SINGLE REVIEW: “Vice” by Grrl Pal

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I had to interrupt my planned schedule to rush and review the wonderful new single / song from GRRL PAL called “Vice” – I was intrigued by the name and the fact that they are playing a show with Solo on the 31st July 2015 in Sydney as part of Rare Finds #4. As is the case with social media timing I clicked on the bands soundcloud and was greeted with “Vice” and fucking boom I’m hooked. Before we continue, please have a listen for yourself:

 

I hate doing the “they sound like” thing but in this case I have to, so if I were to describe GRRL PAL to the elite I would say that they sound like Boards Of Canada, Crystal Castles, M83 and Frou Frou mixed together with a deep understanding of hip hop and dream pop. That is not to say that GRRL PAL rip these artists or aesthetics off, quite the opposite. These are merely music journalist wankerisms I need to smash into an introductory paragraph so I can inspire some kind of interest from those who need the food shoved inside of their mouth.

Those that know me understand that I’m not interested in the typical path laid out for humans that review music. I could sit and talk about the production and how sublime it is and how all of the scientific requirements for good songwriting is accurately met but you know, that is obvious criteria to submit to. For me it is always about the way a song connects with me emotionally and as soon as I heard it “Vice” had the right kind of mood. It just sways and shivers with the uncertainty of a Saturday night. It drifts in and out of darkness and sounds as beautiful as the way the sky looks at about 5pm on a winters afternoon when the sun almost becomes a faded orange. That spooky moment when day becomes night and the adventure of intoxicated bliss awaits, that’s what GRRL PAL really sound like to my ears and it is fucking delicious stuff.

This is good time music for those party humans that carry a deep sense of loss with them wherever they go and who chase escapism through the freedom of being alone with everybody.

9 Cassette Tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GRRLPAL

SINGLE REVIEW: “Once Upon A Time” by Holly Terrens

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I stumbled across Holly Terrens’ music by pure chance courtesy of my facebook newsfeed – a handful of my mutual friends had liked a recent status update from her official page and as is the case I clicked the link and had my head blown off by the following track:

https://soundcloud.com/holly-terrens/once-upon-a-time

 

Now I’m not sure if this is an official single or part of a bigger release but either way it inspired me to want to sit down and write some words. You can accurately describe Holly’s music as Progressive Pop and it automatically reminded me of Tori Amos and Fiona Apple which is always wonderful because I’m quite the Amos and Apple devotee. It also sounds like Holly is in someway influenced by the more forward thinking heavy metal groups because I also hear a human deeply in debt to artists like Maynard James Keenan, Chino Moreno, Mikael Åkerfeldt and Peter Steele. I can also hear little flourish’s of the 1980’s goth and dream pop sounds of bands like Cocteau Twins, The Cure and Depeche Mode with an obvious hat tip to the outrageously experimental Kate Bush and Laurie Anderson. The sound of Holly Terrens is not purely a nostalgia trip because she also leans equally on more modern pop music icons like St Vincent, Julia Holter and Anna Calvi who are all artists that manage to occupy a unique place within the current lexicon because of the way they make immediate yet challenging music.

To use the word “haunting” is too limiting because the level of emotion on display with “Once Upon A Time” is deeper than that. The song does indeed creep along with a certain kind of spooky dirge that is equal parts horrifying and beautiful. There is a murder ballads tradition sprinkled ever so slightly on top of the narrative communicated lyrically with the song clearly being somewhat autobiographical. The drama of it all is intoxicating and you hang on every word, every note and every emotional twist and turn until the song climaxes with the kind of conclusion that echoes louder than any riff or distorted instrument. To be this intense and emotionally raw whilst still keeping the music stark and restricted to just percussive sounds and a rolling piano is a true gift.

8 Cassette Tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/hollyterrens
Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/holly-terrens
Triple J Unearthed – http://triplejunearthed.com/hollyterrens
YouTube – youtube.com/hollyterrensmusic
Myspace – http://www.myspace.com/hollyterrens

SINGLE REVIEW: “I Don’t Feel So Alive” by Gabriella Cohen

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The brand new single from Gabriella Cohen is called “I Don’t Feel So Alive” and is from her soon to be released album “Full Closure And No Details” – you can listen to it via the following link:

 

As a song it is an amazing collection of ideas and truly sounds fresher and more honest than the music she’s made with her band The Furrs. On this track we hear Cohen wrestle with her old world influences whilst also surrounding the song dynamics with a deep need for futuristic voyeurism and when the climax of the song arrives you start to feel the warmth and comfort of a successful dark horse balancing that fine line between genius and madness. This is music birthed from a human who clearly sounds out of step with the modern world presented to her and although the lyrics are self explanatory, it is Cohen’s melodic delivery and guitar strums that signal her disconnection from the sway of what it means to be a young human in 2015.

This is what separates Cohen from her peers because she is on a quest to deliver more than just pop music and with “I Don’t Feel So Alive” we get to bear witness to the interesting dialogue of her internal universe. This song is perfect and buried within the “A to B” structure are little audio gems that jump out during a serious headphone listen. I’m especially in love with the way the backing vocals are striving for something a bit more and the way in which they are executed with intense creativity.

When I listen to Gabriella Cohen I hear a true artist who is striving and succeeding with breaking all the rules of what is expected from music. Whilst her journey is in its infant stages it is not hard to hear that with time Cohen will go on to change lives and influence a great many people with her art.

There is a classic Mike Patton quote that says “The Problem with music is that it is played by Musicians” and it is one that I live by because true music is the sound that comes from people who view it as art as opposed to a scientific collection of rules and regulations. The musician will interpret the rules set by the artist and will never destroy and re-create new ones. With “I Don’t Feel So Alive” we hear Cohen acknowledge the rules but destroy and re-imagine them at the same time which positions her as one of the real contenders for helping the sometimes redundant sounds of Brisbane move to some new radical ground.

8 Cassette Tapes Out Of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/gabriellacohenmusic

 

 

SINGLE REVIEW: “Someone Sometime” by Major Leagues

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Major Leagues have existed since 2012 and in that time they have managed to position themselves as one of the more interesting slacker pop bands to graduate from the Brisbane music scene. After one EP the band is back with a new single titled “Someone Sometime” and it is truly and honestly one of 2015’s best singles thus far.

As a song “Someone Sometime” is a Malkmus Milkshake served dripping with the kind of critically acclaimed under the radar explosive self-expressionism that Yo La Tengo was renowned for. The slacker aesthetics are in full bloom but it is the pop skills of Major Leagues that gets full marks. Lyrically the song hangs onto the boredom of young love and the kind of long distance relationship that can survive courtesy of our social media decorated lifestyles. It’s about the celebration of connection and disconnection and is bound to resonate with just about anybody who loves life from Thursday Night until Sunday Afternoon and who knows the importance of 11:30pm Sunday night shopping at the local super IGA, not quite Kangaroo Point and not quite East Brisbane.

The guitars ring with atmosphere and dream pop economics ensuring that the bubblegum hooks have increased float giving the listener even more reasons to lay back gently and just drift away into the freedom of unwashed bed sheets. Nothing is overdone on “Someone Sometime” which gives the song an appropriate pace and enough time to feel like a progressive step forward without sacrificing society’s need for musical nostalgia. The strength of Major Leagues is the hypnotic sway buried inside their musical dialogue. There is a lot of mystery surrounding this song and it feels that the author is both willing and reluctant to go deep resulting in suggestions as opposed to announcements. This gives the song a strong emotional quality and is the real centerpiece for why it connects so deeply when you listen to it and it’s the reason you press play again and again. You want to know “who” or “why” and you secretly hope that the glimpses of deep longing that you spy when hearing the track is not simply purely there for aesthetics.

There is enough raw emotion haunting the vocals to suggest that for all of its sweetness there is an incredible darkness swirling inside “Someone Sometime” and that it feels rather limiting to view this as just a pop song. A true student of the pop song will collide misery and joy in an attempt to serve the sometimes spiritual and sometimes scientific headspace required to make significantly timeless music. In the space of 4 minutes and 3 seconds Major Leagues do that and more with the true power of “Someone Sometime” being the mysterious dirge that rumbles its sunshine soaked refrains.

Truly and Honestly, Kool Things

9 Cassette Tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

 

 

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/majorleaguesmusic

 

HEAVY AND WEIRD RECORDS – ARTIST ANNOUNCEMENT – Galapogos release the first glimpse of their fourth record “An Emptiness”

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Galapogos are sorry for being distant in 2015 – here is a glimpse of what you can expect now that they have escaped the foolish grip of summer

 

 

The bands fourth record “An Emptiness” will be released on the 21st August 2015 via Heavy and Weird Records – tell all your people xo

http://www.facebook.com/galapogosbrisbane

http://www.facebook.com/HeavyAndWeird

 

HEAVY AND WEIRD RECORDS – EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT – Thirteen Seventy / Galapogos Dual Album Launch With Special Guests Silver Sircus and Balloons Kill Babies

A Note From The Editor

Heavy and Weird Records are proud to present our first run at crafting a night of music to help celebrate the launch of our maiden voyage as a record label. When we put this line-up together the aim was to not only find a space to launch the new albums from Thirteen Seventy and Galapogos but to also put together a bill that showcases some of our favourite Brisbane bands.

A lot of people have been throwing around the word “eclectic” when describing this line-up and upon review of the true meaning of the word there is indeed a broad and diverse range of sources going towards making this night different from your usual rock show. I would argue however that although stylistically and aesthetically each band on this bill is different there is a distinct link binding them together. Each band pride themselves on presenting their music as a pure and artful experience that gathers and draws on a wide array of influences which results in their own unique dialogue being birthed on a sonic level. Don’t let the foolish nature of genre politics guide your listening experience because collectively Thirteen Seventy, Galapogos, Silver Sircus and Balloons Kill Babies lean on, destroy and re-invent the very blueprint of the genres awarded to them by their peers and associated press outlets.

They may not be the popular vote or the most likely candidates to fuck the prom queen but over time Thirteen Seventy, Galapogos, Silver Sircus and Balloons Kill Babies will make that meek handjob feel like a bad dream as they usher in new more long term forms of pleasure designed to heal and restore peace to the galaxy.

Please Consider

Big Love

Dan xo

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Noise rockers THIRTEEN SEVENTY and ambient death-pop band GALAPOGOS join forces to launch new albums at The Zoo on Friday 21 August.

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THIRTEEN SEVENTY will release “Bitter Dream” – their second album, adding a myriad of colour to their black and white beginnings. The new album is more atmospheric with a sweeping sense of drama, yet still remaining drenched in noise; a sound that is built on the dirge of Seattle with an affection for the dirty jeans of 90’s Australian alternative rock.

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GALAPOGOS will release “An Emptiness” – their fourth album, a re-invention and re-imagining of their sound producing an economical movement of music funded on the influence of hip hop and electronica with a heavy focus on the more humbling and organic aesthetics of the psychedelic rock genre. The end result is a sparse yet verbose journey into the spiritual cleansing that erupts when you destroy everything and embrace the blank canvas.

Coming along for the ride for this very eclectic event are dark cabaret ensemble SILVER SIRCUS, showing off dramatic new material in full band mode from their forthcoming album, and heavy instrumental post-rock trio BALLOONS KILL BABIES, fresh off the back off their national tour launching new single & video “Patches In The Sky”.

Presented as part of the 2015 Brisbane Fringe Festival.

Date: Friday 21st August, 2015
Doors: 8:00pm
Advance Tickets: $12.00 (From the bands)
Door Price: $15.00
Photo ID required for entry

Tickets on-sale now. Click below for more information and bookings

http://zoo.oztix.com.au/?Event=53806

Useful Links:

Thirteen Seventy – https://www.facebook.com/thirteenseventy
Galapogos – https://www.facebook.com/galapogosbrisbane
Silver Sircus – https://www.facebook.com/silversircus
Balloons Kill Babies – https://www.facebook.com/BalloonsKillBabies

Thirteen Seventy

Here is the film clip from Thirteen Seventy for the third single titled “Inside” from their soon to be released second album “Bitter Dream” out on 21st August via Heavy and Weird Records

Galapogos

On the 21st August 2015 Galapogos will release their fourth album via Heavy and Weird Records titled “An Emptiness” – the first single will be called “We Need Them To Chase You” and is scheduled to debut in early August.

To catch a glimpse of where the band has been prior to this here is the The Film Companion Piece to their second album “Feel Or Suffer”

EP REVIEW: “Eventide” by Magenta Voyeur

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It is so refreshing to hear a modern prog / psychedelic rock band embrace some of the more unpopular and less sexy aesthetics of the genre. To hear a band utilise keyboards, synths, organs and the extended guitar solo – and I’m talking proper noodling and fretboard gymnastics – the way they are meant to in a prog setting is beyond glorious and that is what sets Magenta Voyeur apart from their peers. They lean on the prog genres rule book but in doing so re-invent it in their own vision sprinkling it with a modern pulse that makes it musically diverse. This is a band who could appeal to the metal fan, the indie rock fiend, the boring post rock guy, the rocker, the modern Kevin Parker wannabe and anyone else who appreciates interesting music. It’s a no brainer that pop music appeals to everyone but Magenta Voyeur are in a way, more appealing because they make sounds that can connect with so many different kinds of music listeners and that is a power that they wield with a quiet confidence.

A lot of the times when these “we put all of these genres in a blender to be different” bands are sent to me they never work because they never wrestle or refine all of those influences into one direct piece of communication. On their debut EP “Eventide” Magenta Voyeur succeed in being a genre magic bullet blender and it is fucking exciting to go on the journey they have prepared for us. The music is weird, disciplined and adventurous all the while maintaining progressive song structures that never overstay their welcome. This is a band who have mastered writing music that is long but with every minute being vital to the songs overall communication. To be this direct yet still remain progressive and psychedelic illustrates the insanely high collective intelligence of the group. To avoid nostalgia whilst paying tribute to their influences is also a big plus because it allows the music to remain sincere. It personally to my ears doesn’t sound like anyone else and is utterly unique. Everything I love about music is contained in this EP and it is a glorious experience to re-live over and over again.

I like music that is fearless and progressive and futuristic – in 2015 one of the bands who manage to submit to all three of these criteria’s is Magenta Voyeur and with time they will quietly manage to take over the world.

9 Cassette Tapes Out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/magentavoyeur
Bandcamp – http://magentavoyeur.bandcamp.com/

ALBUM REVIEW: “The Haze” by We All Want To

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It’s long been a thing that Brisbane music is linked directly to its cleverly “council approved” slogan of the sunshine state. Every critic both here and abroad has made the bold assumption that everyone that lives here and creates music is in someway a fan of all things sun, summer and sunshine. I’ve always felt like calling bullshit on this because quite frankly the most beautiful part of Brisbane and its atmosphere is between June and August when winter is at full bloom. There is indeed a different kind of sunshine in the sky and the days feel like they have purpose and longevity. You want to be outside in the fresh icy breeze falling in love, collecting new friends all while dining at the sidewalk café where you get your favourite cup of coffee and butter pecan ice-cream cone. I always have the best time in Winter and get so much living done as opposed to the summer when all I want to do is avoid the fucking beach, any local patriotic Australian human being, people in board shorts and thongs, BBQ’s and the tradition of just being a good bloke who likes a cold beer or two. I hate that version of Brisbane and refuse to buy into the summer pop myth and that Brisbane is at its best when we’re reminded that we live in the hottest fucking place on earth, fuck that – give me an air conditioned nightmare any day of the week.

All of that is a rather verbose way for me to correct the assumption that people make about We All Want To and their music. I’ve been a life long fan of the pop music made by Tim Steward and although his voice and extremely right on way of colliding chords on a guitar always make me think of Brisbane, it isn’t the sun, heat or the beach that comes rushing to me. It is all of the amazingly mindless good times I’ve had during a Brisbane winter. All of the hit and run romances, backyard parties huddled around a fire, live music, living in Paddington (when all of the hip cool art humans lived there) and strong human connections I’ve made. That has always been one of We All Want To’s many strong points, the way they could remind me of all that is glorious about breathing oxygen in this location.

On the bands third record “The Haze” We All Want To continue to do that and more. After the emotionally rich “Come Up Invisible” the next step was to always get more economical with the arrangements. It took me a lot of listening for “The Haze” to truly click and it is an ode to the strong songwriting of Steward that it finally settled in and found a place in my heart. There is a lot of looking back on the past lyrically with both wisdom and relief but also with hints of despair and a deep yearning to escape back to the freedom of youthful exploration.  This kind of ache suits my current state of mind where I seem to be both mourning and celebrating the dirge of getting older. The production is once again supremely divine with full marks and all credit going to the dark horse Darek Mudge who proves that he is the only producer / engineer in Brisbane truly capable of making a bands music soar to places it wouldn’t have been able to if it had been captured by anyone else. He truly is the secret weapon to the effective communication of all that is great about We All Want To and their sound.

The “Come Up Invisible” experience was such an intense one that it was always going to be a hard task to follow it up but if anything “The Haze” supersedes it by reigning in its strengths and amplifying those dynamics into shorter more concise movements of music. It is simply just a great rock record that has the ability to soundtrack the isolated moment of reflection or the rapturous moment of celebration with all of the humans at the party. The record is typically Brisbane in all the good ways and as time goes on there is every chance that a new generation of humans will worship We All Want To the way they did The Go Betweens.

It may be called and touted as the perfect “summer record” by all of the other music review critic humans but for me “The Haze” is the album you listen to when you get the tracksuit out and put the flannel sheets on the bed ready for the snug as a fucking bug comfort that is the winter morning sleep in.

8 Cassette Tapes Out Of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/weallwantto
Website – www.weallwantto.com
Bandcamp – https://weallwantto.bandcamp.com/album/the-haze

 

SINGLE REVIEW: “Short Term Plan” by Michelle Xen

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Michelle Xen is the future of music. A bold and vicious claim I know but in the modern context of evolutionary artists Xen has a million kinds of light and its the kind of light that pop music needs circa 2015. Although you can settle on calling her music “electro pop” I firmly believe it goes so much deeper than that. There is way too much ache in her sound to simply limit it to a “happening now” genre tag. Her music is more traditionally linked to the forward nature of psychedelic rock or experimental noise than just straight pop music. I’d even go as far to compare her ever changing visual and sonic aesthetics with the kind of genius that Bowie executed during the 70’s. The reason why she shares a strong link with Bowie is because for all the glitz, glamour and bubble-gum pop music that frames her sound, Xen is drawing from higher forms of self expression to craft her music. I would argue that it takes a true visionary and student of art to be able to immerse themselves in the more extreme forms of artistic self expression and to come back to deliver us a pop music dialogue as a direct result of its influence. This is what Bowie did and Michelle Xen is high art pop music for those of us who aim and desire to communicate our self expression with a clear and direct intent.

With her new single “Short Term Plan” we see Michelle birth a harsher more extreme rush of beats and electronic sizzle which automatically gives the song a forward motion into 21st Century digital angst. Lyrically the song bounces between the anger, joy, confusion and pressure of modern love. I can imagine that this is the kind of song that was written after Xen found herself once again misunderstood in some kind of romantic relationship. As is my habit, if I am to read into the lyrics I hear the yearning for understanding, from anyone and everyone. It feels like Xen has suffered for her art and because she is such a strong visionary, the modern love story cliché is hard to live because being cursed with the overthinking gene and creative streak pushes you to have the kind of restless nature that needs to constantly explore and expand the possibilities of breathing oxygen. To be limited to the dream of “settling down” sounds like it is a claustrophobic idea to Xen hence the black comedy of her Short Term Plan / Long Term Plan refrain throughout the track. Perhaps I’m right or perhaps I’m way off course, either way that is what I get from the song and it really fucking speaks to that part of me that hurts and that mourns just how many relationships I’ve ruined through the pursuit of art, so in short – perfect pop music.

Whether Michelle Xen remains an underground art hero or ends up becoming a mainstream art warrior fighting for a bit more meaning and depth in this world is up to the fickle and fucked up rhythm of the music industry. If I had all the money in the world I’d pay something or someone to make this happen because her vital communications need to be witnessed by the greater universe. I pray to the greater higher self everyday that we finally get Michelle Xen to break on through and as long as this blog is functioning, I’ll be doing my best to spread the goodness that is her music.

10 Cassette tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

 

Watch the video for Short Term Plan here

 

 

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/michellexen
Website – www.michellexen.tv
Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/user/michellexen