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LISTEN: TEEF Records – Imperium In Imperio II

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Tommy Faith, founder of the always entertaining and on point Australian music blog Sound Doctrine, started TEEF Records in 2014 and has since clocked up a string of cracking releases from relative newcomers Spirit Faces, Anatole, Arthur Wimble and, most recently, Yon Yonson.

Mid-last year TEEF released Imperium In Imperio, a compilation of exclusive tracks from a veritable goldmine of local talent including Collarbones, Setec and Electric Sea Spider amongst many others. While the TEEF roster leans towards bedroom pop and electronica, the extensive list of artists featured on the compilation cover a lot of ground, stylistically speaking, without losing the sense of cohesion needed to make such releases succeed. And to top it off, the profits from the release were given to OXFAM’s Nepal relief fund, after a devastating earthquake struck the South Asian country in May last year.

Here we are a little over 12 months later, and Tommy’s at it once again with Imperium In Imperio II. Keeping with the eclectic nature of the first compilation, the 18-track second instalment features a slew of great artists with equally diverse and engrossing offerings – from the exquisitely squashed hip-hop entry from Sampa the Great, and the hypnotic warmth of Tracy Chen, to the ghostly 2-step groove of IljusWifmo. Once again the proceeds will be donated to OXFAM, this time for the Syrian refugee appeal, helping OXFAM provide food, water and sanitation to some of the 13.5 million people who have fled their homes over the last five years.

Grab this amazing compilation now and not only will you support this great cause, you will also show some much deserved love to your new favourite label, TEEF.

LISTEN: Military Position – ‘Made to Fight’

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military position

Photo by Chloe Alexandra

‘Timeliness is for fucking NERDS’ – me to myself justifying writing about this song from Military Position (Harriet Kate Morgan, from Melbourne) weeks after it was released. I’m sure other things have come out that less people have heard of that deserve attention but are they this heavy with tension and danger and that gutsy industrial techno that I can’t get enough of right now? Nah.

There’s hints of Kirin J Callinan in Morgan’s vocals – that authoritative kind of Australian accent most of us nasal creeps will never pull of – but she’s fucking around even less. Everything here is laced with threat.

It’s the feeling of being followed, clenching your fists and standing up tall. Tick tock drum machines in the last minute making everything sound even more ominous. Whatever their counting down to, I don’t know if I want to see it.  It’s a tough fucking song that works as a response to, as well as a mirror for, masculine aggression. It’s the blood beating in your ears when you don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into. It’s sick.

‘Made to Fight’ will be out on a forthcoming release called Black Noise C30 on Trapdoor Tapes



INTERVIEW: Em Gayfer of Rock4Renewables

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yes friends

If you’re out and about in Melbourne you’ve probably been touched by the ambition and grace of Em Gayfer in one sense or another; chances are you’ll recognise them foremost as the vocalist for the fearless Chelsea Bleach, but they’ve put their hand to their fair share of grassroots activism too. This brings us to Rock 4 Renewables, a micro-activism festival to push for renewable energy in Victoria. Far be it from me to explain the whole thing – instead, I spoke to Em recently about R4R’s upcoming gig at The Old Bar on 14 August.

What can you tell us about Rock 4 Renewables?

Rock 4 Renewables is a fundraiser event to raise money for Yes2Renewables – a Friends of the Earth collective. The group has been campaigning in Victoria for over four years to ensure legislation around renewable energy is fair in the state. We’ve been able to get the Daniel Andrews government to commit to repealing the worst of the state’s anti-wind farm laws, as well as commit to a Victorian Renewable Energy Target!

After some major wins, however, this grassroots organisation is running low on funds. We’re calling for Melbourne’s rock n roll community to support us in raising some much needed money so that we can keep working in Victoria to secure a 100% renewable future for the state!

The gig will feature some of Melbourne’s great musical talent, including Huntly, Elizabeth Mitchell (Totally Mild), Brat Farrar and Lalic. We’ll also have a raffle with some amazing prizes going on the night.

How did you get involved in the project?

I’ve been volunteering with Yes2Renwables for over two years. This event will be the second Rock 4 Renewables we’ve hosted – we called on the Melbourne music community to help us out a few years ago in raising some funds, so when we were having financial troubles, it was a good first place to start.

I’ve been volunteering with Yes2Renewables for over two years now and am pretty active in Melbourne’s live music scene. Combining two areas I’m really passionate about seemed like a great solution to me!

What can you tell us about the artists on the bill?

We’ve been lucky enough to secure an absolutely amazing lineup for the event, and just goes to show that Melbourne’s musos are ready to rally behind a great cause. We’ve got Huntly, who describe themselves as “doof you can cry to” and who recently released this amazing EP. Elizabeth Mitchell from Totally Mild will be playing a dreamy solo set, Brat Farrar will be bringing his fuzzy new wave style. Lalic will also be joining us with their experimental psych stylings. And we’ll have DJ Nature Girl playing tunes in between bands, so there will really be no reason to leave the dance-floor!

The event mentions the Victorian state government undertaking “ambitious renewable energy goals”, for the uninformed, can you tell us what these entail?

During Tony Abbott’s prime ministership, the renewable energy sector was dealt a harsh blow, with the national renewable energy target slashed by 20%. This meant that in Victoria, the renewable energy sector was stunted and no new projects were being built due to uncertainty over what would happen in the future.

In light of this, the Yes2Renewables campaign worked hard to ensure the Daniel Andrews government committed to renewable energy in Victoria. The main way to ensure this has been through a Victorian Renewable Energy Target. Recently, the Andrews government announced two renewable energy targets for the state: 25% by 2020 and 40% by 2030 – which is a great step towards transitioning to 100% renewables!

What kind of renewable energy mediums (or methods) is the state government supporting?

Plans for how the VRET will be implemented are still underway so we still don’t know exactly what the state’s renewable energy sources will look like. Their plans show so far that the targets will double the amount of wind energy capacity in the state by 2020 and triple it by 2025, not only increasing the amount of renewable energy but also creating 10,000 jobs which is pretty awesome.

Where to from here?

Victoria’s renewable energy targets are an important step in ensuring a clean energy future for Australia, but there are still a number of other steps to take. The VRET has set a strong baseline for Victoria, but across the country we need to see renewables growing. As well as this, across Victoria, communities have been calling for a permanent ban on unconventional gas (fracking) and are currently awaiting a decision from Resources Minister Wade Noonan, so there are still a number of other environmental threats outside of just increasing the amount of renewable energy in the state that need to be addressed.

Rock 4 Renewables poster

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WATCH: Shady Nasty – ‘Upwardsbound’

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shady nasty

“NEVER WILL I EVER KNOW” goes the cry on Shady Nasty’s hellfire post-punk debut single, ‘Upwardsbound’.

You’ll scream it into singer Kevin Stathis’ face sometime soon I reckon, mutual spit flying across the space between band and audience. Reminds me of going through my La Dispute phase, catching them play an under 18s show at Irene’s Warehouse in 2010, where 16 year olds slammed into each other like amateur wrestlers, basking in the cacophony of angst and noise and Jordan Dreyer’s hyper-poeticised versions of heartbreak.

This isn’t to compare those two bands on any musical level though – Shady Nasty are cut from a wholly different cloth. ‘Upwardsbound’ is scattershot in all the different things it tries to achieve, but it succeeds in every area. Stathis’ wry, knowing vocal delivery; that pin-prick guitar, ascending over the verses. It all converges in a stadium-sized tremolo freak out, over which Stathis cries “but I can’t not feel that I’m sick with envy”. While the sounds Shady Nasty are bringing through aren’t untapped, their delivery is something damn original.

The video going along with ‘Upwardsbound’ has its own sinister edge, but somehow it achieves this with fruit abuse, dry ice, and some liberal head wobble. The band tries to keep up appearances in a cute domestic setting, but the instrumentation makes it sound like the world is ending outside.

As someone comments on ‘Upwardsbound’ on the group’s Facebook page: “there’s tunes, and there’s top notch ridgey didge grungey inner west makeyathink classic tunes”.

Check out the video below, directed by Anna Philips and Sam Brumby.


WATCH: Wireheads – ‘So Softly Spoken’

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Wireheads 4

Image by Sia Duff

A good low-budget clip should make you think two things: ‘hey that’s cool’ and ‘these guys are cool’. Alex Gordon-Smith’s one shot, one take (yeah, let’s not fuck around) clip for Adelaide band Wireheads’ ‘So Softly Spoken’, off their recent album Arrive Alive (which we  liked heaps), does just that.

It starts off inside a share house with an effective mix of the surreal and mundane, matching the haphazard energy of the first half of the track perfectly. This is a song that sounds like it could be coming through the floor into your room while your housemates band practised downstairs – if that band was actually good.

Then the tempo slows, becomes more reflective and romantic, as the camera’s blurry gaze shifts to the world outside, walking down familiar suburban streets, smoking durries and drinking tallies, eating whole heads of lettuce. The clip ends with the members of the band (and other bands – Adelaide mates from Rule of Thirds, The High Beamers, Gentleworms, and more were roped in for the shoot) walking down the street playing guitar, or wearing a stained wedding dress and drinking a bottle of red wine.

It’s a melancholy note to end on – this band house with your mates stuff doesn’t last forever, things change all the time. With that in mind this clip becomes a weird, slightly dark but affectionate document of a specific time and place and people.

You can buy Arrive Alive from Tenth Court now, and if you live in Adelaide or Melbourne and don’t catch one of the album launch shows (dates below)… sort your shit out.

August 6 – The Metro, Adelaide w/ Primo (Melb) + Fair Maiden + Workhorse

August 19 – The Grace Darling, Melbourne w/ Summer Flake + Primo + SMB

August 20 – The Curtin, Melbourne w/ Shame Brothers + Blank Statements

FEATURE: Sarah Mary Chadwick – ‘Roses Always Die’ LP

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sarah mary chadwick LP

I’ve never really been able to listen to sad music when I’m sad. I’ve never had the emotional capacity ‘have a good cry’, wallow in it, let it out and move forward. I’ve kind of always found sadness unbearable and unacceptable. I can’t deal. So I turn it into hate or anger at myself or those who’ve done me wrong. Now I’m not gonna say Sarah Mary Chadwick taught me how to feel sad, cause that’s some trite bullshit. I am gonna say that the themes on her new record Roses Always Die reveal something is so important, but almost impossible to accept: that there’s no shame in feeling bad.

These spare and beautiful songs pick at the stiches of every bad feeling: fear, grief, desperation, loneliness, hopelessness, and examine them with heartbreaking clarity.

Accessing these emotions, for Chadwick, has become routine. I can’t really kid myself that the catharsis I feel from these songs is something I’m sharing with the woman who wrote them, but you know, art’s in interpretation.

‘It’s something that I’ve just got into the habit of doing,’ she says. ‘I think when I used to play in the band [Batrider] and it was more physical and aggressive, that was probably more of a cathartic experience. I think as I get older it’s got both more of a purpose and less of a purpose. I do it more, it’s a bigger part of my life, but it’s become more mundane.’

Routine and boredom seem to be big parts of Chadwick’s creative progression. The guitar that still lingered around in a few songs on last year’s 9 Classic Tracks is gone here, leaving vocals and the organ that Chadwick bought from her housemate for $50 as the only instruments (the drums are the beats built into the organ). Chadwick said that keyboards are just more interesting to her at the moment: ‘it helps that I’m not that good at it. I got to a point when I’d been playing guitar for so many years that was like I just don’t think I can do anything that I’ll enjoy doing with guitar anymore. Maybe with keyboards the same thing will happen.’

There’s something big about these songs. For one thing, organ just sounds important, even if it’s backed up by thin programmed drums and sparse production. But the grandness is also in the way Chadwick builds drama with these few elements. She says that the idea of drama was really the only preconceived notion she had making the record.

‘I wanted to have some big songs. Some of them I reckon ended up sounding like a real Liza Minnelli show tunes vibe. I was telling Geoff [Geoffrey O’Connor, who recorded the album] a couple of times, “Oh yeah, that’s a Liza one”. ‘The Fire That Torched My Fear’ is one – I imagine that as being a big moment in like a musical or something – not in a way that anyone but us would really get.’

I get it. Yeah, probably only because she told me, but now I can’t listen to that track without seeing a ‘Life is a Cabaret’-esque black stage and spotlight, tears streaming down a stark white face.  ‘The Fire That Torched My Fear’ follows ‘Yunno What’, my favourite song on the record for its groovy-ness (the dance track) as much as it’s visceral desperation. Each song easily wounds you on its own, but back-to-back they’re out to destroy you.

Not necessarily just with the bitterness of lines like ‘The Fire That Torched My Fear’s opener why did I expect more from today? I should have let it just be nothing’ but also with that ever-present tenuous hope of the redemption that friends might offer, if you can muster up the courage to ask (‘maybe I’ll see someone who cracks me up all night / someone who’ll make it feel alright’).

‘Four Walls’ is the shortest song on the record but the most intense and claustrophobic. You can hear Chadwick’s fingers moving over and hovering on the keys, while she sings, I’m guessing, about the responsibility of living for someone who’s gone, trying to be witness to their life: ‘some things speak through me / and I can feel your pain wild and free’. This intimacy may have been helped by the way the organ was recorded. Because it was too big to be moved, Chadwick had to record everything in her apartment. Which, she says, made things easier.

‘We live in a big warehouse style apartment thing, and I think that really worked for the recording – if we lived in a tiny dead apartment thing it wouldn’t have. I think we did the tracking over a day or two, tops. And then all the vocals I recorded in his studio.’

She continues, ‘I actually wrote 9 Classic Tracks on the same organ, but when I recorded with Geoff the first time, to be honest I think he didn’t trust me. He was like, ‘Um let’s just record it on this synth…’ And because I hadn’t done anything like that before I didn’t mind at all, and I think that sound really worked for that record. But this time I wanted to use the organ I wrote it on, just to make sure it sounded different from the last [record].’

It’s easy to assume that every sad song is about sex and relationships – especially when you’re young and privileged and nothing else particularly bad has gone wrong in your life (hello!) – but there’s a lot of different kind of pain in here. Chadwick’s father and close friend died very close together in the last year, and she says obviously that influenced the record a lot, as did starting psychoanalysis. She says she’s become more interested in her own motivation – ‘there’s a lot in there: what makes things happen and what’s propelling things, why things happen’ she says.

The frankness of her own self-examination is instantly appealing. ‘I’ve never been worried about admitting the bad things about myself, or someone else,’ she laughs. But she says it might also be slightly defensive. ‘Maybe that’s a bit of inoculating yourself against bad things, or being surprised. Because if things go to shit you can be like – well, I knew that was gonna happen’.

While the record might not be overtly about physical and romantic connections, they’re still in there, still affecting everything else – you can’t put your traumas in a line and deal with them one by one. There’s no song that’s just about death or just about sex or just about hope; Chadwick’s stories are way too complex and whole for that. ‘Turn On’ deftly mixes intimate imagery and beauty with grief in lines like ‘I believed your skin would cauterise me’ or the picture of ‘a stupidly idyllic cemetery’. The vocals here are fuller than the rest of the record, dark whispers fill up the background while Chadwick’s voice strains under the weight of her loss, front and centre.

Maybe one of the reason it’s hard to separate these songs from sex and love is the art that has accompanied most of Chadwick’s music since 9 Classic Tracks. If you’ve seen much of her very cool, uninhibited pen and water colour pieces featuring sex and sex acts, it won’t surprise you that most of the subjects are directly copied from porn. But the way she describes it as inspiration is with characteristic subtlety and thoughtfulness.

‘I think porn’s really interesting’ she says ‘it’s people’s base instincts and there’s all these power dynamics and it’s a little bit seedy and a little bit hot and a little bit lame and problematic and there’s so much stuff going on in there, it’s never boring’. Like in Chadwick’s music, nothing is ever just one thing in these visual works.

It’s also shown her something about the perceived value of art. ‘There’s something kind of weird about it,’ she says. ‘If I did a song or whatever, you can buy that for a dollar on Bandcamp. But all the feelings in the world went into writing it, then me and Geoff did the tracking, then the vocals, then he mixed it and it got mastered and someone from Rice is Nice promoted it. Whereas I can sit down and watch some porn while I’m watching Bridgette Jones’ Diary in the background and draw a picture and I can sell it for like $100! It just cracks me up, how much effort goes into one or the lack of effort that goes into the other.’

There’s kind of pure joy in these drawings that comes from self-destruction and abasement – when you’re heading towards someone with open arms, asking them to fuck you up/ just fuck you. You can  hear it on the record too, most notably in single ‘Cool It’ – which comes around with some arse-moving drums and some deep and slinky base notes.

It’s hazy and kind of dangerous; ‘you’re not my good time… Unless you wanna be / I could do with a little pick-me-up/ and looking into your eyes/I wanna test out some limits’ she sings, before the song ends to slide into ‘The Man in the Flags’, where she becomes the wise friend consoling someone else. ‘I can see you’re reeling / from that last punch you’re still bleeding / she is nothing more than dead wax / and when her hold over your heart slacks,’ she sings over a jittery high hat and snare sound and a keyboard solo straight out of a sea-shanty – a false kind of joviality that sounds like putting on a happy face for the sake of a friend.

Chadwick leaves the end of the record for the more quiet and delicate moments. Like in late highlight ‘Make a Boundary’, with it’s startlingly beautiful melody in a chorus carried by vocals that catch at all the right moments. That song and the strained, empty-sounding ‘Right Now I’m Running’ make up her last exhausted shout – ‘blackened by the fire’ – wanting to be able to end things and walk away with something left, but ending up giving it all away anyway.

But she still can’t resist finishing with one eye on the hope of other people: ‘hey your eyes light up / and hey your mouth seems smart / and hey look the sun’s up’.

Different parts of the cycle of hope, loss, disappointment and trying again that makes up pretty much everyone’s whole life, are scattered over this record. There is progress, but it starts and stops, moves backwards, sometimes gives up. The absolute honesty and self-knowledge with which Sarah Mary Chadwick approaches this cycle makes her an artist to be in awe of. Roses Always Die is an album that makes you wanna be brave, to make any shame in sadness cower under that beautiful, real-shit, truth.


Roses Always Die is out on Rice is Nice Friday August 5.

And, if you really wanna hear some guitar, Chadwick is releasing a seven inch on a Swedish label later in the year with two guitar tracks that were cut from the record.

Sarah Mary Chadwick is touring around Australia, and will be in:

Melbourne at the Northcote Social Club on September 1

Sydney at the Newtown Social Club September 3

Brisbane at Trainspotters on September 17

WATCH: Nic Belor – ‘Bestfriend’

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nic belor

Nic Belor, a gentle, long-haired guitarist and songwriter living between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, is about to release his first solo album, Bestfriend, via Queensland-based imprint Feedback Town. Formerly of the post hardcore-influenced Wilde Child, he’s also a member of Figures, a three-piece band that pairs sweet, Teenage Fanclub-style vocals with rough-edged shoegaze.

Belor’s new material is pop music, plain and simple – an attempt to cut through the noise in a few harmonic minutes. The album’s title track and lead single is a sad-faced number with a chipper demeanour, kind of like Mac DeMarco minus the shit-eating grin. Easygoing and warm, ‘Bestfriend’ is nonetheless just a little off-kilter; its bright chords slightly detuned, twanging uncannily, while Belor croons about the one who’s left him.