Oh Wonder – Livewire

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Bit of quick news for you beautiful people. London-based electronic, synth-pop duo Oh Wonder have just released the video for ‘Livewire’, the ninth installment of their twelve-month long debut project.  ‘Livewire’ is the first single of the project to include a video, the clip was directed by Mike Lee Thomas (Enter Shikari, We The Wild and Fossil Collective) who is best know for his cinematic, stripped back style blending the lines between his graphic, photography and film work.

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The Wombats – Give Me A Try

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The new album Glitterbug from The Wombats came out almost a month ago, so I know it’s quite late to be posting about this. But I never felt compelled to boast out about it to be honest. That is until I actually had a proper listen and heard some of the new golden singles, like this one.

“Give Me A Try” is just everything I love about The Wombats. I kind of missed the scrappier days of their first album, and there’s a little spark of something from that era in the new album. But there’s also a part of me that loves the new upbeat, synth heavy version of the band, because of singles like this. It has all the scrappy vibes of their first album but excels way past what we originally loved about the trio. It’s full of positivity and beautifully coordinated vocals; true pop gold worth more than a few plays.

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Megan Washington – Begin Again (Jasper Leak Remix)

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Award winning artist and one of Australia’s hugest musical darling, Megan Washington, has released a brilliantly minimal remix of her single ‘Begin Again’ taken from the 2014 sophomore album There There.

Collaborating with producer, Jasper Leak, (SIA, Tegan & Sara) the mix almost sounds a little hollow, sort of drowning out Washington’s hugely powerful vocals in a mix of whitewashed synth that can sometimes make the track sound a bit slurred. Despite this, it’s a largely successful remix that navigates the song through a soundscape of hauntingly sinister beats and samples and adds a curious new element to an inspiring ballad that fans know and love.

Megan Washington has just been announced on the prestigious 2015 Splendour In The Grass Festival Line-up in Byron Bay, Australia and will perform alongside Blur, Florence And The Machine, Tame Impala and many more.

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Live Review: Rare Finds #1 Feat. Jenny Broke The Window, Food Court, Hedge Fund + Winstorn Surfshirt @ Sly Fox, Enmore (24.04.15)

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This article first appeared on The AU Review.

It’s no secret. Sydney has been extremely good to indie bands and fans of the genre in the past few years. I have no idea where it came from, but acts like Hungry Kids Of Hungary, The Griswolds and Jinja Safari are just a few of the names that come to mind when I think about the huge ground-swell that surfaced, and has shown no signs of stopping. That’s what brings us to Rare Finds #1, a new indie club that launched last Friday at Enmore’s Sly Fox. Seems like a simple concept, right? Sydney loves indie, Sydney should have a dedicated indie night.

As the first band began setting up, the flaming red neon foxes behind the stage glared eagerly at the crowd, lighting the floral decor spanning the roof. Sounds like a wanky way to describe the interiors of the Sly Fox, but I feel it’s necessary to set the scene for this one. This is no dingy cavern where the bands and fans are stashed away in the back room like the IT department. It’s a pretty stylish dig for this part of town.

The night kicked off with a laid back set delivered confidently from seasoned support act Winston Surfshirt. Their unique take on the genre is hard to peg, but brilliant to watch. Zoning in on the deep, grumbling trombone like most punters would, you’d maybe say it’s like if a brass band decided to do wicked covers of funk or hip hop. Their smooth licks set a surefire “cool guy” tone for the night, bouncing off silky falsetto vocals here and there while somehow coming across a little sinister. I’d say the best thing to do when you check out Winston Surfshirt is not analyse it too much and just enjoy, as it’s essentially fun as fuck.
Hedge Fund were up next, showcasing as the only one of the four acts actually on the Rare Finds roster. I’ll tell you what though, the agents sure know how to pick ‘em. Busting out in a fury of gritty, kind of 80’s style new-wave; they were able to pump things up a bit and get the Friday night crowd ready for a big night ahead. The boys wailed from screaming highs to brooding lows throughout their set, always giving off a sort of suburban vibe in everything they did. The single “Look Who’s Back”, similar to a lot of the set, comes off almost physically confronting in a way. Not in a bad way, it’s actually quite special. You really feel these guys when they play.

Yet another group of Sydney locals, Food Court appeared up next with their backyard punk, spraying the crowd with dirty rock anthems. These Sydney natives exhude the inner-city suburbs with everything they do on stage. I think they were even wearing the same clothes from the last time I saw them play in January. All in all, it’s the epitome of punk in Australia.

The set glided on without a hitch, some of it sounding like the glory days of Greenday, but all of it lighting the way for a good thrash about, if only space permitted on the dance floor. Food Court have built up quite a loyal and enthusiastic following in Sydney, and it’s no wonder why. Judging by the crowd reactions, there would be no volume that was loud enough, and they were rewarded with top notch singles blasting until the end.

To cap off what had been a grand night at that point, Jenny Broke The Window hit the stage in a blaze of fury, knocking down my personal favourite two tracks as the first songs in the set. “Rum N’ Cola” and “See You At The War”, although spurted out a bit prematurely in my opinion, bounced about seductively as a service to the crowd. Not a second was wasted and their smooth presence was noticeable as they played catchy as fuck tracks the entire time they were on stage. Mid-set, Jenny Broke The Window slowed it down with the latest single “We Could’ve Done This Grant”, a chirpy and plucky tune that saw a bit of diversity hit the program and certainly boosted their musical creds. The recorded version is pretty sweet, but it takes a lot of talent to pull off such an awesome rendition live of such a well put together track and these guys nailed it.

By the later parts of the set, the dance floor is packed with people sharing that same euphoric state and not a single person looks ready to leave. They all know the same thing, we’ve found it. That indie night Sydney was screaming for. The one we all knew should have come so much sooner. It’s here. By the looks of the line up of the Rare Finds #2 showcase, happening on 29th May at the same place, this was no fluke. If you’re a band based in Sydney, this will be where you want to get a foot in the door.

Rare Finds #2 will feature Hey Geronimo, Sea Legs and Polish Club at the Sly Fox Hotel in Enmore on Friday, May 29th at absolutely no cost.

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Diamond Youth – Thought I Had It Right

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For those of you who feel like messing things up a bit right now, Baltimore’s very own Diamond Youth have just released a very grungy pop number “Thought I Had It Right” that will help you on your way. Spitting with frustrated lyrics and a similar musical vibe to something like a Surfer Blood, it’s a good time to be this sort of band.

It feels like 90s is the new retro. About ten years ago all the bands were rocking synth-pop like it was the mid-eighties again, but here we are playing catch up and using the lessons learnt from the era to bust through the genre, bigger and better. “Thought I Had It Right” certainly proves that notion to be true, with impressively physical tones and non-chalant melodies powering through the entirety of the three minute track.

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Fickle Friends – Could Be Wrong

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This article first appeared on The Daily Listening.

The UK has always delivered the best of indie in my humble opinion. In the nineties and early naughties it was certainly true. In recent years, I feel like Brooklyn and LA have borrowed the bulk of the load. Before it gets too out of hand, Bristol’s Fickle Friends are on the case, with golden numbers flying out left, right and centre. Their latest single “Could Be Wrong” was released roughly a month ago and is still taking a little bit of time to get noticed around the world, but it definitely deserves a hefty tip of the cap.

This one is a properly good, synth-pop vessel; the sort of which I haven’t heard in a while. It feels like a cross between LA acts DWNTWN and Golden Coast. It combines the beautiful ghost-like vocals of front woman Natassja Shiner with some straight up sunshine synth-pop, bringing together a brilliantly balanced single that should give them a leg-up to bring their live show to all corners of the earth. Writing this from Australia, I certainly hope it does at least…after listening to “Could Be Wrong” on repeat all day I’ll be sorely disappointed if I don’t get to see at least one gig of theirs…fingers crossed.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Passion Pit – Kindred (2015)

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This article first appeared on The Daily Listening.

It doesn’t feel that long since Gossamer hit the waves, but three years definitely feels like too long. It’s something that not a lot of bands possess, longevity. I guess you could chalk it up to consistent albums that brandished so many infectious individual singles. Either that or they’ve just gone unnoticed, but I’d find that hard to believe. It’s a trend that Brooklynites Passion Pit continued as they busted back onto the scene in a huge way earlier this year to lead up to the grand opening of their third studio album Kindred, which hit the stores this week.

Kindred opens up with old school Passion Pit circa Manners era, with the wholly traditional and hugely impressive “Lifted Up (1985)”. It’s a beautiful, uplifting tune that sparks curiosity and happiness while still holding an obvious serious message within the depths of the lyrics. The vocals are more defined, more appropriate and all-round just spot on. It’s the first true sign that Passion Pit are back in a way that could transport you back to those glory days when they first graced your ears.

“Whole Life Story” shows off a deeper register in the vocals, peeking its head through a funky vibe that spruiks positivity to a happy-go-lucky beat. At this point, we’re starting to piece together the clues that indicate we’re back those old-school memories of the act, but that’s flipped all over the place by the third track “Where The Sky Hangs”. There’s a tinge of new age eighties and funk intertwined with this strange that points to the influence of perhaps a range of different Australian acts like Miami Horror or Cut Copy.

Now we’re starting to get a real feel for Kindred, and “Five Foot Ten (I)” delivers more absolute pop brilliance. It’s one of the easier to swallow tracks on the album, smashing through static synth and samples with memorable pop melodies lain cleverly over the top. Putting it real simply, this one a is a fucking fun tune.

We get all touchy-feely as we hit the song “Dancing On The Grave”, with childlike chimes and melancholic lyrics. Aptly named for a ballad, this one rips the party atmosphere of the last track away before you’ve had a chance to catch your breath. It’s not the best single on the album, and will surely be overlooked by most. But it’s a decent little number if you’re feeling sad, so I say wait for the right moment before you crack in the earbuds on this one.

“Until We Can’t (Let Go)” is the latest single to be put forward in line with the album and it’s obvious why they chose this one as one of the headliners to give way to the album releases big bang. It’s catchy, unique and bloody powerful. You can imagine this being pumped live at a festival like Coachella, kids with their arms in the air while they dominate the crowd with the lyrics “let’s go ‘til we can’t anymore”. It’s a truly inspiring piece of musical work.

“My Brother Taught Me How To Swim” and the auto-tune infused “Ten Feet Tall (II)” are the appropriate way to leave behind Kindred. Two tracks that have a lot of heart. But really, it’s a repeated notion. The whole album has a shit-tonne of heart. It’s filled to the brim with dance, with pop and with inspiring, first-class music on the whole.

Now that I’ve heard Kindred, I’ll be honest. I’m going to miss Passion Pit for the next three years. But while I’m being honest, what they’ve really executed with this album is one more faithful believer that will happily sit on these awesome tracks for another three years until they’re ready to feed me with more awesomeness. Well played Passion Pit, well played.

*****

8.9 / 10

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The Japanese House – Teeth

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This article first appeared on The Daily Listening.

Sounding a little familiar? If you’re a fan of The 1975 I wouldn’t blame you for thinking so. Although if you have beef with that you can get right out. Listening to The Japanese House on repeat you can’t help but picture some of the aforementioned bands previous work and see the similarities. But then again, there’s a reason both are punching huge accolades at the moment, maybe one more than the other but who’s counting?

Based on previous reports, there aren’t many details floating around about The Japanese House, other than he is apparently Amber Bain, a 19-year old solo artist who hails from London, England. If you knew this when you listened to his work so far, you’d start to the piece together the puzzle that mystery is his vibe. The ethereal highs and lows of his latest work, “Teeth” permeate with so much seasoned bravado it’s hard to imagine it’s not the side-project of a more well-travelled indie purveyor. The track is minimalism the way it’s meant to be done. Deep, dark mourning synth strikes when the vocalist seems down and pulls together a triumphant, melancholy tune.

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Five bands that prove Scandinavia is on top of their indie game right now

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This article first appeared on The Daily Listening.

Anyone who has heard my music collection would assume that I just have a thing for Scandinavian indie bands. I swear that’s not the case, but unless someone is planting them on me for the past year or so I seem to be randomly stumbling upon band after band hailing from those parts.

For those of you who were shithouse at Geography, Scandinavia is that part of the world that consists of those countries that are usually cold as hell, either rarely receive sunlight or get too much and are filled with the best looking people you’ve ever seen (according to popular culture). I’m talking about Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.

You know what they’re also really awesome at? Exporting epic indie bands. Here’s why.

  1. Say Lou Lou

Alright, so this first one is a half / half. Sisters Miranda and Elektra Kibley-Janssen make up the half Australian, half Swedish (based in Stockholm) electro duo Say Lou Lou. On the front line of the female indie stampede, they’ve just released the latest LP Lucid Dreaming this month and singles like “Games For Girls (feat. Lindstrom)” and “Nothing But A Heartbeat” have looked unstoppable.

  1. Kid Astray

Norwegian five-piece Kid Astray are sounding more like an LA or Brooklyn based outfit than most guys from the deep north. Tracks like “It’s Alright” and “Still Chasing Nothing” leave behind the cold, dark staples of the deep north and opt for a true summertime beat.

  1. Urban Cone

Sweden’s Urban Cone seemingly came out of nowhere, pairing up with the likes of Tove Lo in their most recent tune “Come Back To Me” and hitting airwaves more frequently by the minute. But they’ve been around for quite some time, and proving their long standing brilliance are older tunes like “Freak” and “We Should Go To France”.

  1. Kate Boy

Another Swedish sensation, Kate Boy is an electronic indie inspiration. Her music is scary powerful, filled to the brim with uniquely robotic soundscapes. In 2015, she released a self-titled EP with stupidly epic tracks like “Self Control”, “Higher” and “Northern Lights” and she absolutely needs to be taken to the top.

  1. Satellite Stories

Finally, from the lesser recognised part of Scandinavia, Satellite Stories are a group of indie-loving lads from Finland. They’ve just released their second LP entitled “Vagabonds” and have a bit of a Two Door Cinema Club vibe going on…sometimes. Super consistent indie tunes is their business and if you check out the latest album, it is shit-yourself-good.

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Dive In – Eighteen

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With all this raining hitting Sydney this morning, it kind of feels like dream-pop season should be in effect. Luckily, there have been a few stellar releases within the genre over the past month. One of the highlights have been a group of boys from Britain’s music festival capital, Glastonbury. They’re called Dive In and their new single Eighteen is basically the best.

It’s a bit of an ode to immaturity, that has a sense of juvenile fun and a lack of responsibility imbued into the vocals. Besides that, it’s a slick tune filled with fun, straight forward melodies and those sweet dream-pop style synths. As far as we can tell they’ve new to the scene but anyone who’s a fan of this style should get behind it, they’re going to be a thing.

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