By Mary Chang
on Friday, 14th November 2014 at 12:00 pm
In Stuart Maconie’s book “Cider with Roadies”, he explained how he once described ’70s-’80s Perth band The Triffids, after seeing them live, as makers of “huge music written under huge skies for long trips through empty deserts”. While on a long roadtrip on my birthday visit to Australia 2 years ago this month, I commented to a blogger friend of mine with a similar idea, that there must be something very special as to why much of the music made by so many Aussie and Kiwi artists made me feel so great, and in a way I couldn’t easily put into words. Timeless? Yes. Beautiful? Yes.
While dreamy indie pop duo High Highs no longer live in Sydney, having relocated to Brooklyn for their shot at professional success, their sound still seems to me to still feel very Aussie-influenced. Which in my books is a very good thing. Following on from the huge global success of The Naked and Famous but following their own rules and style, Jack Milas and Oli Chang look poised to be the next big thing from Down Under. They already have a self-titled EP and a debut album (2013’s ‘Open Season’) under their belts, but the next stage of their career is just beginning.
At the start of October, the duo released their latest EP ‘Ocean to City’, comprised of three amazing tracks. The timing of this release couldn’t be beat; soon we’ll all be plunged into the bleak, dark winter, and yet ‘Ocean to City’ is giving us a relaxed respite from all of that. The title track’s video, which premiered on Billboard last week, shows Milas and Chang driving around in an open-top convertible in the carefree land of California, while they pass surfers, beaches and palm trees, all under a seemingly never-ending blue sky. (Funny, the time I visited Sydney, I thought, “hmm, this is like London. Except it’s sunny and clean…”) Milas’ dreamy vocals telling of the yearning of a lover counterbalance the upbeat driving rhythm of the track so it’s neither too sweet or too melancholic. It’s the natural choice for a single, guaranteed to get toes tapping and new fans singing along to its chirpy yet loving message.
‘Glamorous Party’ is pensive, brooding. Chang’s keyboard chords match the drama of Milas’ voice, which oozes from falsetto and not, adding shades of light and dark to the song. But it’s ‘Catch the Wind’ that holds my attention the longest. It’s a study of relationships, and it’s a study of loneliness. It’s a modern pop retelling of that classic chestnut, “if you love somebody, set her free. If she comes back, she’s yours, If she doesn’t, she never was…”
Milas sings in the chorus, “hey, you’re not alone / go break the mold / go where you are free” and echoing oohs swirl around you, a product of High Highs’ ambient pop palette. True beauty. We’ll have to wait and see if this duo will join the illustrious ranks of legendary bands from their homeland. But based on the strength of this latest EP, a packed residency at Pianos in New York City and a past sold out show at London Old Queen’s Head, I think they have an incredibly good shot at making it.
High Highs’ ‘Ocean to City’ EP is available now from their Bandcamp at a price you name.
Former Girls frontman Christopher Owens is set to embark on a tour of the UK this weekend, playing songs from his solo albums as well as older full band tracks. As a teaser for the upcoming live dates, Owens has shared a new acoustic track called ‘America’, which you can stream below the tour date listing. Tickets for the following shows are available now.
Saturday 15th November 2014 – Liverpool University Guild of Students
Sunday 16th November 2014 – Glasgow Stereo
Monday 17th November 2014 – Manchester Deaf Institute
Tuesday 18th November 2014 – Bristol Lantern
Wednesday 19th November 2014 – London Islington Assembly Hall
American stadium rockers the Foo Fighters have just announced details of a UK tour, which will include support from the likes of Iggy Pop and the hotly-tipped Royal Blood. Our own John recently previewed the Foo Fighters’ new release ‘Sonic Highways’ here. You can watch the video for first single ‘Something From Nothing’ below the tour date listing. Tickets for the following shows go on general sale next Wednesday, the 19th of November, at 10 AM.
Monday 25th May 2015 – Sunderland Stadium of Light
Wednesday 27th May 2015 – Manchester Old Trafford
Friday 19th June 2015 – London Wembley Stadium (with Iggy Pop and Royal Blood)
Saturday 20th June 2015 – London Wembley Stadium (with Iggy Pop and Royal Blood)
Tuesday 23 June 2015 – Edinburgh Murrayfield Stadium (with Royal Blood)
Header photo by Kamil Kustosz
London-based alt-folk duo Smoke Fairies have just announced a brief Christmas tour of independent record stores in England, supporting their seasonal album ‘Wild Winter’, which will be sold exclusively on CD and LP in Rough Trade record stores. The pair says of their take on the traditional Christmas album:
We have a love/hate relationship with winter and the Christmas holiday. When it was suggested Smoke Fairies make a Christmas album the last thing we wanted to do was make a classic, jolly, celebratory album that can only be played once a year. Sometimes winter provides us with a sense of togetherness and love and sometimes it leaves us feeling alienated, cold and playing a glockenspiel alone in a darkened room. It’s part of the year that will always be bittersweet and wild. We got together with our band, played around with the songs a few times then headed off to the studio to record them all live. It’s buzzy and raw and not one tinkling of sleigh bells can be heard.
You can stream the album’s first track, ‘Christmas Without a Kiss’, below the tour date listing. Pre-orders for the album and tickets for the following shows are available from Rough Trade here.
Tuesday 9th December 2014 – Bristol Rise
Wednesday 10th December 2014 – Nottingham Rough Trade
Friday 12th December 2014 – London Rough Trade East (with DJ Bob Stanley)
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 13th November 2014 at 6:00 pm
Female folk duo The Unthanks have just revealed this week a new single and the title track to their forthcoming new album ‘Mount the Air’. Despite being courted by labels, the pair have decided to self-release their new LP on their own RabbleRouser Music label on the 9th of February 2015. The single will be released on the 8th of December.
The promo video for the title track of the upcoming album is the work of acclaimed animator Nick Murray Willis; he also worked with the ladies on a visual for ‘Lost’ in 2011, which saw the artist earn him a place on the BAFTA judging panel. Watch the animated clip for ‘Mount the Air’ below.
Joseph and David Dunwell, the eponymous half of Leeds alt-rock band The Dunwells, have just shared the video for a piano-vocal version of their fan favourite track ‘She Whispers’. Performed in an unidentified alcove, this intimate version of the song features frontman Joe Dunwell’s emotive lyric delivery along with brother Dave’s dynamically sensitive piano accompaniment.
The as-yet-unreleased track is sure to feature prominently on The Dunwells’ upcoming UK tour; all the details for that can be found in this ticket alert we posted earlier this week.