New Kucka Will Give You Goosebumps, In A Good Way

11 March 2016 | 5:23 pm | Ross Clelland

" In both the music and the visuals there is an intimacy that is almost uncomfortable."

Some time back, a musician friend of mine who happens to be a woman – and note how carefully I constructed that phrase – pointed out that, for instance, Neil Finn and Steven Tyler are never lumped in the same category “…just because they both have dicks”. Fair point. In the afterglow of International Women’s Day, another acquaintance ground her finger in my breastbone, and said that I should do a bit of positive discrimination and skew this column toward female artists this week.

You know what? No.

Are enough women being given an opportunity to create and release music? Of course not. But me reviewing some third rate blues-grunge band just because it has an all-girl lineup really isn’t going advance music - or the feminist cause. As it happens – and as it happens most weeks here – there are female voices and/or female musicians represented in the below. I (hopefully) don’t really care about gender, gender identity, gender preference – this is about songs that work on my head, heart, and/or dancing feet. So should, say, P.J.Harvey and Megan Washington be placed together in one category? Only on a list of my potential next ex-wives.*

(*Tweet posts of outrage and complaint to the usual places. Cheers.)

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

Kucka makes a music based in electronics that you somehow feel is never quite going to be fully appreciated here in the southern hemisphere, so the release of Honey (Midnight Feature) coming with announcement of her debut London show is almost doubly good news in recognition of her individual talent. In both the music and the visuals there is an intimacy that is almost uncomfortable, which somehow ends up both haunting and tender. Kucka can be an exhaling on your skin that leads to goosebumps. In a good way.

Rainbow Chan is at the end of such intimacy. The love is gone, but the angst is more in the bittersweet line. Nest (Silo Arts) is also electronica pop with a perhaps odd brightness given the subject matter. The memories are mostly good ones, but she – and the former object of affection - might both shed a tear when they eventually hang up the phone and realise what they’ve lost. Although she, at the least, has got a helluva tune out of it. 

And so, into the ‘where do they go when the band goes the way of all flesh’ section. Kristin Kontrol is the new musical guise of the former Dee Dee Welchez, a.k.a. Kristin Gundred (confused yet?) of Dum Dum Girls. As well as changing her own name various ways, X-Communicate (Sub Pop) moves the music along from the Dum Dums’ ‘60s girl-group sweetness undercut with some ‘70s new wavery to a music owing a lot to ‘80s-era synth pop. From there she cherry-picks some Pet Shop Boys’ detachment with a smidge of New Order’s insistence – with her singing actually a technical  advance on either of those. 

Also from the ashes of various more rockist combos – probably most notably Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s – the descriptively-monikered Head Wound City genre themselves ‘noisegrind’. From evidence of Scraper (Vice) this would appear to mean they’re of a slightly more strained guitar strangle, but perhaps similar threatening desert, as QOTSA and that ilk. Although the dancing triffid of this clip – as in the book, not the band – suggests there may well be some peyote among the cactus. 

It’s sometimes difficult to work out where the main guise ends, and the side-project takes up. Cosmic Rays is ostensibly Matthew Neumann of Scot Drakula’s ‘other’ thing, but there’s a strangely intriguing slacker intensity to the grandly titled Teen Bank Robbers On Heroin (Future Popes). He claims is another way to make sense of things. Sure. If this includes making a genuinely discomforting video, which comes on like Natural Born Killers made on a budget on a couple of takeaway pizzas and a tram-fare to Thornbury, best of luck to him. Sidebar: in these meth-fuelled days, is it time to become nostalgic for those days of simply stepping around toothless angry blokes nodding off in the park? Maybe not.

There’s a nice pun in Prism Tats name. I think. Taking a perhaps uncommon musical transplanting from South Africa to LA of Garett van der Speck, another one man band mixing wiry guitar with some sparse electronics to make something that sounds vaguely of the angst of the ‘90s, but comes from being raised on the odd mix of American, English, and European influences that’s even a bit different to the recipe of sounds we of Australia and even New Zealand might be raised upon. Although the title of Death Or Fame (Anti) is a fairly universal rock and roll philosophy.

Fallon Cush is another hard one to pigeonhole. OK, there is some alt-country in there, as is written on the wrapper. But there’s also an oddly bitter breeziness to parts of Useless Friend (Same Tune). It comes on as not at all Australian in origin, but in parts of its polished progress it almost seems on a track to yacht rock, with odds accents of George Harrison and/or Tom Petty. Which would make them The Travelling Wilburys. Take that as you will.