4ZZZ Music Department Picks- Sept 2010

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Recommendations by the 4ZzZ-FM Music Dept from stuff that went into our library for the month of September.

I think I’ve been wearing too much cheese-cloth this month because all my personal faves appear to be seriously folky. From the fey and gorgeous icelandic language singing Olof Arnalds to the Tori Amos and Joni Mitchell channeling Martha Tilston and the bizarre yet beautiful melding of classical and indie-folk carried off so brilliantly by Clogs.

1. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan: Hawk (V2 / Shock). / Female Content.

– In their duetting Ms. Campbell & Mr. Lanegan have tapped into a very classic sound. Almost like a slightly more country and worn down version of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. It is sometimes dusty and brokedown, sometimes charmingly sweet, sometimes scrubbed clean and wearing its Sunday best and every now and then a little Southern-gothic scary. It is easy to understand why this reached out and touched so many folks.

2. Menomena: Mines (Spunk).

– Everybody talks about the experimentalism of the latest Menomena album, but it isn’t immediately obvious, carefully machined, as it is, into a very listenable and in many ways quite traditional indie-rock record. This is the least out there Menomena record so far and, by all accounts, was a tough process for the trio. The results however, speak of a finely tooled piece of work which will reward the returning listener with facets not previously audible.

3. Mogwai: Special Moves (Spunk).

– For a lot of bands the live context is not especially their friend.
Mogwai by contrast are preternaturally atuned to it. Their sinuous, post-rock energy comes alternately in whispers and then roars and pulses hypnotically across this live record. The selection of tunes is like a (very welcome) greatest hits, too, spanning their discography.
Really this is a special treat from a band that are one of the defining reasons we like this kind of music.

4. Maddy Hay: Smoke in the City (Indie). / Female Content / Australian.

– This is unusual. Maddy Hay is a jazz singer and songwriter of a very classic quality and sounds like she could give the Diana Kralls of today a bit of a run for their money. They certainly seem to think so in Europe where she is signed to Sony. In her home, Australia, (Melbourne to be precise) she is still a humble indie and got this album to us sans any major label help. It is exactly as her bio says:
rich and sultry but also I might add melancholy and wistful. I think I need a glass of brandy and rugging up in a plush chair by a warm fireplace on a cold night to fully appreciate this.

5. Seven: Seven EP (Born Fresh / MGM). / Australian / Local.

– It was just the other day I was talking up Gold Coast hip hop and here I go again. Seven’s slightly lugubrious flow shares the stage with lots of guests including the sonorous Joyride on single Shinkansen. Nice production comes from a variety of places including the seemingly ubiquitous M-Phazes (and aren’t we glad about that).
This is exactly the sound of Oz-hop at the moment and done well at that.

6. Graveyard Train: The Drink, The Devil & The Dance (Spooky / MGM). / Australian.

– A little bit country, a little bit cabaret and a little bit like a Welsh coal-miner’s choir. Graveyard Train’s 3rd long-player is perfect fodder for Spooky Records: all whiskey-soaked, blood-stained and hairy palmed tales of doomed cowboys, coquettish gypsy girls and …
WEREWOLVES!!! With the blokes all singing lustily away, bizarrely this reminds me of nothing more than the Spooky Men’s Chorale and with the addition of all the country and mariachi and the over the top horror elements it makes for an entertaining if highly silly experience.

7. Zola Jesus: Stridulum EP (Sacred Bones / Other Tongues). / Female Content.

– I was wondering when I’d get another dose of some of the present cadre of scary, electronic singer-songwriters: Soap & Skin, Cortney Tidwell, Bat for Lashes et al. No sooner said then Nika Roza Danilova bursts on the scene. Industrial beats: check, ambient haze of reverb:
check, mezzo voice that could scare a kodiak: check. The songs are ponderous and majestic tributes to the gothic excesses of yesteryear and I frickin’ love it.

8. Martha Tilston: Lucy & the Wolves (Longtime Listener / Other Tongues). / Female Content.

– When playing with a piano it is possible to mistake Martha Tilston for Tori Amos circa Little Earthquakes (by which I mean hoorah!) but as you listen on you hear a classic folk, singer-songwriter thing she has going on which hearks back much further to Joni Mitchell or Carly Simon. The lyrics are of that ouerve, too: slightly fey, sad and full of longing. The overall effect is one of subtle, sometimes astonishing beauty.

9. Clogs: The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton (Brassland / Other Tongues). / Female Content.

– Comprising The National’s Bryce Dessner and former SSO violinist, Australian Padma Newsome and others, Clogs have blended and sculpted their sound over the years so that you end up with a very sweet indie-folk that owes much more to classical and miminimalist music than most bands. There’s the most endearing mix of baroque stylism and indie on some tracks: Cocodrillo and The Owl of Love, for instance.
There are indeed a couple of other bands out there who do stuff a tiny bit like this: The Bell Orchestre or Extra Life for instance. Not exactly like this at all, however and you’d be quite silly to miss out on this.

10. Isan: Glow in the Dark Safari Set. (Morr Music / Other Tongues).

– This is almost too prettily indie-electronic to call it Kraut, yet there is a driving logic underneath the cute sounds that can only belong to that ethos of German efficiency. The English and Swedish duo also indulge in some newer school, seriously syncopated hip hop beats and occasionally lapse into fragmented ambience. There is a lot to enjoy here!

11. Running Guns: 12 & 35 (Indie). / Female Content / Australian / Local.

– This latest EP from local band Running Guns is a delightfully tight blend of indie pop-rock and garage influences with a few extra trumpet licks thrown in for free. These guys are already supporting all the right people, making noises in the right places, I’ll just get out my Big Things Expected stamp and stamp them with it. There, excellent.

12. Bang Bang Boss Kelly: Bang Bang Boss Kelly (Indie). / Australian / Local.

– Something like a speeding stagecoach, these local lads play country rock with banjo and a whole lot of verve. They claim to be influenced by The Boss and if you listen you can definitely hear that too.
Actually, for a country band there is a degree of interesting production wizardry which really adds something, rather than hiding the raw quality of the music. Their rough-throated singing will fool you into thinking they’re pining for the old west, but if you listen closely the lyrics are all about the equally rough and ready life lived in Brisbane, giving Bang Bang Boss Kelly a personal if paradoxical immediacy. A strong debut.

13. Coolies: Master (Chapter Music). / Female Content / New Zealand.

– It is pretty much guaranteed that if you add a bleary dose of distorted garage to an indie trio (two indie girls and a nerdy looking guy, natch) and stir in some post-punk abruptness the resultant sound will give the front row frost-bite from the chilly-coolness of it all.
Frostbitten fingertips are the new black. The Coolies personify it.

14. Women: Public Strain (Jagjaguwar / Inertia).

– The 2nd album for this Calgary band. Still sounds like they were recorded in a bucket, but, they are very artful (ala Sonic Youth) and in a not wholly obvious way pretty (ala Pavement) and also highly evocative (ala Joy Division). It is nice to hear some of the sh*tgaze crowd growing into other interesting things.

15. Peabody: Loose Manifesto (Peabrain / MGM / AMRAP). / Australian.

– Peabody have been lurking in Australian music for quite some time now (15 years and 3 albums). It is interesting noting that they’ve supported both The Hoodoo Gurus and the Mess Hall, which kind of encapsulates the two extremes of their sound. Is it a little unsurprising that I am more into when they’re sounding a bit more like the Mess Hall? Certainly this album has a bit more of that: darker, drifting and sometimes a little furious, I guess being an indie for 15 years is going to rub you up the wrong way after a while, but it is a frisson that can make some good music.

16. Various Artists: Cellar Sessions Volume One (Indie). / Female Content / Australian.

– This indie comp collects 6 sludgy, morally suspect southern rocking bands from the Perth scene. I’ve heard some fairly anaemic attempts at this sort of thing lately, but this corrupting taste is by turns sweetly malign (like Cat Black) and rough as guts (like the Bible
Bashers) or otherwise just straight-up eerie country-gothic (like Bonehouse). The soundtrack to your next quart of Whiskey and ol’ timey lynching party.

17. Aumgn: Accretion (Indie). / Australian.

– The thing with noise music that a lot of noise artists don’t get is that fifteen minutes of completely monotonous drone can be pretty bloody boring. Aumgn’s Jason Beale seems to know this quite well and there are lots of interesting samples, varied sounds and pulsating, libidinal rhythms shuddering away in the bubbling heaving stew of his guitar noise. Warm, suffocating, not for everyone but a worthy Australian addition to the pantheon of noise.

18. The Bible Bashers: The Bible Bashers (Jekyll). / Australian.

– There’s not too many blues rockin’ bands measure up next to Brisbane’s own Six ft. Hick for pure, throat-ripping energy, but the Bible Bashers are, at the very least, contenders. Front man Laith’s vocals are singularly impressive. This swampy and rotten southern rock is led by a fire breathing preacher who is quite happy to lecture on the failures of virtue including but not limited to alcoholism, promiscuity, cannabalism and vagrancy. Music to stir the soul (until it reaches a foetid boil).

19. Ghostdrums: Ghostdrums (Love Is My Velocity). / Australian.

– Perth’s Pete Guazzelli is a drummer who has collected a bunch of electronics to go with his drumming and done up a nice little instrumental, indie-electronic EP, supposedly released on a USB stick (although we got it by old-fashioned CD). Isn’t everybody talking about the neatness of being electro-acoustic too (so damn innovative!!!). Whatever, this is cute and pleasant in an interesting, glitch-core kinda way. For my money it gets better as it goes on: I particularly like the techy tension of Red Thread. I also look forward to more ghostdrumming in the future.

20. The JSB’s: St Christopher’s Road Trip to Vegas (Indie / AMRAP).

– Such an interesting mixture of synth and indie-pop and not-a-little-bit-aggressive garagey type stuff. That doesn’t come off sounding like anything else you can be damn sure; accept maybe like a very surly B52s. The debut EP from this Melbourne trio is all good, not a bad bit in it.

21. Gonjasufi: The Caliphs Tea Party (Warp / Inertia).

– After releasing Gonjasufi (Sumach Ecks) on the world earlier this year with the hazy, tripped-out brilliance of A Sufi and a Killer, Warp brings us the companion remix record; The Caliphs Tea Party. The Caliphs Tea Party sees a hefty chunk of A Sufi and a Killer chewed up and spat out, resulting in a more upbeat, digestible chunk of music. A second breath of life for an album that has had barely enough time to gather dust in the first place.

22. The Hundred In The Hands: The Hundred In The Hands (Warp /
Inertia) / Female Content.

– It’s been a while since I’ve listened to a record that I’ve enjoyed so much, from an artist that I’d never heard a thing about. This Brooklyn duo’s first full length release combines elements of electro, post-punk, new wave and pop while throwing in a healthy dose of angular guitars, throbbing synths & ethereal vocals. Instantly enjoyable, wildly catchy, very slick- think Silent Alarm era Bloc Party meets Chromatics.

23. Matthew Herbert: One Club (Accidental / Inertia).

– The 2nd of a trio of highly conceptual albums to be released this year by sample wizard and all round brilliant guy Matthew Herbert. The album was created from recordings taken on one night, via microphones placed around a German nightclub. One Club uses samples of the audience talking, laughing and deliberately making odd noises and the result is a compelling listen, a success in experimental electronic music.

24. Magic Kids: Memphis (True Panther / Remote Control).

– Rather gorgeous mixture of all sorts of different kinds of pop:
indie, chamber and 60s revival. Kind of like a Belle & Sebastian out of Tennessee. I don’t know if they have the same hidden fangs as Belle & Sebastian, if they do they seem to keep them along with their tongue, so firmly in their cheek that it’s kind of hard to tell.
Whatever, this is sweet, light (but not at all throwaway) and wonderful.

25. Die! Die! Die!: Form (Flying Nun / Remote Control / Inertia). / New Zealand.

– It is interesting how this band’s sound has flip-flopped around.
From their original rawness to the hard, bright sheen imparted by Steve Albini … and I can’t even remember what their last one sounded like, except I don’t think I liked it. This latest version, produced by Nick Roughan from the Skeptics and out on a newly revived Flying Nun is still very much post-punk and also brings great edifices of shoe-gaze guitar noise, but all produced in a profoundly restrained manner, as though the onslaught of their sound -even as it shocks with its ferocity- like a blizzard, chills you to the bone. I would be very pleased if Die! Die! Die! decided to stick with this particular sound.

26. Olof Arnalds: Innundir Skinni (Spunk). / Female Content.

– It’s hard to put one’s finger on what works quite so well about this Icelandic songstress. Her voice is unique: twee and old-timey, and she sings in Icelandic for the most part which is a really nice language to listen to. The songcraft full of simple, striking guitar work (and a South American lute thing called a Charango) is likewise charmingly folky, to the point of verging on being a bit like nursery rhyme, but as with a Brothers Grimm tale there is a subtle undertone of the strange which keeps it from being mawkish. Really lovely.

27. Mavis Staples: You are Not Alone (Anti- / Shock) / Female Content.

– Anti- has a few legendary folks on its roster (most notably Tom
Waits) but it must be said that some of them are getting a bit long in the tooth (not Tom!!). That certainly isn’t the case for Mavis Staples. What is she, over 70? You wouldn’t know it coz she sounds like a gospel, soul and rnb powerhouse. There’s even a bit of country rolled in here, not surprising since Jeff Tweedy produced the album, with several members of his band Wilco playing on a bunch of old classics and a smattering of new ones too. A worthy addition to her legendary status.

28. Flying Lotus: Pattern+Grid World (Warp / Inertia).

– It’s as if Flying Lotus isn’t content with just being on-top-of-the-world and has to get out as much material as he can while everyone is idolizing him as a god. Just a few months after Cosmogramma we have a new EP, which, although it lacks the star-studded guest list is by no means light-on for stuff. It’s still a kaleidosmash of sounds, with some rather exciting excursions into synth, like the mesmerising Physics for Everyone! Elsewhere you’ll find more familiarly Lotusy stuff like the rich and loungey slow dubstep / instrumental hip hop collage of Time Vampires. How can I but unhesitatingly recommend this! Taste of the Lotus and lose yourself in his world.

29. Radiant City: No Errors (Wireless / MGM). / Australian.

– Putting the rawk in post-rock Melbourne duo Radiant City make a rather large amount of noise for just two guys. I know they have 5 albums under their belt but this is the first I’ve run across them.
There is a machine-like, irrepressible and perhaps unfriendly energy that powers the Radiant City. All the pulsating relentlesness of industrial without actually being industrial: they are a fearsome musical engine.

30. Big Scary: Spring (indie). / Female Content / Australian.

– The gimmick of releasing a little 3 track EP named for the season with the arrival of each season wouldn’t be half so effective if Big Scary weren’t very pleasant to listen to. As it is I’ve come to look forward with great warmth to the latest little slice of indie-folk from this Melbourne boy and girl duo. I always knew they had the capacity for bigger and rockier sounds and some of them start to emerge on Spring, but only a little on one track (Summer I’m guessing will be fiery). I kind of dread to say that one might compare some of this to Jeff Buckley, but I feel the comparison is justified and this is a nice way to bring in the new season.

31. Cameras: Cameras (Indie). / Female Content / Australian.

– This Sydney trio would be very good at producing fashionable, sparse, bored-sounding art rock but they get quite emotional and loud, which, rather than blowing their cool makes things much more tense and exciting. This really is very accomplished stuff, and just their debut EP. I think this might even play to quite a wide audience, I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from the Cameras.

32. Katie Wighton: What You Do (Indie). / Female Content / Australian / Local.

– There’s more than a touch of what took Frente to #1 in the charts in the debut EP from Brissie’s Katie Wighton. That mix of singing, songwriting and super-cutesy indieness really captures the same ouerve that Angie Hart channels. Actually there’s a little soul in there too if you listen, adding a little backbone to the lighter elements.

33. Hungry Kids of Hungary: Escapades (Stop Start / EMI). / Australian / Local.

– Whether it’s the uptempo indie-pop singles (Wristwatch, Coming
Around) or the sweet, downtempo reflections (Eat Your Heart Out, No
Returns) or anything in-between, the debut album (finally) for Brissie’s Hungry Kids skillfully combines most of the things going on in Indie-pop today in a way that genuinely appeals to just about all comers. They’ve just signed to EMI offshoot Stop Start for 2 albums, I do hope EMI treats them well, coz this band sounds pretty awesome right now.

34. Röyksopp: Senior (EMI).

– The downbeat counterpart to the Junior album. Completely instrumental, it nonetheless manages to impart a curiously medicated image of old age, most obviously on minimal yet blissful tracks like The Drug or The Alcoholic. Contrarily my favourite moment in This album is The Fear: when the beats just about desert the scene and allow the shimmering textures and tonalities of the electronic ambience to wash across you. Pleasantly transcendental.

35. El Guincho: Pop Negro (Young Turks / XL / Remote Control).

– It is hard not to be swept up in the indie-dance euphoria of El Guincho. Pablo Diaz-Reixa brings together afro-beat and tropicalia (and Spanish language lyrics) with the sweet synths and percussive rhythms the indie kids of today are into. Apparently this album also represents his tribute to super-producers of the 80s and 90s which – I think – has something (Michael Jacksony) to do with the rather odd title for the record (in Spanish it would just mean black pop).
Whatever, you could be forgiven for just putting it out of your mind and dancing!

36. The Bon Scotts: Oddernity (Pop Boomerang). / Female Content / Australian.

– The twee indie-pop of non-acca-dacca-imitating Melbournites is uplifted by smart, funny and slightly hysterical lyrics on tracks like We Like War. Not that it needed too much uplifting, this is a lovely, slightly experimental and a little bit folky slice of pop.

37. UNKLE: The Answer EP (Pod / Inertia).

– This Itunes only EP features has some new tunes (which are all good) and some nice remixes from the last album (I particularly like the Tim Goldsworthy version of Follow Me Down). This is at least as dark as Where Did The Night Fall and with more of that classic UNKLE rocktronic sound (and it didn’t even need DJ Shadow to make it happen!).

38. Various Artists: Future Bass (Soul Jazz / Inertia).

– In an interesting move Soul Jazz has tried to take a new perspective on the hodge podge of stuff that has been flushed into the dubstep genre, including all the house music and minimal techo that seemingly had illegitimate offspring with it on the dancefloor in British clubs.
Headed up by contributions from folks like Four Tet, Mala and Coki the sound is … exactly as described, although in line with the minimal techno bit it shys away from the cheesiest hook-ups between dubstep and house. Interesting, if not enormously exciting.

39. Teebs: Ardour (Brainfeeder / Inertia).

– Another addition to Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder roster. Teebs is actually quite a bit more like the Lotus than many of his compadres.
At its base this is instrumental hip hop but with really gorgeous atmosphere. I’m sure I should be able to work out why, but I can’t:
every track I hear reminds me somehow of some indeterminate yesteryear, carrying me away on a wave of sentimentality.
Uncontrolable nostalgia AND instrumental hip hop? Sign me up.

40. Junip: Fields (Shock).

– From the time that Jose Gonzalez and Tobias Winterkorn played together in a hardcore band (!) through their progression into folk and Gonzalez’ solo fame, this trio (rounded out by drummer Elias
Araya) have been waiting patiently to put down a full-length record.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that it sounds a lot like The Jose Gonzalez Band from the first single Always, but the addition of Winterkorn’s Hammond organ  and Moog synth + also a very fuzzy, almost garagey and sometimes quite odd approach to some of the production (just check the opening track In Every Direction) sets this apart.
Occasionally breaking into downright rocking, though Gonzalez preternaturally self-controlled sound is always a restraining influence, it is an expansion on Gonzalez core sound that won’t alienate fans.

41. Kyu: Kyu (Pop Frenzy) / Female Content / Australian.

These two Sydney girls with their breathy but loudly tuneful singing come off sounding like nothing so much as Bjork, eminently aided by the slightly sci-fi sounding art rock accompniment, full of cavernous echoes set off by enormous percussive crashes through which they spin their loud, bright harmonies. You get the idea very nicely on the single Pixiphony which was explicitly influenced by Ryuchi Sakamoto’s Akira soundtrack. An auspicious debut.

42. Fuck Dance, Let’s Art: Sounds from a New American Underground (!K7 / Inertia).

– Given the profile and signings of some of the names on this comp it starts to make you wonder just what exactly counts as ‘underground’:
Crystal Castles, Animal Collective, Memory Tapes, I’m looking at you.
Nonetheless this a fairly footapping collection of stuff that is moving the East Coast of the USA, including a bunch of stuff that we haven’t heard here in Oz. Art rock, indie-dance, dance-punk, chillwave, electro-pop and down-right experimentalism gyrate together here in a sometimes very toe-tapping manner. If you can’t dance to it, well, you indie-kids probably couldn’t dance anyway.

43. Thievery Corporation: It Takes a Thief (ESL / Shock).

– Definitely a guilty pleasure, the greatest hits of the worldly loungebeat kings is not a bad way to hear them. They’ve done a lot of stuff I wouldn’t rate at all, but then they’d throw in a Lebanese Blonde and all would be forgiven. What then could be wrong where all those moments come together. Actually this isn’t a greatest hits per-se, being a collection of TC’s Rob Garza and Eric Hilton’s favourite moments from their own. As such there are more interesting things in there, like some of their politics on numbers like Amerimacka and Vampires. If you’re not familiar, this is the perfect intro.

44. Megafaun: Heretofore (Hometapes / Inertia).

– An amazing EP to reinforce the awesome of their first two albums.
The second of those albums is only, what, a year old? Amongst all the touring they’ve laid this 34 minute EP down, again stretching country rock with indie, folk and unexpected and brilliant art-rock change-ups. I imagine this could please a very wide array of people and it certainly pleases me.

45. The Basics: The Basics (Indie). / Australian.

– Showing how much they shine in the live context The Basics recorded this mixture of new and old tunes in front of a live crowd at the Northcote Social Club. It is a fantastic opportunity to listen to old pop-rocking faves like Rattle My Chain with the raw, adrenalised power imparted by the liveness. In case you still feel like a chump paying good money for old tunes the album is available free for download at http://thebasics.bandcamp.com/

46. Justin Townes Earle: Harlem River Blues (Bloodshot / Inertia).

– Justin Townes Earle has his musical lineage enshrined in his name, but I don’t think he has ever paged through the musical history books quite so much as on this record. Blues, country, rock’n’roll, folk and every combination of those you can imagine get their own separate outings. It’d be a bit haphazard if it wasn’t done with such confidence.

47. Prince Rama: Shadow Temple (Paw / Mistletone / Inertia). / Female Content.

– There’s quite a lot of talk about what ‘counts’ as psychedelic in this latest revisiting of the hazy rock of yesteryear. Prince Rama get across the line, no questions asked. The storm of reverb, droning chants, shrieking women, hypnotic ryhthms beaten by sweaty devotees on tribal drums and the rolling thunder of their bassy synths allied with a wholsale adoption of Hindu mysticism make for a certifiably trippy experience. The only thing slightly out of place is the synth, which serves to give it a futuristic feeling. Oh, and just for good measure there are members of Animal Collective involved. Most importantly they manage to make it sound really good, behind that wall of sound there is complex and interesting song-writing going on. A pleasure deep and mysterious!

48. Roller One: Motorsports (Torn & Frayed). / Australian.

– Acoustic guitar, piano, acoustic bass and a weathered baritone, what more do you need for quiet, sparse, sad and moving songs about love and loss. Melbournians Fergus McAlpin and Adam Affif (both of Silver City Highway) appear to have got it down to a fine art.

49. Active Child: Curtis Lane (Spunk).

– Pat Grossi’s obsession with 80s synth pop is a pretty fruitful one.
His fluting falsetto soars over the mountainscapes of synth, echoing drums and handclaps. It is majestic and uplifting, if at the same time a pretty sugary high. I guess now I have to admit I’m also a Tears for Fears tragic. Well, it is the hippest time to be one in rather a long time.

50. The Barons of Tang: Knots and Tangles (Indie / The Planet Company). / Female Content / Australian.

– Not that there’s anything wrong with straight-up gypsy (whatever that might be) but hearing the beginning of this Barons of Tang EP I was worried that they’d lost that truly psychotic silliness that set them apart from the rest of the Romany crowd. No fear! By the end of the first number they’d degenerated into metal power-chords and from there on every intricate 9:17 rhythm is intersperced in a manner similar to a car crash with ska, rockabilly and hardcore all executed with absolutely furious energy. There are very obvious parallels with festival favourites Darth Vegas but they never managed to sound half as good as this on disc. Nothing short of a huge achievement.

51. Mt Augustus: Mt Augustus (Incremental). / Australian / Local.

– Dark, sparse and quiet folk music fill the debut album from this local band. It comes replete with odd and endearing elements like bowed saws, xylophones and the occasional distorted bass. A nice meeting of the slightly arty, sad and simple.

52. Laneous & The Family Yah: Found Things (Bird Fire). / Female Content / Australian / Local.

– The first thing that confronts you with the latest Family Yah contrivance is the jaw-dropping combination of genres: hip hop, indie-rock and pop, soul, rnb, roots, jazz. Crazy! It’s all united by the wicked jazzy rhythms and self-deprecating yet still rather bad-ass attitude of Laneous & crew. An audacious step-forward in nearly every direction at once.

53. Kes Trio: Black Brown Green Grey White (Mistletone / Inertia). / Australian.

– From the tracks I heard ahead of this latest version of things Kes I was expecting something slightly less heavy. Yet the album rumbles and growls in a most menacing fashion. It is still lackadaisical psychedelia, stumbling around the place, it is still self-indulgently arty and there are still those indie-folk moments but the added ferocity makes it all a bit more dynamic. After a while it all settles down in the middle as blueprint psych-rock. So, something for everyone? Not enough to please anyone? On balance, as I wander out of the psychedelic haze, I find I’ve quite enjoyed their trippy little ride.

54. Briggs: The Blacklist (Golden Era). / Australian.

– It might be kind of embarrassing that Briggs is opening for Ice Cube on his latest Aussie tour … coz he sounds more like Ice Cube than Ice Cube does these days. Fast spitting, angry, heavy and muscular voiced Briggs only came on the scene a little while ago, but quickly made friends with folks like Funkoars and The Hilltop Hoods (and that should give you an idea of where his sound is at). The Hilltops liked him so much they took him on tour around Europe and have signed him to their own label Golden Era. It’s a no-brainer too, if a sound like this doesn’t go huge I will eat my shell-toes (after I buy some).

55. My Disco: Little Joy (Mistletone / Shock). / Australian.

– Where are My Disco at these days? After the explosive outbursts of their youth it’s like they’ve retreated into themselves. The former psychotics now sitting in the corner, rocking incessantly back and forth, endless repeating the same thing over and over again. A post-punk version of the Necks, maybe? After the Steve Albini produced Paradise they’ve gone with Sydney super-guy Scott Horscroft (Silver Chair, The Presets) who has created a more layered version of their sound rather than the cold, hard Albini style (does it seem like a lot of bands have one Albini record and then go … OK let’s do something else?). This is certainly not My Disco at their most droningly repetetive and I’m not certain it represents inspired minimalism either, perhaps time will make up my mind. As they say on the title
track: I’ll be here, just wait it out.

56. Sufjan Stevens: The Age of Adz (Asthmatic Kitty / Spunk).

– I have to foreground my fannish emotional quivering at the prospect of a new Sufjan Stevens album. Although I have had fun with BQEs and re-workings of Enjoy your Rabbit, etc., etc., the opportunity to have something to put on the shelf next to Illinois grabs a hold of my imagination. Rather than seeing the sights, physical, emotional and psychical of another State of the Union, Stevens has seemingly inhabited the mind of Royal Robertson, a poster-painter, outsider artist and all round oddball late of a Louisiana trailer-park. At this early stage it seems to me that he’s united Robertson’s joyfully, tragically, apocalyptically arty craziness with his own for an even more personal trip through the mind of an artist than anything he’s written heretofore. Musically it is suitably full of eruptions and seems to unite all eras of Sufjan’s compositions: the highly orchestrated later work, the indie-folk of the middle and the early, electronic stuff. It is highly overstuffed to the point of exhausting the listener, but nonetheless, like a Rococo frescoe it is never less than a bit astonishing with it’s ornate and intricate workings. I wait anxiously for the time to digest it all.

57. Sikap Sempurna: Sikap Sempurna (Indie). / Female Content / Australian.

– The core of this band is quiet bloke vocals, keys and cello used to create atmospheric but rhythmic indie / art-rock. There is a great deal of rhythmic energy and intricacy and a lot of atmosphere, Sikap Sempurna seem to want to break out into post-rock, but restrain themselves a little resulting in finely chiseled songcraft. As far as debut EPs go this is quite impressive, I would hope that a lot of folks would give this the time of day.

58. Keith! Party: Roof Raisers (Indie). / Female Content / Australian.

– I’m not sure Australian has produced too much nerdcore in the past, I think the last stuff that I heard which could’ve been called nerdcore was done before nerdcore became a ‘thing’. At any rate Melbourne electro-idiot Talkshow Boy is aiming to make a fist of it, gathering a group of as buck-toothed MCs as ever wore a back-pack and calling it Keith! Party. I don’t know when Keith became the new Nigel, but it did happen, sorry if it’s your name’n’all. On the upside you have a dorky as hell but actually kind of phresh nerdcore record named after you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t dig it, there are undoubtedly an entire convention of pokemon fondling freaks out there just dying to get down to this.

59. Holy Ghost!: Static on the Wire EP (DFA / Shock).

– I haven’t been digging on the DFA stuff as much as I might, lately.
Holy Ghost! has restored my faith (sorry). The new EP is as fine a slice of indie-dance (or nu-disco if you want to be finnicky about it) to stylishly slink out of Brooklyn as you could hope for until Juan Maclean gets his s**t together and writes another song as good as ‘Happy House’.

60. Julia Why?: Julia Why? (Indie). / Female Content / Australian.

– This Sydneyside singer-songwriter is a bit ashen and bitter yet her songs have a silky, gossamer quality as well. It’s like half-heard snatches of something, possibly beautiful, possibly tragic, lost in the dusk. She lists PJ Harvey and The Drones as inspirations and you can certainly hear that, although it would definitely be only the quietest most lingering songs by both; and that is certainly something I could stand to hear more of.

61. Gold Panda: Lucky Shiner (Spunk).

– Gold Panda’s stuff is a curious mix of ambient atmosphere, highly textured and sometimes quite unusual beats and (nearly) breakout dancefloor bangers. I think that folks who like any of those things individually (even one but not the other two) will find it hard to say no to this concoction. The boy from Essex has created a winning combination.

62. Seefeel: Faults (Warp / Inertia). / Female Content.

– It has been quite some time (and I was quite young) the last time Seefeel released a record. Things have changed a bit (as you might expect after 14 years) for the band that united unrelenting rhythm with peaceful ambience. Two of the 4 members have been replaced by new folks, one of whom is ex-Boredoms drummer Iida Kazuhisa. It’s a bit difficult to describe exactly how their sound has changed; more subtle, maybe? The more pounding rhythms are missing from this EP replaced with something that sounds like live, instrumental hiphop (maybe it is signal of the fact that industrial is not really a genre anyone does anymore). The slight taste of something like dream-pop remains, but the thing that really links the two styles is the continued experimentation glitching away in a junk-filled pool of ambience. A strange and intriguing new taste of something old.

63. The Jim Jones Revue: Burning Your House Down (Pias / Liberator).

– This is a nearly perfect garage-blues record. The furiously playful energy is every bit as earth-shaking as that channeled by Little Richard and it is sometimes quite difficult to believe these guys are white, English guys. Also a bit scary that the lead-singer is actually called Jim Jones, do you reckon his mum called him that? This second album was produced by Bad Seed and Grinderman Jim Sclavunos and, incidentally, both the G-men and Jim Jones will be hitting the next Big Day Out, should be a fantastic live act (or I will want to know the reason why)!

64. Felicity Groom: Felicity Groom (Indie). / Female Content / Australian.

– I get the feeling that Perth’s Felicity Groom is bound for quite big things. This tour EP (for her traipse around the country with Tame
Impala) is at the same time quite interesting and sometimes gritty indie rock with elements of garage and experimentation, torch song, all sorts of things really, but with perfect crossover potential and all led by the rather well-vocally-endowed Ms Groom. I choose to enjoy it before she is catapulted to the top of the pops.

65. Adrift For Days: The Lunar Maria (Indie). / Australian.

– There is so much bad prog-metal out there. Thank god for bands like Adrift For Days that restore one’s faith, I suppose this is as much stoner and doom, with its haze of fuzzy guitar and dirge-like pace.
Whatever, it sounds great and especially great (sorry!!!) for an Australia prog outfit.

66. Apache Beat: Last Chants (Pod / Inertia). / Female Content.

– In this day and age of instant gratification, NY up-and-comers Apache Beat have waited an almost unseemly time to release their debut album (3 whole years!) and the hype, at least in certain circles, has been reaching a quite high level of pressure. I’m not sure if this will please all of those who’ve been been in the grip of that hype, but the odd mixture of inexorable post-punk with all the rhythmic propulsion and vague menace, and a much more indie and art-rock sensibility that at the same time as it produces odd noises and experimentation takes the edge off with great tunefulness is in the last instance quite pleasant indeed.

67. Superchunk: Majesty Shredding (Popfrenzy). / Female Content.

– I can’t think of a more welcome return from a pop-punk band than US undergrounders Superchunk and this 10 years in the waiting opus. It works so well, too, from the big opener Digging for Something to the slow and sentimal numbers like Rosemarie, and then right back into it again. This really reminds you how good Superchunk are: bringing just the right level of grit mixed through soaring pop tunes. This is exactly what good pop-punk should be.

68. Half-Handed Cloud: As Stowaways in Cabinets of Surf, We Live-out in Our Members a Kind of Rebirth (Asthmatic Kitty / Inertia).

– Free-loading, church-dwelling, religiously-inspired, little-bit-scary type John Ringhofer gets away with all of that because the songs he writes are pretty damn good. I can think of no more apt description than Kimya Dawson as a bloke, with the caveat that Half-Handed Cloud is much more immediately approachable and appealing. It’s anti-folk that manages to be as pleasant as anything without surrendering any of its crazy, prickly wierdness. Don’t believe me? I guarantee you will enjoy sitting through all 25 little slices of this album (or you are totally joyless curmudgeon).

4ZzZ-FM Music Dept

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One Response to “4ZZZ Music Department Picks- Sept 2010”

  1. Lachlan Says:

    Thanks for the mention pally. Definitely got a few new bands/CDs to check out from this link.

    Love and doom,

    – Lachlan (Adrift for Days)

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