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Kimbra – ‘Settle Down’ (mp3)

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I’ve been following Kiwi-now-Melbournite Kimbra‘s work for a year now, most of it in the form of either guest performing with other bands or solo with a guitar work. Only recently that I’ve heard her new stuff, produced by Franc Tetaz, who also did Bertie Blackman‘s career restarting and eventual ARIA award winning third album Secrets and Lies, and also by up and coming beatmaker M-Phazes. The song Settle Down opens with cut up beat boxing vocals that is a bit too close to Bertie’s style of production for my liking, but is rescued and lifted by the chorus and soared into lush harmonies that is all Kimbra’s own signature sound.

Glass Vaults – ‘Forget Me Not’

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Glass Vaults – ‘Forget Me Not’ (mp3)

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Glass Vaults (formerly just Vaults) are duo based out of Wellington, New Zealand. They’ve just released their debut EP Glass for free (get it here) and it’s some of the best shit I’ve heard this year. Alternating between textured ambiance and hypnagogic pop, each track is dripping with cavernous vocals, carefully considered washes of guitar/synth and, occasionally, unpredictable beats.

It’s one of the best EPs I’ve heard all year – no geographic caveats implied. I highly encourage everyone to get it. It sits comfortably at the intersection of dream pop and ambient electronic music, but it’s not so comfortable that it doesn’t feel exciting and beautiful. Breathtaking stuff.

The Laurels – ‘Turn On Your Mind’


The Laurels – ‘Turn On Your Mind’ (mp3)

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We’ve all heard shoegaze before. If not in the early 90s, then at least via reissues or the ‘nu-gaze’ craze that is kinda still lingering. Like all good Arts students, it’s pretty much all I listened to in the second year of my undergrad. And even though I dig the new shoegaze stuff coming out, I sometimes kinda think, ‘why bother when the genre peaked twenty years ago?’ Then other times, I kinda think, ‘I’m sick of listening to Loveless – I want something that is new but sounds like Loveless.’ It’s on those days that the persistence of shoegaze as a genre is totally justified.

Which leads me to The Laurels. They’re a shoegaze band c. 1990. They sort of disregard music post Ride/MBV/JAMC etc, but then they’re not really trying to reinvent the wheel/pedalboard. They’re clearly just trying to do what I outlined above – make music that is new but sounds like Loveless. And they do a pretty good job. It’s a bit easier to digest than some of shoegaze’s more introverted works, but they write solid songs and drape them in the appropriate swirling effects. It totally listenable and damn enjoyable.

Big Scary – 'Thinking About You'

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Big Scary – ‘Thinking About You’ (mp3)

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Second installment of this Melb duo’s season themed EP’s for Winter. Possibly one of the most promising local acts around right now.

This band are equally as capable of delivering endowing pop moments, as they do wavering garage hooks.

They’re hitting the road with Little Red and Texan troubadours Midlake over the next month or so. For full dates hit up their myspace.

The Single Malt Special – ‘Must Have Been High’

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The Single Malt Special – ‘Must Have Been High’ (mp3)

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I was about to write The Single Malt Special off as good enough for the crew at Triple J to mazz over, but ultimately a pale imitation of The Bamboos. ‘Must Have Been High’ is a good standard funk groove and I was ready to find a profile picture of the band, probably full of three-piece suits and superfluous hats.

All I could find was this picture of a gigantic octopus wearing headphones attacking a skyscraper. I’ll leave you all to make your own ‘killer octopus/must have been high’ puns.