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The Gametes: The Astronomical Calamities Of Comet Jones

Article originally appeared on The Music Aug 7th 2018

Exploding onto the scene in 2017 with all the velocity and cult acclaim of a popped pimple, The Gametes have been enjoying something in the field of meteoric success.

If you imagine Mr Bungle and the descendants of Devo shouting from the shores of The Lord Of The Flies, you might begin to imagine how unpredictable their sound can be. Simultaneously whimsical and dire, they flit from surf rock to gothic faster than you can sing space opera and with far more dramatic flair. After displaying a penchant for narrative songwriting on their debut, The Sweat Tapes, they’ve dove directly into the concept for their follow up.

A sci-fi leaning story about a lone space traveller, the underlying problem with The Astronomical Calamities of Comet Jones is that the narrative isn’t overly interesting or conceptually original but the execution is definitely both. Outrageous and eclectic, each track does an excellent job of showcasing their eccentric ideologies.

Like your favourite director’s worst movie, the album loses gravitas even as its narrative seeks to build mass, and yet, it is utterly, indefinably loveable.

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Flowertruck: Mostly Sunny

Article originally appeared on The Music Mar 12th 2018

Flowertruck hauls around a pretty particular kind of sensibility. Something not quite akin to irreverence or satire, it’s a brand of impassioned nonchalance that has less to do with apathy and more to do with a sort of lackadaisical confidence drenched in a summer pop malaise that feels just as Australian as lead vocalist Charles Rushforth’s Strine patois.

The group’s debut LP seems to have grown directly from their first EP Dirt, deploying the same mixture of buoyant melodies and melancholic deliveries, but the overall sound is fuller and more mature without losing the seed of what made it worth cultivating. Mixed and mastered with a light touch by some notable names, the compositions are polished but not overproduced, allowing every element a chance to shine, whether that’s a kicking snare, banging tambourine, or lyrical bon mot.

Starting with Enough For Now – a song that can be summed up as saying “you’ll do” (in the best possible way) – and winding up with Come Across, a cheeky self-deprecating treatise that has the band apologising for itself with a smirk and a wink, Mostly Sunny feels like some bloke you know spinning a year’s worth of yarn.

Clear, confident and considerately paced, Mostly Sunny is the start of a bright future.

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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.

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.

Jordan Rakei: Wallflower

Article originally appeared on The Music Sep 18th 2017

If you’ve woken in a sweat worrying about Jack Johnson putting down his acoustic and picking up a Korg, don’t worry, Jordan Rakei already has you covered. After shedding his debut, Cloak, Rakei has picked up a collection of sensitivities to add to his soul style, steering away from the rougher auteur elements that originally endeared or intrigued – ambient deviations and break-beat constructions – sliding instead into an introspective funk. Rakei’s rhythms are skin-rakingly soothing and his voice is anachronistically attenuated to an evaporated era, singing Wallflower as a shy piece of work, a current-smoothed river stone sparkling in a bed of thousands.

Deafcult: Auras

Article originally appeared on The Music Jun 27th 2017

Auras is full of melodic drone, flecked with classic rock, sort of like listening to another band through a few sheets of gauze. While it might set a shoegaze pace, it’s often far more proactive, peppering each track with catchy little hooks and alluring deviations, subtle traces of ’80s electronica or an off-kilter country refrain, slipping in and out of the swelling grit that permeates their sound. It’s vaguely hypnotic – after a while, everything starts to fade away and you’re left floating inside someone else’s dream, like being trapped on an ice floe watching the Aurora Borealis shimmering faintly overhead.

Hachiku: Hachiku

Article originally appeared on The Music Jun 2nd 2017

Hachiku’s debut is a strange little obscurity dressed in mainstream clothes, or possibly it’s the other way around. Self-described as “modern opera rock meets princess fairy pop” it’s more like pushing that fairy through a speaker grill then taping it back together with a lullaby. Beginning with moments of intentional blowout and ending with the cold abruptness of a winter morning wake-up, the EP folds itself purposefully into the shape of a dream, peppered with adorable dissonance, oblique fidelity and deliberately distorted landmarks. Underneath all the ethereal grit, it’s exactly as good as listening to someone else describe said dreams.

Saint Surly: Lo/Sketches

Article originally appeared on 4ZZZ May 25th 2017

It’s been a few years since we’ve heard from Saint Surly, so long that some might have thought he was out of the game, then -out of nowhere- instead of the unexpected but predictable follow up to The Gleaner Part 1, up pops Lo/Sketches, something altogether better.

Saint Surly has always leaned heartily into instrumental hip hop, with a wild array of samples and eclectic beatscapes that often reminisce over the more obscure elements of the genre, though without languishing in the homage trap or rolling around in references like some kind of sample swine.

It’s a certain kind of restraint you don’t often see, but, for Lo/Sketches, it seems those reins haven’t exactly been loosened so much as changed out for a better bridle setIn some ways it can feel as overt as it does subtle, some of the sampling comes close to basically checking the chambers, and while it digs pretty hard on a few of these notable tropes it does so sparingly and with an organic grace that is immediate in a nostalgic way. While it can feel a little too conspicuously humble at times, that’s far preferable to any kind of overt gloating and actually leaves some room for interpretive enjoyment.

Most notable are the portions of full blown lyricism, a rarity for Surly that drags the hip hop out of the instrumental and throws it on stage. Tracks like DustyOnetime, and Guilty shine rather than glare, adding a robust new dimension that never felt missing until it appeared.

For something billed as sketches, or self-referentially as “a mix of hazy instrumentals and spot-welded rap acapellas [Sic],” the overall flow, track to track transitions, and general smoothness is really to be commended. There’s a seamless quality that’s lent in part by the obvious lo-fi intent and occasional scratch masking, but it comes out as curation, these are contiguous chapters bound together and not simply a box full of singles for sale. Lo/Sketches is a wonderful and welcome surprise that shows Saint Surly at his best.

Ellis Dewald: Hammer

Music video made for Brisbane Band Ellis Dewald

Spirit Bunny: Spirit Bunny

Article originally appeared on The Music Apr 21st 2017

To get a feel for Spirit Bunny, put your hand on a Tesla ball and tell your hair not to stand up. Spirit Bunny almost crackles with that same electronic frisson, yet it feels, if not contained, then channeled into an amazingly precise conduit with clear purpose. A feather-light mesh of synth, key, repurposed rustic-tech, and coordinated percussion that’s as meticulous as the other elements are gritty and distorted. Battles, the second track on the album, is the audio equivalent of Ghost Dog nodding to RZA in the street, an understated acknowledgement of peers on different missions. It could be pure coincidence but it seems more like well deserved confidence.

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