I like shoegaze that goes a bit hard. In a lot of new bands, the genre’s merging with the more accessible ‘dream pop’ has diluted the essential ‘beautiful noise’-y ness of it for me. But that’s what Brisbane four-piece Ultra Material deliver on their first proper EP (appropriately titled ‘EP’): something essential – a heavy and lovely package of songs tied with a bow. I love the manic, unchained quality to the drums, especially on bolt-outta-the-gates opener ‘Crash’, and the unnerving wails on ‘Pleased To Meet You’. They’ve got a handle on pop melody and structure, but they’re also not afraid to freak you out a little.
Sarah and Matt Deasy, singer/bassist and drummer respectively, used to make icily mellow sounds of a similar vein in their long-running and wonderful duo Do The Robot, and this EP feels like a natural progression from that insular and intimate project. They’ve added another couple on guitar and vocals, and synth, fleshed out the sound until there’s no stillness left at all, and turned their gaze outwards to envelop the listener, rather than leaving us on the outside looking in.
With an album to come later in the year, you can purchase Ultra Material’s EP on beautiful cassette (Matt Deasy also screenprints some of the best band posters and t-shirts in Brisbane as No.7 Print House, so it’s an object well worth having) or digital from their Bandcamp right now.
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Errol Hoffman sprang on to the scene as Perfume Garden in 2013 with the drum-machine backed post-punk of the Light Sail EP. It was a debut characterised by a blend of ominous synth drones and wandering guitars reminiscent of early Cocteau Twins. 2014’s Initial Vision EP followed suit, cementing Hoffman’s six-string prowess while introducing a more beat-driven production style.
Splintered Time is the latest release from the Brisbane producer and serves as both a culmination and departure from his past work.
Musically, Splintered Time builds on layers of grainy Casio chords and distant drums with warped lo-fi leads that would feel right at home in Bowie’s Low or Jodorowsky’s Dune, had it ever been made. Songs like opener ‘Endless Sentence’ push and pull in a slow progression that feels distinctly more cinematic then most modern electronic music.
Hoffman cites several sci-fi film scores as key influences for Splintered Time, including Blade Runner and its anime successor Cyber City Oedo 808. This can be heard in the album’s ‘80s style production, which Hoffman achieves through a mix of sampling keyboards and a healthy dose of reverb.
The record positively revels in the retro-futurism it so proudly wears on its sleeve, calling to mind everything from Vangelis’ film work to the more recent Oneohtrix Point Never. It’s an album that manages to remain dark and brooding without becoming suffocating, approaching the isolation of the 21st century with an eye for beauty, as well as melancholy.
Although Splintered Time is entirely instrumental, it manages to conjure up powerfully emotive images of decaying cityscapes and solitary figures, all the while giving a sense of gloomy romanticism that makes everything seem like its as it should be. It’s the perfect soundtrack to enjoying your own post-apocalyptic fantasy on these long mid-winter nights.
Splintered Time is out through Feral Media on the 20th of July.
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Our monthly roundup of the best new tracks from around the world is here again for July, thanks to the Pop Cop and our blog pals from over yonder.
The track we’ve picked for July is a gregarious party tune from Sydney trio, Australia. If you hoard mp3s, then swing a right-click on the song title to download an mp3. Alternatively, you can grab a zip file of the full 16-track compilation through Dropbox here.
Blito y Los Intermitentes – A Donde Vas
Blito y Los Intermitentes released their debut album, Nada, independently this year. Led by singer-songwriter Blito Dojtman, the band’s sound usually starts in acoustic form and then takes different paths through rock, pop and even tango. If you like A Donde Vas, you can download the whole album from Bandcamp.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Australia – Who R U?
Contrary to popular belief, winter exists in Australia. Escaping from the cold is easy – we turn to home brewing and gregarious electro-pop. Australia (the band) are striding in the same disco patriotism line of outfits like Total Giovanni and Client Liaison. Cue the energetic side-strut – it’s all anthemic beats and Roxy Music guitar frills in view here. Unless you’re allergic to having a good time, it’s hard not to like this track. The Sydney trio’s debut album, Portraits Of People, Places And Movies, is out in August.
CANADA: Ride The Tempo
Men I Trust – Again (feat. Ghostly Kisses)
Montreal electronic collective Men I Trust collaborated with Ghostly Kisses in a beautiful electronic-infused ballad called Again. Local collaborations are huge here in Canada and this one is just so perfect.
CHILE: Super 45
Alejandro Zahler – Waltz Número 7
Full playlist below…
Gold Coast beach blues quartet Donny Love are sad for your heartbroken arse, ladies. They get it, you’re sick of serial sleazebags but that’s probably just because you live on the Gold Coast. In fact, their grasp of your feels are SO FIRM they slip into your head and sing about your issues in first person towards the end of their latest track ‘Carnivorous Man’.
The track works with the band’s knack for time signature breaks and fast-paced vocal lines. ‘Carnivorous Man’ could be the female rebuttal of an earlier track, which uses a similar structure to deplore the age old ‘good guy needs sex too’ dilemma. Andrew Hodges’s lyricism is a standout, and I’m pretty happy to accept “true love constipation” as the only metaphor for emotional unavailability I will need ever again. His quick-witted snipes are sped along by snappy guitar licks that would give The Growlers a run for their money, in fact I think the room would have reached peak beach goth when Donny Love supported the California ~*dreamboats*~ on a handful of their east-coast dates earlier this year.
The ‘Carnivorous Man’ tour continues at The Bearded Lady in Brisbane this Friday in their finest “comfy sandals”, with shows in Melbourne and the GC to follow.
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There’s an innate irony in admiring a French label that’s put together a mixtape of some of the best Australian bands. Like, why is someone on the other side of the world doing this? Shouldn’t WE be doing this? Why aren’t WE doing this? Is this whiny tone harming your ability to focus?
French label Beko Disques have been massive supporters of all things Australian, releasing tapes and records from a variety of Australia’s finest unrewarded music makers, from Parading to Day Ravies, through to TEES and Cool Sounds. Although these bands might be cruelly underrated in their own nation, Beko have taken it upon themselves to sing their praises and publish their recordings from across the globe. Legends? Uh, yeah.
In what is now the second compilation of its nature, (the first can be found here) Beko Disques have brought together a smorgasbord of fine talents from all over this great continent. Moving from well-known Melbourne staples like Chook Race, through to exciting up and comers Hideous Towns, DEAFCULT and The S-Bends, the Oz Do It Better compilation is a thought out and concise encapsulation of a lot of the music that makes this fair country so great to live within.
Not only is this a great discovery tool to find your new favourite band amongst some more established names, but this foreign compilation serves as a reminder of how great we have it. Yes! We do music really well here. We’re awesome. Yes! WE ARE AWESOME.
Grab the compilation here.
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Luke Benge is a man of many lives. Astute readers may remember the New Zealand-born musician from his synth-pop swoonings as Rohypnotise or for his infamous exit from Beat Magazine in 2012. After spending the past few years in New York, Benge has returned to Australia to work on new music as Lucola Bang.
‘Snakes and Ladders’ is the first offering from his debut EP What Of It? and finds the multi-instrumentalist refining the wistful charm of his early work into a rolling heat-wave of warm synths and sticky-sweet bass lines. Fans of Kiwi contemporaries Boy Crush and Leno Lovecraft will find a lot to love in the new single as Benge’s hushed vocals permeate clouds of reverb-laden strings and bells.
With a new music video by avant-garde director Rhys Mitchell on the way and the EP out in full in September, we’re excited to have Benge back on this side of the planet.
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Hands down, the best part of my childhood involved stumbling upon a coin in the street. The glimmer of a $2 coin was like a lighthouse beacon shimmering across a windy storm for me. I was a sailor, barely surviving in the storm that was kindergarten and early bedtimes, and this coin was my safety, my portal to dry land and a cheeky can of Coke. Screw you 6pm bedtime, you will never take me alive.
Melbourne’s Shiny Coin remind me of those days – their gorgeous lo-fi tunes are the right mixture of slacker and power pop that throw back to both the happiness of stumbling across a rare coin, as well as the shock-effect that soft drinks have on a child, and which garage bands have on a man-child.
Two EPs in, and not a single track that these guys have written breaks the three minute barrier. Isn’t that such a beautiful sentiment? The track names are pretty fantastic as well – ‘Mr Tofu’, ‘My Friends’ and the sharp ‘C*nt’ are all fantastic jams that insist on being played as loud as possible.
For people that have been craving some of that Speedy Ortiz/Joanna Gruesome action in Aus, well, here’s your opportunity. Shiny Coin kick tremendous amounts of ass, and are an essential addition to any lover of fuzz pedal.
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