A veritable deluge of high quality Australian Music has been released recently which I feel I ought to bring to your attention. All of these have been or will be played on the Aural Delights Radio Show of late so you can catch them in the context of those shows or sample them via the Bandcamp links below.
I have already reviewed the new Dave Graney and the MistLY album so I won’t repeat myself. Suffice to say you need to check it out.
So in terms of other delights of an aural nature first up we have On Diamond with an eponymous debut. This is a band who I first caught last year on Dave Graney’s radio show on RRR Melbourne via the single “How”. Led by the incredibly talented Lisa Salvo this band manages to do something rare these days which is to create/craft a unique sound. Salvo’s exceptional voice and melodic song writing dominate proceedings but she also has a band which provides a perfect vehicle for her work. This is a heady marriage of delicate experimental music which requires repeat listening to appreciate the multiple layers of intricate interlacing elements. If you want some pointers then it can be described as Murray Street era Sonic Youth in terms of avant rock guitar elements combined with Sandy Denny like vocalese, and in respect of contemporary Aussie music the nearest comparison would be Tropical Fuck Storm, or that bands predecessors The Drones. If you are short of time check out the exceptional “How” or fellow previous single release “The Light” both of which will entrance you and get you hooked.
You should also check out Lisa Salvo’s solo release from 2014 which is just as good. It’s more in a dream pop/folk mould but just as valid in respect of breaking barriers and delivering quality.
Lisa co-runs the East Mint label which seems to operate with the same principles as the German Shepherd label with which I am of course involved. Another band on East Mint, as recommended to me by the erstwhile Mr Graney, is the utterly unique Cold Hands Warm Heart who deliver beautiful music with a dream like quality. Their 2016 album, also self-titled, utilises lever harp, soft synths, recorders, with what is described as “textural guitar, bass and a drum kit incorporating found objects”. The group’s ethereal sound is fashioned around the songs of Genevieve Fry (Grand Salvo, Prudence Rees-Lees, Four Larks Theatre) who, like Salvo, has a delightful, hypnotic voice with a capacity for engaging and memorable melodies. Imagine a less scary version of Comus with nods towards Henry Cow, Chris Cutler etc. Sublime in places and avant in others this is a fascinating set.
Continuing the female led theme next up is the new album from the highly talented Jess Ribeiro. I may as well as copy over the liner notes, with a few additions, as they perfectly encapsulate the story so far. Jess is described as a shape-shifting musical enigma. The quality of her recorded output is astonishingly consistent and the wait for new music is always worthwhile. Ribeiro’s 2012 debut album My Little River was an award-winning folk-country masterpiece while her second album, 2015’s Kill It Yourself, produced by Mick Harvey, was a slow-burning indie-noire masterpiece which left reviewers scrambling for superlatives, contained several stand out moments, and was heavily featured on my radio shows. Now, with new album LOVE HATE, Ribeiro has kissed the swampy humidity of the Australian Music Prize-nominated Kill It Yourself goodbye, and embraced the precise down-strokes and valve-amp hum of a very New York lineage, from the Velvets through to Blondie and Talking Heads. Produced by Ben Edwards (Aldous Harding/Marlon Williams), it’s capped by those lethally cool vocals for which Ribeiro is revered. Insanely moreish this melody soaked pop masterpiece has been on constant repeat on my Walkman.
I was entranced by Shifting Sands 2015 album “Beach Coma” when it was brought to my attention last year by the ever reliable Mr Graney. Their new one “Crystal Cuts” features the dual attack of the gravel voiced Geoff Corbett and the angelic pipes of Anna Clifford, who are both in exceptional form. This album is in the mould of that particular brand of Australian music which captures elements of country music but does so in the context of a unique southern hemisphere vibe which is unique to that continent. Corbett has the world weary vibe of Cash, Dowd or Nelson, with an endearing Capstan Full Strength growl, coupled with the melodic endeavours of the Snarski Brothers. Simply put this is a beautiful album with strong messages throughout. The epic “The Terror of Love” is stunning.
Going back to last year and earlier this year, but soon to be distributed to a wider audience via German Shepherd, I draw to your attention the talented duo sycloner who are Daniel Cunnington and Peter Greasley. They describe themselves as indie-pop which I think to some extent sells them short. When I sent the tracks over to my colleague Mr Moss to establish whether we would work with them his response was “Classy”, which is spot on. They have two EPs to date which are both remarkably good and I am somewhat chuffed they have decided to work with us. We will release both on May 25th (providing I get my act together and get them off to the distributors) but the band will retain their Bandcamp page so you can check them out now. Both provide neat little packages of quality music and the development of the song craft in the short time between the two releases is remarkable. Of the two the most recent “Lost and Found” is superb and bears comparison with The Go-Betweens and The Blackeyed Susans. If you don’t immediately fall in love with the exceptional opener “We’ve Run Out Of Time” which echoes Jeff Lynne at the height of his powers, then you need your ears syringed. It’s not all about pop smarts though, the high octane power of “Metaphor” will get your disco slippers twitching.
And finally, in this little peroration, back to January for an album which fits well, in quality and context terms, with all of the above, and brings us back to the “rock” context of the Graney album. Graney and Moore have been associated with The Sand Pebbles (another band I need to acquaint you with) in the past and two of that band, Andrew Tanner and Leroy Cope, are in the excellent The Woodland Hunters. They are a guitar band from Melbourne and so far they have released an EP “So Far to Travel, So Far to Go” in 2015, their debut album “Let’s Fall Apart” in 2016 and launched their latest album “The Thoughts of Chairman Jim” in early 2019. A lot of the album is unashamed blues power rock best describes a band that clearly knows what they are about. Those who know me might be somewhat surprised about my love for this album as it might be described as a bit too mainstream rock for my usual tastes. What sets this apart from the usual rock stuff is Andrew Tanner’s engaging vocals, anyone who mentions Alice Coltrane in a rock tune gets my vote, and the bands capacity for melody beyond the usual rock tropes. When the band slow it down, with “House of Lost Things” for example, they demonstrate they are more than just a four to the floor outfit and can embrace that Aussie country rock vibe. The Beatlesque “Boom Times” is a good place to start and starts the closing half of the album which improves as it proceeds. An engaging album and well worth a listen.