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AUSCAST: Episode 1

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You know how on your socials there’s a never ending stream of bits and pieces of media you probably just scroll through because they might end up being a waste of your precious me time? Well, we’ve taken one for the team and sifted through the noise to compile a bunch of tracks you’ll be glad you shovelled into your ears. Here’s our first Aus music podcast. There’s some shoegaze from a Perth band called Hyla with enough plate reverb to feed a family of five, Melbourne’s Mangelwurzel do this thing where you don’t know whether it’s punk, ska, math or just plain nuts – plus we’ve thrown a couple of bedroom-producer-type electro tracks into this mix to smoothen out the edges. Well, enough of the chit-chat -just listen to it, will ya? Stay tuned for the next one.

MAP April 2015

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This month’s Music Alliance Pact features music from 16 countries around the world, including ‘Honey’, an all-family affair from Barwon Heads duo Surf Dad. You can check out more of their material over on Soundcloud.  ‘Honey’ also features in Robbie’s new Australian music podcast, streaming right here.

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 16-track compilation through Dropbox here.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Los Grillos Del MonteJaqueline

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This supergroup formed by Facundo Flores (Onda Vaga, Nacho & Los Caracoles), Tomi Lebrero (El Puchero Misterioso), Martín Reznik (La Filarmónica Cósmica) and Jano Seitún (Campos Magnéticos, Alvy Singer Big Band) has just released their first record. According to the guys, the album sounds like “a bolero who fathered a cumbia, a chorus which is the cousin of the best zamba, and rock music that won’t leave us even if we try”. MAP exclusive download Jaqueline is our favorite track from the album.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Surf DadHoney

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Surf Dad is the production duo of George and Declan Sands, brothers from Barwon Heads, a small coastal town just south of Melbourne. More than a year after releasing the excellent Unholy EP, the siblings have dropped Honey, a pristine, sensual track featuring horns, bells, woodblock, field recordings from their dad’s backyard and their mum, Natisha, on vocals. George salvaged the vocal recordings from old four-track cassettes that Natisha, an artist herself, compiled in the 1980s. As you might expect from an intimate family collaboration, the boys’ woozy, organic production complements her heady performance perfectly. And Mum’s reaction upon hearing the track? She cried.

CANADA: Ride The Tempo
Dilly DallyGender Role

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Buzz Records is taking Toronto by storm with their incredible roster of artists that include Odonis Odonis, Weaves, Greys, HSY, Anamai and more. Now I bring to you the incredible Dilly Dally, whose “I don’t give a fuck” attitude both on and off stage will have you loving them more and more.

COLOMBIA: El Parlante Amarillo
BalancerRemain Waves

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Balancer is a trio formed by Colombians and Puerto Ricans, but based in Brooklyn. Gabriela, Felipe and Francisco have released two EPs and an album called Tipsoo. Their music is striking – it’s a world influenced by indie-rock, psychedelia and electronics. Remain Waves is the first single released from Tipsoo, which takes us through the waves to the shore with a warm, downtempo sound.

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INTRODUCING: Fazerdaze

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Fazerdaze is the moniker of Wellington born bedroom songwriter, Amelia Murray. After moving to Auckland to study music, Murray began layering guitars over drum machine loops and in the process created one of the most charming iterations of surf-pop we’ve heard in a while.

New Zealand has a pretty good history of churning out jangly guitar bands (everyone from The Clean to Surf City) but Murray really sets herself apart with Fazerdaze. Her debut EP brings together the driving rhythms of more traditional surf with multi-tracked harmonic vocals that feel like they barely touch the ground before floating right past your ears.

The whole thing is delivered with such effortlessness that it seems like Murray must have just sat down and recorded the whole thing in an afternoon. But don’t let that description fool you. Songs like ‘Somethink’ show off some beautifully intricate guitar work along the lines of Dustin Wong’s solo albums.

Fazerdaze has been playing a few shows around the country and with any luck we’ll hear more from her soon.

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INTRODUCING: Closer

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Closer is the ambient/noise project of Melbourne musician Liam Daly. It shares the grandiose aims of his former post-rock outfit, These Hands (Could Separate the Sky), but in place of cascading guitars are shifting drones built from sub-bass, white noise and tape hiss.

Over the past couple of years Daly has released two EPs, White Heat and Descent, and a full-length called In Search of Life. His latest is the neatly symmetrical Heartache/Lifted, whose two tracks both clock in at precisely 10:10.

The album has the neo-classical tenor of Basinski’s conceptual drones and some of the muted drama of Tim Hecker compositions. It’s not as centred and melodically rich as either of those artists, but that’s probably because Daly’s process is driven largely by chance. As he recently told Forte, Closer’s aesthetic is “not overly driven by specific mood or intent. Whatever noises present themselves are the ones I have to use. Whatever form the song takes, then so be it”. As a result, these tracks don’t build so much as they unfold, revealing new details and layers, each with different evocations.

In the same interview, Daly described Closer as “music that warps time and makes you feel without choice”. At times it conveys the inevitability of a glacier slowly collapsing, or that rushing noise that fills your ears during a panic attack or dissociative state.

‘Heartache’ is like the soundtrack to some unspecified dystopian era, whether industrial, medieval or post-apocalyptic. The highlight is ‘Lifted’, with its breathy synth washes and submerged vocals, which sound like someone calling to you from inside a deep cavern.

Though these songs would probably benefit from stronger melodic motifs, Heartache/Lifted is surprisingly gratifying for something that veers so close to sound art. Like most ambient music, this makes for great headphones listening – and probably a killer live show, too.

Heartache/Lifted is available now through Bandcamp. Catch Closer performing at Old Bar next Monday, 20 April, alongside Mollusc and Fourteen Nights at Sea. RSVP on Facebook.

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INTRODUCING: Black Stone from the Sun

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Despite most folks’ reaction to hearing the words ‘Perth’ and ‘music’ in the same sentence (which is a spontaneous compulsion to list all of Tame Impala’s singles), the dusty city has got a blooming music scene. From electronic bleepers like Tenru and Catlips, who are making waves, to Doctopus‘ demented garage rock, Perth has got something special going on. But it’s the pure rock stuff coming from there that provokes the strongest interest. I mean, holy shit – if the first wave of new bands is anything to go by, Sub Pop’s gonna be setting up shop around WA pretty soon.

Heavily influenced by grunge and pub rock alike, the new crop includes legends like FOAM, Pat Chow and Hideous Sun Demon – all acts that are well worth laying down a few bucks for. But then, with their crushing melodies and immersive quiet-loud dynamics, there’s Black Stone from the Sun. For a two-piece, these guys make more noise than a distressed baby with access to a loudspeaker.

The duo aren’t afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves, with new single ‘Pastel Roses’ clearly recalling the likes of Nirvana, the Pixies, and more recently, Violent Soho. But that doesn’t necessarily do them a disservice – having a template to work from allows these guys to build their choruses into huge, swooping beasts that seem destined to be thrown headfirst from a festival stage.

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VIRTUAL MIXTAPE: Tim Shiel

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Illustration by Lucy Roleff

In our new series with Feral Media, we’ve asked a handful of Aus musicians to curate a mix featuring tracks from a genre they’re not associated with, but passionate about. Jonathan Boulet made us a doom-rock listicle in our first instalment (which you can read about here). Our second guest is producer, radio host, gaming mozart + longtime WTH favourite, Tim Shiel.

 

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Words by Greg Stone

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Tim Shiel began his music career releasing sample-based electronica under his Faux Pas alias. Taking cues from luminaries such as DJ Shadow, RJD2 and The Avalanches, his debut full length Entropy Begins at Home was a playful collage of bouncy electronica stitched together with a sense of humour that has remained at the heart of Tim’s music ever since.

After 3 albums and a slew of singles, EPs & remixes the Faux Pas moniker was retired with Shiel deciding to continue releasing music under his given names, most notably scoring the highly successful mobile-based video game Duet which has since spawned a remix album and most recently Duet: Encore Chapters. Tim’s music career took an extreme turn in 2011/2012 as a member of Gotye’s touring band which took in sold out tours of the U.S. and Europe, festival appearances, as well as the U.S. late night TV circuit. This relationship with Gotye’s Wally De Backer recently led the two to create fledgling record label Spirit Level, releasing the amazing sophomore album by Vermont-based band Zammuto.

His latest musical project is the self-proclaimed ‘emotional pop duo’ Telling with singer/songwriter Ben Abraham, which finds Tim steering his electronic production in a more song-based direction. 

In amongst all of this, Tim also finds time to host the radio show Something More on Double J & Triple J, where he explores the eclectic and intriguing world of contemporary electronic/experimental music.

For the second instalment of Virtual Mixtape, Tim has chosen (for want of a better term), modern folk. In his own words, “It’s not folktronica and it’s not freak folk. It’s just a brand of evocative, dreamy folk music that I’m really drawn to and have been for many years.” Furthermore, all of Tim’s selections come from Australian artists – a testament to the quality of music being created on our fair shores.

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Lisa Salvo – ‘Give Me Your Love’

Lisa’s songs are unassuming and thoughtful, and so are the arrangements on all the tracks on her most recent album which she produced with Joe Talia. Her voice is equal parts virtuosity and restraint, her melodies always interesting but never showy. I think this song is truly gorgeous and at times its little more than a shaker and a bass drone, and Lisa’s pure, intimate voice melting through it all.

Fieldings – ‘Idioglossia’

I’m really drawn to all the tracks that Fieldings has put out so far. They are simple folk songs that occasionally open a door to something more psychedelic, these tiny moments of sound design that hint at a kind of dream logic – and then snap you back to earth, back to acoustic guitars and old faithful harmonies. She says she is trying to capture “those moments where the mundane becomes sublime” and I can’t really put it any better than that.

Lucy Roleff - ‘Bodies’

Lucy’s voice is just stunning – I really love what she’s been doing with Alex as Magic Hands, but I’m utterly spellbound by some of what she’s put out just under her own name. I love that, like everyone else on this, she seems to be channeling a kind of folk music that has nothing to do with banjos or mandolins or beards or Mumfords – an idea of folk music that is more universal, that kind of story- telling that existed before popular music, before rock, blues, country etc. Timeless music.

 

Aphir - ‘Hypersephone’

I met Aphir after seeing her play at a little bar in Melbourne last year – she’d just pulled off a forty set of completely a capella music that I’d been completely entranced by. Hers is a kind of digital medieval choral music – hyper-real, borrowing the harmonic ideas of medieval choral composers and sending them echoing through a kind of virtual cathedral space, to create this kind of futuristic religious music. In amongst all that her stories are personal and compelling. Her sound is so unique and so clear.

The Orbweavers – ‘Loom’

Stuart & Marita are literally the sweetest people I have ever met, and they make beautiful music together. I love that they sing about my hometown and about its history, that they are inspired by local stories and local histories. They create haunting and detailed little worlds and again they litter their songs with these quietly epic moments of grandeur that hint at a kind of fantastical dream world – I love that they can create such beautiful, gorgeous pieces about topics that some might consider mundane; the rivers, suburbs and history of Melbourne.

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Brighter Later – ‘The Woods’

The Wolves is one of my favourite Australian albums from recent years. The arrangements are so rich, its amazing to think about how much love was poured into each track on this album. Its not easy to make such hard work sound so effortless. This track in particular is full of delicious details and left turns – but its Jay’s voice that is the big hook for me, she sounds so gorgeous and strange. I could listen to her sing all day. Jaye is also an amazing radio producer who has done some very creative work with Radio National, which obviously counts for serious bonus points with me.

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INTRODUCING: Totally Mild

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The presser for Totally Mild’s debut record Down Time gets on the offensive straight away – saying to forget about dolewave (strong words considering they’re named after the Aussiest show ever after Burke’s Backyard) and get on board with this new sound. Well, you’ll pry broadly accented mates singing about ciggies and stained carpet from my cold dead hands, but I like this a hell of a lot too.

Totally Mild’s ‘new’ sound has some strong Geoffrey O’Connor vibes to me. It’s less aggressively produced and hedonistic, but there’s that same woozy darkness in his voice as there is in singer Elizabeth Mitchell’s – both breathy and gauzy but with real underlying pain. These are relaxed, slow-paced songs, but by keeping the majority under the three minute mark, the guitar tone sunny and the harmonies plentiful, the band have managed to keep the record from dragging. A highlight for me is ‘When I’m Tired’ – a catchy, cheerful track about night terrors and fire. Happy-sounding songs about bad shit get made all the time, but rarely with the subtlety and smarts that these guys show across this whole record.

So whether you’ve ACTUALLY been hunting an alternative to the current Melbourne jangle-centric scene, or you just wanna hear something cool, Totally Mild are worth your time.

Down Time is out today through Bedroom Suck on digital and vinyl.

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