Six Of The Best: Sloucher - Essie - Hawk - The Blue Aeroplanes - Four Star Riot - Sleepytown

Sloucher - Waiting to Start.

Background - Like a lot of bands, Sloucher started off as a relatively unambitious project. After writing a batch of songs on acoustic guitar to sate his downtime as drummer in a couple of revered West Coast bands Cayucas and Hibou. Jay Clancy decided to better harness the melodic thrusts bouncing around his head, eventually recruiting guitarist Kyle Musselwhite (The Globes) and drummer Jack Hamrick to solidify Sloucher as a trio.

“The record really started as me testing myself to see if I could actually complete an entire record of my own songs,” explains Clancy, who recorded most of the EP himself. “I had written a batch of songs that were all basically little snapshots of my life from the past few years, and wanted to get involved in a recording project.”

Certainty, the resultant collection of seven songs, deals in the kind of melodic interplay typically found in the more voluminous aural panoramas of Elliott Smith and similarly alchemic songwriters. Clancy’s heart-wrenching diatribes include the moody haze of “Dreams,” a tune resplendent in subtle time changes and plodding pocket-rhythms while Clancy’s voice assumes an apparition’s timbre to fit the vibe of the moony tune.

Perhaps in defiance of the band’s slacker-y moniker (I have questionable posture sitting down,” jokes Clancy), songs like “Certainty” excel in the pop-perfect guitar rock of forebearers like Evan Dando and Jeff Tweedy, with Clancy’s thinly veiled affinity for twangy country riffs rearing its pretty head. The symbiosis of the trio’s talents is most evident here, with Musselwhite’s lead giving wings to a saccharine-sweet love song bursting with mildly distorted guitars, providing a fitting Northwest attitude even when the sentiment is a tad gooey. Facebook here.

The first of seven tracks on the new EP and 'Waiting to Start' immediately signals that some natural and engaging alt rock is on it's way. As a whole its totally unpretentious, occasionally a little gritty, and often melodic, with a few country rock vibes sneaking in here and there.


Essie - Electric Wires.

Background - Essie is the new dreamy indie/pop solo project from Melbourne based singer/songwriter, Jess Holt. A strong pop sensibility infused with lush, sultry vocals, oodles of shimmering melodic hooks, playful synths and hints of 80’s nostalgia will lure you into a deep ocean of indie-pop soundscape.

The debut track ‘Electric Wires’, reflects on Jess’ frequent travels and desire to always be on the move experiencing new environments and her fascination with meeting new people. It’s about the people you meet on the journey that make you see the world in a different way and keep things new and exciting. Crafted with London-based producer Dan Villalobos, the track is drenched with subtle, spacey electronics, moody synths and layers of luscious ethereal vocals. Elements of sparkly glockenspiel and marimba breathe light into the song and highlight Jess’ enchanting lyrical storytelling.

“When writing, a song usually grabs hold of me and my subconscious takes over. Sometimes it’s a very therapeutic process, other times it can be a little daunting to really address those deepest inner thoughts. I get bored pretty easily so creating something that is unique to each song is really important to me”.

The single artwork was designed by acclaimed singer/songwriter and visual artist, Bertie Blackman. “I was first introduced to Bertie’s artwork at her recent solo exhibition in Melbourne. I fell in love with the way her drawings told such beautiful quirky stories and thought it would act as a nice accompaniment to ‘Electric Wires’. It was the perfect collaboration as Bertie’s exhibition also incorporated a lot of ‘electric’ symbolism,” says Jess on the artistic collaboration.

Having spent much time writing and recording in the UK over the past couple of years, Essie has big plans to release a debut EP in 2017. Essie launches her new project and single ‘Electric Wires’ in Melbourne on Wed 14th Dec at The Grace Darling Hotel. Website here and Facebook here.

'Electric Wires' has an intricate and superbly produced soundtrack, providing a wonderful background for Essie to sing above, something she does with style, adding so much more to an already fine musical arrangement.


Hawk - Mother Road.

Background - Hawk is a project from David Hawkins who is also known from his other band Be. Hawk has re-released a remastered version of their fantastic album I'm On Fire. The re-release is because the feeling is the album could be a potential future classic, and also that it will continue to find its audience and build further anticipation for what Hawk does next.

In addition to the alt-country, rootsy grit of Be, Hawk heavies up the proceedings by adding in a dose of garage rock (plus shades of classic Rolling Stones and even a bit of early-AC/DC riffage).

Also worth noting, David is in the planning stages of the next Hawk album (which could arrive as early as next year) that is confirmed to feature legendary guests such as Gary Louris of The Jayhawks, Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, R.E.M., Big Star) and longtime Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas. Website here. Bandcamp here.

First of twelve tracks on the album 'Mother Road' typifies the rock'n'roll swagger and blistering guitar playing on the remastered 'I'm On Fire' album. Vocals are energised and work well with this genre. Whether this is a "potential future classic" who knows, it is however most definitely a decent rootsy collection of rock songs, delivered with passion.


The Blue Aeroplanes - Here Is The Heart Of All Wild Things.

Background - The Blue Aeroplanes' unique amalgam of rock, folk, poetry, punk, dance and art has been an acknowledged influence on a wide range of bands including REM and Radiohead. Combining pop smarts with serious weirdness, they have released almost thirty albums on various labels, several of which have charted in the UK Top 40 and the US Alternative Top 10.

Their new album 'Welcome Stranger' is out January 6th 2017 and now you can check out their new video below. Website here.

The Blue Aeroplanes are also setting out on tour in January 2017, traveling across the UK. View the full dates below:

Liverpool O2 Academy 2 Liverpool Wed, 11/01/17

Manchester Manchester Ruby Lounge Thu, 12/01/17
Newcastle O2 Academy 2 Newcastle Fri, 13/01/17
Edinburgh Voodoo Rooms Sat, 14/01/17
Glasgow Stereo, Glasgow Sun, 15/01/17
Nottingham Nottingham Rescue Rooms Wed, 18/01/17
London O2 Academy Islington Sat, 21/01/17
Oxford The Cellar Wed, 25/01/17
Sheffield Sheffield Leadmill Thu, 26/01/17
Norwich Norwich Arts Centre Fri, 27/01/17
Brighton Patterns Sat, 28/01/17
Exeter The Cavern, Exeter Sun, 29/01/17

With a new album just a month away, The Blue Aeroplanes are back, and the featured song 'Here Is The Heart Of All Wild Things' suggests the band are on form and still creating top notch music. I love the vocals and harmonies, and the crisp musical delivery is spot on!


Four Star Riot - Empty Space.

Background - Four Star Riot shares a new video this week for the song "Empty Space". It's an animated tongue-in-cheek trip through space, as surreal as real life in 2016. Last month, the band released a beautifully cinematic and vivid short for the track "So Far."

It’s been a landmark year for the Tampa Bay rockers; on the heels of their hit single “Something So Right" landing a spot in the box office hit Deadpool, they released the full length album Waves on September 2nd, 2016 via Vital Records (digital/CD). Over the course of multiple releases, Four Star Riot has consistently delivered stick-in-your-head pop/rock choruses and Waves is by far their strongest effort to date.

Website here and Facebook page here.

'Empty Space' has a chunky and  funky feel to it, right from the beginning. Add in the guitar and vocal mix and we have another great song from the bands recent release.


Sleepytown - Balloon.

Background - Sleepytown is the moniker of Ryan Van Der Woude, and a cruisey-nostalgic fusion of echoing guitars with a warm acoustic rhythm undertone, which flow from a plateau for literary anecdotes. Ryan is a songwriter who has travelled through all the east coast collecting visual novels, before settling in Sydney. His songs have bloomed from the wake of hinterland cruises, towering cities, cutting through mountain-ranges in a train, laying under snowy pines, warm sandy shores and treks into the deep, eerie woods.

‘Balloon’ is the latest offering from Sleepytown. ‘Balloon’ has a simple ideology attached to it; it’s a breakup song about two individuals who have an amalgamated feeling to depart each other in a non-destructive sense (as easy as letting go of a balloon). “The season of late winter and a transition into spring is the essence I tried to blend into the song and it’s the feeling I get when I listen back to it,” says Ryan on writing the new single. “‘Balloon’ was a very easy song to write as it literally just fell out of my brain in such a short space of time. I wrote and recorded most of Balloon in the same day, in the late winter season.”

‘Balloon’ was recorded in Ryan’s apartment in Lane Cove, Sydney; in his bedroom recording studio. Ryan recorded all instruments and tracks himself and mixed the tracks himself.

While undertaking music studies in Brisbane, Ryan has been involved in various bands and music projects. Sleepytown started while Ryan moved back to the Sunshine Coast after his studies in Brisbane and evolved from the laid back beach town lifestyle in that area. After meeting various people and moving to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane – Ryan landed in Sydney to take the project seriously and begin working on developing the sound into something much bigger.

Look out for new Sleepytown shows throughout Sydney announced to-be-announced in early-2017. “Balloon” will be released 9th of December 2016. Facebook here.

'Balloon' is one of those songs that just builds and builds. Vocals are pretty dominant and delightfully melodic, however the stripped back acoustic accompaniment keeps driving the song along, until a more rounded soundtrack unfolds making this one stand out song.