Single Review – Tame Impala – List of People (To try and Forget About)

Over two years since the release of the acclaimed Currents Tame Impala are still releasing material from those recording sessions, such is the appeal of the sound they forged a few hazy Australian summers ago. The pick of these new releases is ‘List of People (To try and Forget About) which offers up a meandering style of track that would have fitted hand in glove into the album with the whirring, resonant electronica, crisp, rhythmic percussion and Kevin Parkers dream pop vocals. It is a song that is differs to the rest of the album in how it doesn’t seek the infectious hook, but wallows in the murky soundscapes it created for itself. With the buzz from this album still being felt over rated on, what direction will Kevin Parker get lost in next time? With the band taking a break for this year, it may some time before we find out; we’ve got a fantastic album to keep replaying in the meantime though.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Empire of the Sun – On Our Way Home

For me, the elaborate nature of Empire of the Sun has never translated in their music. The backstories, the costumes…always so much more fascinating than the product. The same can be said in new single On Our Way Home. It’s very comparable to much of their other material – ethereal vocals and floaty synths to a syncopated drum machine. It lapses into the same monotonous routine, with nothing as exciting as their next headdress to pick it up. The lyrics are annoyingly infectious, and the song itself is impressively accomplished, it’s just too boring.

Ellie Chivers

Single Review – Pond – Paint Me Silver

Glowing alien forms, which look as though they may have been created on some low budget Sketchup like software, dance in hypnotic repetition to a spiral of synths and surfer rock guitar as the threat of impending nuclear war begins to surround them. No this is not a strange unseen demo clip of the eighth Star Wars instalment but Australian band Pond’s latest video. A celestial reflection of an unsettled time ‘Paint Me Silver’ is the latest release in the run up to new album ‘The Weather’ due 5th May. Incorporating the band’s insanely layered synths and falsetto vocals ‘Paint Me Silver’ is a dreamlike Tame Impale style electro-pop track that hints at the otherworldly rock opera style ‘The Weather’ could turn out to be.

Hayley Miller 

Single Review – Parcels – Gamesofluck

 Parcels are an Australian five piece from Byron Bay, made up of five high school friends who decided to set up shop in Berlin to pursue their Disco sound. Clearly trying to gain perspective from the career of a certain Mr. Giorgio Moroder; the influence for Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories in 2013. Parcels are definitely honing that German Disco sound and are doing so perhaps a little more faithfully than Daft Punk did. Their new single ‘Gamesofluck’ is the perfect example of this with the shimmering pools of electronica and loose Niles Rodgers riffs with the steady hit behind it all screams Disco. Though it is nothing new, the delivery and arrangement all add to the smooth presentation and so making the track cool and sharp as opposed to cringeworthy. A neat little track from a neat little group that wear their influences on their sleeves.

Owen Riddle

OH PEP! Q&A – The Australian duo talk about SXSW and Aussie music

 

-Who makes up Oh Pep! and what are you about?

Olivia Hally and Pepita Emmerichs make up Oh Pep! We write and arrange the music together and play live with various musicians on bass and drums depending on our location. We are all about a no boundaries attitude and bringing out the unexpected to each unsuspecting pop song.

-Who influences you musical or otherwise?

It’s hard to pinpoint what our biggest musical influences are in terms of particular artists…the list could go on for days. But having met at classical music school with a shared love of pop, folk and country, then studying jazz and oldtime is probably a better place to start. And then there are always those good things like a swim in the ocean, riding your bike and having a chuckle!

-What has the reaction been like to your EP LIving?

We launched it in North America through Canadian label Star House Collective alongside our first international tour in mid 2015 and it has been received super well. It led to a lot of key media for us including ranking the CBC charts for several weeks, NPR play and a Tiny desk Concert and live performances for KEXP and KCRW.

-Where was it recorded and how did you find it?

Two of the songs were taken from our previous two EP’s (one from each) and remixed by Daniel Ledwell in Echo Lake, Nova Scotia. Dan produced the other two songs and this is also where we recorded them in Feb 2015. It was a great experience and really took hold of our pop elements. It was fun to spend a few days in a proper winter environment too…never seen so much snow in our lives!

-Has recording an album even crossed your mind yet? If so, where would you like to go with it?

It has indeed occurred to us, in fact it is already recorded and gone to press! It is being released in June. Stay tuned!

-You’ve been playing at SXSW. Is this the first time you’ve played in the US and what’s your experience of it been so far?

This is our third trip to the US within a year and the second we have made especially for this kind of festival. It’s always a bunch of fun playing lots of sets everyday, seeing and meeting other new bands. SXSW is by far the biggest festival we have performed at, but luckily we played in Austin last year so we were familiar with the city and how to get around. We even made sure to get back to our favourite swimming hole Barton Springs when we had a few hours off. Plus took advantage of some fantastic Mexican food and Southern BBQ.

-Are you looking forward to playing ‘The Great Escape’ festival in Brighton later this year? Is it your first time performing in the UK?

It will be part of our first European tour including our first time to the UK. It’s also going to be my first time to the UK, so I’m looking forward to checking it out! We have heard a lot about The Great Escape through other Australian acts so we can’t wait to be there ourselves.

-Australian music is gaining particular attention at the moment with Tame Impala and Courtney Barnett to name two. What do you think of their success and do you think there is anything particular about Australian music?

There does seem to be a great buzz around Australian music at the moment and rightfully so. Those guys are a stellar example of what Aussie music is about and there is such a healthy scene here that I’m sure many more acts are going to be picked up. We have a really strong original music push in Oz.

-What is the Melbourne music scene like and what is the environment like for new musicians?

Melbourne is my favourite music scene in the world and I feel lucky to be based here. It’s where we have honed and continue to hone our craft. It feels like almost everyone is in a band in Melbourne, which is an amazing and healthy thing. Making new music and seeing gigs is part of the culture as we know it here. It’s incredibly inspiring- the perfect environment for new musicians.

-Sum up what 2016 is going to be like for Oh Pep!

Exciting. Busy. Fun. We are touring Europe, North America and Australia (some of these more than once!), launching our debut album and playing a bunch of festivals and showcases. It will be a lot of new things for us. 100% can’t wait.

 

Many thanks to Olivia and Pepita for some insightful answers and keep an ear out for they new music they’ll be providing us soon!

Questions by Owen Riddle

The Jezabels – Synthia Review

 

The increasingly established Alternative quartet The Jezabels from Sydney have returned with their third studio album Synthia and are looking to build on the solid momentum of their first album. The difficult second album was just that and came back to haunt them somewhat as being an underwhelming effort. The talent is there however and for the group Synthia is an opportunity for them to show just how much talent that is.

 

‘Come Alive’ is bold and dramatic in pitching heavy percussion and rough riffs against a sparse backdrop of echoes and spinning electronica. Hayley’s vocals gently lift the tension from the song which is ebbs and flows from chorus to verse with a greater intensity. The chorus blasts light through the track with light and airy synths and a more swooning vocal. This is cast off into an aggressive interlude of tumbling percussion and reverberating guitars. It is a track that demonstrates the atmospheric quality and power they contain. ‘Pleasure drive’ is a track that starts with an a negative resonant synth which exudes a disjointed rhythm. This is backed up with a rumbling riff and purposeful percussion. Hayley’s vocals follow the disjointed pattern of the earlier electronica. The track takes on a graceful progression to a peak hook and a more powerful vocal. Behind these are heavier riffs and percussion. This song is delivered beautifully and captures the essence of reaching a culmination of sound with ease.

 

Emerging from soft, nudging electronica is the opening track in ‘Stand and Deliver’. Mishaped and haunting spoken vocals sift through the ever bolder instrumentation that rotates and gathers pace alongside rising synths. The song falls away to a basic percussion part with the vocals taking the lead and pulling the song back to a greater height. Her vocals then offer up a Kate Bush- like kick and practically bellow out the vocals around the heavier sounds before seamlessly slipping back towards a calmer tone. Another reaffirming of the prowess of their delivery and production to back it up. ‘My Love Is My Disease’ offers a more theatrical and rapid track that demonstrate Hayley’s vocal ability. ‘Unnatural’ begins with a simple whirred synth and vocal combination. The song quickly reaches higher tones that subtly rise and fall by bringing in one key element to transport the song from one section to another. The cool vocals behind them aid this too. ‘If Ya Want Me’ highlights the echoed nature of the production and is powered by accelerating, washed out guitars and bouncing synths. The lyrical content of female empowerment and commentary add to the power and potency of the instrumentation. One critique is that the sounds aren’t as varied or as tangible which is the only critique of the production. For the most part the album is graceful, smooth and crafts a powerful atmospheric quality in almost every track. It is a definite improvement on their second album and shows that The Jezabels are indeed as talented as they hinted. Their strongest album to date and hopefully a sign of greater things to come from the Australian group.

 

The Jezabels – Synthia = 8/10

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Tame Impala – Currents Review

With one the most hotly anticipated albums of the year, Tame Impala have given us a generous serving of their third studio album Currents since the lead single ‘Let It Happen’ emerged online several months ago. Since then we’ve had three more that varied back to the blocky fuzz of their previous album as opposed to the dance driven album that’s been promised and replicated with ‘Let It Happen’. Kevin Parker has recently been speaking of making the music “He’s always wanted to do” and previously not following that up in order to keep Tame Impala with the realms of psych-rock, but with him now claiming that “boundaries are there to be broken” then you can only get excited by the promise of the album. The pivotal point here is that this is the first album delivered by the Perth quintet in the face of much attention and anticipation so have the laid back band cracked under the pressure? Have they been able to better their standards yet again?

‘Let it Happen’ is an spacious and rolling piece of neo-psychedelic dance music at nearly eight minutes long. It opens with flashing and wiry synths set above whirring electronica beneath it and this breathes in and out in its intensity to bring the focus to Kevin Parker’s isolated and wonderfully graceful vocals. As the track goes on the synths only increase in their pitch as they start to jam and repeat in a process that bridges the progression to the warped organ-like instrumental and the distorted percussion underneath it and back into the main tune. Parker’s whirring vocals lead into the brief distorted guitar parts which only enhance the current subtle tones of the song. It’s a wonderful track with the ability to be expansive and vast, immediate and catchy and wonderfully melodic too. Quite possibly the song of the year that’s the epitome of Parker’s aforementioned aims.  ‘Cause I’m a Man’ moves into slightly more familiar territory. It still embraces the fluid and smooth expanses that graced the first single, with chiming synths and Parkers sweeping and fading falsetto. These fluid soundscapes are tied around a gently meandering bass-line and a basic back beat. It is another track that doesn’t particularly focus on the guitar as a rhythm section tool as they have done, but instead they utilised them to add dimension to the chorus and carry the melody in a rough and typically distorted fashion. With this in mind, the single is more familiar than ‘Let it Happen’ with it’s laid back and hazy style, yet still maintains the altered instrumental focus that has so far been stressed with these two tracks.

With ‘Eventually’ they again feature vibrant electronica, more familiar fuzzy tones backed up with some excellent vocals by Kevin Parker with his smooth and hazy falsettos that filter through the track’s instrumentation. Here they demonstrate a subtlety and a fragility to their music. It has a simple beat and a wiry synth meandering around it which sets up the song for some well placed surges of distorted guitar to only emphasise the more considered tones as more washed out electronica flows over you. This culminates in a track that see’s it’s soundscapes blossom throughout the track instead of firing past you. A more considered approach. ‘Disciples’ sees their trademark bending guitar sound filling the sound space and being accentuated with warping and twisting synth drones and through this cuts Parker’s faded falsetto. The track shifts in and out of audible focus and this only heightens the hooks and the easy rhythm of the track which fades out before two minutes. ‘The Less I Know The Better’ offers up some funk injected psychedelia with the twisting bass line moving out and in to only heighten the groove of the track. This is paired wonderfully with whirring melodies that extend across the instrumentation with the melodies peaking with chiming, distorted synths. The song goes on to take the features of that of a blissful aged pop song before fading out in that fashion. A genre fusing track. ‘Past Life’ features a heavily pitch-shifted spoken verse before breaking and meandering into the utterly luscious monotone blast of noise from the heavily distorted and warped unison of vocals and instrumentation. Somehow this tracks dares to reach further into the depths of usable space and expansion. ‘Reality in Motion’ offers up a similar sweeps in a more lighter and direct fashion around a pop structure, but with heavily warped fringes.

‘Love Paranoia’ features a steady and heavy beat and the vocals directing the melodies and followed by the light instrumentation which gradually adds small elements such as a bass to it’s sound. The bass is charged and prominent in ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’ as it rolls and tumbles it’s way in forming the song’s backbone and from this the electronica and sharp lead guitars fire out from it in a wave of sound rode upon by Parker’s high pitched harmonies. The bass sound is briefly sacrificed for a high pitched interlude before slowly flowing back into the track to conclude it. Tracks like ‘The Moment introduce those elements of a prominent bass line with chiming electronica and vocals feeding from it in an enhanced pop based structure as the song breaks down and rebuilds it’s soundscapes with wiry and spiralling electronica. ‘Yes I’m Changing’ puts these aspects into practice in a more winding and spaced out environment resembling that of 80’s pop ballad seen through the eyes of Tame Impala. The album is graceful and effortless in standing out from previous Tame Impala efforts as it sets itself apart in terms of style and production in ways that were only hinted at with Innerspeaker and Lonerism. The excellent phasing and re-envisaged soundscapes and song structures can be appreciated in multitude of ways and Parker breaks down the boundaries of the phased and heavily distorted production that Ariel Pink and Julian Casablancas couldn’t quite master. Some aspects of Random Access Memories by Daft Punk weren’t even matching Parker’s ability in production to pull a song apart and reconfigure it in a rich and all encompassing way. Whilst it may not be full of fuzzy guitars, it’s gained a hell of a lot more as Tame Impala advance.

Tame Impala – Currents = 10/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Oh Pep! – The Race

Oh Pep! consist of Olivia ‘Liv’ Hally and Pepita ‘Pep’ Emmerichs are one of the most dynamic pop duos from Down Under and the Melbourne group have a new single called ‘The Race’ from their upcoming EP Taken From Living which is available on August 21st. With the band citing influences ranging from Bach, Bob Dylan and Arcade Fire then you can expect an eclectic sound from them and with their new single delivers this with the pop melodies and infectious rhythms to make the song a rapid and catchy affair, yet one that musically has more than meets the eye. The track ranges from it’s electro-beat opening to it’s gently lapping guitars and percussion and those moments with metrical riffs. There musical variations are all set around clear and crisp vocals that occasionally push themselves into a light falsetto to maximise the vocal harmonies. These varying elements are backed up by snappy handclap percussion culminating in a fun and urgent track and one I’d highly recommend.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Tame Impala – Eventually

Tame Impala Play

With Tame Impala finally announcing that their third studio LP Currents will be released on July 17th, they’ve released what is now their fourth single off the upcoming album. The previous three have already featured vibrant electronica, more familiar fuzzy tones, but each track backed up with some excellent vocals by Kevin Parker with his smooth and hazy falsettos that filter through the track’s instrumentation. With ‘Eventually’ he does it again as they demonstrate their subtlety and a fragility to their music. It has a simple back beat and a wiry synth meandering around it, which sets up the song for some well placed surges of distorted guitar to only emphasise the more considered tones as more washed out electronica flows over you. The result is a chilled and relaxed track for those phased out moments. The anticipation for Currents goes on.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Tame Impala – Disciples

With their third studio album Currents fast approaching, we take a look at Tame Impala’s latest short but sweet single ‘Disciples’.Kevin Parker’s trademark bending guitar sound fills up the sound space and are accentuated with warping and twisting synth drones and through this cuts Parker’s faded falsetto. The track shifts in and out of audible focus and this only heightens the hooks and the easy rhythm of the track which fades out before two minutes. It’s a little more like their Innerspeaker material, but shows a sense of variation on the album, which will surely be the soundtrack to the summer.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995