Posts Tagged ‘Melbourne’

DIY pop charmers School Damage release their second album A To X today!

A To X is the second album by Melbourne DIY pop quartet School Damage . The new album focuses their simultaneously sharp and wobbly DIY pop aesthetic, taking in the woozi- ness of Young Marble Giants, the bite of Devo and the busy melodies of the Television Personalities.
A To X comes hot on the heels of School Damage’s instantly loveable 2017 self-titled debut, which earned the band raves from Brooklyn Vegan, Noisey and BBC6 among others.
Formed as a bedroom pop project for Carolyn Hawkins (Chook Race, Parsnip) and Jake Robertson (Ausmuteants, Hiero- phants, Frowning Clouds), School Damage now include Jeff Raty on drums and Dani Damage on bass. They have released cassettes and 7”s on various labels, including a recent single for UK label Upset The Rhythm.
They’ve played King Gizzard’s festival Gizzfest and shared stages with The Bats, Tropical Fuckstorm and NO ZU.
About the new album, Carolyn says: “A To X is about trying (and failing) to find patterns in the overwhelming jumble of activities involved in being alive. We were going to call it In Alphabetical Order but I guess we never quite made it to Z!”
“Charming off-kilter pop” – Noisey
“Like Custard giving The Vaselines a nipple cripple” – The Herald Sun
“Their songs deal with crises of everyday life, set to wobbly pop that recalls bands like Tronics, The Vaselines, and early ’80s Sydney band The Particles.”


Just over a year since their self-titled instant classic debut, A To X focuses School Damage’s simultaneously sharp and wobbly DIY pop aesthetic, taking in the wooziness of Young Marble Giants, the bite of Devo and the busy melodies of the Television Personalities.
It has already had love from around the world, including BBC 6Music airplay and rave reviews from Brooklyn Vegan, Loud & Quiet, Raven Sings the Blues, Clash and elsewhere.


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First rule of band names: make sure your name doesn’t contain the genre of music you play. The band’s colossal, eccentric pop/rock sound is undeniably psychedelic and it’s kind of cheesy to have the genre explicitly in the title. After giving them a pass for a corny, playfully ridiculous name, you can let yourself wander in their magical, sweeping soundscapes. Singles like “Social Candy” and “Marmalade March” invoke equal amounts of high-spirited fun and virtuoso musicianship. Listening to their music requires listeners to abandon their inhibitions and embark on whatever gleaming psych-pop joyride they offer. Their sound is accessible and melodious enough to appeal to pop/rock fans while their musical proficiency and wacky euphoria will also gel with diehard psych fans.

It’s official: critics love Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s album Hope Downs. And they absolutely should—it’s one of the best guitar pop records of the year, strongly evoking both the literate pop of Australia’s the Go-Betweens and the intricate but rough-hewn rock that flourished in New Zealand in the 1980s. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are part of a brilliant music scene in Melbourne, Australia, that exhumes those college radio sounds for the streaming times of today. They have a much higher profile in America than their fellow travelers, if only because they’ve benefited from the promotional support of a large label in the form of Sub Pop, but that doesn’t mean the other bands in their scene are any less worthy of notice today. In fact, Rolling Blackouts aren’t even the best of the current wave of amazing Australian and New Zealand rock bands.

The five members of Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have effectively just stepped off a plane. The band were on the road for over two months, sprinting through the festival circuits of America and Europe: Primavera Sound, the Great Escape, Coachella.

Now, they’re sitting bleary-eyed in a beer hall in Collingwood in their hometown of Melbourne. I’m speaking to each member one by one, which feels rather like speed-dating or maybe an inter-school sports round-robin. Vinyl copies of the band’s new album, Hope Downs.

The record sleeve shows a near-empty public swimming pool in the town of Gundagai: against an arid background, a slick of water is holding out against the heat. It’s a fitting image for an album that, after chewing through some hefty thoughts about a turbulent world, chooses to reach for optimism.

The band recorded Hope Downs a year ago, while holed up in a beautiful house near drummer Marcel Tussie’s hometown of Bellingen in northern NSW. As with Rolling Blackouts’ previous EP releases, the songs on Hope Downs have a wiry energy, propelled by the band’s three guitars and vocal melodies that are at once sweet and pinching.

Fran Keany, one of the bands vocalists and guitarists, was a drummer before he picked up guitar a few years ago. In Rolling Blackouts, he plays his acoustic with a percussive bent, adding to the drive of the songs. He says Hope Downs tells small stories about large, daunting themes.

A lot of the songs are about characters dealing with uncertainties. We only became conscious of it after we had finished writing. A lot of our songs involve characters, they’re fictionalised. Although on this album I think we’re far more personal than in our other songs — these ones are a bit closer to reality and ourselves.

The song ‘The Hammer’

is about fate. The “hammer” represents that — when the bell tolls, the death knell, y’know, when you die. The song is thinking about: “What have you done with the life that you’ve had?” It’s morbid in a way, but there is some optimism to it. A lot of the album is about that: being faced with the sheer enormity and uncertainties of the big, vast abyss, and trying to find some kind of certainty within that. But that only became apparent to us afterwards. It’s what we were all thinking about.

The album pushes forth Rolling Blackouts’ bright and sheeny guitar sound — the kind that is sometimes thought of as an Antipodean trademark and means that the band often gets pegged with Go-Betweens comparisons. Fran says the comparisons have weight: classic Australian guitar bands — as well as ideas about Australia as a place — loom large in their songwriting.

I think we all have wanted to make some something that’s particular to our place and time. There are a lot of bands from the UK and America that have a consciousness of where they’re from and when you listen to [their music] you’re sort of immediately transported to those places. It’s got this really galvanising feel to it — particularly UK bands.

So we’ve always wanted to do something like that with Australia. There have been a lot of great Australian bands that have done that, so we want to carry that tradition forward — sing about what’s around you, rather than sing about being in New York, or something. We don’t want to be too hammy or cliche about it, y’know, no green and gold type of Australia stuff, but we’ve wanted to have a particular Australian feel about it.

While it may not be immediately apparent amid the album’s musical buoyancy, many songs have a sharp political undertow, sparked by recent global shifts.

Up until recently there’s been no real desire to change things and break things much. It’s been a mediocre time. And now there’s been this jag against it more pronounced in the US and UK, but a little bit here. A restlessness that has shown itself in some weird political developments.

In a way it’s cool that things have been shaken up. Nothing should be set in stone. Nothing should be certain. Politicians need to get better at talking to the people that are not being looked after properly. The Weinsteins and the Cosbys … are getting their comeuppance and the corporate world is changing a lot. Everybody is thinking about all that stuff at the moment.

Tom Russo, another of the band’s guitarists and vocalists, was churning through similar thoughts when writing for this album particularly when he was on a holiday with his girlfriend, now wife, in Italy.

We went on tour and then had a trip to the Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily, where my dad’s from. I’d never been there before, but they’re these beautiful islands in the middle of the Mediterranean — surrounded by blue.

The song ‘Mainland’

came about because we were over there staying in a shack on the top of a hill and it was this kind of magical, enchanting time. We were away from everything civilisation. I was going in to town every day and reading the newspaper and having wine and good food, but at the same time looking at the paper and reading that the refugee crisis was happening literally 20 kilometres away. There was really horrible stuff happening.That song was me coming to terms with being in such a privileged position: being in love and on this island and having this amazing time, and then reflecting on the vagaries of fate meaning that other people, born in a different place and time, were having this life and death struggle. I guess it was me trying to make some sort of sense of it all.

He borrowed the song’s chord progression from the band’s bassist, his younger brother Joe. Throughout Hope Downs, the band’s three guitarists maintain their complementary but distinct styles. Tom says he favours a minimalistic approach.

I think of a melodic idea and I just try to hammer it in to the ground. Same with chords; I try to be as minimal as possible. I guess our styles kind of complement each other. Fran uses the guitar almost as a percussive instrument. He’s got really good rhythm. It’s used in conjunction with hi-hats and cymbals to tick through the beat.

I have this big heavy Gretsch. I’m not much of a technical player; I have a pretty heavy hand. I play leads and stuff, but I tend to do really simple kind of leads. I just keep banging on and on, kind of like Neil Young

really heavy one-note solos and stuff.I tend to like things that are clean and strong, whereas Joe White, the other lead guitarist, he’s probably technically a lot better than me and he can make things up off the top of his head and is probably a bit more wild and out there — a bit more nimble.

Rolling Blackouts maintain a steadfastly democratic songwriting process, perhaps aided by their long-time friendships and family ties.

We’ve all known each other for a long time. Fran and I went to school together and we’ve been best friends since year seven. Joe White is his cousin. And I’ve known Joe for a long time as well. We’ve written music together for ten years in various little, other bands all kinds of different versions of the same band in a way.

We all know what we like and we’re not precious about any of the songs. If someone comes up with an idea, we bring it to the group and we trust each other enough to develop it and everyone’s welcome to do something to it. I think that’s what makes our songs what they are — there’s all these different perspectives.

When it came time to record, the band were keen to escape the Melbourne winter. Drummer Marcel Tussie put the word out and found a spare house outside of his hometown of Bellingen. They temporarily relocated north, along with producer and engineer Liam Judson. Marcel says it was slightly challenging, but worth it.

It was a bit of a logistical — not a nightmare, but there was a lot more involved than just heading down to a studio in Brunswick for two weeks. We packed up the van with all of our equipment, drove for two days to get up there, organised for Liam who is from Sydney to be up there.

We had two weeks up there. We did probably 85 to 90 percent of it there and then did a couple of tracks in our studio back here and did some overdubs and vocal takes and bits and pieces.

The house is an interesting design it’s sort of built up into the trees. This particular room [where we recorded] is sort of separated from the main living space of the house in that it’s got a big long walkway that goes out in to one room. There were a lot books in there and a bed — we cleared it out and made it into our studio space. One of the walls of the house opens up completely, with a kind of pulley system, so we basically opened up the wall and looked out onto the rainforest and a creek.

I think at different points in the recording we all had our own individual moments of, “Holy fuck, where are we?” And I hadn’t been back there in 10 years, so it was really nice for me to go back there and be in that space, personally.

I remember Fran telling me about one moment when we were halfway through a take and he was feeling really good about it and then this kookaburra just came down and went flying right past in front he could have reached out and touched it — and he had this freak-out moment of “What’s going on?” So, I’m glad we did it there.

Marcel’s drumming is key to the propulsion of the songs on Hope Downs, but he says joining the band presented a stylistic learning curve.

I’d never really played in a rock band before this. I’d always sort of played in funk bands and Afro-beat bands and soul bands and more groove-based stuff, so it was a weird transition for me to be in a rock band. I didn’t really know what the fuck was going on — it was a weird adjustment.

I’d always listened to a lot of Midnight Oil growing up, so Rob Hirst is a huge influence. I started listening a lot more to him and his approach to getting the songs to drive when I started playing with these guys.

He describes the band’s writing process for the album as a typically “no-bullshit” affair.

It’s never tense. The focus has always been on what’s best for the song and really it’s quite remarkable how egos don’t even come close to getting involved in the way of writing the song or recording the song. Everyone’s really open and honest with each other — there’s no bullshit. If something needs to be changed, someone will say something and there’s never any arguments.

Joe White, the band’s other lead guitarist and vocalist, plays a “pawn shop Mustang”.

I used to have a Telecaster but it was stolen, from my car which I guess was my own fault. I had that for 10 years, and it was my favourite thing. I’m slowly working my to getting another one emotionally bringing myself back to playing a different Telecaster.

He agrees that throughout the band’s writing process, egos are set aside.

We have a collective consciousness when it comes to coming up with parts. I don’t really see myself as bringing my own personal style to it — we just try to make it a Rolling Blackouts song.

Joe’s guitar lines are the most intricate of each of the band’s guitarists. On many Hope Downs songs, his solos unfurl gleefully, such as on the album’s lead

As well as focusing on melody, Joe says he’s also interested in an “ugly” kind of playing.

I mean we all try and pick out melodies. I’ve also played a lot of music with Cash Savage,

which has got a bit more of a bluesy, loose style. I’ve been enjoying bending notes and less pretty type of things. I’ve been trying to bring that in. Trying to make it a bit ugly for a little while and then bringing back the prettiness.

He says Rolling Blackouts have influences that may not be immediately apparent — based on the functionality of two lead guitars. The Sleepy Jackson comes in a fair bit. It’s kind of easy to bring in those eighties Australiana bands, but it comes from everywhere.

The band’s bassist, Joe Russo, has fond memories of the album’s recording process. However, he says playing across a valley presented some unique challenges.

It’s an amazing part of the world; a good space to spend two weeks with everybody. The first couple of days we had this door of the room open. We were one storey up and playing to palm fronds that were waving in the breeze. Then, ’cause we were making so much noise in the valley, there was a ring around. It eventually got to the person who lived there, who was in Europe at the time, and they got in touch with Marcel and said, “Can you please keep it down?”

A famous neighbour made a subtle cameo throughout their stay. You know the movie Shine, with Geoffery Rush? The one based on [pianist] David Helfgott.

He lives next door and you could hear him at night playing Rachmaninoff and stuff while we were sitting by the fire. So it was a pretty beautiful place. We were super lucky to get up there.

After spending the past couple of years consistently touring, Rolling Blackouts have gained a reputation as a taut live act. Joe says the band wanted to capture as much of their on-stage energy as they could, so they tracked bass, drums and some guitar live. This comes through in the takes that made it to Hope Downs, which crack along at a manic pace.

We’re probably at the height of our game musically after doing a couple of EPs and just playing constantly. We seem to just be one organism at times. I think [the album] captures that energy. We did shitloads of takes of each thing and we picked the best one mostly because of the feel of it. So I think if we managed to capture that I guess it’s a very diffuse and hard thing to capture it’d be great.



Beaches have an appropriate name, evoking the California coastline where the first psych purveyors congregated. This Australian Melbourne quintet takes their DIY philosophy seriously—everyone plays an instrument, everyone sings, and the various members design their own album artwork and direct their videos. Their third album, Second of Spring, is their most ambitious yet, a double-LP filled with sunny melodies and motorik beats. It swings between brittle post-punk riffing and delightful pop harmonies, occupying that dreamlike state right before sunrise.

Do I need a favourite? I can’t choose one. The entire album is pure class.


Like a better version of Murder of the Universe, Gizzard’s raw early side is the best. Eyes Like the Sky is the second studio album by Australian psychedelic rock band King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. It was released on 22nd February 2013 on Flightless Records

Not only is the album unlike any other of theirs, described as a “cult western audio book”, the album is narrated and written by Broderick Smith – who tells a story of outlaws, child soldiers, native Americans and gun fights, all set in the American frontier. As it turns out, the roots of Eyes Like the Sky lie in King Gizzard’s debut album, 12 Bar Bruise.

Stu Mackenzie – “the weird, genius savant of that band” – and Smith both share a similar obsession of the Wild West, so Mackenzie approached his bandmate’s father (who is a respected musician in his own right) to pen the lyrics to a single track he had written. When asked about the album’s influences, Stu Mackenzie alluded to the spaghetti western influence throughout the album, stating “I love Western films. I love bad guys and I love Red Dead Redemption. Oh, and I love evil guitars”


It was the book My 32 Years Among the Indians by Richard Dodge where Smith found his inspiration.

“There was a section in the book called Sam Cherry’s Last Shot… about Sam Cherry who was a scout that was killed by the Indians.”

Smith took that story and narrated it for the band, and that tune became Sam Cherry’s Last Shot on their debut album. When the band looked at doing a second record, Mackenzie simply contacted Smith and asked if he’d like to do a full album. When it came to a story for the album, Smith again turned to American history. Specifically, he looked at a time in Texas in the 1840’s where Comanches (a population of Native Americans from the south) were raiding white settlements and kidnapping the young boys to raise as their own.

Smith tells. Through this historical lens, he created a story not only about American history, but one that also explores the importance and struggles of heritage and identity.

Let’s now turn to the band itself. Formed out of casual jam sessions with mates, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard have become a staple on the Australian indie music scene. They have cemented themselves a place among the most ambitious artists in the world today, from having two drummers  to releasing five albums in a single year.

Image of TERRY - 'I'm Terry' (PRE-ORDER)

Terry are back with another bundle of joy. Terry are Amy Hill (also of Constant Mongrel, School Of Radiant Living), Xanthe Waite (Mick Harvey Band, Primo), Zephyr Pavey (Eastlink, Total Control, Russell St Bombings) and Al Montfort (UV Race, Dick Diver, Total Control). Guitars, bass, drums, all four sing. New album I’m Terry is like a mix of minimal and childlike indie pop and an obscure post punk album from 1979.

Have I been able to contain my excitement over the new Terry LP? Not quite. The band’s on a streak, with two great LPs under their belts already. The third LP shows no signs of flagging as they continue to mine a strain of post-punk peppered with twang and salt n’ honey harmonies that are soothing yet unpolished. The band let loose one of the album’s most ecstatic singles, “The Whip,” a few weeks back and now they follow it up with the cooler-headed “Bureau,” a stunner in its own right.


Terry’s strength lies in an ability to push past any of the well-worn ruts of post-punk. They’re embracing the ethos of bands who were set free to run dub and punk and pop together into a caustic clash, but they’re not tied down to the set of stencils that so many modern makers seem to use.

This is the 3rd album from this Melbourne group, maintaining the high melodic standards but some of the songs are a bit longer and the atmospheres are a bit darker at times.

They pair the new song with a grit n’ glare video that’s transportation heavy – grabbing the ‘70s aesthetics and pushing them through a DIY filter. Its all good fun and serves to further the excitement for the Upset The Rhythm release of I’m Terry at the end of the month. If you’re in the UK, they’re even trotting the show out live (lucky bastards) so hit that up to see how these songs shake out in the room.

Think a mix of Beat Happening, The Mo-Dettes and The Television Personalties.

‘Oh Helen’ is taken from TERRY’s brand new, third album ‘I’m Terry’, coming out August 31st through Upset The Rhythm.


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The debut album from Angie McMahon is promising to be one of 2018’s most anticipated releases and now she has given us another new song.

‘Keeping Time’ is her new single, and it’s third time’s a charm from the Melbourne songwriter who splashed onto the scene last year with her debut single ‘Slow Mover’, then backed it up with bluesy swagger and emotional rawness of ‘Missing Me’.

Angie tells us that ‘Keeping Time’ is one of “the most energetic” songs written for her upcoming album, and acts as a bit of a pep talk to herself.

“I wrote it a while back thinking about diving into this music career thing and having the confidence to do that amidst all my insecurities – feeling like everyone was a better musician than me,” the 24-year-old explains. “This song is about pushing that stuff aside… Like, ‘you can do this, you know how to play music, just get over yourself and do it!'”

Built upon an openly inviting chord pattern and a rough strut, Angie’s voice is plump with feeling yet glides in satin-smooth phrases. The txtline reaction was pretty glowing following the single’s first spin.

That voice! Oh my gosh! Stunning every time, such a fan
Sounds like a cross between Florence & Tracy Chapman. Cool
Angie’s voice is AMAZING. Spine-tingling goodness. – Claire, Gold Coast

Keen for more? Angie says she’s currently putting the finishing touches on her album, including final mixes, title, and sequencing. She’s hoping to have it out before the end of the year.

“I guess because it’s my first album, I’m learning how long things take and trying to give it all the love that it deserves.”

Terry returned this week with the first track from their new album ‘I’m Terry’.
The Whip kicks the jangles aside, clips a driving punk guitar line to a curdled coif of organ squeal and gives this track an off the rails quality that’s biting harder than usual for the laid-back bunch. While I love the band’s cowpunk preening and clang-hearted dirges its good to see them go for the pop pounce – albeit with enough squirm to make it pure Terry.
‘The Whip’ is taken from TERRY’s brand new, third album ‘I’m Terry’, coming out August 31st through Upset The Rhythm Records.

Image of PRIMO! - 'Amici'

Primo are Xanthe Waite, Violetta DelConte Race and Suzanne Walker. As a trio from Melbourne writing up-tempo, terse chorus and verse, Primo make use of two guitars, drums, sound effects and a group vocal sensibility to ornament their enquiries into deconstructed punk and indie rock. Their songs chime and charm, sounding at times bountiful, at others brittle, always buoyant with attention to detail.

‘Amici’ is Primo’s debut album, following on from their split 7” last year and a cassette of early work entitled ‘Primo Cassetto’ from 2016 on Hidiotic. ‘Amici’ was recorded and mixed by friend Al Montfort through 2017. The collected songs reference the 40-hour working week, the city, bureaucracy, walking, a mirage and a ghost. In form the songs are short and purposeful, “leaving footsteps in the snow” much like the protagonist of their wistful invocation to ‘Daphne’.


A sense of haste and motion is imbued through Primo’s songs, linking up with the album’s lyrical themes of acute observation, mindful conservancy and the dislocated meaning behind modern life. “Got the paper, got the pen, got the deadline, in the line, out of traffic, got the stapler” they sing united on ‘Future’. ‘Bronte Blues’ is a similar rapid tumble of melody and problem solving, detonated by the line “you’re a magnetic strip, living on borrowed chips”. The vocal clarity of these tracks place Primo promptly in our own heads, the band’s intriguing lyrics springing forth like our very own flights of fancy. There’s an honesty and emotional distance at play in these songs too, with their instructions, lists and procedures leaking into our semblance of self. “Tell me more, tell me more” voice the band throughout ‘Disco Eyeballs’. The quest to lucidly understand underpins the whole record.

Primo take you from A-to-B with their songs, from the appetite of another place to the bird’s eye view. ‘Family Dinner Club’ deals with anonymity and suburbia, whilst ‘Ticking Off A List’ admits “there’s a fogginess to some beauty, you look outside, I can’t know what you see” before urging us to take to the footpath. ‘You’ve Got A Million’ races all over town, whilst ‘Closed Tomorrow’ talks of a “a car going by, one day out of life, going home or to another man-made space”. These songs are alive and inquisitive, chasing down questions for answers long sped-away, amidst minimalist shuffle beats and ringing-out chords. ‘Amici’ is a triumph of the underplayed, its small details pull focus, allowing the album to treat us to unexpected truths in plain sight.

Primo’s newest member since 2018 is Amy Hill, who also plays in Terry and Constant Mongrel, on bass. Outside of Primo, Xanthe and Violetta have both lent their guitar skills to Terry and The Shifters respectively, whilst Suzanne works in film too. The band’s debut album ‘Amici’ will be released as LP and CD on Upset The Rhythm on July 13th and followed up in August with a European tour.


‘Mirage’ is taken from Primo’s debut album ‘Amici’, out July 13th through Upset The Rhythm.

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murmurmur (pronounced mer-mer-mer) was born in February 2017 when Will Fletcher stumbled across the idiosyncratic guitar riff that provides the defining moment in “I Can’t Stop Thinking About All The Time I’ve Taken From You”. Fletcher was soon joined by Alex Crosara (guitar), Fintan Bradley (synthesiser), Jack Davies (bass) and Luke Haaja (drums), who helped to bring his prog/psych-pop odysseys to life.

Across the four songs that comprise murmurmur’s debut self-titled EP (produced by Oscar Dawson of Holy Holy), Fletcher’s haunting, emotive vocal blends with guitar hooks that sink into the recesses of your mind and stay there. There is an urgency to murmurmur’s soundscapes – they sound like a time and place you’re not aware of but which you’re desperate to find.


The Melbourne five-piece who’re bringing all of my psych pop dreams to life with their debut single. Coming ahead of their first EP as produced by the coveted Oscar Dawson, “Cable Car” is the kind of song that grows more kaleidoscopic with every passing minute, with frontman Will Fletcher rising like a star in the making above the cascades of reverb-drenched guitars.