MIKELANGELO & THE BLACK SEA GENTLEMEN
People just won’t shut up about what a quasi-religious experience a Mikelangelo show is. A crooner known for performing tributes to Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits, Mike’s work with the Black Sea Gentleman definitely bears the imprint of this dour, melodramatic lot. But the Gents’ decorative instrumentation transports you to the middle of the Baltic Sea.
I ain’t much of a blues fan, so hearing blokes fiddling on guitars and running through 12 bar progressions circa-2016 really doesn’t do it for me. The Durongs should thus be of no interest. But the band’s got two key redeeming attributes: 1) a fuckin’ sick saxophonist and 2) an understanding that less is more and space often says more than pace.
There’s a touch of gimmickry to Simi Lacroix’s sparkling ‘80s power ballad revivalism. But fuck it, who cares when the hooks are this persuasive.
Fallon Cush believe the only way forward is by looking backward. This isn’t always a wise move, as once you start looking backward (particularly into Americana and folk as done by Dylan and the Band, Neil Young, et al) it’s hard to return to the present. But Fallon Cush are here with some well-informed folk numbers and a burning heart or two.
Safia, Broods, Ellie Goulding… they’re not the most promising influences. But a musician’s taste and a musician’s output don’t always stand in parallel. In the case of Fluir, the Melbourne singer’s electronic dance pop is a cut above the acts she cites as inspirations.
Steph Crase’s work as Summer Flake has recurrently been tagged as ’90s-inspired’. Is that what we’re now calling anything with distorted guitar, low-key production and a melancholic tint? I’d prefer to say it sounds like right now, meaning Crase’s songwriting demands our attention, even while conveying a tone of resignation.
It’s fair to say Black Cab aren’t cool. No, these are nerds. They weren’t cool when they made a couple of albums of washy psych rock. They were exploring their obsession with post British Invasion ’60s rock. And they’re not cool now making steely, New Order-inclined synth pop. But these nerds sure are clever, which leaves us with a pretty impressive catalogue of material to dig into.
Tijuana Cartel are touring in support of ‘Endlessly’ one of the psych-y big beat wonders from last year’s Psychedelicatessen LP. There’s a suspicious hippie vibe to a lot of Tijuana Cartel’s releases, but even when the initial sheen wears away, there lie some well-crafted tunes.
Heart Beach are like a garage rock band with a flat tire. Not lifeless, just taking their time. You can imagine them getting to one of their gigs on public transport, or uploading their songs to Bandcamp by sneaking onto the neighbours’ wifi. It’s good charming, unpretentious stuff.
TOOTH & TUSK
Some Tooth & Tusk songs veer more towards the fuzz side of early-‘70s glam rock, while other are borrowed straight from the Summer of Love ‘60s pop handbook. In either case vocal melodies lead the way. Not likely to knock you off your feet, but certainly liable to get stuck in your head.