Tag Archives: new music

Matt Woods – Impression

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This minimalist piece with RnB stylings by solo artist Matt Woods is unreal. Hailing from London this guy takes after all the Triple-J-esque acts that scored so well on the Hottest 100 this year (re Chet Faker).  Interesting fact about Matty boy, he’s a former choirboy, who admits he enjoyed the commitment and has taken a lot of learnings from his classically trained days.

The track “Impression” is a shallow, heartbreaking arrangement delivered to perfection in this humble recording. It’s a much needed break from many of the up-tempo tracks to be released by some of my favourites artists this year, and composed in a way that could have you thinking he’s been around for years. All in all, the catalogue from this fresh artist is well seasoned and enjoyable.

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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: 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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Parties, Pugs & Any Given Weekend: Talking with Northeast Party House

Those of us who were in bands as teenagers know that there are only two ways to reflect back on it. The first one is utter embarrassment. The hair cuts, the immature lyrics and the in-jokes that your 16-year old self thought were funny in an album artwork or song suddenly aren’t as funny to anyone except your 16-year old self. The other is with pride. Remembering those days as among the best you’ve ever had. When you used to do nothing but party with friends, tour, drink yourself silly, sleep on couches that looked more like fallen rubble and laugh as you injured yourself constantly.

Melbournites and long-time good friends, Northeast Party House, don’t shy away from their past shenanigans as they look to drop their very first album, Any Given Weekend, in May. The lead single from the album, The Haunted slotted nicely into the Triple J rotation recently and as tour dates were announced last week, we heard from front man Zach Hamilton-Reeves who talked a little past, present, future and all things NPH (not to be confused with Neil Patrick Harris).

 

Where did the name Northeast Party House come from?

Back in 2008, our good friend Sam Northeast was left in charge of his parents house for two weeks after his Mum went on a holiday to Canada. After a big night out, Sam invited everyone back to the house and the party ended up going on for 2 weeks straight. Technically we should have been called Northeast’s Party House. The name Northeast Party House was an ode to the silliness that went on in that house.

I don’t know about you guys, but I personally have been stinging for this album to come out for a long while. What do you think you’ll do to celebrate when it’s finally out?

Hmm, well other than playing shows around the place, I think we’re going to enjoy some down time.  There was some talk of Karaoke. We’ve all got other little project interests that we’d like to check out, so we’ll see where they get to and maybe slowly get started on [album] number two.

The two singles to be released off the upcoming album, Youth Allowance and The Haunted seem to follow a party focused theme. Is this setting a trend for the rest of the album to come?

The whole album is really about our lives, our friends, loves and the experiences we’ve all had over the past few years. I think the two songs you’ve heard are a pretty solid representation of what’s to come. We’re pretty excited to show everyone what we’ve been doing!

The Haunted is an exciting peek at Any Given Weekend. Why did you choose it to be the lead single?

For the first single we felt it was really important to show everyone the diversity of the band. The Haunted was one of the songs on the album that came together in the short space of a day or two. It’s a track that we’ve all really jelled on. It’s bouncy, with some serious undertones. The track manages to remain restrained and still deliver a bit of kick to your teeth. You know? I like that stuff.

A lot of Aussie bands have shot straight overseas around the time of a release to try spruik their sound. Gold Fields, San Cisco & The Griswolds to name a few. Have you got any plans to follow suit?

There aren’t any concrete plans for overseas just yet, but we are all super keen to get there eventually. For us it’s really about where to go first. I know some of us have our eyes set on New York. We’ll just have to see where we end up, I think.

On your Facebook page, I’ve seen guys in neck braces, guys with bloody noses, people passed out and most recently, Zach sporting crutches. What is it that makes your shows so dangerous?

To be fair, the crutches had nothing to do with our show, but all of our bruzzis get pretty wild. We’ve seen our fair share of obscene behaviour whilst playing. Maybe the bouncers?

Speaking of the live shows, they seem to be getting bigger and better all the time. Is it only big time from here or do you still play the odd mates house party?

Yeah, lately they’ve been getting really full on. We still like trying to make the house parties happen but it’s getting pretty hard. There are a lot of us playing live and a lot of stuff to set up. Lately we’ve been having a lot of fun playing DJs at the small parties and clubs, lots of techno stuff. It’s pretty fun.

What’s with you guys and laser pugs/cats at the moment? (Apart from them just being epic)

Truthfully? When I was about 8 I had a little kitten called ‘Mittens’ and my older brother had a little pug-cross called ‘Dex’. They became quite close. We used to play a game called strap the laser to your pet and make them do battle. We’d put them in a box with those little lasers strapped on the head with the button pressed down, fill the box up with smoke and shake it all around. R.I.P. Mittens, I loved you. I’ll never forgive Dex.

 

Any Given Weekend is set for release on the 16th of May through StopStart Records.

Northeast Party House will be touring Australia to support it over June and July. Tickets went on sale today – you can buy them here.

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Believe The Hype: Talking with Step Rockets

Minnesota natives, Step Rockets certainly gave new meaning to the phrase, “Believe the Hype” when they released the single Kisser. Almost overnight, the track blew up online thanks to that musical darling Hype Machine and the tonnes of blogs that fueled the fire with glowing reviews of the tune and the band to produce itMost of us like to wait it out before declaring a band the next big thing, and whilst I’m probably not going to use that exact phrase on account of hating it, judging on what I saw from them at Audiotrees live YouTube showcase this past week at SXSW they have plenty of fodder to continue to sky rocket (see what I did there?) into the ear-buds of tonnes more fans.

We were lucky enough to get a hold of them just before their domination of SXSW to find out about the surprise success of their trackthe latest remix from RII, a little bit of romance, and a first release story that was not unlike the novel Tomorrow When The War Began (I guess kind of similar to Red Dawn for American readers) – obviously subbing out the threatening soldiers for hordes of adoring fans of course. Bad metaphor? Don’t care, still leaving it in.

 

Your single Kisser got a big push from all the indie blogs on its release and topped the Hype Machine charts pretty much immediately. Were you surprised by this level of support in the first few weeks of release? 

Absolutely. Right after we released “Kisser” the band went camping in the B.W.C.A in the northern woods of Minnesota. When we got back to civilization, “Kisser” was climbing the hype machine chart and getting thousands of plays a day. The response has been incredible. We are so happy that our music is connecting with people and we are able to share our art with a larger audience.

 Kisser brilliantly showcases the level and style of song writing you guys are capable of and is quite impressive vocally. Do you think a similar vibe rolls into a lot of your other tracks or should we expect something completely different in upcoming releases? 

We are influenced by a wide range of styles and those influences come through in our music. We focus on strong melodies and production that let people escape to another world for a few minutes.  I guess the answer would be that we have both. We have sexy love songs as well as a little more edgy and psychedelic material.

You’ve recently outed the RII remix of Kisser. What do you like best about the rework? 

RII was the first remix we got back and they nailed it. They kept the vibe intact and did an excellent job with the change of tempo and that fat bass line.

You’ll be playing at this year’s SXSW festival for the first time with a big list of equally talented acts. What do you bring to your live show that makes Step Rockets stand out at a festival like this? 

Step Rockets has been a band for about 2 years but we’ve known each other for much longer. We have all played in different groups together and have played hundreds of shows together.  Something that is different about us is that we keep the crowd guessing where we are going to take them next while maintaining strong dance-able grooves and changing instruments and vibes. Brady and Josh also love to take guitar solos. Not many guitars solos out there in the Indie world these days.

What’s on your SXSW bucket list? 

Seeing and meeting as many talented people as possible. There will be so much talent in Austin we are just excited to be a part of the experience.  We just played with a cool band from France called La Femme, as well as the Canadian artist Lowell.  We can’t wait to see and meet more incredible bands. Washed Out and Little Dragon are a few groups at the top of our watch list.

When should we expect a debut full length from Step Rockets

We are planing on releasing a new single called “Heat Attack Again” at the end of March.  As for a full length, we haven’t set the date quite yet.

Kisser seems like a bit of a tragic love song. On the topic of love, what does date night with Step Rockets look like? 

There is a gorgeous spot in Minneapolis called Saint Anthony Main.  You can walk across the Mississippi River on the Stone Arch Bridge and arrive at this little place called the Aster Cafe.  They have a tiny stage for jazz groups with excellent wine and craft beer with a movie theatre next door. A ton of local inspirations play there on a regular basis as well.

Aside from the obvious money, tour organising issues and actual logistics. What would it take from Australian fans to convince Step Rockets to come to Australia? 

We would love to play Australia as soon as we can! The best thing for Australian fans to do right now is just spread the word.  If you are digging the jams then let your friends know about it; call in to your favorite local radio station to let them know about us.  As soon as we have enough people that want us there we’ll be there.

****

Fans lucky enough to be in the US can catch them live in Madison, Wisconsin during March and alongside Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys, Wild Cub, Little Comets and Aussies The Griswolds at Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware on June 19th. Advance tickets are currently still on sale.

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Great Good Fine OK – Not Going Home

Several great bands released new singles overnight including The Kooks with their new single “Down” (more like massive LET-DOWN – Sorry, somebody already used “thumbs down” on Twitter) and Northeast Party House with their newbie “The Haunted” scheduled to be on the upcoming album. The latter track I was bursting at the seams to hear but missed the premier on Triple J last night, we’ll have a post up about it soon I’m sure but will have to wait for it to hit the web. That being said, as always the best indie discoveries and latest tracks in the past week have been coming out of none other than the legendary SXSW festival.

Great Good Fine OK are the Brooklyn based duo that stormed the interwebs a short while ago with their debut, You’re The One For Me, complete with weird but kind of sense making ode-to-sandwich film clip. Well they’re storming back in with the follow up single Not Going Home showing fans worldwide that the original hype behind them is well deserved. The release comes at a very smart time while they’re hitting SXSW over the next few days. With the absolute bum-load of talent littering the streets of Austin this week the new track will surely be a golden drawing card to kids tossing up between seeing generic indie band A or coolness incarnate a.k.a these guys.

The track is bloody high and mighty, lending itself well to Great Good Fine OK’s now (pretty much) trademark almost whispered yet surprisingly powerful vocals and the symphony of electronic melodies are reminiscent of a more dark or emotional version of St Lucia’s, Elevate. If you’re lucky enough to be in Austin, TX right now, please don’t make me hurt you – go see them. Oh yeah, and like us on FACEBOOK here.

Great Good Fine OK – SXSW Dates

March 13th – Red Eyed Fly – 12:15PM

March 13th – La Barbeque – 4:30PM

March 14th – Sidebar – 1:30PM

March 14th – Maggie Maes – 9PM

March 15th – Empire Garage – 8PM

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The New Division – Honest & Stockholm

The New Division had a pretty sick single in Kids back in 2012. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all they had. The ambient electricity and the droning stobe of electronic bass in almost every song kind of got tiring fast and meant that I only really stuck with them for a while. For some reason though, amongst what felt like un-impressed-ness, I was (for reasons unknown) impressed.

The LA based quintet have just two weeks ago released their second most recent single off what I’m assuming will be an upcoming record. The track is called Honest and it’s a lot of the same stuff from before, but with a twist. It takes the interesting parts that caused me to continue listening in the first place, and scraps the boredom in favour of pleasant vocal hooks in 80’s verses that are not unlike classics like Temptation from New Order. It’s a cool track regardless and a step in the right direction, making me think that the upcoming album is actually going to be a keeper.

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Cruiser – Kidnap Me

I haven’t heard from Cruiser before so this one is as fresh as they come for me. Their latest release, Kidnap Me, is right on schedule, feeling summery and fun, bouncing along with naive enthusiasm and connotations of “lets-run-away-together” from young lovers. The guys have been around since 2012 apparently but well under the radar, I think it’s about time sometime took notice and all I can say is thank god for BIRP.FM.

The track isn’t up on Spotify but you can download the track from Bandcamp for a nifty $1. Check it out.

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A Real Hero

So this one is a truly amazing cover by a somewhat hit and miss sort of band. High Highs released their debut effort, Open Season earlier this year and it wasn’t actually half bad. I saw them live at Laneway Festival 2013 earlier in the year and they absolutely blew me away live with a sound that didn’t really seem to transpose as well off stage.

That being said, there were a lot of hits such as the title track Open Season and Pines and it’s definitely worth a good listen or two before writing it off. Their latest track, which is a cover of a College/Electric Youth track courts the band solidly to the direction they should be hitting; dream-pop.

That was the problem with the live performance/album adaption. As a live band, they were full of dream-pop classics and airy synth that pulled the entire crowd to some sort of happy place whenever they played. Yet on the album it was all acoustically driven, which isn’t bad but this shit is build for beautiful synth!

A Real Hero is High Highs exactly where they should be. Stop faffing about and do more of this shit!

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Old Love / New Love

Out with the old and in with the new, they say. Well I don’t fully agree with that. There’s nothing wrong in sticking to the principles of the old if it bloody works. Why do you think phrases like “Old School” and “Retro” became on-trend? Everybody wants to have that NEW sound, but there’s always been something inherently cool about the old. That’s why hipsters and so-called ‘true’ muso’s always pretend to be massive fans of The Beatles and Eric Clapton. Rightly so as well. It’s the old that pioneered music to what it is today and needs to admired and remodeled.

But it’s not always about black and white oldies like The Beatles. Sometimes when a band finds a great sound, that kind of old can be applied to the second album or release to almost replicate throughout a whole new LP, and a lot of people have a problem with it, but I personally love it. A lot can go wrong by trying to be ‘different’ or ‘experimental’ and it’s when it does go wrong that absolutely no one gives a shit that you were cool, hipster and brave with the latest release. Look at MGMT for instance. FUCK their second album was shit-house. So much so that I don’t even remember anything on it and walked out during their set at Bamboozle, New Jersey in 2010 because they didn’t play much of their first album. It was shoot-my-brains-out boring.

Alright, so that sentiment aside, the latest track from Brooklyn native Twin Shadow entitled Old Love / New love is now available on iTunes today and I couldn’t have wished for anything cooler. Everything that was amazing from his 2012 album, Confess is there, tweaked in the simplest ways to still allow this new release to shine brilliantly on it’s own as a catchy and trendy yet gritty pop track. So gritty in fact that all my gaming nerd friends will be pleased to know that it was included on the soundtrack to the record breaking GTA V.

If you haven’t heard of Twin Shadow before then check out this new one but seriously don’t miss out on Confess as well. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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