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LISTEN: Richard In Your Mind – ‘Hammered’

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It’s Sunday afternoon. The scent of roasting bacon flesh is streaming into your nostrils, and the bright sun leaking into your bedroom is way too bright. There’s only one solution. Bottom’s up, right?

That’s the logic behind Richard In Your Mind’s newest track, ‘Hammered’. The Sydney pysch-pop maestros are finally back after a short absence, ready to follow up their 2012 EP, Mozzarella. As always, their songs sound bright and sparkly, almost dumb-foundingly so. I mean, in this time of financial terror, with Tony Abbott raining his fiery injustices upon a country stupid enough to elect him in the first place, how can a band be as sweet as cordial without the water?

Richard In Your Mind, like contemporaries Tropical Strength, have defied the constructed negativity of our times and released a song about getting hammered with your baby in the daytime, accompanied by a dinky little flute melody. When all hope seems lost, Richard In Your Mind are here to remind you that sometimes all you need is a goon sack, some sunshine and a little bit of magic psych-pop.

Richard In Your Mind’s new album Ponderosa will be coming out 29 August on Rice Is Nice.

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INTRODUCING: Pepa Knight

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Not being much of a swashbuckler myself, I have found myself only rarely drawn to Jinja Safari-like adventure music. But despite the fact that Pepa Knight has not strayed far from this artistic direction, his new single ‘Clams’ has a guileless quality about it that is (on third listen) increasingly appealing to me. Why is this? Who can say. It’s a sunny day and pop music is temporal. Regardless, there are some reasonably objective things that we can say about this tune.

Following from his recent (very successful) single ‘Rahh!’, it looks like we are getting a clear idea of the sonic space Pepa Knight’s solo project will inhabit: utilising myriad instruments (mandolins, tabla, flutes) and layered harmonies to create atmospheric, major key pop tunes. I also need to include here that, personally, I will always be in favour of a mandolin solo. And whether the line ‘God only knows where I’d be/Wilson said to me’ is a reference to Tom Hanks’ soccer ball in Castaway or Brian Wilson’s 1960′s Beach Boys classic ‘God Only Knows’ is irrelevant – both meanings fit comfortably with this tune, which is equally nautical and nostalgic.

One thing that makes Knight’s music ambitious is his constant insistence on creating positive vibes. To write a happy song that doesn’t sound twee or jar the listener is a much harder task than writing a muted Thom Yorke emotional divebomb. Whether or not he has achieved his goal is up to the listener, but to even attempt it is a brave move. Or maybe he’s just legitimately this happy, all of the time. That’s a scary thought, but if you like what you hear, stream away:

Pepa Knight will be launching ‘Clams’ on these dates:

Friday, 1 August – Goodgod Small Club, Sydney (RSVP on Facebook)

Thursday, 7 August – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne (RSVP on Facebook)

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PREMIERE: Caitlin Park – ‘Wake Up in a Whirr’ video

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‘Wake Up in a Whirr’ is the third single from Caitlin Park’s sophomore album, The Sleeper, which was released through Create Control in May. Like much of Park’s work, the track holds together a huge number of elements – in this case frenetic guitar, layered vocals, drums improvised from wooden wine boxes, found sounds and field recordings from destinations as far apart as Cambridge and Times Square – while still conveying a sense of simplicity. The song spins beneath Park’s smooth, confident vocal, like that surreal and vivid dream which forces you bolt upright at three in the morning.

As with the wonderful ‘Lemonade’, the video for ‘Wake in a Whirr’ features some stylish androgyny, focusing on a boxing match that’s been elegantly shot in black and white.

Today Park also releases the ‘To Breathe You Out’ EP, featuring collaborations from Kira Puru, Emma Russack, Shanna Watson and Jessica Venables.

Park and her band begin their tour for The Sleeper tonight at Sydney venue the Vanguard, following up with gigs in Melbourne and Brisbane. Dates below.

Friday, July 11 – The Vanguard, Sydney with Joyride

Friday, August 1 – Bella Union, Melbourne with Emma Russack and Shanna Watson

Saturday, August 2 – The Hive, Brisbane (All Ages) with Fieu and Sahara Beck

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INTRODUCING: The Backstabbers

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The Backstabbers are a brand new duo consisting of Rupert Edwards (Dick Diver) and Amy Hill (School of Radiant Living), with a hypnotic quality that emanates from their brand of morose, drum-less folk.

If you can dig a few tunes that tug at the heartstrings and are less than cheerful, you should checkout The Backstabbers’ new cassette, Shame. I hope I don’t undersell how much impact music like this can have – these songs have a stern beauty and a calmness that eases the mind.

Piano and trumpet fill the space solemnly, as if they were echoing through an empty house. The girl/boy harmony work is especially sweet, taking the edge of the ‘strine in Rupert’s accent, adding an ethereal quality and giving fullness to the sparse arrangements on tape.

Shame dwells on the nature of friendships and the slow meandering of daily life, communicating thoughts and feelings simplistically but successfully. The songs are fully formed, if a bit rough around the edges. Regardless of its lonesome and haunting nature, this is well thought out, touching music.

The Shame cassette is out now on Hideotic and can be purchased through Eternal Soundcheck.

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INTRODUCING: Setec

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Setec is Josh Gibbs, a Sydney-based multi-instrumentalist who stitches together organic samples – guitar loops, hand claps, voice – with field recordings, found sounds and snippets from old records to form nostalgic collages that recall the crackly bowerbird aesthetic of the Books.

In February 2012 Gibbs released the first Setec EP, Longer Letters – three tracks of improvised vocals and field recordings produced over two days in a city studio. A second EP, I’ll Be Good, followed six months later on Wood and Wire. Featuring layers of vocals and guitar loops, the EP is deliberately structured around a few samples and found sounds, and the seams are designed to show. Gibbs treats these foreign objects in the manner of the Avalanches or, say, Jens Lekman – as sources of inspiration to be framed and played along with.

On new single ‘Water or Concrete’ Setec is moving away from abstraction, bringing his voice, a sweet falsetto, straight to the centre and decorating it with a swooping mandolin and the sounds of chattering strangers. It’s his best track yet.

Setec’s debut album, Brittle as Bones, will be released soon, and he’s set to appear on Feral Media’s next Strain of Origin compilation alongside artists like Lower Spectrum and Power Moves. Catch him and his loop pedal playing a set this Thursday at Surry Hills venue the Forresters.

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PREMIERE: The Laughing Leaves – ‘Off Our Tree’ EP

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Laughing Leaves - Off Our Tree

Man, this is just like the time The Unicorns dropped acid and went with the thematic naming rights on all that followed. Here is a happy thing for your Monday that is the first stream of the Laughing Leaves‘ new EP, aptly named Off Our Tree.

After recording previous EP Everyday in a shed (legit) in Geelong, this time the band bunked up with Joseph Fairburns and Joel Williams with sessions between the Anglesea Scout Hall and the Dandenong Ranges.

The EP is reckless in approach – and so are Laughing Leaves’ shows – but the band seem to have quelled their patience, if just for twenty minutes.

The formula is familiar enough; the choppy revivalist cuts (‘Growing Up’), cavorting hook and bass (‘Tree People’) and enough good, communal four chord schmuck for Mikey Young to clean up (‘Too Much’).

The band are launching the EP with a show at pop up bar Lulu White’s in St Kilda on the 12th and the 1st of August in Sydney at World Bar with Ross De Chene Hurricanes. Do it.

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WATCH: Orchestra of Spheres – ‘Fingerweg’

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Continuing their reign as the weirdest Wellingtonians you’re likely to encounter, Orchestra of Spheres chant, drone and groove their way through the three-and-a-half minutes of freaky goodness that is ‘Fingerweg’.

A self-described ‘ancient future funk’ band, Orchestra of Spheres relish doing anything but the ordinary, employing homemade instruments and left-of-centre vocals to produce some genuinely unpredictable yet always enjoyable musical madness. You’re just as likely to find yourself jumping out of your seat to dance as scratching your chin in contemplation when exposed to their ritualistic tunes, and leaving one of their shows can feel like you’ve just escaped from a very strange but charming cult.

‘Fingerweg’ was recorded during the sessions for their last album, Vibration Animal Sex Brain Music (yes, it’s as great as that sounds), but its release was reserved for a later 7” single. The track showcases Orchestra of Spheres’ most endearing elements, making a clear case for why they’re so fun and easy to love. The vocals are deadpan, the music sounds both broken and grand, and everything is just very, very odd.

The track is accompanied by an equally disorienting and bonkers video that highlights the band’s penchant for really strange outfits and other proclivities. You will very quickly understand how little you understand what they’re up to. I sure don’t.

You can pick up a copy of the ‘Fingerweg/Lost Days’ 7″ single via Outside Inside Records.

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