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INTRODUCING: HEADS.

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The full stop next to HEADS. name is so freakin’ on point. Listening to this band is a no-nonsense pummelling, where bullshit has been replaced with snarling riffs and looming malevolence. If you thought that perhaps the Jesus Lizard could’ve done with a little more angry focus, then this is band for you. If you’ve been struggling to find a band to practice kickboxing to, then this is the band for you. If you just like really heavy bands, then this is the band for you.

HEADS. fit in alongside several other Aussie bands that like to signal the apocalypse with their music – like Yes, I’m Leaving, Zeahorse and Primary Colours. Their debut self-titled release comes in at a clean 27 minutes, as mean and guttural as a coffee date with Attilla the Hun. Album standout ‘A Mural is Worth a Thousand Words’ refuses to lay down and die, a steamroll of bass guitars and throat-shredding war cries. If HEADS. and Steve Albini ever hooked up in the studio, the result would be catastrophically amazing. (Can someone make that happen?)

Although HEADS. aren’t technically Australian – all three members live in Berlin – frontman Ed Fraser is an expat from Melbourne, so that’s enough of a qualification. Really, any excuse to get the noise out about these bastards will do. If your life is lacking in putrid, blackened noise-rock, then mill around in the shadow of terrible indie rock no longer – HEADS. are here to help.

HEADS. is due out on 8 May through Ballarat-based Heart of the Rat Records. Hear ‘A Mural is Worth a Thousand Words’ and latest single ‘Chewing on Kittens’ below.

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PREMIERE: Human Face – ‘Bottom of the Hill’ video

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Session bands too often make the best prototypes for other bands (too long in the shadows, right?). Jumping from a dub reggae jam band to synth-pop doesn’t seem that hard to fathom, but surely the odd urge surfaces. Human Face first started as an avenue for Dan Marsh to venture outside the bounds of his previous role in reggae outfit, The Red Eyes.

The Melbourne outfit are releasing a record in a few months, featuring collaborations with a roll call of Australia’s pop best – Ainslie Wills, Tommy Spender (Spender), Jaye Kranz (Brighter Later), Hailey Cramer and Evan Tweedie (Husky).

Their new video, ‘Bottom of the Hill’, was filmed by the band at Mt Macedon in Victoria. Like the location of the clip, there’s something kind of brooding and redemptive about this track, with its springboard synths and hollowed vocal – “My body’s just a shell at the bottom of the hill, where the wind picks up the dust and draws a line”.

Slowed down at half-speed, the lyrics and rural setting of the clip easily conjures this chirpy synth number into something more sinister. We’ll leave it as friendly pop for now.

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Human Face are playing the Spotted Mallard on Wednesday April 22nd.

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INTRODUCING: Asdafr Bawd

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You should always trust a conservatorium student who pulls apart hooks long forgotten. That’s what Asdafr Bawd (pron: az-das-ah-fah bow-d) has done to xTina’s ‘Can’t Hold Us Down’. It’s part of a two-track release out through Solitaire Recordings (run by I’lls very own Hamish Mitchell). ‘Nobody’ – which uses Aguilera’s hook – should be commended for giving relevance to someone whose star has faded, along with flip-phones, low-cut denim and the stand-alone MP3 player.

Asdafr Bawd (real name Alex Clayton), is a classical piano and percussion student at the University of Melbourne, and he seems to be someone whose music knowledge would extend well beyond your usual chitchat. Presumably, his studies are routinely making him note the difference between augmented, diminished and suspended chords – so don’t get all high and mighty when you realise he’s put Caribou through the works on the second track, ‘Love’.

Underneath all of this is one suave producer who you could place on a spectrum with UK garage at one end and the current post-dub / post-Jamie xx world that electronica is in right now at the other. So pop 19-year-old Alex Clayton on your next playlist – alongside the wealth of young producers Melbourne’s got going for itself right now.

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MIXTAPE: Edd Fisher for Cutting Shapes

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Dance music parties. Safe spaces for social lubrication and neoprene zip-throughs. The guys from Cutting Shapes are throwing their fourth event this Friday in Melbourne. After hosting the last few CS events in a humble garage, and bringing Swedish duo Genius of Time out for number 3, this week’s event looks like it’s going to be a good one.

Cutting Shapes #4 features beat-hero Edd Fisher, who’ll be throwing disco and afro-beats all up everywhere. Edd hosts Tomorrowland on PBS, has co-curated Wax’o Paradiso parties and notched up a few Boiler Room stints in his time. Edd has made us a mix for the occasion: two hours of uninterrupted everything – featuring locals Fantastic Man, Tornado Wallace, plus extra added horn section for your pleasure.

 

Cutting Shapes is happening this Friday at the newly reno’d Railway Hotel in Brunswick. The event also features Matt Priddy (Raw Wax), Sibling (live), Chris Kings, Jesse Young, Will Cumming, Jean Pierre & Jimi Red. For more event details, visit this link:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1583652448561597

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INTRODUCING: Crepes

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There’s something odd about central Victoria. Aside from quaint colonial re-enactments, the promise of gold nuggets and the odd medieval castle, towns such as Ballarat and Bendigo sure produce a lot of live music. This is the scene that produced Melbourne-via-Ballarat newcomers Crepes.

“To me it seems like Ballarat isn’t that much of a music hub, but I guess its had some pretty prolific bands come out of there,” says vocalist, Tim Karmouche. You might recognise Karmouche from his other band, Hollow Everdaze – another Ballarat alumnus. Crepes’ story is yet another tale of twenty-something regional flight. The four-piece first met in high school and have been on-and-off since its members started moving to Melbourne at the turn of the decade, but they’re back now with their debut EP, Cold Summers.

But more about that later. What is it exactly about this place that’s given rise to so many bands? If you drew a flow-chart including Gold Fields, Twinsy or Yacht Club DJs you’d find links everywhere, and most likely grouped around one venue: the Karova Lounge. “A lot of our bands have just cut their teeth at Karova, and Lachy and Sean who book and run it make the connections to Melbourne easier,” Karmouche says.

For a town whose reputation rests on its colonial history, it’s become an unwitting live music hub for the region. Right now they’ve got industry figures like Doug Wallen down there; he’s busy booking the Eastern and simultaneously telling stories about Heart of the Rat records. So Ballarat isn’t so much of a backwater but a regional centre where everything eventually finds its right place.

“Ballarat’s probably got the best live music for the greater Ballarat region. When I was 17 there were so many like-minded people who were all into music and art in the one town. Because it’s a small place there isn’t much else to do besides play music or footy – otherwise you’re a complete dropkick,” he says. So in a way, Crepes genesis was inevitable.

“I was friends with Maceo [Wood], our guitarist in early high school. His dad’s a bit of a local legend, running L’espresso, probably the first record store in Ballarat. He got me onto a lot of bands that I fell in love with. I explored all of their back catalogues – like, Eels or Flaming Lips. I just fed off friends with cool parents,” he says.

All of this was happening around the late noughties. Now it’s 2015 and we’ve got Cold Summers.

On the first few listens, you can’t ignore Crepes’ place within the Australiana obsession that’s pervasive of late. Considering the warm critical reception of the likes of Courtney Barnett, Dick Diver and Twerps, those beyond the island continent are unusually literate in all things Australian right now. ‘Ain’t Horrible’s’ lackadaisical vocals are not dissimilar to the Conan Mockasins of this world—himself an antipodean mirror to the ironic sleaze of Mac Demarco and Ariel Pink.

It’s not like the world has suddenly realised that pairing jangly guitars with an Aussie accent is anything new, but this will make it easier for a band like Crepes to resonate with audiences outside their home country. Let’s just hope this EP isn’t lost in the headwinds of another peak in the global popularity of Australian music.

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Photography: Kresimir Saban

LISTEN: Kirkis – ‘Hypno’

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Melbourne’s Matthew Kirkis once described playing live as “trying to do a handstand on a giant dragon all the way to Disneyland,” and that’s certainly what it sounds like.

Anytime you sit down to listen to an offering from Kirkis you’re inevitably blindsided. You’re excused for looking like Elaine each time your body tries to move to his time signatures. Before you even get close to working out what you think he’s trying to say, a cluster of rapid-fire melodies all shout at you at once.

So spare a thought for the man behind it all. He’s out with a new track titled ‘Hypno’, building on the hybrid jazz-cum-future soul he’s had quite the knack for – otherwise known (on Soundcloud) as #kirkis. The single comes off a forthcoming LP to be released through Eglo Records, thanks to a chance meeting with label reps at the Evelyn Hotel during Melbourne Music Week.

For a musician who isn’t formally trained, countless hours of consuming myriad influences have sure made their mark. It’s telling that he first studied Painting at the Sydney College of the Arts before jetting off to the New York Art Students League, considering he told us that “colours and moving picture play a large role” in his work. What that work is can’t be pegged solely to his music: he’s a painter, he’s also Anti-Kirkis (his experimental electronic alter ego), and he dabbles in a bit of set-design, too.

‘Hypno’ then, is yet another expression of this guy’s desire to create. He seems to have this boundless energy that you need to see in person if you’re ever given the chance. To describe him, best take a leaf out of the Hiatus Kaiyote playbook, because there has to be a Kirkis equivalent of ‘multi-dimensional polyrhythmic gangsta shit’. ‘Doing handstands on giant dragons’ is halfway there.

 

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MAP x MAPCAST: March 2015

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We’re sending a perfectly auto-tuned human to the European Union. This of course, is totally OK because he has a duet with Lupe, a vast knitted beanie collection and a set of really annoying eyebrows. Aside from staking our country’s first claim at the Eurovision trophy we have absolutely no merit to even win – the other choices were quite obvious. Client Liaison performing on a giant rotisserie with flares and a horn section could have been lesser beige that Mr Sebastian himself.

Considerations aside, here’s another round of our monthly world wrap-up: Mapcast. Robbie’s wrap-up of the best new tracks from the Music Alliance Pact – tunes from Denmark, Chile, Canada, Columbia, Ireland and our very own Kučka.

If you’ve got a track you’d like featured as the Australian submission for Mapcast, drop us an email at editors@whothehell.net. Listen to previous Mapcast podcasts at our Soundcloud and check out the full Music Alliance Pact below.

 

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 21-track compilation through Dropbox here.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Panda ElliotGuerrero (AlexPatri remix)

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Panda Elliot is three in one: woman, band and producer. A fresh new face in the music scene, she recently launched her second album Forastera, which shows a more confident Panda Elliot, well established in her own style. After the eclectic single Ligerita, she released Guerrero, a rockin’ feminine song that forces you to move your head. The track is potent and full of energy on its own, so this remix by AlexPatri extends into the realm of fun, uptempo electronic dance.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
KučkaDivinity

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A continuation of Kučka’s future R&B leanings hinted at in her previous work, Divinity is a lush, surreal affair. Undulating rhythms sync perfectly with the swirling, cough-syrupy synths and Laura Jane Lowther’s vocals, which sound at once sultry and innocent. Think an antipodean Purity Ring.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Passo TortoIsaurinha

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Passo Torto is a quartet formed by renowned musicians from Sao Paulo’s contemporary music scene. Isaurinha is taken from their second album, Passo Elétrico, in which they explore guitars and effects on acoustic bass and cavaquinho (sort of a small guitar often associated with samba), with the lack of percussion elements leaving space for harmonic and melodic experiments.

CANADA: Ride The Tempo
MunroeBloodlet

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Fans of Lykke Li may enjoy newcomer Kathleen Munroe, who simply goes by Munroe. She makes chilling folk tunes like this one with a tinge of Americana (though I guess this would be Canadiana?). Production-wise, Bloodlet doesn’t have too much but it’s perfect just the way it is. Her lovely voice is all you need.

 

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