There’s some great tracks and one not so good.
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Alice Skye – ‘Party Tricks’
Alice Skye has been teasing her second album and first via Briggs’ Bad Apples Music for more than a year now. The record’s fourth single, ‘Party Tricks’, suggests the long build-up isn’t due to a lack of potent songs. Skye has often spoken of her deep love for the late Cranberries frontperson, Dolores O’Riordan. The slow crescendo, heavy guitar distortion and general melancholia of ‘Party Tricks’ are all straight out of the O’Riordan handbook, but Skye’s vocal presence pulls ‘Party Tricks’ out of the realm of mimicry.
The line, “the part of me that hates me really loves you”, circulates throughout the track, with Skye sometimes sounding defeated and sometimes appearing to weaponise this sentiment. ‘Party Tricks’ is further proof of Skye’s gift for condensing complex emotional states into widely communicable vocal hooks. The good news: her album now has a July release date.
Sleater-Kinney – ‘Worry With You’
Funk rock groove, scat-spat vocal phrasing and a limply declarative chorus hook – have Sleater-Kinney entered their Red Hot Chili Peppers phase? The ‘Worry With You’ chorus – “Let’s get lost baby/And take a wrong turn” – might well summarise the philosophy behind the band’s nascent stylistic shift.
Now a two-piece, with drummer Janet Weiss exiting after the recording of 2019’s ok, but not great St Vincent-produced LP, The Center Won’t Hold, S-K’s Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker are trying things, getting lost and taking wrong turns.
It’s what you want from a band that’s more than 25 years old, but just cross your fingers that ‘Worry With You’ depicts the slimmed-down Sleater-Kinney’s growing pains and doesn’t herald some mid-late career attempt to join the rock radio establishment.
Ones to watch
Quivers – ‘Chinese Medicine’
Melbourne college rock revivalists Quivers hark back to a time when simple, jangly and melodic songwriting typified rock’s new frontier. Rooted in Sam Nicholson’s heart-on-the-sleeve lyrics and unpretentious vocal candour, ‘Chinese Medicine’ sounds like a sweeter and less sardonic Silver Jews or a Dunedin-ised version of Grand Salvo.
That said, the ‘Chinese Medicine’ arrangement is neither scrappy nor offhand, but glistens with understated charisma. It’s all tingling guitars, enriching choral backing vocals and lyrics that nod to the intoxicating powers of love, which stems the flow of loneliness.
If it ain’t broke
You Am I – ‘DRB Hudson’
Despite their estimable cultural standing, it’s not unfair to call You Am I a niche band. Tim Rogers’ songwriting isn’t inaccessible – beneath all the booze and self-laceration, Rogers is a melodist of the highest order – but You Am I make music for nerds. Specifically, for power pop nerds, fans of the genre greats from Big Star to Red Kross and YAI’s ‘90s contemporaries, Teenage Fanclub.
On their new album, The Lives of Others, Rogers and co. get back to basics in the most satisfying way. ‘DRB Hudson’ is a prime example of the band’s ability to meld outré lyrics with melodic infectiousness, in the process skirting the formulaic to generate something that hits you in all five senses.
Keen on another fun read? Check out the latest instalment of our indie artists column.