Community radio music directors often have an encyclopedic knowledge of local music and an insatiable thirst to keep their ears ahead of the curve. So in this Tone Deaf series, the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (Amrap) invites music directors to highlight new Aussie tunes that you might have missed.
In this edition, Cam Durnsford from PBS FM in Melbourne contributes with a selection of tracks currently making their way to community radio through Amrap’s music distribution service ‘AirIt’. Check out Cam’s selections below and if you’re a musician you can apply here to have your music distributed for free to community radio on Amrap’s AirIt.
NUN – ‘Can’t Chain’
This one has been kicking around for a while but I haven’t stopped listening to it since it came out – the first taste of Melbourne band NUN’s second LP The Dome, due out soon. They premiered these songs live as part of Melbourne Music Week last year at the State Library of Victoria’s magnificent reading room – the titular dome where much of the album’s lyrics were apparently written.
The first time I saw NUN I was completely floored by their use of analogue electronics as a facsimile of a ‘conventional’ four-piece rock band, and the intensity of the sound they generate. ‘Can’t Chain’ shows this sound has evolved (though is no less intense), with Jenny Branagan’s vocal less processed and higher in the mix. And all the better for it.
feedtime – ‘Any Good Thing’
feedtime are a band that sound to me like they’d be equally at home at art school as they would on the docks. It’s a false dichotomy of course, but there’s no doubt their thuggish, sludgy post-punk is terrifying and tough as nails, while unabashedly artful in its simplicity.
That thunderous, metallic bass tone, primitive rhythms and bluesy slide guitar conspiring here into a beautiful cacophony, as it has done for just shy of 40 years. Taken from Gas, feedtime’s first record in more than 20 years, there’s no sign of a band cynically going through the motions here. Proof that coming back from a long period of inactivity doesn’t always yield diminishing returns.
Mista Savona – ‘Carnival’ feat. Solis & Randy Valentine
It’s hard to believe this hasn’t happened sooner given the rich musical cultures and relative proximity of Cuba and Jamaica, but it makes perfect sense now that it has. Give thanks to Melbourne’s Mista Savona (and a legion of kickstarter supporters) for being the catalyst in uniting the two islands on his latest project Havana Meets Kingston.
Jake Savona recruited legendary reggae rhythm section Sly and Robbie, percussionist Bongo Herman, and a cast of other guest musicians from both countries to record not one but two albums, and film a documentary about the whole thing. ‘Carnival’ is the perfect introduction to what’s in store – a heavyweight Sly and Robbie riddim, paired with Cuban horns and lyrics sung in both Spanish and English.
The Seven Ups – ‘Through the Dust’
The Seven Ups have been doing their thing for a few years now – all the time spent tripping in the Tarago up and down the east coast has got them sounding tighter than ever, and seems to have been the inspiration for at least a couple of tracks on Drinking Water, their second full-length.
The Seven Ups stock in trade is a highly danceable, horn-heavy take on afrobeat and heavy instrumental funk– this track probably leans more on the latter than some of the other cuts on the LP, though there’s still something hypnotic about the rhythm on this that evokes the great Tony Allen – the opening drum break is asking to be sampled really. Fela lives! In the bonsoy belt.
Emily Wurramara – ‘Hey Love’
What a voice. Emily Wurramara has had me totally charmed since the release of her debut EP Black Smoke last year – in the time since its release her star has well and truly risen, with a recent Best Indigenous Song award at the 2017 Queensland Music Awards for Black Smoke single ‘Ngayuwa Ngelyeyiminama (I Love You)’ and a string of festival appearances.
Now based in Brisbane, Emily is a multi-instrumentalist who sings in both English and Anindilyakwa, the traditional language of her home on Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory. Clearly not one to rest on her laurels, she’s followed last year’s EP with another beautiful single that recounts her mother’s experiences of racism as a young boarding school student, and turns it into a poignant message of empowerment and solidarity.
Red Red Krovvy – ‘Holiday’
We’ve all had the feeling after a holiday that we’re actually more tired and in need of peace and quiet than we were before we left – being lost in another culture and place can have an alienating effect on even the most seasoned traveller.
Much like Madonna’s ‘Holiday’ perfectly captures the unbridled excitement of going on a vacay, Cairns/Sydney/Melbourne band Red Red Krovvy’s ‘Holiday’ is a similar paean to the annual escape we all live for, but with just a touch of dread lingering beneath the surface that can make you wonder why you even bothered. Maybe a staycation would been a better idea? Three minutes of sublimely nihilistic punk rock.
Holy Balm – ‘Hot Cold (András Dub Mix)’
Take a trip back to the second summer of love by way of this András Fox re-rub of Sydney’s Holy Balm. Where the original from last year’s essential Activity LP (also a total banger) gets all woozy and off-kilter in the way Holy Balm do, this remix is a straight up Balearic affair which pulls Emma Ramsay’s vocal back to let the 909 and dubby bass synth shine.
It’s one of three András remixes taken from a five-track EP of Activity remixes – the other two being takes on album highlight ‘Fashion’ – alongside Activity reworks from defunct house duo Zanzibar Chanel and Atlanta producer Moon B. Guaranteed to be heard on a dancefloor near you soon.