Tag Archives: dorsal fins

High rotation: 2015 in 50 tracks

Taylor Swift 2015
Taylor Swift: completely irrelevant to this article

It has been another tip-top year for tuneage. These are some of the tracks I have enjoyed most.

Bad//Dreems
‘Bogan Pride’
(Ivy League Records)
Where: Adelaide
What: Disenchanted pub-rock from a bunch of Bastards of Young

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Baro
‘Resume’
(Teamtrick)
Where: Melbourne
What: Hip Hop/electronic with a raised middle finger

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Beach House
‘Sparks’
(Subpop)
Where: Baltimore
What: The dreamiest and depressing-est of depressing dream-pop

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Beach Slang
‘I Break Guitars’
(Tiny Engines)
Where: Philadelphia
What: Carefree indie/college-rock drained through the sock of ’90s punk-pop

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Big White
‘You Know I Love You’
(Caroline Australia)
Where: Sydney
What: Angst-y, urgent jangle-rock with a sugary glaze

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Blank Realm
‘River of Longing’
(Bedroom Suck)
Where: Brisbane
What: Layers of lovelorn indie-rock and messy melodies from Queensland’s finest

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Bully
‘Trying’
(StarTime International)
Where: Philadelphia
What: A punk-pop breath of formidable, fresh air with razor sharp lyrics

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Car Seat Headrest
‘Something Soon’
(Matador)
Where: Leesburg
What: Experimental rock from an outsider who has finally found a home

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Cian
‘Extend’
(Entertainment Systems)
Where: Unknown
What: The sound of a ZX Spectrum loading, underwater

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Communions
‘Forget It’s a Dream’
(Tough Love Records)
Where: Copenhagen
What: A band to fill a Stone Roses-shaped hole, if only the Roses hadn’t reformed

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Destroyer
‘Dream Lover’
(Merge)
Where: Vancouver
What: Big sounds and celebratory sax; that moment when you decide you like the party after all

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Dick Diver
‘Tearing the Posters Down’
(Chapter Music)
Where: Melbourne
What: Top-of-the-pile Australian indie-pop

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DIIV
‘Dopamine’
(Captured Tracks)
Where: New York
What: A triumphant return for troubled shoegaze/dream-rock genius, Zachary Cole Smith

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Dorsal Fins
‘Monday Tuesday’
(Gripless Records)
Where: Melbourne
What: ’80s-esque good-time pop from Melbourne’s funnest collective

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Ferla
‘Breakups are Hard for Everybody’
(Independent)
Where: Melbourne
What: Off-kilter oddball does battered and bruised break-up rock

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Flyying Colours
‘Running Late’
(Club AC30)
Where: Melbourne
What: Charge-leading roogaze/psych-rock with a conscience

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Gang of Youths
‘Knuckles White Dry’
(Mosy Recordings)
Where: Sydney
What: All the heart-wrenching misery of a loved one dying from cancer. Happy Christmas!

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GL
‘Number One’
(Plastic World & Midnight Feature)
Where: Melbourne
What: Electronic duo featuring members of the Bamboos; a vehicle for the supremely talented Ella Thompson

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Gold Class
‘Bite Down’
(Spunk Records)
Where: Melbourne
What: Major emerging post-punk talent that caused a big stir in industry circles in 2015

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Guantanamo Baywatch
‘Too Late’
(Suicide Squeeze)
Where: Portland
What: Ramshackle semi-serious soul that charms its way in

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The Internet
‘Just Sayin/I Tried’
(Odd Future)
Where: Los Angeles
What: Impossible-to-Google soul/Hip hop smoothness

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IV League
‘Lit Screen’
(Independent)
Where: Melbourne
What: Heartfelt indie-pop from promising Victorian upstarts

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Jaala
‘Salt Shaker’
(Wondercore Island)
Where: Melbourne
What: There’s magic in a unique voice singing lines like “I was pouring pints for fuckheads” in a rambling, art-pop mash

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Jacco Gardner
‘Find Yourself’
(Excelsior)
Where: Hoorn
What: Neo-baroque psych with shades of Kevin Ayers and the floors of a thousand Dutch coffee shops after dusk

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Kurt Vile
‘Pretty Pimpin’
(Matador)
Where: Philadelphia
What: The cool AF stoner/psych master is as good as ever on new album, b’lieve i’m goin down…

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Mangelwurzel
‘Fishy Fry’
(Independent)
Where: Melbourne
What: Fucking bizarre, unclassifiable brilliance from Jaala vocalist Cosima Jaala’s other band

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Methyl Ethel
‘Twilight Driving’
(Dot Dash/Remote Control)
Where: Perth
What: Scruffy psych-pop with a heavy helping of Australian sunshine

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Mexican Knives
‘Beach Song’
(Independent)
Where: Detroit
What: Loose and laconic garage/indie rock

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Mikael Seifu
‘The Lost Drum Beat’
(RVNG Intl.)
Where: Addis Ababa
What: Ethiopiyawi electronic musician ready to conquer the world in 2016

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Mild High Club
‘Undeniable’
(Stones Throw)
Where: Chicago/Los Angeles
What: Delightfully weird; equal parts Dr. Dog and the Beatles’ circa Magical Mystery Tour

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MUNA
‘Promise’
(Independent)
Where: Los Angeles
What: All the ’80s big-pop influences, but most prominently Cyndi Lauper, with swearing

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The Ocean Party
‘Guesswork’
(Spunk)
Where: Wagga Wagga
What: Sweet-as indie-rock/pop from NSW youngsters

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Palm
‘Ankles’
(Independent)
Where: New York
What: the fuck did I just listen to

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PINS
‘Young Girls’
(Bella Union)
Where: Manchester
What: Young Girls doing it (primo indie-pop) for themselves

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Potty Mouth
‘Cherry Picking’
(Independent)
Where: Northampton, Massachusetts
What: Cool pop-rock

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The Pretty’s
‘Angry Horizon’
(Split-Tape Records)
Where: Vancouver
What: Garage/garbage rock that may need a change of underpants

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PWR BTTM
‘Ugly Cherries’
(Father/Daughter Records)
Where: New York
What: Camped-up cross between The Troggs and Thin Lizzy

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Ratatat
‘Abrasive’
(XL Recordings)
Where: New York
What: Rockatronica à la Daft Punk circa 2001, with better guitars

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
‘Tender is the Neck’
(Ivy League)
Where: Melbourne
What: Laidback Australian rock for dusty roads and frosty beers

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Ronnie Stone and the Lonely Riders
‘<3 Race. Cold Sweat. Nu Dance. Do It.’
(Independent)
Where: New York
What: Ridiculous retro-futuristic ’80s synth nonsense that’s a heap of fun

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Savages
‘The Answer’
(Matador)
Where: London
What: Brutal post-punk first taste of new album, out January 2016

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Sheer Mag
‘Button Up’
(Katorga Works)
Where: Philadelphia
What: Healthy mix of ’70s classic rock (Thin Lizzy) and punk (X-Ray Spex)

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Shlohmo
‘Buried’
(WEDIDIT)
Where: Los Angeles
What: Ominous-as-fuck electronica will have you checking under the bed

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Sleater-Kinney
‘No Cities to Love’
(Sub Pop)
Where: Portland
What: Gimme a break

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Slonk Donkerson
‘Build Something/Break Even’
(Black Bells)
Where: New York
What: Shit name, great track. Nothing is perfect

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra
‘Multi-Love’
(Jagjaguwar)
Where: Auckland/Portland
What: Psychedelic depression-funk dadwave

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Viet Cong
‘March of Progress’
(Jagjaguwar)
Where: Calgary
What: Cutting industrial noise in the controversially-named Canadians’ trademark style

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Wax Idols
‘Lonely You’
(Suicide Squeeze)
Where: Oakland
What: Triumphant break-up ode performed in late ’80s pop/rock fashion

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Westkust
‘Swirl’
(Run For Cover)
Where: Gothenburg
What: Shoegaze/rock delights for for the indie kid in all of us

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Yung
‘Blanket’
(Mastermind Records)
Where: Aarhus
What: If The Replacements came from Denmark

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Record review: Ella Thompson – Janus (2015, LP)

ella thompson janus

Listen up, class: no talking at the back and spit out that gum. Today’s lesson incorporates history, music, a multi-talented Melburnian, and a debut album featuring one of the finest female voices in the country right now. Roman mythology 101 tells us Janus was the god of all beginnings, synonymous with doorways and the opportunities they present. He also had two faces to look towards both the past and present, and at times sported a hipster beard. All of these elements are relatable to the form and feel of Thompson’s excellent debut LP (besides the facial fuzz, obvs.); these songs build on her work with GL, Axolotl, the Bamboos and Dorsal Fins and allow her to flaunt her more-than considerable vocal talents in a solo setting. The two-headed depiction of a revered Roman is apt in that there are several styles and moods present throughout the ten tracks. New psychedelia, ‘80s synth-pop, sparse balladry, and layers of distorted, dreamy loveliness provide the backdrop to Thompson’s tuneful talents. Hazy opener ‘Drift’ and Spector-esque ‘Away Too Long’ seduce and spellbind, whereas first single ‘Arcade’ is a honey-drenched slice of synth-pop cherry pie that oozes contradiction, and things get weird on the six-minute ‘Taller’. However, it’s when Thompson gives her vocals some oomph that the song benefits most, as on second single ‘I Go Over’, much like Dorsal Fins’ excellent ‘Monday Tuesday’. This ain’t no sunny synth-pop record by any stretch, though; there’s misery in many of the lyrics (see closer ‘Losing You’), but despair has never sounded so good. With Janus, Thompson has kicked in the door of her solo career, and it’s open for business and for students of music to enjoy. Do your homework right and get on board.

JANUS IS OUT MAY 24 VIA HUB/CAROLINE

For Beat

Record review: Dorsal Fins – Mind Renovation (2015, LP)

dorsal fins

Hey, did anyone see the Grammys this week? No, me neither. I was too busy listening to the debut album by Melbourne ten-piece Dorsal Fins, and FOMO can GTFO because this stuff is smokin’. Patched together by Liam McGorry (Eagle & the Worm, Saskwatch) and members of the Bamboos and New Gods, Dorsal Fins are a band on a genre-bending trip of sometimes dreamy, always layered alt-pop that twists, turns and captivates at every moment. Just about everything is a high point; Ella Thompson’s perfect pop vocals on the express train of a synth-pop track ‘Monday Tuesday’ are especially fine, while McGorry doesn’t hold back on his social commentary cuss-fest ‘Jacqueline’. The fact that the first few bars of ‘Heart on the Floor’ sound like the drum intro to Spinal Tap’s ‘Big Bottom’ before the song turns into an ‘80s Madonna-esque pop ballad reflects the wonderfully random tangents the album takes throughout. Elsewhere, the title track cranks the psych-rock guitars while ‘Cut the Wire’ is all dark electronica, and there are beautiful and melancholy ballads in ‘Escape Me’ and ‘Superstar’. Being a ten-piece means that Dorsal Fins have a multitude of tricks up their sleeves, so hopefully this won’t be simply a side project to the band members’ other more well-known ventures. With this album, Dorsal Fins have marked themselves as serious contenders; not even a Grammy win could make me dislike them. (Gripless/Remote Control)

For mX