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A Few Short Words

Dense not thick

Lowtide: Southern Mind

Article originally appeared on The Music Jan 15th 2018

Lowtide’s latest is a feet-first affair, like a few crushing seconds of free falling stretched into an afternoon of self-reflection.

Gabriel Lewis’ chords burst into the atmosphere with cotton-wool softness, simultaneously surrounding and supporting Anton Jakovljevic’s almost-absentminded percussion and Lucy Buckeridge’s languid strumming and wistful incantations. Full of more body and texture than a luxury latte, Southern Mind is outwardly facing shoegaze at its finest, even if that feels like staring through a foggy window.

Much like meditation, it’s not about turning the volume up but rather turning everything else down and, consequently, it carries some of the same pitfalls for the perennially restless.

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Swearing

I never told you I was good, I guess that’s the difference between being a shitty person and a really shitty person. ‘Is that,’ Laura closes her eyes and does that cliché brow rub thing, ‘is that your excuse? I should’ve known you’d be a prick because you never promised to be nice?’ She grabs the nearest thing, a dollars worth of Ikea plate, and flings it past me to land on the couch with the apathetic thump of an empty threat. That was sorta shitty, I say. Sasha weighs another plate, ‘I never promised to have good aim.’

Ayla: Let’s Talk Monday

Article Originally appeared on The Music Jan 12th 2018

Welcome to Ayla, the Sunshine Coast sequel to Lorde and Florence Welch (sorry, but the comparisons are going to get made). Ayla exhibits one of those classically expansive voices that seems to reach five years deep into the solar plexus.

For her second EP, Ayla has revisited two of her earlier tracks and brought forth four more. Experimenting with new recording techniques, there’s salon-style volume added everywhere but most of the compositions are not rudimentary exactly just discreetly layered and somehow demure, consistently yielding to their mistress’ voice. It’s perfect in a supplicating way, set dressing for soliloquy, but it means the instrumentation never quite feels like an equal partner.

Ayla’s voice is always centre stage, yet each of the tracks has its own set of supple hooks, literal and figurative, and searches endlessly for a way under the skin. Particularly, the balladic quality of New Furniture provides some meaty emotional resonance by leaning a little into country composition and Porcelain Doll displays a cascading and hypnotic choral lilt.

Like the ball that hops across karaoke script, Let’s Talk Monday is a fun and bouncy little distraction, but no matter how high it bounces you always know where it’ll land.

Roused

Waking might be the end of me. It’s the moment a balloon breaks, slowed to a handful of agonising frames. Stretched beyond the tenable, then shredded by tension, a normally elastic composure separates into disparate shards. If you pause in that moment you lose all catharsis, it becomes the overwhelming evisceration of one element over another, pressure versus restraint, but if you press forward you lose both forces. One freed by its molecules, one bound by them, equally stripped of purpose by form, one dissipates and the other dies. All of this happens before I even open my eyes.

Communication

It actively hurts to love you, I say, I wish it didn’t, but your presence has become the biggest part of my day. I feel like I’m throwing chunks of caring down a well, breaking off hulking parts of my compassion and trying to catch a ghost with the remains. I miss you and I love you and it hurts so much to feel those things in your shadow. I wish you still loved me, though I hope that you’re happy, I say, I hope that you’re having fun and living your best life. My phone says nothing back.

Space

When I think about us I feel more isolated then ever. I see these two lone hands stretching into an abyss, trying of course to grasp each other, so far apart. Sometimes they cling to satellites, clutching until they crush their quarry into orbital debris. Most often they float alone, grazing their surfaces upon that vast satin blackness, reading braille whispers of liveable planets and binary systems that support each other until death, glorious love sick symbioses gasping un petit mort en supernova. When I think about us I think about the horizon and wonder what I’m not seeing.

Pastime

Sitting some metres away, two table lengths, it’s barely even interesting that they didn’t notice me cutting. They were discussing football, the oval kind. I used a new craft knife, not knowing how much pressure would apply depth to its sharpness scared me. I have often been meek in this way, tender beginnings with irresolute ends. If they had noticed I would have stopped because of them instead of myself. Funny how cowardice has strains, they called it yellow, differing shades. I wanted to see red and couldn’t commit. They kept talking about football, it was barely even interesting.

Ego

I don’t scream and it only feels like everybody is staring at me. The rational part of my brain tries desperately to talk my id off a ledge, says there’s no such thing as spiders living under my skin, but I’m unsure how much I’m willing to trust me and have to check regularly. I don’t peel myself apart and scrub at the itch from beneath, I sit there and don’t. Everybody walks past me wrapped in comfortable realities. If I looked at the ragged stitches of my own I would scream, I don’t and nobody continues to look.

Esteem

I cancelled my date with Ashleigh because I didn’t want to shower. The idea of putting effort into myself on behalf of another person seemed as repellent as the cavalcade of odours gentrifying my being. Easier to keep rotting awhile than resort to self-esteem. I texted to tell her I wouldn’t make it again, I’d had a mild emergency, some family trouble, a soft sell she returned by telling me to go fuck myself with firm creativity. I spent the night wallowing in the pit I’d dug, a bad choice made right, and never did have that shower.

Questionable

The girl asks how old I think she is but that’s not what she means or it is and I’m just reading an under layer that’s asking how old I think she wants to look. It’s a brain trick people don’t know they’re using, maybe a brain tic I think I’m using, so I bet high, gambling on her lust for maturity. I shouldn’t be looking at the slow creep of red flush corrupting her décolletage. She’s beaming at me, ‘People always say I’m sophisticated,’ a real woman with too much sibilance, ‘but I won’t be nineteen for months.’

Fetes

Carnival lights break the night open like geologists smashing geodes while fireworks scream against the skyline, exploding with purpose. I can feel the neon and sulphur settling on my skin, battling particles of deep-fry, grease, and humanity. Dana looks into my eyes and runs her hand down my flank, smiling from that hidden place she keeps. A streetlight corona blooms behind her back, shading her in an ikon’s light. Divine, a thin thread of fairy floss still clings to her lip, an innocent corner vestige of gossamer pink filament. I put my tongue there and feel its dissolution.

Burnt

Jonah keeps a small part of a large fire in a jar on the dresser. He calls it his lust for life but that might be irony, like saying not owning a bed is the reason you get up every day. I’d be wrong to say I understood how the caged passion of a quelled man can fuel anything. I wonder how it keeps burning, if it feeds in the lonely hours. I asked him once, what it eats, and he said, ‘Questions like that,’ quick and cold. I watched the fire flicker and knew knowing no longer mattered.

Miss Blanks: Diary Of A Thotaholic

Article originally appeared on The Music Nov 15th 2017

Diary Of A Thotaholic is not your average Adelaide hills skip-hop or suburban-boi cyphering, this is international grade, female-focused, dis-rap, borderline hip hop erotica from an artist pulling triple duty to rep a trio of disastrously underrepresented community facets.

It would be easy to say Miss Blanks is reading her cues from previous fem-power archetypes, but it would be reductionist in a way that runs counter to the revelrous freedom on show. DOAT basks in its explicit nature but doesn’t rely on it. While it is unabashedly graphic and deliciously brash, none of it feels excessive nor does it court pointless controversy. It doesn’t ask to be a think piece about empowerment, sexual awareness, body positivity or any other topical discourse. Instead, it straight up takes creative parity as a surety. In that regard, Miss Blanks is just doing what the bulk of her ostensibly cis peers have been doing for decades. Let her go, let her keep killing it, those misconceptions should be dead by now anyway.

Miss Blanks has her own tongue pressed firmly to cheek, it’s up to you to throw down this album and consider your own tongue placement.

The Bear Hunt: Fallen On Deaf Ears

Article originally appeared on The Music Oct 13th 2017

The obvious problem with The Bear Hunt’s new EP is that it’s not an LP. Any issue you have beyond that should evidently be with society, because Fallen On Deaf Ears doesn’t actually feel like an EP so much as an open letter to the See You Next Tuesday’s of the world. There’s an unrequited rage seething inside every chord, vocal or otherwise, a furious and frenetic yet thoughtful rhetoric delivered with percussive punch and incisive timing. It’s the audio equivalent of winning an argument you didn’t start and never wanted. Here’s hoping the world keeps sucking enough to get a full-blown album soon.

Weezer: Pacific Daydream

Article originally appeared on The Music Oct 24th 2017

By now you either like Weezer or you don’t, or you did and now you really don’t.

Their eleventh album, Pacific Daydream, sounds suspiciously young, the audio equivalent of a couple kids in a trench coat or one adult band wearing a teenager’s T-shirt. Honestly, the bulk of the tracks feel more like a Weezer musical as written by One Direction, like they were aiming for top of the pops by way of paint by numbers construction and bland overproduction.

Despite a few classic Rivers Cuomo compositions, QB Blitz and Sweet Mary through the middle, the hooks aren’t catchy so much as insidious and you could easily mistake them for any number of one-off festival headline fade-aways that dominate for a crucial week or two before dissolving back into the primordial musical ooze that spawned them. It’s not the sort of sound that usually happens at the end of a band’s lifecycle.

What was once a boyish proto-geek genuflection is now a group of 40-somethings crooning over pyrrhic rhythms about beaches and heartbreak while the world gently burns. The results feel accordingly off-putting, not nearly as vast or grand as the Pacific Ocean, roughly as valuable as a daydream and just as memorable.

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