June music review
Gum’s monthly music round-up for June 2019.
Illustrations by Tahlia Kristjansson
Window Seat / Rabbit Holes (Split single)
If the point of a split single is to showcase two sides of a band’s artistic coin, this one is a shiny, gold example. With one side coated in sweet 60’s flanger and the other glittering in gritty synth, Polygon Woods’ first new recorded material since last year sounds thicker and more textured than ever. Window Seat begins soft, with hovering, ambient synths and warm, fuzzy guitar oozing like soft metal through the spaces in the vocals. The chorus is lifted to another level, and beautifully jarring synths move in to lead the track to a nice touchdown. Rabbit Holes takes similar instrumentation, but turns it into something quite different. The track swells with increasing layers, washing the sonic landscape and, with each crescendo, takes the sound to more dizzying heights. This coin isn’t meant to be currency; it’s priceless.
For fans of: Beach House, Cocteau Twins, coin collecting
Pairs with: Some really loud speakers, a sunset, your verandah and a beer.
Listen to Window Seat / Rabbit Holes on Spotify here.
The Way I Dance (Single)
Listening to The Way I Dance is like descending a staircase into the bowels of ALL THAT IS GROOVY. The track begins soft and sombre—all feathery chords, breathy vocals and muted riffs, like the pre-show entertainment before the main act. With each cycle through the progression, little additions and wobbly bass sweeten up the sound until it’s as tasty and cool as a frozen margarita on a hot day. Once the horns come in, you’ve arrived. You’re tapping your feet, bopping your head, swivelling on your office chair and singing the hook. It’s impossible not to love the way that Buttercats dance.
For fans of: Flight Facilities, Client Liaison, The Bee Gees
Pairs With: Impromptu office-chair swivelling, air bass guitar competitions.
Listen to The Way I Dance on Spotify here.
On Orleigh Street (EP)
There are certain sensations that come to you the second you start Bridget Brandolini’s debut EP. Suddenly soft, green grass is under you, fig trees sway in the breeze above, little waves crash rhythmically through the mangroves and CityCats glide up and down the Brisbane River. You’re in Orleigh Park on a sunny spring day. Brandolini has a gift for storytelling and her ability to find beautiful and strange vocal lines is reminiscent of Australian legends like Paul Kelly and Kate Miller-Heidke. The opener, Perfect Days, blurs the line between folk-pop and gypsy jazz, featuring double bass, unconventional percussion and operatic vocal aerobatics. If you listen closely, you can even hear lorikeets chattering sweetly in the background. Brandolini’s voice shines through as the star of every song on the EP, but the vocals on Expired and I Know There Are Maps stand out especially. The melodies dip and rise like the crests of those little waves hitting the grassy shoreline, and her raw, emotional energy is thrust behind each word like the rumble of boat engines in the distance. Sit in the grass for a while and savour every moment of On Orleigh Street.
For fans of: Stella Donnelly, Daughter, Laura Marling
Pairs with: A picnic in the grass of your local river-adjacent park.
Listen to On Orleigh Street on Spotify here.
Sweetest Fantasies (Single)
If Julian Casablancas, Alex Turner and Randy Newman decided to hang out one day and create a band that sits in perfect equilibrium between their three styles, they would end up with something similar to Harmon. With the cool and dark chord progressions of The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys-like choruses that blow you out of the water, and the smooth tenor and lyrical wit of Newman, Sweetest Fantasies is the proverbial common ground where fans of all music styles can come together in recognition of a song that is impossible not to love. Harmon’s produced a song that’s fist-pump worthy in the chorus and gets you swinging your hips around everywhere else.
For fans of: The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys
Pairs with: The sound of Harmon playing this LIVE. Go to his show—you won’t regret it.
Listen to Sweetest Fantasies on Spotify here.
Enema Of The State (June, 1999)
In June, 1999, greatness was achieved in the form of 12 poop jokes masquerading as an album. Blink-182’s Enema Of The State is arguably one of the most important releases of the last few decades, not necessarily because of the album’s compositional or aesthetic brilliance, but because of its consistency, humour and accessibility. The band’s three most well-known songs (All The Small Things, Adam’s Song and What’s My Age Again?) were the album’s lead singles, but if you listen to the full LP, you’ll realise that every track had the potential to be released as those singles and played to the world over and over on radios and MTV. Dumpweed opens the album with intense, experimental drumming, never heard before the likes of Travis Barker. Mark Hoppus and the comically nasal vocals of Tom Delonge take you through stories of UFO conspiracies in Aliens Exist, losing your significant other to a man with gastro-intestinal problems in Dysentery Gary, and going to an awful party with awful people in The Party Song. The exception to the jokes, blast beats and fast riffs is Adam’s Song, a track that stands out dramatically with its severe subject matter and sombre verses. Enema Of The State was so successful, a whole generation of musicians can credit the album for their having picked up instruments and started playing music with their best friends.
For fans of: Anything even slightly “Pop Punk” post 1999.
Pairs with: Learning the guitar, skateboarding, telling jokes that disappoint your parents.
Listen to Enema Of The State on Spotify here.