney and the nation’s capital (presumably from out Tuggeranong-way). They might sound suspiciously like the popular front of the Southern Cross Soldiers, but don’t worry – these fellas are #based as. Staunch Nation are just spreading the good word about how sweet it is to be in western Sydney sipping Rio Bravo in the summertime. Their overriding message, as told to Noisey’s Kane Daniel, is that “Everyday is a celebration, so inhale deeply and get broccolized like we’re back in the Triassic doing gymnastics”.

These guys don’t pay much heed to the usual rap signifiers. Their Tumblr features Warney and Russell Crowe pretty heavily, as well as the Footy Show, Plucka Duck and, for some reason, the Gympie IGA. They’ve also got a kind of unsettling fascination with Steven Seagal.

They’re not much interested in the traditional hubris of the genre, either. Here’s Staunch Nation on swag:

“My dress code is strictly polo and thongs”

“I’m Prince Charming with a gap in my teeth/Cassanova with a bum bag and poise like a sheik”

On their stacks:

“I’m covered in bling and when I take a shit/I hear ka-ching, ka-chingy, ka-chingy-ching-chingy”

On b*tches:

“Feel slightly sexual, melt her like lava/then go to the plaza and buy myself a fur coat/made from 100 per cent llama/then say ‘I love ya’”

Staunch Nation’s flow might be a bit clunky, but – the best surprise here – the tracks are underpinned by some very appealing production. Fizzy and bold, with innovative little plays on trap, it references the warm, minimal beats of early 90s hip hop.

Hear Staunch Nation’s first single, ‘Summa Crusin’, below.

If, like me, you can’t get enough of Ray Chanel et al, you can follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Soundcloud. A second video, for the single ‘Mainies’, will drop on 27 July, and debut mixtape Finesse is due out in August.

Sydney-siders can catch them playing alongside Milwaukee Banks, Moonbase Commander and Mike Who at Goodgod on Wednesday, 13 August. It’s one of those VICE ‘free with RSVP’ parties, so get in on it here.

PREMIERE: Playwrite – ‘Whittaker’

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Fresh from the horse’s mouth is a brand new slice of heaven from Melbourne outfit, Playwrite. Their latest single, ‘Whittaker’ is a beautiful song, one that’s endlessly listenable while also carrying a thought provoking message.

With a strong aptitude for folk, Playwrite open ‘Whittaker’ with a softly pattering drum line and a simple but touching acoustic guitar melody. Over time, they introduce pitch-perfect vocal harmonies and glittering synths that create a sublime contrast with the lead vocals, expressing yearning and melancholy in a striking way. It’s an interesting contrast between the calming nature of the music and the earnest plea contained in the lyrics; the carefree melodicism is countered by serious social commentary in a way that’s uniquely effective.

Previous single ‘Lady Oracle’ was a more layered affair. Where ‘Lady Oracle’ was propelled by driving beats and jungle rhythmics (think Yeasayer, circa All Hour Cymbals), ‘Whittaker’ is stripped to the core, contemplative and world weary.  Lamenting the failure of our institutions and the ignorance of many, Playwrite’s sentiments are strong. Thankfully, ‘Whittaker’s understated atmosphere adds weight to the message, where a more bombastic approach would have undermined it.

The band took time to craft their latest work in the Victorian hinterland and on ‘Whittaker’ it shows. You can imagine this song being conceived during a walk at dusk, away from civilisation, where the woes of the world can be examined from afar. Throughout the song there is a gentle sway, a caressing breeze of fresh country air.

Playwrite’s debut album is slated for release later this year. It features production work from Jimi Maroudas (Kimbra, Eskimo Joe, Bertie Blackman) and mastering by Emily Lazar (Haim, Vampire Weekend, James Vincent). Based off their two latest singles, I’d say the record will be as diverse as it will be touching.

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INTRODUCING: Hentai Magi

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Hentai Magi is the solo project of Sydney-sider Roberto Klaic – or the ’20th Century Boy’, who, according to his self-mythologising, was “spawned out of a young man who had reached the end of his evolutionary state and found transcendence in the sonic dimension”. Press release bravado aside, I’m amazed this guy is still flying so low under the radar. Perhaps the sinister nomenclature – not to mention the necklace made of bones – has been scaring the punters off. Beneath the sci-fi and gothic symbolism, Hentai Magi’s debut EP is a very consistent little collection of pop songs. 

The pagan overtones are realised to some extent in the circular grind of Klaic’s compositions, which tend towards drone despite the abundance of melodic hooks. The tracks are composed of screwed up organ sounds, probably guitar generated, alongside drum machines, booming bass, synth arpeggios and guitar solos that are reminiscent of pop savant Wild Nothing. The EP, strong on themes of forgiveness and the will to forget, feels like it was written in the wake of some emotional distress. Klaic has tortured these pop songs with bursts of noise and blown out drums that at their loudest sound like fireworks, and the climactic passages brim with elements that thud up against one another like it were a contest.

Hentai Magi achieves a strange balance between aggression, contemplation and pop; the schizophrenic dark side of Japanese counterculture meeting the ritual chants of a summer solstice.

You can stream the EP below, or get the whole thing for yourself as a name-your-price download on Bandcamp.

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MAP July 2014

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MAP has arrived for the month of July. If you’ve been seeking shelter under a proverbial rock during the colder months or just lazy, here’s a good thing to get you reacquainted.

Our submission for Oz this month is ‘Cast of Lines’, the new track from Melbourne expats A Dead Forest Index.

We’ve also been trying out a new format for the MAPcast podcast. Robbie will be exploring local music from a different MAP blog & country each month. This round, he’s hitched on with our pals from Indonesian music blog Deathrockstar to find some good stuff beyond the Bintang singlets and bad tans. Have a listen/ download the podcast via Soundcloud or iTunes.

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 24-track compilation through Dropbox here.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Los TirosAutocontrol

Listen to

In the past weeks we’ve been listening to Denso y Moderno, the first album by Los Tiros, in a non-stop loop. This band from Quilmes, a city in Greater Buenos Aires, delivers a pop-rock sound with lots of synthesizers and optimistic lyrics. The album has 11 tracks, all potential hits, and Autocontrol is one of them.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
A Dead Forest IndexCast Of Lines

Listen to

Cast Of Lines is the new 12″ by Melbourne’s A Dead Forest Index. Released recently through Pop Noire (the label run by Savages’ Jehnny Beth), title track Cast Of Lines is an expansive, meditative piece – a precursor for the band’s unique sound palette which has been praised abroad.

CANADA: Ride The Tempo
TMPLVoyij

Listen to

TMPL are a relatively new electro-pop duo from Toronto made up of Kevin O’Brien and singer-songwriter Eli Andreas. By new, I mean they have this one song out called Voyij that takes you on an expansive journey of sounds that gets more exciting at every corner.

More tracks after the jump.

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PREMIERE: Bearhug – ‘Borderlines’

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Sydney’s Bearhug are back with their first full-length release since 2012′s Bill, Dance, ShinerSo Gone will be out on 12 September through Spunk, and we’ve got the first taste for you in the blistering opener, ‘Borderlines’.

Bearhug has undergone some line-up changes, having lost a member since the Over Easy EP came out in April last year, and with those changes has come a major overhaul of their sound. While earlier releases smacked of My Morning Jacket and Being There-era WIlco, the band now names acts like Sic Alps and Fugazi as influences.

So Gone was recorded by Straight Arrows frontman Owen Penglis, who’s worked with most Sydney DIYers worth mentioning, including Royal Headache, Angie and Palms. Penglis now has a bona fide studio to work in (a step up from the kitchen of his Surry Hills share house), and the difference shows: Bearhug’s new single isn’t scrappy so much as searing.

‘Borderlines’ is all feedback and screaming guitar solo, underpinned by the drummer’s motorik tick and plenty of fuzz box. A brief but driving instrumental number, the track’s an exciting teaser of what’s to come.

So Gone tracklisting:

01. Borderlines

02. Aimee

03. Animal

04. Habit Wave

05. Chlorine

06. Acid Town

07. Catacombs

08. In Rapture

09. The Glow

10. The Sky

11. Until We Say

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WATCH: Fuyuko’s Fables – ‘Slappy and Graham’

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Fuyuko’s Fables‘ ‘Slappy and Graham’ is an exercise in restraint and release. It shows the Wellington five piece alternating beautifully between whispered acoustic folk and the slow grandeur of a post rock band.

The various elements are balanced carefully throughout the song, providing a subtle sense of movement as each melodic or rhythmic line is introduced or removed. The track is warm and inviting, and while it does see progression, the changes are never jarring but welcome. By the time the song hits the refrain you’ve been so immersed in its charms that you just nod your head along as the band sings some ‘ooh-oohs’ and quietly leaves you back where you began.

‘Slappy and Graham’ is accompanied by a sepia-tinged video, a slide show of photos that could just as easily have been taken on tour as found in a box in the back of an op-shop. The carefully timed images quietly add a sense of space and majesty to the track’s breathy sound.

 

You can hear the rest of Fuyuko’s Fables‘ latest EP, Everybody is Weird, here.

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INTRODUCING: Redfoot

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Redfoot

Redfoot are a New York based indie rock outfit, with synths man Corey Wallace flying the Aussie flag. They make wafting dream pop that chops and changes swiftly, often before you realise what’s happening.

Their self-titled debut EP opens with ‘Reversing Falls’, a menacing track defined by a tense guitar hook and Luca Pironti’s vocals, which roll through the melody hypnotically. Wallace plumps up each track with Grizzly Bear-style synths, especially the lead single, ‘Make it Quick’, which was produced by fellow New Yorker and indie-rock personality Darby Cicci (The Antlers). ’Make It Quick’ displays the group’s lack of interest in traditional song structures, with sneaky time signature changes adding depth to the already layered track.

This kind of experimentation creeps in again during ‘Lo Pan’, with Pironti’s vocals spurred on by a lethargic snare before the track changes direction completely around the three-minute mark. These red herrings crop up all over Redfoot, making their debut EP an effortlessly interesting listen. It makes me wish they’d make the trip back to Australia so I could see them have a crack live.

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