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Gig Review: Thumpers + Tales in Space + Billy Fox

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Thumpers might seem like a strange name for a band, but it won’t after experiencing the syncopated, pounding rhythms they bring to their live shows. And this well-managed sound was certainly a pleasant surprise for the casual audience that made it down to Newtown Social Club on Thursday.

As the crowd gently trickled in, Billy Fox filled the room with swirling electronic notes that brought to mind San Francisco producer Tycho, combined with snappier vocals to lift the mood. His offbeat sense of humour matched a quirky sense of style, and managed to lighten up the quiet audience.

 

Tales in Space started to draw a larger audience with an intriguingly in-sync rhythm guitar section and bass line that made them seem almost like a parody band. But these guys meant business, pulling out all the stops with nicely placed indie rock harmonies and even a cosmic cover of George Michael’s sultry “Careless Whisper” (a riff like that sax line never goes astray, I can tell you).

 

UK act Thumpers followed and showed the audience just how much fun they could have, with great chemistry on stage between friends. In fact, there was so much going on that it made me stop and realise just how much it’s easy to miss in a recording. From getting the audience in on the action by clapping, to a complex patchwork of syncopated vocal rhythms, there was a lot being put into their sound and none of it was lost on stage. “Tame” was a standout track in this respect, creating an interesting weave of beats.

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“We’re used to having an eleven-piece ensemble on stage, but we couldn’t afford to fly them all out,” apologised lead vocalist Marcus Pepperell. But Newtown Social Club proved once again to be a space that facilitates effective mixing of the sound, allowing each member of the band to shine, and bringing out the particularly lovely backup vocals just enough. The final track “Unkinder (A Tougher Love)” got people moving and encouraged some (ahem, braver) members of the audience to dance like no one was watching.

 

Thumpers gave a spirited performance to a relaxed audience and revealed their rhythmic prowess. Check out their debut album Galore, out now.

By Erin Rooney

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EP Highlights: Mesa by Akouo

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Artist: Akouo
Album: Mesa EP
Hometown: Northern Tasmania, TAS
Genre: Indie Electronic

After seeing Ryan Farrington AKA Akouo support SAFIA on their single tour, he demonstrated to the audience pretty quickly that he’s one to keep a close eye on. Transforming dance floors with his heavy beats, and more importantly, his electrifying energy, one listen to this EP will give you only a snapshot of his talent.

“Last Time” is a perfect example of Akouo’s ability to drop a beat. Listen, and just try not to bounce. Alternatively, if you want to ease into his beat-heavy style of producing, take a look at what he’s done with Flume/George Maple’s “Bring You Down”:

 

“Not Enough” follows on from this strong start, leading with important vocals but dropping back to bring fluctuating rhythms forward. “Passing Through” and “Seas Roll On” are more restrained tracks, exploring simpler themes and repeating vocal lines.

There is a lot of variety on this EP which can be easy to overlook, exhibiting a number of influences from indie music to soul pop and hip hop.

 

A solid release from Akouo, but if you want to truly experience his music, catch one of his live shows. Word on the street is that he’ll soon be moving to mainland Australia so there should be many more of those!

By Erin Rooney

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Gig Review: Kishi Bashi + Swimwear

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If someone had told me that I was in for a night of complex violin looping, discussions of creation theory, layers of vocal harmonies sped up to high-pitched wailing, and beat boxing before I’d listened to, or even heard of, Japanese-American artist Kishi Bashi, I probably would have told them that that was going to be a bit too strange for my tastes. And it was strange, don’t get me wrong. In the most wondrous, enlightening kind of way. 

Though the space in the Newtown Social Club band room doesn’t lend itself too well to support acts, Sydney act Swimwear did a great job of bringing energy to the stage. He stepped through the sleepy crowd lounging on the floor and brought some of the best dance moves this century has probably seen so far to “Nowhere to Run”.

 

As soon as Kishi Bashi came on though, the crowd jumped up to its stations, and it started to get pretty evident that the show was sold out – so evident that Kishi Bashi himself invited a bunch of people to hang on stage to make more room. With a couple of jumpy starts (as this was his first solo show in a while), the show started to feel like we’d been invited to his studio for a personal violin looping workshop. But then he really got going.

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Impressing with “Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!”, then enchanting with “Wonder Woman, Wonder Me”, Ishibashi glided through his set, and revealed some gems amongst crowd favourites, thanks to the intimate nature of the performance. He meshed sounds in ways you’ve never heard a violin played before, and was a true perfectionist (as one must need to be when working with over six violin and vocal layers).

 

But the main highlight was the stories he told through his songs and in between – from the love and friendship of “Q+A” to his own theory of creation in “Bittersweet Genesis for Him and Her”. This is where he formed the connection with his fans, and the show went further than his already fascinating recordings.

Kishi Bashi has gone from strength to strength with this strange yet wonderful solo project. His second album Lighght is out now, and is a truly mystical listen.

By Erin Rooney

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Song of the Week: Comes and Goes by Covey

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Now that winter has officially arrived the need for some snuggle worthy tunes has arisen, ‘Comes and Goes’ by British singer songwriter Covey is the perfect listen.

With his warm and soothing vocals and charming good looks, Covey is slowly starting to stand out in the crowded indie music scene. This track has a rich sound and upbeat rhythm and really does warm your soul as you listen. You will get lost in the lyrics and be transported somewhere special, have a listen:

 

With experiences growing up all over the world, it is clear Covey has a unique maturity and array of influences in his voice, working together beautifully and allowing for a powerful sound to shine through.

By Sophie Henry

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Top Ten Female Artists we’re loving right now

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It’s been a while since we’ve posted anything, and we thought we’d come back with a bang. I’ve noticed my music library looking very male-dominated of late, so decided to put together a big old list of female artists we’re loving at the moment, new and old alike. NB: This list is by no means exhaustive and we welcome suggestions!

10. Class Actress. 

This Brooklyn babe combines guitar and synth to make pop that rocks. Her music is the kind you want in the background of your favourite indie bar while you search for your friends.

 

9. Airling

After supporting James Vincent McMorrow’s shows at the Sydney Opera House, Airling AKA Hannah Shepherd is making waves as a female electronica artist. Her tunes (and her look), are simply ghostly.

 

8. Tiny Ruins

Based in New Zealand, Tiny Ruins started as a solo project by Hollie Fullbrook, but has since seen bassist Cass Basil and drummer Alexander Freer join the group. They explore simple and beautiful musical moments and make the listener feel at peace.

 

7. Kimbra

Another New Zealander, Kimbra has recently had a bit of a musical turnaround from her usual soulful pop to a more electric sound with her release “90s Music”. I didn’t particularly like it at first, but what can I say – it’s a catchy tune and it grows on you.

 

6. Clare Bowditch

An oldie but a goodie, Clare Bowditch has been prominent on the Australian music scene over radio and through her music, and writes sweet quirky folk tunes. Check out her album The Moon Looked On for a listen to just this.

 

5. Elizabeth Rose

Leaving her mark both locally and overseas, this Sydney gal has brought a unique energy to the electronic genre. One to keep an eye on, expect big things from her in the future.

 

4. Laura Marling 

Hailing from the UK, Marling is another folk songstress creating meaningful and heartfelt music, and at the age of 24 she has already released 4 studio albums. Her debut album Alas I Cannot Swim (2008) earned her a lot of love in Australia and she has been unstoppable ever since!

 

3. MØ

Karen Marie Ørsted is a Danish dame making some powerful pop tunes that throw back to old school influences. Can’t put my finger on it but something about her really reminds me of Grease the musical and makes me want to throw on a prom dress and dance with my sweetheart. 

 

2. St. Vincent

She’s been called the David Bowie of our generation and performed a stunning set for Vivid LIVE this year at the Sydney Opera House that attendees won’t forget. St. Vincent is quirky and has attitude, which makes her a unique addition to this list.

 

1. Cults

I’ve been following Cults for a couple of years and I never get tired of them. Madeline Follin is one of my favourite female frontwomen as she has steered clear of cliché and made a distinctive sound with her voice alongside guitarist Brian Oblivion.

 

Who are your favourites? Drop us a comment below!

By Erin Rooney