Returning heroes — both banjo-plucking veterans and re-inventing shoe-gazers — as well as skuzzy ballads, skate boys and reflective romantics, make up this week's mixed bag of the best new local music.
By Jonny Nail and Cleo Harrington.
Welcome back, Wilson Pickers. After a five-year hiatus — initially brought on by the 2001 leukaemia relapse of vocalist/guitarist Danny Widdicombe — the bluegrass supergroup return with new single, "Pulled Apart By Horses", the first preview from forthcoming album, You Can't Catch Fish From A Train, exclusively premiered today via Rolling Stone.
Right from the outset, it's clear their trademark tongue-in-cheek larrikinism hasn't faded, as lead Ben Salter "jacked up on gin and gatorade" darts from religious references to film metaphors to solemn poetic punches ("I really miss my mother"), before charging the troupe into a mid-song hoedown. The group's candour playfulness is further extenuated by the lo-fi clip, featuring all five dancing and prancing along to the song's smirking tone.
You Can't Catch Fish From A Train is set to be released on August 26th via ABC Music. [J.N.]
From playing in her own band Tantrums, to touring with Teeth & Tongue and playing live in Jess Riberio's band, singer-songwriter Jade Imagine has been a big player in the Melbourne music scene for a while now, but is finally striking out on her own with debut solo single "Stay Awake".
Moving away from Tantrums' atmospheric electronica, "Stay Awake" dives head-first into a fresh blend of fuzzy, lo-fi surf-rock and more traditional lyric-focus storytelling. The shimmering summer-invite track will feature on a forthcoming, limited edition 7", available to pre-order now via Bandcamp. [C.H.]
"Skate or Lie" is the stand-alone single off punk band Alex the Kid's debut album Speak Up, due August 9th. With this track, the five-piece band showcase a pumped-up, smashing vocal style comparable to punk party-boys the Bennies — a group they have supported, along with The Smith Street Band — contrasted by a softer, catchy chorus and accompanying guitar riffs. "Skate or Lie" rips through qualms of moving past relationships with no lulls in their high-energy from start to finish. The group has recently signed to Adelaide punk label, Pee Records and will be touring nationally in September. [C.H.]
Danny Ross tackles every aspect of the emotional aftermath of love in "We Are Songs," a rare track that takes you through both sides of the story, twisting the soft singer-songwriter sounds to a mellowed-out Alt-J-esque bass drop — and back again. Ross himself saying the track "is about collapsing the polarity of right and wrong, the equalisation that true forgiveness brings to a relationship."
Through a constant build-and-release style, Ross eases us through the contradictions of breakups — a mix of confusion, understanding, forgiveness and the ever-present struggle to let go. The move from all-envelopment with each other ("We were soulmates") to accepting that time as a now-memory ("now we're songs") is difficult, but Danny Ross manages to capture it flawlessly.
"We Are Songs" is the first single lifted from Ross' forthcoming LP Aquamarine, an album six-and-a-half years in the making, due later in the year. [C.H.]
After a four-year gap, Sydney skuzz-psych heroes, The Laurels (pictured), unexpectedly returned this week with new track "Reentry".
Lifted from forthcoming album Sonicology the song sees the band shift their traditional shoegaze sound and accompanying hypnotic vocals into a new Madchester-inspired space, with even glimmers of mid-school hip-hop and left-field sampling thrown in for further confusion. A genre-blending experiment at least somewhat inspired by recent line-up shifts, with Decoder Ring drummer, Jasper Fenton, joining the ranks, and Drew Houston from jazz outfit Wild Cat Falling invited to layer saxophone wails atop the band's usual duelling guitar foundation. Pigeon-holed expectations clearly destroyed by such a defiant first offering, we now await the complete picture, with Sonicology due October 14th via Rice is Nice. Before which, they'll support Mark Lanegan at Sydney's Factory Theatre on Saturday, July 22nd, details here. [J.N.]