We listen to a lot of music here at Tone Deaf HQ, and we’re the first to admit we’re perhaps a little biased towards sounds of the Australian variety. We do make the best music in the world, after all.
In honouring our favourite Aussies, we’ve once again compiled a list of the most outstanding local releases you should be listening to right now – whether they’re smaller indies acts or big-name essentials, these are the newest Australian records you should be adding to your ‘must-listen’ list. Let’s get started.
Lower Spectrum – Traces (Zero Through Nine)
On his newest EP, Perth-based producer Lower Spectrum (aka Ned Beckley) picks up right where he last left off with last year’s stunning debut LP Little Appeal.
Beckley’s latest is an ambitious six-track offering is filled with deconstructed electronic soundscapes inflected with unique multi-layered compositions, bass-heavy spacial atmospherics, and plenty of tactile sensory textures.
The tracks bend and warp on multiple tangents, showing off the producer’s imaginative and multi-faceted production skills as they unfold like hyper-coloured electronic kaleidoscopes, ebbing and flowing into new and unexpected terrains.
The warbling single ‘Khlever’ begins as a deep bass boiler accompanied by a smoky guitar but eventually ends in an explosion of bright synths; while ‘Glimmer’ bounces around on a soulful vocal sample and titanic bass before combusting and capsizing into a siren-soaring anthem.
Lower Plenty’s sound is dance music at its core, but of the higher concept variety. For comparison’s sake, Darkside is an obvious parallel here. It’s detailed, lush, and utterly addictive electronica that needs to be consumed full blast to be fully understood. Put this down as one of the best electronic outputs of the year so far. (Dylan McCarthy)
Mere Women – Your Town (Independent)
Sydney trio Mere Women have returned with their sophomore album – a spectacular follow-up to 2012’s debut release that pushes the band’s forward-thinking post-punk sound even further into depths of greatness.
Simply put, Your Town is one of those rare records that demands and deserves a full play through, and will then probably earn endless repeats afterwards.
Part of its captivating sound comes from its complete and utter conviction, in everything from its tightly-knit, genre-honouring instrumentation to, and perhaps in particular, keyboardist and singer Amy Wilson’s compelling and confessional vocal delivery.
The band’s already-tight sound is now even more solid. Abrasive guitar chords clang with distortion above interwoven drum patterns, creating an engulfing and claustrophobic sound that Wilson uses as her platform to launch off.
Mere Women’s masterful songwriting mostly explores themes of pain, longing – ahcing, and when Wilson ends the toxic relationship anthem ‘Our Song’ with the hard-hitting question “Will you still want me when I’m old and frail?”, it hits with a force like no other.
Your Town is already getting called out as the most shining examples of a distinctly Australiana record this the year (just take a look at that cover) – we suggest you don’t let it fly under your radar. (DM)
Lowtide – Lowtide (Lost And Lonesome)
If you’re not utterly spellbound by the slow ebbing textures and dual gender vocals of patiently constructed opener ‘Whale’ – do hang about, by second track ‘Held’, the same elements and shimmering layers have been bolstered to a forward-driving rhythm of glazed dream pop as twin bassists/vocalists Giles Simon and Lucy Buckeridge trade rhetoric between spacey guitar lines.
It’s between these two modes of operation – the wafting, dreamer kind and the hookier, more propellent indie pop – that Lowtide continue to oscillate on their long-delayed full-length debut, demonstrating that the better part of the four years spent making their eponymous LP has been used to carefully hone in on qualities that make them unique among their Aussie shoegaze (or ‘roogaze’) contemporaries while still satisfying purists.
The lush melodic harmonies of Simon and Buckeridge guide the listener on a journey through sonic territory that’s invitingly lush (‘Blue Movie’), immediate yet soft-edged (‘Wedding Ring’) and purely transcendent (‘Yesterday’).
Whether you’re letting its verdant layers lap away at you in the background or focussing deeply on its undulating waves of atmospheric rock through a pair of headphones, Lowtide offers plenty to lose yourself in; a sonic getaway you’ll find yourself aching to retreat to again and again. (Al Newstead)
Eaten By Dogs – Eaten By Dogs (Black Hat Racket)
If you’re looking for a new alt-country record to put on your shelf, Melbourne troupe Eaten By Dogs have got you covered.
Continuing to prove the argument that Melbourne produces some of the best alt-country sounds in the world, Eaten By Dog’s debut album is a journey that travels along with all of life’s many turns in the roads, with tunes of gut-wrenching pain, to others written with jet black humour and then some anthems of joyous celebration thrown in for good measure.
Over the course of the album, frontman Chris Lichti and his baritone drawl become your perfect companion for a cigar and a glass of whiskey. Above brooding tones, twangs of swinging guitar and foot-tapping hooks, Eaten By Dogs invite you to pull up a chair at the bar and then offer you a lighter for your cigarette.
Catchy lead single ‘If It Ain’t Killing You, It’s Sure Killing Me’ is the perfect place to start. It comes from a slightly brighter place from the rest of the LP, with upbeat instrumentation and charming lyricism its catchy sing-along chorus line “You’ve got to let it go/ You’ve got to let it be” will be a memorable moment when the band take their debut creation to the live setting.
Eaten By Dogs are the latest Australian ambassadors of honest country music. (DM)
Luluc – Passerby (Mistletone)
Melbourne via Brooklyn indie-folk duo Luluc have just released their sophomore album, Passerby. Co-produced by the band and The National’s Aaron Dessner, here Luluc’s best qualities are all put out on display as they develop on the sound of their 2008 debut Dear Hamlyn whilst slightly changing the shape of their gentle acoustic beauty.
The pair craft a delicate, at times almost lullaby-like style of folk that’s extremely easy on the ears. If you don’t take our word for it, maybe you’ll take The National’s Matt Beringer’s: “I’ve played Passerby on repeat, for months it was the only album I wanted to listen to.”
Their beautiful, quiet soundscapes are sparse and bare, relying not on catchy refrains or big choruses but on patience, their sheer storytelling abilities and their astute understanding of the folk genre. This restraint is encapsulated perfectly on ‘Small Window’, where feather-light acoustics are plucked with a barely-there force to allow for the band’s vivid lyrical imagery to shine almost on their own.
Passerby isn’t groundbreaking, and it doesn’t attempt to be, but nor should it have to: Passerby is a quaint and blissful record that shows that sometimes less truly is more. (DM)
Bird Traps – The Colour Fields (Independent)
On his latest excursion under his Bird Traps moniker, multi-instrumental minimalist Marcus Skinner offers an aural field trip for the senses.
Through a miasma of barely-there guitars, organs, and a four-piece string section, The Colour Fields offers five achingly beautiful meditations that merge the genre disciplines of ambient, neo-classical, drone, and the avant-garde.
Subtly breaking up the soothing soundscapes are a series of field recordings taken from Japanese forests and Thailand coastlines, mixed with quietly humming fuzz pedals or the whoosh of an absent air conditioner. A kitten’s mewing juxtaposed with the chirping of birds amidst the lush bed of the mesmerising ‘Minor Tapestry’ is particularly evocative.
It’s unavoidable that those put off by music intended for reflective escapism will dismiss Bird Traps as some sort of ‘New Age’ nonsense – and they’re encouraged to seek their thrills elsewhere, but for those whose ears prick up at the mention of Stars Of The Lid, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, or know their Brian Enos from their Harold Budds – Bird Traps is very much the Australian answer to those ambient innovators.
The 40 minute sprawl of Skinner’s contemplative atmospheres and hazy sonic horizons is the perfect place to tune in and switch off. (AN)Write a Letter to the Editor