It's a reassuring sight to see an Australian band successfully take on the world in the way Tame Impala have over the last few years. Their lush, psyche-pop sound feels like it was born between the grooves of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, evolving inward and outward, feeding on a wealth of influences and dreams
Divine Fits may be an unfamiliar name, but the people behind it no doubt lurk in your record collection under their original outfits. Better known as Britt Daniel from Spoon, Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade, and Sam Brown of New Bomb Turks, Divine Fits is the band du jour for these gentlemen and A Thing Called
Riding the crest of the dream-pop insurgence that brought with it bands like Beach Fossils, Twin Sister and Still Corners, was that of Jack Tatum and Wild Nothing, who' s debut album of 2010, Gemini was an exquisitely crafted record brimming with 80's melodies and accompanying themes of nostalgia and romanticism. It was an album
From her isolated upbringing in rural Wisconsin, combined with a passion for opera, philosophy and industrial music, Nika Rosa Danilova aka Zola Jesus has created a name for herself as being a successor to the great Diamanda Galas and Lisa Gerrard with her haunting, otherworldly vocal style. Over the past three years Danilova has reached
San Francisco's Girls self-titled debut of 2009 garnered widespread acclaim based on its fancy-free and free-love attitude that offered irresistible pop gems bathed in x-rated video clips ("Lust for Life" anyone?). Sex and pop, what more do you want out of music these days? For their sophomore album Father, Son, Holy Ghost, the Girls duo of Christopher Owen and Chet "JR" White have upped the songwriter stakes to put together an album that's impressive straight out of the blocks. Static's Chris Berkley spoke with Girl's JR over the phone in the midst of a very suspect (if you're to believe what he says) video shoot.
Quietly released last year was the first proper solo album by Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier. A touching tribute to her sister, who in Sadier's words "went on a million year trip/and left everthing behind", The Trip saw Sadier step out from the shadow of Stereolab to make a very revealing album, not only in the way she dealt with her loss, but in how she paid tribute to artists that influenced and inspired her. An album that sparkled in its minimalist approach, The Trip showed a side of Sadier unseen, one that was filled with warmth and emotion, and those little philosophical quirks that you've come to expect.
Was there really once a musical sub-genre called 'Shitgaze'? I mean, somebody actually sat around, coined that term and then hoisted it on a few unsuspecting bands who by fate or ill-fortune found themselves trapped under its audiophile repelling umbrella? Think about it, shitgaze. Would you buy into that? Thankfully it's only a memory, but some of those bands still remain, including Columbus, Ohio's Times New Viking. On the eve of their first Australian tour Chris Berkley of Static spoke to Jared and Adam of Times New Viking, fresh off the plane to promote their most recent album, the discordant but progressively tuneful, Dancer Equired.
For the last three years the Too Pure Singles Club has been releasing monthly 7" singles to subscribers featuring a selection of rising UK and international alternative acts, many of whom are unknown outside their own country (their own town even). The appeal of a singles club is more than just a piece of vinyl every month by a band you're unlikely to have ever heard of. Actually, that is the appeal. Hit or miss as they can be, you never know which one of these limited run singles will turn out to be your next favourite band.
As 2011 continues to reveal an abundance of new artists and great music, it's of no surprise that one of the more anticipated debut albums was that of 28-year-old Atlanta based songwriter and producer Ernest Greene, AKA Washed Out. Full of blissful harmonies and gently shifting arrangements, augmented with hip-hop beats and samples, Within And Without quickly became the preferred summer spin at Webcuts. Static's Chris Berkley recently caught up with Ernest to talk about all things Within And Without -- recording the album, the process behind it, and amongst other things, 10CC's "I'm Not In Love" and the 'raunchy' cover art.
Cold Cave's debut album of 2009 Love Comes Close was a unique display of synth-oriented mood disorder, venturing out from the bedroom to the dancefloor, filled with idealistic tales of romance and disillusionment. Band leader Wes Eisold’s spin on the world appeared to share a voice (in both dour baritone and content) with Magnetic Fields Stephin Merritt, if he'd spent his adolescence listening to The Cure and Depeche Mode instead of showtunes. On their second album, Eisold moved beyond the testing of the waters that was Love Comes Close and turned its successor, Cherish The Light Years into his dark dream made manifold.
An act that many have been holding their breath for the return of for as long as they've been absent from the stage are Haledon, New Jersey's The Feelies. Arriving in the late 70's, and releasing one of the first great new wave/post-punk albums of the early 80's (truly. no hyperbole here) in Crazy Rhythms, The Feelies were the Velvet Underground and Television's geeky Jersey cousins. An enthralling percussive ride, full of jerky rhythms and wild, melodic guitar interplay, the sound of The Feelies would evolve over the years, drifitng away from the arty CBGB crowd toward a more refined pastoral 'college rock' sound that typified an era when bands like R.E.M. and Camper Van Beethoven loomed large.
It's been said by Webcuts in the past that Destroyer's Dan Bejar is the Woody Allen of pop music. His idiosyncratic, poetic touch is less that of a lyricist but a storyteller with a revolving cast of characters (mostly women), and picking up on the ripples and waves they create to make them a part of his own interior monologue. An essential eighth of the mighty New Pornographers, Bejar has been recording as Destroyer since the 90's. Kaputt, his ninth album is a sumptious, rhapsodic slice of 80's melodrama, immersing itself entirely in the era from the vintage instrumentation to Bejar's own penchance for seeking the sublime out of what some might find the ridiculous.
The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horses. A fitting album title for these Montreal, Quebec, Canadians, as much as it was a challenge for a band who've skirted success but in turn garnered acclaim for their lush and psychedelic sound. Their most recent album The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night appeared in early 2010, and once again it was that intimate and expansive sound, coupled with vocalist/guitarist Jace Lacek's Beach Boys-like falsetto that saw the band release their most definitive collection of songs yet. Touring Australia for the very first time, Chris Berkley of Static caught up with Lacek and drummer Kevin Laing of The Besnard Lakes to talk about the slow rise of the band and their move into film scores.
Baltimore's Beach House first appeared in 2006 with their self-titled debut, a gorgeous collection of dizzying songs built around Victoria Legrand's awash-with-reverb harmonies, church-style organ and Alex Scally's languidly strummed guitar. It was their style and approach, reminiscent of Mazzy Star, Yo La Tengo and This Mortal Coil, that found favour with a like-minded audience. Recently touring Australia and appearing as part of the travelling Laneway Festival, Chris Berkley caught up with Victoria and Alex of Beach House to talk about their gradual rise and amongst other things, how to keep cheese out of the live set.
Barely eighteen months since the release of one of 2009's dark delights, the epic Sun Gangs, Finn Andrews the New Zealand bred, England based leader of The Veils has released possibly one the highlights of 2011 with Troubles of the Brain. Over the course seven songs Finn and his band mates explore less grandiose and orchestral avenues than those on Sun Gangs favouring instead acoustic guitars, simpler arrangements and a lighter air in general. Chris Berkley tracked down Mr Andrews just before the release of Troubles of the Brain to talk about the differences in recording at home, going out on his own label and having a feverent fanbase to help that transition.
Dynamite Steps the new album from Greg Dulli's The Twilight Singers is an extraordinarily cohesive album in every aspect: from production to the vocals, the masterful songwriting to the clever sequencing. Grunge guitar workouts give way to piano balladry, shoegaze meets folk and punchy rock. These are all anchored by that remarkable voice which ranges from ragged roar to velvety tenor to strained falsetto singing of love, libido, mortality and the devil. A couple of weeks before the release we spoke with Greg, a man who has seen more than his share of highs and lows in his twenty odd year career, clearly relaxed and affable, about all things dynamite and twilight, from the gutter to the (guest) stars.
To say expectations were high for Foals' second album Total Life Forever would be stating the exceedingly obvious but from the grandeur and exquisite melancholy of “Spanish Sahara” to the frenetic indie-pop of “This Orient” to the dance funk of “Miami” it met and exceeded them with uncommon ease. Total Life Forever elevated Foals further from their peers and into the rare league of artists who maintain credibility with a more accessible sound and thus gaining a larger listening base whilst still remaining true to their experimental pop principles. We spoke to bassist Walter Gervers while the band was in Australia for the St. Jerome’s Laneway festivals and some recording on the sly.
Caribou (aka Dan Snaith) is not an artist prone to repeating himself. His second album, 2007's Andorra took '60s psychedelic pop and merged it with complex rhythm patterns, while his LP from last year Swim saw Snaith heading into a denser electronic direction while still retaining a fair amount of pop smarts. Caribou with long time friend Kieran Hebden better known as Four Tet will soon be the Antipodes for a series of shows but late last year Chris Berkley caught up with Snaith whilst on the seemingly never ending tour for Swim where Dan took time out to talk about the art of Caribou live versus recording, his electric friends, how some people perceive Swim to be his dark album and how to win over the doom metal crowd.
Even with the worldwide chart-smash of "Bang Bang Bang" under her belt as part of Mark Ronson's Business International, Amanda Warner aka MNDR is still something of an underground unknown to the general populace. Having spent the last 10 years making music with psychedelic oddities Triangle, or more recently as MNDR, it's been a non-stop battle that's about to pay off for this Fargo, North Dakota farm girl. With the media baggage ascribed Ronson in the UK from to his work with Amy Winehouse and his own Versions album, MNDR's French-slinging co-write on "Bang Bang Bang" arrived at the right time for everybody to sit up and take notice.
Part extreme noise terror, part euphoria, East London’s Factory Floor have made a name for themselves as being loud and uncompromising, or as they stress in the interview below "brutal". Having walked half-way in during their set supporting American synth act Cold Cave earlier this year, Factory Floor's performance was very much a "what the fuck?" moment, unsure as to either quickly vacate the room or take stock of the diffused electronic/industrial free-form concotions they were composing. We stayed, with reservations... Chris Berkley of Static caught up with Gabriel Gurnsey and Nik Colk from Factory Floor shortly after their appearance at the Offset Festival in London in September to find out more.
Astute music fans have probably heard of the genre chillwave – a blend of 80s synths, psychedelic pop and liberal amounts of distortion – put upon acts like Memory Tapes, Toro Y Moi and Nite Jewel. The band most closely associated with that word is Neon Indian whose main man Alan Palomo, who also has a solo project VEGA, had a chat to Chris Berkley recently in London about the c-word, the beginnings of Psychic Chasms, the Yacht remix, his collaborations with Australian dance merchants Miami Horror, how he loves to make music that messes with people’s heads and the forthcoming Australian tour for the Texan group.
Sometimes the best music is just under your nose, as in literally right under your nose on your desk hiding in a spindle of CDs. That’s what happened with Melbourne's Black Cab as after receiving a promo of their third album Call Signs mid last year it was put on said spindle and largely forgotten about until the video for the first single, the chugging rock epic “Church of Berlin” was seen, which quickly made me hunt out the promo disc and give it my full, rapt attention. With Calls Signs recently being given an European release we talked to Andrew and Steve about their visit to the sunshine state, the sexiness of “Sexy Polizei”, the allure of Germany as a source for lyrics, covering alternative classics and new recordings.
In the cockney rhyming slang lexicon there really should be an entry marked "Gemma Ray" that translates to "The Hard Way" for the sultry Essex singer's career is one filled with false starts, battles with illness and sheer bloody mindedness. Barely finished from touring her last album Ray has just released an album of covers It's a Shame About Ray which draws its song pool from the likes of Buddy Holly, Lee Hazelwood, Etta Fitzgerald, Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, Gallon Drunk and The Gun Club. Webcuts catches up with the brunette with the beehive during a tour in South Africa to talk knives, the new album, Rosemary's Baby, illness affecting songwriting and the recording of new material.
Originally they were The Muslims but now they have a less volatile name, The Soft Pack, and a more polished repertoire as heard on their self titled debut. Touring that album in Australia they spent some quality time with Static's Chris Berkley who got to the beginnings of how the band formed, that name change, the San Diego and LA rock scenes, surfing, the prestigious honour of being covered by Nada Surf and the possibility of covering some Australian indie classics.
The cross overs. Every year has them; bands that get touched by the hand of hype and go from being blogged about to actually selling significant quantities of records/MP3s along with world wide tour schedules and high billed festival slots. This year one of those bands is Brooklyn’s The Drums who have certainly enjoyed a lot of column pixels and radio play on the strength of their back to basics c86 indie-pop as imagined by Phil Spector self titled debut album and its omnipresent lead single “Let’s Go Surfing”. Static’s Chris Berkley has a drink with three quarters of the band for a lesson in how to avoid being drowned by the waves of success.
During their recent visit to Australia for Splendour in the Grass we caught up with LCD Soundsystem's main man James Murphy who gave us reason to put away the hankies for LCD's much reported demise - "It’s not necessarily the last record. I would make another record. It’s more the end of this part – three records that go together, an arc. We became a bigger band than I ever expected. Something needs to stop, for me, for us all to be happy." He also waxes lyrical about making the record in the LA of his imagination, growing up and wanting kids, his Greenburg soundtrack experience and his many and varied future projects.
When you get down to the nuts and bolts of rock and roll, it's not about how tight your jeans are or how good your stylist is, it's about the music. It's about the song. For some bands in particular, it's about the pop song. Two and half minutes of spun gold that held your attention long after the needle left the record. Few bands embodied the spirit of the sublime '60s pop song than The Primitives. Sitting backstage at The Scala in London, Webcuts catches up with Tracy and Paul to rewind the clock and to talk about the events that brought The Primitives into the 21st Century and what lies ahead for the band.
Is there anything more cliched than the rock and roll break-up? Secret meetings in dark alleys. The guitarist that suddenly pops up on other people's records. The singer who doesn't return their calls. You either see it coming a mile away, or it creeps up on you like old age. It happens to the best and it happens to the worst, and eventually it will happen to them all. Piss and moan about it all you like, but what's done is done. The latest induction to the rock and roll hall of "fuck this shit for a laugh" are Webcuts' favourite punk sons, The Scare.
For The Morning Benders, a big echo doesn't necessarily mean a big noise, but the latter is certainly what these Californian boys encountered following the release of their sophomore album Big Echo earlier this year, easily giving Webcuts one of our favourite albums of 2010. Perfectly formed and lavishly constructed, Big Echo stretched its influences across the decades, from the lush '60s doo-wop harmonies of "Excuses", the '70s Californian pop-rock of "All Day Day Light" to the peer rivaling, stark echoes (which the album lives up to its name) of "Hand Me Downs".
The new Stars album The Five Ghosts is a focused and streamlined record that in some ways harks back to their synth-pop roots of their first album, albeit being much darker in tone and theme. While Stars' diminutive front-man Torquil Campbell, and its glamorous front-woman Amy Millan, may get the most of the star light we recently had words with the quiet achiever of the band, Evan Cranley. Evan reveals to us details about the process and direction that the new album took, the decision behind the Séance EP, his jack of all trades role in the band, the novel approach to touring the new songs and how to create a fantastic remix.
A Tale of Two Cities? Not bloody likely. While both appear on the forthcoming Laneway bill Cloud Control and Rat vs Possum are worlds apart and aren't harbingers of any Sydney or Melbourne scene. Although there are groups of like-minded musical acts in all Australian cities and towns they're is no discernible Sydney sound or Melbourne sound. Cloud Control's indie-folk rubs shoulders with Parades' and Jonathan Boulet's dense polyglot pop while Rat vs Possum's tribal skewed pop sounds share the same general geography as Love Connection's murky shoegaze and Super Wild Horses girl fronted garage. It's not where you come from, it's where you're at.
Villagers is the nom de plume of one Conor O'Brien, the young Irish gent with the piercing blue eyes positioned above these words. Having released his debut album Becoming A Jackal on Domino Records last month to widespread acclaim (surely topping the album charts in Ireland is nothing to be sneered at), O'Brien has been steadfast in moving his Villagers around the country like a pack of wayward Irish gypsies.
I'd heard murmurings of a Melbourne band who subscribed to the "let's give them a real show" theory of concert performance - glitter, paint bombs and bubble wrap - along with a huge wall of chanting sound. When they visited Brisbane's Hangar I poked my head in but the place was so rammed I couldn't
With their fourth album My Maudlin Career Glasgow's Camera Obscura shifted further away from their indie pop origins to create their own take on Bacharachian orchestral pop and '60s soul contrasted against sparse country melancholy. Keyboardist and backing vocalist Carey Lander talks about joining the band, meeting Lloyd Cole, the orchestral and country elements in their sound and how they came to cover the Boss.
Spoon's latest album, Transference, seemed to show the band finding new ways to tie their own shoelaces, searching out their own "Mystery Zone" or what Britt Daniel will later say in the interview "we gotta try to please ourselves first". Notable for being our first interview where the band asks us the questions, Spoon have perhaps realised there's more to making music than pleasing yourself. You've still got to please your Mom too...
New York has definitely handed over its crown as being home to earthshaking epicentre of what's hot, hip, and happening. These days all eyes are firmly focused on the eclectic sounds of the West Coast -- as it seems that every single band we talk right now calls the place home. With Katy Perry (of all people) singing the praises of California Girls, just like the Beach Boys did in the 60's, so are we with Los Angeles' Dum Dum Girls.
We hunt down Ed Droste from Brooklyn's Grizzly Bear and get our claws into their move from a studio to live band, how they keep songs fresh, and how they came to record with Yacht rock legend Michael McDonald: "Michael McDonald is one of the coolest Yacht rockers around. We let him know we were fans and he ended up coming to a show and we really liked him and approached him with the idea and he was totally excited to do it."
Finding unexpected notoriety through their collaboration with electronic arsonists Crystal Castles, Los Angeles Noise Rock quartet HEALTH have been a prominent musical force in the LA scene over the past couple of years. With their second album Get Colour released late last year, the band have evolved beyond being nihilistic noise makers into an act that is pushing the textural accessibility switch.
We trap the loudest band the land - A Place to Bury Strangers - in the Static studios to talk the good talk about their beginnings, effects pedals and not being labeled shoegaze, but are disappointed to learn that they aren't in fact the loudest band from New York -- "Jono: It was Time Out New York, they came to our rehearsal studio and had a decibel meter while we were rehearsing, but then they went to Music Hall of Williamsburg, which is this huge 500-capacity venue and then they recorded Black Dice and they were louder than us."
The Dead Weather are a band that more than live up to their name. Dark and bluesy, malevolent and loud. Given the rock credentials brought by each of the musicians attached, you expect nothing less. A multi-headed musical beast comprised of Alison Mosshart, the chain-smoking siren from The Kills, Jack White, leader of the status: in hiatus White Stripes, Dean Fertita of Queens of The Stone Age and Jack Lawrence of The Raconteurs. With a new album Sea of Cowards about to be released, we speak to Alison, Jack, and Dean.
“Listening again to everything The Hold Steady recorded. Is this the greatest American band now? They just got me through a rough month.” Bret Easton Ellis, Twitter Nov 2009. Lauded by fans, critics and other creative minds for the scope, depth, truth and heart that they bring to chronicling the American rock myth, Craig Finn and Tad Kubler of The Hold Steady hold court to discuss (via impersonal record label Q&A) their forthcoming blue collar opus Heaven is Whenever, due for release on May 3.
We chew the fat with The Horrors on their recent Australian tour about last year's remarkable second album Primary Colours, and their thoughts on cover versions: "I think it’s a funny idea that this is a conversation you’re more likely to have now than at any other time in the history of rock ’n’ roll, considering most bands really started playing cover versions, being The Beatles or The Stones or even the Sex Pistols. It was something that was just kind of part and parcel of being in a group and part of a live repertoire."
A firm favourite last year with those of a pop persuasion was the debut album of Brooklyn four-piece, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. An example of youthful exuberance and melodic indulgences, The Pains (is it ok to call them that?) were as easy to swallow as a chocolate sundae with all the toppings -- and just as addictive and in no way fattening. Recently on tour in Australia, we spoke with guitarist Kip Berman.
From the Dresden Dolls to her solo album, Amanda Palmer has never been less than a bold and intriguing character in American rock music. In Australia for a slew of live dates we talk to the force of nature herself about her engagement to Neil Gaiman, her Golden Globes outfit switch-a-roo, the controversy surrounding her new Evelyn Evelyn project, what's on her bed side table and a dream involving Anna Pavlova wearing a spacesuit... and God.
Forever known as Nick Cave's red right hand in the Birthday Party, Rowland was the purveyor of that skeletal, metallic guitar style that along with the bass growl of Tracey Pew, defined the sound of the band. Speaking to Static's Chris Berkley, only a few weeks before his passing, Rowland S. Howard recounts his extensive career and his brief return to music with Pop Crimes.
You've probably seen the x-rated video clip for "Lust for Life". The 'penis as microphone' image is something you really don't recall seeing in pop videos these days, either then or now (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). As vague and internet-search challenging as calling your band Girls is, Christopher Owens and Chet "JR" White are both neither, and are, so to speak.
Sydney art-pop quintet Dappled Cities have steadily grown in status in the last ten years with 2006’s Granddance and their most recent psyche-pop opus Zounds. Last year, we spoke to Dave Rennick, guitarist and vocalist of Dappled Cities about birthing and touring the album.
A first (and probably last) for Webcuts as we jump in the back of a tour van and hit the road with ex-Brisbane trouble makers, now Sydney's problem, The Scare, as they attempt to corrupt the people of Melbourne with their new 'voodoo, and nothing, not even the death of Michael Jackson, was going to get in their way.
...And we got them. Darren Lackie drummer from Glasgow's anthem driven rock band We Were Promised Jetpacks does the honours - "We've learnt from our mistakes recording the first album though so who knows with the next one (please let us have a next one, I don't want a job)"
Cassie, Katy and Ali aka Vivian Girls are back again with their sophomore album Everything Goes Wrong and we caught up with them in a place where nothing ever goes wrong, unless you have a show scheduled at the Hopetoun Hotel this week (fyi girls - it's closed).