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PREMIERE: NAFASI – ‘Window’

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‘Window’ is the first track from Melbourne 4 piece NAFASI: a smooth downtempo, RnB-influenced pop track which feels like one of (what I’m really hoping is) the first in a budding Australian future soul scene, trickling down from the success of Hiatus Kayote. Although they definitely give off Little Dragon vibes, ‘Window’ is not panning to any particular sound or scene, preferring to build on the band’s clear affinity for alt-pop and developing something fresh.

It’s surprisingly well put together for a debut single, which makes more sense when you realise NAFASI came about after the band met studying music at uni. The track’s lyricism is a highlight, with the song sounding like your super eloquent mate who never quite has their shit together: ‘Forgot to come home last night / still walkin’ in my Saturday best.’

They resist the urge to clutter the track with unnecessary frills or fiddling with Phoebe Webster’s sultry velveteen vocals too much – which while we’re here are clearly cause for a throw to Yukimi Nagano. The instrumentation lets the vocal melody carry the track which Webster does admirably, the jumping chorus line is a nice contrast to her tame croon in the verses. Although literally the last thing in the world I ever want to hear outside of my shower is an acoustic mashup of Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce, NAFASI did exactly that earlier this year and Webster’s vocals are just so damn suited to it I willingly listened to it. Several times. To put it simply, Nafasi have produced a clean, well-rounded debut.

They are launching their single at Hugs&Kisses tonight, so get down for some smooth, slow jams.

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LISTEN: Danyl Jesu/BARGE with an antenna on it – Split 12″

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danyl jesu barge

Look, it’s a well known fact that Brisbane has the best music scene in Australia. It’s tough to admit that being from Sydney, but hey, it’s true. And Melbourne, don’t even start it with your “musical capital of the world” shit. Congrats, you’ve got The Tote. But Brisbane has got Blank Realm. Checkmate, mate.

The latest in a series of excellent releases churned out of the hottest city in Oz, both in climate and greatness, is a split 12″ from criminally under-known noiseniks Danyl Jesu and BARGE with an antenna on it, an album that’ll climb right into the beds of fans of Zeahorse, Heads of Charm and Batpiss. Released on Sonic Masala Records – one of the greatest blogs that mankind has had the pleasure to embrace, and a damn fine label to boot. Their track record is impeccable, having churned out the goods from Gazar Strips, Dollar Bar, Roku Music and Tape/Off, to name but a few.

The latest release that Sonic Masala have prided us with is a doozy. Both bands approach music in much the same way – delirious, rabid and venomous. However, Danyl Jesu take time with their compositions, harnessing dizzying layers of fuzz to create a tower of carnivorous, shredding power that topples the listener over. Meanwhile, BARGE prefer to lock into mayhem mode as quickly as possible, creating their cacophony with dehydrated patterns of noise that stay consistently unruly. The total result is an LP every bit as sticky and gorgeous as the city that spawned it.

Danyl Jesu Facebook / BARGE With an Antenna On It Facebook / Sonic Masala Bandcamp 

INTRODUCING: Zsa Zsa Lafine

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Zsa Zsa Lafine has enlisted serial collaborators Simo Soo and Brendan Maclean for some seriously brash bump ‘n’ grind goth-pop for her new single ‘Milk’ – the first track off her debut album, slated for release later this year. In an unsolicited rebranding of milk as the drink most likely to inspire sexy thoughts, Lafine, Maclean and Soo have pulled an ambitious amount of influences together – like lazers, desert-bound acid trips and probably even some musical influences too.

The first time you hear Lafine drop that sultry milk-appreciation refrain it is so deliciously inviting that the coarseness of Soo shouting ‘WAKE UP TODAY LIKE I OWN THIS SH-’ completely blindsides you – for about a second, and then you eagerly await the next round to join the lyrical ruckus.

It goes without saying that the production is the real hero of this audio dish. The club-ready bass line is over-dubbed with camera flashes, screeching tires and a bunch of other fittingly dark-kawaii sound bites that have been neatly pieced together with the precision of three musicians who make simple work of the humble Banger. If the inoffensive cute of PC Music has got you all emo about the future of Internet-as-art electronic subgenres, let these guys re-assure you that there are still musicians out there making abrasive, high-octane tracks without compromising their Tumblr weirdness.

Catch Zsa Zsa Lafine at Oxford Arts Factory on July 2nd. BYO dairy.

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PREMIERE: Snowy Nasdaq – ‘New Jangle 2012′

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With song titles like ‘Ironic Life’ and ‘Dolewave 2015’, the new EP from Snowy Nasdaq (Liam Halliwell) reads initially like an exercise in self-awareness, except it’s more thoughtful than defensive – and way too good to be a joke. This is the second release of the year from Snowy Nasdaq, with the ‘Snowy Life’ band featuring members of The Finks and Cool Sounds in tow.

It’s hard to say anything really meaningful about a record that’s saying so much about itself, so really my job here is to tell you to listen to it. And tell you that you gotta sit with it. The way the vocals are mixed low with Halliwell singing more nasally than ever, the guitar pointy and insistent but without the immediate catchiness of Soft Focus, means some of these tracks slip through your fingers the first few times. But once it hits, you notice so many good lines and clever intricacies worth a bit of time.

Despite Halliwell’s assertion in his excellent handwritten press-release that it documents (hypothetical) “new love and its eventual demise” (the same presser also contains the claim that Canberra, where this record was recorded with Halliwell’s brother and their childhood friend, is “Australia’s greatest city”, so who knows what the truth is) New Jangle 2012 isn’t a particularly romantic or heartsick album – it’s concerned too much about what everyone thinks about you and what you think about anyone else to really get into personal relationships.

‘Dead Weight/Broken Nose’ is the only song that really talks about the feelings of being in some kind of relationship, though it’s still insular and kind of a downer. “I never thought I’d occupy myself with the thought of someone else”, Halliwell sings before the song changes halfway through into a gentler, flighty tangle of guitars – his vocals at their softest, singing to some “you” that looked good with a broken nose to match his own.

Whether he’s referencing it or not, when Halliwell writes about summer 2012 as ‘the golden era of jangle’, I think of Woollen Kits’ record Four Girls, probably my favourite Australian album of all time and how for better or worse, the ‘jangle’ sound has morphed since then. Four Girls was a mostly-upbeat, astute and outward-facing record that wasn’t afraid of sounding a little ugly. In 2015, what we’ve got is a lot cleaner and less celebratory, but more intricate. With people like Halliwell around to push limits at what it means to be making this kind of music, whatever jangle/dolewave/dumb shit we come up with to call it by then –  looks like in 2018, it’ll probably still sound pretty great.

New Jangle 2012 is out on French label Beko Disques and available to buy here.

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INTRODUCING: WAAX

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WAAX

For those of you unfamiliar with the punishing sounds of Brisbane’s WAAX, now is the time to become acquainted. Bursting onto the scene last year with the bruising ‘Wisdom Teeth’, the group notched up some significant airplay and recognition of their tour-de-force sound. After some time in the wilderness, the band has returned with ‘I For An Eye’, another furious, hell-bent tune that packs even more hooks and speed into its time span.

Calling this sound ‘heavy’ doesn’t quite do WAAX justice, and alt-rock is a classification best left behind in the late 90s. WAAX is rock-and-roll, for lack of a better term, but it has intangibles that keep my ears engaged. The bass gives me heart palpitations and the guitars threaten to shred my eardrums – good things in this instance. This is hard rock that rocks hard; music that spits in your face and knocks your drink out of your hand and you can’t do anything about it.

WAAX endured a line-up change over the past few months, recently enlisting the services of Tom Griffin (ex-Calrissian) to take over on the low end. Overlaying the throb and grunt of WAAX’s squall are the recognisable vocals of Marie DeVita, forceful and aggressive with spite-filled affectations that put me on edge.

‘I For An Eye’ was produced by Konstantin Kersting of The Belligerents and mixed by Scott Horscroft. As intimidating as this sound can be, it would still be a lot of fun to thrash around to. Listen if you enjoy being throttled by noise.

Take note: WAAX has been announced as part of the BIGSOUND Live 2015 line-up, and you can also catch them at the Maroochy Music and Arts Festival in August.

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PREMIERE: Hideous Towns – ‘Heart Attack’

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I saw some shoegaze bands on Thursday night. It’s awesome watching people in the crowd contort their bodies to music, especially when there’s a shrouding wall of reverb covering any semblance of a beat. I can’t dance to this music. If I pull out Stella Luna or revisit a Slowdive record, it’s somewhere with dim lighting and a massive doona where I can revel in being a recumbent, moody fuck.

Anyway, not everyone listens to music in near darkness. Melbourne’s Hideous Towns are back with their new single, ‘Heart Attack’ – a bright follow up to last year’s self titled EP.

It’s crisp track; guitars are tender; drums are hit with economical purpose and Alana’s hopeful vocal traverses in equal stride alongside the rest. There are simple pow-wows in the verse about the parallelisms of love and its undoings. Hideous Towns might have been quick to gratify the shoegaze zeitgeist in their earlier recordings, but their previous EP showed the band’s capacity to be tender and edgy all at once (without drowning in vocal/pedal fanfare).

In ‘Heart Attack’, Hideous Towns turns up the pace of their last release, but keeps the status quo. It’s quite a peppy tune actually. Maybe your new pump-up jam. It doesn’t wade in the euphoric shell pool for much of it, but even for the lack of passiveness here, I would love to hear a bit of Monika Fikerle bite happening in the rhythm section. The guitar stutters have been mixed to a clean pulp around the 2:10 mark, but I dig it. Could wax on about this track and how I’ll probably go for a run and order a pizza afterwards, but you should probably just listen to it.

It’s 2015, but still a great time to be a sad guy/girl with a loud amp.

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‘Heart Attack’ is out tomorrow digitally and on vinyl via Lost and Lonesome. The band will be heading out on tour across the country at the end of the month. Dates below.

27th June – The Bearded Lady, Brisbane w/ BottlecockThe Bag Heads

28th June – The Time Machine, Sunshine Coast w/ FlotsamjetsamPermateens

10th July – Hotel Metropolitan, Adelaide w/ The SystemaddictsPonytail Kink

25th July – Oxford Arts Factory, SYDNEY w  /The S-BendsAloha Units, Hunch 

8th August – Bar Open, Melbourne w / Pure MoodsHAWAII94Parading

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PREMIERE: Slowcoach – ‘Beneath the Board’

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Slowcoach

‘Beneath the Board’ is the debut single from Melbourne dude Dean Valentino, aka Slowcoach. Despite never having heard this before, I feel like he could be an old friend. That’s the kind of track this is: warm, assuring, forward-looking without leaving you behind. It’s confident and solid, and at every point where Valentino could have slackened off and let ‘Beneath the Board’ drip into the abyss of toothless indie rock he revs up, adding a bass lick here, a twanging guitar there, and piercing synth punctuating it all.

By three listens in I was spinning around the room SO SURE that someone was whispering to me, but that turned out to be one of the track’s many neat layers (production help from Michael Belsar of Melbourne calypso rockers Twinsy), that by chance put the fear of God in me…and made me listen to the song another three times to make sure I wasn’t going batshit (1.27 guys, promise it’s real). Such is the effort Valentino has gone to to produce a track that leaves no melodic lead or dreamy production trick unturned.

Attention must be turned to Valentino’s voice, because after I recovered from my ghost scare/religious epiphany I could have sworn that was Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell walloping me with his restrained power ballad vocals. Pair that with a War on Drugs rhythm wall and Slowcoach have put together a really fun, effortless sounding track.

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