Newcastle's old punk society East Coast Low have released their debut album Open The Sky. It's the cover that hits you first: a magnificent photo of Newcastle Beach as the band's namesake rolls in. Open The Sky is punk, and it's blues and it's sludge, and it's years of playing in seedy bars around the country. The band's pedigree has brought in a big 90s influence to East Coast Low, featuring members of classic Newy bands like No Reason, Sandpaper and The Fools – as well as national acts like 78 Saab, Massappeal and Mortal Sin. The sludge comes through on these tracks like wet molasses!
With nine tracks on the album, it's just a taste of the poster that comes with the live show. There was once a classic band from Brisbane called the Lompoc Count Platterheads, and East Coast Low must have had them running through their veins and heads while they put this album together – there's a nod to the Splatterheads hidden in the tracks too. Repeated listens just make this album better and better, a local release that will no doubt be on in the background of many barbies in Isso this summer.
Paper Thin have gone the vinyl route for their new 4-track EP Living With. Being Without. These guys have been on a trajectory to fame ever since their first rehearsal. Opening track ‘When You Call’ features the delicate harmonies of Newcastle singer/songwriter Grace Turner, and it's got the pop hooks that radio should be all over. The band (with the help of Sydney DIY label Lost Boy Records) has spent a lot of time putting this package together, from two different vinyl colours (‘Blue Sky’ and ‘Cloudy Day’ translucent) through to the little additions – like printing on the inner and outer cover of the sleeve. They have been playing nationally, and could become the first breakout brand from the Newcastle area in over 20 years. Let's hope so, they deserve it.
Suburban Haze have released their second album Wilt on vinyl – and doesn't this one come as a complete surprise! Are they punks who've discovered The Smiths? Or just guys who love a little light and shade in their music? They aren't the first band to pair English shoegaze with emo and punk; see the Florida band Merchandise, which also featured ex-hardcore punks in the mix. But maybe Suburban Haze have even more to offer. You won't get bored with this release – it chops and changes with ease. The album was recorded by Jay Maas, the former guitarist and songwriter for iconic emo/punk band Defeater. Why this band don't make a go of it would be anyone's guess, but from where my ears sit – they should.
Ex-Novocastrian Oliver Young (or Youngbloods, as he is known to many) got a job working at the Zenith pressing plant in Melbourne. While studying for a music/recording degree, he has used an assignment to write, record and press his own record! This release is exactly what a 7" should be: one classic indie pop song with a timeless feel. This track could have appeared on any C86 English indie pop compilation with ease. While it suffers a little in the recording and mastering, it's such a classic song that Olly's knack for a great pop hook lets it stand out. There are only 50 of these, so come in and grab one before they disappear. Hopefully we will be hearing more soon.
That's it for local releases this month! But make sure you keep an ear to the ground for the new EP from local lords Dave. I've been able to have a sneaky listen to the unmixed recordings – and it's a big step up for these guys. Hey, maybe we can have a race to see which Newcastle band is going to capture the nation's heart first: Paper Thin or Dave.