Image  —  Posted: September 30, 2020 in FESTIVALS, MUSIC
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Get ready, because you’re about to feel. That’s what Tim Heidecker warns on “Fear of Death’s” opening track, “Prelude to Feeling.” And he means it. This is a Serious Album about Serious Topics – a doomed future, abandoning life in the city, and, you guessed it, the inevitability of death – and without a warning, those feelings might just sneak up on you.

Fear of Death is the follow-up to 2019’s What the Brokenhearted Do, which chronicles a fictional divorce from his wife and the accompanying depression. Just like that one with its morose theme of a contentious breakup, the new album puts Heidecker squarely in the tradition of comedians and actors like Steve Martin, Hugh Laurie, and Donald Glover, eschewing his funny side in his music and leaving the jokes for the screen.

Tim Heidecker and Weyes Blood’s Natalie Mering have chosen an alarmingly on-the-nose year to release a mostly sunlit album about death. Although the duo and a host of collaborators recorded “Fear of Death” in 2019, the absurdity of the album’s release amid a global pandemic, overdue uprisings against police brutality, raging West Coast wildfires and the 2020 election cycle only amplifies these songs’ often upbeat morbidity. Heidecker and Mering certainly aren’t strangers to the absurd and its accompanying hilarity. Over Heidecker’s 20-or-so-year career, he’s developed a distinctly surreal, ironic brand of hipster humour through the cult Adult Swim shows Tim And Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and Decker. Even before Mering jumped to the forefront of the chamber-rock pack with last year’s apocalypse-themed instant classic Titanic Rising, she was singing about how bizarre the world’s end will look. Both also share a passion for ’70s soft rock, as do some of their Fear of Death collaborators.

Fear of Death is a Serious Album about Serious Topics – a doomed future, abandoning life in the city, and the inevitability of death. It’s Heidecker’s biggest sounding and most fleshed out album yet featuring an all star band comprised of Weyes Blood’s Natalie Mering (vocals and piano), Drew Erickson (Jonathan Wilson, Dawes), The Lemon Twigs’ Brian and Michael D’Addario, Jonathan Rado, and string arrangements by Spacebomb’s Trey Pollard (Foxygen, Bedouine, The Waterboys, Natalie Prass). “I didn’t know that Fear of Death was going to be so focused on death when I was writing it,” Heidecker says. “It took a minute for me to stand back and look at what I was talking about to realize that, yes, I am now a middle-aged man and my subconscious is screaming at me: ‘You are getting old, dude! You are not going to live forever! Put down that cheeseburger!’”

The album’s lead single, “Fear of Death,” is “about as ‘Dead’ as I get,” says Heidecker. Over an intricate guitar line, Heidecker’s voice intertwines with Mering’s elevative vocals as he swears off partying and risky decisions: “I don’t see the value in having fun // I think I’m done growing // fear of death is keeping me alive.” And while “Fear of Death” is an upbeat take on avoiding potentially fatal choices and avoiding death, “Nothing” comes to terms with it. “Nothing, that’s what it amounts to, they say // A black void waiting down the road for us one day,” Heidecker sings from a recording session that he calls “one of the more spiritual and emotional moments of my creative life.”

The band nods to J.J. Cale in the bluesy and smoky “Say Yes To Me” and The Faces in the uptempo ode to country living, “Come Away With Me.” The album’s haunting and sad closer “Oh How We Drift Away” began as a Bernie Taupin/Elton John-style writing experiment, with Heidecker supplying the words and Mering setting them to music. “I was very interested in trying to do something big in scope and otherworldly,” Heidecker says. “I hope it leaves you thinking.”

While this is serious music about serious topics, it’s not all doom and gloom. Heidecker says, “I hope my observations and meditations on death, the afterlife, the future, while at times a little dark and grim, offer a little comfort and catharsis for some people, as I don’t think I’m the only one who occasionally thinks about this stuff.”

“This record is a dream come true for me,” he continues. “I got to work with some of the best, and nicest, musicians in town who helped me take some shabby, simple tunes and turn them into something I’m really proud of.” Occasionally, an idea with the shabbiest, simplest beginnings will grow into something more special than ever intended. With Fear of Death, Heidecker and his band of friends have achieved just that.

From the album Fear of Death, out September 25, 2020, on Spacebomb Records

(Photo Credit: Adrian Samson)

Irish indie-pop singer Róisín Murphy first made a name for herself as one half of ’90s U.K. trip-hop duo Moloko. After the group disbanded in 2004, Murphy embarked on a solo dance-pop career that saw her release four riveting albums, then vault back into the limelight in 2018 as the vocalist on DJ Koze’s immaculate “Illumination.” She’s now revving up to release her fifth LP, “Róisín Machine”, which sees Murphy unfurling into a full blown disco diva with a collection of tracks she’s banked across the last decade. Róisín Machine is a collaboration with producer Crooked Man (aka Sheffield’s DJ Parrot), and tracks like “Murphy’s Law” and “Narcissus” are disco-pop at its absolute finest—this is seriously like Robyn meets Sylvester. Murphy needs to be considered among Irish pop’s most accomplished artists, and the track “Incapable” alone is one of the best dance floor tracks you’ll hear all year.

Róisín Murphy has contributed a few songs to the dance-club canon during the course of her 25-year career as a soloist and a member of the electronic duo Moloko (the group’s “Sing It Back” remains a reliable floor-filler). But recently, material that wouldn’t be out of place at iconic parties like the Loft and the Paradise Garage has become her primary focus. Murphy pushes further in that direction with the release of Róisín Machine, a full-length collaboration with the producer DJ Parrot that includes singles like “Incapable,” smoldering, cold-hearted disco, and “Murphy’s Law,” which evokes late-Seventies Joe Bataan and Donna Summer. “Róisín rang up one day and said she wanted to make some house music,” DJ Parrot said. “Off we went.”

Release date: September 25th

Official Audio for Incapable by Róisín Murphy. The new album ‘Róisín Machine’ is out September 25

Speed, Sound, Lonely KV (ep)

Acoustic troubadour Kurt Vile has announced a new EP called “Speed, Sound, Lonely KV”, set for release on October 2nd via Matador Records As a preview, Vile has shared a tender duet of John Prine’s single “How Lucky” featuring none other than the late Prine himself — a recording that Vile, a long time fan, is calling “the single most special musical moment in my life.”

“The truth is John was my hero for a long time when he came into The Butcher Shoppe to recut one of his deepest classics with me. And, man, I was floating and flying and I couldn’t hear anything he told me while he was there till after he was gone for the night,” said Vile in a statement. “A couple nights later we were playing ‘How Lucky’ together again; this time onstage at the Grand Ole Opry on New Year’s Eve at the turn of 2020. Nothing like seeing John and his band of musical brothers and family and friends playing into the new decade in front of an adoring audience on that stage in Nashville, TN… and, yup, that’s just how lucky we all got that night.”

Kurt Vile’s ‘Speed, Sound, Lonely kv (ep)’ was recorded and mixed in sporadic sessions that spanned four years at the butcher shoppe studio in nashville, tn. It includes five songs —covers of John Prine and “Cowboy” Jack Clement as well as two originals —and was recorded alongside a cast of local heavies like Bobby Wood, Dave Roe, and Kenny Malone with Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) and Matt Sweeney (Chavez, Superwolf) tossed into the mix as well.

Most importantly, it features what KV has called “Probably the single most special musical moment in my life” –a duet with the late John Prine on the songwriter’s well-loved tune, “How Lucky.” Vile and Prine take different verses at first, but join forces at the end, with their vocals complementing each other quite nicely.

The truth is John was my hero for a long time when he came into the butcher shoppe to recut one of his deepest classics with me. and, man, i was floating and flying and i couldn’t hear anything he told me while he was there till after he was gone for the night,” notes Vile in a personal statement that accompanies the record. “a couple nights later we were playing ‘how lucky’ together again; this time onstage at the grand ole opry on new year’s eve at the turn of 2020. nothing like seeing John and his band of musical brothers and family and friends playing into the new decade in front of an adoring audience on that stage.

Speed, Sound, Lonely KV spans five songs in total, including the aforementioned track as well as a cover of Prine’s hit “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness”, a spin on Jack Clement’s single “Gone Girl”, and two original numbers by Vile called “Dandelions” and “Pearls”. The EP was recorded and mixed at Nashville studio The Butcher Shoppe over the course of four years.

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There are five members in the pan-Californian band Spice who’ve contributions lay equally on the surface of their debut album’s crackling, rocky complexion. Formed in 2018 and based across California, each members’ roots are in the North Bay of San Francisco. Spice’s sound pulls from the sense of melody and drive inherent to Bay Area pedigree, peppered with modernity and awash with an anthemic haze. The hook is in the connection as much as melody, with each song building its inner narrative and exploration of affliction. At its epicenter of those fault line is most notably that of vocalist, Ceremony frontman Ross Farrar. Following Farrar’s career throughout his shape-shifting hardcore-punk band as well as projects like his shoegazing offshoot the Down House, he’s never shied away from applying varying degrees of pressure onto sound, and on “Spice”, we experience this in one of its most focused instances of aggression to date.

Alongside Spice bandmates in fellow Ceremony drummer Jake Casarotti, bassist Cody Sullivan (No Sir, Sabertooth Zombie), guitarist Ian Simpson (Creative Adult,) and violinist Victoria Skudlarek, the collective’s “deliberate isolation of pain” through fascias of hardcore and indie rock channel themselves through in non-stop urgency that makes for one of the year’s most rewardingly thrill rides in anxiety-riddled head charges and whirring melodies. The listen is pop-induced, billowing in the air, and heavy like a pile of bricks at once, and when all of these elements atomize onto one slab, we hear how pain even in isolated form comes in many forms.

The audacity for Spice to entitle a song called “I Don’t Wanna Die In New York City” and to have it bark back through the dark city mania of an early Walkmen track is a sticking point that echoes throughout the rest of the listen. It’s been almost two decades since the Aughts’ NYC underground sculpted a movement in rockism, after all. That’s enough passage to warrant revisioning metropolitan nightmares through a modern lens with windows dirtied and pushed out here on tracks like “BLACK CAR” and the “The Building Was Gone”.

With “First Feeling” and “All My Best Shit”, Spice punctuate post-hardcore and brainy pop-punk with tightly-wound exclamations and sharp brevity. There’s a separation from where they stand against sinking into familiarity, however, thanks to the searing heat radiating from Victoria Skudlarek’s violin strings, sparking instantaneously as they careen through the former. On “Murder”, she helps orchestrate a dark secret life lived, and on “Reward Trip” she guides an electric third rail down a lost highway. Later on “26 Days”, she and her Spice ‘mates stretch light with a towering wait.

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Honed over late nights at Panda Studios in Fremont, California with producer Sam Pura (Basement, The Story So Far, Self Defense Family), Spice spent hours tweaking it until it became a little world formed by what they refer to as “the power of groupthink.” Sprinkled with field recordings—audio snapshots from the member’s every-day-lives—the record offers an intimate twist that builds on its theme of a single thread that connects everything with continuity, making it a single organism with as many depths as questions.

The totality of Spice in its 30-minute listen, with its non-stop concentrate of pain succeeds as a group exercise in attempting to control that which consumes us. That it also happens to be knockout debut from a band whose makeup continues to reinvent themselves by leaving no corner of underground rock uncovered as a conduit to carry this out only helps it go down easier. The record diverts from a singular mood, tempo, or delivery, instead focusing on orchestrating emotional drain as single impulses—fast, slow, driving, simple, and layered—that coalesce in their machinations. At its core, Spice’s Self-Titled album is wired together by brawny and brittle guitars, lock-groove rhythms, and vocals announce each moment and mood.

Released July 17th, 2020

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Sadie Dupuis song writing has been a practice in poptimistic views through the complicated indie rock gaze. The best songs from her band Speedy Ortiz and are the ones where the hooks swing heavy even when knotted up in amp cords and wrought time signatures, and with her solo project outlet Sad13, tracks like “Get a Yes” made you wonder what her take on subversive accessibility might sound like in her hands. In recent years, it’s sounded like Dupuis has grown more comfortable with that notion – Speedy’s 2018 Twerp Verse had some of the best weirdo indie-pop jams out there that year – but “Haunted Painting”, her second effort as Sad13, is a different kind of ghost.

As someone who has proven over the last decade to be a diverse combined-forced creative in her roles as a songwriter, poet, activist and visual artist, one should expect by now for Dupuis’ work to reflect a lot of thought going on within it. Her past work in both band and singular form has often warred with itself in finding a balance between great production, an atypical pop ambition, sincere wokeness, and the pursuit of seeing her reflection actualized in a sound defined as her own, and Haunted Painting is that self-portrait that puts it all on the canvas.

Backed by an all-women collective of studio pros including the likes of Illuminati Hotties’ Sarah Tudzin and Grammy winner Erin Tonkon as well as featuring guest spots from Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzaki, Tune-Yards’ Merrill Garbus and Pile’s Rick Maguire, Dupuis’ all-hands-on-deck project culls together engineers and musicians gifted in tweaking her electric indie-pop hexes into her own perfect spells. The cast does not deter from Dupuis as the focal point of “Haunted Painting”, and the way she wires together pop-rock with sharply-refined verbosity.

This especially comes in handy whenever she’s cutting down the patriarchy good wit as she does in the sci-fi synth pop anthemry of “Hysterical”, or drumming down bad behavior on “…Oops!” The most interesting aspects of Dupuis’ songwriting on Haunted Painted are how it goes further in colouring in her creative persona as something more than just using her voice to cause waves within socio-political currents, however. “Into the Catacombs” is an ornate orchestration that sets an ominous introduction for themes of loss, love, and loneliness backed by Roberto Carlos Lange of Helado Negro’s ghostly apparitions akin to every starting point on an …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead album. “Good Grief” and “Take Care’ showcase a duality in a new found confidence with quietness building within the heaviness of indie rocks rolling, as she turns to timeless stylistic designs well learned from Liz Phair’s latter work.

Where Haunted Painted ultimately ends up is in one of Sadie Dupuis’ best songs written to date. “Market Hotel” sends the album off in one last burst of big, frustrated exultation with its share of side-eyed disses after already exhaling her traumas, anxieties, and washed adult dirtbag ruminations from her soul before it. It’s a saccharine ripper that in less than two minutes compresses everything that Haunted Painting is in picturing every side of Dupuis’ songwriting craft within the same frame. “I’m working three fucking jobs, I’m too embarrassed to die,” she sings. The punchlines are deprecating and surely, Dupuis is tired of having to make them, but it doesn’t stop her from hitting them right on target every time.

Sadie Dupuis – guitar, bass, synths, organ, marimba, prepared piano, drum programming, vocals, production, arrangement

Haunted Painting, out September 25, 2020

 

Julian Cope – “your new album is f**king excellent, highly useful and needs nothing”.
Australian psych-noise rockers, Paul Kidney Experience, have gone and done something special, produced their debut vinyl release!

Forming in late 2009 in response to a booker’s request for a band to fill a prized late night spot, the ‘band’ haven’t stopped since. Touring Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and everywhere inbetween, they’ve supported Mudhoney on two tours, Thee Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki (CAN), Grong Grong and Primitive Calculators, recording an album with original Krautrock drummer Mani Neumeier (Guru Guru/Harmonia/Acid Mothers temple) along the way.
Now they release this essential document of their intoxicating, twisted psych-noise.

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released August 19th, 2014
The Band:
Paul Kidney – vocals
Matt Gleeson – drums/bass
Don Rogers – bass/drums
Nell Day – violin/presence
Ben Butcher – guitar/trumpet
Bonnie Mercer – guitar
Peter James – electronics/guitar
Lloyd Honeybrook – sax

Blue Hearts

Aggressive, loud and unrelenting – Bob Mould takes aim at the malaise of 2020 in the way only he can, showing the many Husker Du and Sugar aping bands just how it’s done.

Through some of the most direct, confrontational lyrics of his four-decade career, Mould makes his POV clear: “I never thought I’d see this bullshit again / To come of age in the ’80s was bad enough / We were marginalized and demonized / I watched a lot of my generation die / Welcome back to American crisis.”

Why “welcome back”? Because Mould experienced deja vu writing Blue Hearts in the fall of 2019. “Where it started to go in my head is back to a spot that I’ve been in before,” he says. “And that was the fall of 1983.” “where it started to go in my head is back to a spot that i’ve been in before,” he says. “and that was the fall of 1983.” back then, Mould was a self-described “22-year-old closeted gay man” touring with the legendary Hüsker Dü and seeing an epidemic consume his community. leaders, including the one in the white house, were content to let aids kill a generation. it’s been a long time since a power pop album has felt this present and pertinent, and who else but mould could bring that sound back to the forefront? “this is the catchiest batch of protest songs I’ve ever written in one sitting,” he says.

In the winter of 2019, Bob Mould bucked the era’s despair with his most melodic, upbeat album in ages, “Sunshine Rock”.

Cut to spring of 2020, and he has this to say: “We’re really in deep shit now.”

That sentiment informs the new full-length album, Blue Hearts (Merge Records, September 25th), the raging-but-catchy yin to Sunshine Rock’s yang.

To be sure, we were in some shit back in 2018, when Mould recorded Sunshine Rock with longtime colleagues Jon Wurster (drums), Jason Narducy (bass), and Beau Sorenson (engineer). Back then, he had a song called “American Crisis” that didn’t fit the album.

“That song is the seed for what we’re talking about now,” Mould says from his home in San Francisco during the COVID-19 lockdown. “At the time, it just seemed too heavy. Today it seems fucking quaint.”

“American Crisis” is the third song in a walloping first half of an album that spits plainspoken fire at the people who fomented this crisis. “This is the catchiest batch of protest songs I’ve ever written in one sitting,” he says.

Through some of the most direct, confrontational lyrics of his four-decade career, Mould makes his POV clear: “I never thought I’d see this bullshit again / To come of age in the ’80s was bad enough / We were marginalized and demonized / I watched a lot of my generation die / Welcome back to American crisis.”

“We have a charismatic, telegenic, say-anything leader being propped up by evangelicals,” he says. “These fuckers tried to kill me once. They didn’t do it. They scared me. I didn’t do enough. Guess what? I’m back, and we’re back here again. And I’m not going to sit quietly this time and worry about alienating anyone.”

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Recorded at the famed Electrical Audio in Chicago with Sorenson engineering and Mould producing, Blue Hearts nods to Mould’s past while remaining firmly planted in the issues of the day. Acoustic opener “Heart on My Sleeve” catalogues the ravages of climate change. “Next Generation” worries for who comes next. “American Crisis” references “Evangelical ISIS” and features this dagger of a line: “Pro-life, pro-life until you make it in someone else’s wife.”

“There are songs that have no room,” Mould says, laughing. “The other songs, there’s room. There is room for imagination on the second half of the record.”

That’s where the songs turn personal in a different way. Tracks like “When You Left,” “Siberian Butterfly,” and “Everyth!ng to You” are grounded in personal relationships. “Racing to the End” captures the economic disparity of Mould’s neighborhood, and “Leather Dreams”… well, maybe Jon Wurster put it best.

“Jon turns to Jason and asks, ‘Is this the dirtiest song you’ve ever played on?’” Mould recalls with a chuckle. “I clearly did not put the edit tool to that one. Those are all pretty true bits. What kind of person could possibly have a life like that?” He laughs again. “Says the author.”

“Leather Dreams,” “Password to My Soul,” and “The Ocean” were composed during a writing binge before a January 2020 Solo Electric tour, when Mould stayed up for three straight days. “Songs just kept coming out,” he says. “‘Leather Dreams’ and ‘The Ocean’ both appeared within hours. I barely remember writing them.”

That feels right for an explosive, hook-laden album like Blue Hearts. Only there’s nothing forgettable about it.

All songs written by Bob Mould

Bob Mould: Guitars, Vocals, Keyboards, Percussion
Jason Narducy: Bass, Backing Vocals
Jon Wurster: Drums, Percussion

Prague TV Orchestra: Strings on “American Crisis”

Released September 25th, 2020

Produced by Bob Mould
Engineered by Beau Sorenson

Events currently taking place throughout the world only serve to stoke a fire under the likes of a band like Pillow Queens, who find themselves continually inspired by a Dublin that is no stranger to fighting social injustice. Street artists, fashion designers, musicians, film makers and more comprise a scene which routinely champions queerness and marginalized groups, and engages with and activates young people in response to the likes of the city’s ongoing housing and mental health crises. Pillow Queens’ songs of togetherness and unity ring out louder than ever before.

In their short lifespan as a band they’ve released two demo EPs, performed on a successful string of UK & Irish dates & festival appearances, had playlisting from BBC 6 Music, and found themselves opening for the likes of American Football and Pussy Riot, as well as stadium performances opening for IDLES and Future Islands.

With all this under their belt, the band began working with Mercury Prize nominated producer Tommy McLaughlin for their single ‘Gay Girls’ – which received a nomination for the RTE Choice Music Prize song of the year, as well as International pickup from NPR’s World Cafe and KEXP. The song also found its way into the heart of actor Cillian Murphy and his BBC6 mixtape show.

2019 saw Pillow Queens venture into mainland Europe, as they lit up the Eurosonic festival and completed a string of tour dates opening for Soak. The tour was a messy and joyous affair captured beautifully in the DIY video for the bands summer single ‘How Do I Look’.

In Waiting is Pillow Queens’ debut album, the result of four years of brotherly love in a sisterly unit from Ireland’s most urgent, yearning, rock band. Crafted from our lives, and honed in a studio in rural Donegal in the northwest of Ireland, this is a record by queens in waiting and kings in the making. It’s an album about love; self-love, queer love, the anxiety-inducing fault lines of romantic love, and the love for a city and a country that simultaneously has your back and is on your back.

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Pillow Queens are a 4-piece from Dublin, Ireland. Their debut album ‘In Waiting’ will be released on September 25th.

WAX CHATTELS – ” Clot “

Posted: September 25, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , ,

Clot

it is universally agreed that New Zealand’s Wax Chattels are a must- see live act; their hypnotically sinister debut captured this perfectly.

Released in 2018 and supported by relentless touring, the eponymous album reached #7 on the New Zealand album charts, and release week saw the title feature as #1 in Rough Trade’s top 20 new releases. Tastemakers like NPR and the A.V. club came on as early champions. the album’s success at home and abroad led to the well-deserved nomina- tion of best alternative artist at the 2018 New Zealand music awards, as well as the band’s inclusion in the coveted shortlist of finalists for the taite music prize and Auckland live best independent debut award. after a knock-out entrée, the anticipation that surrounds their sophomore album, “Clot” , is immense. much like their debut,

The writing process for “Clot” took the best part of a year. while some songs were written on the road, the bulk of the album was workshopped throughout 2019 across bedrooms and storage containers. demos were fine-tuned before recording engineer James Goldsmith (aldous harding, mermaidens) stepped in. the band maintained the use of only the barest of ingredients — bass guitar, keyboard, and a two-piece drum kit — but spent more time ex- perimenting with and finding new sounds. they wanted to maintain the same live element, but, this time, heavier — for which they enlisted the help of mixing engineer, and fellow noise-maker, Ben Greenberg (uniform, destruction unit, the men). the keyboards are thicker, the bass more intense. a marked step-up, this new record keeps the visceral energy of the debut, only this time they dig deeper into ca- thartic noise. at Clot’s center is confrontation. “mindfulness” asks do you accept the status quo over forcing tangible change? the vitriolic choruses of “cede” are in cheng’s native language — taiwanese hokkien — and are an indignant confrontation about cross-strait relations and self- determination. the experience of being a first generation immigrant is expressed in the melodic single “no ties”. the song touches on cul- tural differences and the parental sacrifice of careers and support sys- tems to provide a “better” future for their children. the explosive arc of “efficiency” describes knowing when to bide your time, and when to push, in which the band treads a line between the explicit and in- tuitive.

This is carried through “An Eye”, in which the band stresses the physical harm and psychological breakdown emanating from the escalating racial and political uproar throughout the world. though the band seethes and boils throughout, Clot concludes with a message of hope. perhaps it’s this capacity for self-awareness that makes wax chattels one of New Zealand’s  most treasured independent exports. “this band of former jazz students is making confrontational post-punk, marrying the grind- ing keyboards of suicide with the drum-and- bass intensity of early death from above 1979. the results are stark, hypnotically sinister songs.”

Official video for Efficiency by Wax Chattels, from their album “Clot”