Throughout the course of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about POND, the recording project of Perth, Australia-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Jay Watson. The project has a long history of Watson collaborating with a […]
Throughout the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about the Perth, Australia-born, Nashville, TN-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, Bex Chilcott, and as you may recall, Chilcott has led the sort of life that could have easily inspired a dozen or so country albums. At 14, the Perth-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter left a deeply dysfunctional home and eventually worked her way up the desolate, Western Australian coast, before ending up in Broome, a culturally diverse and ramshackle, tiny dot of a town on the map, where reportedly it doesn’t pay to ask people too many questions about their pasts — or why they ended up there of all places, And while in Broome, Chilcott worked for weeks at at time on a pearling trawler, where she worked with incredibly hardened men, doing backbreaking, exhaustingly hard labor, and alcohol was prohibited. Her time on the sea doing backbreaking work with the men she was surrounded by was quite profound, and in her free time, the Perth-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter spent her free hours contemplating life and teaching herself guitar and songwriting, which eventually lead to her singing her own original material.
Returning from a self-imposed exile from civilization, Chilcott learned that people actually wanted to listen to her originals — and that was when she began to perform as Ruby Boots. Chilcott’s first two Ruby Boots efforts were critically praised for being bold, unafraid and unabashedly honest works centered around stories on tough and unlucky sorts, who see their lives and affairs of the heart as deathly serious matters. With the buzz surrounding her early work, the Perth-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist has shared stages with an impressive array of internationally acclaimed artists like Father John Misty, Shakey Graves, Justin Townes Earle, Shovels & Rope, Nikki Lane, Reverend Horton Heat, Tony Joe White, Kris Kristofferson and others. Building upon a growing profile, Chilcott’s 2015 Ruby Boots debut Solitude featured guest spots from The Waifs’ Vicki Thorn, along with some of Australia’s top alt-country talents, including Dewey Lane, Jordie Lane, Bill Chambers, The Sleepy Jackson‘s and Eskimo Joe‘s Lee Jones, who has been one of Chilcott’s frequent collaborators.
Chilcott’s Beau Bedford-produced Ruby Boots sophomore album Don’t Talk About It was released through Chicago, IL-based label Bloodshot Records earlier this year, and as you may recall, the album features the acclaimed Southern rock/Country and Western band The Texas Gentlemen, fronted by the album’s producer, as her backing band. Lyrically and thematically, the album follows the restlessly odyssey of a restless and somewhat aimless drifter, with tattered, beaten up and heavily stamped passport in hand, essentially capturing the life of a woman who’s been tossed about by the rough undertow, breakers and currents of life and its messiness but without losing hope, strength or her will to survive and thrive. Granted, just underneath the surface is a world weary acceptance that life will break your heart in countless ways — and when you think and feel that you can’t go on anymore, life will push and shove you forward, and towards where life needs you to be.
Earlier this year, I wrote about Don’t Talk About It’s sparse, bare-knuckle, and unabashedly honest, a cappela “I Am A Woman,” a single centered around the raw ache and regret of someone, who has lived a full and messy life of shitty decisions frequently inspired by even shittier situations, dysfunctional and furiously passionate relationships with irresponsible lovers and with decent, honest ones, too. And yet, through the song there’s the quietly defiant resiliency and pride that from my experience I’ve only ever seen in women. As Chilcott explained in press notes, “‘I Am a Woman’ was conjured up amid recent events where men have spoken about, and treated women’s bodies, the way no man, or woman, should. This kind of treatment toward another human being makes every nerve in my body scream. These kinds of incidents are so ingrained in our culture and are swept under the carpet at every turn—it needs to change. As tempting as it was to just write an angry tirade I wanted to respond with integrity, so I sat with my feelings and this song emerged as a celebration of women and womanhood, of our strength and our vulnerability, all we encompass and our inner beauty, countering ignorance and vulgarity with honesty and pride and without being exclusionary to any man or woman. My hope is that we come together on this long drawn out journey. The song is the backbone to the album for me.”
“It’s So Cruel,” the latest single off Chilcott’s critically acclaimed sophomore album is a swaggering and gritty, power chord-based, honky tonk anthem and a coquettish love song, full of swaggering confidence in which its narrator essentially says throughout “look, you fucking dummy, i’m the best thing in your life and you need to recognize it — now!” Unsurprisingly, the recently released video produced and directly by Joshua Shoemaker features Chilcott as a guitar playing force of nature.
Bex Chilcott is a Perth, Australia-born, Nashville, TN-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who has led the sort of life that could easily have inspired a dozen or or more country and western albums. At 14, Chilcott left a dysfunctional and conflicted home and eventually worked her way up the desolate Western Australian coast, before she ended up in Broome, a ramshackle and culturally diverse, tiny dot on the map, where reportedly it didn’t pay to ask people too many questions about their pasts — or why they ended up there. While in Broome, Chilcott worked for weeks at a time on a pearling trawler, where she worked with incredibly hardened men, doing backbreaking, exhausting labor and alcohol was forbidden. Naturally, the time on the seas, the backbreaking work and the men she worked with was profound and in her free time, the young Chilcott spent hours contemplating life and teaching herself guitar and songwriting — and then later, to eventually sing her own material.
Returning from a self-imposed exile from civilization, Chilcott learned that people actually wanted to listen to her originals — and that was when she began to perform as Ruby Boots.
Chilcott’s first two Ruby Boots EP received attention for bold, unafraid and unabashedly honest music that told tales of tough and unlucky souls, who see both their lives and affairs of the heart as deathly serious matters. And as a result, Chilcott has shared stages with the internationally acclaimed artists like Father John Misty, Shakey Graves, Justin Townes Earle, Shovels & Rope, Nikki Lane, Reverend Horton Heat, Tony Joe White, Kris Kristofferson and others. Adding to a growing profile, Chilcott released her full-length debut Solitude, an effort that was released back in 2015 and featured guest spots from The Waifs’ Vicki Thorn, along with some of Australia’s top alt-country talents, including Dewey Lane, Jordie Lane, Bill Chambers, The Sleepy Jackson‘s and Eskimo Joe‘s Lee Jones, who has been one of Chilcott’s frequent collaborators.
Chilcott’s long-awaited sophomore, full-length effort Don’t Talk About It was officially released through Chicago, IL-based label Bloodshot Records today, and the Beau Bedford-produced album features the acclaimed country and Southern rock band The Texas Gentlemen as her backing band. Lyrically and thematically, the album charts this drifter’s restless odyssey, tattered and beaten up passport in hand, capturing the life of someone who’s been tossed ashore by the breakers and currents of life, but hasn’t lost hope or her will; but with the recognition that life will break your heart more ways to count, and when you think you can’t go on much further, life pushes you forward anyway.
Don’t Talk About It’s latest single is the sparse, bare-knuckle, a capella “I Am A Woman,” and the single, which will further cement Chilcott’s growing reputation for crafting personal and unabashedly raw and honest songs, full of the ache and regret of a messy life featuring shitty decisions influenced by shittier situations, dysfunctional and furious relationships with irresponsible, dangerous lovers and good, decent ones. And throughout, there’s the quietly defiant and self-contained resiliency and pride that from my experience I’ve only seen in women. Interestingly, in some way the song makes a subtle nod at Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” spiritually and thematically — but clearly from a very modern sensibility. As Chilcott explains in press notes, “‘I Am a Woman’ was conjured up amid recent events where men have spoken about, and treated women’s bodies, the way no man, or woman, should. This kind of treatment toward another human being makes every nerve in my body scream. These kinds of incidents are so ingrained in our culture and are swept under the carpet at every turn—it needs to change. As tempting as it was to just write an angry tirade I wanted to respond with integrity, so I sat with my feelings and this song emerged as a celebration of women and womanhood, of our strength and our vulnerability, all we encompass and our inner beauty, countering ignorance and vulgarity with honesty and pride and without being exclusionary to any man or woman. My hope is that we come together on this long drawn out journey. The song is the backbone to the album for me.”
The live version features Chilcott with three of her Nashville songwriter friends contributing backing vocals — Philip Creamer, Nicole Atkins and Kashena Sampson and was shot in the lounge room/living room of Chilcott’s best friend Nikki Lane.
Founded by frontman, primary member and creative mastermind Jay Watson POND is a Perth, Australia-based psych rock project that features a rotating cast of musicians and collaborators including Tame Impala frontman and primary member Kevin Parker. The project’s 2009 full-length debut Psychedelic Mango was much more psych rock and psych pop-leaning but with 2010’s Frond, Watson and company had increasingly taken up a much heavier pop sound. 2012’s Beard, Wives, Denim was an international breakthrough and was released to critical praise.
Interestingly enough, the material on Beard, Wives, Denim was written and recorded around the release of Tame Impala’s critically applauded breakthrough effort Innerspeaker and with the growing buzz around Australia’s music scene, the members of Pond found themselves touring internationally to support the album — and it included an appearance at that year’s SXSW and a one-off show with CAN‘s Damo Suzuki, a major influence on Watson and his sound.
Watson and company’s latest effort The Weather continues their ongoing collaboration with Kevin Parker, and the album’s latest single “Colder Than Ice” pairs Watson’s sultry falsetto with a production consisting of icy and shimmering synths, stuttering beats and a motorik groove in what may arguably be one of the more dance floor friendly tracks they’ve released in some time; but underneath the swaggering surface is a trippy, kaleidoscopic vibe.
Co-directed by the members of POND and George Foster, the recently released visuals feature members of the band in gritty, Eastern European-like environs and stars Kirin J. Callinan as a dancing cowboy — and naturally, it’s a trippy accompaniment to the song.
Wesley Fuller is a Perth, Australia-born, Melbourne, Australia-based singer/songwriter multi-instrumentalist and producer, who quickly received national attention with the release of his debut EP, Melvista for an anthemic jangling guitar pop sound that draws from 60s bubblegum pop, 70s glam rock. Fuller’s much anticipated full-length debut Inner City Dream is slated for a September 22, 2017 release through 1965 Records, and the material will reportedly further cement his growing reputation for crafting infectious and anthemic pop that sounds mischievously anachronistic, all while subtly expanding upon his sound and songwriting approach, as his influences expanded; in fact, as a result of his regularly occurring DJ sets in and around Melbourne, Fuller cites late 70s and early 80s Talking Heads as a growing influence on him. As Fuller explains “Melvista was really my first solo expedition and I was learning as I went along. I think by the time I came to record the album I had a better technical knowledge of what I was doing. There’s probably a wider span of influences on the album. I wanted to showcase every aspect of my sound.”
Along with the sound, Fuller’s material thematically has reportedly progressed as well with the material on Inner City Dream revealing a growing maturity with the material focusing on the worldview of a young man trying to come to terms with his place, both physically and symbolically — but at times with a wry, observational humor; in fact, as you’ll hear on Inner City Dream’s later single “#1 Song,” the song smartly focuses and then mischievously takes fire on the upper echelon of modern pop. As Fuller says in press notes “I think everyone in the scene knows to a certain extent that it’s all bullshit. So why take it seriously? You’ve got some artists with 20 tracks in the Top 30. The gap between the big stars and the indie bands are worlds apart. There’s really no money in music at all unless you’re at the very top. To get there, you have to compromise your dignity and be prepared to release some pretty pedestrian shit.” But instead of calling those who have managed massive success a bunch of soulless sellouts, the song sly says “well, in that situation what would you do? Does anyone dream of criss-crossing the country in an old van with two, three, four or more broke, desperate and sweaty musicians, and possibly getting your whole life stolen while on the road? Who doesn’t dream of having the biggest song in their country — or in the world? And who doesn’t dream of playing in front of massive crowds at Glastonbury, Madison Square Garden, Wembley Stadium, The Rose Bowl, etc.? What would you do in the face of an opportunity of a lifetime? Talk about artistic integrity? Bullshit! You’d probably sign your name on the dotted line, sell your soul and your mother if you have to.
“#1 Song” ironically enough manages to sound as though it was a #1 song released sometime between 1969 and 1974 — with a subtly modern production sheen; but at its core is some incredibly slick and carefully crafted pop-leaning songwriting, complete with an incredibly infectious, danceable, and anthemic hook reminiscent of T. Rex, Bay City Rollers and a handful of others.
The recently released video features Fuller and his backing band appearing as though they fell out of time warp from 1973 or so, playing “#1 Song” on a Top of the Pops-like TV show — and the way the video is shot, to even how the musicians appear to be playing bear an uncanny resemblance to how shows of that period were shot.
Comprised of Sophie, Annabel, Cecil and Georgia, Body Type are a Sydney, Australia-based — by way of Perth, Australia and Kiama, Australia — indie quartet that formed a little over six months ago and began receiving attention for material that thematically focuses on navigating heartbreak to the banality of life in in a moldy Redfern terraced house — and for opening for the likes of Gabriella Cohen, Cate Le Bon and The Coathangers. Adding to a growing national profile, the Sydney-based quartet recently signed to Our Golden Friend Records, who will be releasing the “Ludlow”/”264” 7 inch single, featuring their debut single “Ludlow” and their latest single, the moody and slow-burning “264.” While sounding as though it were indebted to jangling guitar pop and Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound-era production, the song manages to feature lyrics that describe the day-to-day life of in and around a shitty little house with a novelist’s attention to detail, a soaring bridge and a sinuous bass line holding it all together. It’s a gently swooning and moody take on a familiar and beloved sound — and it reveals a young band playing and writing gorgeous material with a cool, self-assuredness.
“Sweep Me Off My Feet,” is the first bit of new material from the band since last year’s Man, It Feels Like Space Again and interestingly enough the single sounds as though it could have been a Tame Impala B side — and that’s not a terrible thing, really. Sonically speaking, the band pairs boom-bap like drums, layers of buzzing synths, chiming percussion, plaintive falsetto vocals, buzzing yet bluesy guitar solo and an anthemic hook in a slow-burning and trippy bit of psych pop that possesses an urgent, carnal need and vulnerability underneath it’s arena rock swagger. Unsurprisingly, “Sweep Me Off My Feet” is also the first single from the band’s forthcoming, Kevin Parker produced, untitled full-length album slated for release in early 2017.
Comprised of Kacee Hedit, Benny Tamblyn and Oli Kirk, Adelaide, Australia-based indie rock/indie electro pop trio Flamingo have developed a reputation both locally and nationally for a sleek, downtempo electronic sound with the release of their first two EPs, with their second EP Drip Drip being released to widespread critical praise. And as a result, the trio not only embarked on their first national tour with stops in their homeland’s largest cities — Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and their hometown — they’ve found their profile growing opening for Bonobo, Rüfüs, Giraffage and The Kite String Tangle, as well as appearances at Splendour on the Grass and Groovin’ the Moo.
Interestingly, the trio’s latest single is about a topic that has been in the international spotlight for some time — refugees, who arrive by boat to a new and perhaps unforgiving and unwelcoming land. And as the band’s vocalist Kacee Heidt explains “Leaving your home and everything you have ever known to travel to the other side of the world in search of a life free from tyranny and devastation with nothing but your family and the clothes on your back. This is one of the hardest things a person can possibly go through and something most Australians couldn’t possibly imagine.” And as a result, the song portrays refugees with a profound sense of empathy — an empathy the the members of the band feel has long been missing from their national conversation on the issue. Sonically speaking, the trio pairs shimmering guitar chords, skittering beats, gently undulating synths and Heidt’s plaintive vocals singing lyrics that point at asylum seekers’ plight with a bitterly sarcastic irony at its core, opening suggesting that those who were desperate enough to risk everything for the chance at asylum need not just the most empathy but the most assistance.
Initially comprised of cousins Jamie Turner (vocals, bass) and Matt Williams (guitar), along with Mike Mutt (organ) and Adrian Macmillan (drums), Perth, Australia-based psych rock quartet The High Learys can trace their origins to when Turner and Williams met Mutt in high school, with the band recruiting Macmillan to finalize the band’s original lineup back in 2011. With the release of a full-length album and a number of singles the Australian psych rock quartet have received praise both across their native Australia and internationally for a sound that had been described as a contemporary take on 60s psych rock, bubblegum pop and large rock that seemed to draw influence from the likes of The Doors, The Who Sings My Generation-era The Who, The Animals, The Turtles, The Beatles and contemporary acts such as Oasis, The Black Angels, Elephant Stone, Sleepy Sun and others.
In fact, the band quickly became a JOVM mainstay as I wrote about a handful of singles on this site — including “Letters to Alice,” a song comprised of intertwined, twisting and turning guitar and organ chords paired with a propulsive rhythm section and Turner’s Liam Gallagher-like vocals; “I’m A Fool For You” was their most bubblegum pop-leaning single, which possessed an infectious and sweet melody paired with even sweeter lyrics; and “Clear My Mind,” a single that sounded as though it could have been written, recorded and released sometime during the Summer of Love. Now, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve written about them and in that time the band’s lineup has been shuffled — Macmillan has been replaced by Mitchell J. Benson on drums. And interestingly enough, the band’s latest single “Cabinet” not only marks a change in sonic direction for the band that pushes their 60s-leaning psych rock sound closer to the 21st century and is the first time that the band produced themselves in the studio. Sonically “Cabinet” sounds as though it draws from My Gold Mask and Elephant Stone’s most recent releases, as the band pairs guitars and organ played through distortion and effects pedals, thundering drumming and an anthemic hook. In some way, the song sounds as though it were recorded in an enormous empty room with the instrumentation reverberating off the walls and back down to the musicians and listener.
As the band notes in press notes “‘Cabinet’ explores the insecurities of a young mind. Someone who feels lost in their ways, but at the same time shares the burdens of adolescents with their other half.” And although the song possesses a trippy feel, at its core is a plaintive heartache that should feel familiar — it should remind the listener of the fact that love is almost always awkward but perhaps even more so when you’re trying to figure yourself out.