19 Dec CHLÖE HOWL – No Strings

This week THE RIPE’s playlist includes ‘No Strings’, Chlöe Howl’s debut single.

Maybe it’s the Foster the People-like progressions or the constant swearing that weaves raconteur and revenge into one sassy ball, but this track is addictive. The bouncy synth and her thick British accent drive the track at a pace that’ll lift you out of any bad mood. It’s the kind of pop that needs a dance and is doomed to be repeated. Over and over.

Howl strikes me as honest, down to earth and someone you don’t want to fuck with. Did I mention that she’s only 17?

Listen for more from her – I know I’ll be keeping tabs.

REVIEW BY STEF ITALIA

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16 Dec RAINY DAY WOMEN – Friends

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Fremantle boys Rainy Day Women have released a new single this week.

Friends’ is the next track off their upcoming EP of the same name, set for release on 25 February.

With the same languid style as the earlier ‘Runaway’, ‘Friends’ is a smooth 60s inspired pop tune. Rainy Day Women seem to keep making music that’s heading straight for summer playlists and begs to be pumped on beach days. Sweet vocals describe the moment you realise you want to be more than friends with someone. Ah that old awkward friend zone point. They capture the nervous hope of the situation perfectly and juxtapose it with their relaxed vibe. It’s that short moment before things get urgent and difficult and friendships turn to shit for a little while. You know you’ve been there.

Rainy Day Women have been added to the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival line up for 2013.

REVIEW BY STEF ITALIA

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13 Dec TANYA BATT – Secret Doors and Passageways

Every so often there comes a voice that seems indescribable with talent. Tanya Batt is a Melbourne singer/songwriter that has one of those voices. You know, the ones that reach right down into your boots (flippy floppies, doc martens, etc) and encourages your whole foot to tingle.

With an acoustic pop sound and soul influences like Etta James and Ray Charles, what comes out of Batt is a sound not unlike Florence Welch. It’s unavoidable to make the connection but Batt’s calmer, acoustic roots keep her from slipping into something too similar.

Secret Doors and Passageways’ is Batt’s brand new single. Tribal beats kick off and ebb and flow throughout the track, remaining a constant source of energy in between guitars that dreamily fold into one another. Batt’s voice floods each note with authority and propels you down the rabbit hole right behind her. It’s less acoustic than her previous single ‘Stand Alone’ but shows a direction Batt is taking her music that excites me.

She’s just launched ‘Secret Doors and Passageways’ but listen out for dates on upcoming gigs. In the mean time, here is the fun new clip.

 

REVIEW BY STEF ITALIA

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08 Dec LOWTIDE – Underneath Tonight

For dreamy, rich indie pop, look no further than Lowtide. Giles Simon, Lucy Buckeridge, Gabriel Lewis and Anton Jakovljevic make up this Melbourne bred outfit.

Underneath Tonight’ is just one of a few tracks that have been floating around for a little while now, and is my favourite of theirs. Visit their bandcamp page to purchase.

Slushy guitars weave a 90s grunge edge into the colourful tune. I could listen to ‘Underneath Tonight’ repeatedly just for the soothing bass line alone. Languid vocals wash over it, making it perfect to do just about anything but stress to.

Lowtide are currently in the process of recording their debut album and are expecting a release date sometime in 2013. They will perform at The Grace Darling Hotel on 14 December with Buried Feather.

REVIEW BY STEF ITALIA

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07 Dec MATT STILLERT – The Iris

The Iris’ is a charming roots ballad from South Australian Matt Stillert.

Stillert composes his piece with a gentle rhythm that draws from nature, fresh love and nostalgia. Undoubtedly a lovely voice, the calm melody sings like a lullaby and is showered by a joyful, rumbling sense of hope.

Stillert’s first EP Don’t Fear the Beard was released earlier this year. He’s moving up to Queensland to kick off the New Year, but we’ll let you know if he plans to make an appearance in Melbourne town. You can follow Matt on Facebook for more info.

REVIEW BY STEF ITALIA

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28 Nov PORCELAIN PILL – Rapid Eye Movement

Porcelain pill, a two-piece folktronic group from the streets of Melbourne, released their first single, ‘Rapid Eye Movement’, and I’m loving it.

A subtly addictive tune, it’s perfect for a lazy, hungover morning and thoughtful enough to build generously. With consistently deep vocals, their steadiness is grounding to the melody’s dreamy atmospheric presence. They create their music using live looping and sequencing, matching it to guitars, cello and ukulele.

Porcelain pill will launch their single on the 9 December with friends Winter York, so get down to the John Curtin Hotel in Carlton. Expect their first EP early next year.

REVIEW BY STEF ITALIA

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27 Nov COMMUNION MELBOURNE @ The Toff – November 25th

It was Communion Melbourne’s final show of the year as The Toff once again opened its doors to a sweet line up of musicians.

Starting off the night, Sophia Brous took to the stage to stretch out her lungs in a warm up show for next week’s Meredith Music Festival. And stretch out her lungs she did. Absolutely enchanting, her vocal shades were like none I’ve heard before, filling every corner of the room. Brous adds her part to a group of talented, novel alternative pop musicians that seem to be springing from Melbourne’s edges at the moment.

Buffalo took us away next, a moniker for musician Wes Carr. New songs were matched up alongside some from his very first EPs, taking us right back to his roots. His brand of folk disarmed and I couldn’t look away. He included the title track from his new EP Blood and Bone as well as older singles like ‘Please’ and ‘The Sad Life of Elsie Brown’, the latter of which he wrote in Sydney after reading about a stranger’s death. While on a recent trip to Europe he wrote a single for every city he was in and so we also heard some of his travel tales via ‘Amsterdam’. With his raspy and edgy tone, Carr’s songs are mostly sweet but marked by a sense of urgency and poignancy. The proud new dad gave a performance that certainly left an impression.

The Hello Morning are from Melbourne and were captivating as they hurled themselves around on stage performing some good old fashioned rock and roll. Their most recent EP is Without You, and their debut self-titled album was recently nominated as an entrant for The Coopers Australian Music Prize alongside other artists like Alpine, The Bamboos, Hermitude and Deep Sea Arcade. The guys’ songs are catchy as hell and are sure to take over Australia fairly bloody soon.

Rounding off a great night was The Trouble with Templeton who have recently expanded to include four new members. ‘Bleeders’ and ‘Six Months in a Cast’ were included in their set as well as some other new tracks. They’re about to hit the road and take their show around the country on tour. The addition of Betty Yeowart on vocals made for some lovely harmonies that supported front man Thomas Calder’s distinctive vocal hues. It’s evident that the added group members have marked a transition in their music and I’m really interested to hear more of what the group will have to offer on upcoming releases.

With an intimate setting and a casual Sunday atmosphere, Communion should be back in February 2013. See you there.

REVIEW BY STEF ITALIA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GRACE GOODFELLOW

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20 Nov BLACK SAND – Dune Via Spender

Black Sand’ has been released by Melbourne acts Dune and Spender in anticipation of their upcoming show. I freaking love it. So much.

There are many different motifs running through this creation. Grounded in a steady sexy percussive line that’s joined by synths and steady golden vocal tones – it’s all making my insides gently flip. Strumming, clacking, a distant rising cry and you finish somewhere different to where you started.

The two play at The Toff this coming Saturday 24 November.

REVIEW BY STEF ITALIA

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16 Nov WINTER YORK – Loneliness & Art

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Every so often an emerging band comes along that produces a sound so well rounded it makes you stop.

Winter York is a young Melbourne indie rock ensemble made up of James Mackey, Steve Palfreyman, Madeleine Becker, Alwin Laysico and Jack Woodley.

Their second single ‘Loneliness & Art’ has been floating around the Internet for a week now and I’m super impressed by it. This track had me the second I heard Becker’s cello – textured, thoughtful and utterly beautiful. Vocals layered over the top switch from softly distant, to deep with empowerment and occasionally reach an intoxicating falsetto. Their lead guitar progressions are mellow and poignant. Finally, the whole thing is sewn together by a steady beat that gives just the right momentum to keep it from slipping into the overly melancholic.

I can’t wait to hear them live in action. They’ll be launching ‘Loneliness & Art’ at The Toff on Sunday 9 December. The evening, titled 4 Singles 4 Styles, will showcase the newest offerings from Winter York alongside friends Tanya Batt, Samuel Cole & The Mornings and Porcelain Pill. 

For more + Free Winter York downloads, visit their Triple J Unearthed Profile

REVIEW BY STEF ITALIA


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14 Nov ALUKA @ THE TOFF IN TOWN – November 7th

I walk into The Toff on Wednesday night and my attention is immediately caught by Xani Kolac’s red and white pinstriped onesie. Casually strumming her violin, Mark Leahy is on drums and Xani is singing about choosing career paths that refuse to pay. The crowd is already jammed in and the air is stuffy but we ignore it to cheer them on.

The Twoks are here to support Melbourne a capella group Aluka, and they are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. With tribal beats and folksy charm, Xani moves from plucking the violin to drawing her bow across its strings and looping her harmonies to glorious effect. She then flits over to Mark, grabs a pair of sticks and joins him in a drumming frenzy. Their set ends in a rush of energy that has me standing on my toes trying to see their joyful faces above the hoots.

Aluka’s new clip for ‘Keep My Cool’ runs on repeat while we all converge on the bar for water after the set. It seems everyone has had the same idea and I can’t help but notice the stench in the room. Please turn on the air conditioning. Just as we find a place at the front for maximum air flow, the curtain opens.

In front of us are Annabelle Tunley, Rachael Head and Sally Mortenson, all elegant as ever, and ready to go. Annabelle begins with a subtle poke at their clip, suggesting that we are probably already sick of them because of the video loop. She asks how long we had to cop it for and a gentleman from the audience yells out, “Oh it was about six and a half months worth”. Rachael knowingly pats her protruding belly and they all yell back “Oh daaaadddd”. We all laugh and Rachael introduces us to “Peanut” their fourth member. Cue the pregnancy jokes.

What ensues is a set filled with a selection of songs that will be featured on their album set for release next year. The album has been recorded in various, sometimes odd, spaces around Victoria. With different spaces for each song, they’ve experimented with how surroundings can add to the tone of a recording.

They break up their blended harmonies with cute anecdotes that induce chuckling. Annabelle explains how one space they used to record in was a war bunker in Point Lonsdale. Both producer Nick Huggins and Peanut’s dad were convinced that the bunker would collapse on them and their anxiety wore off on the group. They wouldn’t allow the girls to stand in certain areas of the bunker. Rachael giggles at the over-cautiousness.

A new song is introduced. We’re told it is about their trip to Europe. Most of us are laughing as they sing about waiting in stations, being mugged and getting nibbled by bed bugs.

Mind Tricks’ starts off a little spooky and moves off down its funky and unusual trails. Then Annabelle introduces their “sexy” song with the warning, “but be careful or you’ll end up pregnant” and we all laugh again. Rachael quickly concedes but explains that’s it hard to feel sexy with sweat on her upper lip. Yes it is still that hot in here. ‘Warm of Toast’ is textured, colourful and soothing and the girls sweetly migrate into ‘Shadow’. It’s a more upbeat number that get the crowd moving to its rhythms.

Aluka give an incredible performance throughout but ‘Keep My Cool’ is the highlight. Their a capella style proves that you don’t need instruments to create thoughtful music that is a joy to listen to. Each of their unique voices caress and support each other, combine together expertly and are always perfectly pitched. The first moment I heard this song I felt that I connected with it and I love hearing it live now.

They arrive back on stage for an encore to give a stunning and novel performance of ‘Say My Name’ by Destiny’s Child that sees Sally weaving in the chorus of Justin Timberlake’s ‘Cry Me a River’.

We leave the venue with cheerful grins and our hands clutching presents. Aluka have given us two copies of their single, one to keep and one to give to a friend. The second is kindly gift wrapped in hand-folded paper.

I feel happier after seeing them on stage. Aluka are not only talented musicians with spunk but I’ve found them uplifting too.

The band had the night recorded. Here’s a little taste:

REVIEW BY STEF ITALIA

 

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