Posts By Madeleine Laing

LISTEN: Dumb Things – ‘Time Again’ LP

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Some people like to carve a personality out of a distaste for nostalgia. Those perpetually forward-moving people who always know where they’re going next. They’re probably immune to the charms of a band like Brisbane’s Dumb Things. Not me baby. I’m the make myself sick scrolling through Instagram back to 2014 kind. I’m a, constantly second guessing decisions I made years ago, wondering if I should move back to a home that isn’t there anymore, little bitch. And Time Again hooked me good.

Dumb Things wear their Twerps Dick Diver Ocean Party influences on their sleeves, which is good cuz they sound like those bands and plenty others, but I’ll probably always prefer a catchy melody and a sweet vocal over some brand new noise. And they put the most Go-Betweensy sounding song first up just to ward off anything who doesn’t like bands that sound like other bands.

On the surface this album is jangly and sweet, but it’s held together with a seam of regret. Time Again, is, sure enough, concerned with the passage of time. Watching it go by why you stay in the same place. On first track ‘Nights’ they’re briefly considering burning it all down, but the sentiment doesn’t last long. ‘Carpark Daydream,’ is about watching all your friends live their dreams while you’re going nowhere. In ‘Suburbs’, they’re trying to convince us that if they’re moving back to their parents’ house, it’s just for the summer. Even speeding down the highway on ‘Crash Barriers’, the scenery doesn’t change. Roadkill and BPs pass by on an unending loop. It’s a decidedly un-beautiful setting for the only real love song on the album, lyrics morbidly romantic for a song built out of twinkly guitar and breathy vocals; ‘tacky shrines / for beautiful lives / to sit beside you / oh what a way to die’.

‘Waiting Out’ is one of the more simple songs on the records, but the mumbled vocals and soothing refrain of ‘it’s alright, I don’t mind / I’m just, waiting out my time,’ turning apathy into a kind of virtue, make it one you want to come back to. ‘Time Again’, the final track, leaves us on a deceptively melancholic note, ‘if I could have my time again/ I’d do it right’. But it’s a blissful kind of melancholy. There’s no angst in lines like, ‘another book I didn’t read / another town I didn’t quite get to leave’. Just the inevitability of failure that comes from not trying.

It’s this sentiment that, for me, makes this feel most feel a Queensland album. It’s not a conscious choice to stay, you didn’t get to leave, couldn’t find the time. But when you stop to think about it, hey, it’s not so bad. That’s the conflict at the heart of this record, and of a lot of people who end up staying in a town they thought they’d eventually leave. Feelings of regret and acceptance play equal part in this lovely bittersweet album.

Time Again is available digitally on Brisbane label Coolin’ By Sound here. The vinyl will be out on November 22, for all the Daddies Warbucks out there.

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LISTEN: Bert Shirt – Late Night Shopping EP

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If Australian shoegaze-ish music is a spectrum, and on one end you’ve got, say, Lowtide, Hobart’s Bert Shirt are on the other end.  The ol’ ‘wall of sound’ is like the walls in The Cube (1997). Covered in spikes and fast approaching.

They’re definitely noise-y, more so live than on this EP, where they seemed to have smoothed the edges a little bit. Like, they keep the vocals largely clean, rather than the joyfully discordant yelling that’ll greet you at a Bert Shirt gig. But it’s hard to capture that kind of chaos on record, and they’ve done a great job of making something loud, fun and inconspicuously beautiful.

The lyrics touch on the kind of suburban themes that the EP’s title suggests – shopping centres and bad friends and missing the good party – there’s a healthy bit of angst to match the razor-sharp guitar on ‘Décor’. ‘Ocean Junction’s ironic character study of a linen-suited Tom Selleck devotee reflects the band’s ‘80s influences, ‘got my sleeves rolled up for the yacht club luncheon, pants so tight some things won’t function’.  Closer ‘Late Night Shopping’ is a six minute wander from fluorescent-lit dreamscape to droning synth jam, vocals becoming more stretched and frantic.

The thing that gives Bert Shirt their spark is how good a time they seem to be having. The riff on ‘It’s 6pm do you know where you are?’ made me laugh out loud, it’s so perfectly balls-to-the-wall, and the whole EP is built around wacky guitar and melodically-centring bass. It feels very Hobart, this mix of serious craft and a ‘will try anything’ attitude.

Pick up a Bert Shirt tape here (they’re pink!) and keep an eye out if they tour near you.

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WATCH: Tralala Blip – ‘Pub Talk’

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Stills Photographer Dance and Music Promotional Photographer Bangalow Photographer Byron Bay Photographer Byron Bay Wedding photographer Architectural Photographer Events Photographer Fashion Photographer Bangalow Wedding Photographer Fashion Photographer Architectural Photographer Commercial Photographer Byron Bay Events Photographer Portrait Photographer Australian Wedding Photographer Destination Wedding Photographer Stills Photographer Editorial Photographer

Photographer Kate Holmes

Tralala Blip have been treating audiences around Brisbane and their hometown of Lismore/ The Northern Rivers of NSW for almost a decade. In that time, they’ve continuously developed and refined their sound, and are now one of the most exciting, fun and thoughtful electronic bands in the country. Their first full-length record in five years is Eat My Codes If Your Light Falls, and now they’re inviting the rest of the country into their world of experimental music through the gaze of musicians with disabilities.

Their latest single ‘Pub Talk’ is spare and moody. The bare electronic backing leaves room for the understated tenderness of Lydian Dunbar’s vocal performance to shine – drawing you in to an easy intimacy. The repetitive, almost robotic backing beats slowly ramps up; there’s a feeling of urgency in Dunbar’s message ‘I am same but different/ my heart is full of sounds and light’. The video, directed by Jake Taylor from In Hearts Wake, is appropriately melancholy, glitchy slow-motion accentuate the feeling of alienation, while lingering close ups on the sensory experiences of the world outside Dunbar’s, making a personal longing to connect feel universal. ‘Pub Talk’ takes its time opening up, but then seems to be over all too soon, lingering bitter sweet.

‘Pub Talk’ shows a different side to the band after new-wave disco-dancey first single ‘Facing Monsters’ earlier this year, and it’s clear Eat My Codes… will have plenty to interest all kinds of electronic and experimental music fans. It’s also clear that we’ve been missing out on some amazing music from differently-abled musicians, and there’s a lot more work to be done in making Australia’s music scene open to everyone with something to say.

Eat My Codes If Your Light Falls is out on Laurence English’s Someone Good label today! Buy it here.

If you’re lucky enough to live in Brisbane, Tralala Blip will launch Eat My Codes… at The Foundry on August 1

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LISTEN: Angie – The Underling LP

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Angie

Angie’s 2013 solo record Turning was one of the first things I wrote about for this site, and her 2017 piano album Shyness is one of my favourite Australian albums of all time. So my first hearing of The Underling’s first single, ‘Blood on My Eyes’ with its ROCK beat and its simple riff, took a little change of expectations. But maybe this was on purpose – a classic rock song to throw off all the nerds that just wanted more fancy piano. Because there’s nothing simplistic about the rest of The Underling.

The Underling illustrates the total uselessness of genres, the way Angie’s refusal to be restrained. Sometimes it’s a heavy sounding noise record, vocals are dredged up, with effort, from under layers of guitar and effects. Then ‘Your Style’ has a rhythm guitar like The Go-Betweens or something, totally out of place and easy breezy but still somehow it works. ‘Your Style’ is followed by ‘A Century of All This’; the biggest downer of the record, with its droning guitars and droning vocals and noise like a plane taking off.

You hear a song like ‘A Century of All This’, and you think there’s no way this is gonna turn into something easy or fun. But while The Underling sounds like a struggle a lot of the time, sometimes it’sounds like victory, like on ‘This House (Athens Reprise)’, a reprise of the track of the same name from Shyness. Where it once was a haunting piano ballad, a quiet statement of defiance, on the reprise the power of a full band is let loose and becomes less about desperately trying to ‘move on’ on more like fighting words; ‘gotta get it, before it gets to me’.

More in feeling than sound, The Underling seems to reference back to some of the stuff from Turning (which is, somehow, 6 years old now) but with all the growth and experimentation that’s happened in the period clearly audible. With her uncompromising attitude and classic rock sense with a noisy, experimental edge, Angie makes guitar rock seem like something worthwhile to invest time in, rather than just background noise to a night out. Something worth loving. And, at least when she’s doing it, it definitely is.

Buy The Underling on bandcamp here

Angie’s touring Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and you can find out more about that on wonderful Facebook

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LISTEN: Brick Brick – Chip 4 Chip EP

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Brick Brick

Brisbane forever favourites Bent may have stopped playing a couple of years ago, but singer and multi-instrumentalist Heidi Cutlack has given us plenty of good music since then. Her solo project Scaredy Snake was breathy, stripped back pop, and now, with bassist Phoebe BMX (from Come Die In Queensland, who released a truly terrifying tape early this year) and Matt Kennedy (from Kitchen’s Floor, of ‘pissing people off at The Sydney Opera House’) on drums, Brick Brick is Cutlack moving away from cuteness or naivety into something more disillusioned, heavier and ah, more rock.

Cutlack might be channelling a bit of Kennedy’s downer-than-you lyricism in the opening track’s drawled, ‘everyone is boooooooored / everyone is saaaaaaaaaaaaad’, but then, that song’s called ‘Sooky’ so you know it’s more tongue-in-cheek than that. ‘Sooky’ is that belligerent brat we can all be, grumpy for no reason, picking fights with whoever, and it’s making no apologies – a ratbag song and a fun listen.

Cutlack’s voice on this EP is strong and expressive – pouting then powerful, sinister on ‘Fill Me Up’, then plaintive and desperate on ‘Houseshow Song’. ‘Houseshow Song’ is chaotic and catchy – one you could imagine shaking some floorboards and inviting noise complaints. Anyone coming to this record looking for Bent’s wonky pop savant won’t find it, but there’s plenty to like in this collaboration of Cutlack’s bare-bones poetry with BMX and Kennedy’s tough-as rhythm section. The bass especially fills up all the cracks with a deep kind of muck. Combine that with the thick, uncomfortable, production, Chip 4 Chip is the kind of tape that makes me pine for Brisbane.

You buy a digital download or cassette with secret track from Eternal Soundcheck.

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LISTEN: Sweet Whirl – Love Songs & Poetry EP

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Sweet Qhirl

From the first golden second of Love Songs & Poetry, I’m blissfully drowning in sweet melancholy, nostalgia, romance. I put it on in the background at work but it’s too beautiful to focus on anything else. Esther Edquist’s voice is so rich it’s rude. Like how dare someone sound so good when they’re saying ‘I don’t wanna be your girlfriend / I just want someone to hold you / give you all the love I told you you deserve’. Oof. That’s from the very first track, ‘Girlfriend’, and while that song hints at an irony in the EP’s title (also see: ‘some of us are made for coupling and suffering / but that girl ain’t me’), these are definitely love songs. More in how they feel than what they say – the way they build and shimmer and fill up your whole heart. The goddamn strings. The low-key intricately lovely base and guitar. Fucked me up.

Love Songs & Poetry is Edquist’s first release on Chapter Music, and it’s a perfect fit for their clever Aussie pop vibe. I loved O.K. Permanent Wavethat moody, intimate LP Sweet Whirl put out in 2016, but this release is so good in such a different way. Can’t believe I put off listening to it for a few days cuz I thought the first single ‘Strange News’ was a little too cute at first. I was wrong! It’s a gently swinging country-tinged gem, looking up under its eyelashes asking for a kiss, while warning you all the reasons you shouldn’t give in; ‘I’m not the kind you should be taking home / drunk and lingering’. That’s a trend across lyrics on this EP; they’re resigned, knowing, sometimes cynical, warning you to keep your eyes open the whole time the music is begging you to just let go. The music wins every time.

These are six songs for people who wish that Sharon Van Etten had could have resisted the synth a bit longer (… even if they’re still insisting they love the new direction). It’s emotionally generous; Edquist gives us plenty of material to get to know her, to relate to her hopes and mistakes. Final track ‘Rubber Heart’ is a perfect evocation of that ‘oh no, I’ve kissed every single person in this town’ feeling, ‘each ghost has a street name, each corner a voice I once knew’. It’s a movin’ on song, skipping along, shaking off the cold water ready to start again. Edquist, like the rest of us, is unable to resist the pull of another big, messy splash.

You can buy a tape or download this EP here

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LISTEN: Slumber – Body Crush EP

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slumber

‘Body Crush is Tasmanian solo artist Slumber’s first release; a collection of 2 years’ worth of work, made up of snippets, found sounds, and drowsily beautiful vocals from Tasmania’s Amber Perez. Perez also plays guitar in ferocious Hobart pop punk band Slag Queens, but with Slumber she’s turned her attention inward, making, in her words ‘dank sadgirl bops’ (and you’ll find no better description).

This EP came to me kind of like a balm against that constant low-level anxiety that we’re all getting, if not used to, bored of. Do you ever feel like there’s so much fucken blah blah everybody talking constantly out there that you struggle to even listen to music with lyrics in it? You’re like, oh god, please shut the fuck up? I do. But this EP is like restorative good company, like an afternoon spritz, like a friend who’s just as happy to spend the afternoon watching Seinfeld as talking deep stuff.

Dealing abstractly with ideas of romance with the self and others, the takeaway from these songs seems to be a kind of inner peace that comes from looking back at the past with a kind of forgiveness. With the inevitable backslide into wistful regret in ‘let u go’, a pretty highlight that brings glitches, birdsong and mumbled vocals together for a deep wallowing sigh. It’s the quiet acceptance in lines like ‘we are both the seas that we drown in / we are both our only way out’ that makes this EP more than breezy listening bleep bloops and more like a real document of progress and growth.

‘sick dank track #5’ is just what it says… kinda. An optimistic dance song to bring on the dawn ‘I’m getting better at being good to myself / I think I’m almost ready to let things work out’, Perez sings with a half-smile, multi-tracked vocals bringing the sense of euphoria to the only song I wanna hear if I ever go to the club again.

Listen to, or even buy (!) Body Crush on Bandcamp.

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