TRACK | OUZO! – State of Affairs

5/5 golden merles

Australian Garage punk that has become sentient and aware of the existential threats which are damning us to an arbitrary and relatively abrupt end. A dangerous prospect, hopefully. The track contains a litany of discontents, each censure delivered with savor. Racing through the excess offenses of the era, OUZO! continues smashing and grabbing back at the daily gauntlet of inadequate empathy.

And, of course, rightfully so. God damn the status quo, the complacency which empowers it, and the fervor with which its defenders somehow manage to live with themselves. In the fine form the critique holds up and is elevated. Tradition is presently the cancer of culture, by and large, we just hope for the benign kinds cluttering up our chest cavities.

But, also, contradictorily, ritual can reinforce behavior, and maybe with nice, catchy, scathing, fun, fiery tracks like these that tradition can be reinvented, with some small part played as a salving commiseration, consensus building catalyst, or soundtrack for direct action. I don’t know. Adam Curtis would politely laugh in my face for discussing tracks in these terms. But he provides no practical alternative and is himself caught in the indefinite arts feedback loop.

The 7″ is sold out from Weather Vane Records (AU), Polaks Records (EU) but some remain for €7 on the French Wine Records (EU) bandcamp. Or $3 AUD for the digital remains straight from the horses’ mouth.

TRACK | Leoni Leoni – If there is Magic it is made in your Womb

5/5 golden merles

Starry and skeletal with a rich contemplative warp, “If there is Magic it is made in your Womb” is a strain of diy lo-fi ambient synth-pop. Neither orthogonal nor evil, the price of the piercing is being held together around the hole after. There are concerns expressed and they are catchy, lots to empathize with in speculative and instructive the utterances.

There is a command not to misunderstand. Winter crumbles away, summer is a stain left from dust; the only constant is change. The percussive instrumentation is in a sort of sequence within the sickly gunk of time, by which we are affixed to this or any given era. The rhythm is the minimal rate by which we must claw through it to get anywhere at a respectable pace, or before it’s too late.

Anyway, it’s skirting the edges of eternity. Anyway, seen from above it resembles a gulch filled with jello and paved over, gauged and assuaged. There is vinyl available from Les Disques Bongo Joe in Geneva, black for €18 & white for €20.

TRACK | Girl – Pavement

5/5 golden merles

Girl makes New Jersey-based alt rock with elements of avant and experimentation, holed up in the basement/garage and dispatched from a wave of reverence. Coming amidst much invention, “Pavement” is the fermented earworm closer of the Ghost EP, the best entry point, and that rarer sort of ephemera made up of mental models trained on tunes that seems to have a half-life of several generations.

In the breadth of thrash and strum there is a slow burn that accumulates with interest, rending late back into the chorus before extinguishing. There’s a stalking melody under arouras of reverb, all punctuated by formidable cymbals rides that orient and direct. The slates so well set by the time it degrades the scale one final time it is a relief.

I was introduced to the track by James’ reliably aligned scouting over at Kick Out The James (WZBC) mixcloud, in the very good August 19th set. Ghost EP as a digital album is $8 or more at bandcamp.

TRACK | GZ Grant – Bonds of Love

5/5 golden merles

Whether it’s Rules of Love, Hands of Love, or Bonds of Love, GZ Grant’s new single is in good company examining loves hidden facets and exploring its less celebrated aspects. Full of much aura and ache, it is psych-pop rock which questions the many-splendored thing.

Direct and undiminished lyricism gets enveloped in lo-fi texture, its merits heightened in the haze, while outlining the catch or comeuppance tied to ever being known. The language is borderline eternal pop fare, both classic and slightly alien: terms, conditions, a stage to assuage or embrace your fears.

There’s a lot to admire in the additional experimental and ulterior elements: a lead guitar line that chokes on its own distorted tail, the idiosyncratic hurl and hum of the lead vocal delivery, and the crystal chalice of a synth to help drown the remnants.

There is also an immensely admirable music video accompanying the single offering a rich tapestry of symbols and fine cinematography, depicting well the double-edged sword of it all. Give it a look / What’s the worst that could happen? Sacrifice a few moments of your freedom, youth and fortune to find out.

TRACK | Sooner – Pretend

5/5 golden merles

Sooner’s “Pretend” is a work of great strength. It has a respect for form, foremost, and is a celebration of it. The track exhibits an immense understanding of pop components and pacing, offering no weak passages within its fine alt rock sequences and transitions.

Beyond that it is an excellent example of art acting as a means which uniquely allows for the processing of experience, particularly the prospect of contorting trauma into a force for good.

The work resides within the same galactic neighborhood of formidable forces like The Cranberries, Mazy Starr, The Limiñanas, and other go-tos of alternative pop with invention.

In the last few seconds we hear the gentle rumbling of another transition into what will be the closing track, Dusk; it’s not yet accessible but will soon be March 25th on Good Eye Records.

TRACK | Katy Needs A Life – I’m Going Down

5/5 golden merles

I’m Going Down is a tremendous album closer from Katy Needs A Life off their new record, With Friends Like Bees.

Traditionally my preference is for tracks that tend toward the briefer sort. As a rule, don’t trust anyone over 2 minutes. I like the lyrically and melodically meandering, smash and grab mentality: a series of iconic segmentations and their interplay, interruptions even. And further still, maybe even some concise field recorded embellishments that proffer small clues to the greater whole. Subtlety is underrated. If you want to hear a chorus repeated, loop the track.

But exceptions are emphatically made at the extreme polarity when they’re executed this well.

I’m Going Down is composed of a heartfelt mantra, repeated and recontextualized throughout in a burning incantation of call-without-response. The vocal delivery of this phrase moves initially from matter-of-fact and then builds to an impassioned entreaty, a heroic attempt to overcome the silence that grows in reply.

The synths act as kindling. The frenzy cultivates to a fever pitch. And when the structural reprieve and variance finally comes it’s just another dagger:

What should I do / I’m lost and I have nowhere to run to

TRACK | Bnny – I’m Just Fine

5/5 golden merles

Coming off of 2021s Everything, Bnny moves from strength to strength with this remarkable single, “I’m Just Fine.

In a few direct lines recounting a brief encounter, swiftly this microcosm extrapolates into wide avenues of longing and of unrealized eventualities. The subtext is immense. This moment, or it’s recollection, acts as a portal to the vast emotional ocean of undercurrent that undergirds our every interaction.

And, yeah, most songs should do this. And most try to, if sort of inadvertently. But rarely do they render this phasing of micro to macro as convincingly, or wed the everyday to eternity in a manner that allows for direct intellectual as well as emotional resonance. Rarely do you feel as though the ground has opened up beneath you. And, better yet, by design.

There is great refinement in the two guitar leads, the quiet chorus of backing vocals that swells late on, and the elegant drumming variance. Where most songs would put the full burden of focus upon one of these individual endearing elements of instrumentation, the glut of quality coalesces here into one hell of a stunning track.