Archive for June, 2014
Ever since the onslaught of media attention following 2013′s ‘Calendar Days’, Dick Diver could have been working with major label producers to birth the perfect amalgam of dolewave and catchy synthpop to break into the Australian mainstream. It’s a story that has played out countless times throughout rock history. Thankfully though, the streak of restless rebellion is strong in this Melbourne band, and instead of the above scenario, we are gifted a surprising lo-fi vinyl release with refreshing political clout.
‘New Name Blues’ is an upbeat lament, a sad song in a major key. It’s a drawling account of the current state of things suspended under a delicate piano line. It’s tongue in cheek but it comes from a place of truth and sadness. ‘Dreamtime is done. Howard, Kochie and Bolt? They won.’ Dick Diver lyricise what even a cursory internet search into Indigenous health statistics in this country will confirm (and leave you with a big empty feeling in your stomach).
As if words weren’t enough, the whole thing ascends about midway through the track to a mournful passage of call and response between wandering slide guitar and a distant saxaphone. The reverb grows like an overwhelming wave, before it fades out and falls apart in a lazy malaise.
I know the phrase has become fundamentally devalued through overuse but here we go again, “contender for impending record of the year”. Yes, I know we’re only one song deep but I may have snuck a listen to the full bouquet of songs and there’re multiple moments across the thing that stood out for me. Moments of genuine electronic music ingenuity and creativity like the several that are present across ‘Help Me Out’.
I’m going to start at the beginning because I’m a sequential cat but the beginning doesn’t simply mean the vocodered vocals. That means the bass drum and metallic clicks that underpin the breathy soundscapes drawing to mind misty mountains and cold fog. Disorienting and directionless and monotone in all the best ways. Then the beat sucks out all before it and the synth calls its name and the all the elements are thickened over themselves with the breathiness of those early samples now a heavy gasp. The vocoder is gone and the vocals are real and present but there’s still a surprise yet. ALL earlier sonic touchstones are dispensed of leaving us with only a wandering sax line, an elongated sub-bass floor and a few ticks and snaps. Then no beat at all, just those vocals filtered through again.
Lucian has been at this game a while now, my first exposure coming through Holly’s now defunct blog East To West (RIP) in early 2013. The songs featured on the containing self-titled EP should have seen far more internet love than they initially did (guilty.) but I suspect they were problematically ahead of their time. Even now that EP would stand up as one of the most innovated things dropped this year had it only just been turned around but it’s a new day so keep your eyes to the front.
Yes Please, always ones to know a good thing when they hear it, have signed on to get this LP into our collective iTunes and hopefully pressed onto wax at some point.
You know what I love? Any song that includes the sound ‘mmmmm’ as a lyric. I want you to stop everything and listen to this. No seriously, before you continue, just press play.
Shaky Handz make my favourite lo-fi bedroom recordings, handz down. This EP (released THIS VERY WEEK) seals it for me. And I know it’s really cool to say that you’re in a lo-fi band, but here’s the thing: if the bass mix sounds awesome and Triple J are playing it, (and you actually recorded it at your mate’s studio) then chances are the tunes aren’t really lo-fi. You know why? Because lo-fi sounds like this:
Seriously. That vocal distortion tone he pulls is like hydrochloric acid being sprayed into my eardrums. The drums sound like they were recorded in a bedroom with a 15 year old $40 mic from Dick Smith (in the best possible way). And obviously, the lo-fi aesthetic isn’t enough in itself to make a great release. But what makes Shaky Handz stand out are the killer melodies and inventive chord changes. These are songs with MOMENTS that you can hook into and savour, and then repeat the track and listen again.
After great melody, chord changes and creatively raw sounds, you know what just wraps it all up like a perfect little gift? Lyrics that walk the line between sincere and sardonic. Like the pitched-down vocal in ‘SICK LATER’ singing ‘I wanna be left alone/I wish I was joking/this time I ain’t joking/I wanna be left alone.’ The whole thing drips with self-awareness. Also it’s that old Shakespearean rhyming pattern where you rhyme ‘alone’ with ‘alone’ and in the middle you rhyme ‘joking’ with ‘joking’. Perfect.
I’ve made some big life mistakes but none bigger than failing to read Jake Cleland’s New Australian Music article in its entirety last week. Sure, I read the bit about Kimbra and watched the Liam Finn video (great video) but had I taken the time to listen to this Ara Koufax track then I wouldn’t be so far behind the eightball right now. This track came out nigh on eight days ago and in blog world, time functions in a similar way as in the concept of dog years so a one:seven sort of set up. Which, carrying on with this, means the track I’m putting before you is 56 days old. Maths.
I’m even willing to ignore my just now established 50 day rule to make a point with this track, that point being that the track is really good and wow I really think we should all have a great listen of it. Loops and loops of choral section make up that opening sequence that’s all at once warm and organic and thoroughly processed, cut and spliced. Soon the resulting wash of communal sound will make for mattress and blanket both as it lies underneath the vocal sample and atop that beat. I speak of everything relative to the beat because it is of course the blood red heart of the song. It’s rippling with energy and presented in a way only someone used to producing big, round bass sounds would know how. On that, now is as good a time as any to mention that this is basically a Naysayer & Gilsun track in that the two producers who make up Ara Koufax are, you know, Naysayer & Gilsun. Simultaneously it also very much isn’t a N&G track in that it’s a new tangeant for the duo, a direction that can’t coherently exist within the limitations of N&G as an entity and so Ara Koufax is born, a brand new project from two trust worthy chaps. There’s an EP already recorded and awaiting release through Sam Gil’s own Downtime Records, not to be confused with Sam Gil’s Bossman Records (also discussed in Jake’s New Aus Music article).
Now let’s cast our minds back to that Naysayer & Gilsun remix of Oscar a few months back, shall we?
Buoyant indie-pop with a very sizable slice afro-pop fusion, it’s Melbourne six-piece Broadway Sounds whose music funnily includes zero sounds that one might actually associate with broadway. Not quite sure why there’s eight people in the photo but I can tell you with 100% certainty that it says six people on the soundcloud bio. In truth the first song I’ve included below ‘Booby Trap’ isn’t actually that indicative of their long term sound. The first Wildflowers EP has none of the stuttered, chant heavy elements of ‘Booby Trap’ but is all smooth synths and sax parts. Even ‘The Last Detail’ (also below) from the more recent EP of the same name is padded with strings and pipes that make for a more languid, reclined listen that incites comparison to Kings of Convenience in its Mediterraneanisms. The soundcloud is a real mixbag but if you’re a fan of #music then you might #like #it. There’s a pretty “cool fun” video for ‘Booby Trap’ too.