We have some pretty exciting tracks from new artists this week along with some names that have experienced some real growth over the past couple of years. Some are derivative, or perhaps more accurately, a collage in both theory and practice. While others are treading new ground. Both kinds of art have their place in the world and we are just excited to listen to all these fantastic creations!
Album Title: Babes Never Die
Label: Fatcat Records
Genre: Indie Punk / Grunge
Moments Of: Veruca Salt / Girlpool / The Breeders
Stand Out: Love Is A Disease / Justine Misery Queen
Scottish three piece Honeyblood ooze Americana grunge with clear angst and uncertainty, but on a deeper listen to Babes Never Die, their second album, there emerges a band that have the ability to write mature and considered guitar music. Signed to the respectable Fatcat Records, the all-female band have delivered a confident album of two parts.
Greeted with an intro track, setting an almost false pretense of this powerful little album offers ‘Babes Never Dies‘. One of the three hardest and most grittiest tracks. Peaking at ‘Sea Hearts’, one the albums leading singles. Driven by Stina Marie Claire Tweeddale’s lyrics, the tracks are delivered fast and raw, the production recorded with a live flair.
Having toured their debut album extensively in 2014, gaining critical acclaim with their performances at T in the Park and The Great Escape, the trio had a lot to prove with their second album. The confidence and maturity is offered in large servings, while maintaining their no-fuss approach to writing their tracks.
The album soon unfolds to a more melodic approach, ‘Hey, Stellar’ broadening their vocal harmonies, ridding of the distorted guitars and welcoming in rhythm and the focus on lyrical content. ‘Cruel Kids’ plays out with honesty and delicate fashion and has the band reaching deeper into the melancholy pockets, the results are in keeping with their mature approach to song writing, reminiscent of bands like Throwing Muses and Belly, from the 90’s. There are certainly big nods to this era throughout the album.
Where the band’s debut self-titled album focused on driving power pop songs with big fun power chords, Babes Never Dies is a clear shape shifter for the band where harmonies and melodies take precedent and at 39 minutes short, the result here is a big enough shift to show the breadth of a band who certainly have plenty more to offer with these slight musical shifts.
Artist: River Tiber
Album Title: Indigo
Moments Of: Radiohead / James Blake
Stand Out: No Talk / Motives
Newcomer, River Tiber shows no signs of a timid first release with his debut LP Indigo. A haunting ambiance bleeds through the instrumentation, putting him in league with the likes of Radiohead and James Blake, not to mention his smooth vocals, akin to that of Chet Faker. So if he sounds like all our favourite artists, there surely is something special about River Tiber.
Tiber masterfully crafts such a dark feel over the body of this album. The combination of eerie synth and ghostly ‘ooo’s’ on tracks like ‘No Talk’ create this all-encompassing sense of despair, making Tiber’s blend of electronica/R&B deeply intriguing. Giving his vocals a chance to lead on ‘Acid Test’, we are given a chance to experience Tiber’s diverse range as he soars above the synth’s wobble with a powerful falsetto.
The percussion on this album has an inherently hip-hop style flair, giving Indigo a sparse feel, where songs like ‘Motives’ slowly burn with Tiber’s drawn out melodies, drawing similarities to some of the later Thom Yorke material. There’s not one song on Indigo that doesn’t share the frightening ambience that is coherent across the album, making Tiber’s debut LP one of a mature sense of self-awareness.
Artist: Steve Hauschildt
Album Title: Strands
Genre: Ambient / Electronica
Moments Of: Emeralds
Stand Out: Same River Twice
Since the split of his band Emeralds, Steve Hauschildt has released some consistently polished works of utter ambient amazement. Haushchildt lives in a world where it would seem only synthesisers exist. Evident in his latest release Strands, the instrumental producer gives the calculated mind of these synthesisers their own emotions.
Hauschildt’s work wouldn’t be out of place in a sci-fi film, in fact, his music would be the influence that they are built around. The lush pads sweep along on tracks such as ‘Horizon of Appearances’ as if powered by some regenerative energy, like he has discovered the key to perpetual motion. In others like ‘Same River Twice’, they are pushed on by the relentless attack of arpeggios, looping over themselves in fluttered delight.
While at a glance, Strands seems welcoming and bright, and it is, but a constant underlying tone of eeriness blankets the album, like a sickness that has quickly spread. It feels as though every track is building up towards something, but never quite reaches the peak, and in that lies this unsettling feeling, like there should be something there, but there isn’t, like this constant state of exploration. Perhaps this was Haushcildt’s aim, perhaps it isn’t, but all the same, Strands makes for one captivating listening experience.
Album Title: Woodes EP
Moments Of: Kllo / Milwaukee Banks
Stand Out: The Thaw
Following the current trend of solid releases from younger Australian artists, the latest release from Woodes, the self-titled Woodes EP, is a highly enjoyable and well-constructed listen with a surprisingly strong replay value.
With an even split of new and previously released material, we find ourselves falling in favour of the newer, more exploratory tracks. We open with the familiar material of ‘Rise’ and ‘The Thaw’, material that plays off Woodes’ established use of sparsity and gentle vocal manipulation. There’s a beautiful silence right in the middle of the sound that ebbs and flows at it’s own whim. Not that flat, side-chaining kind of silence but something far more natural, effortless and pleasing.
Without roughing the listener out of their reverie, ‘Poison’ takes what we’ve come to enjoy about the release and moves it way on further down the road. It’s a fantastic extension of an existing sound palette, and while it doesn’t challenge it too strongly it’s an enjoyable variation.
‘Bonfire’ is easily the most independent track on this release. It doesn’t immediately rely on the same washed, reverb soaked sound that dominates the release. The vocal line constantly threatens to tumble over the edge, it’s uneasy but enjoyably so, and when it does fall there’s some beautiful, cotton-y synth pads there to catch it.
Bringing the release to a close on another soothing, ethereal note the closer ‘Byron’. Woodes’ vocals continuously swirl and churn over each other before fading into nothingness. We’re left satisfied, but we could have done with more new material. It’s definitely in the fresh sounds that we find the strongest moments.
Artist: Dorsal Fins
Album Title: Digital Zodiac
Label: Remote Control Records
Genre: Alt Pop
Moments Of: Koi Child / Cub Sport
Stand Out: Sedated
The latest release from Dorsal Fins, Digital Zodiac is a masterclass in how to carry an album from start to finish. The momentum continuously spills over from track to track creating a wonderfully interweaved web of joy.
Aided by their near legendary status in the Australian live music scene, Dorsal Fins have translated their excited energy excellently into the studio. Kicking things off with the driving rhythm of ‘Romeo’ the band beautifully spills into lead single ‘Sedated’. This pattern of build and spill over is binding of the release and they begin to dance between genre barriers.
Small streams of ska and big band music back up the BritPop-esque vocal scoops of ‘Roll Back The Years’. We’re taken on a somewhat 90’s psychedelic revival tour with ‘Precious Hands’. The sound that’s crafted with ‘Blind’ wouldn’t sound out of place during the end-scene of cult pulp-romance movie.
There’s so many dedications here, so many influences that it could very easily become chaotic and mismatched. And yet nothing sounds out of place. It’s constantly shifting and building on what’s come before, it never feels dull or dragged out. It’s a strong testament to the songwriting skill that’s on display here and we’re eagerly looking forward to more.