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.
Man, what’s wrong with me? I’ve been so swamped with US releases that I totally forgot to check in on Dappled Cities. Long ago when we were a fledgling site with big ambitions, the group played our very first SXSW Show, and we were grateful to have them. Apparently the group’s been working hard, just getting home after touring in support of their latest LP, Lake Air. I’m not sure how that slid under my radar, but better late than never, right? It’s an energetic pop tune, sincere and bright, just as I remembered the band years ago. Excuse me, I’m going to go immerse myself in this album. Do the same, won’t you?
I hadn’t heard about the Sugargliders, though I’m admittedly ashamed of that fact. Apparently the Australian group has a short career in the early 90s, releasing multiple singles, and one solitary album. But, now our dear friends over at Matinee Recordings have decided that you deserve the right to get your hands on these out of print works, compiling a career retrospective titled A Nest With A View. It’s honest indie-pop, with warming guitar lines and reflective lyrics–the things that make good pop so sincere and stunning. I’m glad to have discovered this act, and I hope you opt to pick up their compilation on October 16th when it hits stores.
If you remember last year, then you remember Twerps, especially if you followed our site closely. They had a runner-up best of year song on our year-end list, and their self-titled album also made the cut. News hit yesterday about a new 7″ from the Australian bunch coming your way September 17th via Chapter Music. This tune’s a lot more upbeat than what you might have gotten from the group in the past, and Marty seems to be having a bit of fun with his vocal performance. In my opinion, this band can’t do a single thing wrong with their music, and I’m sure you’ll feel the same after jamming this track.
I don’t think my week would be complete here without spending some time forcing my love for all things Australia on you folks. My latest discovery is Melbourne’s Bored Nothing, who’ve just put this new track up on their site from their Bored Nothing III EP. One of the things I’m really enjoying about this tune is the slightest rise in the pitch on the vocals; you’ve got to listen closely to hear the switch. It’s a mellow tune, but it exemplifies the great scene that is currently going on overseas…be it garage rock or bedroom pop, keep it coming if it sounds this ridiculously good.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Bored-Nothing-I-wish-you-were-dead.mp3]
Download:Bored Nothing – I Wish You Were Dead [MP3]
You know we love the Aussie’s over here at ATH, so it figures that I’d stumble upon another act from Sydney that I’d dig. Deep Sea Arcade has a different sound than the majority of the acts I fawn over from Oceania, featuring a cleaner guitar sound and hints at nostalgic Britpop…in my ears. I love the wash of the vocals on this track, which comes from their album, Outlands; it’s just been released in the States by Microfiche Records. If you’re looking for some sprightly tunes in the way of classic guitar rock then enjoy this track![audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/DeepSeaArcade_Girls.mp3]
Download:Deep Sea Arcade – Girls [MP3]
You’ve heard me rave about Velcro for a few months now, but the members working on that project also dabble in another great group called The Ocean Party. Curtis, a member of both groups, reached out to us with the band’s latest single, In A Knot. It’s a mellowed out four song-single, which the band are currently offering up for free download, though you can purchase the single via CD. It’s precisely the chilled out pop music I’ve come to expect from the heavy-hitters in Australia featuring gently gliding guitar lines, cool melodies and real world lyrics. You can expect a full-length titled Social Clubs to come from the band in October, but for now, enjoy this gem.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/1-In-A-Knot.mp3]
Download:The Ocean Party – In A Knot [MP3]
Bart and Friends is an Australian supergroup of sorts, fronted by Bart Cummings. The group features members of the Shapiros and the Lucksmiths, to name a few, so you’re probably going to have some lofty expectations. Luckily for us all, There May Come a Time lives up to those expectations, and in fact, it surpasses them.
Opening the EP is “There May Come a Time,” which features the wonderful Pam Berry on vocals. She’s talking about writing songs, but suggests that there are some words/songs she’ll always remember (those of a love when she was young). I love the brightness of the guitar sound here, not to mention the precision drumming which helps accentuate the depth of the track. You’re going to be hard pressed to find a better album opener on a pop record than this one. But, then they move into some extremely familiar territory with the much covered track, “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” I know the song was originally done by Elvis, but as a kid of the 80s, I think back to UB40 (unfortunately). However, twenty listens into this EP, I will forever think of Berry’s performance here; her voice seems to be perfectly crafted to sing this track. Definitely a special song.
From here you’ll get into the middle of There May Come a Time, featuring two of my favorite tracks, though one is the record’s shortest. “A Kiss You Won’t Forget” encompasses everything I’ve come to love about the sound of pop music that’s been carried over from Australia. Sharp dueling guitars, careful bass work, and some of the best vocal performances. It’s one of those songs you want to put on a mixtape and play for all your friends. There’s only one thing wrong with “There Are So Many Things I’d Like to See,” and that revolves around the 50 second song length. It’s a completed track by Bart and Friends, but I completely wish they’d have pushed it even further; it’s got the makings of becoming one of my favorite tracks every. I’m just going to loop it over and over on my own to reach the desired effect. The group does approach similar territory on “These Words Are Too Small,” but Berry seems a bit more rushed here, so it doesn’t have that drama in it.
Closing out the EP is “A Summer’s Dream,” the most chilled out track on There May Come a Time. Here, while Berry again sounds great, it’s the sound of the guitar that really shines. It’s as if each note was carefully picked for maximum melodic power; there’s a carefree mood created by both the band and Berry. It’s a relaxing feeling, the way every summer dream should be. The ending is perfectly fitting for this EP, as the band have bookended both sides of the EP perfectly. But, don’t think that the middle is just filler; you’re likely to find some of the most special pop moments of the year hiding in there. Go see for yourself.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/There_May_Come_A_Time.mp3]
Download: Bart and Friends – There May Come a Time [MP3]
There May Come a Time is available now from Matinee Recordings.
I’m definitely in a pop mood this week; I need a little skip in my step as I bounce into the summer. When lurking on the usual Australian zines, I ran across this excellent track from Wilding, which definitely has shades of classic 60s Californian pop. The group, which is mostly the project of one man, just released an album titled Bird’s Bread via Laughing Outlaw, and each track is just as uplifting as the next. This is definitely getting my attention, so I hope you share my enjoyment when you hear this track.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Pale-Blue-Eyes.mp3]
Download:WIlding – Pale Blue Eyes [MP3]
Lo-fi recordings and accompanying jangle pop rock have been the rage for sometime, and that’s all well and good, but sometimes you just want to have a little bit of a twist on tried-and-true fashions. When you head to your local record store, and you should do so immediately, to pick up the self-titled record from Royal Headache you’ll find exactly what you’ve need. This album’s furious and fun, but just different enough to make the group stand out among the masses.
Side A of this excellent LP opens just as you would expect from a band with garage leanings, furiously paced by the gritty guitar sound. But, then enters frontman Shogun, using his voice to take you back to the nostalgic soulful recordings of the 50s/60s. Perhaps you’ll hear bits of angular post-rock similar to Cloud Nothings, but the vocals take you somewhere else entirely. Oddly, the powerful dynamic between Shogun and the rest of the band fits the mood of Royal Headache perfectly. From start to finish, Side A is a winning adventure of six incredible tracks, with the frenetic “Girls” remaining my personal favorite. That being said, the exuberance isn’t always a pummeling in-your-face affair as evidenced by the somewhat slowly paced “Kinds of Love.” The fact that there aren’t any lyrics might come as a surprise after the first five tracks, but it’s the perfect cleansing before you flip the record on its backside.
If you fell for Side A then Side B is absolutely going reaffirm that Royal Headache are your new favorite band. “Down the Lane” definitely fits into the modern musical spectrum though it has a tendency to sound dated–in an absolutely good way. At times, Shogun even sounds a bit like Robert Pollard stretching his vocals to the maximum; it’s perhaps one of the most emotionally captivating songs on the entire record. Plus, you don’t want to miss the closer, “Pity,” another track that seems to have ingrained itself in my mind. I definitely enjoy the steadiness in the vocals on this number, leaving you with the sentiment that the group has evolved with regards to the conceptual aspect of the record.
Nowadays it seems that a lot of people can record in their bedroom or make an album of lo-fi tracks that quickly burst into a huge success, but you’re not going to find anything at all like Royal Headache. That alone is one reason that you need to get your hands on this LP, but you couple that with the fact that there’s not a single track on this record that you could skip, and you have a winning group of songs that you might not ever escape. Each song is infectious, whether you base that on the inherent hooks or Shogun’s performance; you’re not going to want to listen to anything else for some time to come. Yeah, I said it; it really is that good.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/RoyalHeadache_Girls.mp3]
Download:Royal Headache – Girls [MP3]