Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Mope City: Halfway House

It's not all about Melbourne. Here come Mope City from Sydney who pick their poison from damaged party rock, roughneck jangle and Australia's branch of the paisley underground.

So Halfway House is breathy and menacing like The Church - or for younger viewers, Blank Realm's Grassed Inn - and Small Eye is 2015's first classic. Two thirds of Mope City moonlight in Day Ravies, so you get the picture. Right, I'm going to dust off those early Crystal Set records.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Today album by Rebel Kind

Yes, all you cool kids - I know this blog's demographic - are thinking 'this is so 2014', but Today only just hit the UK's import racks. Today is bigger and richer than the campfire folk stylings of 2012's Laurel Canyon. It's fuzzed-up in places like the Vivian Girls but, of course, retains some of that Laurel Canyon 70s singer-songwriter stoner vibe.

You can imagine Rebel Kind hanging out with Woods making back porch psychedelia over a few beers. Because, at heart, Today is a pop-psych record. My hunch is that Rebel Kind will get better still. Every song here has an assured pop touch and easily suggests that we're at the beginning of a very eventful discography.

Monday, 12 January 2015

About Time lp by Chook Race

Melbourne is the gift that keeps on giving and Chook Race nail their city's sound bang on. About Time has the same low-level alienation of Scott & Charlene's Wedding's Para Vista Social Club, it's got Dick Diver's suburban pop hooks and it rattles along with Bitch Prefect's Big Time ruggedness.

There's no getting away from the idea - and why would you want to - that About Time looks to The Modern Lovers' small but perfectly formed back catalogue for its main starting points. Pre-punk garage rock riffs, Velvet Underground adrenaline and pinpoint emotional turmoil. I really couldn't ask for more.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Witching Waves: Fear Of Falling Down

This is melodic mayhem like Husker Du and it’s nervy and sharp like fIREHOSE’s If’n. Witching Waves understand that SST-style hardcore is driven by fast drums and, uh, dischord.

Similar to Caeytana’s Nervous Like Me a few months ago, Fear Of Falling Down matches raucous energy to an uncompromising aural assault. On this highly addictive debut, Witching Waves rip up the garage rock template with the spirit of Olympia DIY and The Raincoats’ edginess. They’re keeping the same company as the excellent Wax Idols.

It’s easy to imagine The Vaselines wishing they’d come up with the compelling dual vocals and dirty pop hook of Better Run. And it’s easy to imagine Barber as the extra song on Sleater-Kinney’s debut. It’s easier still to imagine that 2015 will belong to Witching Waves.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

This is not a 2014 year-end list

I know what you're thinking: "how can you possibly make a best of 2014 when you haven't even got the Chook Race album yet?" This isn't a best of 2014. True, it has got some of 2014's best songs, but this is a compilation for friends - the captains of industry and parents who don't have time to scour the dustiest boxes in the dirtiest record shops and the darkest corners of the internet to find the world's finest new musical treats.

True, a best of 2014 might be Withered Hand's New Gods plus some bonus tracks. But there's no Withered Hand on this compilation because if you haven't got New Gods, there's really no fucking hope for you.

Yes, there are some identifiable themes in 2014, thanks for asking. Melbourne, Dunedin and Philadelphia have the most exciting scenes happening. The shoegaze revival is turning into a musical maelstrom that's surpassing the original scene. No, I wasn't much of a fan of it the first time around, but there are some brilliant records coming out in that - admittedly rather loosely affiliated - scene.

Anti-folk is coming back, too, with predictably mixed results but some ace offerings if you dig deep enough.

Encouraging news reached me recently about last year's compilation. A friend heard it at - I kid you not - a dinner party. He was so impressed by the Prophet Hens he bought the album.

You ask this every year, but this is a CD compilation for friends, not a free download. A mate of mine who runs a small record label told me last year: "I do mind that blogs give away my records for download - when it's one song from a 2-track single, I lose sales." Yes, I know that giving away new music would make my blog much more popular, but if I wanted popularity I wouldn't be listening to this (wonderful, life-affirming) indie crap.

Anyway, the track listing:

Alvvays - Archie, Marry Me
Radiator Hospital - Venus Of The Avenue
Wildhoney - Soft Bats
Strand of Oaks - Goshen '97
Curtis Harding - Keep On Shining
Dream Boys - Positive Arguments
Tops - Change of Heart
Hello Saferide - I Was Jesus
Eyelids - Seagulls Into Submission
Cayetana - Dirty Laundry
Trick Mammoth - Baltimore
Lunchbox - Everybody Knows
Dora Maar - Jessica Says
Contrast - Less Than Zero
Deers - Castigadas En El Granero
Twerps - Always Waiting
Piano Movers - Girlfriend’s Lover
Posse - Jon
Tennis - 100 Lovers
Meenk - Reasons
Alphabetical Order Orchestra - The Corrections
Ciggie Witch - Midday Movie

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Piano Movers: Girlfriend's Lover

So that's what happened to Nodzzz. You remember them, they played garage rock fast and fun. They sang I Don’t Wanna (Smoke Marijuana) because - I thought - they were drinkers. But Piano Movers sound like they're ingesting neither of those drugs.

They sound instead like they've been listening to the offbeat moroseness of They Might Be Giants and the lonely, doomed romanticism of Daniel Johnston. There's some Feelies in there, too. It's a brilliant start. Let's hope there's more to come.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Contrast: Less Than Zero

Melbourne's pop explosion of the last 3 years has largely sidestepped the shoegaze revival. Sure, you've got the spectral atmos of Bored Nothing and Glaciers, but there's definitely been nothing as full-blooded as Contrast.

The Less Than Zero ep is walls of noise, banks of fx pedals, throbbing bass, scattered rhythms and the sort of disaffected ennui that sullenly casts lines like "you're so boring I'd rather be dead than here".

Contrast's record collection might not span much more than Ride, Chapterhouse and Lush, but they've certainly built their sonic adventures from the pick of that range.