The best new music from around Melbourne, the whole of Australia, and even the world, expertly reviewed each fortnight for your listening pleasure.
Last week in our best new music reviews, we had spots for Jesswar, Briggs, Alex Lahey and more. Check it out here if you missed it, otherwise, read on…
HAAi – ‘Keep On Believing’
The music video for HAAi’s new single ‘Keep On Believing’, comes with the warning, “Contains flashing images.” But listeners are given no such warning, despite HAAi’s bass-heavy, techno-punk production chops giving rise to the audio equivalent of a hyper-speed light show.
‘Keep On Believing’ is the second single of 2021 from the London-based, Sydney-raised DJ and producer, Teneil Throssell. Throssell initiated the HAAi project a handful of years ago after the dissolution of her band, Dark Bells. While Dark Bells were generally lumped into the shoegaze category, Throssell’s electronic productions as HAAi are all over the map.
‘Keep On Believing’ is led by industrial percussion and a vibrating bass groove that threatens to move your furniture. It’s also an intricately textured production, with flashes of mutated melodies that sound like they’ve been processed through a Ouija board.
Dream in Colour Kidz – ‘Cats Rule’
There’s perhaps no better introduction to ‘Cats Rule’ than a sample of its lyrics. ‘Cats Rule’ – Dream in Colour Kidz’s second new single since the Melbourne skate punks returned from a half-decade hiatus – is indeed about cats taking over the Earth.
“Aliens came down from space / They ended up being cats,” is the opening lyric. It goes on: “The newsman will tell us he’s sorry / The world’s been taken by cats.” But the denizens don’t appear upset by the news. “We’ll scream ‘Fuck yes’,” goes the chorus. “Cat world—how good is that?”
‘Cats Rule’ soon takes a dark turn, however. Not musically – it remains a distortion-soaked pop punk tune from beginning to end – but it turns out the felines at the top are just as bad their human antecedents.
In the second verse we learn that the cats have been distributing little red hats with the words “make the world great again” printed on them. By the bridge, their subjects are sending out distress calls in search of tinned tuna.
I think it might be a song about how power corrupts? It’s good fun, whatever the case.
Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice – ‘How Can Anybody Be Sober These Days?’
If you told me the new single from Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice was lifted from an I.R.S. Records sampler circa 1980, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid. ‘How Can Anybody Be Sober These Days?’ would sound completely at home among early cuts from The Cramps, Oingo Boingo, The Fleshtones and Alternative TV.
But it’s not 1980 and Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice aren’t signed to one of the pioneering Anglo-American college rock and new wave labels. Rather, DSUP are a Melbourne band led by vocalist and songwriter Dougal Shaw, whose new album is Remember The Future? Vol. 2 & 1.
For the band’s second LP in the space of two years, Shaw and co. wanted to catalogue the “dystopian absurdity of our time.” As far as rhetorical song titles go, ‘How Can Anybody Be Sober These Days?’ just about says it all.
The song itself is two-minutes of giddy fun; intoxicating, even. It occasionally goes a bit psychobilly, but DSUP are at their best when they achieve a balance of art-punk pastiche and vocal melodrama.
Hayden James feat. YAEGER – ‘Waiting For Nothing’
This song is all about Yaeger, aka Swedish pop singer and guest vocalist, Hanna Jäger. Sydney DJ and producer Hayden James is known for his collaborations with vocalists, including in recent times Perth’s Crooked Colours, Swedish duo Icona Pop and Australian pop veteran Nat Dunn.
But for all the merits of those releases, Yaeger asserts ownership of ‘Waiting For Nothing’ in a manner that is altogether transfixing. ‘Waiting For Nothing’ is a somewhat lighter production from James – it’s still geared towards the dancefloor, but the drop has more of a spring in its step than many of his past releases.
Yaeger’s lyrics centre on all-encompassing infatuation. There’s a tinge of unrequited longing, but she continues to be swept off her feet. Backed by the summery bounce of James’ club-house production, it’s a communicable feeling.
The Insufferable Paul Scott – ‘Bells Ring’
Tea and Medals – the new album from NZ expat and jangle pop bass player Paul Scott – will most likely go under the radar, but the evident passion and care that went into this project is truly nourishing. Nourishing to those who have faith in the beauty of a simple indie pop song, and enlightening for those who think contemporary artistic ambition is characterised by avarice and cynical manoeuvring.
Scott’s spirit shines through pure as ever on ‘Bells Ring’, the record’s standout lead track. Although best known as a bass player with bands like Pop Mechanix, Scott is also a terrific lyricist. On ‘Bells Ring’, he makes the wise decision to sing a number of the song’s finest lines multiple times.
“Pundits chirp and call it work while we measure breath carefully,” is a beauty from the second verse. Each chorus features a slight deviation on a theme, with the final chorus including this peach of a triplet: “When all this over we may see / We’ve been changed irrevocably / Lightened by the loss of dignity.”
The Sugar Plum Fairys – ‘Blackout’
Rock and pop history is littered with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, such as those found in band names like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eurythmics, Stealers Wheel and The B-52’s. Intentionally or not, Melbourne rock quartet The Sugar Plum Fairys have stepped into this lineage.
The Plums, as they’ve nicknamed themselves, cite modern psychedelia, Kurt Vile and bands like Pink Floyd and Tool as influences. There’s little evidence of these influences in ‘Blackout’, however, one of five songs to appear on the band’s debut EP, Complications.
Rather, the broad accent of singer James Weatherby recalls Missy Higgins and Kisschasy, while the songwriting is akin to Counting Crows with a dash of Oasis. It’s a slick operation regardless, with careful production highlighting the band’s tight synergy.
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