Near-daily (sic!) Brisbane music news diaries, theses, photos, scene happenings, links to music and more!
Inaugurated in August of 2021, Brisbane Indie Gems (B.I.G.) is a zine pinpointing the wondrous terrene of Brissie indie acts. We employ a sum of the choicest rock journalists in the blogosphere to feather you with newsy bands, solo artists, and other music industry entrepreneurs you may urge to know about. If you fancy our thoughts, don’t be remiss to sign up at the base of the site!
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Where to place, oh, where to place Sam Syrah? Listening to “Philosophy,” I feel it isn’t enough to give me a proper diagnosis of genre, so I crank up “I Know You Know” – and I must ask: Am I the only person who thinks this artist sounds uncannily like Robbie Williams? The purview of this singer-songwriter’s craftship is surely melodically reminiscent, too, of the more pop-minded issues of Motorace, or even Lo-tel; what letter is Sam writing to us, as he lulls and bellows? Is it a conte of straight-down-the-line pop/rock? There’s something orthodox about Sam’s design – almost as if it eschews idiosyncrasy for something more plain, but with exquisite production values and tremendous vocal tones. I feel like I’m submerged in someone’s chimera – for the slower-paced rhythms of the 2 songs he has released – grasping, flailing and ultimately, relinquishing to its microcosm; the songs are charismatic, because they almost presuppose fame unto themselves, in some manner of speaking – due to their conventionality. But the exploratory guitar tones in “Philosophy” hammer home any confusions about Sam Syrah – pop nous notwithstanding, his is still an indie aspiration, maybe in the pleasing echo of bands like Our Lady Peace. All in all, a truly lovable voice.
Lavish intonations of laryngeal discouragement. Dreamy, reverb-full reveries. Progressive, indie, folk, art rock. Within Cloud Tangle, hypnosis supervenes the pandemonium of modern living by way of delicate harmonies imposed upon meditation music. Yes, you expect the rainforest sounds or salt water washes to commence – but they never do. Instead, legatissimo evocations mooch heartsick instrumental accompaniments that blend and drone into an ambient, echo-heavy electronic story, and keep you just awake enough with languid drumbeats to remember that the Earth is a harrowing phantasm, enrapturing its tender sufferers with quixotic consolations only – the ones issued by Cloud Tangle. “Falling Asleep” is representative of the rest of the band’s material; a mellow, starry-eyed indie coma.
Did I hear the singer say “Zephyr’s music”? All epics deserve respect, is the rule! Westward Breeze starts out like a sundown shootout and evolves with resonant lead licks and gruff echoes bouncing off prodigious drums… oh, and I think I heard some organ thereafter – and then the saxophone appears, alongside the synth pads! Yep, Flightmode have gone all out. Female vocals arrive in a space rock-sounding passage that ushers us to the ocean – tender waves roll into the mix as the acoustic guitar returns and violins edge towards the nocturne. I think the through-line here is beautiful guitar work – it sounds like it’s in one of those alternative tunings that are reserved for only the most spiritual strains. Does this band summarise a wind well, and word paint the subject of their saga? I think the lightness (inside clever instrumentations and smouldering movements that are perhaps, by contrast to A Perfect Circle, too elegant to be as typically tormented) (I thought I was listening to A Perfect Circle at one point) gives us just what we were hoping for – a terrene for musical I.Q. to boot and a prepossessing journey to undergo. I think I’ve taken this band for granted a little bit – this is an unreal accomplishment, and I think from what else I heard on Spotify, really the band coming into its own and perhaps exacting their best performance, as I believe I enjoy the dynamic quotients of this group when present – and Westward Breeze is a veritable rollercoaster. Great job, guys!
Jealousy goes two ways for me. It either consumes me and poisons me against an artist, rendering me incapable of appreciating them, or – and this is what I experienced with It’s Acrylic – that melancholic, resplendent catharsis… letting go and genuinely giving in to how good a group is, and making a full-hearted relationship with their music. Can’t even deal with the fact this band has 200 likes on Facebook. Easily the best thing to happen to Brisbane in so many years, in my opinion – and leaving a trail of dead industry darlings in their path – to surely replace them solitudinously. Complex post-emocore… gentle & lilting and then barbaric, musically intelligent… I sat here for a few moments trying to summarise what I was listening to, and sufficed lightly wet eyes instead. Is this as close to genius as we’re going to get in our proud, not-so-little corner of Queensland?
Imagine if The Postal Service got really, really depressed and started hanging out with Trent Reznor. At this point, you’re getting close to envisioning the sounds of Db SpaceFace. You know, I think there is a special territory that is reserved for so left-of-centre, electronic, arthouse music – but more specifically, the dark, self-indulgent modes that typify this inflection of said cocktail. When a storyteller, auteur, creator of any kind throws their hands up in the air in non-conformity, I will always respect the there inventor, whether they have unpredictably likeable vibrato’s to lug inside their tunes or not! Implicative of David Bowie, “Walking Wounded” is a bleeding, DIY heart that pulls no punches and epitomises the wend of the jaded warbler… yep, Db SpaceFace is a raw aftermath of gloomy, gritty, glitchy defiance. Music for whichever minute is the most eccentric to be awake at night!
Snowcats’ Battle of the Bands buddies Unentitled definitely have wrangled an achievement with the recording of their song “I’m All That’s Left” – not that they weren’t a tight punk outfit live, but this is a production of crossed t’s and dotted i’s nonetheless. When hard punk is done well, what happens next? Do the bands differentiate by the cleverness of their lyrics? The virtuosity of their drum fills? How does a band pop its head above the masses of others who are hassling the world for fame with similar sounds? Well, I think Unentitled can rely on their songwriting – it is structurally innovative and full of elfin details that juxtapose against the zany yells of the singer and the dissonant, crunching guitars and beefy drums. You feel like you’re listening to musicians that are adept at their instruments enough to flex where the song requires connective tissue, rather than all throughout a given tune – letting more enjoyable, rudimentary riffs and passages take center stage. And yes, it’d be difficult to discount the vulgar magnetism of the vocals – the ironical delivery makes for the sense of Devo – though with leather jackets and tartan skirts instead of red energy domes. A commendable effort!
From the outset, I had tried to identify what it is I felt in listening to The Band Woodshed. The vocals were mature, nasal and cheeky, and the lead guitars were perhaps even blatant in the mix. But that’s about as critical as I can be of a band whose song literally tries to befriend me inasmuch as a song could: Easy listening soft rock vibes infuse Sticky Situation alongside its pleasant, blithe production and Weezer memories, such that I was curious as to what other compositional directions the band might go in. Listening to Secrets, the rock ‘n’ roll thesis of the group became more clear with its Elvis Costello-like melodies and blues-leaning moments, almost as if Sticky Situation were an uncharacteristically gleeful detour for them. I listened to five or so of their songs on Spotify, and I enjoyed the others more, I think because they sat in the rock ‘n’ roll genre more obviously where I believe this band really works in their element. The Band Woodshed are arguably a time capsule, but would be a swaggering and a hard-won one if so, unapologetically issued.
Self-described as an ’80’s rock revival band, Hit ‘n’ Mizz follow on from another review on B.I.G. – the Singer-songwriter Mizzie Maxx’s project of the same name. Yep, it’s all things “Mizz” – but I certainly didn’t “mizz” seeing them Thursday week ago when my solo project played alongside them at O’Skulligans in The Valley. I hadn’t got across their music prior to our show together – only Mizzie’s solo project – and so I had expected something in the emo genre. Little did I know I would be in for a jake and able serving of hard rock and hair/pop metal, ever the more unique for its unruly, impudent and youthful vocals. The band stood there and transformed a venue that has no stage into a miniature arena, and I wondered where the wall of Marshall stacks was. Truly, a gust of reverberations from grainy speaker cones bathed the establishment and wanted for a stadium where greater volumes could give this act the atmosphere they demand. Patronize? It is well-produced and a canonically composed rock song – teeming with gruff wistfulness and sprightly, adolescence-toned singing that Mizzie is a master of couching in sweetly, filthy guitars – and authoritative drums, too. Cheeky, carnivorous and speckled with little let-ups of vulnerability – kind of what The Veronica’s could never do, due to their commercial prosperity.
What is it about brass sections’ ability to as if literally contain the commodity of sunshine? Stapylton Street’s hook “You’re so damn beautiful” in Never Stop conjugates with this luminous property well… yes, this tune is a delectable frolick along head-bopping, and a dimple’s action of smiling at least. Mature, jugular tenors and gnarly guitar solos risk a dated sound here – but perhaps SS’s saving grace is that these utilites are executed with aplomb. After all, great music is timeless – and then I remember what I felt when I first started listening to Never Stop, and it really is that transcendental rock ‘n’ roll vim… where jazz and blues live either side of one, and peep over the fence to mete out likenesses to their own lawns. Jiving, jigging, and more roll than rock… until you didn’t notice the driving guitars take hold – perhaps indeed because of the classic, brightly-lit journey you’ve been taken on!
Music is a highly subjective thing – whenever I see an indie artist shuffling towards a mid-level career status, or racking up the paraphernalia of such, for instance, through tens of thousands of Spotify streams, I always deliberate more carefully. Will I get swept away in this newly-hyped group, or can I come to the art with my own taste in tact? It wouldn’t be Brisbane Indie Gems without a band named Bligh, by the way, since it’s a sharing of nomenclature with the outgone Premier of our state of Queensland’s Anna Bligh – or is it the mutinised Australian sea captain that inspired this act’s label? Either way… microkorg-appearing keyboards, and enebriation-themed gang chants unified by preppy, theatrical pre-choruses (and sinusoidially, satisfyingly melodic verses) really place this band in a parallel to The Killers. The epic, allaying breakdowns and cunning disco rhythms only reiterate that comparison, but, just as I began saying music is subjective, one has to step outside one’s lens and really award this band a better appraisal: Racing guitar chops and honed song-craft posture Bligh’s 07 as a formidable Aussie slug upwards the lazy chins of other groups (who have so many fewer of the puzzle pieces of a winning rock sound in place). Brisk, dance-worthy peaks and touching troughs – with a unique amount of digital spice – make for Bligh’s pleasing 2020’s take on electronic, indie rock.
The Smiths really played a special part in the history of post-punk and brit-pop – is it because Morrissey was a fierce poet to be reckoned with, or because the band epitomised the jangly pop hangover that proto-punk bands were destined to socially generate? Who knows, but listening to The Verandah”s “Safe Place”, I cast my mind to the titular subject, a safe place, and care little… because the reverie of that Smiths-y sound isn’t a place for abstruse thought. Instead, an odyssey along one of indie music history’s most hallowed artistic geographies… the uncanny 1980’s presentation of a brittle rock perfection. Am I trying to shade a band as occupying too much similarity to a predecessor group? Absolutely not. The Verandah’s make that sunny, British romantic sound their own substance, luxurious with contemporary indie-rock vocalisations, female harmonies and a hint more optimism. So very jam-packed with chirping guitars and staccato basslines, The Verandah’s utilise thereafter some charming refrains and take front-row shelter in the Brisbane music scene, while tunefully, despondently raining on it as well.
What started out as an offspring of Josh Pyke, and other middle-of-the-road Aussie male singer-songwriters (this is harsh on JP, but… I think diplomatic, friendly vocal tones when mixed inside particularly congenial acoustic chord progressions really always position themselves thus) turned over a new leaf in the bridge with the escalating brass lines… the edgy, musically intelligent kookiness of acts like Badly Drawn Boy became far more reminiscent. You get the sense that this is a good-humoured relationship that Fin wants to make with the listener: No shock, nothing heavy-mannered… but a polite folk dissertation, cool and homey for the friendship that he audibly pursues with you. At times Ben Kweller, but, naturally, combing through an Australian itinerary of moments, Fin’s Contingency Plan delve into (within Allergic, and other songs) what is ultimately ample quantities of stupendous and subtly brilliant pop-folk for the audience to absorb.
Hard rocking chicks reinvigorating derivative riff topographies with spick and speck production and flawless execution? This is Acid Cherry. To observe their dread-instilling injections of estrogen into the male-dominated classic glam & stadium rock turf would be to employ a misnomer – Acid Cherry are a throat-polyp’s serving of testosterone – and the guitar work, while it harkens AC/DC surely, is grittier and heavier than those aforementioned genres. AC are at times far more dissonant, in a way that typifies stoner rock acts like Queens Of The Stone Age or alternative metal bands like Helmet or Kyuss. But, that said, yes, overarchingly, there’s a classic rock through-line that unifies this act – but for, once again, the terrific yowling and discordant-at-times grunge passages. Secrets in Salem surely proves that this band are incongruent with cliches, and difficult to place, but I’ll resign to a description and say that Acid Cherry are… desert-borne rock, with classic components… and with girlpower’s chic in spades.
One Dragon, Two Dragon really live up to their name with their 2022 EP’s title track “Rosie” – you feel as though you are ennumerating the mythical as you listen… that is to say.. spotting fantastical elements each after the other. The bizarre, alien layers and muddy, echoing guitar-work (the latter the specialty of pre-eminent local jazz cat Travis Jenkins)… the reverberating organ, glamourous harmonica, the peculiar horns… it’s almost a cacophony of experimental post-lounge music, if such a genre could exist? Delineating just precisely how the curious, colourful, hypnotic textures here ever-so-gently inherit funk flavours, orchestral enticements and prog-rock processions isn’t enough – there’s an e-music category at play overall here by some arguments. At once avant-garde and yet primal – what on Earth did I just enjoy listening to?!
I didn’t predict that LuciDream would engage the subject of Pluto so cleverly – the flaring horns that happen upon the elegant, trance progression are really deep space’s dawn! This is a gushing of unrepentant, electronically devised cosmic wonder… a contour outwards the ninth planet (I’m not sure it’s a planet anymore, technically!) to the Oort Cloud and the galaxy beyond… where swarming bass notes and cordial pianos join astral hands with delicately selected sonic artefacts… propelling the ethereal and compelling a portraiture successfully; space. The tribal djembe-sounding drums thoughtfully underscore the exotic – reminding us with harmonic minor lead lines that Pluto really embodies the outermost of our astrological archetypes for adventure and the unknown. Melodic freshness, inside thematic produce… although whenever an artist serenades the Solar System, yes, they come up against Holst, who really remains the expert – but this is still an intrinsically deft venture, not without its own claims at potency and immortality. A musically endearing profundity via LuciDream, for certain!
Distinctively Red Hot Chilli Peppers lyrical phrasing by way of Silverchair-laden guitar tones and vocal timbres? Crown are youtfhul, local garage rock at its finest – raw, profane and undistilled muscle. There is a timelessness to grunge bands, I think, because of the adjacency of limelit distorted progressions to cultural authenticity; in any given generation, punter John Citizen picks up a Squire and lays waste to his enemies with a just-add-enthusiasm resemblance to the garage gods of old, and, with just enough guitar I.Q., a counter-cultural ambience abounds. “Hate, Love And You” shreds through an artful bridge back to thrashing, threshing rock passages which are designed for consumption at a high decibel output. I couldn’t help but spot a resemblance to Israel’s Son by Silverchair – but everything under the sun has been written, and I don’t think it’s anything more than an ever-pleasant homage to that Grinspoon era of dropped-D numbers!
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Kat Flowers, because when it comes to the singer-songwriter genre, I think there is a harvest of artists who excel at pristine folk productions, which seem designed to exhibit the vocal quality of the singer. Was this going to be another demonstration of beatific singing timbres? Not that there’s anything wrong with that – which is good news for Kat – since she is arguably sitting in this vein of production adroitly; it’s not a botheration of any sort. Kat’s hoarse, warm textures are a Nescafé television commercial away from today’s forerunning earworms, and the accompanying instrumentation (in the above track) is a success story of layers and nuance, lulling and lolling like the sea that figures in the lyrics. Indeed, this tune is a gleaming interruption in a busy theater of local musicians – a moment to reflect and consolidate one’s losses, hopes, and desolation, in the hapless spheres of romance. Gentle but brash, and full of sincerity’s destiny – a winding, cosy pathos.
Having played with this band twice, it was about time I gave them the review they deserve for, well, having their band’s sticker in so many places around Brisbane that I have spotted it! Monstera are an enigmatic issue. At first listen, for example, Sanity feels like a singer-songwriter / solo artist trajectory that one is reeled along – until the band aesthetic really erupts in the chorus, bridge… it’s perhaps this juxtaposition of impressions that constructs the point of difference that Monstera occupy. On one hand, they rock out like a female-fronted Aussie pub band from the 1980’s, and on the other, their music is a well-oiled songwriting excursion that could easily be the brainchild of any contemporary top-level female artist, for example, when she crosses over into grungier terrain. Pop rock they may or may not be, Monstera have in their arsenal a hearty weave of authentic lyricism (and singing) and smooth, well-executed rock instrumentations. It’s easy to visualise Monstera uncomplicatedly fulfilling the modish mandates of festivals.
Ambient, slackjawed indie rock word paints the ethereal reflection upon what? A Spent Youth, of course! This is a group with a world-weary, punk-flavoured sojourn to enact, back along yesterday’s regrets and ruminations, until chugging, hurtling sections transform one’s listening experience to introspection. Never Rains really sums up this act’s terrifically obnoxious vocals – they somehow gently carry you along an expedition across tattered hopes and bitter sorrows, while still nursing the anti-establishment energy that typifies the punk genre. Mean solos and authoritative drums seal the deal for this band’s completeness as a local musical K.O. punch.
I must confess, I had to leave early on the night that Super Ghost shared the stage with my band Snowcats – and so I heard them for the first time when I played Waiting List. Better late than never to make a date with an evidently lyrically intelligent indie post-punk group! This band remind me of a more brightly inflected Thursday – as if to describe them as alike that beloved emo hardcore band though with of course an Australian twang – but also indie-pop smarts compacted within disseminations that really speak of proto-punk heritages. It really is difficult to pinpoint this act’s spot on the spectrum of Brissie indie, and that’s what makes them prized rockers for certain – their bizarre Satin Bowerbird’s thatching of genres, while neatly within a chic, indie prism. Marvelous!
It would be unfair to join the masses of punters who would surely seize upon opportunities to compare Men of Morrow to Mumford & Sons – instead, far more equitable it is to correct their impressions and gesture to the post-rock folk nous on display in its desperation and striking purity. Let Me In is an echolalia-laden dollop of sheer atmosphere that vocally loans a bard-like quality from Augie March, it were as if, and intertwines guitar, keys and percussion accompaniments preciously, and expertly, to sketch out a scape of fading, sophisticated nostalgia. Heavy-hearted yet durably pleasant, Men of Morrow are difficult to ignore in the rabble of Brissie acts.
In defiance of their nomenclature, Rutherford Jazz Trio are a stylish, hip and merry indie-jazz-rock five-piece. Their song Fish Hat is an avid announcement of their musical capacities, spun naturally like spool for a sense of jollification that surely is the through-line of their act – happy-go-lucky rimes and flamboyant solos. Indubitably whimsical, proficient and a merry-go-round of funky fun, RJT are an outstanding example of what happens when talented musicians get together to take you on a festive, melodic picnic of indie improvisations.
Likeside emerge from a slew of ska acts that to the uninitiated sound similar, but for clever chord changes and taut, polished mastery of the genre. Their song Losin’ It feels like a victorious conquest of the depressions that lurk in the music world’s crannies and corners – just that brass-driven, glass-half-full backdrop against which even the most morose lyrics can hang. Great ska is like that, and Likeside are A Mighty Mighty Bosstones level act to make demonstration of such phenomena. That is to say, creative chorus changes and bridge composition are just the icing on the sonic cake – this group are tighter than the screws on a space shuttle.
In 36 hours, I will have played with this group – and I’m looking forward to it. I don’t know whether I’m hearing Phantom Planet or Ben Kweller at points, although that’s entirely unfair on Dave & The Mudcrabs… they have an Aussie, original take on the present-day indie pop story. In The Sky is surely as friendly as the underground gets, with its crisp, punching basslines and hopscotching lead guitar that are more cerulean than the sky being celebrated. The toothy falsetto in the chorus isn’t waif-like or thin, either – as you trace along the happy melody it occupies, it’s a secure performance, elegant and inviting. Can’t wait ’til Thursday!
I saw a band in St Petersburg before they broke up called Endemics, and Mizzie Maxx truly reminds me of them – steely, rusty post-emo… like a handcrafted Paramore or a vision of No Doubt, but with a sliver more punk sensibility. Here we really compare that inescapable aura of the successive presentation of fundamental rock elements, stitched together with moody, indie seams – and from the hair of the mohawks that have been parted down for life’s more serious matters. Vocally bodacious and replete with gutsy guitars and rhythm sections, Mizzie Maxx’s Beautiful is anthemic and emphatically personal.
Melodramatic acoustic rock that dresses you in snakeskin boots and goat skull necklaces, Lewin Grimley And The Broken Strings are a Nick Cave’s worth of deep, white-hot cowboy machismo. Their track Lady Lucifer being no exception, since it is an inflamed, bleeding-heart blues that vanquishes naysayers and loitering demons alike. Having played with this band more than once, I can’t help but watch on with foreknowledge as they compete to become grand prizewinners at local locale The Brightside’s Battle Of The Bands – I know for certain their gravelly, accomplished melancholia will at the very least earn them, as usual, quick fandoms from strangers.
My friend Cloe Terare silences her opponents with her newest single Lifeboat, suppressing their antagonism and proving with her highly modern, crafty pop just why she was convened upon as being the representative of Queensland’s newest crop of emerging artists at the Queensland Music Awards. What’s most likeable (more than the exquisite attention to detail in the production) is her offhand elocution – she throws out prose like frisbees and a devil-may-care disposition whether the listener could catch them or not. Maybe that’s the secret to her charisma, and therefore catch them we do – and then it’s clear her spiels are both articulate and full of contemporary sass. Oh, and she can sing too – her ardent cries decorate with the dexterity of a powerful vocalist to be sure! Yee-ha!
Being an aliens enthusiast, I was immediately drawn to the title of this song when I went back to Froonky’s discography to select a track to represent the artist who I played alongside last year. And now, it’s all coming back to me. Sufjan Stevens, eat your heart out! There’s a fragile, lovely arc in Cowboys vs Aliens which really does advertise Francis (singer) quite well, in terms of what you could expect from a Froonky show: His performance was both delicate, and pulled no punches artistically – one feels reeled by Froonky into a down-hearted, lyrically abstruse lightest-of-snowfalls. The transportation into another sphere, where despondent epithets rule and a highly indie aesthetic shines. Truly the sonic snapshot of an idealist in freefall.
I booked Siena a show alongside my band Snowcats on the merits of this song alone. There’s something bristling and bright about her vocal delivery that is downright charming, and I couldn’t resist seeing the song performed live. The result? Soaring, triumphal, almost angelic choruses and on point, pitch-smart verses that matched the magnificence of the former… to really evidence that Siena can do it all on stage! Perhaps this is such an elegant track because of the way that its message sits against the chord progression – the cathartic celebration that we are all victims of romance equally is a classy and clever machine to allow you the vicarious opportunity to really ecstatically “let go” and find happiness – like a broken heart in a room full of other broken hearts who starts dancing, and then they all start dancing together! Aww! Alexis Jordan-esque!
Fans of Nelly Furtado need look no further than the exotic, Spanish neoteric pop expressions of Tyra. Simply put, she’s ventured a mastery towards the Latin pop/R’n’B fusion genre – and placed upon it impassioned belly-dancing – and dazzling instrumentations of her own. Indeed, Too Much Lovin’ wreaks resplendent, nouveau digital accompaniments behind a free-flowing vocal demeanor, Tyra herself not lacking in verve therein. Perhaps it’s the diminished chord at the end, gingerly applied to the prior ensemble of club pads which really tips you off that Tyra has even more groove to offer still.
Many vie for the Jeff Buckley crown – only awarded to those who can post-humously honour the late singer-songwriter’s crooning Modus Operandi – but none do so as naturally as Jye Whiteman – live, too. Jye’s rap-rock-folk machination “Do You Wanna?” really is as pleading and pressing as one would want a heart-centered songsmith to be, perhaps because that’s part and parcel of being an artist – asking for an intimate relationship from the audience, in exchange for a committed performance of honest refrains. It’s surely Jye’s maturity as a songwriter that allows him to guilelessly enact within us that happy fellowship to his tunes. A beautiful singer whose in cognito relationship to fame is part mystery, part artiste, but all tragedy.
DMG illustrate to us with Moonstone their space-tronica might – a skillful assembly of synthesisers and samples which connotes a nascent, melodic flight into the cosmos and beyond. The buzzing horns and glitching, rumbling artefacts throughout almost render the sounds of advanced video game music, but for the rising house passages that would not seem out of place in your given midnight rave. Uplifting and moody, Moonstone is an exemplary evocation of progressive trance that sharply places you, by impression, in the hands of a seasoned DJ and leaves one ready to buckle on one’s spacesuit and punch through the stratosphere, where the heights of this aspirational tune can be tracked! E-music done right!
Sacred Hearts purvey a select, ambient 1980’s-sounding ditty within “Glamour Girls” – that sounds like a female version of The Cure and or a soundtrack song for Stranger Things. In this highly attractive expression of modern gothic synth-pop, we hear the bratty, disaffected drones of verse after verse of melodic complaint which play emblem to the new-fangled, dirty sound that Sacred Hearts enunciate with interesting harmonic points included. Without any uncertainty, this is a group that speak to the 2020’s era of throwbacks to haunting 1980’s electronics, but with irresistable contemporary production and the quintessence of the now lyrics-wise. So grand!
Vocally tonally Evermore, Collapse by Lachlan Flanagan sounds like a indie portmanteau of 1990’s/early 2000’s hits – think The Corrs, Ronan Keatiing… but with a songwriting acumen that gives it that sandy, DIY Brissie flavour. The neatness of the structural outfitting in this song really juxtaposes with the lyrical repetitions, especially of the hook, which seems to be peppered wisely inside what is, in my opinion, a likeable and homespun chord progression. Perhaps the highlight of the song is the transformation of the refrain into “just sweep it under the rug” – a comely textual moment that infers the subtle variations on display which render Lachlan Flanagan a kind of poet’s I.Q. to bear. Another day, yet another gem!
Now, this is cool! Fans of Dead Letter Circus, Karnivool and Birds of Tokyo could look no further than The Blacknoise Army for their latest fix of melodic, hard-hitting progressive rock-cum-nu-metal. At once sonically an homage to Clint Boge (but by no means an imitation) the late-arriving vocals in Knowledge Without Authority pillion upon a fierce, animating instrumentation, each snare whack robotic to the metronome, and each atmospheric guitar’s brooding telling not nanometres from the target, but dead-on. So, who has knowledge without authority? The reversal of the person of authority without knowledge, surely… the reversal of the empty narcissist. Instead, the person of knowledge without authority is perhaps the deserving shadow… the righteous heir that never inherits it – will The Blacknoise Army repsond to their story’s protagonist and be quiet achievers? Or, will they live up to their name and rally millions of fans to the blares of pitch-dark prog? Here’s hoping the second!
Issy Burnup’s dizzying, spinning chordal introduction in “Alone Tonight” is a respectable preamble one feels, to what could follow, and there isn’t an anti-climax to suffer – the opposite – the track builds into a first-rate production of gasping, eccentric artfulness. Issy’s choices really bespeak a complicated act, reaching here and effortlessly maneuvering there… It’s difficult to pin her down in the ebbs and flows of her indie pop spider’s web. Part Jenny Owens Young, part Fiona Apple, Issy Burnup really unravels a couture of her own in the fabric of Brisbane musos. Perhaps because of the measured intricacies in her writing, it’s really the reality for me that she’s etched out a corner all of her own – one that reminds us that the underground is just a mirror of the mainstream.
Fraser Bell exposes in “Weathered Eye” the mechanics of a twenty twenties era indie bop – he’s got the formula down pat, from the culturally authentic accent in the vocal delivery, to the new-wave 1980’s guitar tones… to the feel-good lead passes and buoyant drums. Instantaneously, you wonder – how far in the radio-sphere has Fraser’s melody migrated? Interesting rhythmic jinks and swelling, grungy guitars remind you that in modern indie rock, lyrics are an optional excellence. Does Fraser deliver? The mix doesn’t accentuate his versifications, but from what one does hear, there is a humble intelligent at play. What a hidden gem!
Stone Sour meets INXS? In “Man’s Best Friend”, distressed high-baritone epithets fire in Hutchence-esque succession until Chavez Cartel really press ahead in energy, with choice distorted riffs and triumphant masculine cries. This song is just the thing that Brisbane Indie Gems fossicks for – hidden gems, rough and deep in a scene of varying talents. Make no mistake, this is a well-produced dark rock song in the tradition of Chris Cornell and Tex Perkins. What can we expect from a band who cut riffs and licks so fuzzily, thumpingly neatly? Will they get the attention they deserve, or will they remain buried astride the complex music industry machine – which despite its exclusivity, should at least acknowledge that a band like C.C. are dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s. Time will tell!
The production for 21st Century Child prima facie sits the track neatly in the singer-songwriter genre because of the spotlit lyrics – the enunciation ensures that you don’t miss out on Lisa Maps’ narrative, which appears to be the apocalypse of a lost generation – maybe generation X – who are often regarded in this way and perhaps contain Lisa herself. The unapologetically hotheaded delivery and front-sitting vocals perhaps invoke a Four Non Blondes, 90’s aesthetic, but with unrepentant housing indeed in the singer-songwriter genre. It’s hard to say whether the profanity call-and-response moment adds or perhaps distracts from Lisa’s angsty conversation with the listener, but what’s for certain is that she succeeds in erecting a dystopian portrait of modern youth with an idiosyncratic timbre of shamelessness.
While exploring the prospectus of Brissie parishional balladeers Treehouse Letters, I was thoroughly caught up in their clever harmonies and haunting chord progressions. Their body of work is an attestation to the existence of such forerunners as Crowded House and Paul Kelly, and with nevermore the Australiana ethic absent in their duo, I truly feel that I have happened upon something very special. From the crooned epigram in We Tell Ourselves, “The past is just a story we tell ourselves” in its down-tempo Oasis, up-tempo Iron & Wine luster to the aching tones of Dream Machine, we’re shepherded across superb melodious territories, eventually ariving in other tracks at diminished chord wonderment and purposeful piano that bespeaks Neutral Milk Hotel, Darren Hanlon and others. Almost an introvert’s capitulation to the noisiness and drowning antics of the murmuring masses, Treehouse Letters wave a heartfelt white-flag to the commotion and theatre of our lesser opponents and invite us into something gentle, and dazzling.
As I listened again to “Delirium’s Reframe” by Daylight Ghosts, I couldn’t help but enjoy it’s dark, tuneful poetry… mellow and idiosyncratically authored into etches of tortuous, convoluted motifs – almost as 8-bit and anarchic as the ascii-art liner notes that are spotlit in DG’s creepy, indie corner of the internet. In fact, the unquestionable vibe of this group is a journey through hyperspace, in both speed and binary precession – the solitary query is whether or not you are wired to travel by phonic gloom, to destinations desolate and faraway. “Golden Hour” really fulfils this covenant farther, almost tempting a lonely evening in a timber box somewhere, as abjection and downheartedness are flecked as crisply as the strums to be found there. What is perhaps contemporary about Daylight Ghosts the most is the pared-back production, even if electronic, suggestive of the DIY principle that perfectly accompanies the lonely lyrics; in “Hook, Line” for example, there is as much deep and deliberate emptiness in the orchestration as there is in the singer’s silvery heart.
With sprigs of falsetto and gravelly chants surrounded by soaring choruses, Brixton Alley include into their highly-lyrical punk processions a variety of vocals for the listener to enjoy enmeshed in their clever, powerful rock chord progressions. Groovin’ sunny paeans meet British expat grunge, in all in all a transfixing, entertaining homage to pub crawls and alt-rock cryptic and timeless figures of sung speech. It’s a wicked shame I had to go home early from their show at the Bearded Lady last week, because between tracks like “Sharks” and “This Party Sucks”, I’m pretty sure I would have made up for lost time in my musical itinerary to post-Britpop, circa anything post 2000. BA never quite soften to the amicable intonations of bands like Foster The People, for example, but for the better, almost like a fairytale indie ethos that refuses to commercialise, and also which navigates genres well enough to confirm that the band can truly stake an upbeat claim in Aussie scene successes… that ought to be as sweet as some of their more delicate songwriting moments (such as in the tender and shivering “Outsider”… “Oh baby, oh baby, don’t go…”) as they continue to notch up their prolific show tally.
I had the good fortuity to see Cheap Date perform live tonight, and what I spotted in their art was happily, as I had hoped it would be, a sovereign command of indie pop-rock, (served with a side of emo, and a sprig of singer-songwriter) that one could easily yoke together with Hole or The Superjesus, perhaps if we were to imagine a more subtle, dainty vocal. Within their pleasing cover of Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty – among other tracks presented – Cheap Date strutted their formula for victory: A beautific turn on punk, with handsome arrangements that brandish the sleight of sticks and pics and fingers, that announces itself as a tightly wound musical superconductor of local anthems for Brisbane to savour. If you are a fan of Lisa Mitchell, maybe you’ll find felicity in the comely singing styles of Lara Dee, couched in the band’s supercession of cute sounds, for a more forthright, pub-friendly pace.
In a plethora of indie-pop songstresses where two-name, hyphenated duonynms seem as typical as teeming treble clefs, we luck towards a superior kismet within Brissie wailing warbler, Hazel Mei. First, there’s “It Is(n’t) Real”, a grooving, moving motif that enchants the listener to imagine her as a creeping, crooning diva-of-sorts, with her sassy implore, “Tell me what you see, Tell me what you see, Tell me what you mean, Tell me what you mean”. Secondly, there s “Put That Bottle Down”, an apparent canticle to drinking the night away – While having one’s heart fixed forever on a past flare of love. We get the sense that Hazel is a nostalgia specialist, marrying melodies to memories, especially in a third scrutiny – her track “The Funniest Thing” where she laments with sanguine maturity, “The moments are clouded by past scars… It’s the funniest thing”.
From the foot-tappingly pernicious “BABABADA” to the post-punk ambient rock jangles of “Sweetest Lies”, Jane Street sound like a composite of The Editors mixed with a swamp-stomp offshoot of The Go Betweens. “I think that you’re the devil”, lead vocalist Caelan prompts us, during the aforementioned track, while navigating a raunchy Oz tonality in what could easily be a mistaken for a grittier, down under whirl on acts like Stereophonics, or even the grungier issues of groups like Ween. This is particularly patent in ditties such as “Snake Eyes”, where forward-shifting basslines and soulful wah-wahs transport us once again into the neglected-hearts rock universe of Jane Street, which is positively bolstered by shipshape drumming, to boot.