New Music

Listen: Leaving – Modern Version

Modern Version

Leaving is the solo project of Perth’s Rupert Thomas, a sparse counterpoint to the more directly expressive forms of music he has contributed to as a part of Erasers and Split Level. ‘Modern Version’ was recorded on a four-track tape recorder earlier this year, and while it doesn’t retain the ragged shapes that often follow the four-track, it seems to have been an influential medium. There’s a sparsity here that’s surprisingly gripping.

Like most good ambient music, ‘Modern Version’ is unlikely to remind anyone of anything in particular. It recalls little more than whatever lies in the most absent recess of your mind at the time of listening. Listening to ‘Modern Version’ gave me a fleeting taste of what having an appreciable attention span must feel like – it was pretty comforting.

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‘Modern Version’ appears ahead of an LP to be released at the end of this year on Perth label Pouring Dream.

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New Music

Listen: Velvet Whip – Bronze Medallion

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Velvet Whip exist in a realm of excitable catharsis and distorted reference points. Fronted by the shrieks and flaying hair of NUN‘s Hugh Young, the Melbourne four-piece are one of many recent punk and hardcore acts increasingly embracing the psychedelic realms in their otherwise direct shots of bitterness and distaste. It’s space-punk for the common nihilist.

‘Bronze Medallion’ appears on Velvet Whip’s second cassette on Cool Death Records. Young sounds like an unethically programmed android here, and his fierce backing gives way on multiple occasions to stretched passages of flanging nonsense. It’s a rush that matches their previous cassette on the same label and resulted in one of the more chaotic sets at last year’s Maggotfest.

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Velvet Whip’s Bronze Medallion tape can be purchased from Repressed or your favourite online distro.

(Photos: Sigourney Ormston)

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New Music

Listen: Low Life – Friends

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Sydney’s Low Life have only ever been as good as the length of time they can hold their shit together on a stage, but in their recordings have sat some of the most brutal punk tracks I’ve heard from this city. In their self-described brand of thug/lad-punk lies scathing societal comments wrapped in mock macho, and they almost always hit a little too close to home. Their first LP Dogging has recently been released by Disinfect/RIP Society to immediate regard – justification for the small group of people who have always been convinced by the often unreliable three(now four)piece.

‘Friends’ closes out said LP, and is a blurry vision of internalised bitterness that plagues whatever social circle is being held in such low esteem here. It’s a good hint of what to expect from the record. Mitch Tolman’s words go from crushed to depressed before crossing into comedic territory with the appearance of Ross, Rachel, ‘ol Chandle’ and Sterlo mid-track. It’s all masked under a mire of guitars that can only be a Tolman patch-job, cut through by a low-end that is typically thuggish in its scope. This isn’t even the best track on the record either. The rest of it has a speed-freak genius quality to it that is easy to get caught up in mythologising.

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‘Friends’ is from the Dogging LP available now on RIP Society/Disinfect. Low Life play in Melbourne twice this weekend; on Saturday with the UV Race at Boney and a free show on Sunday at the Grace Darling. Their hometown shows include their LP launch at the Square on July 4, and a support slot on the Ruined Fortune LP launch on July 11.

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New Music

Listen: Italianz – Xanax Flavoured Kisses

italianz

Italianz are the Melbourne duo of Ben Taylor (Ebola Disco, Chrome Dome) and Rob Curelli. There’s not much information available about them online, which gives an accidental mystique to the band that suits them. For Italianz, there seems to be as many weirdo noise elements as there are more direct song-writing and dance aesthetics. I’d hazard a guess that it’d be hard to know what to expect of a live show.

Describing his band in a recent email, Taylor said Italianz had: “No real boundaries. Just a bunch of Saturdays.” The embedded digital version of their cassette released back in April reflects this. A playfulness is present, but the sordid exists just as often. If it was recorded every Saturday it takes on the various moods that can ravage a weekend. Like a casual Saturday night bender that gradually loses its innocence as the pleasant bars close and you’re driven to seedier territories by necessity.

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Italianz are due to release a new 120 min cassette imminently on Magic Crowbar.

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Reviews

Depression Took Over Me: The Friendsters self-titled 7 inch reviewed

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While there’s plenty of immediate appeal to the songs of The Friendsters (a Sydney trio comprising Roberta Stewart, Sally Pitmann and Liam Kenny), the ragged qualities of the band (dreary delivery, sub-standard gear and murky recordings) are unlikely to gain them mass appeal. Regardless, these qualities are an appropriate guise for what they represent. The Friendsters, and their new self-titled 7 inch, personify all-encompassing hurt, depression and pain set in a relatively pleasant sounding world. Like feeling down in good weather, your mood can only be mildly improved by the blue skies.

The saccharine veneers tacked onto the band’s first 7 inch are flimsy and superficial, but no less powerful. Stewart’s lyrics are ridden with persistent depressions and stained by a struggle to cope, but they’re sung with such self-aware brutality that it’s actually charming. It’s an odd sensation to find yourself smiling at a line like, “drain my blood / leave me for dead,” but even though these songs are ostensibly downers, there’s a sense of joy in them. By virtue of being a recorded piece of music, these sorts of lines exist with a level of comedy because they look back at dark days having passed. That’s not to take away from the power of a song like ‘Shark Bait’ though. If it ever feels as though the Friendsters have been freed from their internal trials, the fact stands that they’re laid out for you to empathise with.

There’s an intangible quality to this recording where everything feels just out of reach; it sounds as though the band are playing with their backs to you. This sound matches the flatness and dejection in words and delivery. Stewart’s vocals can sound disinterested (but never uninteresting) even when shouting, but it’s forever contrasted by excitable guitar lines and ambitious key changes. It’s an unusual quality for a band of this kind to possess, to be thrusting their music outwards but still feel relatively distant.

Listening to the Friendsters can feel like staring at an open bedroom door with a completely able body, but being too heavy in the chest to move an inch towards it. At other times, it’s like finally pulling yourself out of bed at 9 pm and violently grinning your way through social interactions to mask the fucker of a day you just survived. I feel like it could be a pretty important recording for anyone who has felt these things before.

My favourite parts on this 7 are the extremes. Whether that lies in obscuring the moping with big guitars on ‘Shark Bait’ or comedic affirmations like “I’m gonna kill you” on ‘Revenge is the Best Revenge,’ it gains just as much affection in the peaks as it does the troughs. It’s full of small internal victories and both the acceptance and denial of personal flaws. It goes from utterly dejected to maniacally triumphant, which is as broad a spectrum as you’ll ever get from a three-piece rock band.

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The Friendsters’ 7 inch is out now on Matt Kennedy’s Brisbane label, Eternal Soundcheck.

(Featured Image: Andrew Gove)

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