Article by Leonard Bernardone
The superbly melancholy and under-recognised Leah Senior has only recently dropped her sophomore album “Pretty Faces”, continuing to deliver with her signature folk sound. Leah Senior draws inspiration from classic folk singers such as Nick Drake and Joni Mitchel, and although her inspirations are clearly present in her music, she still does more than enough both lyrically and in her acoustic offerings to wholly distinguish herself from her roots and the current Australian folk market.
Leah eloquently captures tones of regret, love, love lost and woeful nostalgia over beautifully soft-spoken fingerstyle guitar. Leah’s storytelling style of music is very immersive, often describing a setting, environment or point of focus rather than a strict narrative. In doing this, she offers a very personal look at the emotions behind her song. Leah goes as far as describing the way she’s treated by a lover as being akin to a winter coat left in the cupboard, and through very sincere twists of poetry backed by her lovely vocals, she makes it work!
Her production is also quite varied, utilising studio-quality string arrangements, drums and piano sparingly throughout her latest tracks. Even when she does utilise these elements, it is to a quaint effect. Not to say that the arrangements are not powerful, they most certainly are, just that she never uses more than necessary. Leah takes a skeletal approach to instrumentation, and completes her songs with her strong range of evocative vocals.
Bringing a sound that is relaxing and emotionally intriguing, and swooning emotional tales of love and longing, Leah Senior is a go-to pick for reflecting, indulging in emotion, or relaxing to some soothing, dreamy music.
Bringing a distinct pop-rock/garage-rock sound to the table, and firing it at the audience with charming charisma, the Rollercanes are definitely a band to stay tuned in to.
I first saw the Rollercanes front-lining for The Vanns sometime in 2016. We were a small crowd (as frontline crowds typically are), but frontman Daniel Wright and band still bought an energetic, confident performance. Thrashing their guitars and shouting their vocals, they engaged with the few of us that they had to work with to bring the room to life and get things popping.
The biggest difference between their performance and the headliner for the evening was simply the mixing. The talent, the swagger and the energy were all there in full force and with the appropriate hype and set-up, the Rollercanes could have very well been an awesome headliner!
Their recently released single “I Know You’re Lonely” teases their upcoming late 2017 album, which we’re anticipating with bated breath. If the tight structure, solid vocals, punchy drums and melodic licks layered throughout this track are any indication of what to expect from their next album, we’re in for a great listen.
Jade Imagine dropped their debut EP only recently in May, titled “What The Fuck Was I Thinking?”. A fuzzy dream-pop collection of tracks vaguely exploring self-esteem, aspirations and life-directions. Normally these kinds of themes would make for an anxious listen, but front-woman Jade Mcnally keeps it cool and breezy, delivering an album of the same qualities. Sleepy, dreamy, and totally befitting of this drifty, Winter season, Jade Empire makes a quiet racket that soothes the senses and rides along with the listener.
The band utilises a lot of instrumentation, but to a very quaint effect. Electric guitars, bass, drums, synths, piano, tambourines and a collection of soft, quirky sounds comprise this album, yet it never feels cluttered or over-packed. Without intentionally trying to pick out the instrumentation, every track floats by as smoothly as a cloud of smoke.
It’s hard to distinctively critique Jade Imagine’s sound, because it down-right demands the listener to chill out. As soon as that signature dream-scape sound hits my ear-drums, I’m relaxed and in tune with the rhythm at a thoughtless and automatic level. Whatever McInally was thinking, she’s gotten herself and the band signed to Courtney Barnett’s Milk Records label and has kicked (or casually nudged) down the door to our playlists, and we’re eager for more.
Punk rock outfit, Going Swimming, deliver such energetic and fast-paced tracks, and produce so many anthem-worthy thrash-a-long moments, it’s a crime that they haven’t received suitable recognition outside of the punk-rock and gig-goer communities.
The band is currently performing from their debut self-produced and self-released LP, Deadtime Stories (with an album cover that any 90’s baby will gush over). Frontman Nicholas Leggatt howls about coming-of-age struggles and shortcomings over some speedy, radical instrumentation. Sharp guitars, punchy bass plucking, and tight, tight drums are the game here. Charismatic and rhythmic bass/guitar licks bridge tracks together, entering and exiting in a way that demands repeat listens. You’ll find yourself thrashing along involuntarily while you wait for that one awesome lick or solo, and before you know it you’re hooked.
The lyrical content fits perfectly with the band’s high-energy performances. The track ‘Careers Counselling’ brings me back to that high-school uncertainty in an appropriately noisy and anxious rhythm, and hearing Leggatt shouting down at the counsellor in this track gets me pumped enough to call my old career counsellor and retroactively tell him to "fuck off". They make for a great group-listen as well, with moments such as the anthemic “Oi, Oi, Oi” chants on ‘Hooligan’ that are sure to get any beered-up Aussies shouting along in unison.
The cherry on top of Going Swimming’s style is that they manage to blend in some surf-rock to their punk, and although I was initially apprehensive to the concept their intro track “Them Shakes” quickly proves that surf and punk blends together as unexpectedly well as peanut butter and chocolate! They aren’t the only doing it, but they’re one of the only contemporary Aussie bands to do it right. The band is currently touring Australia with their latest single “Debt Collector,” which we’re hoping is an indicator of another upcoming thrasher!
Last but certainly not least of these up and coming Aussie musicians, is the talented hip-hop conscious rapper Ziggy Ramo. Ziggy is not only an interesting listen, but also a vastly important one. He primarily delivers on the topic of Indigenous Australians and black rights in Australia, pulling no punches and always cutting right to the point. With presence, punctuality and passion, Ziggy responds to the current treatment and perception of Indigenous Australians and brings to light social behaviours or issues that the Australian community at large is not appropriately aware of.
Ziggy wears his inspirations on his sleeves, with flows akin to that of Nas, Common, or the more recent Joey Bada$$. Classic piano-laced hip-hop instrumentals back Ziggy up he slams out statement after statement on Australian and Indigenous relations, each one solid and nearly irrefutable. He delivers these statements with some clever word-play, utilising double-meanings in almost every verse, and does so with some sincere passion and anger. To quote the man himself, he doesn’t “beat around the bush” in regards to his frustrations with Australia.
Through his use of music, witty lyricism, passionate delivery and some shocking samples which highlight cases of Australian racism, Ziggy spreads awareness and empathy for his culture to an Australian audience, much alike the work of many American hip-hop artists and civil activists are doing for theirs. An important and topical artist that we hope to hear more from soon!