Friday, 24 July 2020

Romero - Honey

Wow! If we’re doing singles of the year, then tear up the ballot papers, cancel the rest of 2020 and hand Romero the gong for Honey. And b-side of the year for Neapolitan.

Romero are from Melbourne but share musical DNA with two of the great one-hit wonders of the past 5 years, both Sydney bands with an art rock edge. There’s the wiry noise and breakneck pace of Point Being’s Degustation, and the angular, full Fall fury of Display Homes’s Climate Change.

Perhaps most obviously, though, Romero trade in nagging, intense verse hook melodies like The Strokes once did so irresistibly. They’re the first Australian act who look like they can go global without any nods to dolewave (they’ve got nothing in common with Courtney Barnett or Rolling Blackouts). Honestly? I’d be happy if they make more records. And if the Display Homes album, originally scheduled for January 2019, comes out.

Hat tip to Glaswegian garage rock love god Brogues for alerting me to this modern classic.

Sunday, 5 July 2020

The Altons - When You Go (That's When You'll Know)

Well, this is a song that knows how to announce itself: a breathless r&b groove that slips into intense southern soul.

Excellent though that is, I’m here for the b-side, Over and Over: soul so devotional, dramatic and tragic it’s a wonder the band didn’t sign a suicide pact before the tape rolled.

It’s the pop-soul ballad done with old-fashioned simplicity that aches with elegance and ardour, and will never go out of fashion.

Penrose is Daptone’s new subsidiary and The Altons are one of 5 acts with new 7”s kicking off the label.

Next to The Altons, the very best is Jason Joshua’s Language of Love. Joshua released possibly my favourite soul single of the last two years, Rose Gold, but his album didn’t quite cut it. He’s back on the top of his game now.

Thee Sinseers debuted on Colemine last year, but they left me cold. I’m all over Seems Like, though, their new deep soul pleading 45 on Penrose. Keep an eye on this label.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

The Reds, Pinks & Purples - I Should Have Helped You

This 4-track 7” is a sort of greatest hits from The Reds, Pinks & Purples’ wonderfully prolific digital outpouring of Fisher-Price psychedelia by way of TVPs Mummy Your Not Watching Me and kitchen-sink romantic desolation by way of The Field Mice, perhaps most closely If You Need Someone.

Pressing these songs on vinyl is a statement that they’re worth preserving after enjoying them. The mighty I Dischi Del Barone label has created a lovely artefact - thick card sleeve, full colour postcard image, hand-stamped labels - because these things matter.

And because when you return to this record in 5 or 10 or 15 years’ time, having played it to death first time around, you get to enjoy its majesty anew in all its glory.

Or, you know, just go to their bandcamp and buy some songs. You can’t go wrong with any of them.

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Pash - Demonstration

Shoplifting is one of the year’s best pop songs - simple, sugary, addictive. A sustained haze of slo-mo guitar fuzz, naggingly ragged biss and instant pop gratification, kind of like My Bloody Valentine before they went supernova or the best of those bands with girls in their name, say Dum Dum Girls. Or the Shop Assistants, who all those bands with girls in their name wanted to be. It’s that good.

Double Date, Pash’s other song, isn’t as good as Shoplifting because very few songs are (although its intense muffled rumblings remind me a little of McCarthy's classic Frans Hals), but it still hints at great things to come. Keep an eye on this band. They’re already pretty special.

There's a tape of Demonstration (fill in your own Dolly Mixture reference) or buy the download.

Thursday, 28 May 2020


Melancholy hauntology, like Broadcast and the Focus Group’s Witch Cults or a subdued Boards of Canada. The Spiral was recorded for a video installation in Copenhagen last year but it could have been recorded to soundtrack a 4AD fan slowly drowning.

Loopsel is Elin Engström from Monokultur and Skiftande Enhete, and this is closer to Monokultur’s motorik dub meets early 80s electronic ambience, only it’s less chilled out and more eerily chilled to the bone.

Better still is the 4-track 7”, the first release on Elin and JJ Ulius’s new label Mammas Mysteriska Jukebox, a field recording covered in analogue cobwebs, innocence and creepy organs. Both records are beautifully packaged and will change hands for a small fortune in the future.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

The Great Divides - Face The World, Again

There’s a side to the Australian underground that gets overlooked: the sense of longing magnified by distance. It’s what happens when the sound of the suburbs is amplified by being nowhere near anything.

It’s the tenets of indie music swelled to bursting, imagining the only way love will ever find you is by washing up in a message in a bottle. But you’re nearer to the desert than the ocean.

It’s why, recently, we’ve had Interstate Forever by Dick Diver, Nullarboor by Lower Plenty and Mainland by Foxy Morons.

And it’s why nature is closer to the Australian songwriter’s spirit. The Great Divides “hear the sound of galahs in the morning”. This feeling never leaves some Australian musicians. Like Grant McLennan, writing Bye Bye Pride in London:

A white moon appears
Like a hole in the sky
The mangroves go quiet

Or David McComb, whose Wide Open Road is a metaphor for the isolation of his now empty bed. The Great Divide’s Let Them In plays a similar musical trick to The Triffids by bending American country rock into Australia’s brutal tropical heat with cavernous resonance.

Mainly, though, The Great Divides play jangly indiepop with strong, playful basslines like Jeanines or The Lucksmiths (you know, their name might be a play on the Luckies song The Great Dividing Range, or riffing on Australian geography and loneliness). Whichever way you look at it, this is a really strong debut and The Great Divides are a band to watch.

Friday, 15 May 2020


Angel’s Gear is a swirl of organs and a mess of guitars like when Rocketship stamp their feet on the pedals and set the fx variously to ‘fuzzy’, ‘dreamlike’ and ‘stratospheric’.

Dummy clearly share an aesthetic - and a record collection - with Stereolab: motorik beats, quicksilver keyboards, guitar hypnosis, ultra-styled minimalism.

Some bands have brilliantly taken bits of that aesthetic in recent years - let’s hear it one more time for Le SuperHomard, The Prophet Hens, Ulrika Spacek, Whyte Horses, Small Reactions - but Dummy remind you that Stereolab haven’t made a record in a decade and not one as good as this for longer.

You know the drill, you’ve heard it before, but you haven’t heard it done this well in years.