Sat Nam and welcome to The Witching Hour, a podcast exploring the metaphysical side of music. My name is Sophie Miles and it was a real joy to talk music and spirituality for this month’s podcast with someone whose music I have always treasured, Chan Marshall aka Cat Power.
In the same generous and gentle spirit which has always guided her music, Chan shared her thoughts about the spiritual journey that has led to her new album, Wanderer.
We talked about trauma, compassion and empathy, and the sense of responsibility she feels as an artist to speak out on the issues of our times.
Please enjoy, the Wonderment of Cat Power.
(Photo by Julien Bourgeois)
Cool Sounds are a new Melbourne outfit fronted by maths whiz Dainis Lacey and featuring members of much-loved local bands including The Ocean Party, Ciggie Witch, and No Local. Their forthcoming album Cactus Country marks a shift towards country and ’70s soft rock, both of which are evident on first single ‘Cassandra’.
“It’s a different take on ‘Mrs. Robinson’,” says the band, “with snare drums and a bit more of a bellyache.”
To celebrate the cliche of naming songs after women, bassist Nick Kearton curated a playlist about five more girls and how he “met” them.
I was working at The Tote and Teeth & Tongue were playing upstairs for some reason, maybe it was a warm-up for another show? I was stocking the upstairs bar while they were sound checking and the melody of this song stuck in my head for ages. I walked around humming it all night not knowing what the track was and unable to remember where I’d heard it. I assumed I’d just written a smash hit melody, but sadly Teeth & Tongue had already written it.
It took me a long while to work out that this band wasn’t the Melbourne band Peak Twins. I’m glad I eventually worked it out, because they’re both great bands and very different. The American Twin Peaks are one of the bands we rorted our indie country style from and we’re going to be playing with them soon at The Northcote Social Club in Melbourne. I hope we haven’t ripped them off to hard or it might be awkward.
My girlfriend Rose’s mum and dad are in The Bats. I learned her dad’s bass line from ‘Made Up In Blue’ long before I met Rose and I play it to soundcheck all the time because it’s so fun to play. I can’t tell if that’s weird or not, but for some reason I’m a bit embarrassed by it. ‘Claudine’ is one of my favourite Bats songs and there are a lot of good ones to choose from.
For a long time, I knew I was supposed to like Todd Rundgren, but when you buy his records second hand, it’s a total lottery. I thought everyone was faking affection for him at first until I got Something/Anything. It’s now apparent to me that he rules and most of the contemporary ’70s soft rock style music that people are into is just a Todd tribute. Go Todd.
Local music identity Tom Lyngcoln once said that everyone in my family have “cold dead shark eyes” and that the singer from The Walkmen also does. I was stoked to hear that because it’s obviously totally badass and I love The Walkmen.
Laneway Festival’s Dom O’Connor picks out the best tracks of the month – from a mysterious Sydney duo to Lil Uzi Vert’s first single in almost a year.
The first single from this mysterious new Sydney duo is a cinematic slow-burner with a soulful bend to it. Not quite a bait and switch, ‘Are You All Good?’ seems content to casually burrow its hook further into the listener’s brain, matching a trip-hoppy breakbeat with swirling strings that reach their crescendo in the song’s final chorus.
It’s easy to write the 1975 off, but you’d be writing off one of modern pop’s most interesting bands, constantly unafraid to fuck with their audience. ‘Sincerity Is Scary’ is another bold left-turn from Matt Healy and his cohorts; his yearning, high voice matched by a choir of voices in the chorus. ‘Sincerity Is Scary’ isn’t just a title, it’s an ethos for Healy’s achingly real explorations of his own psyche within the pop music pantheon. As he continues to release single after single of great pop music, he’s clearly living up to his own lofty standards.
Although Sydney’s Body Type have been exploring new terrains of jangle and twang for more than a year as a band, ‘Palms’ has a noticeable immediacy to it. The vocals in the chorus bounce around like ping-pong balls, the guitars playfully intertwine, while the rhythm section keeps a motorik groove throughout. It’s a playful slice of loveable jangle-pop that’s impossible not to get swept up in.
There’s not a bad track on the new Yves Tumor record Safe In The Hands Of Nothing, but ‘Economy of Freedom’ is the most obvious standout: a pummelling soundscape that encompasses several moods and feelings within its five minutes. The synth blasts hit with a force, while the pitch-shifted vocals add to the general sense of unease that permeates proceedings. The song’s second half – where a trappy 808 kicks in – is the perfect counterpoint to the more astral leanings of the first, providing the listener with the type of denouement most musicians can only dream of.
Kaiit’s music has an easygoing, breezy lightness to it that belies the obvious musicality present. On ‘Duffman’, her voice is casually lovely, riding over a break-beat and coo-ing harmonies in the chorus. There’s an effortlessness to the brilliance of ‘Duffman’; Kaiit’s voice skirting between rapping and singing like her former tour-mate Syd Bennett. It’s another winning single from Kaiit, who’s gaining fans at a rapid rate in both her native Melbourne and around the country.
For the rest of his career, ‘XO TOUR Llif3′ will probably follow Lil Uzi Vert. He can’t be angry – it’s the most pure, perfect distillation of his aesthetic. His first single in almost a year, ‘New Patek’ isn’t as immediate but proves that ‘TOUR Llif3’ wasn’t a fluke. Uzi’s pained, high-voiced delivery is in fine form as he spits typically mush-mouthed flexes over a jaunty piano and sub-rattling beats. It’s the first taste of the Eternal Atake project he’s been teasing for a few months now.
Melbourne’s most-loved sharpies are back with a relatively hi-fi, hard-edged rave-up with a typically snotty vocal performance from Amy(l) Taylor. The first taste of Amyl’s upcoming debut record, ‘Some Mutts’ positively simmers with a power-chord fuelled rage. It’s an instant shot to the system from one of Melbourne’s most promising bands. It’ll be exciting to see where they can go after miles of touring with labelmates King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard under their belts.
Laneway Festival’s Dom O’Connor picks out the best tracks of the month – from the return of Chance The Rapper to the continued rise of Compton rapper/producer Channel Tres.
As successful as Chance’s last few years have been, his transition into one of mainstream rap’s most likeable rappers has meant sacrificing the irreverent, druggy Chance that first charmed audiences on Soundcloud-only mixtapes ‘Acid Rap’ and ‘10 Day’. ‘I Might Need Security’ isn’t a back-to-basics return, but the pleasantly acidic “fuck you” sample and Chance’s acerbic one-liners might go someway to reminding lapsed fans of Chancellor Bennett of his considerable talents.
Brisbane’s Chakra Efendi meld twinkly, math-y guitar lines with sullen, deep-voiced affirmations of ageing on ‘Grow Up’. There’s a dash of American Football in the winding, spindly figure that makes up the song’s first half, but the catch-and-release that defines its second half is pure catharsis, never reaching all-out fury but remaining seethingly restrained until its final notes.
Channel Tres’s debut single ‘Controller’ came out of nowhere to be one of the year’s earworms, and ‘Jet Black’ is a further exploration of everything that made ‘Controller’ so successful – the deep-voiced, half-spoken vocals, fierce bass line and Detroit house synths all remain. However, ‘Jet Black’ trades in ‘Controller’’s immediacy for a bouncy groove that unfurls slowly throughout, an impressive follow-up that furthers and solidifies Channel Tres’ growing discography.
‘Make Time 4 Love’ isn’t a reinvention of the Goon Sax’s wheel, but it’s an adult refinement of everything that worked on their 2016 debut Up To Anything, released when the band couldn’t legally drink. It’d be remiss not to mention the heavy resemblance to the Go-Betweens’ ‘Love Goes On’ (member Louis Forster’s dad is frontman Robert Forster) in the lilting acoustic guitars and swelling strings, but ‘Make Time 4 Love’ is no mere imitation – it’s one of the year’s most beautifully sincere love songs.
The first single from the former Tigertown singer, ‘Wish You Were Here’ sways invitingly under Charlie’s breathy voice. It’s remarkably considered and developed for a first single, from the wistful guitars to the propulsive drums, making ‘Wish You Were Here’ a lovely, engrossing start to a new chapter for Charlie.
070 Shake’s career so far has been defined by a specific minute of music – her scene-stealing cameo on Kanye’s ‘Ghost Town’, her voice a clarion call of positivity atop that album’s mountaintop of anxiety and stress. ‘Accusations’ picks up where that song left off, the woozy beats providing her elastic voice with a bedrock in the chorus. ‘Accusations’ is a reminder that Shake has the charisma and voice to carry entire tracks on her own.
South Londoner Westerman has been around for a minute, however his golden run of singles in 2018 (‘Confirmation’, ‘Edison’, and now ‘Easy Money’) has solidified his warped, easy-listening pop as an exciting new sound. ‘Easy Money’ takes its sweet time to build, relying on Westerman’s innocent falsetto and buzzing guitars to create a palpable sense of mood and atmosphere. ‘Easy Money’ remains beguilingly catchy to its last seconds, refusing to go where the listener wants it to.