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LISTEN: Mere Women & Gold Class – Split 7″

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Mere Women and Gold Class are coming together to release a split record, and if you can think of a team-up that makes more intuitive sense, you’re out of your goddamn mind. The two bands have a lot in common – razor sharp guitar lines that tear their way through insistent, impeccable drumming (Mere Women, in particular, have got one of our very best in Katrina Byrne) and stark, powerful vocals. They’ve also both got that ‘no warnings, no prisoners’ approach to live shows that’ll blow your head off – so try and get along to their double headline shows after release day in May.

On Gold Class’ debut record, It’s You, it always seemed like singer Adam Curley took the higher status – belting out declarations from above, which we eagerly scooped up – but on ‘Standing At The Fault’ he’s allowed himself to be a little self-pitying, a little raw. A lot of this feel is because of the recording, which is looser than most of the stuff off their debut record, and Curley’s more breathless way of singing. Gold Class – with their incredible trajectory to stardom – sometimes come off a little pointed in their ambition, so it’s cool to see them make an unexpected move. Or maybe this is all calculated. Whatever, it’s a good song.

On ‘Numb’, Mere Women do what they do best and beat you into submission with the brutal force of their need. Singer Amy Wilson’s great gift is turning desperation into power, which she showed so well on 2014’s Your Town, and it has not weakened with time. Throughout the song she repeats the lines, ‘nothing feels as good as it used to / nothing fills the void like you do’. (Put that up against Curley’s ‘you’ve been gone forever/or maybe that’s how forever seems to me’, and we’ve got a hint of what the vibe of this split might be). Flyn Mckinnirey makes the track soar with dramatic, searing guitar lines, and whatever’s going on with those sharp rattling cymbals is terrific. Wilson’s closing line, though – just belting ‘Noooooooooo’ for the last minute of the song – really says it all.

Watch this space for the split record, out in May via Black Wire Records, recorded by Tim G. Carr and Rohan Sforcina, and mastered by Mikey Young.

They’ll be playing two co-headline shows – at Northcote Social Club on Saturday, 21 May, and Newtown Social Club on Friday, 27 May.

Mere Women: Facebook / Bandcamp

Gold Class: Facebook / Bandcamp

LOOK: Ali Barter – Melbourne Laneway Festival 2016

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Ali Barter portrait 1

‘It was a bit less thought out, a bit more off the cuff.’

Sitting in the bright Windsor home she shares with husband Oscar Dawson (HOLY HOLY), his parents and a train of siblings and toddlers, Ali Barter is talking about her latest single, ‘Far Away’. Built around a classic four-piece rock set up, the track howls with echo, cymbals and huge guitar riffs, foregoing much of the studio-derived ornament of last year’s AB-EP.

It’s the result of a series of last-minute writing sessions, arranged at the tail end of a family trip to LA.

‘I went and spent two or three hours with this guy I’d never met before, called Harlan Silverman, and we wrote this song in his garage. It was sort of half finished, ‘cause I was really tired… But I think the lack of thought that went into it is why it’s good’.

Back home, ‘Far Away’ was recorded quickly in a simple basement studio – ‘and that was it. No hiring the best studio, trying to get the best sound.

‘Sometimes I feel like I overcooked things on my last EPs. I’ve had too much time to mull over things and think about references and who I want to be. And this was just a song. I brought this half-cooked song to my band, and we rearranged it a bit and played it in one rehearsal, and then we were like, “Well, that’s done. Let’s record it and not fuck with it too much, and then let it go”’.

Ali Barter portrait 2

The LA sessions resulted in a number of songs intended for Barter’s debut LP, which she plans to record later this year in much the same style as ‘Far Away’.

‘I would like to do them all that way – like, all in the room – because I think sometimes I put too much pressure on myself. We did this Pozible campaign in 2013 and raised 15 grand. We went to Brisbane to work with Matt Redlich, who’s the HOLY HOLY producer, and we were there for six weeks recording all these songs. By the end of it my voice packed up completely, and eventually I had to have surgery. I think there was just too much pressure…

‘Courtney Barnett recorded one of her EPs in, like, three days in a house and it was done, you know. It’s like Neil Young says – “the more you think, the more you stink”. I definitely identify with that’.

When we visited, Barter was gearing up for a hometown performance at St Jerome’s Laneway Festival. It would be her second appearance at the festival; in 2013, she joined the Melbourne line up as a triple j Unearthed winner. ‘That was awesome. From that, I met my manager and my booking agent. Everything started from there for me’.

Ali at Laneway 2

This year she played alongside locals like Blank Realm, Royal Headache and DMA’s (‘They played “Delete” the other day, and even though I’ve heard it a million times, I almost cried – I got goosebumps’), and headliners Beach House, Vince Staples and Grimes.

By this point, she’d already played two cities. ‘We’ve had some hiccoughs,’ Barter admitted. ‘At the Brisbane show, my guitar died. The amp blew up halfway through my set, so I couldn’t play – and I always play with a guitar. I don’t have any mic skills, I don’t have any dance moves…’

It must have sounded better than she let on, though, because after Silicon left the tour, Barter shot up the bill to take an afternoon slot on the festival’s main stage. She glided through her set, dance moves and all – and we were there to take some photographs.

Ali at Laneway 1

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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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bent
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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