Posts Tagged Melbourne

Date: March 9th, 2016
Cate: new releases, rediscovered

Pop Singles in retrospect

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Ashleigh Wyatt of Little Desert and Red Red Krovvy is one of my favourite drummers. Several years ago she was in a group called Pop Singles, who sounded like many of the best pop groups from Australia in the 80s. While Wyatt has been buys in other bands, it’s been fairly quiet from their singer Tam Matlakowski. But now he has made their entire discography available for free on bandcamp, including unheard demos.

To mark the occasion, here are some snaps from the second time I saw them play, in Melbourne back in 2009. While you’re at it you should also check out Matlakowski’s solo album that came out late last year. Released under the name Tam Vantage, you might notice that’s the make of the 12-string guitar he’s playing in the photos above. It will reward you for your time.

And while we’re talking about Australian pop, I must comment that it’s still criminal that The Passengers never got to release this song. I can’t listen to it without shedding a tear.

Date: November 16th, 2012
Cate: new releases

Useless Eaters

Seth Sutton is still in his most prolific years, and while his debut longplayer was one of my favourite albums of 2011, he’s already released two more as well as a handful singles this year. The Black Light Ultraviolet EP on Manimal marks a new direction for the band, where the songs are slower, more substantial and showing even more of a Wire influence. It took me a while to get into, but after the almost excruciatingly lo-fi C’est bon! it is definitely a rewarding listen. I’d like to mention two other releases mainly, however. One is a split with Vancouver’s great noise-punks Nü Sensae, and comes to us via Volcom (who also released Nü Sensae’s brilliant and most recent LP Sundowning). On “City of Light” we get the best of both worlds, the crude and sharp production of Useless Eaters’ earlier releases but in an ambitious composition that stretches beyond 4 minutes.

Sutton is currently on tour in Australia, because he just released an 7″ on Anti Fade, called “New Program”. Actually he will just have played at good old The Tote in Melbourne, together with Red Red Krovvy (Ash from Pop Singles). On the new single we get a similar deal, the fantastic a-side “New Program” (listen below) sounds like an older song, while “Expensive Taste” sounds fresh and classy. The last track “Smoke Alarm” is of the same killer ilk as C’est bon! but is almost a straightforward pop song. I look forward to seeing how these new leanings play out on his next album, which probably isn’t far off.

And in case you missed it, Sutton appeared on a 7″ together with Ty Segall not long ago. “I Hate the Kids” is an exemplary collaboration.

Date: September 5th, 2012
Cate: new releases

New Centre of the Universe compilation

Apart from Summer of Fuzz there’s been one more cassette compilation released this year that’s put me onto a lot of good new bands. New Centre of the Universe cements the fact that, next to Canada, the place were it’s happening right now is Australia. There’s the Bedroom Suck and R.I.P. Society labels, great bands like Bitch Prefect, Royal Headache, Circle Pit, Bloods, East Link, Woollen Kits etc. (several of which are featured in the recent podcast). Add to that list Anti Fade Records, who really puts Geelong on the map, and as more than simply the home of The Frowning Clouds. The bands on New Centre of the Universe give the feel of a positively thriving scene of garage groups. And in the list of upcoming Anti Fade releases you’ll find Useless Eaters, The Bonniwells and a Straight Arrows reissue amongst others.

It’s obvious that Anti Fade is an artist-run label. With an apparent DIY belief in anti-design and dubbing cassettes manually, the music is what label founder Billy Gardner truly cares about. As a member of The Living Eyes and Ausmuteants, he had the idea of making a comp as early as last year, he tells me. A true labour of love then, featuring established acts like The Frowning Clouds and Zac’s other group The Bonniwells, The UV Race and the much-lauded Dick Diver. The tape gives the impression that each member of every band also fronts their own outfit and Gardner explains the relations between the various constellations. For example, one of my favourites called Hierophants shares three members with The Frowning Clouds. Their split cassette with Brisbane-based Cobwebbs is one of several releases that came out before New Centre of the Universe was eventually finished. There’ll be more about Hierophants soon, and Cobwebbs have an LP due out on Lost Race soon. They actually reminds me quite a lot of Cosmonauts, whose second album dropped recently and is more than worth a listen.

There are too many great titles on the tape to list, but Chook Race, Mesa Cosa, and The Murlocs all have records out that you should check out. Luckily the whole thing is on bandcamp, so I’ll just leave you with this track by Facetime emitting some well-digested Felt vibes.

Date: August 20th, 2012
Cate: rediscovered
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Hissey Miyake & Terrible Truths

Two of my new favourite bands are from Australia, and I like them even more than their male countrymen in Bitch Prefect and Dud Pills. Hissey Miyake (named after Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, although they’re now called Glow) are from Melbourne and have just released their first single, which is a split with the equally great Terrible Truths from Adelaide. It would be easy to dismiss/praise them as Teenage Jesus & the Jerks and Delta 5 copyists, but closer listens will reveal much more originality than that. Recent live clips from the single launch (as well as the video above) suggest that Hissey Miyake have become a duo (Glow) by ridding themselves of the drummer. If this will prove successful remains to be heard.

Terrible Truths on the other hand, are going strong with a brand new US single (out now on Mexican Summer) featuring “Don Juan” from the split and an a-side lifted off their first domestic release (a s/t ep from last year, which is now sold out). The split-7″ with HM is still avaible from Bedroom Suck, and here’s a great track from the Terrible Truths side.

Date: August 6th, 2012
Cate: new releases
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Pop Singles | All Gone

It’s easy to think of influences and comparisons when you listen to Melbourne’s Pop Singles. Everything from The Go Betweens and The Triffids (cause they’re Australian) to The Rain Parade and The Teardrop Explodes. But that is only because they, like all other great bands, have understood and digested pop history, distilling it into their extract. They’re not without vision however – that’s important. On their first album All Gone, just realased in Australia, Tam Matlakowski has found his voice as a songwriter and a singer. Rather than adding more guitars, as on their first couple of 7″s (released in 2009-2010), they have stripped down the sound to the bare essentials. You definitely get the feeling Pop Singles have reached their sound by playing live regularly, where the songs can get very energetic (check out a complete recent set from Sydney here). There’s another similarity to The Go-Betweens, whose first album also has the sound of a live recording. But rather than losing the finer details in washes of guitar, the production is kept clean with a minumum of overdubs (the odd bit of guitar and keyboard here and there). This gives the vocals a lot more prescence even though they’re still low in the mix. And this is without a doubt one of the most lyrically interesting albums I’ve heard this year.

This is the title track “All Gone”, a fantastic pop song, and that hook after the third chord is a textbook example of how to write a memorable tune. It’s also doubled on the bass, and in general, the way Peter Bramley’s bass playing interacts with the guitar is a huge part of the sound. His playing is melodic and full of ideas, you can tell he really cares about making the songs work. He’s also the person behind the Vacant Valley label, who have released the album, a true mark of dedication. I hear that copies will be available in Europe soon, via X-Mist. The third member of Pop Singles is drummer Ash Wyatt, who has also played with Velcro. Her drumming is excellent and could even have been a bit more prominent in these recordings. As I recall, it was a joy watching her play when I saw the band way back in 2009, as I’m sure it would have been to see Lindy Morrision live.

All Gone beats about the bush, sort of shunning straight major chords and lilting and wavering on major-sevenths and minors. Some of my favourites are the languid “Overcast”, the strangely positive “Are You Still There?”, and closing track “The Shore”, which starts off very similarly to Primal Scream’s first ‘pop single’ from 1985. Let’s hope Pop Singles don’t follow down the same path, but then again they don’t have a Jim Beattie to lose. Listen to four of the tracks here.

Date: April 1st, 2012
Cate: new releases

Woollen Kits | s/t

Another 2012 release worth picking up immediately is the debut LP from Melbourne trio Woollen Kits, whose single “Maths” easily made my best-of-2011 7″/ep list. It’s out on the R.I.P. Society label, which has been working wonders for the Autralian indie scene. The album plays with a very simple template: minimal song structures, a guitar sound balancing perfectly between wirey and warm (cf. The Clean), punctured by plenty of melodic hooks. Basically the same template out which Royal Headache crafted their stunning debut last year (although with all the knobs turned up one or two notches). What sets the Kits apart are the alternate vocals of Tom H’s deep monotone  and Tom R’s higher soar. The latter is what makes “Out of Whack” such an adrenaline rush, while the former is the only way the sometime simplistic lyrics can be delivered without causing ridicule. Apart from “Out of Whack” there’s really only one song that reaches the same standard as their brilliant double-sider of a single, but with “Always” Woollens Kits have not only written one of the most memorable guitar lines of the year, it’s also an incredibly beautiful song. So why not make the intro 1½ minutes long?

Date: January 25th, 2011
Cate: graphic design, new releases


Except for The Frowning Clouds, some of the best Australian groups I’ve heard lately are The Shimmys and The Wylde Oscars. The Shimmys are a girl garage group who have released two great albums, the last came out in 2009. Also from Melbourne are Jay Wiseman of The Hoods’ new band (yes, he relocated from the US) Thee Wylde Oscars. They released their first album Right, Yeah on Off the Hip last year. Curiously, the recent European release has a different title (Do the Wylde) and slightly different songs on it.

Date: November 21st, 2010
Cate: new releases

Pop Singles | Early Anthology

One of my favourite newish Melbourne groups Pop Singles recently sold out of their releases and made them available online via their Myspace. The pack includes their first ep, which you can see above and that includes the fantastic “I’ve Been Waiting”. With a female drummer, agile bass playing and a vocalist with a very McLennan-esque delivery it’s not a far stretch of the imagination to conjure up the Send Me a Lullaby era Go-Betweens, but one can also hear some influence from L.A. paisley underground (The Point, anyone?) and Flying Nun (like Straightjacket Fits). The zip (linked by the images) also includes a 7″ of “I Know Your Name” (on new label Vacant Valley) and a cassette ep. Several new releases are planned for next year!