Nana Vigilante – EP – “Foreign Land”
I recently had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Nana Vigilante and I have to admit it was one of the most refreshing experiences I’ve had playing live in recent times. It just felt like everything that Nana Vigilante was communicating was coming from a fresh new place and that punk rock had found a new place to shoot from. Yes on the surface Nana Vigilante creates hip hop laced electronica that balances a fine line between the experimental and the accessibility of pop music but if you dig deeper you’ll hear so much more than the limitations of genre tags on a piece of paper.
In 2013 Nana Vigilante released the beautifully lo-fi glitch EP titled “Foreign Land” and perhaps it is my extreme love of M.I.A. but fuck godamn this EP moved me. It was great to hear something so different to the usual “Hey Dan, I play lo-fi guitar music” shtick that I usually get sent to me. The production is moody and the rhymes are delivered with a hushed malaise never really raising to a scream and never really staying still inside the whisper. There is so much for Nana Vigilante to explore as an artist and on “Foreign Land” she’s only glimpsed the genius and talent that she possesses. I know that Lindsay is a creatively diverse individual who has many creative outlets but I think that Nana Vigilante is her strongest example of self-expression.
Nana Vigilante is the first real underground hero of 2014.
Smoking Martha – EP – “Self-Titled”
The debut self-titled EP from Smoking Martha is all about rock n roll. The album was produced by Ian Haug whose production skills provide an even balance of raw yet slick tones to give life to the songs presented here. I imagine this band sound great live when there are a bunch of beer soaked punters in the palm of their hands but the recorded material sounds like a simple yet wonderful tribute to all of the aesthetics provided to us over the years by rock n roll. It’s not everyone’s intention to re-invent the wheel creatively and this clearly isn’t the agenda of Smoking Martha so what they lack in substance they make up for with their style.
The strongest part of Smoking Martha’s sound is the vocals of lead singer Tasha D who manages to weave flourishes of intense emotion across proceedings. It bears repeating that it is Tasha’s sincerity that makes her performance and her band feel authentic and like you want to believe it. The clash of colour and pop skills is only fleeting however as the distortion pedals drown out what are some very strong melodies. The band are tight musically and being a tight band is important but it also brings with it certain restrictions and rules that make the emotion and feelings of the music get lost amid the solid clichéd song structures. This tightness can distract you from enjoyment as it can descend into feeling like the music is way too scripted as opposed to an exciting and fresh new idea. Even the most recycled ideas musically can sound exciting when played with a looseness and fragility that connects purely on the soul power of what’s being communicated.
The strongest song here is without a doubt the lead single “Sweet As Honey” which sums up Smoking Martha in just less than four minutes. This song swings with a stadium swagger bringing to mind the good time anthems of Motley Crue and Warrant with pepperings of 1980’s era Ozzy Osbourne. These nostalgic qualities of “Sweet As Honey” are linked to a very now look stylistically linking the band to the recent boom in all things guitar rock.
The appeal of Smoking Martha’s debut self-titled EP all comes down to what kind of rock fan you are. If you like a real good time where you get to dance and drink a lot of beer and just take on the night like you own it, then yes Smoking Martha is for you. If you require a little bit more art, intensity and depth to your rock music then Smoking Martha probably isn’t for you. Either outcome, Smoking Martha prove they are the perfect house band for any mindless good time and will no doubt win over a lot of punters with this infectious sound.
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/smokingmartha
Ultrafeedy – EP – “Self-Titled”
You’ve probably heard me go on a lot about the idea that sincerity is the key to authenticity and in the case of Ultrafeedy’s debt self-titled EP this is quite true. What the band lacks in originality they make up for with their earnest and taunt ode to 1990’s guitar driven rock n roll. I believe this band and you can hear that the songwriters involved are fans of a wide range of music. An obvious textural love of Queens of the Stone Age guitar tones mixes with tense post-punk rhythms to build exciting but very traditional Big FM radio rock.
I’m a phenomenally massive fan of the Kyuss family tree and it sounds like Ultrafeedy are as well but it is the flourishes of the golden era of post-hardcore (think Jawbox and Sunny Day Real Estate) that really excites me when I listen to this EP. So many of the songs ease into a surprisingly different journey only to return to that straight up Homme riff chug which is always going to be more rewarding than a Wes Borland “fuck yeah” riff. This is music that hasn’t been accurately captured in the studio because I feel these songs would explode and really change lives in the live arena.
A band like Ultrafeedy has the ability to escape the standard dynamics involved with traditional rock n roll. This is evident all over this EP but you can also hear the struggle of wrestling with so many genres in order to create simple pastiches of punk infused rock. That confusion stained desire is what I find myself connecting with here because Ultrafeedy’s EP carries with it the typical sound of a band who through that exploration of diversity and influence will one day stumble across their unique voice.
Overall I think that Ultrafeedy are a band to watch because they have illustrated enough interesting ideas dynamically on this EP to suggest that they could just make an impact on the rising 1990’s rock revival scene happening in Brisbane at the moment.
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Ultrafeedy
All Reviews By: Dan Newton