Sui Zhen – ‘No Disko’
I’ve known Sui Zhen for years and have seen her performed live so many times that I thought I lost objectivity for her music. Since moving to Melbourne 6 months ago I have not seen or heard any new material until last week when I was in Sydney and heard her instantly recognisable voice on FBi Radio. Before I left she told me that she was going to collaborate with an electronic producer whose name I can’t remember now. ‘No Disko’ is the first song to come out of that recording session and it shows off a more confident and relaxed sounding Sui Zhen. The arrangement turned out to be warmer than I was expecting which is nice cos I was afraid that it would turn her to some sort of chill out/comedown music vocalist. She’s going to do a bit of touring in August I believe so keep an ear out.
Superb Lyrebird - ‘Insignificant Appendage’
One of my favourite bands to emerge from the Sydney alternative scene in the past twelve months are these guys, Superb Lyrebird. Like all sub-scenes, it becomes a bit incestuous after a while, and Superb are a good example of that, because all the members come from different bands who, during one point or another, have shared the stage with each other.
Superb Lyrebird brings together members from two defunct Sydney outfits: Endusk (who programmer/keyboardist/percussionist/general beeps and blips James McKenna was a member of) and Fat Slinky (who dummer Nathan Tuffin and bassist Wesley Von Grabill were a part of). For vocals and guitar, they’ve borrowed the talents of Dave Bleus, who moonlights as the frontman for Sydney outfit Self | Is A Seed (once called Self, but there’s already a band in the States called that).
This is easily my favourite of all the members’ current and prior projects: it’s a far more mature alternative sound, combining dissonant, foreboding melodies with driving riffage, similar to bands like Cog and Karnivool. Though while most alternative bands these days are trying to be the next Cog, and you come across clone after monotonoua clone, Superb thankfully put their own spin on it, so rather than sounding like some rehashed, second rate rock band, they’ve developed their own style. Their debut EP Anoised has just been released, and if you’re a prog rock fan it’s a great listen. Though, as good as it is, it doesn’t really match up to seeing them live, at their most visceral, because that’s where it all clicks.
The Straight Arrows – ‘Can’t Count’
Out late one Friday night I was rather incoherently talking to the door
staff at Spectrum (one of my favourite smaller live venues in Sydney) when
Alex from the Red Riders appeared at the door with an arm full of music
gear. Hhmm, an unadvertised Red Riders DJ set perhaps? Not totally. The
Straight Arrows were playing a late shift gig upstairs. But who the hell are
The Straight Arrows? The band is new, but over flowing in experience, Owen
Penglis is the main man, Al from Red Riders, Angie from Kiosk on bass and
Adam on drums.
But most importantly what do they sound like? They are a late night dream of
filthy guitar, beaty drum and foot shifting pop. But Al said it best,
“…Everything’s getting super electro and slick again, so we’re going the
other way into the depths of feedback and mess and spirit.” Brilliant.
Defiantly not an 8.30pm support band, have a listen to Can’t Count122 and
before you know it, you’ll be striding down to the darkest, smokiest bar,
whiskey in hand ready to shake.
Mister Speed – ‘Everybody Needs Somebody’
Sydney based Benjamin Speed has a very impressive music resume, according to his Wikipedia entry. As one half of the hip hop duo The New Pollutants he performed in Big Day Outs and Adelaide Fringe Festivals and released a fair few records. On top of that all that he teaches music and composes original film scores. So he’s pretty much a musical all rounder, and it doesn’t surprise that he decides to step away from hip hop with his new project as Mr. Speed. His new album The Dreamer is very cut and paste sample fare with lots of world sounds and catchy beats. It ranges from the upbeat playful hip-pop, to rock and roll numbers, to the chill out variety songs, and the arty statements type of songs.
He’s got an ear for sample based hooks with a world music variety and a liking for old instructional TV interview out takes. The singing style has a bit of roleplaying suggesting some sort of theatre background. It’s quite hard to choose which song to showcase , there’s quite a few gems in this release. So I’ve picked this one that I’m guessing is the radio single. To be extremely generalising he’s very much like Gotye, they’re even on the same label. So if you dig Wally you should check out Ben.
photo by Luke Austin
Catcall – ‘Diss’
I’ve seen Catherine Kelleher performed in Kiosk many many times and have seen her hung around the Sydney scene for a number of years but I didn’t actually get to talk to her until we met in Meredith last December. I was hanging out with a Melbourne crew I met shortly after moving down (they eventually became Gameboy/Gamegirl) and she happened to be friends with them. I am pretty sure she was at least as intoxicated as me at the time, it was dark and we were moving through the campsite to get something from her tent. I held on to every last bit of sobriety I could muster so I could at least get some get-to-know conversation going. It’s weird how I’ve heard her songs, seen her on stage and wrote about her and finally getting to know sort of completes the experience. And yes she is really lovely.
Catcall is her new solo project and all the songs on myspace is quite basic and I’m guessing these are just home demos to what will shape up to be more elaborately arranged tracks. Diss is perfect for an introductory song, it’s declarative, flows along at a pace she’s obviously comfortable with, and provides the listener with multiple choices on where to go from here. This should be good, expect to hear more soon.
Sydneysiders: she is playing with Deerhoof and My Disco at the Factory Theatre tomorrow, go to this gig!
Papa Versus Pretty – ‘Casanova 2.5′ (mp3)
Curious name for an intriguing band, because I can’t even find a photo for this post. Unlike other local bloggers I have not seen this very young Sydney trio comprised of Tom Rawle, Kristjan Garcia Lamerton and Andrew Brown, all aged 15-16. This song does not hint anything about their age tho, it’s got a very mature temperament and none of the lyrics show any inexperience in writing. I understand that this is just a demo to what is an upcoming EP. Polaroids of Androids wrote that they kicked off one of their live sets with a cover of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. I usually have low expectations from a band that covers one of the most randomly interpreted depressive tunes ever recorded, but somehow I’m hopeful with these guys.
Rand and Holland – ‘It’s Alright’
I’m back in Sydney for a week and a bit for some work and also to attend the V Festival that has decided to skip Melbourne for some weirdo reason. I was at a dinner party on Sunday night, thrown by an ex-girlfriend who had decided to cook me a lamb roast as a thank you for showing her around Melbourne when she visited a few weeks ago. The soundtrack was provided by her Ipod, which I have filled up with albums that I thought she would like. On high rotation were The Shins, Of Montreal, and locals Rand and Holland. To my envy she saw the duo the night before at the Hopetoun the night before, which I had decided to spend quietly cos I didn’t think there was anything worth going out for. Anyway dinner was good but some people got drunker than I was so it got boring/annoying and I left as soon as I got the chance. The point of this story is, even though the dinner experience didn’t end up as great as I thought it would, as long as the soundtrack for the night is great you’ll remember it as a good night anyway. Especially if you have these guys on the stereo.
Melbourne people: catch them live at Northcote SC tonight!
Ghetto Pussy - ‘Cassette Sex’ (mp3)
Just when dirty electro couldn’t get any dirtier… along comes Sydney’s Ghetto Pussy. Hell, it’s bordering on 90s happy hardcore! With members like Pussy Tiger Lyck, Samurai Pizza Phat and CJ Hooker, it’s hard to know who these people actually are. I did a bit of MySpace scrounging and found out that one member is Craig McVea from Lucy and the Pheromones and Charchie Ink. The other two members may be someone named Rizzo (I don’t think it’s the same Rizzo from Rizzo & Pizzo though) and Anastasia. But I may be waaay off the mark.
It’s late-night, liquor-soaked party music for kids in dark indie clubs wearing stovepipe jeans to be dancing til they pass out from heat exhaustion. It’s in your face, bold and brash and unabashed sex music. This kind of uber-dirty electro seems to really be taking off now, with acts like the aforementioned Rizzo & Pizzo and Gameboy/Gamegirl gaining a lot of popularity. I guess it’s just fun music to dance to. What more could you ask for!