Tim Fitz – Sour

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When I first heard Sydney boy, Tim Fitz’ new single, Sour, I wasn’t completely sold on it. But after a few listens it grows on you, and here we are. The music is brilliantly crafted, the melodies are spot on and it’s catchy as all hell. Where it doesn’t really come to life is the recording quality and perhaps Tim’s voice. There’s a lot of effort in this and a hint of something great to come so it’s definitely worth a listen.

I’m in two minds about bands that write specific lyrics to places I know about. Lyrics referencing “The Darlinghurst darlings” kind of annoy the fuck out of me. But despite what Tim literally said in an interview, I’m going to choose to interpret this song from my perspective. I’d say the central theme to the lyrics is the realisation that growing up doesn’t suck at all and it’s the things that used to be cool when you’re eighteen that kind of suck. Those lyrics properly resonate. In Tim’s own words, “It’s also about that moment when you realise you’re 24 and Kings Cross on a Friday night is almost completely unappealing”. Amen brother.

ALBUM REVIEW: Bleachers – Strange Desire

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In case you’ve been standing outside your high school sweetheart’s family home in a trench coat holding up a boom-box in a last-ditch attempt to win her back for the past year, Bleachers are the side project of still Fun. member Jack Antonoff. You’ll understand why I use that metaphor once you listen to his first crack at a solo in Strange Desire. As debut albums go, Bleachers bring a lot of experience in the pop domain to the table. Jack Antonoff has been at it for a while and knows how to craft a decent tune, a theme that runs quite obviously throughout this LP.

Tracks like Rollercoaster, Wild Heart and You’re Still A Mystery are hard done by to miss the cut for the Breakfast Club soundtrack by a solid thirty or so years. They pulsate with everything that was awesome about the eighties, or at least the stuff I know about. Strange Desire has feelings of young love, recklessness and redemption sprinting throughout. The marquee single, I Wanna Get Better is the one that has everyone talking. I feel like it’s one of the least likeable offerings here, only redeemed by a stellar remix from RAC. There’s also a few curveballs here like a team-up with Grimes for Take Me Away and a cool breakdown in Like A River Runs - but curveballs don’t always mean standouts.

Strange Desire is purely a collection of enjoyable pop tunes reminiscent of the eighties. That could be it’s shortfall as much as it is a forthcoming. While it’s a decent album, it can get tiring quickly. A few listens in and I’m already feeling like it has a day or two’s legs at best.

*****

3/5

LIVE REVIEW: Kishi Bashi @ Newtown Social Club – 1st July, 2015

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Two weeks ago, I visited the Newtown Social Club (formerly known as The Sando) to see Kishi Bashi in his first show on Australian soil under the solo artist banner. I say “under that banner” as I was surprised to find out he’d actually been here before to perform as the violinist for Regina Spektor during her shows at the Sydney Opera House last time she was here. The space was intimate, to put it lightly. As I arrived, the majority of the crowd were sitting cross-legged on the floor, something I never thought I would witness at an over 18′s gig in my lifetime. It may have been understandable though as when Kishi Bashi arrived on stage without a fanfare, or a band for that matter – it was poised to be a night of appreciation rather than raucousness.

As the first song had almost begun, he muddled up the operation on his pedals, bringing the big opener to a sudden halt as he apologised and laughed shyly. It marked the beginning of what would be a troublesome set with unexpected highlights. Popular singles like the eclectic Philosophise With It! Chemicalise In It! and the song that started his rise to indie blog stardom, Bright Whites, fell massively flat with the only support coming from a single violin. In it’s place stood some unexpected favourites.

Where this show hit its peak was in simplicity. When it was just Kishi Bashi singing away and strumming or striking his violin with nothing else required, that’s where the crowd just sat back and appreciated. If I remember any track from the night, it would be the fucking cute Q & A, which was apparently written for two fans who contributed to his kickstarter campaign on the first albumLeft in a room with only a vocal, a violin and a set of pedals, it was tracks like these, already standing pretty hollow in recording, that didn’t need anything else to shine. Unfortunately some of the most anticipated songs of the night fell short where electronics, percussion, or even a simple acoustic guitar may have been missing.

He’s a curious fellow, Kishi is. A talker; a dreamer, for lack of a less cheesy word. But honestly, those two words pretty much sum up the show. That’s what he was – as he described the process of writing before every single song. Prior to launching into Bittersweet Genesis For Him AND Her, he spoke of his hypothesis of a world created not by god or a big bang, but life as being the love story of two beings, that we’re all playing a weird part in. I’m not really sure what he meant, but whatever, it made for an interesting show. In the end he got through it alright and I think if he comes back with the full band that it’s something I would highly recommend everyone and anyone check out.

His latest album, Lighght, is out now. You can buy limited edition vinyl for dirt cheap off his bandcamp site right here.

ALBUM REVIEW: Saint Raymond – Ghosts EP

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Artist Callum Burrows seems to have been around for a little bit, but with two prior EPs currently available on Spotifty it appears the young lad isn’t quite ready for a full length. Either that or he’s just too keen to release something (ANYTHING) that he feels the need to drop it every four songs he writes rather than save them up for a bigger reveal. Regardless, the British boy who fronts Saint Raymond solo feeds off tinges of fellow countrymen The 1975 and Little Comets to create a catchy and impressive little number in his latest EP, Ghosts, out through the UK’s Warner Music branch.

First up on the listing is the stunning Everything She Wants. An alt-pop track that steers clear of any striking originality whilst offering catchiness in spades. That might not seem like such a glaringly positive assessment, yet I find myself coming back to this track over and over throughout my work day to offer a little energy. As mentioned before, he’s a bit of a hybrid. He’s got a little of the accent from The 1975, with the crunchy guitar stream of The Royal Concept and the punchy vocal melodies of Little Comets. It’s a great lead track and certainly earns them points in my books.

Brighter Days goes a little bit holiday-like and doesn’t keep up to speed with the first track. It bops around in a confused manner; like if Jack Johnson decided to start an indie band. That said, after a few more listens it tends to come out on top and makes for a solid listen if you’re not paying too much attention. Ghosts is a glorious finisher. After a few tracks that don’t quite hit their peak performance, the lyrics “Darling, won’t you keep me?” almost feel like a plea from a vocalist who knows he has a lot more to offer.

On an album, you can afford a few misses among the hits. However, on an EP release there’s little room for mistakes and on the Ghosts EP there is too much of a ‘that’s good enough’ feel to it, but with an obvious indication that this guy has a lot of talent when it comes to writing pop songs.

Callum, my boy. Have patience and get it into a full length. I’ll say this. When Saint Raymond come back with their debut album, it’s going to be remembered.

*****

3/5

 

 

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GIG REVIEW: Northeast Party House @ Beach Rd Hotel, Bondi – 25th June, 2014

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The release of the debut Any Given Weekend from Melbourne’s Northeast Party House was a joyous occasion for me. I rant on and on about the time I saw them in Newcastle with basically no crowd and back then they were a powerhouse of live musical brilliance as it was. This time around they announced a bunch of Sydney shows to support their golden current album, and I was stoked enough to attend the free show down at Beach Road Hotel in Bondi a couple of weeks ago.

The boys from NPH are a humble bunch. Their appearance on stage at the start of the set was liken to a substitute science teacher, struggling to control a bunch of rowdy year eights. They slinked out on to the stage amongst the slew of 90′s hits that played through the sound check and got on with it. Off to a slow start on the first track, it seemed they were still getting the hang of the mix, as guitars dominated in parts they weren’t supposed to and no help from the electronics – one of the vital parts of their unit.

By the time they reached the third track in the set, the face-melting Sick Boy, they ripped through it with slick energy, reassuring the crowd that they’re in safe hands. Fake Friends followed with conviction, drilled into a crowd of people that, judging by the show of hands when asked, hadn’t yet collected the latest album from the boys. As they nailed down the words, “We can hit the east coast, make this shit devastate,” the audience knew they would be true to their words.

More widely known tracks like the smoother Pascal Cavalier, the popular The Haunted and Empires brought the house down as the boys found their happy place. As always though, the mighty Embezzler was the spot to watch. They absolutely nailed it home with that one, and you could see it in the eyes of everyone involved, as the crowd jumped and spasmed all over the place, yelling “BEAT, RAH, TSS, HOOH!” It’s pretty much the most fun you can have at a gig.

Wrapping up with the party anthem that is Youth AllowanceNortheast Party House were true to their name and got the crowd partying until the night’s end. They’re truly one of my favourite bands to watch live. They’re still lesser known than some of the other upcoming Australian acts so every show is as intimate as they come, but so professionally crafted that it’s actually an impressive evening to watch these boys smash out their set.

The first tour to support the album is now over, but fingers crossed they will be doing a few more over the coming year. Keep a look out for announcements and pick up the new album here: https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/any-given-weekend/id862962069

Small Black – Real People

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As this next post is coming to you live from the thick of dry July, I thought it fitting to have it be about a drink-based band. Not to discredit the act in mention, they earned their spot on the rag – I just love coffee, and this Brooklyn based “chill-wave” suite named Small Black tick all the boxes right now. With their latest track, Real People, released in line with the aptly named Real People EP, they’re just the kind of relaxing, melodic ambience I’m looking for on this alcohol-free Monday night. I don’t usually get rowdy on Monday’s anyway, but in dry July every day seems a challenge.

Small Black came to my attention a while ago through my favourite playlist, the BIRP.fm monthly download, and are back in action courtesy of the same channel. It’s said they personally shy away from the chill-wave genre patch that’s obviously stitched into their musical sweater. But whether it’s indie-RnB, dream-pop or rick-moranis-inspired-contemporary-volcano-metal, there’s no denying that they’re pretty fucking good.

Apparently Real People is the story of Colton Harris-Moore, a guy in American that was nicknamed the “Barefoot Bandit” and is currently serving a six-and-a-half year federal sentence for breaking into hundreds of houses and stealing several planes. What a bloody man. It’s got a huge capacity for being great at a lot of points. That said, overall Real People can come across as a hollow procession of predictable electronic melodies, geared towards listeners that are winding down rather than, as the lady in the hi-vis vest at the pub in Wyong would say, “pumping it up” – but it’s likely being sober has made me cynical.

It’s definitely enjoyable enough for a cheeky listen late at night, I’ll give it that.

Thank Summit It’s Friday Mixtape – July 4

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A few months ago I’d write these “Thank whoever it’s Friday” mixtapes and consolidate what I’ve been listening to during the week in one handy stream. Well I’m feeling generous today, so it’s back. And since I’m doing it on Soundcloud now (so much easier), I’m starting again from issue one with ten epic tracks.

Ok, to the playlist itself. If you’ve been reading this week, you would have already noticed the newbies from The Griswolds and SWIMWEAR. You’ll also see some exciting stuff from bands such as SPEAK and Arkells that have recently announced new albums. Bands that have visited Sydney in the past few weeks slash future few weeks also visit the playlist, with the first song ever written by Northeast Party House, Kishi Bashi’s newbie and the single from Thumpers debut effort making the cut.

But what would a Friday be without a few cheeky remixes. To really kick it into gear, check out new tweak of Bad Suns, Salt taken from the album Language & Perspectives (released just last week), and as always we’ve got something from RAC. Check out his version of Digitalism’s, Wolves feat. Youngbloog Hawke.

The Griswolds – Down & Out

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Well I was too busy to post about their absolutely smashing single, Beware The Dog, which is the lead from the upcoming album Be Impressive. But Sydney happy-times rockers The Griswolds have offered me redemption with this latest single off the exciting debut, Down & Out. The new tune coincides with the announcement that Be Impressive will be released nationwide on August 22nd, with my favourite part being that on first glance, it doesn’t seem to include any songs we’ve already heard!! Exciting times and something different compared to a band they supported back in April, St Lucia, whose album When The Night is pretty much exclusively older songs of theirs, repackaged.

Down & Out is a bit anthem, it’s a bit 80′s glam/metal but mostly importantly; it’s The GriswoldsIt’s actually brilliant how effectively they manage to imbue their own essence into everything that they do. Between this and Beware The Dog I feel like I’ve never heard anything like it, yet it fits so squarely into a genre that I’m generally so familiar with. You’ll chant, thrash and air-guitar around the room once you’re used to this one and it’s a strong lead in to the new album for anyone on the fence about buying it.

I’ve put in an order for the vinyl copy on Pledge music so make sure to go over and pick up something great for the release before it’s all gone, here:  http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/thegriswolds

And of course, check out the song Down & Out below.

SWIMWEAR – Highs & Lows + Knocks

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Here’s the story. On Tuesday night, I went to see the string-smith, Kishi Bashi, play to a sold out crowd of Newtown-ians at their beloved Social Club (formerly known as The Sando). While the placid crowd sat cross-legged around the stage waiting for Kishi to get started with his act, I decided then and there I had to give a shout out to the opening act of the night, SWIMWEAR for putting on a brilliantly gallant and groovy set. He danced, swayed, got sweaty and downright indecent with a crowd that had quite obviously decided they were there for a respectable night of quiet musical appreciation.

Screw the crowd, SWIMWEAR nailed it. Think, Kyle Andrews meets Future Islands and throw in a little Coachella Dad wearing a man-kini. He was up there all by himself when I walked in, dancing about in his dirty space invaders tee and jamming to a set list that he himself admitted had no idea where it was going. It’s a digital delight both in sound and sight and a bit of a shock to witness at the Sando instead of killing it on the festival.

His tunes are crafted for stages in fields where the crowd want to do nothing but party. It felt kind of wrong to watch while everyone was sitting down ready for the calming orchestral tunes of Kishi Bashi. Take that part out and insert a lot of booze and good feelings and you’re ready for SWIMWEAR. He was awesome to watch and didn’t give a shit what anyone thought.

He’s a Sydney local and plays all over the place, usually with a full band so make sure to keep your eyes and ears peeled. In the meantime, check out Knocks and Highs & Lows. Two highlights from Tuesday night.

 

Pepa Knight – Clams

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My own personal favourite artist to come from the Central Coast, Pepa Knight, has only had a three blog break since I last wrote about him and his inspiring single Rahh!  Always so complicated in his simplicity, Knight has recently released yet another adventurous number with happy-vibes imbued at every level in the new single, entitled Clams.

Perhaps the most exciting news out of all of this is that Pepa Knight has announced, in conjunction with the release, that he will be performing two highly anticipated debut live shows in Sydney and Melbourne in August, at Goodgod Small Club and Northcote Social Club respectively. To say the least, it will be very interesting to see how he replicates this humungous sound live.

It’s not surprising to know that Rolling Stone India featured an article on him and the writing and recording process behind his debut collection of songs titled Hypnotized (due late-2014). His whole collection so far is basically an ad for Tourism India.

Musical stereotypes aside, it will be one not to miss when he graces the stages at Goodgod in August. Check out the newbie, Clams, below, officially released on iTunes Wednesday, July 2nd. Let us know what you think in the comments below!

*****

FRI AUGUST 1 | GOODGOD SMALL CLUB, SYDNEY NSW
THU AUGUST 7 | NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB, MELBOURNE VIC

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