Totally Mild – Down Time

a1517592540_10Rating: ★★★½☆

Totally Mild are a four piece outfit who hail from Melbourne, Australia and create lush and soft sounding indie pop. What started out as the project of front woman, Elizabeth Mitchell, became fully fleshed out with the help the collective creativity of the band as a group. The result is Down Time the debut album from these folks which will have your ears begging for more of the heaven-sent indie pop.

The first thing you’ll notice when you sit down to listen to this record, and what will bring you back again and again to certain tracks is the impossible crisp and delicate nature of Mitchell’s vocals. Half-falsetto, half simply so sharp they sound practically other-worldly in their effortless perfection, Mitchell’s vocals are easily the star of the mix, or at least the star that shines the brightest in the indie pop. Totally Mild’s sound is a mix of straightforward indie pop with hints of sun-bleached surf guitars and a dash of shoe-gaze. The guitars edge between jangly and clear and are always perfectly spliced into the mix, resulting in a concise and careful quality to Down Time.

In the crisp and pure sound of the vocals in combination with the instruments to make simply divine sounding pop, an interesting dynamic spurs in the middle part of the album in which these gentle sounding melodies make for some pretty dark tunes. In the three track knockout span that includes “Nights,” “The Next Day,” and  “Work It Out,” the band combines their sweet sounding pop with the spinning of morose lyrics: “All my nights end with all my friends dead,” “I’m in bed and I never want to go outside again,” “Lately I’ve used up all my faces of disdain.” But each of these numbers bring in the blacker notes to the tracks in different ways. The first out of the trio, “Nights,” adds a hint of sinister sound in the guitar licks, which are even and slow, while the other two of the tracks act as two parts of a whole. “The Next Day,” is about exactly what you’d expect it to be about and is a slow, somewhat self-deprecating track whose center break down is tragically filled with nostalgia, and longing. This leads seamlessly into “Work It Out” which brings in the darker elements with the cutty guitar parts and the sectionalized bits of the song. These three tracks alone are simply great, and show the kind of promise this band has.

For a debut album, there is a ton to appreciate about this release; it’s brief, filled with some great tracks that will pull you back time and time again. However, in the brevity, it seems to lack a bit of meat to its core. On a few of the numbers, the band seems to be getting to a build, or starting to build up, but then the song just ends instead of going in a different direction. This flatness isn’t a huge detractor from the enjoyability of the record, but a little more dimensionality would have pushed it from good to great. I look forward to hearing a sophomore release from Totally Mild.

 

A New Tune from Boomgates

boomgates2A few years ago there was this brief explosion of Aussie tunes that received a lot of love on our continent, especially from this site.  Bands like Twerps, Bitch Prefect, Bored Nothing, Pop Singles and more made waves, but I was particular to Boomgates.  I’ve kept an eye on the group for some time, so I’m glad to see that they’ll soon be releasing a new effort via Bedroom Suck Records.  There’s no exact word on when this new album will be released, but it popped up on a compilation that was recently released by the label.  It’s somewhere in between jangling twangling Aussie pop and just your down-home traditional indie pop.  It’s a special Friday delight.

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Get Yourself Into Lower Plenty

lifeWhile there’s no word on the future release on Mexican Summer here in the US, the Lower Plenty album is out now from Bedroom Suck Records.  Why does that matter? Well, the Australian act is pretty much one of my favorite things right now (in case you care).  They’ve got a sound similar to other acts like Twerps or Dick Diver, with this relaxed approach to songwriting, yet wholly versed in the world of pop.  The album is said to be a collection of moments and recordings captured, then organized into the album format.  Whatever it is, Life/Thrills is a pretty enjoyable listen from start to finish.

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Slacker Pop from Bitch Prefect

Our friend Toby over at Finest Kiss just ran a great re-cap on an article that ran over in Australia highlighting all the excellent bands working in Melbourne area.  There’s tons of great artists on the list, but one that I’ve taken a liking to is Bitch Prefect.  My ears can see The Clean reference from the write-up, but I also think it speaks to the approach many of the acts overseas have taken, seeming to maintain a certain nonchalance about their writing and recording.  That’s probably not the case, as the songs on the group’s Big Time LP from Bedroom Suck Records are too good to be taken lightly.

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