Posts tagged “pop

JULY MIX.

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It’s round two. Back. Proper music writing. A nice collection of tunes this time around – chock to the brim and all that. Some thoughts and reflections on the tracks within the tape are below. Have a read and a listen would ya?

It feels as though songwriters are a hell of a lot better now at accessing a classic song structure and injecting it with enough personality and originality that it pops, so to speak. On this tape you can here it in the layers in L.U.V‘s track ‘You’ll Never Let Me Go’, the embrace of more traditional blues and soul instrumentation of ‘Down To Rest from Tom Stephens. And then of course you have the Waitsesque jaunt of Lost Animal‘s ‘Do The Jerk’ with its organ and sax combo. Dorsal Fins have always been on that classic pop tip – to the point where every single hit/strum/connection of brain to voice feels purposeful. My Brother’s Friends do the sing-a-long duet real well too, offering two perspectives on a track, simply via the differences in phrasing between the verses.

The cultural significance of movements like LISTEN and Sad Grrrls Club isn’t going unnoticed. Of course there’s forever to go, but the fact that female identifying and GNC artists are now visible is all sorts of good. What makes me (a white cis-dude) a little uncomfortable though is the fact that these artists easily compete (not that it’s at all a competition). It’s not the fact that these artists are themselves good, it’s the question of who the fuck are we to be only now realising that ‘hey music is cool and gee there are some bloody talented people out there’. What the hell were we (predominately white music guys) doing to only get this now. in 2016. Who the fuck are we to put structures in place (like casually sexually assaulting women/overly sexualising women/fetishising those artists that identify differently) that purposefully favour some artists over others? Artists like L.U.V. and Rachel Maria Cox and Julia Jacklin and Tracy Chen and Ninajirachi. All making these tightly wound tracks, some full of more intimacy than you can bear, some with these super tight guitar pop structures. All really really catchy and good (hence why they’re in this tape). We should all make considered and thoughtful choices about who we choose to support.

It’s something that’s been pushed a lot recently – we have a real super exciting electronic scene in this country. And yeah mate, we do. But the most exciting stuff to my ears (and hopefully yours) is happening away from the spotlight and away from the most hearted and reposted on soundcloud. We got a couple of those in here, from the warm and moving sonics of acts like LAIKS, Braille Face, and Ninajirachi; right through to the more pop sound of CDAD and Yon Yonson. I think special mention needs to be made of Tracy Chen‘s ‘Eggs’, which knocks me over into some tingly mess each and every time I press play on the thing. And it would be remiss of me not to make mention of Japanese Wallpaper, the exception to my most hearted and reposted rule.

And all the others in this here tape. This tape especially has felt quite a pleasure to post. If you just can’t wait to read more of me writing, then you may well want to sign up to the maamf mailout. Thanks to all those who have done so already. For those yet to, it’s a monthly mailout full with many of things I been reading and enjoying over the past month. You can sign up here. You can check out the past issues here.

Miks

 


LOVE MIGRATE.

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Long term followers of this site will know that a couple of years ago I use to harbour a deep deep love for a band called Love Migrate. The band haven’t released anything since the Dissolved EP in late 2013, a release that felt a lot more assured and focussed than their debut album of 2012. That’s not to say that I didn’t love that debut though.

This new track ‘Pippa’s In The Highlands’ feels as though a band in its new form, harking back to its older sound. And the track is all the better for it. The sparseness is back, allowing the vulnerability in Eddie’s voice once again to shine through. And those builds are also there – that euphoria that sets in at a minute left makes it all worth the wait.

They’ve also retained that solid pop structure to their songs that seemed to develop on the Dissolved EP, all while keeping that classic Australian singer-songwriter vibe.

The track is taken off the bands new EP Shimmer Through The Night due out May 22. You can catch the band launch the EP at the Gasometer on May 28.

Miks


NATHAN ROCHE.

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There’s something about Nathan Roche‘s slightly laconic vocal delivery that gives his work this effortless, relatable touch.

His final (Yep, mate, last one) album is due out anytime now. It’ll be called Cathedral Made Outta’ Green Cards. The first taste of it ‘Phantom Blues’ weirdly feels like it could go forever (probably perpetuated by the never ending refrain ‘these are the never ending phantom blues’ right at the end of the tune). It instead harks the ‘death’ of Roche, at least in the musical sense we currently know him. Although he’s not necessarily ‘ruling out the possibility of a string of “comeback albums” in his post-rehab mid-forties’ (direct quote from his presser – it’s really something special), wrap your ears around this one and the album when it hits the internet and the shelves of music selling stores.

Thanks for the good, nice, friendly and welcoming times Mr Roche. All the best in your new travels.

Miks


DICK DIVER.

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I mean, really, as if I wouldn’t be all gushin’ over this. I mean, as if Dick Diver‘s 3rd album Melbourne, Florida won’t make at least the top three albums of 2015. I mean, as if, even with a slight change in sound, I wouldn’t just fucking love ‘Waste The Alphabet’, the new single from the Melbourne, Victoria based band.

‘Waste The Alphabet’ is intoxicating. It’s a fuller sound than their earlier work, and there’s a propulsion to it, and a directness to it. It’s only taken me a couple of listens, but I now reckon maybe it could get in the top of this year already.

Miks.


THE OCEAN PARTY.

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I reckon in a couple of weeks you’ll be hearing ‘Australia’s answer to Real Estate‘. And although some of those comparisons can be pretty lazy, I feel as though this one is accurate, in a way. The Ocean Party aren’t an answer to anything in particular, especially not another band from a bigger country who music writers in Australia always seem to believe we play second fiddle to.

The band’s new album however does feel like a progression in sound. It sounds fucking confident, but not in a cocky way. Confident in the same way that Real Estate sound confident. It’s dreamy, but still really quite messy in parts too. Their last album was a big old fave of mine. I reckon Soft Focus will be too. It’s such a step up from anything else I’ve heard from them.

The new single from the album, due out October 31 through Spunk is ‘Head Down’. It’s dreamy and warm sounding and Lachlan’s vocals are complimented beautifully by Snowy’s guitar line and that lush rhythm section. And it’s a bloody great example of a band with a more pronounced and slightly elevated sound. And the clip? I mean, what’s better that watching five handsome fellas play the track with some marvellous shirts? It’s Snowy, standing solo playing on a Melbourne rooftop ripping that sax. What more could you want?

If you don’t end up loving this album, then mate, think there’s something wrong.

[EDIT 9/10/14] Well, actually, this has been edited a little bit already coz the writing wasn’t too crash hot, but anyway. Spunk have since put the track up on soundcloud as a free download. Stream/download below.

Miks.


SLEEPY DREAMERS.

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There are certain narratives that seem to constantly infiltrate the ways in which we talk about music in this country. In terms of fame, there’s this rags to riches story (think Courtney Barnett etc), there’s the whole argument around scenes and particular sounds being more popular than others because of the institution that is triple j, and then there’s the fact that every single time we hear an Australian accent, we need to pick it out and at the very least make a comment about how proud/weird/cringey it makes us feel. Of course these ways of thinking about Australian music are problematic because they automatically shape our expectations. But, given they’re so consistent, there must be some truth to them in giving us an inroad to understand music in this country.

So, with all that said, I don’t think you can really stray away from at least briefly mentioning Ed Tripodi’s vocal style on the new Sleepy Dreamers track ‘Hunk’. There is that slight drawl, that almost lazy sounding vocal, with that ocker accent.

For me, it works. It makes the track take a step above. The track itself is masterfully structured, and some of that early slow and dawdling instrumentation reminds me a lot of Sleep Decade. But with that vocal touch, it cuts through in a way.

Perhaps though we need to change how we consider the Australian accent in music. To use some rather obvious examples, Julia Stone uses her voice and phrases lines in very particular ways. Brendan from Eddy Current has an almost nasty sounding tone in his passive aggressive vocal delivery.

No singer with an Australian accent sings in exactly the same way. Why then can’t we move away from this concern with the accent itself and instead focus on the tone, the phrasing, and the delivery? Why can’t we focus on the slight aggression in Ed’s voice at times, and the fact that at 3:27 Ed’s thin sounding voice still manages to be enough to perfectly complement the solo guitar strums? Sure, sounding Australian acts as an instant identifier, but I reckon we’re capable of changing the narrative on that one.

Hunk is taken from Sleepy Dreamers second EP Local Football. I’m looking forward to this one. Also, if you’re in Melbourne, then can I recommend you go and check out the band as they do a Monday night residency at The Evelyn throughout October? Details here.

Miks.


SNOWY NASDAQ + EMMA RUSSACK.

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I got a friend. He came to Australia a couple of years ago. We saw Emma Russack a couple of months ago, and one of the first things he said was ‘man, she is gorgeous. She is my kind of Australian woman.’

So, Emma, meet Phil*.

Nah mate. This ain’t no matchmaker post. Especially when Emma’s collabed with our mate Snowy Nasdaq on a track called ‘First STI’. The track is the September track for Snowy’s excellent one song a month thing he’s doing for Why Don’t You Believe Me.

Snowy’s production on this feels consciously different – and maybe it’s because his vocals don’t feature on the track. The vocals belong all to Emma, and although it gets a little nuts and frantic like a lot of Snowy’s production, it feels more sparse, maybe to give room for Emma’s wonderfully rich and evocative vocal tone.

If Snowy can get this kind of stuff up every month, then damn son, we got a prolific (and fucking great) one on our hands.

*Not his real name (so far off it’s not funny)

Miks


SAN MEI.

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San Mei has been a bit of a repeat offender over here on maamf. We wrote about ‘Wars’, her second single a little while ago, but now we got the clip. Granted, this has already been kicking around a coupla weeks and I been a bit late with it all, but when you get a young artist doing great things that are slightly off-kilter and forward thinking, you always gotta post it.

San Mei‘s work has always harnessed this idea of vulnerability coupled with a real strong sense of control and forward motion and this clip nails that.

YES!

Miks.


TWERPS.

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I’ve written about 10 versions of this post, and I’m always finding myself hitting and holding the backspace key. I’ve been trying to articulate how I feel about the new Twerps release Underlay, an 8 track EP that came out a couple of days ago. It’s the bands first new material since the incredible ‘Work It Out’/’He’s In Stock’ double single from late 2012, and it also marks their first release on Merge Records, a US label home to bands like Arcade Fire and Wild Flag.

Locally, they’re still on Chapter Records, a label that any reader of this site will know is a BIG favourite of mine. They’ve acquired a new drummer, Alex Macfarlane from fellow Chapter band The Stevens, who also recorded this EP. It was mastered by Mikey Young.

I guess if I was to try and begin to assert any sort of opinion about Underlay, it would be that it sounds less big, but still equally as expansive. It sounds rougher, but still equally as lovely. Underlay is different, but still captures all that I love about the band.

As our mate Adam said last night as we checked out the band launch the new EP at the Red Rattler, there’s a cinematic quality to their work. It feels like a great soundtrack to a film montage. We didn’t get into the specifics of what film or even what style of film it would be, but the fact that this new material still manages to evoke imagery and the instrumentation and arrangements still manage to sound as though they’re accompanying something more than just the lyrics is testament to their approach to song writing. As Adam also said, there’s still a real pop sensibility about their work.

And whilst, still, I need to familiarise myself with this release even more, I think the very fact that it’s thrown me a bit means that the band aren’t resting on their laurels. I know I like this release, a lot. But just why, it’s significance, and what impact it will have is something I’m still working my way through. 

We got our fave cut ‘Wait Till You Smile’ just below. And make sure you stream and purchase the full album over at the Chapter Music bandcamp.

Miks.


[PREMIERE] CLUE TO KALO.

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If we, as people who write about music, and to an extent, trends, would have to suggest a new direction in Australian contemporary music, it would be that there appears to be a push towards and an appreciation of the more classic, but sophisticated pop song. Dorsal Fins are doing it, so are Hopium. And so is Clue To Kalo, a fella from Melbourne. You may remember the name Clue To Kalo, also known as Mark Mitchell – the guy has been releasing stuff for over 10 years (his first full length came out in 2003 via LA’s Mush Records).

This new album, The Motives Records, is due out on Sep 23 and it’s some beaut sonic eargasm that sounds busy and intricate and goes where you don’t expect. It’s also incredibly familiar and joyous and just darn great. It’s his first independent release, as well as being the first album he’s done outside of his bedroom.

You may know the first cut from the album, ‘Burning Arrow’. It’s a jaunt of sorts and goes everywhere whilst still staying within the pocket.

As well as ‘Burning Arrow, we’ve also got a pretty great little exclusive for all you guys. We got a stream of the album opener ‘The Men That They Make Us’. It’s ethereal, cinematic, starts off small and introspective with those contemplative lyrics and piano but gets expansive and large and all encompassing. It’s perhaps the best indication as to where Mitchell takes his music, and indeed, this album.

Make sure you grab a copy of the full length when it comes out. To my ears, it’s easily one of the better local releases of the year.

Miks


YOU.

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Really tempted just to leave this with ‘no, you are’.

But I won’t. I will keep this brief though. You are a band from Brisbane (I really trust that y’all are intelligent enough that I don’t need to make some shitty cringeworthy joke here quashing your musical aspirations). Starting off as a solo project for Michael Whitney, You has evolved to become a collaborative project between four Brisvegans.

Their lead single ‘Caprice’ is equal parts warm, vulnerable, confident and affirming – the sax compliments, the reverby sound sits as this constant embellisher. ‘Caprice’ feels familiar and makes a lot of sense to me. You can get ‘Caprice’ as well as the b-side – the incredibly beautiful ‘Old Man’ – over on Brissie label Lost Race’s bandcamp.

Miks


BUGS.

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Bloody try and not smile listening to this stuff. Bugs is the project of Connor Brooker from up Sunshine Coast way. His new EP Cosmic Dolphin is a hazy feel-good guitar pop record. There’s a certain whatever goes attitude in the work of Bugs, but it’s done with such precision and some sweet as production care of Brock Weston that everything still feels purposeful and in its place.

It’s also a fucking good listen in the colder months. Makes it feel a little warmer.

You can stream the full EP over here (available for a free download too), but we got our two faves below.

Miks.


HOPIUM.

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The first cut from Hopium threw me a bit. It was intense – ‘a track about the prospect of loss, a track about the intimacy and physical embodiment of human emotion‘.

This new cut ‘Dreamers’, is, on the surface, far more, for want of a better, more appropriate word, up. It’s brash in it’s production, unashamedly pop in it’s sound and outlook. It also features Phoebe from Snakadaktal, that band that captured many a heart a few years ago. When you have a listen though, the lyrics actually are a little down – the chorus begins:

‘you said this would be your year,
but you fucked around now december’s here,
you must be one of the dreamers’

This cut down, the reminder that perhaps you’re actually not as good as you think you’re going to be, is incredibly depressing, sure. It’s also pretty bloody direct, in your face with it’s aggression, albeit a fierce aggression lamenting the other end of the spectrum: laziness.

Hopium are definitely on to something. They manage to capture a state of being, a state of youth if you like, that gets little honest coverage. Really keen to hear more.

Miks


DORSAL FINS.

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Mate, this guy, Liam McGorry from all those bands, has done a bit of pop perfection with his DORSAL FINS project. The new track ‘Monday Tuesday’ just feels smooth, everything is in it’s right place, nothing goes longer than it needs, and those vocals, damn.

The vocals aren’t Liam’s though (yeah, I was as shocked as you – we’re not all Andy Bull I suppose). They’re Ella Thompson‘s, who you might know from singing with The Bamboos and AXOLOTL. And although that production rollicks along, and you’d be dead inside if you stayed still after pressing play, the vocals carry it – they elevate the track into something that resembles a real, drop-dead amazing bit of crafted pop music.

If you’re down in Melbourne also, then make sure you check them out – they’re playing two shows at The Workers Club (Wed 23rd and Wed 30th July). More details here.

Miks


5THS.

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Oh man. Sometimes all you need is some smooth nu-soul production stuff to just wash over you and take you in in it’s 90s throwbacks, beaut falsetto, and just that groove.

Damn.

5ths is the new collaborative project from Pip Norman, who also goes by the Count Bounce moniker. ‘Sell It To Me’ features Jarryd Klapper, a fella from Bissie. It’s the first taste of what 5ths will be doing, and I like it heaps.

Miks


JANE TYRRELL.

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The debut solo track from Jane Tyrrell kind of nails the concept of space. There’s room to breathe in ‘Wild Waters’ – it doesn’t overbear at any point, rather, there’s a sparseness to the production – even when the big climax hits at 2:45.

And of course, Jane’s foray into solo work also speaks of space – this doesn’t sound as though it falls under the broad umbrella of hip-hop that is The Herd. You couldn’t really argue that it’s falls into the nu-soul basket either. Instead, there’s a real pop sensibility to it all, although sitting within this dark and murky bed of mood and sound. It’s smart production that does just enough. Somehow it’s managed to find where that line is and although it teeters on the edge at points, it never steps over into the over-the-topness that so much solo pop stuff does.

The track is taken off a full length, due out sometime during the second half of this year. If this is any indication as to the rest of Jane’s solo work, then I reckon’ we’re in for something good.

Miks


BY CHEWING.

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Well fuck me. Every time you listen to this, it becomes less weird, and more perfect.

By Chewing make some classic jazzy soul infused pop but fuck with it to such a degree that the original intention only just manages to rear the very very top of it’s head. ‘Chocolate Beach’ is manic, slightly aggressive, but built on a solid pop song basis.

And it really kills.

Miks


MONTAIGNE.

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Montaigne is the project of Jessica Cerro. You might remember the rather memorable voice too. As Jessica Cerro she was a finalist in that triple j unearthed high comp a while back…and I think did pretty well. Her new track ‘I’m A Fantastic Wreck’ takes a slight unexpected turn though. This is interesting, verging on sophisticated pop music.

The obvious reference point for me is Otouto. That rather precarious percussion takes what could be a little predictable into weird. And weird is what makes this work. There are pop hooks galore, and that big climax at the end makes you feel all the things it’s designed to make you feel, but it’s that slightly off putting nature of Jess’s warm big vocal against the not quite there percussion and the rest of the staccato instrumentation that makes this one. And although it gets into a big ol’ sweeping love song towards the end, the way the strings wash out her voice, only for her voice to come back triumphantly and then end suddenly takes you by surprise.

‘I’m A Fantastic Wreck’ is taken from Montaigne’s debut EP Life Of Montaigne due out towards the end of the year. Looking forward to hearing some more stuff.

Miks.


SAN MEI.

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It’s unlikely a female fronted electronic pop project would ever become a fave of mine here on maamf. And that’s nothing against female fronted pop stars. We’re not all St Vincent, but gosh, we’re also not all like San Mei. Thank god. Because it allows the Gold Coastian to shine through.

Much of my previous writing has made something of the innocence that seems to seep through San Mei‘s rather confident production. And the follow up to last years ‘Brighter‘, stays true to that. I’m not sure whether it was a conscious decision to leave San’s vocals just below the top of the mix, but ‘Wars’ seems to harness that vulnerability and once again, couple it with some big lush production. It’s pretty darn killer.

You can get your own copy of ‘Wars’ on the 12th of May through London label Tidal Wave.

Miks


YEO.

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So this guy made my top tracks list last year. Yeo is a Melbourne guy who’s been kicking around for a fair while, but, it seems, is only now really hitting his stride.

Last year’s track ‘Girl’ had enough groove to make you want to automatically take off all ya clothes.

This new one, presumably an ode to Lakers finest, ‘Kobe’ takes more of a pop structure, but keeps that BIG production amped up, pulsating throughout. And…clothes are nearly all off.

Wouldn’t be surprised if this guy went all big pretty soon. He’s heading over to Canadian Music Week in May before coming back home for a national run of dates in June, so keep an eye out.

Miks


EAST.

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Have you ever noticed how some Australians sound more Australian than others? I have. And to call a knife a spoon, we’re not always into it.

But we have our reasons. I know I’ve found the most “audibly Australian Australians” do tend to position themselves in backpacker hostels around the world, methodically eroding my love for my own accent.

But sometimes there are shining beacons who learn to use their power for good. Beacons like young East here.

This first taste from her is as Central Coast NSW as my family summer holidays, and yet it may be my new benchmark for pop music on this big old island.

Yes I said pop on a blog. Without any fear whatsoever of your haughty internet eyes.

Let’s all be honest and admit that good pop is an especially noble thing when it’s done right – lean, genuine and characterful. And this ‘Old Age‘ ditty sounds to me like an authentic (pretty gifted) 16 years old’s songwriting wrapped up tight into a 2.42 cannonball.

The production is angular but supple, and proper nods to John Castle for keeping all the heart along with the shimmer and punch.

If you like it catchy and audibly aussie without it being over-calculated, add a play to all of mine.

This one is probably ripe for more jplay too (edit: yes Dom is on it), so attending her unearthed might be the way to show yet more love. Because maamf readers do show yet more love.

Adam


HOPIUM.

Hopium

This here is a song about desperation.

HOPIUM are a duo from Melbourne, and although they’ve only one track to their name, and very little is known about them, they’re already hitting it up rather massive online.

Their track ‘Cut’ is about just that. It’s a track about the prospect of loss, a track about the intimacy and physical embodiment of human emotion. It’s dark and industrial sounding, but provides enough space for for just enough emotion to seep through.

And then there’s the clip. As a heads up, it is NSFW, so perhaps if you’re sick at home, like me, it’s fine. But not in the office. The clip captures that intimacy and dark nature of the track really bloody well.

If the clip reminds you of some gritty fashion clip, then you’d be sort of right. It was put together by Yoav Lester and Chris Mitchell at Floating World Films and Ribal and Gil @ Superteam Studios. These guys usually work in the fashion world, but are lending their expert skills to the music video world.

Miks


KLP.

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Doing the rounds for a little while now is KLP’s newy, ‘Decide’. This is a pretty darn exciting jam from the Sydneysider. Receiving a bit of love both on the internets and the radios, it’s all incredibly well-deserved.

I think this is the best thing KLP has put forward. Her earlier stuff was pretty darn good (that Ta-ku produced track ‘Down South’ was a bit of a hit), but this is easily the standout.

Miks


ELIZABETH ROSE.

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it would seem that we may have a new r’n’b superstar. And it’s probably not who you thought.

Elizabeth Rose was that girl doing some really cool innovative electronic music. She also sang on top of her productions making her early live shows something to behold.

But now, she’s gone the r’n’b route. And it’s incredible. ‘Sensibility’ still showcases Rose’s interesting, slightly bent take on electronic pop music, but instead of more of the same, she pushes this slow jam of sorts with her distinct, powerful vocals.

There were hints of this in her single ‘The Good Life’, one of my faves of last year, but this new one really takes it and runs.

Elizabeth Rose‘s new self-titled EP is released next week. Looking forward to this one!

Miks