Who We're Listening to and Loving in July Pt. 1

We've been astounded with the quality of artists that have signed up to Parlour in the last month. 

Here are a few of our faves this month. 

If you want to host any of these fine artists at your place, fill out the host form and we'll make it happen. 

This article was written and compiled by the one and only, Christian Pisasale.  

Artist: Laughing Stock (Melbourne, Vic)

This was love at first sound. As I listened to a compilation of demo tracks on Laughing Stock’s SoundCloud page, I imagined myself holding hands with the band, spinning around in a circle. Laughing so hard we  couldn’t find our next breath. Smiling so much our cheeks burned. We’d then run through a field together, pushing and shoving, before eventually growing weary and collapsing amongst the sun kissed, golden hay.  I imagined all this after the first minute  of the first track I listened to, “Noon in Bloom”.

Irrespective of whether you’re a fan of instrumental/post rock, the warmth and modesty of these recordings will have a similar effect on you. Sometimes jazzy, sometimes beautifully cinematic, this is music that will bring respite to your busy mind. There is no arrogance in the interactions between instruments. Notes aren’t played for the sake of filling in space. The best example of this coming in their track “Crest and Coat of Arms”. Despite the lead melodies being relatively simple, they are uniquely arranged to offer instant appeal. These guys are happy to let a note linger, if it’s the right note.

A “less is more” approach. Turn the effects up a little, add some volume and Laughing Stock would be classified alongside bands like Mogwai and The Calm Blue Sea. The closest comparison I could make would be an amalgam between desert rock pioneers Yawning Man and short lived, somewhat retired Melbourne outfit, Euclid. What all of these bands have in common with Laughing Stock is a humility to their composition. They’re not playing to appeal to the masses. It’s music made first and foremost for themselves.

Unfortunately for these bands, such a mentality usually means a lack of commercial recognition. Fortunately, it also usually involves an unfaltering cult fellowship.

If Laughing Stock keep producing music of this calibre, Parlour would gladly travel across Middle Earth with the rest of the fellowship to support them. Note well, and please be seated as you read on, this compilation is still a work in progress… now breathe. BREATHE!

Artist: Scalphunter (Perth, WA)

You press your hand to the corrugated iron wall. It's brittle. Gritty. Your palm is oranged with rust and dust. You press it back to the wall. You can feel a dull cyclical thud. It feels like a heartbeat. The beat becomes slightly audible. What is that? You now have your entire body pressed against the wall, your ear locked into faint crashing sounds that seem to be getting louder.

A moment of silence. Your pupils dilate. You let out a resigned whimper, “ergh”. FUCK YEAHHHHHHHHHH! You're floored by an industrial, Frankenstein-ed car/station wagon hybrid that has torn through the iron wall like cheap foil. It's missing a roof and each panel is a different colour. A quilt work of poor mechanical work. You're deafened by the sound. Unnatural bending of metal, screeching of brakes, some hardcore band blaring through speakers mounted on the machine's  trunk. The tyres run quickly over your body. As they crush the bones in your face and tattoo skid marks over your cheeks you feel the scold of a molten heat. The last thing you see, the machine driving off into the dark night. The last thing you hear, the cackles of the skeletal hyenas leaving you in their wake. Oh wait. To top it all off. The car's engulfed in flames... and now, so are you. Good night.     

As far as punk goes, you probably don't have to look much further than Perth's Scalphunter. Sorry. That's not true. There's lots of great punk out there. Having said that, Scalphunter definitely do an almighty job of nailing no frills punk. If you wanted to nit pick, i'd say Scalphunter fall stylistically somewhere in the hardcore punk and metalcore domain. It's aggressive, thrash about music that sits rightfully alongside historic counterparts Black Flag and Mötorhead. To steal a quote describing the band from X-Press Magazine, their music is best described as an “unstoppable force.” It's locomotive. Even with such force in their music, they still maintain great clarity. There's accessibility to their aggression. This comes through particularly in Bleeding Out.

One of the things I loved most about the track was Scalphunter's openness to explore a more  riff based rock out at about 1:41. It not only provides an aural sense of respite for half a minute but just generally adds a really clever dynamic shift to the song. Fans of Sydney's Gay Paris and bigger international acts such as The Bronx and Gallows will feel at home putting on a little Scalphunter. I'd also recommend watching the official video for their track “There Will Be Change”. It's an energetic 4 minutes of the band getting sweaty inter spliced with clips of a fictional masked scalp hunter enjoying a leisurely day of doing what he does best.

Artist: The Grapes  

According to their website, The Grapes are the unlikely pairing of Sherry Rich and Ashley Naylor. They describe their style as being pure pop arrangements with influences from 60s and 70s garage, psychedelia, folk and country rock. Obviously this is going to be an accurate description of their sound (who knows you better than yourself, right?) but, you'll never fully appreciate how truly fantastic the songwriting of this duo is until you listen to their music. Start with “Ocean Meets the Sun”. This track was released on their self titled debut album in 1999. Their follow up album, 'Western Sun', was released some 14 years later in 2013.

The former is a carefully curated playlist of pop gems that would have both suited the music scene at the time of their release date and about 35 years before. Songs like Ocean Meets the Sun and Marmalade echo that same sense of timelessness found when pop and folk are just DONE RIGHT. It fits into that paisley underground / psychedelic folk mould championed by the likes of Donovan, The Byrds and The Mamas & the Papas. It's a versatile style of music that would suit an acoustic guitar just as much as a full band set up. 

Listening to the way Rich and Naylor have combined simple chords, vocal harmonies and lead guitar melodies is reminiscent of bands like Oasis, The Shins and The Beatles. There's an immediate familiarity to each new song. Both songwriters demonstrate a strong resolution to avoid the cyclical nature of a lot of folk. 

Their most recent release definitely treads along the lines of country more so than psychedelia, but, despite the 14 year time gap and stylistic refinement, the songwriting is just as strong. Songs like “Lily Darling' pair a very Joe Walsh/The Eagles inspired guitar tone with a lyrical beautiful song from the perspective of a parent grappling with the idea of their daughter growing up and becoming independent.

Sometimes it's easy to become disillusioned by popular music because you get the feeling that it's just being written to proliferate someone's need to be famous. Bands like The Grapes help me to realise that there are musicians who are still taking the time to really think about the construction and sentiment behind their music. Even if it takes another 14 years to get a third record from this duo, I'm happy to wait.