Amateur Dance is Joseph Cookson, a 20-year-old from Melbourne who makes deep house jams, betraying a nostalgia for the unremembered 90s. His formula is simple but effective – juxtaposing spare melodies and light-handed production with the intimate words of total strangers. One woman admits, “I can’t produce… I just – I can’t”, and entreats you directly: “I don’t get it, but I’m grateful, and I want you to know how grateful”. Another demurs with a self-conscious giggle, “My life’s not that interesting”. Cookson executes these songs with a youthful earnestness and unabashed referentiality that’s pretty hard not to like.
The first Amateur Dance single, ‘what i had 2 do’ was a stunner, pairing Death Cab for Cutie with the ranting of bodybuilder CT Fletcher. With follow up EP keep it up receiving some positive attention overseas, Cookson has signed to October Records, where he’s kind of an odd fit on a roster of more ‘saleable’ acts – from the maximalist Afrobeat of Ribongia to the insipid white girl RnB of Elizabeth Rose and Vanessa Elisha.
Cookson’s first release with October Records, the Talking About Yourself EP, is another solid work – though, in keeping with the theme of self-effacement, the tracks have names like ‘Beginner’s Luck’ and ‘Room for Improvement’. Taking a populist route on the title track, Cookson samples an interview with that archetype of humility, Aubrey Drake Graham. The EP keeps on hitting the pleasure centres, moving to a young woman murmuring breathless endearments on ‘Room for Improvement’ and finishing up with the touching and strident prescriptions of ‘Advocate for Love’.
The chief risk for Amateur Dance is that if he keeps on flogging this recipe, his music could start to feel formulaic – calculated, even. Cookson’s obviously got a good ear; I just hope he broadens the range a bit in time for the release of a debut full-length.
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There’s nothing quite as manly and striking as a bunch of blokes in a band called Weak Boys. I mean, that’s a name that instantly assumes a Bon Scott-like confidence, a title worthy of a king. ‘Hello, we are Weak Boys’, is all one has to bellow in order to send all the other blokes running in terror, and for every girl in the vicinity to swoon.
Weak Boys are a Sydney trio made up of Matt Banham, Craig Lyons, and Chris Yates. Some of the other bands these guys have played in include Dollar Bar, Disgusting People, Little Lovers and Summer Flake‘s Sydney band. (You’re not a success until you have a band ready to go in every state, so congrats Summer Flake). So it comes as no surprise that their own lil’ supergroup is something you’ll want to spend all your hard-earned cash on.
After making every drongo on a Sunday do a collective ‘Oath!’ with the release of their single ‘Hangovers’ earlier this year, they’ve gone and released their first LP, Weekdays/Weekends. It’s a soulful ode to living in modern day Sydney and being, in the eternal words of Lethal Weapons’ Murtaugh, ‘too old for this shit’.
Besides ‘Hangovers’, Weekdays/Weekends is crammed with beautiful slices of mope-pop, and every track abounds with happily depressed Yo La Tengo-isms. ‘Dog Farm’ is a track that should get all the Cool Dog Group participants excited, and ‘Deal With It’ is like if Bart Simpson discovered The Ocean Party. Weak Boys – they’re probably one of the most underrated bands in Australia right now.
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‘Something Sensual’ is the synth boogie track off Broadway Sounds’ most recent EP, The Last Detail, and sits amongst the band’s signature Afro-pop and calypso influenced jams.
Most tracks from the Melbourne 4-piece would be best enjoyed sipping a rainbow cocktail stacked with exotic fruits by the pool of your favourite low-cost roadside motel – all of which you can see in the clip to their track ‘Something Sensual’. It looks like an over-40s dating infomercial one minute and astrological matchmaking the next.
Frankly, if you produce an analogue synth boogie track that doesn’t have 90s fluoro-wash VHS production and breakdancing Adidas clad youth in its film clip, you’re doing it wrong.
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As a solemn patron of Sydney’s best bands, I was noticeably more bright and cheerful in the following days of the release of Day Ravies’ latest single, ‘This Side of the Fence’. The dreamy shoegaze foursome had been out for while due to some injury, while side-projects such as Shrapnel and Disgusting People were getting a little bit more love time.
But Day Ravies have bounced back from the sideline, and have adopted, maybe even ‘modernised’ their lax sound. The new single features bouncy synth lines strutting next to wobbly guitar belches. Tie all those sounds together with some pixie-like vocals ala. Bilinda Butcher, and the result is goodness to your ears.
They’ve also just put out a great new video, which is a bit like Lewis Carol and an episode of Art Attack on smack. The video is as fun and bright as ‘This Side of the Fence’ itself.
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Photos by James Whineray
When sound artists aren’t soundtracking the future / pulling knobs they’re busy doing other normcore shit like walking their dogs and putting dried fruit into plastic bags at Kalula’s. Lower Spectrum (Ned Beckley) went for a walk with photographer James Whineray around Fremantle the other week. Special appearances from Comida Do Sol, Benny, James, Lucy, Pesto the dog and Booyeembara Park.
Lower Spectrum is Triple J Unearthed’s Feature Artist all this week. Listen to more of Ned’s spectral work here, or order the latest EP, ‘Traces’ on vinyl or CD over at his Bandcamp profile.
(View full photo set below.)