Tag Archives: australia

Review: “Candle Power”, by Rat Columns

Rat Columns, Candle Power (Upset the Rhythm)

Rat Columns is the project of NYC-by way of Western Australia’s David West, whose previous work with bands such as Total Control, Rank/Xerox and Lace Curtain, as well as his solo material (most recently, last year’s great Peace or Love), explored different musical territory, from noirish post-punk, new wave imbued rhythmic explorations and dazed and confused psych.

Candle Power, his latest release with Rat Columns, finds West stitching together these various elements into a seamless and truly wondrous indie pop gem.  “Blinded by the Shadow” expands on the Hot Chip (and their 80s antecedents) stomp of Lace Curtain, burnished with the addition of backing vocals from bassist Amber Gempton (featured throughout) and the inspired use of violin to add texture.  “Northern Soul” weds the jittery, gothic post-punk of West’s work with Total Control and Rank/Xerox (I also kept hearing Lords of the New Church) with hazy psych.  The album is shot through with moments of sublime, pop bliss.  Opening one-two, “Someone Else’s Dream” and “She Loves the Rain”, jangled perfection in the spirit of classic Flying Nun on through to The Byrds. Closer, “Dream Tonight” a dancefloor ready mashup of New Order and Prefab Sprout (“Time’s No Vessel” also reminds of a less blissed-out Sprout with a shot of Orange Juice).

A dreamy, sepia-tinted melancholy hangs over the album, showcasing West’s ability to coalesce wide-eyed melodies with urbane, sometimes caustic lyrical takes on love and relationships, which are at variously “like driving a motorbike straight into a wall” (“Is This Really What You’re Like?”), an ephemeral, ‘did that really happen?’ experience (“Someone Else’s Dream”), and portentous “dark cloud that rains down from above” (“Time’s No Vessel”). It’s brilliant.

Candle Power is out now, on Upset the Rhythm.  You can follow along with all things David West on his bandcamp and fbook page.

Highlights include: “Someone Else’s Dream”, “Time’s No Vessel”, “Blinded by the Shadow”, “Dream Tonight”.

 

Check Out “Soul Mender”, the New EP from Zerodent.

Zerodent, Soul Mender (Almost Ready)

“Soul Mender” cover. Photo credit: Igor Coko.


Zerodent is a four-piece band out of Perth, Australia.  Formed way back in 2015, their excellent self-titled debut came out last year on German label, Alien Snatch! and, lo and forsooth, a new three-track EP, Soul Mender, is upon us…and it is good.

There’s a righteousness inherent in a lot of the best punk, and it’s on full show here.  Mixing classic ℅ ’77 sounds of bands like The Saints and Buzzcocks (the opening riff of the title track reminds of “Harmony In My Head”) with garage, SoCal h/c gnarl and a bit of maximum r&b, the EP is an absolute rush from start to finish.  Vocalist Lee Jenkins spits, snarls and wails, driving the service to completion with the rollicking “This Time” (personal fave, though it’s hard to choose).  Pass the fucking plate.  The only gripe is it’s too short.

Soul Member is out now, via Almost Ready.  You can catch up with all things Zerodent on their fbook, and peruse their catalogue on bandcamp.  Don’t see any tour dates up yet, but hopefully that will change soon.

Glitter Veils Share “Gossamer Folds” and “Soft Touch” from Forthcoming Figures in Sight.

Glitter Veils, “Gossamer Folds”; “Soft Touch” (Flexible)

Photo credit: Savvy Creative.

 

Australian duo Luke Zahnleiter and Michael Whitney make music as Glitter Veils.  Their album, Figures in Sight, is due this Friday (2/10) from Flexible Records (an imprint of Terrible), who have been kind enough to provide teasers in the form of “Gossamer Folds” and “Soft Touch”.

A pleasantly disorienting, almost vertiginous, feel wafts from these tracks.  Like a liquid motion toy’s suspended, colored drops fusing, detaching, and reforming in slightly different ways, familiar threads – the Guthrie-esque guitar wash in ‘Gossamer Folds’; the early industrial heft to the programmed beats underpinning the peyote-fueled western glitter ball of ‘Soft Touch’; a dream pop feel here, a bit of JAMC menace there; whispered, droning vocals reminiscent of Spacemen 3 or Massive Attack – blend, separate and reconvene in novel ways.  “Gossamer” is my personal favorite, its bent guitar lines, slightly ooky fun house-style synths and lurching beat tracing lazy arcs in the sky.  Definitely looking forward to hearing the rest.

You can find (a bit) more things Glitter Veils on soundcloud and fbook.  Figures in Sight can be pre-ordered now on Flexible’s bandcamp page.  Tune in, drop &etc.

Check the Snide Jangle of “Around the House”, by Chook Race

Members of Melbourne, Australia's Chook Race, at rest.

Members of Melbourne, Australia’s Chook Race, at rest.

Chook Race, Around the House (Tenth Court/Trouble In Mind, 9/2/2016)

Chook Race are a three-piece hailing from Melbourne, Australia (fun fact: “chook” is, according to my online sources, an Aussie slang term for a hen, a woman or the sound made to call the former).  Around the House is the band’s latest long-player, and it’s a fantastically catchy collection of sharp, lo-fi pop.

On Around the House, Chook Race channel the energies of 80s and early 90s purveyors of jangle pop, caustic lines delivered by vocalist/guitarist Matt Liveriadis – at times in ‘boy/girl’ harmony with drummer Carolyn Hawkins (who takes on lead vocal duties on several tracks) – ‘neath the glint of ringing guitar tones and vibrant drum and bass.  Liveriadis has the kind of deadpan voice which recalls folks like David Gedge and Eugene Kelly, perfect for withering lines like “sometimes, I get tired/oh and sometimes, I get sick/…of you” (“Sometimes”).  The tossed-off, charmingly ramshackle sonic touchstones are warmly familiar, and include bands like The Vaselines, The Clean, The Pastels.  Album highlight, “Lost the Ghost”, has a riff that kept pinging around in my brain until I decided it sounded like early REM – or maybe something by The Only Ones – I couldn’t decide; but I was too busy bopping along to care.  Standing on (sloped) shoulders they may be, but the tunes Chook Race create are undeniable and worthy of repeated listen.

Around the House is out now, courtesy of Tenth Court (in Australia, New Zealand and Japan) and Trouble In Mind (everywhere else) – or straight from the band on their Bandcamp page. Catch up with Chook Race (sorry) on fbook, on tour, and peep the indie pop aerobicise on disply in the video for lead track, “Hard to Clean”, (below).

Highlights include:  “Lost the Ghost”, “Sometimes”, “At Your Door”, “Hard to Clean”

Listen to “Held”, the latest from Melbourne’s Lowtide, and Bliss Out

Lowtide, “Held” (Opposite Number)

We loved “Wedding Ring”, the first taster of the forthcoming debut album from Melbourne’s Lowtide.  Now, we’re hearing “Held” for the first time (the band shared the track back in 2014), and we’ve fallen in love all over again.  [Our thanks to the always great The Line of Best Fit blog for the initial introduction.]

Since we never got off our duff long enough to write about “Wedding Ring” when we first heard it a few months ago, let’s rectify that first. The track is truly massive, channeling the epic end of the shoegaze/dreampop spectrum – think later period Cocteau Twins (the phased guitars are charmingly Guthrie-esque) and bands like Pale Saints and Slowdive – with an uptempo groove and a bridge at the 1:40 mark that, if it doesn’t make you smile and/or tear up, you should seek immediate medical attention.

“Held” is no less grand, even while seemingly a bit less epic.  Wtf?, you may say.  Our explanation lies in the layers underneath the skyscraping boy/girl vocal tradeoffs. Where “Wedding Ring” started from a lush, shogazed underpinning, “Held” feels like the kind of anthemic, later period post-punk that wasn’t afraid to pin its heart to its denim jacketed sleeve – we’re thinking here of past greats like the brilliant Chameleons, Pink Turns Blue, and Brighter Than a Thousand Suns-era Killing Joke, on through to new bands like another thegrindinghalt fave, Communions.   The upper register is no less blissful, but the slow burning guitar and absolutely churning rhythms here provide a bit of cloud cover to an otherwise purely sun-dappled experience.

Opposite Number Records will release the band’s debut full length on August 5.  In the meantime, you can check out the band’s fbook, Bandcamp and SoundCloud pages for news and other music.