Psych, Surf Rock, Indi Rock and Indi Pop continue on strong with these new additions. Thee Oh Sees, Hockey Dads, Young Giant and Katie Dey all pull out the stops for another fantastic week of releases. Get in on the actions
Artist: Thee Oh Sees
Album Title: A Weird Exists
Label: Castle Face Records
Genre: Psych/ Krautrock
Moments Of: The Black Lips / King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
Stand Out: Dead Mans Gun / Ticklish Warrior / Gelatinous Cube
Pioneers of the 2000’s psych revival, Thee Oh Sees have released their 11th album A Weird Exists. Throughout their 20 year existence they’ve successfully created their own brand of psych rock. Even after releasing so many album within the confines of a singular genre, it’s impossible to accuse Thee Oh Sees of producing monotonous music. Their new album features exploration of more cosmic and electronic elements which has integrated seamlessly into their already manipulated sound.
In A Weird Exists Thee Oh Sees mind melting sound is a result of their heavy guitar and the inclusion of two drummers. Since starting in late 1990’s, Dwyer has been the only constant, the band has seen 11 new band members come and go. On all Thee Oh Sees albums there’s a feeling that Dwyer is just having a blast and creating some ballistic riffs in the process. They’ve clearly mastered their own craft of punchy and absurd psych rock.
In the opening track ‘Dead Mans Gun’, Thee Oh Sees pick up straight from where they left off and as you’d expect, there’s no mucking around. As Dwyer whispers “In ecstasy we extirpate, electric the night time sky”, his singing in combination with the fast tempo creates a sense of urgency. There’s a call and response between Dwyer’s slow whisper which is answered by a dooming response to pep up the tempo and energy even more. Comparisons to Lenny Kavitz’s opening riff on ‘Are You Goanna Go My Way’ can’t be helped.
‘Ticklish Warriors’ has a classic muddy guitar opening, Thee Oh sees always manage to provide a wet-sweaty sound, both through their instrumentation and the imagery associated with their live performance. Then comes the charged fuzzy, high pitched guitar. The walking bass line paired with the drumming of Ryan Moutinho and Dan Rincon, creates a gratifying rhythm.
‘Jammed Entrance’, the third song on the album is where they delve into a more modem electronic sound. This creates an aspect of differentiation from their previous work. The robotic notes are reminiscent of that ol’ broadband sound you heard while attempting to connect to the internet in the early 2000s. This track maintains the fast pace of the album, which keeps the album ticking along. These electronic and futuristic sounds still somehow manage to sound very Thee Oh Sees-like.
‘The Axis’ , the final song of the album ends on a softer note. The introduction of gospel like organ creates a more sombre mood. This is clearly a break up song in which Dwyer creates an illusion of a macho persona but he’s clearly hurting as he pleads for her to just “walk on by”. To then stamp their own brand on the song, Dwyer takes the album out with a fuzz solo.
Artist: Hockey Dad
Album Title: Boronia
Label: Kanine Records / Farmer and The Owl
Genre: Surf Rock
Moments Of: Lunatics on Pogosticks / DMA’s
Stand Out: Jump the Gun / Two Forever
For Zach Stephenson and Billy Fleming, life is just about having a good time, and if you’re listening to their music there’s a good chance that you’re doing just that. The duo make up the surf rock group Hockey Dad, a band that have received a lot of attention over the years, and now with their long awaited debut album Boronia, they’re bringing their summery vibes to the world.
The boys have made waves both here in Australia and overseas, and are known for their feel good songs and Australiana imagery, heralding from the surf city of Wollongong on Australia’s East Coast. Boronia delivers more of their guitar driven sound, with previously released tracks ‘I Need a Woman’ and ‘Can’t Have Them’ featuring as a major part of the record.
Stephenson really shines on this record, his melodies seem to soar along with the reverb soaked guitar. It’s not like melodies haven’t always been a big part of Hockey Dad’s sound, but songs like ‘A Night Out With’ and ‘Jump the Gun’ really show the strengths and success of the vocals on the album. ‘Jump the Gun’ released as a single earlier this year is a clear standout on the record, with the crystal chime of the guitar creating a relaxed summer vibe for Stephenson’s vocals as he sings “I don’t want to go home/I’m having too much fun.”
‘Raygun’ shows a different side to Hockey Dad. It’s largely bass-centric sound is almost like an exploration into new territory for the duo, with only a few sharp stabs of the guitar to be heard. It’s an interesting approach for the band, and one of the few overdriven songs in their arsenal. ‘Dylan’s Place’ continues where ‘Raygun’ left off, giving us a taste of what Hockey Dad are capable of. The massive drums seemingly cascade through and around the simplistic guitar, before dropping off into an airy yet energetic build.
‘Two Forever’ is the slowest song on the album, an introspective slow burner and a charming ballad. Easily one of the strongest songs on the record, it feels slightly out of place just in front of the instrumental closer ‘Grange’. The song just has a reassuring finality to it, like a goodbye but with a positive spin on it, as Stephenson’s vocals float above the instrumentation; “You’ll always be a friend of mine/at least for one more lifetime.”
As far as debuts go, it doesn’t get much better than Boronia. It’s a real testament to Hockey Dad, as they join a slew of other great indie acts popping up all over Australia. Separated from the pack by their energetic drive and good-time vibes, Hockey Dad will no doubt continue to garner support and praise here at home and abroad.
Artist Young, the Giant
Album Title Home of the Strange
Genre Indie Rock
Moments Of The Temper Trap / Foals / Two Door Cinema Club
Stand Out Amerika / Silvertounge / Something To Believe In
Young the Giant are back with their third full-length album Home of the Strange. The Southern California quintet excels with their passionate indie rock and a more polished production, resulting in their catchiest pop-rock offering to date. Home of the Strange see the group enlist Grammy-winning producer Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Bruno Mars, Mark Ronson) and Alex Salibian (Elle King, Mikky Ekko) thus culminating in the band’s best take on pop sheen radio hits and catchy warm tunes.
The record starts off with arguably one of the best songs the band has written. ‘Amerika’, sets the tone for the album with front-man, Sameer Gadhia’s thundering vocals confidently outlying the radio friendly chorus “In America, in America“. ‘Amerika’ is a progressive step for the quintet as previous releases from Young the Giant have focused heavily on adrenalized indie rock songs. The back and fourth guitar riffs that often dominated the band’s catalog are replaced with a short spacey synth melody and acoustic guitars that run throughout the song complimenting the vocals and giving it a more full and honed sound.
A chant of “hoo” and “ha” introduces ‘Something to Believe In’ a song that continues to show Gadhia’s impressive vocal range. The band’s take on an uplifting anthem elevates the undeniable chemistry from the rock radio darlings with its prickly guitar riff and thundering bass line. The disco-tinged ‘Elsewhere’ disappointingly falls short of any sought of crescendo, but the track bounces along confidently with its shimmering bass line and its swagger enthused lyrics.
The lush stadium-ready anthemics and melancholic indie rock that fits squarely under the amorphous “modern rock” rubric can often feel overbearing and contrived. ‘Titus has fallen’ attempts to quell these fears with the soft acoustic finger plucking guitar riff that rapidly changes back to the lively energetic sound we all know too well. The catchy ‘Silvertounge’ is rich with commercial gems most likely honed from the producer’s fine ear for pop singles. The latest release, single-wise is both explosive as it is fun making for the most upbeat and accessible track on the album.
Young the Giants Home of the Strange is an improvement on all fronts. The masterful array of a guitar-veined wallop, heartache, and a strain of desperation that falls just shy of all-out recklessness provide a beautifully crafted aesthetic for a band that hasn’t always had the critical acclaim that it deserves.
Artist Katie Dey
Album Title Flood Network
Label Joy Void
Genre Indie Pop, Nightmare Pop
Moments Of Neutral Milk Hotel, Alex G, Ricky Eat Acid
Stand Out Fear O The Light
There’s been a subtle hype train building at the offices of The Wandering Lamb for Katie Dey’s Flood Network. If you weren’t already familiar with her sound, you’d be convinced that your NBN connection was faulty and messing with your streams causing all kinds of strange artefacts and distortion. Get past that initial hesitation and you’ll find a strange charm in Dey’s solipsistic nightmare pop and an incredible sound that surpasses all expectations.
Her previous release asdfasdf wasn’t shy about blurring the line between human and machine. The observation that Dey seems as present in all of her instruments as in her own voice carries into Flood Network, but instead of giving herself over to the sound she appears to have assumed more control over her place in the music. Her voice is often clearer, her indie-pop intuition more apparent in those bright saturated guitars, however, it’s characteristic tension and distortion solidify Dey as a truly unique foray into the genre.
The album is broken into nine tracks or “floods” buffered by eight interstitials to help bring a sense of understanding to an otherwise rather disparate environment. ‘Fleas’ sets the scene for the album and immediately highlights the differences between this release and her previous work: clearer vocals and a stronger lyrical presence because of it. The track conjures up the image of a flood as a period of emotional turbulence “There’s a hole in my heart/ Can’t wait til it starts to fill up with mud in a flash flood”, but you also get a sense of a network flood; a series of points being overwhelmed with information resulting in Dey’s glitchy aesthetic. ‘Fake Health’ demonstrates this by growing from cramped to overwhelming, a sudden sensory overload gilded by piercing resignation in lines such as “I hate what I can’t make attainable”.
‘Fear O The Light’ is probably the highlight of the album. We say probably because it’s difficult bordering on impossible to pick any specific moment in this release as more enjoyable than another. It exists as this wonderful whole and to experience it as less would be doing it a disservice. But there is a statement Dey makes here that sums up her process quite neatly: “You have my soul, you gained it when I gave up on me/ So I sit around making animal sounds out of cutlery/ To turn it out, to find the sound of sanctuary.” The urge to find safe ground during the flood is something we all share and to experience Dey trying to find sanctuary in her life throughout Flood Network is something we’re privileged to have witnessed.
Flood Network is an outstanding achievement by an exciting young talent. Not one to rest on previous success, Dey has outperformed herself with this release through improvements to her production, lyrical content and overall artistic curation. We strongly urge you to take time out of your no doubt busy schedule to cover this release from start to finish, it’s a short but mind-meltingly good experience with a strong replay value so far. We’re looking forward to wearing the tape thin on this one.