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Live Review: Witch Hats, The Laurels, Terza Madre, Melbourne Cans

22 August 2016 | 12:50 pm | Chris Familton

"The guitars fragmented over the dark pummelling grooves of the rhythm section."

Melbourne Cans made the trip up to Sydney with their soulful, shuffling and shaking sound. There was a lo-fi backbeat to their songs, somewhere between the '80s Postcard Records sound and a woollier Royal Headache. Keyboards took the songs out of straight strum and sing territory, adding a psychedelic feel which worked well.

Terza Madre have been gathering a slow buzz and reputation. They are hard to pin down and hard to fit on small stages too - with the seven-piece, black-attired outfit adding an additional vocalist and a trumpet player at times. The music was considered and emotive, occasionally showing hints of '70s prog as they sang Italian pop songs with an almost gothic drama. Their set got better as they settled in. There is little to compare them to on the current scene which is good thing.

The Laurels are a band who have been in a period of sonic transition in recent times. With a new album imminent, they showcased some new songs, some old ones and even one written the night before. Luke O'Farrell was surrounded by a bank of digital instruments to add to his already impressive guitar pedal board. The heavy bass still propels their songs, but with more tools at their disposal their sound has loosened and allowed more rhythm and flow into their guitar revelries.

Witch Hats took to the stage late to a thinning yet still enthusiastic audience. On the new album they've added more nuance and melody yet it's still a primal sound. It is reflected live as singer/guitarist Kris Buscombe held centre stage, while stick-figure bassist Ash Buscombe carried the bottom-end, constantly bouncing and lunging to and fro. Live, there was a bristling fervour to their new songs, more urgency and attack in the delivery. When they hit extended sections the dissonance and noise entered the fray, as the guitars fragmented over the dark pummelling grooves of the rhythm section. Their set added credence to the notion that Witch Hats are of the current crop of post-punk/alt-rock Australian bands.

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