The Single Life: The Verdict On The Latest From Pale Waves, DMA’S & More

5 July 2018 | 2:29 pm | Ross Clelland

"A variety of generations will find something to like in them."

You like those moments when the past, present, and future of music fall together rather neatly. Pale Waves are current UK critical darlings and potential next big thing who unashamedly admit taking some cues from the ‘80s – a selection of their guitar hooks, hair-dos, and eye make-up absolutely taken from The Cure model of that decade – and with the happy accident of timing they’re touring here just before the album that will have them likely playing to thousands rather than a couple of hundred as they are this time.

Be ahead of the game by listening to Noises (Dirty Hit) below, so you can be that smartarse at the pub over coming months who goes ‘Oh yeah, I knew about them back in ’18…’. Their obvious love of Prince mixed in with a soupcon of Siouxsie Sioux and even some Cranberries warble in a tale quite candidly and well discussing mental health issues means a variety of generations will find something to like in them.

Equally, there’s something just right about the way East Brunswick All Girls Choir are going. The music is becoming more robust, yet the clenched intensity of Dog FM (Milk!) is a band still in the midst of finding exactly what they want to be. That the visuals to go with are of the single-shot close-up style, just further amps up the sweat, angst, and intimacy - and the fact those memories and regrets are increasingly like the walls closing in around you. Claustrophobic? Yep, and that’s probably the idea. Quite uncomfortably near great in its uncomfortable greatness.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

Of course if a song’s original construction is good enough, it should be able to sustain second or even third thoughts as to the way it should be delivered. DMA’S obvious ‘80s and ‘90s influences have now been integrated to a style that identifiably their own rather than that couple of Manchester combos who shall now remain nameless. But as they hit the promo trail a couple of month ago for the already sturdy and identifiable In The Air (I Oh You), they were obliged to strip it back when trotting it out for the in-station appearance for local community radio outlets.

Somehow, the cut-down ‘acoustic’ take actually found more in the song, to the point it’s now deemed worthy of release in its own right. Delivered this way it is closer, rawer, and maybe more revealing for it. Bic lighters and phones will undoubtedly now be raised and swayed when played in this manner to a live audience.

In the ‘music for young moderns’ category, Mansionair are increasingly on the money as well. The well-groomed cool electronica of Technicolour (Liberation) is pop music seemingly almost custom-tailored for the audience that will witness them as they act as support for Chvrches just-about-to- happen tour here, as the Scots also broaden their base with all-ages shows in much bigger venues than their last tour. One of the few issues for our aspiring kiddies is deciding in just which demographic they want their music to sit – if indeed they are being that calculating about it. As it stands, this is high-rotation polished pop music for right now. Take that as you will.

While music is an international language, some translates better than others. And some gets translated in places you might not quite expect, but to good effect. The Parrots are Spanish, but the garage their perfectly ragged racket seeps out of could be in Birmingham, Boston, or Bondi – ok, in one of the cheaper backstreets away from the beach. Girl (Heavenly Recordings) is similarly an almost perfect title to be yelled at you, as the guitars scratch around and drums clatter. A bit messy, a bit frayed at the edges – but again, that’s probably the point.

You might not immediately recognise Marc Ribot’s name, but delve into his history and you’ll work out when you think of Tom Waits, you’ll realise the lurching and metallic guitar noise that’s probably the most identifiable feature of the gravelly groaner’s work is this guy. That collaboration led to working with other notable names on his CV from Elvis Costello to Mike Patton, and avant-gardey jazz types like John Zorn.

There’s also his back catalogue of solo albums in a range of styles from near-psychedelic guitar noodlings to more approachable – if jaggedly edged – songcraft. Pulling various threads and friends together, his upcoming collection is another in the category of finding yourself in the Stephen King-designed abandoned theme park that is Trump’s America, and yelling ‘What the fuck?’ a lot. Srinivas (Anti-) features guests Steve Earle’s gruffness and Tift Merritt’s lighter touch in discussion of yet another brown man shot by yet another red neck.

Closer to home, there’s still pain and hurt that shouldn’t have happened either. Some of the wounds of last year’s really quite unnecessary equal marriage plebiscite are still there. Wollongong’s Cry Club express some of the damage in families still being felt in the wintry howl of Walk Away (Independent). I won’t patronise the artists or you by attempting to speak for them and their experience, but will just suggest you listen to get some of the sting of a band-aid being torn off and finding the scar underneath still weeping.