Recent Posts

LISTEN: The Ocean Party – ‘Light Weight’

, , No Comment

ocean party light weight

Not to too get personal, but this Ocean Party record came at exactly the right time for me. I’ve been in one of those drawn-out phases where everything you do seems shit and interacting with the world seems excruciating. Whenever I wrote anything positive about a band I sounded like a drooling fan, and anytime I wrote anything negative it sounded petty and pathetic, and I was like why the hell do anything at all? And then this goddamn band releases their fifth record in as many years – and it’s not Guided By Voices, Ryan Adams-style prolific-ness where you wade through shit for scant gems. Nah, every song is really good and together they make something more than really good. And suddenly stuff’s worth doing again, because there’s a chance one day you might do something that’s almost as good as this record.

There’s self-doubt here, sure, and defensive cynicism, but then moments of clarity and honesty that knock you over – like on subtle and delicate mid-record highlight ‘Anything’. This record is a balancing act that never falters. Whoever thought to follow the coldness of lines like ‘Every drag smells like a butcher’s knife’ and ‘you said can I stay with you/ I said I didn’t care’ with that jaunty little ‘do do do do’ guitar in the title track should get an automatic ARIA. And then to follow that up with the snarly groove of ‘Phone Sex’ – a song full of spit and regret – and then single ‘Guess Work’, with a chorus that comes readymade for mouthing along to at shows and verses political and pointed… I’m gonna stop just describing it song by song now, but you get the idea; there’s a lot going on and it all just works.

The most impressive thing about the Ocean Party for me is their refusal to be any one thing. With so many singers and songwriters, you get some songs that have almost no chorus and some that are all chorus, some that hit on lofty world themes and some that focus on day-to-day minutiae and interrogate tiny moments. A lot of the songs on Light Weight look back on mistakes, missed opportunities, the good that’s gone (‘here it comes… there it went’), but musically they’re always moving forward, pushing the boundaries of what a band has to be, what everyone keeps telling them they are, and making better and better songs for it.

Buy the record now HERE through Spunk.

Mouth along at one of the Ocean Party’s remaining shows on what’s been an EXTENSIVE album tour.

22nd October – Finbox, Wollongong
23rd October – Thyme To Taste, Yass
24th October – The Tote, Melbourne
25th October – Birdhouse, Wagga Wagga
30th October – The Eastern, Ballarat
31st October – The Metro, Adelaide
6th November – The Bird, Perth
8th November – The Newport, Fremantle
14th November – The Brisbane Hotel, Hobart
15th November – Fresh Cafe, Launceston

Facebook / Bandcamp

PREMIERE: Lisa Salvo – ‘Give Me Your Love’ video

, , No Comment

lisa salvo

Lisa Salvo is a Melbourne-based musician specialising in spacious, engulfing dream-folk. After releasing her debut album I Could Have Been a Castle independently last year, Salvo has teamed up with Eastmint Records for a re-release that includes the album’s first vinyl pressing. In the meantime, she’s given us the video to standout track ‘Give me your love’ (fandom shared by Tim Shiel). A montage of limbs and rockets, it would best be seen projected on your roof while you’re blasting the track through the largest sub woofers at hand. On repeat.

When I say the track’s a ‘standout’, I mean in the way it refuses to leave my head – it’s bloody haunting. The video, produced and directed by Sabina Maselli, matches the track’s ethereal minimalism and Salvo’s hushed vocals. Given the instrumentation is comprised of a droning bass line overlaid with what sounds like a lone egg shaker, Salvo’s off kilter melodies and ghostly harmonies propel the track effortlessly.

It would seem Salvo has a knack for translating her work visually – or at least partnering with people who align with her vision pretty seamlessly. The video for the album’s lead single, ‘Lullaby‘ (directed and co-produced with Peter Savieri, whose work with crowd favourites Sex on Toast is seared into my memory), set the standard for Salvo’s later output.

The I Could Have Been a Castle vinyl launch is happening on Sunday, 22 November at the Gasometer with guests Grand Salvo and Sugar Fed Leopards. The reissue is out on 13 November.


FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Slum Sociable – ‘Paradigm’

, , No Comment


Melbourne-via-Mordialloc duo Slum Sociable are flexing some serious electro-noir muscle on new track ‘Paradigm’, the second single off their debut EP, TQ. Slum Sociable’s sound summons montages of shady dudes in trench coats skulking around alleyways, and ‘Paradigm’ does everything to consolidate that feeling.

The track has the compressed beats of Ruban Nielson’s self-styled “depression funk”. It drags you over the coals at first, opening with a jagged drum loop that cuts in and out, while the boys layer it with licks from pretty much anything that will create sound. Though big on atmosphere, it’s not as melodically catchy as ‘All Night’, the first single from TQ, with its menacing vocals and sinister harmonies gliding over a slick swathe of samples.

Tom Iansek features on TQ‘s production credits, but I don’t think the talent and vision of the guys driving the project should be overshadowed by Iansek’s contributions. With every track they expand on the atmospheric jazz-hop that has had everyone with ears drooling for more since debut single ‘Anyway’ dropped almost a year ago.

Slum Sociable are heading to the US for a bunch of dates in New York for CMJ before returning for an Australia/NZ tour.

TQ is out now via Liberation.

Facebook / Website / Soundcloud

PREMIERE: Dollar Bar – ‘Australia Hates Me’ video

, , No Comment

dollar bar

Brisbane’s Dollar Bar make music for 90s fetishists with short attention spans. Their albums are brimming with snappy, lo-fi power pop in the style of Sebadoh or Guided by Voices, with off-the-cuff melodic sketches thrown in alongside fully realised pop songs. Dollar Bar have enough energy to pull this off without seeming glib, and the results are charmingly DIY.

Australia Hates Me’, the latest single from the Hot Ones LP, is a short, sharp anthem for leaners and latte sippers everywhere. It describes the feeling you get inside when your government spends billions of dollars torturing asylum seekers in concentration camps, tries to knacker the unions and take away your Sunday penalty rates, then devotes any remaining spare time to culture wars bullshit. As the band’s Chris Yates told Mess + Noise in April, “I wanted to call it ‘Australia Get Fucked'”.

The video shows Dollar Bar enjoying sunny Petersham Park (even UnAustralians love the outdoors), while Yates lip syncs his part from Tuscany – because, frankly, it’s nicer there.

Hot Ones, along with the band’s previous LP, Paddington Workers Club, is about to be reissued on cassette via Texas label Some Weird Sin. The tapes will be released on 17 October to mark Cassette Store Day – the event to out-indie them all, established three years ago in the US by Burger Records. The inaugural Australian Cassette Store Day is being administered by the wonderful people at Rice is Nice, with proceeds going to YWCA.

Other local CSD releases include tapes from Summer Flake, Courtney Barnett, Ouch My Face, the Ocean Party and Step Panther, plus a brand new mixer from Rice is Nice and a collection of rare demos from Red Riders.

If you’re in Sydney, get along to the CSD launch party at Waywards in Newtown on Friday, 16 October. The show is FREE and features Zeahorse, White Dog and Us the Band.

Hot Ones is available now through Sonic Masala Records and iTunes.

Facebook / Bandcamp

PREMIERE: Tourist Dollars – ‘End of Times’

, , No Comment

Tourist Dollars 3 - Hannah Hawkins

Tourist Dollars is the project of Jesse McCormack, enlisting brothers Dave and Aiden McMillen (Redspencer) to bring to life some tight, sweet guitar pop. The band have been silent since putting out a few tracks last year, emerging from their hibernation with ‘End of Times’, the first single off their forthcoming EP. It’s a sharp and confident track, with just enough grit in the vocals to knock the twee barber shop out of it.

The vocal melody is catchy as hell, almost totally bypassing my ears to nestle itself under my skin after just a few plays. The morose guitars borrow from the pedal boards of Mac Demarco and Kurt Vile, and the vocals are powerfully ghostlike, with an echoey, James Mercer-like quality.

‘End of Times’ is confidently produced. You can pick the influences on Tourist Dollars’ sound, but it’s so well put together they have avoided being overly derivative. They’re good in the same way as chunky steak pies – never going out of fashion.

‘End of Times’ is the first look into their debut EP, due out early 2016.

Facebook / Soundcloud




Amidst the footy finals madness plaguing pretty much the whole bloody country this weekend something EVEN MORE EXCITING AND IMPORTANT is happening in Melbourne. A record label focussed on supporting female and queer musicians, LISTEN Records, is launching.

It is news to no one that sometimes it can be a bit rough identifying as female. Despite music generally being a great equaliser of gender, colour and background, a bunch of ladies grew tired of the dismissive attitudes towards women and the LGTBQIA community in the music industry. This led to Evelyn Morris (Pikelet, True Radical Miracle, Baseball) airing her dissatisfaction with the “male back-patting” permeating the Melbourne music scene, which didn’t so much hit a nerve as it did trigger a groundswell of agreement from people across the country, culminating in LISTEN.

In just over a year, the LISTEN Project has grown from being a forum for women and members of the LGBTQIA community to share their experiences in the industry, to launching an official record label. They have even teed up a conference for the end of October; a roundtable of sorts for female and gender queer artists to talk about the reason we’re all here: music.

As for where LISTEN is going, Morris is pretty happy for the project to shape itself: “Listen has been growing really fast and will continue to grow and develop into whatever it needs to be. I’m very excited by what the community can create together.”

For the label’s first foray into the public sphere, LISTEN has produced a 15-track compilation from some of Australia’s most-talented musicians, who all identify as women. It’s a genre-spanning spread of stratospherically talented female and queer musicians, with KT Spit, Philippa Omega, Soft Rubbish and Julia Why? all contributing tracks. LISTEN has a few releases lined up in the coming months, with Claws & Organs in November and Stina and Cinta early next year.

Because gender identities are complex and are continually glossed over by writers who reckon they can nail a definition in one blog post, I’m going to forego that whole exercise and let the women who have shared their firsthand experiences for LISTEN do the talking.

Get down to the Old Bar on Saturday, 3 October, to catch a handful of the compilation artists and show your support for some of Australia’s finest.

Facebook / Web

TRACK BY TRACK: Brendan Welch – The Gleaner reissue

, , No Comment

brendan welch-2

In 2009 Brendan Welch released The Gleaner, his Paul Dempsey-produced debut album, to critical acclaim. He won some high profile fans and went on to play shows alongside Paul Kelly, Tim Rogers, Jen Cloher and more. Then, after a dispute with management, things ground to a halt. The LP became tangled up in legal troubles, and Welch disappeared from the public eye for more than five years.

The Gleaner is now getting a deserving reissue through Ballarat label Heart of the Rat Records, on digital and vinyl. Meanwhile Welch has sprung right back into action and is preparing a new record with production from Two Bright Lakes co-founder Nick Huggins.

Below he shares with us some of the inspiration behind his gorgeous first album, including time spent in the doldrums, the “uselessness of over-moralising, the un-clarity of guilt and the attractiveness of brutality”.

Welch is launching the reissue on Sunday, 25 October, at the Gasometer, with support from Rolling Blackouts and Mark with the Sea.


I Think I Always Thought (I’d Fall in Love With You)

I wrote the song many years ago trying express the frustration of not falling in love with who I thought I should. It does have a positive melody though, and all major chords, so it manages to be hopeful at the same time! Sometimes regardless of my intention the music has a way of expressing its own will. It has since been sung at a few weddings.

Oh No! I’m Wasting Away

I was in a bad place physically and mentally. I weighed about 62kg – my normal weight is about 75 – and I was choosing bottles of cheap wine over bread at the supermarket with the little bit of money I had. I couldn’t keep down a day job at that stage. I was actually worried that I might literally “waste away!” Hence the main lyric.

Halls of Men

Dead tired of all the complete bullshit that often falls out of mouths and radio waves and television screens – this is a hopeful song about the end of modern life as we know it!

I Made It to Sail

Another story set in an unknown time and place, about being on the run. I imagined a version of myself being rejected after trying and failing to entertain the king and subsequently being hunted by an ancient dynasty.

With a Steady Hand

Based on the feeling that without the status and protection of a middle-class, 21st-century, privileged, western life, I would be the first to be pushed out or put down by the ‘real men’ of my imagined ‘real world’.

Run While You Still Can

The horror and anger of finding out what someone close to you is capable of. A sung version of what you’d wished you’d said had your mind and heart been quick enough in that moment of realisation.