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ALBUM REVIEW // THE CACTUS CHANNEL - STAY A WHILE

Staff Writer

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Over the years, Melbourne-based alt-soul collective The Cactus Channel have developed a reputation for delivering intricate, genre-bending compositions. Their third self-produced studio album Stay A While is certainly no exception. Comprised of eleven captivating tracks that showcase the musical prowess and dynamism of the group, this is definitely an album for those with finely tuned musical ears. Jazz influences feature heavily on the record, mashed together with psychedelia, pop and soul, creating a sound that hints at the likes of BADBADNOTGOOD, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Grizzly Bear. Once again, TCC manage to retain their signature sound whilst incorporating vintage elements, and this time they introduce the entrancing vocals of Lewis Coleman to the mix.

Title track and opener ‘Stay A While’ sets the scene for a mesmerising sonic journey. Sun-drenched jangly guitars collide with bopping keys, whilst the deep hum of the horns section provides a perfect foundation. In the latter half, genius chord progressions shift between moments of calm and suspense. TCC are certainly not a band who are afraid to let their instruments shine, a similar approach to critically acclaimed indie rock group Whitney and one that is often disregarded by bands with a desire to reach mainstream audiences; but it is in this approach that they have managed to locate a precise balance in their music.

Arriving next is recent hit single ‘Storefront’, introducing the soulful, reassuring vocals of Coleman. The song gently ebbs and flow out of a psychedelic-infused haze, replete with clever horn arrangements, ethereal synthesisers and eclectic percussion. Meanwhile, track no. 5 ‘CMMNR’ immediately grabs the listener’s attention, almost transfixing you in a state of hypnosis as the instruments take centre stage. Obscure chords, a domineering horns section and jazz-infused percussion induce a mood of sheer suspense, making this a stand out track.

Recent triple j favourite and number seven on the album, Leech, brings us back up to speed with an intoxicating beat. The soothing croons of Coleman meld perfectly with intricately layered instrumentation, gradually building throughout the track and slowing down only momentarily for an electrifying bridge. Super tight percussion ensures the excitement is retained throughout the entirety of the song.

Next up, instrumental trackAnd Then They Rubbed Their Tired Eyes’ introduces quirky space-age synthesisers, immersing the listener in a rich, eerie soundscape and providing the perfect lead into the enthralling six minute ballad ‘Stop Me’. Captivating vocals float effortlessly along with melancholy saxophones whirling in and out of frame, almost mimicking a state of falling in and out of consciousness. The beautiful chords, angelic harmonies and pattering drumbeats are utterly entrancing, whilst a clever switch between time signatures ensures the listener is kept on their toes.

As a body of work, Stay A While is cohesive, versatile and introspective; the kind of record you could put on during a long overnight drive to keep you sane. This review has only briefly touched on some of the tracks on the album, so grab a pair of headphones, whisk yourself away from reality and discover for yourself why The Cactus Channel are making some of the most interesting, clever music around right now.

The band will also soon be traversing the country on a national album tour. Make sure you catch them in the flesh at their upcoming album launch at Marrickville’s Factory Theatre! See below for a full list of tour dates...

Words by Renee de la Motte

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SINGLE REVIEW // CLN - THE OTHER SIDE

Rob Carroll

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After releasing standout track ‘Switch Gears’, Brisbane-based producer cln marks his return with an impressive shift in direction on new single ‘The Other Side’.

‘The Other Side’ is a gorgeous piece of sultry R&B and down-tempo electronica, held down by aptly subtle percussion, dreamy keys and soul-filled vocals. At times, soaring synths and tastefully placed samples slightly lift the dynamic; however, the song still maintains its slow-moving tempo and never sways too far away from its consistent hypnotic groove.     

The producer describes the creative process behind the song – “I’ve been making a fairly broad range of music, and initially when I wrote this song I didn’t want to release it because it didn’t sound that much like ‘me’. It has come to grow on me though; I think it’s probably one of the better vocal parts I’ve written. I’d rather make what comes naturally than put myself into a box. That way I have more freedom and can be more honest”.

Hopefully we’ll continue to hear the envelope being pushed further by cln, as I think the risk taken here was certainly a pay-off.

RARE FINDS FIVE

Staff Writer

NEW GEMS FROM ERIC SHARP, OKBADLANDS, MTNS, WILD HONEY & CREPES

ERIC SHARP – Take This Time ft. Zhao

A stark, pulsating beat sets the scene for this incredible new offering from LA-based producer, Eric Sharp. The flawless, reverberated vocals of indie-soul singer Zhao arrive shortly after, bringing with them a certain warmth and brightness to the song. Dancing delicately around sporadic percussion and brooding synthesisers, Sharp perfectly captures an element of suspense, keeping the listener engaged throughout the song.

OKBADLANDS EP – Pty Ltd

Recent triple j Unearthed feature artist OKBADLANDS just delivered their highly anticipated debut EP Tiny Measures, with the second offering on the record making an immediate impression. Transfixing the listener in an atmospheric soundscape, ‘Pty Ltd’ showcases stunning, intricately-layered harmonies, balanced perfectly by minimal instrumentation. From the touch of play, the track is utterly intoxicating.

MTNS - Waves

‘Waves’ is yet another sonically textured gem from critically acclaimed Brisbane trio, MTNS. Ethereal vocals collide with dream-inducing synthesisers and undulating beats, forming a deep rhythmic groove that retains throughout the song. Crisp production enables each element of the track to shine, whilst ensuring they all blend together in perfect equilibrium.

WILD HONEY – Supermarket

A stunning ode to personal failure. ‘Supermarket’ is the last single/closing track from Wild Honey’s dynamic debut album In Your Head, released earlier this week. The raw, emotional croons of front man Thom Moore collide with tender acoustic instrumentation, resulting in a poignant anthem for frustrated youth. The band continuously demonstrate their ability to deliver impressive and insightful indie rock tunes and Supermarket is no exception.

CREPES – Mild Conversation

The last single to be released from their impressive recent debut album Channel Four, ‘Mild Conversation’ is a charming concoction of pop sensibilities and breezy, sun-drenched rock n roll. Think genius chord progressions, bopping keys and intuitive lyrics, delivered effortlessly with the nonchalant attitude of front man Tim Karmouche. Once again, the band demonstrates an ability to incorporate vintage sounds, whilst remaining relevant with a modern feel.

Rare Finds Five

Staff Writer

Five hot new tracks for your ears - ft. plts, tabrill, midnight pool party, elkkle & lamalo


PLTS – Spill

‘Spill’ is an impressive slice of 90s-esque indie-rock, combining vibrant guitar licks, punchy basslines and emotionally-charged vocals. An ode to the trials and tribulations of young love, the single commands the listener’s attention from the touch of play, opening with gripping drumbeat that remains throughout the song. The track switches effortlessly between compelling verses and anthemic choruses, and demonstrates the Byron Bay trio's ability to consistently produce indie-rock hits. 

TABRILL – Lossless (ft. Emily)

Next up, Brisbane-based producer Tabrill takes us on a sonic journey with new single ‘Lossless'. Delicate electronic soundscapes and hypnotising beats collide with the dreamy vocals of a mysterious songstress named ‘Emily’. Each element fuses together beautifully, further complimented by the scattering of eclectic sound effects. Overall, the track demonstrates this young producer’s ability to compose impeccable indie-electronic cuts.

MIDNIGHT POOL PARTY – Signals

Sydney-based beatmakers, Midnight Pool Party, bring the summer vibes with latest single ‘Signals'. Mellow synthesisers open the track and float along effortlessly, melding perfectly with the smooth croons of lead vocalist Morilla, whilst a consistent beat transfixes the listener in a dreamy soundscape, building slowly throughout the song and peaking in the latter half. The song is yet another excellent production from the indie-electronic duo. 

ELKKLE – Frails (pictured)

Obscure instrumentation and eclectic beats set the scene for this intriguing composition. Elkkle’s signature raw vocals work in unison with scarce (yet pronounced) synthesisers, further enhanced by ethereal production. ‘Frails’, lifted off the producer’s forthcoming debut album Kitsune, skilfully combines themes of indie-electronica and R&B, proving the young producer’s ability to deliver dynamic, electronic cuts. 

LAMALO – Come Over (ft. Hayden Buchanan)

‘Come Over’ is instantly impressionable, making a grand entrance with the undeniable talent of featured vocalist Hayden Buchanan. Careful not to clutter the composition, Lamalo introduce soothing synthesisers, which dance curiously around minimal beats and leave the vocals front and centre. The Sydney-based duo successfully incorporate digital and acoustic instrumentation, resulting in a gleaming indie-electro track that retains pop sensibilities.

 

REMIX REVIEW // TOUCH SENSITIVE - LAY DOWN (JAKE EDWARDS REMIX)

Rob Carroll

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Today Rare Finds is stoked to bring you the first listen of Jake Edwards’ stunning remix of Touch Sensitive’s ‘Lay Down’.

The young Central Coast-based producer has stripped back the slow-burning house-infused cut into an intricate slice of down-tempo electronica, driven by saw waves of analogue pads and glimmering with dream-laden synths.

The upstart describes his approach to production: I attempt to keep my music hovering on the line of electronic music and band, using as many live instruments as possible with the taste of analogue chords and nostalgic progressions”.

 Listen to 'Lay Down (Jake Edwards Remix)' via Soundcloud below

SINGLE REVIEW // THE KITE STRING TANGLE - WAITING

Rob Carroll

Starting subtly with an array of soft sonic textures is the new single ‘Waiting’ from Brisbane artist / producer, The Kite String Tangle (real name Danny Harley). Lifted from his newly released debut self-titled album, the opening track is an ethereal slice of electronica glimmering elegantly from start-to-finish.

Gradually ascending into its pulsating beat and house-infused bass-line, the thumping elements suddenly drop off as Harley’s soothing vocals and piano take focus; creating an undeniable sense of awe and endearment. As ‘Waiting’ progresses to find its next gear, Harley continues to tease with a series of crescendos, yet firmly maintains control and avoids being formulaic and predictable. It’s meticulously structured and awash with finesse, evident through its smaller intricacies. 

Along with the whole album, ‘Waiting’ was written in Harley’s bedroom in order to retain a ‘bedroom producer’ ethos, wanting to capture something honest.

Harley describes the album writing process: 

It’s a dynamic album that I hope shows many sides to the music I make and what I’m trying to do with The Kite String Tangle, which is essentially to reach people and hopefully provide a soundtrack for their own existential crisis.”

Listen to 'Waiting' via Soundcloud below

SINGLE REVIEW // HAIKU HANDS - NOT ABOUT YOU

Rob Carroll

New Sydney-based dance / hip-hop collective ‘Haiku Hands’ recently revealed their party starting debut slice ‘Not About You’.

Commanding immediate attention, ‘Not About You’ hits hard with its infectious compressed bass line melody, synth pads and beats; unapologetically thumping along from start-to-finish. The vocals follow shortly after with undeniable Aussie swagger and charm, also refusing to reduce intensity with alluring energy and angst.

Taking cues from the likes of M.I.A., Die Antwoord and Le Tigre, the group still manage to deliver a sound that is instinctively them - an impressive feat for any artist on debut.

Although it’s their maiden track, it appears the girls are quite versed across various creative and performance based capacities. They’ve been involved in collaborative works with El Gusto (Hermitude) and Joelistics, amongst many other impressive projects and feats.

'Not About You' is one of the most exciting tracks we’ve heard from an Australian artist this year and we can’t wait to hear more.

Listen to 'Not About You' via Soundcloud below

New Single // Le Pie - When We Talk

Rob Carroll

Sydney-based, Le Pie, unveiled her incredibly dark & beautiful first single 'Secrets' in January earlier this year, receiving strong support and praise from triple j and worldwide blogs. The indie-pop songstress has recently returned with 2 brand new singles 'Josephine' and 'When We Talk'; both lifted from her forthcoming debut EP, 'And he said, honey you look so fine’.

'When We Talk' is driven by a slow-burning, progressive tempo that touches on an even darker side of Le Pie. Textured and layered with deep bass driven grunge-like synths, a powerful rhythmic section and capped off with hauntingly seductive vocal melodies and execution.  

Whilst retaining its own distinct characteristics, 'When We Talk' is still as comparably riveting and breathtaking as 'Secrets' and further cements the likelihood that we will be seeing and hearing more from this talented young Newtown lass. 

Listen to new single 'When We Talk' and debut cut 'Secrets' below via Soundcloud -

New Single // Lurch & Chief - Breathe Out

Rob Carroll

There's absolutely no denying my love for Melbourne 6-piece Lurch & Chief. This band has been one of my favourite Australian acts ever since they released singles 'It's Easy' and 'We Are The Same', taken from their debut EP 'Wiped Out'. Recently the band released lead single 'Fading Out', which received strong support from the likes of Triple J and community radio. They have since followed up with another track 'Breathe Out', giving us further insight into their progression as a band and what to expect from the sophomore EP 'Breathe'.

A darker, more haunting sound is definitely the theme so far here for me, 'Breathe Out' strongly highlights the bold shift in direction and will leave a lasting impression on fans and tastemakers alike.

In support of promoting the new record, the Melbourne sextet has also announced their biggest national tour to date, hitting the road throughout May and June - Click here to view dates. 

New Single // The Pretty Littles - Man Baby

Rob Carroll

Melbourne indie-rock 4-piece, The Pretty Littles, have just churned out a brilliant new single 'Man Baby'. From the opening note I immediately feel like I am sitting in a smoke-filled bar, down on my luck, then this song kicks in - it is the soundtrack to all my woes - and cue for another shot of whisky. 'Man Baby' is a beautifully arranged, eclectic gritty rock n' roll number, filled with gorgeous vocal melodies and guitar tones.  

Guest vocals come from the bands friend only known as Alice and her moniker 'Dix-Pix' - with a voice so sweet, you have to wonder why she has chosen such a 'charming' name, YOLO I guess.  

The Pretty Littles perform live at the sold-out 'The Hills Are Alive!' Festival, taking place this weekend, Friday 27th-Sunday 29th March in South Gippsland, Victoria.

NEW SINGLE // NOIRE - Those Days

Staff Writer

Spring is in the air and Sydney trio NOIRE have just released a perfect pop gem to welcome in the good weather. The new single titled 'Those Days' was recorded with multi-ARIA award-winning producer Wayne Connolly (The Vines, You Am I, Youth Group). 'Those Days' has a pop sensibility that is new and exciting. Blending atmospheric synths, dreamy guitar licks, beautiful harpsichord and Jessica Mincher's airy vocals, NOIRE's music is a breath of fresh air in the current Sydney music scene.

NEW SINGLE // Hamjam - 'LOVE'

Will Weightman

Perth-based garage duo Hamjam is comprised of members of The Growl and Gunns. The guys have just released their latest single 'LOVE' from their forthcoming self-titled EP (to be release on October 10 via the legends at Pilerats). The single contains plenty of psychedelic guitar hooks and infectious, skuzzy, sing-along vocals.  Effortlessly chill, like the west coast of Australia, 'LOVE' is destined to be a summer favourite across the airwaves and road-trip mixtapes from here to Timbuktu! 

NEW SINGLE // Lanks - 'Brave Man'

Staff Writer

Lanks is the solo work of Melbourne multi-instrumentalist Will Cuming.  Cuming released his debut EP 'Thousand Piece Puzzle’ three months ago, and has this week followed-up with a brand new single titled 'Brave Man’.  Lanks displays his incredible aptitude for diverse songwriting and composition on 'Brave Man’ - creating beautiful soundscapes full of sharp production, and progressive guitar and synth parts similar to Alt J and Fractures. 'Brave Man' is completed with Lanks' signature deep and emotional vocals. 

NEW SINGLE // Burn Antares - 'Crystal Love'

Staff Writer

Sydney's Burn Antares draw inspiration from the '60s, classic rock'n'roll from the '70s and country music. The five-piece, fronted by charismatic front-woman Grace Farriss, have just released their new single titled 'Crystal Love'. The song is also accompanied by a groovy video, which you can view here. 'Crystal Love' is the first single from their forthcoming LP 'Fur Coat & The Peace Boat' (due in October 2014). Catch them on tour this September - dates can be found here.

NEW SINGLE // Andres & Oscar - 'Everytime I Go'

Staff Writer

'Everytime I Go' is the first single from 'Cafe Romantica’ - the collaborative debut album by Andras & Oscar, aka Andras Fox and Oscar Key Sung. The song is a blissed-out banger, boarding on minimal house, techno and soul. Oscar’s yearning vocals are soothed by Andras’ warm, hypnotic production. The good folk at Chapter Music will release 'Cafe Romantica' in Australia and New Zealand on October 17.


NEW SINGLE // The Belligerents - 'I Don't Want To Be In Your Arms'

Will Weightman

In the about section of their facebook page, Brisbane band The Belligerents have got written ''psychedelic dance commanders'' and once you listen to their latest single 'I Don't Want To Be In Your Arms', you'll realise that they're pretty spot on with that label. Their music fuses different elements of pop, psych, indie-rock and dance. A catchy rhythm section coupled with Lewis Stephenson's strong vocals make 'I Don't Want To Be In Your Arms' a very enjoyable listen. If you like what you hear then look out for their third EP, due out sometime later this year.

NEW SINGLE // Tiny Little House - 'Every man knows his plague; and you are mine.'

Will Weightman

If you're a fan of Devendra Banhart, Bon Iver or Bright Eyes then you'll love new Melbourne four-piece Tiny Little Houses. The band have just released their debut single 'Every Man Knows His Plague; And You Are Mine.' Produced by Steve Schram (San Cisco, Little Red), the single features Caleb Karvountzis' soaring vocals which take centre stage, while the rest of the band build layers of acoustic and lo-fi electric guitar, rolling percussion and even a trumpet.

NEW SINGLE // Lower Spectrum - 'Khlever'

Will Weightman

Scrolling into the deepest and darkest depths of Soundcloud, through default pictures and some interesting usernames, I was surprised to find a brand new track from Western Australian producer Lower Spectrum. Honestly, it can be mind-numbing trawling through new Australian electronic releases on Soundcloud, especially as the ear fatigue kicks in, but 'Khlever' ripped my ears and mind right out of any tiresome reality I'd sunken into. The sheer amount of sonic energy that Ned Beckley builds and releases in this track with so few key elements is nothing short of incredible. With ducking guitar chords, percussion that breathes and a booming low end that could sedate a silverback, this is an expedition of both mind and soul.

Take a listen.

'Traces' EP Launch Tour:

Saturday 9 August - The Bird, Perth

Friday 15 August - Flyrite, Perth

Saturday 16 August - The Toff, Melbourne

NEW SINGLE // Montaigne - 'I Am Not An End'

Staff Writer

Jessica Cerro aka Montaigne is an 18-year-old Sydneysider who has already been hailed as Australia's next big thing. Her first single 'I'm A Fantastic Wreck' showed her her vocal prowess on top a very minimalist arrangement. Her latest single 'I Am Not an End' is the bees knees. It's boasts the right amount of pop, soul and rhythm to pull you in and spit you out wanting more. 'I Am Not an End' is taken from Montaigne’s forthcoming EP 'Life of Montaigne' due for release the second half of this year. 

NEW SINGLE // Motez - 'Own Up'

Will Weightman

If Soundcloud is anything of a yardstick, it’s immediately clear how busy the Baghdad-born producer Motez has been in the past 12 months. With several successful remixes of popular artists (Ellie Goulding, What So Not and Frank Ocean), combined with a couple of small EPs and original works, Motez has shown exciting creative depth within the halls of house music. His collection generally guides the listener down two distinct paths: deeper, more dissonant basement boppers, or more upbeat, funk-orientated house. With his latest release, “Own Up”, Motez takes the cheerier and more universal latter option.  

Overlaying soulful vocals on top of resonating synth plucks and house rhythms, this particular track isn’t exactly pushing any new boundaries within the Australian “dance” music scene. But why should it? Every sonic element glues together seamlessly, creating a contagious, authentic and unpretentious energy. No doubt, it will be a nationwide dance floor favorite over the winter. I can almost see the overdramatic singalong miming of club goers now.

Bobbing that head? Check out Motez’s upcoming 'Own Up' tour of Australia and New Zealand.

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                                     Motez On Tour

                                     Motez On Tour