Neil & Liam Finn's New Track Proves The Finn Family Have A Freakin' Gift

7 June 2018 | 11:29 am | Ross Clelland


As we enthusiasts get a little antsy in expectation of Ms Clark’s upcoming Vivid Festival appearance at that old train shed down the road, we find that St Vincent has now gone a step beyond reinventing herself for each album, and has now reconfigured and recast one of the songs from her latex-clad piece of wonderfulness, Masseduction. Fast Slow Disco (Loma Vista) switches the gears of its original, er, ‘slow’ arrangement. Cleverly it retain the ache of Version 1.0, but makes it more about downing another Fluffy Duck and heading back to the neon floor to dance over the problems, if not actually able to solve them. It’s not just given more insistent underpinning BPMs - a soul choir chorus toward the end another touch of distinction. Pop music as art, again.

Meantime, it’s been at least a month since the last Tame Impala/Pond related item – so, on previous experience, this one’s well overdue. So, it’s Jay Watson in his Gum guise’s turn to be offering something new, that being the terrifically titled Couldn’t See Past My Ego (Spinning Top). There’s the probably expected psychedelic foundations to it, but it might come from a slightly different place, it’s almost-pastoral glances off into the middle distance giving it an almost olde prog feel – although that’s prog possibly more owing something to XTC’s self-aware new wave take on it, rather than Pink Floyd before Syd took that one yellow tab too many and things went to shit.

Oh, you’d prefer something a little more family based, but near-perfect in its pop song classicism? Giving the ‘…& Son’ official equal billing, Neil & Liam Finn’s Back To Life (Inertia) is everything you want: sublime harmonies over relaxedly unspooling melodies and just delivered with all the feeling and craftsmanship you’d expect. Actually opens maybe a bit down an askance alt-country line, perhaps reflective of occasionally having Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and his son around the place sometimes, and then has an interesting little left turn into an almost eastern-European folkie/gypsy breakdown midway through. Aww, bugger it, it’s all lovely. Sure, it might not be Message To My Girl or Fall At Your Feet – but what is?

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If you want to go further toward that thing so broadly and clumsily referred to as ‘alt-folk’, without it resembling the earlier work of Mumford and his accursed offspring before they went so absurdly rock in what they were trying to do, please receive and appreciate the new thing from The Milk Carton Kids. Joey and Kenneth’s near Appalachian tones have their typical sincere tone on Younger Years (Anti-). Simple intertwining acoustic guitars and intertwining plaintive harmonies, this owes more to the Everly or even Louvin Brothers – perhaps even with a touch of classic Simon & Garfunkel in the style and form of it.

The almost wilful under-the-radar manner of Deaf Wish is something else again. FFS (Sub Pop) is actually the precursor to their fifth album no less – and their second on a label that many bands would give several of their major limbs to even be considered by. If you need catching up: they’re from Melbourne, they’ve broken up a couple of times, and then reappear to just pop something out as neatly thrown together as this. The guitars overflow gloriously, and Sarah is absolutely not to be messed with. It’s all in a style that might be called ‘punk’ – if you considered what a band like Sonic Youth did was punk. They achieve all that in two minutes and seventeen seconds – making it all the more impressive, even for those with limited attention spans.

Mallrat is another who might be getting her deserved appreciation in lands other than this. It’s again that almost contradictory easy tumble of words expressing an awkwardness in Groceries (Nettwerk). It’s almost as if she’s working it out as it goes along, which is a neat conceit in itself. You want to give her a hug, but settle on one of those odd fist bumps that leaves everybody involved not sure what to say next. Song no doubt coming to your local community radio station presently.

She’ll say it up front. Even sign her emails with it: “Alien Of Extraordinary Abilities.” That is actually how that strange land of America describes foreigners they deign to allow to stay and work in their nation. ‘Our’ Jess McAvoy is, for the moment, based in Brooklyn – that part of the US of A musicians appear to be gravitating to if Nashville isn’t right for them. Curious (Orchard Music) almost seems to come with the confidence and brashness of that New York borough – it’s a tough-but-tender pop song that strides pugnaciously up to you to ask the question. You know what you should have said in smartarse reply about ten minutes after the event. She’s whip-smart, sharp - maybe even a little snarky - and has a terrific haircut.