Working from home the past few weeks has allowed me the luxury of lying awake in bed after the clock radio goes off listening to whatever KEXP is playing that day. This morning I awoke from a deep slumber to the last 30 seconds of You’re Not Always On My Mind by Hobart, Australia’s Quivers. I didn’t realize I liked it at first as it was only 30 seconds of chiming guitars. The next song was Camper Van Beethoven’s Take the Skinheads Bowling so I actually started my day with “have big lanes, have big lanes” in my head. Later in the morning I pulled up the Quivers off the internet and discovered that this band had been missing from my life and if not for the virus enforced slowdown of my life I could have gone days, months years without them.
You’re Not Always on My Mind probably isn’t a dig at Willie Nelson’s You Were Always On My Mind, but it made me think of old Willie too. Quivers offer pop that is closer to the Catchers and the Go-Betweens. Jangling guitars, swell bass, and a contradictory chorus that is hard to forget. The song came out as single on Seattle’s Turntable Kitchen at the end of last year and is promised to be on an upcoming sophomore album. The single also contains a cover of REM’s Me In Honey which is also a preview of the band’s rendition of REM’s 1991 Out of Time LP due sometime soon as well.
One thing about Melbourne, Australia’s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever is that I can never seem to get their name right. It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, you know. How many bands have four word names these days? People are lucky enough to be able to remember two word band names. It seems that their US label Sub Pop realizes this, shortening the band’s name for their US debut to Rolling Blackouts C.F. I don’t know if this is better though. It isn’t a whole lot easier to remember, and it gives the impression that there is already a band named Coastal Blackouts and these Blackouts are from some country with the initials C.F.
Another thing about Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever is that they jangle. You hear the likely suspects (Bats, Clean, & Feelies) in their sound, but their jangle comes from a more classic rock corner of the universe. Their sound can best be described by the Close Lobsters‘ cover of Neil Young‘s Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black). They sound like they’ve done their time on the bar circuit, and taken their lumps winning over hard drinking, blue collar fellows in dungarees.
One more thing about Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, they’re show this past Tuesday at Barboza here in Seattle was a lot of fun. The five piece band featured three guitarists and singers, but their secret weapon, which all great bands will attest to, was their rhythm section. Every song was anchored by some great bass riffs which was really apparent live. That firm mooring allowed the guitarists to really go into their hyper-manic-riff mode trading licks and often vocal spots. This band seems to be very well oiled machine.
One final thing about Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, they do a mighty fine cover of the Orange Juice classic Blueboy!
Seattle’s designated openers for all Australian jangly type bands, Zebra Hunt did just that. On this night I found out:
In Australia, zebra is pronounced with a short ‘e’.
Zebra Hunt’s second LP is coming out May 19.
The band now seems to be a permanent four piece.
They have got a brand new set of songs that rivals the ones the made me fan in the first place.
They just keep getting better!
They might actually be Australian judging from their ace cover of the Go-Betweens‘ Was There Anything I Could Do?
Taking on America with an extensive 25 date tour is ambitious for any band, but when you’re Chook Race, a little known three piece jangle pop band from Melbourne, Australia it’s downright impressive (and maybe a little insane). The band made its way into Seattle Wednesday night to play the Victory Lounge, a bar with no stage in East Lake. This is one band I thought I would never see in Seattle, but after self-releasing their first album, Chicago label Trouble in Mind signed them making their second LP widely available in the United States as well as this tour a reality.
Singer and guitarist Matthew Liveriadis has a slight monotone delivery, but drummer Carolyn Hawkins provides a beautiful juxtaposition with her backing harmonies. The trio played an energized and jangly set inspired by the Bats and Close Lobsters mixing soon to be jangle pop classics from their first LP with ones of a slightly more classic pop sound from their new second album Around the House. In their short existence the band already have a stash of A-list songs and they didn’t leave any of them out including jangly diamonds like Dentist, Time, Sometimes and Hard to Clean and Older. The band’s tight sound and laid back attitude easily won over the likely already won over folks in attendance and made us all appreciate the long trip they had made to get here.
Like minded Seattlites Zebra Hunt opened for Chook Race with a set that consisted almost entirely of new songs (Half Right was the only old one). Apparently the new album is nearly ready and based on this evidence I would agree. One song really stood out with its Feelies-like crazy rhythm, even slowing down and then rebuilding itself into something quite raucous. Zebra Hunt has still got it!
There was an air of familiarity when I glanced at the cover of the Jangle Band‘s debut album Edge of Dream. It seemed to recall the cover of the Triffids‘ Born Sandy Devotional with its birds eye view of a sandy coast. There was another after I played the record for the first time. The sonic dissonance of the Byrds combined with indiepop sensibility of the Rainyard. Was I insane, or were these connections intentional or innate?
I am happy to report that I’m not crazy. The Jangle Band (has there ever been a more appropriately named band?) have roots in Perth, same as the Triffids and are lead by Jeff Baker and Ian Freeman who count the Rainyard and Palisades as former bands. Edge of Dream is a wonderful album full of songs descended from The Bells of Rhymney by the Byrds. The Rickenbacker’s jangle throughout and it sends you somewhere eight miles high and sun bleached.
How many sweet spots lie between Wire‘s 154 and Of Skins and Heart by the Church? By my estimation there are at least a few hundred and Rat Columns‘ second album hits a good many of them. The San Francisco by way of Australia band have just released their second album Leaf on Australia’s RIP Society records. It was recorded in San Francisco at Kelley Stoltz‘s Electric Duck Studios. Main Rat David West employed the aid of both Stoltz and Mikey Young (Total Control & Eddie Current Suppression Ring) to make the record.
Where the first Rat Columns album was murky and dense, album number two sheds opaqueness for sunnier realms and glistens in the pop sun. The first song Straight to hell with its shinny and shimmering guitar immediately lets you know that this Rat Columns album is a more immediate infectious beast than its predecessor. The second song Another day with its Cure-like synthy intro and bouncing bass reinforce the fact. You can just imagine Kelley Stoltz swinging by the control room while the band were recording and yelling ‘more pop’ and then sneaking in and dialing up the pop knob just a tad on each of these songs. There were hints and traces of pop genius on the previous album Sceptre Hole, but Leaves goes far beyond anything I was expecting. It still has some mystery to it and can be obtuse in parts the way Wire pushed the boundaries of art and punk on 154, but at its heart it’s in love with jangly bittersweet pop that the Church excelled at on Of Skins and Heart. A great unexpected record.
You can stream and buy the download of the album from Rat Columns’ bandcamp. If you’re in the US, Goner has vinyl copies for sale, or if you prefer you can order from RIP Society in Australia. Also, don’t miss Rat Columns on tour later this summer:
29-Aug FRI – SAN FRANCISCO w/ COLD BEAT
30-Aug SAT – OAKLAND
31-Aug SUN – SACRAMENTO
3-Sep WEDS – PORTLAND w/ RUBY PINS
4-Sep THURS – VANCOUVER w/ RUBY PINS? GET IN TOUCH!!!
5-Sep FRI – OLYMPIA w/RUBY PINS
6-Sep SAT – SEATTLE w/RUBY PINS
7-Sep SUN – BOISE w/ RUBY PINS
10-Sep WEDS – ST PAUL
11-Sep THURS – CHICAGO
12-Sep FRI – ANN ARBOR/DETROIT
13-Sep SAT – PITTSBURGH
14-Sep SUN – NEW YORK CITY
16-Sep TUES – BOSTON
17-Sep WEDS – PHILLY
18-Sep THURS – RICHMOND @ GALLERY FIVE
19-Sep FRI – LEXINGTON w/ IDIOT GLEE
20-Sep SAT – MEMPHIS w/ IDIOT GLEE
21-Sep SUN – HOT SPRINGS? w/ IDIOT GLEE
22-Sep MON – DALLAS w/ IDIOT GLEE: Three Links – Deep Ellum, TX, 2704 Elm St
23-Sep TUES – AUSTIN w/ IDIOT GLEE
26-Sep FRI – TUSCON / PHOENIX-TEMPE??? GET IN TOUCH!!!
27-Sep SAT – SAN DIEGO
28-Sep SUN – LOS ANGELES? GET IN TOUCH!!!
One of the best EP’s to come out last year belonged to Australia’s Flyying Colours and now thanks to Shelflife Records here in the US (and Club ac30 in UK) we can hear this euphoria inducing record on vinyl. The EP contains five songs and not one of ’em could be considered filler. I remember back in the 90’s you would pick up the Melody Maker or NME and barely a week would go by when there was not some brand new blissed out guitar pop band that had just put out an amazing single. Later on they called it shoegaze (funny how we call it shoegaze today without a hint that it was originally coined as an insult.) but at the time it was My Bloody Valentine inspired hazy noise-pop.
Flyying Colours EP is destined to be grouped in with some of the classic EP’s of that golden shoegaze era. Like I said every song is killer, but WavyGravy is especially sure to please with its adrenalin shot of blistering guitars and Ride-like drony harmonizing vocals, but my favorite on the EP has to be Feathers. It jangles its way to my heart, and then bursts out of its downbeat cocoon near the end with a chorus that soars up to the tops of the trees. Along with Day Ravies, Flyying Colours are making Australia start to look like the new mecca for those in love with guitar drenched psychedelic pleasures.
Why did Melbourne shoey-dreampoppers Day Ravies name themselves after the Kinks’ Ray Davies? Because Dave Davies wouldn’t have worked.Day Ravies as a name works, although every time I see the name the old man in me reverse the letters back to Ray Davies. What also works is the rayviedayvies debut album Tussle. Some songs are dreamy, some songs are shoey, some are jangley and some just plain ol’ pop.
As indicated by its kaleidoscopic cover, Tussle is a cornucopia of sound, a feast of aural pleasures. It overruns the cup with great songs that are influenced by Slowdive, Ringo Deathstarr, and the Boo Radleys to name a few. The band have three songwriters and singers, which provide a diversity to their sound, yet all three like loud guitars, space and Galaxy 500. Best shoegaze-dreampop record of the year honors goes to the Kinks, I mean Day Ravies!
Mark Monnone, former Lucksmiths bassist, who usually wrote a handful of songs for each Lucksmiths album, and sometimes provided his services to the genre-hopping Still Flyin‘ has just released his first solo album, beating his former Lucksmith mates to the record bins. He’s going by Monnone Alone, but really he’s not alone. Actually it’s quite crowded.
Together at Last was recorded over the course of a few years, and employs the help of number of notable players including Linton of the Aislers Set, Hamish Kilgour of the Clean and Mad Scene, Kyle Forester of Crystal Stilts, Ryan McPhun of Ruby Suns and Gary Olson of Ladybug Transistor. Some of the record was recorded in Olson’s bucolic sounding studio Marlborough Farms which I understand is not a farm in the sense of growing food, but more like a basement lab growing music.
Monnone’s first solo album stays firmly in Lucksmiths territory, good songs, some slightly silly lyrics, a few serious lyrics and a general good time. He also finds some new inspiration and stretches out a bit to ensure that it doesn’t sound like a total retread. Echoing Days has a distinct Felt sounding guitar lead. Sunset Video Project is a trans-like song that has some obvious German influences and on mildly funky Business World Monnone he kind of sounds like Joe Strummer. Ricochet is pretty duet with Bec Rigby of the Harpoons and he includes an obscure indiepop cover, the Bartlebees‘ When You’re Happy You Won’t Understand.
The record will most definitely ease any pain Lucksmiths fans may still be having from there not being a Lucksmiths anymore. In fact anyone lamenting that band’s demise, need lament no longer because Monnone Alone is a record that will fill that empty space left by by the dissolution of his former band.
Go Violets come from Brisbane, Australia. They describe themselves as “bunny rock pool pop” and just plain old surf-rock. Their single Josie is perfect in all things bunny rock, pool pop, and surf rock. In fact, in the history of all three of those genres there has not been a song that has been more bunny, pool and surf at once. It’s got great glistening guitars that sparkle off the water and a chorus that that will make you bounce. I’m thinking of starting up an indiepop surf festival somewhere on the Washington coast this summer and my first invites are Go Violets and La Luz. Might invite some guy bands too, but why ruin it? They’re always so he-man-me-local about getting the best waves.
Wild Nothing‘s Nowhere single from last year was an obvious tribute to the Go-Betweens. Australia’s Dick Diver have done one better. An entire album that could be construed as a tribute to that great band. The Melbourne quartet is the primary band of Rupert Edwards and Al McKay. They get help from the moonlighting Steph Hughs (Boomgates) and Al Montfort (Lower Plenty, The UV Race, Total Control and Straightjacket Nation). All four members contribute songs to the record which provides some variety, but for the most part they are all on the same chapter in the same book. Calendar Days their second album, came out in March to a quiet reception over hear in the US mostly because they don’t have a record label here.
They have been described by some as Australian strummy music. I’m not sure if it was meant as a compliment or not but it captures their sound in a nutshell. Doesn’t everyone love a good strum once in a while? What does strummy actually mean? In the case of Dick Diver: blue, laid-back, playful and breezy. They will make your heart ache. In fact, they could have put a sticker on the cover stating: Warning. May cause slight bouts of melancholia. There is nothing wrong with being blue though. Sometimes you need a little dose of the blues to make you appreciate the better times and this record seems to tug you into reflection with its easy melodies. Many bands worry about a sophomore slump, but Dick Diver sound like they really know what they’re doing the second time around.
stream: Dick Diver – Lime Green Shirt (from Calendar Days out on Chapter Music in Australia)