FIVE years ago my wife and I honeymooned across America, renting a car and driving through most of the South, eating barbecue and sweating profusely during a hot summer.
We planned the entire holiday around restaurants we wanted to eat at and then found fun things to do in between them. But mostly it was just a tonne of driving, rap blaring from our car speakers while we regretted eating that last serve of brisket.
One of the best stretches of road was from Houston to New Orleans. Houston is a lot more industrial than the colourful Austin, where we’d been beforehand, and driving away from the home of NASA and Screwed Up Records And Tapes towards the vibrant NOLA was exciting.
Crossing from the Texas state line and doing 85 miles per hour down Louisiana Highway 10 (LA-10), overlooking the green swamps of the Atchafalaya Basin, listening to a bunch of Screw tapes I bought as we left Houston was one of my fondest memories of the trip.
Halfway through the drive we stopped at Breaux Bridge and got a box of freshly boiled crawfish to munch on the next three hours to New Orleans.
We’ve got two kids now. That’s a trip we won’t be taking again anytime soon. But we can try to relive it through this episode, featuring a bunch of rap from Houston at the start, some New Orleans rap at the end, and a few songs from the cities in between (Baton Rouge, Port Arthur, Morgan City).
Pretend you’re driving over a swamp while you listen to this one.
1. UGK – Ain’t That A Bitch (featuring Devin The Dude)
2. 5th Ward Boyz – Thanks For The Blessing (featuring Bushwick Bill and Devin The Dude)
3. Mr Pookie & Mr Lucci – Roll Something
4. Critical Condition – Bout To Go Down (featuring Bun B and Pimp C)
5. Boosie – It’s Goin Down
6. Young Bleed – Better Than The Last Time (featuring C-Loc and Maxminelli)
7. Partners-N-Crime – Let The Good Times Roll (featuring Prime Time)
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.
Indie rock trio RAAVE TAPES have become notorious in their native Newcastle for DIY parties and venue takeovers featuring some of their favourite bands.
The latest instalment will see 17 acts – including Haiku Hands, Press Club, Vacations, and Totty – play over three venues at local institution The Cambridge Hotel. It’s clear RAAVE TAPES have a deep affinity for their hometown, so we asked singer Joab Eastley to tell us about the city’s “seething creative underbelly”.
Newcastle is an interesting city. A place known for its pristine beaches and reliance on rapidly diminishing coal deposits. In some circles emphasis is slowly beginning to be placed on its seething creative underbelly.
Since the dizzying heights of our silverchair forefathers, our biggest musical contribution to the national dialogue has been the sound of waves crashing on the Pasha Bulka’s hull as it washed up on Nobbys Beach in 2007. While that statement may be delivered with tongue planted firmly in cheek, here’s our predictions as to which current Newcastle artists have the potential to make some proverbial waves of their own.
Roughly a year ago, a 17-year-old Tilly Murphy recorded a shoegaze dream pop album in her bedroom and chucked it up on Bandcamp. Flash forward 12 months and she can now legally drink a vodka pineapple cruiser and has just completed her first lap of the country. ‘YUK!’ documents Tilly’s hopeless mind-set while coping with a bout of glandular fever. We’re still so damned shocked at how much conviction and authenticity this young artist has managed to cram into two minutes, 30 seconds. I for one welcome our new FRITZ overlord.
I have lost track of how many times I’ve been locked in a warm embrace in the middle of a crowd with my closest friends belting out the lyrics to this song. We’ve watched Big Vac go from playing to 20 people in the pouring rain at a crammed Merewether house party, to dominating stages all across Europe – all with minimal backing from radio. They are a testament to the musical ecosystem in which they developed and poster children for the power of the playlist. Filled with hazy, romantic nostalgia for their hometown suburb, the lyrics of ‘Hamilton South’ become ever more poignant as their meteoric rise takes them further and further abroad. This one means a lot to me.
One of the most common revelations people have regarding PALS is, “…they’re all so damned lovely?” Their warm off-stage demeanour is far from the raw, introspective post-punk they convey on stage and their live show is simply enormous. Special mention must be made to their drummer Fraser Marshall. Not only is he one of the best skin slappers in town, he also produces a bunch of local bands in his DIY home studio – including all recent RAAVE TAPES singles. ‘Consumed’ sounds like a long lost b-side from Cloud Nothings’ Attack On Memory. It’s a frenetic take on dealing with social anxiety and showcases everything we love about PALS.
Grace has been carving out a glowing reputation as a soloist for many years, often found peddling heart wrenching folk ballads at The Hamo or The Lass. It’s scientifically proven you can’t have a conversation about Grace Turner without somebody in the room screaming, “THAT VOICE.” Her latest single ‘Dead or Alive’ sees her production step into a more pop-oriented direction, which all the more emphasises the bittersweet melancholy of her song writing.
Most Novocastrian experiences of live electronic music consist of dancing to So Fresh Hits Of Winter 2005 remixes in a series of dingy night clubs. I love The Veronicas as much as the next person, but will concede that Newcastle is left wanting when it comes to alternative electronic music. E4 is the outlier. Nobody in Newcastle is pushing boundaries quite like him and we have him on every bill possible. His 2007 EP These Waves is a best consumed whole, but ‘Bluewalking’ is a solid first taste. It bursts out of the gates with that huge chorus hook and effortlessly weaves between a sea of countermelodies and an intricate textural pallet.
At one point last year it felt as though dave were playing three shows a week in Newcastle and people always showed up. The three-piece doesn’t pull any punches with their brand of what-you-see-is-what-you-get Australiana-tinged rock. Combine that with their inarguably airtight live shows, you can’t help but nod your head and smile with everybody’s old mate – dave. Taste these ‘Eggiwegs’ and prove me wrong. Dare ya.
As his mattress-inspired moniker alludes to, sweet boy Bobby makes summer tinged bedroom pop. Combining lo-fi drum loops with understated guitar lines and tender vocals, ‘Step Back, Fade Away’ showcases King Single’s ability to convey emotive themes without overcomplicating things.
KP may have moved to Melbourne well before I had anything to do with the Newcastle music scene, but heck yeah, you know we’re going to claim her like an ARIA board member listening to Crowded House in 1987. Puru is one of the most celebrated voices in Australian music and ‘Tension’ is a straight-up disco pop earworm.
Four high school best friends start a punk band, sing a song about the pokies and next thing you know they’re on stage at Groovin The Moo. That’s the way these stories always turn out, yeah? Far from an overnight success, years of relentless touring and just being genuinely lovely people is beginning to pay off for these Kotara High rascals.
The scene that spawned RAAVE TAPES owes everything to our Gooch parents. We watched with wide eyes as they traversed the country, carving out a garage-rock DIY blueprint for us to follow. They proved to us it could be done. I still remember the jubilant screenshots and group chats lighting up each time one of our friends received an offer to support them every time their tour rolled into town. ‘You’ is as close as our scene will get to a national anthem. Thank you Kat and Leroy <3
Laneway Festival’s Dom O’Connor picks out the best tracks of the month – from a typically hard-hitting return from Freddie Gibbs top the latest from the South London scene that produced Shame.
Indiana’s finest is back with a typically hard-hitting mixtape and an incredible promo video to boot. ‘Automatic’ is the mixtape’s finest moment, Freddie riding a thudding boom-bap beat with the utmost confidence. He sounds invigorated on ‘Automatic’, a fine showcase for his superlative flow and technique. It’s good to have him back, and as a taster for his long-rumoured next collaboration with Madlib, a fantastic whetting of the appetite for new music.
‘Fade’ runs the whole gamut of emotions, in slightly over three minutes. The initial transition from the achingly-fragile intro to the shoegazey textures of the rest of the song is a perfect bait-and-switch, the contrasting sections illuminated by the swirling guitars and Hamilton’s voice rising in time with them. ‘Fade’ is undeniably cinematic in sections, but it’s also matched by its conciseness – it peaks just as many songs would only begin to get going; an auteur’s trick to always leave the audience wanting more.
Between the MF Doom feature and the sample-heavy instrumentation, you’d be forgiven for thinking ‘Drop The Bomb’ was a new Avalanches track. Instead, it’s the first single of a new collaboration between Klaxons honcho Jamie Reynolds and Gorillaz sideman Jeff Wootton. ‘Drop The Bomb’ sits in that perfect middle ground between eerie and cosmic, utilising the most focused Doom verse in years for an immediately gratifying slice of lo-fi hip-hop.
The latest out of a particularly fertile South London scene (think Shame, Goat Girl), Sorry are the most willingly-discordant of the bunch. ‘Showgirl’ simmers with a barely-contained uneasiness, off-kilters guitar lines twirling around singer Asha Lorenz’s breathy delivery. The seedy, restrained sense of menace draws the listener in and refuses to let up.
Enigmatic Melbourne producer Christopher Port’s new track DTF is an unashamed dance floor-filler. Ignoring his previous penchant for melodic beauty, ‘DTF’ goes straight for the jugular, marrying chopped vocal samples and busy hi-hats. The synths blasts hit with a force, and the synchronisation between them and the hi-hats are a thing of beauty, an example of Port’s skill as both a producer and an arranger.
A whirling misnomer of a track with several parts in motion, ‘Luciday’ has the dense, dissonant production of a Oneohtrix Point Never song alongside the sweetness of a Postal Service melody. There’s a craft in the song’s many layers, and e4444e’s ocker, Australian-accented vocals only accentuate the blunt appeal and immense likeability of ‘Luciday’.
An ode to frontman Joe Talbot’s best friend and immigrants everywhere, ‘Danny Nedelko’ is the sound of a band taking their anger at nationalistic undertones and turning it into a positive, life-affirming sentiment. The rhythm section in ‘Danny Nedelko’ bridles along with fury, before a joyous football-chant chorus contrasts the two sections wonderfully. From the Pavement reference in the second verse to the best in-song spelling since ‘Hollaback Girl’ of a bridge, ‘Danny Nedelko’ is Idles’s crowning achievement as a band so far.
Charmingly scuzzy, ‘Future Me Hates Me’ has unbridled enthusiasm in droves, from the annoyingly-catchy guitar line to Liz Stokes’s downbeat, slacker vocal delivery. The songwriting on ‘Future Me Hates Me’ is deceptively impressive – exceedingly casual on first listen, but remaining perma-stuck in this writer’s brain since then.
Fun fact: Finn Wolfhard from Stranger Things loves Aussie music. And so do his bandmates in Vancouver four-piece Calpurnia. With the release of their debut EP Scout, each band member – Finn, Malcolm Craig, Ayla Tesler-Mabe, and Jack Anderson – picks out their favourite Aussie tracks from present and past.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are probably the most prolific band in the world right now. Their seven members ludicrously pumped put five incredible albums in 2017, rivalling the output of Zappa or Buckethead. ‘Crumbling Castle’ – the opening track from Polygondawandaland – is an epic 11-minute piece full of whacked-out time signatures, microtonality, harmonised 12-string guitar leads, chanting, heavenly flutes, and arpeggiated keyboards. It’s heavily influenced by musical elements from the Middle East, prog rock, and psychedelia, but offers its own unique sound. All of this musical madness crumbles shall we say, into an epic doom metal-esque conclusion in 7/2 time. Oh my god I love this band! – Jack
No one does soulful, groovy and fresh quite like Hiatus Kaiyote. ‘Molasses’ was the first song I ever heard by them, and by the time the song was done I was utterly floored by the profound, poetic lyrics and flawless musicality. The playfulness of the groove is what stands out most about this track, and ‘Molasses’ is a perfect example of the band’s ability to effortlessly intertwine various styles and atmospheres in a single song. Keep an ear out for that cheeky (and amazing!) chord change at 2:16. – Ayla
‘Into My Arms’ is a soulful song that has beautiful lyrics, singing, and piano arrangements. – Finn
My drum teacher introduced me to Tame Impala. He taught me the song ‘Elephant’. From there I started listening to the rest of their music and fell in love. They are a psychedelic explosion of sound in a good way. They were the first band I ever saw live. It was at an outdoor venue and people had climbed the trees around to watch. So yeah, they’re pretty cool. We chose the song ‘Why Won’t They Talk To Me?’ because it’s very pretty and we think it’s underplayed. – Malcolm
Jay Watson is a super busy man right now. He drums for Tame Impala, has his own solo project called Gum and, of course, is in POND. All of this musical output could perhaps suggest that he favours quantity over quality, but he always delivers both. POND’s ‘Giant Tortoise’ is a psych tune with reverb and delay-drenched verses reminiscent of something that could come from Dark Side Of The Moon, but the hook explodes into a fuzzy and scuzzy guitar lead and manic drums. It’s a great introduction to a band who offers so much more. – Jack
This band is my morning “man, I don’t feel so good. I need a pick me up” band. I put it on when I’m having a dirty day and it works every time. I have a soft spot for electro-pop dance grooves. They kind of remind me New Order. I like this song because it’s one that is kinda underplayed but still super sick. – Malcolm
As I learnt more about various cultural and musical movements that existed throughout the 20th Century, I was rather shocked to discover the rampant anti-disco movement that prevailed for a time at the end of the ‘70s. After all, who could possibly hate the Bee Gees?! ‘More Than a Woman’ was one of the first songs I ever heard by them, and to this day I am still completely enraptured by the lusciously cascading and delicately beautiful string arrangement and harmonies. The percussion hidden a little lower in the mix always gets at least your toes tapping (if not your whole body), and the keys are soft, dreamy and deliciously ’70s sounding. Perfect for a song about discovering a love that’s been hiding in plain sight all along. – Ayla
I found Courtney Barnett because I am a big fan of Kurt Vile and he recently teamed up with her for Lotta Sea Lice. Her storytelling and sound is really cool. The song is catchy and edgy but also fun. It also has very true and interesting lyrics. What a banger. – Malcolm
This song is an absolute classic and a banger. I’ve known this song since I was a baby and it introduced me to rock music. – Finn
Little River Band could perhaps be known as Australia’s Steely Dan, and ‘Reminiscing’ cements that. All of the instruments are quite understated, but all play very important roles in the song. Soaring violins and chirpy horns bring subtle crescendos to the song in just the right places. The chorus is as smooth as can be, and when Graeham Goble’s vocals cut through the harmony with the words, “We’ll go dancing in the dark, walking through the park and reminiscing”, it’s bliss. The song doesn’t reflect any of the high tensions in the band at the time, instead it transports you to a sunny day by a Little River. – Jack
Satnam and welcome to The Witching Hour. My name is Sophie Miles and this episode is an amazing conversation with Josiah Wise, aka pagan-gospel artist serpentwithfeet.
Josiah shares his journey from his childhood as a pentecostal choir boy, growing up in a deeply religious Baltimore household, to his explorations of the occult, becoming a crystal healer, an energy worker and a tarot reader.
And how the super sensuous music of serpentwithfeet layers Josiah’s classical training with the biblical language and gospel music he grew up with to create truly magical queer love songs. Josiah talks about the ideas of surrender, devotion and reverence and how these relate to spirituality, music, dating, and intimacy.
We also talk folk magic and also a little bit of emoji therapy. Please enjoy the gospel of serpentwithfeet.
EVES Karydas knows a thing or two about long flights. The Cairns-born singer (formerly known as Eves The Behaviour) has been based in London for the past few years, inspiring a playlist of songs that she likes to put on to “get all emotional to”.
“IT might sound weird but my favourite thing to do when I fly long-haul is to sit and think with a bit of music on,” she says. “I find that flying makes me hyper in-tune with my emotions and it becomes a very meditative experience.”
I’m a big Mazzy Star fan and it’s a song I can just put on repeat. I find her [Hope Sandoval’s] voice incredible and hypnotic as well. It’s a great flying song because it’s relaxing and I can just put it on loop.
This song just reminds me of my childhood. I really love the vibe, the tone, and the colours in it.
This has to be my favourite song off her record [Ctrl]. It’s just so lyrically unique. I’ve never heard a song with lyrics like that before and it’s so relatable. I really love it.
Another one of those super chill, incredible old songs that I love to listen to. It puts me in a good mood.
I only really discovered this song a couple of months ago and it blew me away. Especially the line, “And we’re laughing in the microphone/And singing with our sunglasses on/To our favorite songs.” I want to put myself in that zone.
Rhye has to be one of my favourite new bands – even though they’ve been around for a few years. I really love this song and I like a lot of their new songs that have just been coming out. I love his [Mike Milosh’s] voice. I thought it was a woman when I first heard it.
This song I only discovered recently as well. It’s just like honey, it’s so beautiful, and she’s a very cool artist.
Just a classic. It’s so frolicking and entirely joyful.
I love that whole record [Grace], but it’s my favoruite song off that album and just reminds me when I first moved to London. I started listening to it a lot. Also it’s a really nice, long song that really jams out at the end.
It’s one of my favourite songs of all time. It’s just so beautiful. The beat in it is so hypnotic and the lyrics evoke being on the back of a motorcycle, just driving and trying to leave your hometown. It’s perfect. Such a vibe.
Laneway Festival’s Dom O’Connor picks out the best tracks of the month – from Julia Jacklin’s old/new side project to “a match made in ideal chart heaven”.
It’s been a minute since we’ve heard from Julia Jacklin, so it’s delightful to hear her breezy voice over a downright-groovy bass line in the first few seconds of ‘Fuckin N Rollin’. There’s an airy ease to the instrumental that contrasts well with Julia’s higher-register, and the entire song feels like an exceedingly casual romp for one of Sydney’s most likeable new bands. Above all it’s a joy hearing a debut single as refined, effortlessly cool, and cohesive as this.
A spiralling vortex of a first song, ‘Anima’ rides washy cymbals and formless, Sigur Ros-like coos to create a blissful soundscape. It’s ambient music, but only on a technicality. The motorik drums and twinkling keys are as immediate as they come, disparately building and colliding with the percussion to create a fully-realised world within the song’s four minutes. ‘Anima’ reminds me of the propulsive drive of Steve McQueen’s famous car chase in Bullitt, occasionally going off-track but always moving forward with a propulsive drive to it.
Calling Playboi Carti a rapper feels like the wrong tag. He’s more of a cheerleader throughout his songs, more interested in exploring the sounds coming out of his mouth than actually rapping. ‘Shoota’ is one of the more conventional songs on his major label debut Die Lit, but it’s still a futuristic piece of 808-baiting trap with a typically motor-mouthed effort from Carti, a reliable ear-worm of a hook from Lil Uzi Vert and the energy of a punk song.
Culture Abuse’s particular brand of fuzzy, tuneful garage rock feels right out of the end-credits of a ’90s teen movie, and ‘Calm E’ chugs through several hooks in its three-and-a-half minutes. Frontman David Kelling’s voice is perfectly suited to the loser-fatalism archetype. “It takes time to learn,” he repeats to himself in the chorus, like he’s trying to will himself to a fight he knows he’ll probably lose. On ‘Calm E’, Culture Abuse continued to refine their sound and present themselves as the loveable underdogs you can’t help but root for.
‘Girls On The TV’ unfurls a wistful narrative of adolescence through the use of several vignettes and the melancholic instrumentation of ’80s synth pop. Laura’s vocals are virtuosic and effortless in their controlled execution, switching to a resonant falsetto to the chorus for maximum emotional impact. Laura offers an insight into her early years with an eye for detail, and presents every character as a fully realised being; a wholly impressive feat to achieve in the context of a five-minute pop song.
There’s a triumphant feel to ‘Win’ that Jay Rock’s music has rarely explored in the past- a flexing confidence that feels invigorating. Over ad-libs from his label mate Kendrick Lamar, ‘Win’ trades in Jay’s previous vocal dexterity for a more streamlined and simplistic approach, resulting in the most immediate song he’s made yet. Between ‘Win’ and previous single ‘King’s Dead’, Jay Rock‘s made the step up to the majors and is clearly revelling in it.
LA production duo DJDS (formerly known as DJ Dodger Stadium) have found their own comfortable niche, mixing hard hitting Chicago house synths with the type of outsized, stadium-level hooks that typically fill arenas. The jumping, skittery production and cacophony of voices on ‘Why Don’t You Come On’ aren’t typical pop fodder. But between Khalid and Empress Of’s beautiful harmonising and the ominous, bassy buzz-saw synths it’s a match made in ideal chart heaven.