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LISTEN: Rebel Yell – ‘Never Perfection’

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Pic by Glen Schenau

Pic by Glen Schenau

Some people have a tendency to dismiss music that has too strong an aesthetic – from artists who’ve taken more than one second to think about what people might like to look like as well as listen too. I reckon that’s super reductive of what music is, and, most usually, sexist as hell.

I love Grace Stevenson’s (who’s also in 100%) solo thing Rebel Yell because it’s vibe and sound and image, form and function all coming together to deliver maximum impact. Her first single ‘Never Perfection’ is dark industrial electronic music that you can dance to if you want – but it’s not really dance music. It doesn’t matter that much if you’re having fun, as long as that bass keeps pumping you’ll keep moving. The lyrics are completely unintelligible but she’s delivering them like a manifesto, insistent and direct. There’s a trend for punk shows in Brisbane lately to have a synth band/artist opening or playing after the headliner and it’s worked both to break the three white dudes with guitar monotony and to encourage electronic music with some darkness and muscle to bloom.

 

 

The video, done by Helena Papageorgiou, is all purple smoke and strobes flashing over Stevenson’s striking face, and does a great job of recreating the vibe of a Rebel Yell live show – slightly elusive, always making you want more. I also like that although it’s shot like a underground-rave scene, you can see it was filmed under someone’s house, so it’s more like you’re at a really good house show with about three minutes before the cops arrive.

 

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Before now, the Brisbane bands that have become most popular interstate have usually been of the sunny garage pop or likeable-stoner party rock variety. But maybe we don’t care so much about being liked any more. Maybe now we wanna make music that’s cold, distorted, and bold. And look fucking good doing it. It isn’t just me that thinks this has real widespread appeal – Rebel Yell just signed up to work with Rice is Nice on her EP Mother of Millions, out August 19.

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LISTEN: These Guy – ‘Lunchbox’

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cover art

I’ve always liked the idea of transporting my vegemite sang and muesli bar in a compartmentalised, carbon neutral (obviously) lunchbox, but in reality I just shovel last night’s pizza into a plastic bag and hope for the best. I have no idea how Joe Saxby, Josh Coxon or Eddie L’Estrange pack their sammiches or why a lunchbox is relevant to their debut collection of tracks as These Guy, and to be honest I’m not sure they do either. And that’s ok, we’re all just figuring it out and that’s fine.

Lunchbox begins with ‘The End’, where These Guy’s broad spectrum of alt-pop influences bleed together in a spin cycle of sounds that unfold over the album’s duration. ‘Coming Around‘ is the first punctuation point and one of the earliest singles, combining the indie pop ethos and sad boi pathos in what is a foundation theme on Lunchbox. Quirky synth hooks bubble up on most tracks to buoy each pessimistic lyric, refusing to let Saxby be sad about things he is justifiably shitty about (see: closing track ‘The Main Thing’, an 11-minute sprawling psych middle finger to long distance relationships). Despite this, Lunchbox is a significant upswing in mood from These Guy’s debut EP when it was Saxby’s heavily overcast solo project.

Techno pop track ‘Biscuits’ and ‘The Main Thing’ have featured in These Guy’s live set for a while now, but hearing them packaged up on Lunchbox makes the pivot from “everything is doomed’ sad to “silver-lining” sad a whole lot sharper. There are just so many quirks built into each song it’s hard to keep track of the ideas, from the disco synth hooks, full fret shredding and sax solos on ‘Over Before it Begins’ to the jangle pop guitar melodies of ‘Suburban Restaurant’, one album could hardly provide enough space to flesh them out.

Yet it’s the clean execution of these ideas which propels These Guy above the white noise of cookie cutter indie pop, with lofty vocal melodies, frenzied instrumentals, delay-heavy synths and a generous peppering of guitar licks all balanced by clever production. Lunchbox is like a pleasant hallucinatory experience, you’ll go places you didn’t know existed and come out wondering where the hell you’ve been and how you can get back there.

Here’s a treat for youse ahead of the album’s launch on June 16th.

 

You can see this play out in all it’s technicolour glory at Brisbane’s Black Bear Lodge on July 15th.

 

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LISTEN: Witch Hats – ‘Deliverance’

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Witch Hats

You can sense the muscle on some songs. It’s easy to visualise tendons gripping bone, the fibres stretching and tearing as the tune gives itself a good working out over and over again as you whack it on repeat. They just get beefier over time, the technique behind the brawn revealing itself; this one ain’t just a dumb banger, it’s got brains up top too.

Melbourne-based Witch Hats’ ‘Deliverence’ feels this way: a simple snare crack to start proceedings and then then the bass is there, swinging like a pendulum covered in treacle it’s so goddamn thick, trudging across the no man’s land the song sets us in, while guitar leads warble and flutter their way behind frontman Kristofer Buscombe’s sneering rasp of a vocal delivery.

“And I would lose it all/to watch your body fall/to see ya pissed down the drain”. Hate runs all the way through ‘Deliverence’. Not a misunderstood, hot-blooded hate, though; hate with purpose, with vision, like the hate of hell, Buscombe proclaiming “Hallelujah” before each chorus.

It’s been a fair few years since their last one, Pleasure Syndrome. In that time Witch Hats have stripped away the velvet curtains and lamplight that populated videos for songs like ‘Hear Martin’ and replaced it with the post-punk simplicity of black silhouettes and fire. The mechanical bounce of the band against the projections of destruction that makes up the majority of the video for  ‘Deliverence’ is hypnotic, like being presented with the inner workings of a well-oiled machine. It’s worlds beyond the slightly self-regarding nature of their older work.

Witch Hats have stripped away most all the finery and shine; and that don’t matter anyway, they still got teeth.

Witch Hats’ album Deliverence is out 1 July and available to preorder on vinyl and digital.

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LISTEN: Sarah Mary Chadwick – ‘Makin It Work’

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sarah mary chadwick

There’s a shaky kind of hopefulness to this new song from Sarah Mary Chadwick.  It’s like she’s got her hands out grasping desperately for something she’s not sure she wants, and which she might not get anyway.  ‘Makin It Work’ is the first single off Chadwick’s forthcoming record, with the kind of hilariously doomed title of Roses Always Die. Even knowing that, Chadwick makes us hope along with her here when she says she’s ‘moving towards a kind of finish line’. Even though neither we nor, it seems like, Chadwick, know what the other side of that line’s gonna look or sound like, we want her to get there.

The constant ticking drum machine and electric organ will be familiar to people who already know Chadwick’s stuff, but ‘Makin it Work’ doesn’t have the layers and atmospherics of a lot of Nine Classic Tracks. It’s more restrained and inward-facing, like this is a song she could have just written for herself and we’re getting a privileged private listen. However there’s no joke in her statement that ‘it’s a big song cuz I’m happy’, cause it is. A big song, a big moment, a big deal.  It must be for Chadwick to sing something like ‘baby oh baby/ spin me round and save me’, even if she’s then gonna say she doesn’t care who does the actual saving. It’s so big she had to stop and look around and write a song about these feelings cuz who knows how long they’re gonna last.

There’s an overriding notion in a lot of love songs, and, the world in general, that once love comes to ya it’s all easy – which might be true for some. But for Chadwick it seems like nothing’s ever easy. And that’s where her vulnerability and her power comes from, the effort, the fight, the pleasure, the spit, the degradation, the fuck ups, the times when hope hurts more than hopelessness.  For someone whose lyrics can be realistic to the point of self-defeatism, this song is a beautiful exercise in trying to start the circulation again, to believe that it’s worth the effort to Make It Work.

Roses Always Die will be out August 5 on Rice is Nice

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FEATURE: Keep Community Radio – 4ZZZ Brisbane

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keep community radio

Today is the National Day of Action to oppose the proposed budget cuts to community radio across Australia. We think these cuts are a load of bullshit. Not just cause community radio is so vital for giving marginalised voices a platform to be heard, not just cause it’s another step along a dark scary road of devaluing the arts that the Australian government is on, but also cause community radio is often one of the first places that you get to hear some of the best new Australian music. We, and everyone else in the Australian independent music community, owe a lot to community radio.

So we wanted to do our little bit, and hand the mic over to some of our favourite community radio broadcasters to tell you why they love what they do, and to recommend some new Australian tracks they love (cause, you know, it’s all about the music man). These are the kind of voices we’re looking at losing if the cuts go through, and we think that’s a bloody tragedy.

First up we’re focusing on Brisbane’s 4ZZZ 102.1fm, which, with these cuts, is in danger of losing it’s innovative and experimental new digital platform, Zed Digital.

You can learn more about the proposed cuts HERE. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more top shit community radio voices from Sydney and Melbourne too.

Grace Pashley

The Amplifier – Monday 1–3pm (Grace is also one of our contributors and a general badarse committed to telling stories of women in music with her Amplify Her project, as well as being a great organiser of feminist events and forums in Brisbane)

The thing that struck me first about 4ZZZ was the history of it all, like shit, REAL PUNKS must have done some crazy ground-breaking stuff here in the 80s or whatever. You know, before music died? But after that settled I can see the place is just teeming with people who have incredible energy and ideas to develop the station. Pulling funds from the digital arm of community radio is like shooting the future in the face. It’s one of the best ways to encourage innovation outside of fm programming, allowing risks and encouraging those just starting out to experiment.

When I started writing for Who The Hell I knew very little about Australian music, but now I love it so much I migrated mediums to 4ZZZ where I talk about it for a whole two hours every week. It’s really just a gigantic Al Montfort compilation. He played in 4ZZZ’s carpark on tour before returning to Melbourne, which coincidentally is where I’ll be bailing to if this radio gig doesn’t work out. Do you want another fucking hipster in Melbourne, Turnbull? Fund community radio, keep Brisbane weird.

Gabriella Cohen – ‘Yesterday’
Cohen’s debut album is one of my favourites this year, and this song is just a beautifully arranged chocolate fountain of melted psych indulgence.

 

King Single – ‘I Wish You Happiness’
The beauty of radio is that when you can’t find the words for why you really, really like a song you can just let the track speak for itself. It’s just good ok!

 

Lalic – ‘Fuck Love’
Uggghhhhh I love Lalic so much how are they so good. I get away with actually reviewing a track like that on radio. Mostly because radio has no comments section. 

 

Josh Watson

Tips for Teens – Sunday 10pm–midnight

Tips for Teens is a new release music show that I’ve been doing since mid-2012. I tend to play music from artists that are identified as ‘underground’. It’s a pretty vague term and I cover a wide range of styles. The aim of the show is to draw attention to new and interesting music that I think isn’t getting enough attention elsewhere. That’s kinda how I got turned on to community radio initially, because I’d be able to hear music played that I couldn’t hear on any other station.

For someone living in a non-metro area with limited internet, it was pretty important. Of course there’s much more important work done at our community radio stations that extends further than music. I think 4ZZZ is a really special place because of programs like Indigi-Briz; Queer Radio; Locked In; Radio in Colour; Brisbane Line and more that deal with other political and social issues. Community radio is brilliantly diverse and a lot of fun to get involved in.

Spike Fuck – ‘Guts’

It’s a good thing that not that many people try to do the whole heart-wrenching ballad thing these days. It’s not the kind of thing you can half ass and sound as convincing as Spike Fuck does. Guts could be a massively overproduced 80s pop hit, but it’s also just good how it’s recorded here. She’s one of the most interesting songwriters around.

 

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WATCH: Terrible Truths – ‘Uptight’

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terrible truths

Terrible Truths have been kicking about on the well-deserved wave of eyes and ears since they put out their self-titled debut LP late last year. Laurels most definitely have not been rested on though, as they have this cool new video clip for one of the bouncier tunes off of their past album, ‘Uptight’. In it, disembodied hands get all touchy feely with a bunch of random stuff and it makes me want to walk barefoot around on different surfaces just to see what it feels like.

Terrible Truths play the Shadow Electric on 24 June as part of Bedroom Suck’s ‘Label of Love’ showcase.

totally terrible

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VIRTUAL MIXTAPE: CORIN

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Virtual-Mixtape_Lucy-Roleff

Illustrations by Lucy Roleff

CORIN is the solo project of electronic producer Corin Ileto. A classically-trained pianist, Ileto weaves complex keyboard melodies atop glistening, rhythmic soundscapes to create her own lush brand of electronica.

Ileto’s debut LP, Wave Systems, released via Danish label Speaker Footage late last year, explored aquatic themes with submerged motifs and cascading synth washes perfectly capturing the majesty of an underwater world.

Since the release of Wave Systems, Ileto has been busy on a number of projects including a collaborative album with Melbourne artist Ju Ca, remixing composer Christina Vantzou, scoring dance works by Chloe Chignell, and recently joining Rainbow Chan’s live band alongside Moon Holiday.

For the latest instalment in our Virtual Mixtape series, Corin has provided a selection of music from some of her favourite Japanese producers.

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RYUICHI SAKAMOTO – ‘Riot in Lagos’

I am a long-time fan of Ryuichi Sakamoto and his multitude of collaborations, including his work in pioneering synth trio Yellow Magic Orchestra and piano collaborations with glitch producer Alva Noto in more recent years. The track I have chosen, ‘Riot in Lagos’, is from his album B-2 Unit released in 1980. I like the math-rock vibe and the mix of industrial drums with bleepy arpeggiated synth lines on this track. This track in particular has been cited as a key influence behind the electro sound of early New York hip hop groups such as Afrika Bambaataa.

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DJ WWWW – ‘Network’

DJWWWW is a producer that I found whilst sifting through the depths of SoundCloud. He is one of those mysterious producers that changes his alias every few weeks – his usernames have included “Lil Sega”,  “☆. exileVEVO”  and “pure trance”. He is also known for a label he runs called Wasabi Tapes which released a nice compilation Utsukushii earlier this year that I took part in.

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