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Blacklist Royals – Semper Liberi

The Blacklist Royals are the personification good time American rock n’ roll



Like the sweltering heat of underground rock clubs and the freedom of the open road, the Blacklist Royals are the personification good time American rock n’ roll. Tinged with a streak of country, their latest effort is a nonsense-free ride through the states of Memphis and Nashville filtered through the sneer of California punk rock. From the swingin’ sound of “Rock And Roll” and the Americana-flavored “Howling at the Moon” to the Social Distortion-lite of “White Line Fever,” there is plenty to enjoy on Semper Liberi.

The keys-infused “California” is perfect for any good road trip while the acoustic driven clap-a-long vibe of “Drive On” is a fair indication of the good spirited nature of the band. It’s all about the feeling, the essence, and the movement of what made the likes of Johnny Cash, Elvis, Chuck Berry and their kind so memorable. “Love in the Backseat” is as fine as 21st century rock n’ roll will get and as it sings in its refrain, “Turn up the radio / Lock the doors and we’ll kill the lights / You know everything will be alright”, it’s all about sweat, six strings and a good time.

(Paper + Plastick)


Hatchie – Keepsake

Keepsake, the debut album by Brisbane dream pop artist Hatchie is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars



Hatchie Keepsake

Brisbane indie-pop artist Hatchie (known to her friends and family as Harriette Pilbeam) is in the envious position of being a pop artist unspoiled by the many trappings of what it is to be a modern pop artist. Unlike some of her contemporaries who craft music by committee or with Sheeran-like self-importance, Hatchie is as of now, unsullied by the pressures of the cookie-cutter pop machine. Hatchie’s debut full length is a showcase for a talent who is supremely confident and composed in her abilities, and Keepsake is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars. The album is also a wonderful throwback to pop’s dreamy 60s influences that shuffle in and out of this delirium while working alongside distinctly more current musical touches.

There is the lush dream pop sounds of “Without a Blush”, taking cues from the best of what Stars and Goldfrapp conjure but heaping a tonne of Pilbeam’s charisma on it. Like her vocals, “Without a Blush” has this elegance that has the ability to elevate songs from being beautiful to grand. It is the kind of vocal elegance that really shines through on songs like the skittering, beat-driven “Obsessed” and the alternative, guitar-fuelled (yay!) “When I Get Out”. Indie/electronic closer “Keep” is a wonderful end to proceedings.

However, the great strength of Keepsake is not just its composure in how all the songs have been put together. It is also this genuine, natural-sounding quality that permeates the album- nothing overly written, overly produced or put together by research groups or music analysts. It just sounds like talent. We can argue that much of pop music is constructed to appease the moment- designed to grab as much attention as possible in an A.D.D. world. And sure, that can be said about almost any kind of music, but the resulting aural tone of Keepsake is anything but transient or transparent.

The best way to combat tepid chart-topping music is to write better pop songs. Songs like “Her Own Heart” and the disco-toned “Stay” are examples of pop music that come across as timeless. We are moved by the songs found on Keepsake when we listen to them today. And I suspect that in 10 years time, or in 20, we will most likely feel the same. It is rare to find the sort of ageless beauty you find on Keepsake.

(Heavenly Recordings)

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