Sans Parents – Coming Back To You

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Following the disbandment of the epic Australian indie pop outfit Hungry Kids of Hungry, ex-members Kane Mazlin and Ryan Strathie have formed new project Sans Parents with Sydney-based session player/Andy Bull collaborator Alex Bennison. The new three piece have just delivered their debut single ‘Coming Back To You’ which is a crunchy and aggressive number, reminiscing on the days of garage rock.

Originally setting out to assist each other on new post-band solo projects, they discovered that the chemistry displayed through their collaborative efforts sparked a song-writing synergy that has already eventuated in a near-completed album recorded by Brisbane’s Matt Redlich (Ball Park Music, Emma Louise).

Sans Parents will also be announcing shows for 2015 in the coming weeks.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Pepa Knight – Hypnotized Vol. 1

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This article first appeared on The AU Review.

Side-tracking from the successful ethnic-pop collaboration that is Jinja Safari, Central Coast native Pepa Knight released his debut EP Hypnotized Vol. 1 last Friday and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Alongside an exciting start to his solo act, just over a month ago the man welcomed a baby boy into the world, which would be sure to inspire any regular man let alone a musical maestro. Perhaps a lot of that life affirming, dawn-of-a-new-day type of thinking shines through in the new work. Perhaps it’s just a really great listen. The way this EP reaches out and grabs at your heart and mind, I think you’d be a fool to listen to it and believe it’s anything but the first option.

The record introduces itself with the opening track “Hypnotized”, beginning the journey that is getting to know Pepa Knight, because that’s what a lot of this collection actually feels like. A journey and an experience. Sounds wanky, I know. But seriously, listen to it and tell me I’m wrong. It’s probably why his live performances are well complimented by 3D glasses and are commonly held in teepees. It’s something you need to actually feel to believe. The title track is littered with world music inspired strings and percussion, brought together in a likeable collaboration in large part thanks to Pepa’s pop infused vocals, which add that much needed element of familiarity. Near the end we hear the words, “Do you feel alive?”, offering an eager clue at the tangibility of what’s to come.

The most obvious choice for highlight of Hypnotized Vol. 1 would be the debut single “Rahh!”. Feeling like an incoherent and passionate scream at the world, there’s something very Gotye-esque about it, with much catchier undertones and use of the signature sitar and thumping drums. It’s an uplifting, life-affirming collage of travel, freedom, love and loss. A cacophony of every feeling you’ve ever felt meshed into one. With this number, I suggest you just put your ear-buds in, close your eyes and listen. You’ll fast find that you love wherever you are, whatever you’re doing.

“The Desert Guide” and “Fortress” continue on with the ethereal, wispy vocal style Pepa seems to have patented throughout the recording process. While the EP doesn’t exactly hit its peak at this point in my opinion, these tracks provide good fodder for a respectable first offering. It’s here where the experimental nature of the whole project shines through, and will earn big points with fans of his previous stuff.

The latest single release, “Coyote Choir”, is a happy little tune, giving a courageous nod to harder times. It’s a very solid number, perhaps the easiest to digest on the collection if you’re into simpler pop tunes. That’s not to say it’s actually “simple” in any recognisable way. It’s just very heightening. Again, intensely busy percussion sections mix with an uncommon mix of string elements to create something truly unique. Not just because of the fact that this is a style of music not often heard on the Australian circuit, but because Pepa somehow manages to mix his pop prowess with the unknown in such a masterful way. Honestly, in songs like “Coyote Choir”, the most unique part about it is that when it comes to pure likability and respect for musicianship, you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other.

I know this is supposed to be an album review. But it feels like an injustice for someone like me to talk about Pepa Knight’s Hyptonized Vol. 1 in terms of the music. The man is a fucking talented virtuoso, way outside of my ability to describe. It’s much easier to listen to the album and just get happy about life.

*****

8.7 / 10

Hypnotized Vol. 1 is available now. For more information visit the online store HERE

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ALBUM REVIEW: Bear Hands – Distraction

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This article first appeared on The AU Review.

When it comes to New York’s Bear Hands, a lot of what’s involved in their latest album Distraction is what I’d call, “beautifully flawed”. For starters, in the first half a decade of being a band, they managed to split up, fall out as a band and with their manager, get back together all over again and release a debut album. To date, they have been trucking along for almost a solid decade and have released two full lengths with label support (their latest included), their popularity growing at a reasonably steady rate everyday. It took them a long time to get to this point, and despite a short backlog on hand the boys from Bear Hands have made sure that on first listen of the new album, you’ll find quality truly does kick quantities ass.

Distraction kicks off in an ominous haze of faux woodwind glory and intriguing vocals in “Moments Of Silence”, making short work of expectations, blowing them to smithereens when the song hits a huge climax that is both seizure inducing and liberating. It’s a tune to match the sweetest of anthems. Tracks like “Giants” and “Impasse” are messy and melodic, sticking with the whole brilliantly erratic vibe of the album. At one point the lyrics emulate this as frontman Dylan Rau spits, “You changed from crazy to calm,” something that rings true of this entire showcase.

When it hits the single “Agora”, it becomes abundantly clear that what we’ve heard so far is no fluke. For years, house parties have been lacking. Defeated to listening to tracks about hitting the town and sinking shots in clubs. But for those of us who enjoy a good old case of tins and a few friends ’round the backyard, there’s finally have a party anthem for the home-bodies – and “Agora” is it. The hook is smooth, packed with attitude and catchy as all diggity, singing ”You like to hang out, but don’t leave the house [cause I can’t]”, almost like it’s a courageous feat to be chilling at home. And I can’t shake this feeling that there’s a drunken sing-a-long on the way…

All the fun aside, if Distraction were to go down in history as one of the greats, it would likely be because of two singular tracks, “Bone Digger” and “The Bug”. The former builds in a clever way, chugging along with solidarity and just enough swag to make you intrigued about what’s coming next. By the time the keys and second guitar arrive to fill the gaps your head will be bopping in full swing. While a lot of the collection takes a bit of time to hit it’s stride (totally worth it), “The Bug” gets straight to the point. There are parts in there that kind of feel a little retro, either in the way that it’s recorded or even just the vibe in general. It’s a killer track with static, well placed bass meshing with off-beat guitar lines that combine for a friggen bad ass tune.

Usually, if I used the words “beautifully flawed” to describe an album, nine times out of ten it would be taken as a negative. But with this review, when I locked in my ear-buds and hit play it became apparent real quick. “Flawed” definitely isn’t always a negative. In the case of Distraction, it’s the things that would feel like flaws in a pop song that bring it’s tracks to life in a way that not a lot of seasoned rock acts can. Maybe it’s the recording techniques, maybe it’s in the attitudes or the way the songs can feel a little obtuse at times. It’s classic, raw, untainted. At the same time it’s authentic, anthemic and catchy enough to warrant a cheeky linger on the repeat button. All I can say is if it takes another decade to see what else they have up their sleeve, I’ll be sorely disappointed.

*****

Score: 8.3 / 10

Distraction is available now. For more information on Bear Hands visit their official Facebook Page HERE

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Born Joy Dead – Hey Blood

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This is exciting. A side project from someone from Hungry Kids Of Hungary. I got into them when I lived in Canada, so it brings back some fun memories of cruising around on a snowboard listening to Scattered Diamonds.

Born Joy Dead is the new project of former Hungry Kids Of Hungary bassist Ben Dalton. After making a great impression among tastemakers and picking up national radio play with their debut single, the band are setting out to do it all again with their latest offering Hey Blood. And it’s seriously sick.

Born Joy Dead will be announcing a national tour in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned guys.

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Parade Of Lights – The Island

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I know this is late. I mean Parade Of Lights released this EP about 7 months ago. But while the rest of the world rejoiced, Australia only received availability of the rest of the work yesterday! Previously, I’d posted about Golden and We’re The Kids, but after hearing the rest of the effort it’s clear that the standout track from the EP is this one, The Island.

Basically, it kills. Synth pulses throughout the traffic of the track, flowing brilliantly against the lead vocalists emotionally charged melodies. It’s a historically effective pop track with a cheeky nod to the indie side in us all.

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Penguin Prison – Calling Out

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The funk-master general, Christopher Glovera.k.a Penguin Prison is back at it again with the killer new single Calling Out. The new track is perfection in 3 minutes 58, displaying rise-and-fall synth and static keys bouncing around Glover’s hot and heavy vocals, complete with deep sass and falsetto goodness all the way through.

He became pretty big in some circles with his debut self-titled album, before featuring on RAC’s debut album with the first single Hollywood, which is also arguably the best tune on the album Strangers, released earlier this year. Calling Out is an exciting development towards some new stuff that has been a long time coming. Welcome back, guy.

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Coasts – A Rush Of Blood EP

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The second full release EP from UK based Coasts, sees them team up with producers Mike Spenser (Rudimental / Alex Clare) and James Rushent (Does It Offend You, Yeah?) on A Rush Of Blood. With that said, anything associated with Does It Offend You, Yeah? gets me tingly.

Their singles in the lead up have been unreal and it’s something we’ve very much been looking forward to. Although not yet available in Australia Their edgy style smashes around the pre-conceptions of traditional British indie music, proving a fresh and welcome take on the genre.

Released on the independant label Tidal Recordings, Coasts have recently signed to Capitol Records for the USA after being confirmed for both Coachella and Lollapalooza 2015. The debut album will be released summer 2015, so watch out.

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LIVE REVIEW: The Griswolds, Castlecomer & Sea Legs @ The Metro (11.10.14)

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This post first appeared on The AU Review

The Griswolds are home. These words seemed to be theme of the night as loyal locals packed The Metro on Saturday for the band;s first Sydney show since the release of their debut album Be Impressive. Coming off the back of a mammoth stint around the U.S, in their hometown of Sydney and on lead singer Chris Whitehall’s birthday no less, I’d say there wasn’t a soul in the popular Sydney haunt that could say they weren’t ready to party. As if you needed a band like The Griswolds to give you a reason.

Smooth, luscious pop tunes permeated the start of the night as the show opened with Central Coast rockers Sea Legs. Combining their well known Coastie charm with a slick sense of city living, they blasted through their set with a headliners confidence, showcasing familiar pop drives and sexy, melodramatic breakdowns. Half of this unit used to play with Pepa Knight (of Jinja Safari fame) back in the day, which is just a small hint at their ability to craft brilliant, likeable songs. Although a little more rock ’n roll than Jinja Safari, they lit up the fast building dance floor with the single “Christopher Strong”, catching the eyes of new fans-to-be by the cargo load.

More local pop mayhem ensued with the next act Castlecomer, introducing the set with a pure brand of ethereal, synth laden pop. I wasn’t so familiar with these guys coming into the set, adding to the excitement of discovering such a tight and talented act as they drew and controlled the crowd. Many of their tracks had mixed country vibes peeking through, as vocals bounced deep and falsetto, while speedy guitars struck over the backing of fully formed pop tunes. Their cover of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” fucking ripped the roof off. Onlookers grinded and grooved from start to finish, peaking when two of the band members revealed a horn section breakdown to top it all off. If you need one definitive reason to check out Castlecomer, this it it.

At one point in the night I could have gone home happy with that. The support acts were strong, the beer was cold and the fun times were in strong supply. But The Griswolds have build a reputation on smashing expectations and I should have known tonight of all nights was not going to be the one to break that. Shadows of the four band members glistened on the stage before they opened with the catchy, carousel-like “Right On Track”. Fans immediately got into the spirit, jumping onto the shoulders of others, swaying with the heights of the track and screaming the lyrics back at the band. The album opener, “16 Years” followed, speeding up the tempo of the night with conviction. It’s the kind of song that could earn them rock-god status in retrospect. Between the shattering vocals of frontman Chris Whitehall, a smooth breakdown to bridge the feel and the versatile, perfectly placed percussion of Lachie West, it’s one of the standouts on the album and was replicated with precision on the night.

Old favourites like “The Courtship of Summer Preasley” and “Mississippi” were definite party favourites, showing that The Griswolds popularity is not newly found. They’ve been doing this since the get go. The album’s title track, “Be Impressive” broke up the set nicely, calming it down briefly with child chorus samples and backing up again with a sort of urban tropical bravado tanked with wily lead guitars and cheeky vocal melodies. Alongside all their unique brilliance, the crowd shimmered at the introduction of the recently recorded cover of Vance Joy’s “Riptide”, one that properly rivals the original.

Every set has it’s highlight. You know, that song that sticks with you for ages after. No matter how many drinks down, and in spite of set list favouritism, there’s always that one song that you come back to whenever you think of that night. When I say “If You Wanna Stay” was the highlight of the set, I wouldn’t even be doing it justice. The deep bass tones, tumbling percussion and crispy key drives leaked pure energy on the crowd before it, giving off that odd mix of wild passion and no-fucks-given that The Griswolds seriously nail every time.

The lead single, “Beware The Dog” closed the set as predicted, showcasing tropical sways and stop/start meatiness in spades. If you’ve listened to this single before, there’s really no description needed to understand why they’re getting so much hype behind them all over the states at the moment. Teaming up with the crowd, they yelled the lyrics “Now you’re fucking crazy”, like they really meant it. The crowd was absolutely elated and out of control, like they didn’t know what fun was before that song started. They walked off for a brief moment only to peek back out with “Down & Out” and “Heart Of A Lion” to wrap things up in turbo party-mode. It was a well placed track, climaxing perfectly as several band members participated in a booming percussion solo to solidify the true end of the set.

Sadly, the night had to end at some point, and Chris Whitehall had some serious birthday celebrations to carry on to. But the crowd surely gave him and the rest of the crew something to remember. They’ll be scoping the globe in support of Be Impressive, playing to bigger crowds by the minute. When a band of this quality packs a gigantic score of Sydney locals into The Metro for an occasion like this, one thing’s for sure: there’s no place like home.

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The Chain Gang Of 1974 – You

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The Chain Gang Of 1974 is the indie-electronic project of American musician and DJ, Kamtin Mohager. His debut album Daydream Forever was released in January of this year (a little late to the party, I know) and it’s absolutely phenomenal.

Standout track, You is filled with Naked & Famous vibes and hectic electronic sparks. Their overall sound is the perfect mix of indie rock and polished production that only a seasoned DJ would know how to spin. The album in its entirety is really solid so I suggest you check it out but for the moment, this shit should get you through the rainy night.

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Post #200: Our Top 5 Of All Time

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Wow. It’s been quite a while doing this here blog, and we’ve finally hit 200 posts! To mark this special occasion, instead of posting about something new or doing the same old, I thought we’d go back to our origins – a countdown.

We’ve posted about a lot of different bands, both Australian and international and some well known while others not so much. Looking into the back end of the site at all the stats I was actually quite surprised to see which posts had performed the best, including one Aussie wonder sneaking in fourth.

So here it is, for my 200th post – the top 5 performing posts of all time on The Indie Rock Summit. Thanks for reading!

5. Great Good Fine OK – By My Side

4. Northeast Party House – The Haunted

3. NIEVES – Straight Line

2. DWNTWN – See My Eyes

1. Sombear – Incredibly Still

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