CD Review – Chelsea Lights

Chelsea Lights EP
Review by Danielle Hanrahan

It’s never an easy thing to follow-up a successful single with a debut EP release, but Perth indie rock four-piece, Chelsea Lights have come out smiling with their latest EP offering. A package bursting at the seams from lilting melodies and hypnotizing vocals intersected with raw gyrating from the guitar, it is the perfect accompaniment for their reputed local shows.

The melancholic personality of the tracks instills a maturing and though provoking debut from Chelsea Lights whose driven vocals and songs are the strength behind what is essentially another Perth indie rock band, granted one which is nice to listen to.

A daunting, raw guitar introduction opens the EP in K2, a slightly punk sounding, melodic rendition of catchy lyrics and impassioned tones from vocalist Matt. The chorus of ghostly voices in the background adds to the layers of this track, making it a worthy opening for what is to come in the Chelsea Lights’ musical voice.

Following on from K2 is Judas. Judas is the highlight on the EP with a strong individual flair and darker quality, encouraged by the vocal stylings and distinct guitar lines which infiltrate the essence of this song. Bursting at the seams with a raw, garage sound, yet maintaining a distinct haunting sound is what makes this song a winner.

Things take a slow turn on the acoustic, Saunders St, which returns to the melancholic vibe that Chelsea Lights have become known for in their live shows and which differentiates them from a number of other groups in the same genre.

Catchy lyrics and a return to their louder, more upbeat music makes, Mirror to the World a lasting impression of the overall sound of Chelsea Lights. The EP is a commendable debut for Chelsea Lights whose melancholic tone, distinct characteristics and varied material make them an interesting group to look out for.


CD Review – The Belle Ends – Moose EP

The Belle Ends – Moose EP
Review by Danielle Hanrahan

A catchy blues inspired country and folk sounding anthem is what The Belle Ends have brought forth from their much anticipated ep, Moose. Sounding like an infusion of the raw energy of Johnny Cash and the White Stripes latest sound, The Belle Ends instantly draws your feet into a toe-tapping rhythm.

The first song off the release, ‘Little Ant’ is a high octane hay dance which will keep people interested and listening for more. The catchy melody, along with the raw, strong and bluesy vocals of Phoebe Hamzah makes this an unforgettable first impression for those who have never heard of the Belle Ends before.

Do not however assume that after listening to the first song it is all jumped-up country-folk sounds, as the second track soon dispels this with a heavier sounding tune. ‘5pm’ is a much more grunge take on the band’s sound and demonstrates the varied sound the group can produce and produce well. The Belle Ends sound remains recognizable but with a distinctly different tone and a more pronounced guitar influence. The melody however along with the song structure is classic Belle Ends and one which again proves the talent of this local group.

‘End of An Era’ returns to the folk-inspired blues the group is recognised for, currying a rockabilly influence into the mix. Producing a track which adds another facet to the exceptionally varied flavours people can expect to hear on the ep. Ending with a bang and in the same sort of sounding fashion they introduced their audiences too, ‘Now Is The Time’ is another catchy and rockabilly sounding gem which manages to make you dispel any doubts you had about the band up until this point. The wide variety of sounds and influences you manage to hear on The Belle Ends ep is an indication that this band is eager to explore new territory whilst maintaining a sound that is both unique and The Belle Ends at the same time.

Originally starting off as a two-piece, The Belle Ends have recently added a fourth person to the mix, introducing bass player Simon Roggio. The band have been recently announced as winners of Triple J’s Unearthed competition and for good reason with their highly popular live shows, gaining a loyal and vocal Perth audience which is sure to grow with the release of The Belle Ends latest EP offering.

As Phoebe Hamzah and Tim Hamzah’s blended, raw tone ends The Belle Ends latest EP with,

“You’ve got something important to say, now is the time.”

Now is definitely the time to check out The Belle Ends, if you haven’t already.

CD Review – Natalie D-Napoleon – After The Flood

Natalie D-Napoleon – After the Flood
Review by Danielle Hanrahan

You don’t hear much country music in Perth, so you wouldn’t ever expect to hear a Perth musician singing country tunes. Perth singer/songwriter Natalie D-Napoleon is changing the local view on this, with her achingly pure and passionate solo release, ‘After the Flood.’

The title track, ‘After the Flood’ has a sound reminiscent of Faith Hill, with lyrics that speak from heartfelt human experiences. D-Napoleon’s voice enchants the listener from the beginning, making anyone who isn’t a fan of country normally, to review their standing. The alternative-country sound of D-Napoleon brings a raw, young and uplifting voice in a music genre that seems to have fallen stale within Australia and Western Australia.

‘Slow Burn’ reinforces the nature of the five-track EP with its painful, soaring vocals that seem to stop the listener from whatever they are doing and to completely give themselves to the stories D-Napoleon weaves through her lyrics. D-Napoleon seems to have cleansed her soul through this EP and which audiences can feel through her beautifully married guitar, vocals and lyrics.

After being introduced to a steel, string guitar at the age of 15 has developed into a love affair which never breaks and one which D-Napoleon has learnt on after her own heartbreak, using their experience to both develop as a person and an artist. Launching her musical career in Bloom, an alternative-rock group, D-Napoleon has branched out on her own with ‘After the Flood’ and will continue to do so in the future.

‘Kid Gloves’ reinforces D-Napoleon’s masterful take on country music from a Western Australian young woman with a Croatian background point of view and it is this different sound of country which makes D-Napoleon truly magnificent in producing this sort of sound. D-Napoleon ends the ep with ‘How The World Works,’ a truly uplifting tale which makes the vocals of D-Napoleon which is sure to be carried from anywhere in the world thoroughly stuck in your mind that one play to this EP is not enough. An offering of passionate feelings and human experiences brought through the endearing nature of how D-Napoleon delivers each of her songs as well as her haunting voice.

‘After the Flood’ is a beautifully beguiling solo debut from Natalie D-Napoleon, who has directly changed the face of country music. With a mix of passionate lyrics, delivered with an enchanting voice, that makes this EP a small token of what this artist can do and which we hope to have more of in the future.

Natalie D-Napoleon on myspace

CD Review – Institut Polaire

Institut Polaire – The Flora and the Fauna
Review by Danielle

Perth’s indie wonderkids, Institut Polaire have released their debut ep “The Flora and the Fauna” out through Popfrenzy bringing the heavy instrumentation and catchy-pop, soulful lyrics to a crossroads of something a little country, a little folk and a whole lot of something we wish there was more of.

The WAM Song of the Year winners from last year have delivered a five-piece compilation of songs which has married the textured layers of the instruments, the lyrics and the voice of Eric Hecht to new heights. Produced by Rob Grant and including contributions from Jim Colvin on saxophone, Melanie Price on trombone and Monique Archer in the role of soprano vocals, adds another layer to the vast instrumentation of the permanent members of the group – a sound aspect to the band that has set them apart from their contemporaries.

The title song, “The Fauna and the Flora Are Too Closely Allied” is one of those songs that if you haven’t been convinced from the outset of listening to this band, this song will soon change all of that. It marries the violin from Colvin and the trumpet from Brannen exclusively with that of Eric Hecht’s smooth tone to give the listener a graceful, and pop-styled melody – a song that will be hard to forget.

The body of work on the ep shows a vast range of instruments, melodies and song structures, which the group can call on to deliver a resounding and unmistakable sound. Each song delivers in equal measure to the listening pleasure of the package and brings an unforgettable end, in the song that many will recognize Institut Polaire for – “City Walls and Empires”.

Institut Polaire have come a long way with only a few releases, but have made a deep and resounding impression on Perth and Australian audiences who have seen them live or heard their material, making ‘The Fauna and the Flora Are Too Closely Alllied’ an essential addition to anyone’s music list.

CD Review: Turnstyle – Seasides EP

Turnstyle – ‘Seasides’ EP
Review by Leo Abbs

Where were you in 1997? What were you doing with your life?

If you were like me, and lived in Perth, and were going to indie gigs back then, chances are you would know who Turnstyle are. My friend said to me one night at the rosemount,

‘I thought people in bands were supposed to be cool, but these guys are geeks’. Turmstyle had the geek rock sound down pat, before they even dragged a casio on stage.

‘Seasides’ their first EP, a six trackers (complete with secret track ‘Indie King’ was released in November 1997, and launched at the legendary Grosvenor Front Room. It is a document of the early three piece days of Paul, Adem K and Colin, though by the time they launched, they had a fourth member DJ Grandmaster Casio.

This mid nineties sound was comparable to the sounds of Weezer, and this disc is full of indie cuteness and catch melodies. I’m A Bus, is the best well known track here, most famous for being the song, that the band made up a dance for punters to do at their gigs. Novak’s Plan, with it’s catch chord/lead riff, and ‘western remedies, do do do’ hook was a staple of RTR in that era.

Cologne is the another strong tack, beginning with a simple riff played on the High E and B strings of AdemK’s guitar, and featuring the Chorus ‘Getting much harder to eat a cologne’.

For many pop loving punters of the time, Turnstyle epitomised everything that was memorable about local Perth indie music of the time. Catchy, hummable pop tunes, unique indie dress sense, happy memories and fun gigs. Plus one sweet, sweet EP.

It feels like a special privilege now, that we got to see them play nearly every weekend.

Turnstyle’s Website

CD Review – Superengine – Shadows Meet LP

Superengine – Shadows Meet LP
Review by Leo Abbs

There’s a saying in music that you have your whole life to write your first album, and in this case, it’s very true. The origins of this album called ‘Shadows Meet’ go back some 12 years, when Jon Fernandes and Renee Bingham first started writing songs together in an outfit called Mr Tickle. The songs that make up this album range over the period from 2002 –2007 (when they became a sixpiece and changed their name to Superengine), but the songwriting history of the band spans much longer.

This album is massive. With an amazing amount of instrumentation – multiple vocal harmonies, keys, guitars, bass, trumpet, xylophones, and Trombone plus more…it involved a lot of time in the studio. it’s recorded by a guy in Leederville. This guy also recorded Massive Attack once. Yep. Wowsers! His name is Jeremy Allom.

The first single Intermittent Lies. Has a fair dosage of national airplay, with it’s shout out to their keyboard player, Alison, mid song being the most memorable hook, (along with many ‘be Yada’s’ and plenty of ‘hey! Hey!’s), The rotation it received on triple j was deserving so and it’s the strongest pop song here.

Elsewhere there are tonnes of influences. Stereolab pops up when you hear the band, but local Perth music fans will notice similarities to Cinema Prague, particularly when you feel hints of Meldatype. The vocal harmonies sound similar to Brian Wilson’s work on Pet Sounds.

Though as far as debut long players go, Superengine come across as one of those bands that seem to be stuck at the crossroads. Shadows Meet is an album full of catchy, horn filled pop songs and the other half full of more progressive art rock ‘epics’ that tend to drag a little. It appears the strengths lie in the shorter catchy songs, rather than the lengthy fart wank.

The verdict is. Get to the point, Engine. You could nail an album of perfect pop songs. This disc is a great start, but you can still do better.

CD Review: Project Mayhem

Project Mayhem – ‘No Rest for the Wicked’
Review by Danielle Hanrahan

The latest musical offering from Perth’s Project Mayhem, ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ is one of those CDs that pull you further in to its twisted underbelly the more you listen to it. The stand out feature on this CD is the frenetic instrumentation by the band whose song writing skills have improved greatly and which are no longer, the only aspect that they are remembered for.

On the topic of their earlier material, which had a defining punk-rock element, ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ is much darker, and much more mature. The songs are catchy and contagious. The opening track of ‘Fuck Yeah’ is surprisingly good considering what the song title implies.

Each of the songs follows along these lines of what Project Mayhem have set out to do in the local Perth music scene, and that is? To tell it as honestly and brutally as they can about living in one of the most isolated cities in the world.

Benny Mayhem’s raw, husky tones hurtle the unwary listener between intelligent observations of the socially disorientating world they live in and perhaps helpful advice on life experiences lived. The guitar solos burst in between structured songs, leaving little room for wondering why you’re still sitting, with the overall texture of fast paced savagery that burns from the seams of this CD, sure to lure listeners into the underground lair of Project Mayhem’s life. The running themes within the songs themselves continue to become a staple aspect of the Project Mayhem structure, as well as a defining troupe of what Perth audiences have come to expect.

Project Mayhem have come a long way in their musical stylings to their latest release, and like a fresh, red pimple ready to burst, they have come out the better, becoming more mature and exciting to watch. If you like your music, loud, catchy, fast, and socially stirring, then take a whirl down the path of Project Mayhem’s latest release, ‘No Rest for the Wicked’.

CD Review – The Bulletholes

The Bullet Holes – ‘Lost Cause’
Review by Danielle Hanrahan

The Bullet Holes are slowly making their way through the Perth local music scene, and their path is one strewn with catchy songs and impressive guitar riffs as well as turning heads that have seen their energetic live performances into putty.

Next Big Thing grand finalists in 2007, whose image of alternative punk rock is one which has developed into a mutant-hybrid of something punk-rock and rockabilly have developed an exciting sound sure to stay in the minds of audiences, no matter how intoxicated, especially with their latest offering titled, “Lost Cause”.

With a sound of raw bass and guitar, and a voice that belies the look of the band, The Bullet Holes offer a platter of catchy material sure to get girls dancing. And guys quickly following suit. It’s hard not to start dancing when listening to The Bullet Holes, even if you’re not at their gig. The opening song on the EP, “Everyday,” serves as the taster for the rest of the content that follows with simply constructed songs capturing the essence of what is real to the songwriters themselves. ‘Everyday’ and ‘It’s over’ are sure to be ones where the audience remember each line and try to both sing and dance at the same time. A feat which if you’re not too fit, can be sustainably difficult.

A surprise on the EP is ‘Where I Fall,’ a mellow canapé offered to settle the heart beat but one which would put a smile on punters nonetheless. The upbeat tempo offered later in the structure, the strong guitar, the heavy beat of the drums, extends this song into something which will move audiences (emotionally) but will soon have them moving on the dance floor. We come to the end of the EP with the song whose title lends itself to the EP, ‘It’s Over,’ think Living End-esque and something hard to pin down, where it makes a number which, if you haven’t been convinced thus far, ‘It’s Over’ is sure to do the job.

The lead’s vocals transcend into a parallel universe from each song, only coming together in ‘It’s Over’ to make the finale to this sweet little number felt far and wide. Upbeat. Catchy. Energetic. Raw. And songs that don’t let you forget who you listened to. The Bullet Holes, unlike the title of their CD, are far from a lost cause.

CD Review: Jason Ayres

Jason Ayres Debut EP

Review by Leo Abbs

Songwriting with just a voice and guitar, is the simplest way to pen a tune, and this is the approach local songwriter Jason Ayres takes on his debut EP.. This recording is very simple, it has a plain styled package, and it’s recorded with just the basic instruments, with no backing.

This direction allows the songs to speak for themselves clearly in their rawest form. However at times you can’t help but thinking that their needs to be more filling to make the product more likable. Another criticism is the lyrical subject matter. while the biography talks about the comparisons to ‘the story telling of Dave Matthews’, it tends to stick to the same old story of relationships.

His voice is fine, but at times can tend to be too nasally, and his use of falsettos can be mis-directed, as when he hits the higher register it is quite off-putting. Song-wise he has definitely improved since his demo recording of 2004, obviously the hard work of writing and frequent gigging is paying off.

There are strong points on the five tracker like the tune Chasing Ghosts, which is a little less obvious in the subject matter and at the same time, has a hook capable of sticking in your mind. Track 2 ‘Everything I Say’ is probably the strongest track on the disc, simply because it a fantastic chorus, it’s moments like this when Ayres shows his promise as songwriter.

This is nice for a listen on a lazy afternoon, or the background while having a barbecue. It sounds simple and will grow with a listen. Though however promising it is, there is still work to be done for Jason Ayres to take his music to the next level.

CD Review – Tengo Fuego

Tengo Fuego – Self-Titled EP
By Sarah Vagliviello

Even turning your stereo right up to eleven, doesn’t totally transcend Tengo Fuego’s live show prowess to the confines of a studio recording, no matter who the producer is (in this case being Al Smith of Bergerk Studios). While this five-track self-titled EP cannot capture the stage essence of Tengo Fuego, it certainly portrays a different element of this band that punters won’t see in real life.

This is a much less messy and more controlled version of a high-energy band that still retains that rock element that Tengo Fuego are so well known for. It also goes to say that in this contained respect, as the songs become easier to follow, they become catchier. Opener Republican seems to take on a new light, and the steadier Weddings, which relies on the cynicism of its lyrics, certainly benefits from production. This EP should impress fans and could well attract a larger following to one of Perth’s fastest-growing rock bands.