Ghoul – 3Mark

Ghoul are back and I couldn’t be more excited. They’ve had a prolonged hibernation, surfacing for a show here and there but generally not doing too much to draw attention to themselves. I get the impression this has been due to some substantial labour being directed towards their followup to 2008′s A Mouthful Of Gold mini-album (which I loved)

“3Mark” is the second taste from their upcoming mini-album Dunks, which apparently will be out in January 2011. The first – Milkily – was a quirky, jagged tune which was solid but left me guessing which direction the band was heading in.

This new tune is bigger, more confident, more streamlined – and definitely more accessible than anything heard from the band prior. It also comes across as something of a genre study: someone has definitely been listening to Burial, as many of that artist’s hallmarks are present, including the syncopated rhythmic shuffles, his muted ambient stabs, and the pitch-shifted vocals. This isn’t a diss – the track wholly works, but the arrangement definitely bears a strong imprint of its influences. Giving this tune some distinction is a big, live-band middle 8 and outro which provides a nice pay-off to the song’s otherwise murky groove.

All of this said, I love the tune, even with it wearing the influences on its sleeve. What the song doesn’t give, however, is any more of a definite idea of what the Ghoul’s new “sound” actually looks like as a whole. We’ve heard two vastly different tunes so far, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what fills out the picture.

Also interesting is Ghoul taking a step on from their ardently DIY methods seen with their last release – the band have signed with Speak N Spell Records, have managers and bookings agents in the picture and generally look intent on taking things to the next level. I’m hoping it really pays off for the guys.


Parades – Past Lives

Parades - Past Lives single cover

It’s no secret that Parades are up there on my list of favourite Sydney bands at the moment. After a self-titled, self-released first collection of songs in late 2008, followed up by the gobsmackingly brilliant Hunters/Dead Nationale single in mid-2009, the band has recently signed with label Dot Dash / Remote Control (home of Snowman, Ned Collette and others) and are on track to release their debut LP Foreign Tapes in April this year. I predict good things ahead.

Their pre-album single is “Past Lives”, and it’s a lovely, concise pop tune that’s big, pretty and spacious. It continues a trend the band seem to be exploring with more adventurous arrangements, with Efterklang-esque horns floating around the background, and loads of ambiance scattered everywhere.

The band’s had a live lineup shakeup as reported on their Myspace – their touring party now contains the girls from Kyu along with appearances from a brass section where possible. You can see these changes yourself as the band promote the new song alongside The Seabellies on the following tour dates:

  • 18th March 2010 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
  • 19th March 2010 – The Grand Hotel, Wollongong
  • 21st March 2010 – Northern Star, Newcastle
  • 27th March 2010 – John Curtin Hotel, Melbourne
  • 1st April 2010 – The Clubhouse, Brisband

Get amongst it. Their live show comes highly recommended.


Cuthbert & The Nightwalkers Pace Themselves

And there was me thinking just a week or so back that it had kind of been a while since I’d heard new recorded material from Richie Cuthbert and his crew. And then just like that, lo and behold, an announcement enters my inbox: they’re back.

Cuthbert & The Nightwalkers return with a new single entitled “Pace Ourselves” and it’s just what the doctor ordered – an eccentric, shouty, fun tune with a singalong refrain.

It’s kind of the anthem of a big night in reverse – the song starts with the tale of a night gone wrong (dodgy mobile phones! lonely bars! references to The Streets maybe?) that builds into the bliss of meeting a friendly stranger, getting high on life and… well, getting sloshed (“Pace Ourselves” elegantly turns into “Waste Ourselves”, y’dig?)

If anything, it’s “that” song that should prevent the group from endangering themselves of being pidgeonholed as a red frog-eating, perpetually high-school aged innocent pop group. F bombs! Drinking tales! Yeah, the Nightwalkers have grown up I guess.

Oh, the single was also mixed by Cornel Wilczek (a.k.a. Qua) – expect good things to come from the rest of the album if this man has had a hand in shaping the rest of the tunes, because this guy is the goods (coincidentally I was listening to Q&A and Silver Red back to back just today, so I’m particularly Qua fanatical at this point in time)

New material means new live shows and that means definitely good. This band are essential live viewing if you haven’t already seen them. You can see them tomorrow night (10th July) at Q Bar or the (still a long way off) single launch show at The Hopetoun on the 5th of September.

Listen to the track

The Middle East – Blood

Over the years I’d heard splutterings of enthusiasm surrounding a band from Townsville called The Middle East. They didn’t get down to Sydney much – probably due to their location of residence – but a few of their tunes fell into my hands a couple of times and seemed nice enough. They were on my “bands to watch” list, but then promptly disappeared off my radar.

Now they’ve suddenly appeared back on the scene with a deal with Spunk Records, and boasting a shift in sound that has moved from plundering influence from the usual pillars of indie rock to introducing a greater influence from the broad pool of folk. They’ve recently supported Bill Callahan (Smog) and apparently are recording an EP that should be released mid-year.

I was given their latest track “Blood” which features a lovely picked guitar, a very nicely penned melody and crooned vocals. It’s a slow burner, gradually building before introducing a melody that leads to an explosion of glockenspiels, a chorus of vocals and trumpets. Y’know, the kind of thing that Arcade Fire made cool. Actually the whole thing is kind of what Sydney live favourites Cuthbert & the Nightwalkers might sound like in a more sober and reflective mode.

Have a listen:

The Middle East are playing two shows in Sydney next month:

  • The Hopetoun on the 20th of February with Leader Cheetah, Megastick Fanfare and Maple Trail
  • Brass Monkey in Cronulla on the 21st of February with Leader Cheetah and Jack Ladder (solo)

Sparkadia – Too Much To Do (Dept. remix)

Sparkadia Image

Sparkadia have been pumping out singles from their indie-popalicious Postcards at a rate of knots, apparently to saturate all airwaves in the country and thus Rule The World ™. In a bid to make the most of all this exposure, they’ve set out on a ginormous 19 date tour that they’re currently in the middle of (Sydneysiders may wish to note that the band is playing the Gaelic this Friday)

As a means of promoting said tour, a remix by Dept. of their “Too Much To Do” single has made its way out into the wild. The remix doesn’t stray too far from its purpose as a “dance version of the rock single”, but does pull the tune back a few BPM which has the pleasant side-effect of making it a little more reflective. It sits on top of an upfront lo-fi drum program and comes into its own once the chorus kicks in, capitalising on the anthemic guitar chords and using the toms to nice effect.


Gang Gang Dance – Princes


I had a big pile of unlistened-to material staring at me this afternoon, so I finally decided to do something about it and have a good long listening session. Generally bands don’t fare too well when I am going through this process: getting through that much music usually means I’m pretty harsh and toss stuff out without giving it much of a chance. And then along came a Gang Gang Dance mp3 entitled “Princes”.

Apparently GGD are a New York-based band that have been active in their local indie scene for quite some time. They’ve just been signed to Warp Records and, if this track is anything to go by, there will be huge things happening for them from here on.

Anyway, the tune: I listened. And listened again. And listened to it loud. And listened to it quiet. This sound is HOT. The contents include zesty squelchy synth basslines, catchy intricate beats/percussion, noodly guitars and great sonic texture. In a nutshell, it’s part-2-step-meets-tribal-meets-electro-meets-friggin-huge-jam. Tinchy Stryder gives up a hot em-cee performance and if this track doesn’t have you reaching to turn the volume up and bob your head, I think you might need to get out for a bit of fresh air.

You need to put this track on your party playlist. NOW.

Hermitude – “Slychain” and upcoming LP


Hermitude are back. For the uninitiated, I’m talking about the well-seasoned instrumental electronic hip-hop duo responsible for cruisy, jam-oriented tunes based on some solid hip-hop beats laced with some jazz know-how and a dash of sample-mania. They do a mean live show and have probably improved the life of more than one party via their two records out on Elefant Traks.

“Slychain” is the name of their new single and it offers a taste of the ‘tude doing what they do: it’s a jam, nothing more and nothing less. No pretentious jibber-jabber or introspective chin-stroker fests. Just a two chords, a funky bassline, a crisp beat and some nice keyboard noodling. Throw a few vocal samples on top, and you’ve got a nice party starter right there.

Alongside straight-up tunes such as this, Hermitude have always had plenty of surprises at the ready for their records, which means if anything about this tune catches your ear then you should definitely keep an eye out for “Threads” which is getting released on the 27th of September, again through Elefant Traks. And by all means, keep an eye out for some live ‘tude action – you’ll be sure to enjoy yourself.