‘Post-rock’ has never been a genre that’s taken off in Australia. Despite the fact that stalwarts of the style such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, Sigur Ros and Explosions In The Sky are quite popular here, that influence has never found its way into new bands. Maybe it’s because in Australia, the chance of being a successful band playing to a niche market is remote considering the size of our population and the limited exposure radio gives acts who push songs beyond the standard 3 1/2 minute format, or who don’t have mass appeal.
But like English poet William Cowper once wrote, “variety’s the very spice of life”, and thankfully Melbourne act International Karate are leading the way in the Australian post-rock movement. They were selected by Decoymusic.com as an entrant in their first annual Post Rock challenge.
The band has been around since 1997, and have released two albums: Weapons of Mass Protection (2003) and A Monstor in Soul (2004). With only four members, these guys still manage to create an impressive and formidable wall of sound. Their new album, More Of What We’ve Heard Before Than We’ve Ever Heard Before is due out very soon, and for the first time will include vocals on selected tracks. To get a taste of what’s to come, we’ve got a special live version of ‘The Future’s Not What It Used To Be’ recorded at Flowercut 2005, and the studio version of said song will appear on International Karate’s forthcoming album.
International Karate – ‘The Future’s Not What It Used To Be (live)’ (mp3)
Theredsunband (yes that’s the official spelling) are a three piece droney rock outfit from Arncliffe, in Sydney. Vocalist Sarah Kelly sings very much like Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star, with most of the songs hovering in that hollow, dreamy way. A couple of years ago they released debut album Peapod which bore two singles each reaching high rotation on national youth broadcaster Triple J’s playlists. This got them on the road playing big supports to The Shins and Sonic Youth, and eventually Big Day Out where they won a young songwriter’s grant they are currently using to record their second album.
Much of their appeal rests with Sarah’s indie-girlfriend image, she’s the kind of girl music critic wannabes love to date. Even when she doesn’t do much in her live shows she seems to have a certain magnetic quality that most guys can’t ignore. After repeated listens to the two radio singles, I bought their album last year and was quite disappointed that those two songs were the only upbeat tunes out of the entire collection. The rest of the songs consisted of slow stoner riffs coupled with Sarah’s thin voice that quite frankly I found hard to listen to. Everytime I tried to enjoy the whole album I couldn’t stop myself from skipping to ‘Devil Song’ and ‘Sleep Forever’. Perhaps I need a rather big joint to enjoy this body of work to its fullest extent, but I do hope their second album avoid these moody David Lynchesque numbers that edges slowly to nowhere.
Theredsunband – ‘Sleep Forever’
Velure probably would have been big if they were around in ‘96-’98, they are firmly rooted in the genre that came and went: Trip-Hop. Being a massive fan I spent those years building up my collection of Bristol influenced slow rapping albums whose gods were Tricky, Portishead and Massive Attack. Yes, I was a big sook.
I saw Velure at a very intimate sit down gig at the Hopetoun three years ago, they were one of the winners of the Whatever Sessions, a music competition held by alternate TV station SBS. They won recording time in their studios, a place in the CD compilation plus publicity tours. I had no idea who they were, but was very impressed with their ability to get people in that brooding mood, much like the better known Decoder Ring. That gig was very much a trip back in time for me to that period when everyone knew who Beth Gibbons was. This song is off an old single they were selling at the show, I’m not sure if it was ever released.
Velure – ‘Walk Home’
The Valentinos have kindly given us an exclusive to their newly recorded single, ‘Rain’ taken from their upcoming Damn and Damn Again EP. Produced by Nick Littlemore and Peter Mayes of Pnau, this is the band’s debut release on new Sydney based label Mosquito Tweeter.
The Valentinos – ‘Rain’
You can’t say the words “Sydney music scene” and “indie” without conjuring up images of The Valentinos – the darlings of the Sydney scene at this moment in time. They encapsulate everything about music that’s fashionable at the moment – subtle yet prominent 80’s influences, synthesisers, skinny jeans, new-wave hair cuts, bleach-clean guitar and funky tunes that straddle the line between rock and dance. The fact that they play with rock acts, but are also on the bill for Parklife, one of Australia’s biggest dance music events, should give you a fair indication of their genre-mashing abilities.
The Valentinos are one of those bands that you wished you’d have thought of – they’ve only been together 18 months and they’ve already amassed a large following. Their first self titled EP was produced by Kim Moyes from The Presets and now they’re back with their follow-up release Damn and Damn Again, produced this time by Aussie electronic duo Pnau. The first song lifted off the forthcoming EP, ‘Rain’ is a far greater melodic affair that their previous work, which had been written after the band had been together for a month.
The band are trekking around Australia during August and the start of September, and this week sees them hit my home town of Sydney for two shows at Club 77 and at Spectrum, so I’ll definitely be going along to one of them. The boys are also on the cover of The Brag this week. To get you in the mood, here’s a track from their debut EP, ‘Man With A Gun’, the song that brought the band to the national audience.
The Valentinos – ‘Man With A Gun’
Love of Diagrams
Love of Diagrams have been playing together since early 2001, building a steady fanbase along the way. Their angular, post-punk sound with call and response vocals, intricate guitar work and incessant percussion all comes together to form one very tight band, both live and on record.
In Australia the trio released the album The Target Is You and also an EP through credible indie label Unstable Ape, and have supported an impressive selection of international acts such as Death Cab For Cutie, The Rogers Sisters, Electrelane, and most recently, the much revered Sonic Youth.
November 2005 saw the release of their debut UK 7″ single ‘No Way Out’ and the band received airplay from British radio heavyweight, Steve Lamacq as well as XFM’s John Kennedy. The band also achieved what has to be one of the biggest accolades in indie music these days – having their song featured on an episode of music savvy teen drama, The OC. Rumours: the trio are in talks with a big indie label for a worldwide deal, so stay tuned.
Love Of Diagrams – ‘No Way Out’
The Scare – photo by Ami Barwell
Is screamo a one word joke nowadays? Not for these guys, they are having lots of fun and going places with their music. Alright, they’re not really a screamo band, but the vocalist’s stylings remind me a lot of the Blood Brothers’ twin pronged screaming attacks. Not as frantic, but punchier. The Scare are originally from Brisbane but moved over to Birmingham, UK this year. Doing well for themselves, they’ve shared the stage with Pretty Girl Makes Graves, Les Savy Fav and Alexisonfire. Recently their Vacuum Irony EP came out in the UK and got good reviews and modest airplay on the BBC, and now they’re on another national tour with Finland’s Disco Ensemble. Check out the single below.
The Scare – ‘If I’m Choking, Make A Scene’ (mp3)