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LISTEN: Black Cab – ‘Uniforms’

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black cab

We’ve been waiting far too long for another local band like Cut Copy to unite the dancefloors and house parties and festivals of Australia. Nite Fields probably could have done it if they had any ambition to be popular in this country (and, you know, why would they?). Blank Realm have the vibe but are maybe a little too rough and tumble for that weird subset of partiers who still listen to the radio. California Girls are going too hard to care. Add your favourite of the hundreds of others who almost cracked the formula for electro-success to this list.

But Black Cab have got it: the polish, the choruses ready-made for sing-alongs under blinding lights, the universal, vaguely romantic lyrics (‘boys can boys can/and the girls can have it all’) and vocals in the monotone English new-wave style that sound vitally important even when the words are banal.

‘Uniforms’ does everything a good dance song should – swells and pulses, builds up and repeats until you think you could really dance forever. Flashback: me and everyone else at Golden Plains. ‘I love this. I LOVE THIS. This is a GREAT SONG’. It sounds like a strobe, arpeggiated and bright. And in case you needed more proof of the broad and impeccable taste of Mikey Young, here he is on guest keys. Must have been a lot of fun.

Black Cab launch ‘Uniforms’ in May at Melbourne’s Howler and at the Newtown Social Club in Sydney. Those of us outside the big smoke will have to wait (we’re used to it). The band’s hinted at a vinyl release later in the year, so hopefully it won’t be too long.

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PREMIERE: Cool Sounds – ‘In Blue Skies’

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Cool SoundsIs it a crime to not like guitar pop yet? It should be. I’d fight that fight. However I also think ‘is this the genre that I’ll look back on a decade from now and be like “but why?”‘ Whatever, sad guitar pop is just very listenable, is what I’m trying to say. Two releases deep, Cool Sounds (featuring members of probably every other band in Melbourne) have presented us with ‘In Blue Skies’, the first offering off what they’re calling their debut album (they could be three in already depending on which way you cut it), ‘Dance Moves’.

When you name your band something as disarming as Cool Sounds you immediately position yourself on that fine line between banal and banal but in a low key, acceptably ironic way. CS edge into the latter category by writing songs that are emotionally invested in the former; shit that happens to everyone with a frequency that makes it mundane, but still makes you feel feelings that you’re positive no one has ever felt before when they happen to you.

On ‘In Blue Skies’, Dainis Lacey turns his attention to a relationship reluctantly withering away. It’s a sad song with sprinkles of flamenco-esque guitar and Sara Retallick’s vocals echoing Lacey’s longing through the chorus. It’s the kind of track I’d sing into an empty bar 16 G&T’s deep after a crumbly breakup. That’s never happened, but I kind of want it to because then I’d be able to say something about life imitating art. ‘In Blue Skies’ almost takes me there, a place where I’m down but not entirely out, one foot ready to make the next move while the other is stubbornly planted in the past.

If Foals’ Yannis Philippakis was a more mellow human he’d sound exactly like Lacey, and if Lacey wanted to take Cool Sounds in a more extreme direction I’m sure he’d sound like Philippakis yelping into a stadium. For now though, CS are making some consistently…cool…sounds. And I always have room for that in my life.

Dance Moves is due out via Deaf Ambitions late 2016. 

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PREMIERE: White Lodge – ‘Bella-Union Creep’ Video

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white lodge

When most folks want some kickass garage rock, they look to whatever the latest Thee Oh Sees or Ty Segall release happens to be gracing the window of the local record store. But the time has come to expand and accept a new prodigy to the ranks: Gold Coast’s White Lodge.

For their latest track, “Bella-Union Creep”, White Lodge pummel their guitars with a newfound passion more evident here than their previous works. The opening “WOOP!” is enough to signify that this song will probably become an immediate favourite for fans of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. And for the rest of the song’s duration –  White Lodge charge ahead with such fury, it’s a wonder they don’t break the sound barrier. They play hard, bending melodies to their fuzzed out extreme, crooked notes crying out under the pressure they’re being put under. Essentially, if you’re after some garage rock that hits its stride within milliseconds and doesn’t stop going until the last droplet of feedback has dried up, you can’t get much better than this.

Accompanying the unrelenting fuzz is a video that informs the viewer that there are worse things one can find in a Gold Coast toilet block than fake tan stains on your seat. DIY gimp masks, discarded supermarket trollies, and animal skulls that have definitely been used for a Satanic ritual all make an appearance in a clip that is just as bent out of shape as the song that soundtracks it.


Folks in Byron Bay and Brisbane can catch White Lodge at these upcoming shows:

March 26th – The Northern, Byron Bay w/ Peach Fur and Draggs 

April 1st – The Outpost, Brisbane


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PREMIERE: Stina Tester & Cinta Masters – ‘Mystery’

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Stina and Cinta Press Shot 3

Stina Tester & Cinta Masters have blessed us with a few singles already, independently and through LISTEN – all heady mixtures of agitated synths, propulsive rhythms and pointed, abrupt vocals. Their latest single, ‘Mystery’, brings no relief, and I don’t actually want to be relieved from the pair’s tightly wound synth punk. News of a debut album from Stina Tester & Cinta Masters is a stark dystopia I can get behind.

The ladies have been dishing up music together for a while now, putting stuff out as Gold Tango until 2013. After retiring that moniker, they continued to work together, culminating in the forthcoming LP. If you’re like me and will listen to anything punk-flavoured without going the full thrashy milkshake, Stina and Cinta offer an angular compromise. Dissonance and punchy keys are softened by consistent drumming and reliably melodic – but in no way soothing – vocals.

No, really – if you like pokey synths and tense atmospheres, pencil this release in for 1 April, out through LISTEN Records. They’ll be launching the album on 8 April at the Curtin in Melbourne with Empat Lima, Simona Castricum and Shag Planet (aka three bands you need to Google right now and educate yourself).

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WATCH: BENT – ‘Skelton Man’

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The premise of this video from Brisbane three-piece BENT is pretty simple: wake up, mess around with breakfast stuff, writhe around on the kitchen benches, look deranged in an attractive way. A couple of ideas and a whole lot of fuck-it confidence that they’ll work out. The song itself, from their Bent EP, released in early January on Moontown Records, is like walking around in circles and bumping into things – metal things mostly. It’s also very well recorded: all the pieces stand out and apart and grab your attention equally.

The vocals are bratty and dramatic. I wanna say maybe too dramatic, but that’s just cause I listen to too much auscore shit and now whenever I hear vocals that are at all dynamic from someone who can actually sing it freaks me out. Singer Heidi Cutlack kinda freaks me out on this track anyway, especially when she yelps that childish kinda-funny, kinda-sinister line ‘Where is your milky???’ over and over.

Cutlack made this video. She also does the art and makes the merch – and I reckon that even if BENT hit it big (or as big a band that sounds as weird as this could), she still will. This is a real DIY band, and that means more than just playing a few house shows from time to time. They’re totally involved in every part of their look and sound (they definitely know exactly the kind of no wave-ish stuff they’re aping better than me, so I’m not gonna embarrass myself by guessing) and they make you want to get involved as well.

Watch this cool weird video and then listen to the record. They’ve been playing on heaps of sick lineups in and out of Brisbane lately – I’ve never seen them but I did hear they’re the reason bands aren’t allowed at Heya Bar in the Valley any more – so catch them live if you can.

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PREMIERE: Bad Vision – ‘Goons’ video

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bad vision goons

A few weeks back, Melbourne’s Bad Visions released the first single from their upcoming album, Turn Out Your Sockets. At first, it felt like a far cry from their early days of eyeball-gouging album art and music to match. The thrash had been replaced with something that could almost be described as country – closer to bluegrass than torrential garage dissonance. But the fear quickly dissipated. Bad Vision have broadened; changed, but stayed the same where it matters. They’ve still got what it takes to lay a garage rock smack down.

‘Goons’ now features a video to accompany its story of teenage mall terrorists: a tracking shot that features all the foosball, record fondling and band practice on the patio that a young punk could dream of. This is the real life of Bad Vision, and their ode to goons – the type of person with a passion for everyone’s favourite sack of cheap wine. The kind of folk who shove good advice to the curb, just so they can say they did things their own way. A person who can spend an entire day on a street corner, people watching and snickering at what they don’t want to be. ‘Goons’ is a love letter, delivered with jangly guitar lines and a raucous chorus. The kind you can lean into in your leather jacket, knowing only half the words but with the courage to yell them like you wrote the thing.

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WATCH: Snake & Friends – ‘Missus and the Masses’

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al montford

If you’re kicking about checking out local Melbourne bands on a regular basis you’ve probably been (metaphorically) touched by the talented hand of Alistair Montfort. Dick Diver, Total Control, Lower Plenty, UV Race – the list of groups Montfort puts his name to rolls on and on. Now a new one’s set to join: Snake and Friends.

With what seems to be their first music video, a song called ‘Missus and the Masses’ has shown up on Montfort’s teeny tiny YouTube channel, and you can watch it below. It’s going to be showing up again on Snake and Friends’ debut LP, which, as far as I can tell, doesn’t have a name, date or any other info attached.

‘Missus and the Masses’ is about as scrappy as Montfort’s efforts in UV Race – though it’s perhaps not as unabashedly messy as the stuff that showed up on Homo. ‘Missus and the Masses’ teeters on the edge of acceptable standards of production, but you’ve gotta take the Montfort with the Montfort and love it for what it is. Always one to appreciate the simpler parts of Australian life, Al describes his video as “an ode to a couple frothy ones”, kicking off with a ne’er do well chant of “sink more! sink more!” and closing out with an elastic synthesizer screw-about.