Posts Tagged ‘Melbourne’

RBCF - Sideways to New Italy

After enough time away from home, even the familiar starts to feel foreign. For guitar-pop five-piece Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, returning to Melbourne after long stretches looking out at the world through the windows of airplanes and tour vans lead to dislocation, like being the knot in the middle of a game of tug-o-war. Their second record, Sideways to New Italy (Sub Pop Records), sees the band interrogate their individual pasts and the places that inform them. In clicking the scattered pieces back into place, they have crafted for themselves a new totem of home to carry with them no matter where they end up.

Lead by singer-songwriter-guitarists Tom Russo, Joe White and Fran Keaney (and rounded out by bassist Joe Russo and drummer Marcel Tussie), the band began grasping for something reliable after emerging from relentlessly touring their critically regarded debut Hope Downs. “Sideways to New Italy” on June 5th via the fine folks at Sub Pop. Everything they have released has been awesome.

Home, for Russo, manifests in different ways: there’s Melbourne, where he and brother Joe grew up, but also Southern Italy where the forebears of their family originated. The album is inspired by New Italy – a village near New South Wales’s Northern Rivers – the area Tussie is from. A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pit-stop of a place with fewer than 200 residents, it was founded by Venetian immigrants in the late-1800s and now serves as something of a living monument to Italians’ contribution to Australia, with replica Roman statues dotted like souvenirs on the otherwise rural landscape. As members of the band individually visited the Mediterranean and returned home to Melbourne’s inner-north, where waves of European migrants forged a sense of home since the 1950s, they realized the emotional distance between the two was minuscule. The prominent and romantic Greco-Roman statues that sit outside tidy brick homes in Brunswick represent, for Russo, an attempt to “build a utopia of where your heart’s from.”

“I wanted to write songs that I could use as some sort of bedrock of hopefulness to stand on, something to be proud of,” says Keaney. “A lot of the songs on the new record are reaching forward and trying to imagine an idyll of home and love.” This is the bulk of Sideways to New Italy, which boasts love songs, and familiar voices and characters, grounding the band’s stories in their personal histories.

The same can be said of this record, where White’s early attempts at writing big, high-concept songs were abandoned in favor of love songs (“She’s There,” “The Only One”), and familiar voices and characters filter in and out, grounding the band’s stories in their personal histories. On “Second of the First” the voice of a close friend joins White’s partner in delivering a spoken word passage; the chorus from “Cool Change” began its life in a song the trio played in an early band, over a decade ago; the chords from “Cameo” were once in an eventually abandoned song called “Hope Downs”; an early version of “Falling Thunder” featured a reference that only their friends would recognize.

“Sideways to New Italy” on June 5th via the fine folks at Sub Pop Records. Everything they have released has been awesome to date.

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Cable Ties, a trio from Melbourne, blasts a coruscating onslaught of punk mayhem, guitar scrambling madly in a scrubby, discordant fury, drums banging, bass pumping pick-driven clangor into the mix and, above it all, Jennie McKechnie wailing in an exposed nerve kind of way about apathy, sexism, LGBTQ acceptance, income inequality and activist politics. The sound is supercharged, ear-ringing, tight; the fast chug of the bass line in stellar “Tell Them Where to Go,” has a nearly tactile force, while the guitar howls like careening sirens. The easy thing would be to compare McKechnie’s vibrato-zinging vocals with those of Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker or her verbal agility to Courtney Barnett, but the blunt force and agile violence of the music, brings to mind post-punk bands like the Wipers, Protomartyr and Eddy Current.

Cable Ties formed in the mid-teens and has one self-titled and a clutch of singles and splits in its catalogue so far. Far Enough is the first of this band’s albums to get a wide U.S. release, and it’s a doozy, no question. McKechnie may be the band’s focal point, but bassist Nick Brown defines Cable Ties’ ragged power. The rough-sawed churn of “Lani” starts and finishes with his abrasive, insistent bass playing that boils like magma under urgent, trilling vocals. Drummer Shauna Boyle is pretty great, too, banging out aggressive beats, that are passionate not sloppy, trance-like but never tuned out.

Band members are active advocates for women’s and LGBTQ rights. McKechnie co-founded Wet Lips, a Melbourne festival focused on inclusion of female, gay and non-binary musicians, and both she and Boyle volunteer for Girls Rock, an organization that promotes opportunity for women, trans and gender diverse musicians. Far Enough engages in these issues through the lyrics, especially in “Tell Them Where to Go,” where between murderous bass and clanging guitar chords, McKechnie sings about empowerment. “Are you stuck in your bedroom? With your stereo on? Thinking you’ll never play that way cos you’re too weird or too young/Why don’t you walk out your bedroom/and steal your brother’s guitar/ Go see the folks who took rock back from blokes and who get who you really are,” she wails, and you can see a hundred kids squaring their shoulders and heading out there.

Later, “Self-Made Man” launches an incendiary blow at the rich, skewering people who “work hard and don’t share,” in a hard bumping, intricately lyric’d song that vibrates with rage, and elsewhere “Sandcastles” pokes a rusty nailed prod at the politics that strangle otherwise well-meaning activist organizations. (“You don’t do anything because you know that people like you they just don’t do anything but tear each other down”). And right at the beginning in “Hope,” the band addresses boomer complacency on climate change, as McKechnie warbles, “My uncle Pete’s he’s complaining about the greenies, he says they’ve gone too far, I say Pete, they don’t go far enough.”

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And yet while not a moment on this album fails to engage in issues, the vibe is brash, celebratory, undeniably a gas. This is no over-earnest diatribe. It’s a series of party anthems about stuff that matters. One drum flattening call to arms insists that “Anger’s Not Enough,” and that’s right, there’s a lot more here. But it’s a really good place to start.

Released March 27th, 2020

Fronted by the ferocious Jenny McKechnie, Cable Ties are a three-piece from Melbourne who have built themselves a reputation as the saviours of contemporary Australian punk.

With a razor-sharp edge, they deconstruct the ragged aggression of stadium rock bands like AC/DC, the minimalism of post-punk pioneers Au Pairs, and synthesise them into bellowing anthems of discontent that are distinctly their own. Jenny screeches like a bogan banshee (or Siouxsie), Shauna pounds the drums like they owe her money (they do), and the Verlaine-thin bassist Nick Brown boogies like he’s hearing Blondie for the first time.

This simultaneously bright-eyed and jadedly anti-capitalist approach is the first thing you’ll notice on their new record Far Enough. From the way early single ‘Tell Them Where to Go’ harkens back to the cover of Sonic Youth’s Goo: ‘Are you stuck in your bedroom with your stereo on? Why don’t walk out your bedroom? And steal your brother’s guitar!?’ To the way ‘Sandcastles’ jumps back and forth like a fever dream, Far Enough is a stunning sophomore effort.

‘Sandcastles’ is the most concise song I’ve heard from you guys. Given you’re mainly known for stretching out punk songs beyond their limits, that’s a pretty big deal. How come it’s so much more concise?

Cable Ties are preparing to unleash their towering wall of ’70s hard rock and proto-punk to the world with the release of their second album (and Merge debut!) Far Enough on March 27th. As a final preview to the record, the Melbourne trio recently shared “Hope,” the opening song and lyrical centerpiece of Far Enough.

Singer-guitarist Jenny McKechnie says “Hope” serves as the record’s mission statement of sorts, touching on environmental, feminist, and anti-colonist themes explored in greater depth on “Sandcastles,” “Self-Made Man,” “Tell Them Where to Go,” and the rest of Far Enough.

We wrote that song when we had a weekend away writing, and we spent the whole time doing something which never ended up on the album. It was one of those weekends where it got too convoluted, and we had to start again. And right at the end of the weekend, we had two hours where we wrote ‘Sandcastles’ pretty much in one go. We just had a really good crack at it where… it felt like it was what it needed to be. It was straight to the point. Focussed. Like, when we write a song we start with a riff and if we can’t play that same riff over and over again for like half an hour, and enjoy it and really sink into it, sort of like feel it in our bodies in this cathartic way, we don’t think it’s worth making into a song.

On ‘Pillow’ you sing about feeling like you’ve fucked up and can’t go back. How do you cope with that feeling?

That feeling is something that I struggle with in music a lot, to be honest. Like, I did my undergrad arts degree in politics, and then I tried to go to Law School like, ‘I better do something that’ll get me a job,’ and I dropped out. Then I tried to do honours, and dropped that too. That feeling is me being like, ‘Why do I think that I’m so special that I can spend all my time playing music?’ And really beating myself up about it, which I would never do to anyone else, but for some reason, I still do it to myself. It’s still in my head that art’s a waste of time and that I should do something useful. So, that song was me convincing myself that it’s ok, what I’m doing. And that the voices in my head telling me that I’ve fucked up aren’t actually mine, in a way.

On ‘Tell Them Where to Go’ you sing about the aspirational component of being in a band. Is that your narrative? Are you singing to yourself?

That song was actually written when we were going to play at Girls Rock in Melbourne. It’s this program that gets young girls between 12 and 18 and puts them in bands. And they have to write an original song in one week and then perform it, and we were like ‘that is amazing.’ We were thinking about our own writing process like, it takes us months, we would never be able to do that! So we were like, ‘righto, we’re playing girls rock, let’s write a song for it. If they can do it then we should be able to.’ So that song is written for those kids. And also thinking about myself, and how much I would’ve loved to have something like that when I was growing up.

You sing very unapologetically. Was there any insecurity involved in finding your voice when you first started singing?

I first started playing music in [giggles] folk bands! So the stuff that I used to do was really quiet and sweet and I didn’t think that I could project my voice at all. But then when we started rehearsing we were really loud and I couldn’t get my voice over the sound of the amp. So the way that I’m singing was just a result of me really trying to be heard over the sound of everything. By the time that we were playing in venues where I could actually hear myself, I realised that I was doing this thing with my voice that I’d never thought I could do. Actually projecting and singing loud and high and just going for it. Cutting loose

At the end of ‘Anger’s not enough’ there’s a sound that sounds like a rooster. Is it a rooster?

Ha! I wish it was. But no, it’s not. I’m very glad that you can hear that though. The sound at the end of ‘Anger’s Not Enough’ is me with two guitar amps, and – I hate to get all spinal tap on this – they’re both turned all the way up to 10 and just pushed into overdrive. I also had this pedal from Newcastle called ‘when the sun explodes’—it’s like a reverb pedal where you can also get some really interesting feedback things going on. So its that looped over and over—I guess about three different tracks of me just messing with the guitar making crazy sounds. So if you can hear a rooster in there, I’m happy.

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Girlatones play their own brand of garage-pop injected with unique lyrical humour and sincerity, drawing you into their upbeat and inclusive world. Swoonsome Melbourne four-piece Girlatones are set to release their new album “Horn if You’re Honky”, out March 20th.

Following the unabashed garage pop of first album Fitting in Well (2017), Jesse Williams and crew have refined their DiY production chops and crafted an album that is rich in sonic layers and emotional depth, whilst remaining loose at the edges like all the best pop music.

First single, the piano-led ballad ‘Get to the End’, displayed a more melancholic, introspective side to Girlatones but the band struck back for second single, ‘We Respond to Love’ a one-minute-fifty-second slice of pop bliss that was described by blog Austin Town Hall as “shimmering like some of the best power-pop you’re likely to hear this day, or ever”.

Impending third single ‘Bingo Level Humour’ takes an altogether different path – one perhaps led by Paul McCartney and a parade of marching drummers, spouting quirky one-liners.

Elsewhere on the album, we hear some baroque strings on Jesse’s ode to solitary creativity ‘To Sing’, while instrumentation gets stripped back to a 12-string acoustic on the tender ‘2 Young 2 Forget’. But the big bubblegum feels are never far away, as heard on songs like ‘One Chord Too Many’, ‘Pop Stars’ and ‘The Saddest Synth’.

Regular gig-goers in Melbourne will have been hard-pressed to miss a Girlatones show in the past few years, the band playing regularly at pubs, clubs and small festivals, with band members also doing the rounds in other outfits like Traffik Island, Way Dynamic and Baby Blue. Not to mention one quarter of the band is Leah Senior whose beguiling folk tunes have been winning hearts all over Australia and overseas.

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Jesse Williams – Vocals, Guitar,
Leah Senior – Vocals, Guitar,
Tam Matlakowski – Bass,
Fabian Hunter Shaw – Drums

“Horn if You’re Honky” by Girlatones is out March 20th on Lost And Lonesome in Australia and Meritorio Records of Spain.

Chastity Belt and Melbourne band Loose Tooth have shared a “digital split single” featuring new material from both acts: Chastity Belt’s A Side “The Process” and Loose Tooth’s B side “Lonely.”

Fifty percent of Bandcamp sales for either track will benefit Australian wildfire relief efforts, specifically the Fire Relief Fund for First Nations Communities and the Country Fire Authority.

Of “The Process,” Chastity Belt songwriter Lydia Lund explains, “The lyrics came later and are a sort of reminder of the way self-criticism can compound. When I’m in that critical state of mind, I try to suspend judgement for that current state and I find it reassuring to remember that it’s temporary – a process.”

As for “Lonely.” Loose Tooth says, “We wrote ‘Lonely’ at the end of 2019. It is about an experience we witnessed when we were teenagers. #MeToo brought up a lot of realizations for many people, and for us; thinking back to us as young and vulnerable women, finishing high school and feeling invincible; we didn’t realize that we could be taken advantage of by predatory and powerful men. ‘Lonely’ is about the power dynamics and manipulation of these relationships, and the lasting cycle of trauma that they can bring.”

released January 31st, 2020

Swept together from the ashes of your finest night on the tiles, Loose Tooth are a Melbourne three-piece who craft sweet guitar pop with frayed edges.

“Everything Changes unspools like your standard low-slung churner in the manner of The Velvet Underground, but Loose Tooth make it interesting with both sweetened female vocals and a surreal, hot-boxed atmosphere.

How Much Works

Esther Edquist is Melbourne artist Sweet Whirl. She is also one of the best songwriters you have heard in a very long time. 

“How Much Works” is her debut album proper, after a handful of releases acclaimed by the likes of Gorilla Vs Bear, The Guardian and Clash Magazine. How Much Works arrives fully formed, a classic ten song album from an artist with both a command of history and a drive for new expression.

The album is a beautifully crafted triumph over bleak moments. It’s the love-addled confessions of a seasoned party girl, romantic yet sardonic, a troubadour who sings of the heart with a knowing sense of the timeless victory of song. Esther dissects experiences with wit and depth, emerging as a powerful, indomitable voice.

Musically and lyrically, How Much Works draws on wells as deep as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Jean-Paul Sartre and Sheryl Crow. It distills personal, reflexive narratives into something universal and wondrous.

Esther plays almost everything on the album, with guitar and therevox from engineer Casey Hartnett (Sui Zhen, Sleep Decade) and drums from Monty Hartnett (Dreamin Wild, Sleep Decade). Fellow Chapter Music recording artist Gregor contributes backing vocals to Make That Up For Me and Conga Line.

Esther has previously served in Melbourne duo Superstar, who released two delay-drenched albums during the mid10s. She has also been a member of Scott & Charlene’s Wedding.

Stuck in limbo between wanting closure and never getting it, ‘Keep Walking’ begs you to look inward and move on. It poses the tough questions of vulnerability with the risk of leaving them unanswered: Why do we stick around for those who don’t deserve it? Why are we ashamed of how we feel? Why is it so difficult for others to confront their own emotions? ‘Keep Walking’ captures the frustration of having to do all the emotional labour alone. It’s an inner monologue, a solitary debate between rational and reality and how to resolve the unresolved. And yet it always comes back to a simple conclusion: trust your gut, and trust yourself.” – El Tee
Written by Lauren Tarver

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Melbourne’s RVG return with their highly anticipated second album, “Feral”.

Following their beloved 2017 debut ‘A Quality of Mercy’RVG perform the tricky alchemy of combining rock’s urgency, punk’s anarchy, and pop’s empathy to create a record that feels vital: Feral is a catharsis, a call to arms, and a forthright indictment of contemporary complacency. ‘Feral’ was recorded at Head Gap studios with producer Victor Van Vugt (PJ Harvey, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Beth Orton).

Internationally renowned, Van Vugt currently resides in Berlin, Germany and travelled to Melbourne to work with RVG. One of the producer’s key tenets is a sense of spontaneity, of capturing the essence of a song’s live performance, a concern that RVG prize above all else when recording, RVG return with new single “I Used To Love You” from their highly anticipated second album. RVG perform the tricky alchemy of combining rock’s urgency, punk’s anarchy, and pop’s empathy. A goodbye that’s devasting in its simplicity, ‘I Used to Love You’ is shattering, potent and powerful. Simple and sincere, the track breathes through the pain. “There’s a lot of power in reclaiming yourself but also a lot of sadness. I adore Tom’s video and feel like it captures the energy of the song perfectly.” Romy explains.

The band recorded the album’s instrumentals live to track, allowing their playing to be infused with the kind of electricity that has seen the band’s live show lauded across Australia and internationally.

‘Feral’ is RVG’s first full-length release in three years and marks the beginning of an exhilarating new era for the band. Both a cry for help and a call to action, this is an album that demands your attention.

RVG is Romy Vager, Reuben Bloxham and Marc Nolte.

From RVG’s new album ‘Feral’ (out 24 April 2020),

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TERRY is a band from Australia. Divide Terry in half and you split the genders, into quarters and you get Amy Hill (also of Constant Mongrel, School Of Radiant Living, Primo), Xanthe Waite (Primo), Zephyr Pavey (Eastlink, Total Control, Russell St Bombings) and Al Montfort (UV Race, Dick Diver, Total Control). Guitars, bass, drums, all four sing. Terry are busy people and Terry is a particularly active project too, having released three EPs, three albums and conducted three European tours with the help of London’s Upset! The Rhythm before having a crack at the American market with this spiffy single for Sub Pop Singles Club subscribers.

Terry’s new single “Take the Cellphone” b/w “ Debt and Deficit Disaster ” (Release Date: February 24th, 2020) is available now on all streaming services and is a part of the latest edition of the iconic Sub Pop Singles Club series.

The fourth album from HTRK, the duo of Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang, arrives five years on from 2014’s Psychic 9-5 Club. While some much-loved HTRK hallmarks remain—the combination of space and intimacy, the unmistakable interplay between Yang’s guitars and Standish’s vocals—“Venus in Leo” differs markedly in its energy, returning to HTRK’s underground rock past with the stylistic playfulness and variety of a modern mixtape.

Over the soft strums of acoustic guitar, the album’s introduction, “Into the Drama,” posits a theory that “what was once considered self-sabotage could be revisited as being under the influence of Venus in Leo,” Standish explains. Finger-picked guitar loops rise slowly and fall over a cold, brittle beat. Previously released lovesong “Mentions” finds Standish exploring the lack of physical intimacy in the social media age. Elsewhere, there are emotional highs, like on the kaleidoscopic single “You Know How to Make Me Happy,” which details a suspended state of ecstasy, Standish commending her partner’s conscious efforts to prop her up with compliments. “New Year’s Day” traces a flimsy resolution to get healthier, instantly busted by an evening of debauchery, recalling “the worst possible start to the year with bad friends and bad behavior.” The silver lining is the sunrise: “pink, red, orange, white, peach” Standish repeats as the track laps with a velvety, hypnotic refrain.

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Archetypal themes emerge as the band explore the makings of personality. Standish revisits her childhood home in a recurring dream (“Dream Symbol”), a doomed first kiss (“New Year’s Eve”) and high drama (“Venus in Leo”). Recorded more or less live in HTRK’s home studio in the Dandenong Ranges outside of Melbourne, the album’s simple production reveals gorgeous, toned-back arrangements and an evolving, idiosyncratic songcraft.

It’s been ten years since HTRK released their breakthrough first album, Marry Me Tonight. The band has undergone profound changes, with the first two albums released amid the deaths of close friend and collaborator Rowland S. Howard and HTRK co-founder Sean Stewart. Psychic 9-5 Club set them on a path of self-discovery, and Venus in Leo marks a spirited new chapter by one of the most distinctive bands of the past decade.

released August 30th, 2019