Rock, November 2019

hfnalbum.pngSlaughter Beach, Dog
Safe And Also No Fear
Big Scary Monsters BSM 256

Jake Ewald is best known as a guitarist-songwriter for the Philadelphia indie-emo quartet Modern Baseball, but with that band currently on hiatus, Ewald has created Slaughter Beach, Dog as his creative outlet. Understated and introverted, it is a captivating evolution of his distinctive talents. Every one of the album's songs is worth attention, not just for Ewald's insightful, intelligent lyrics, but for the elegance of the simple musical arrangements which perfectly complement his words and melodies. The darkly surreal humour of 'Black Oak', the near perfect Mountain Goats homage of 'Dogs' and the insouciant Lemonheads-like lope of 'Heart Attack', are just three terrific reasons to get this album. JBk

Press Club
Wasted Energy
Hassle Records HOFF314CDA

After last year's acclaimed debut, there has been anticipation building for the sophomore effort of Melbourne punksters Press Club. The good news is that they've lost none of the explosive energy of their debut. This album tears along at breakneck speed with female frontsperson Nat Foster's raw vocal assault ideally suited to their songs about the ever-decaying state of the world. As for the rest of the band, guitarist Greg Rietwyk's speedy power chords never flag, drummer Frank Lees drives everything along relentlessly, and bassist Rufio MacRae combines intensity with a subtlety which helps colour the music, making it much more than simplistic retro-punk. JBk


Minor Pieces
The Heavy Steps Of Dreaming
Fat Cat Records FATCD155P

Singer/composer Ian William Craig has been an acclaimed, innovative and prolific solo artist for almost a decade, but his pairing with multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Missy Donaldson, has shifted him into a new, and potentially more popular realm. These hauntingly beautiful vocal-electronic songs are diaphanous and translucent, almost impossible to pin down as anything other than sumptuous sonic dreamworlds. Cuts like 'Burden' and 'The Way We Are In Song' are almost folksy but, overlaid with tape loops, electronic glitches and distorted orchestrations, they become other-worldly in ways that devotees of Sigur Ros or Bon Iver will get immediately. JBk


Manu Delago
One Little Indian Records TPLP1525CDP

With an ever-growing number of ambient/electronic releases crowding what is perhaps still a niche market, it's hard to select albums genuinely worth hearing. Happily, Austrian composer Manu Delago is undeniably doing something that deserves wider attention. His primary instrument is the hang, a recently developed percussion device whose wide range of tonal possibilities has gained it much popularity. The scintillating chimes of 'Delta Sleep', the minimalist glide of 'Silent Flight Of The Owl' and the meandering drift of 'Draem' are all splendid evocations of the human sleep patterns after which the album is named, but the whole thing is a delight. JBk