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Hot Water Music – Shake Up the Shadows EP

With Shake Up the Shadows, Hot Water Music design another effort of abrasive, forward-thinking punk

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Bruised and broken, disheartened and deep in the heartland of emotion, Hot Water Music design another effort of abrasive, forward-thinking punk. Beat up but sincere, the band never glorify the situations they find themselves in either. They tell mighty tales through their crushing music, tales of swept up glass and unforgettable nightmares. 

Lead singer Chuck Ragan utilises his voice like a speaker stuck to the heart of the world, spearheading morsel sized revolutions. They’ve always been punk rockers unlocking doors to dark rooms and then lighting them up like fireworks.

“By Any Means” starts the EP with Ragan’s gruff vocals interlinking with the instrumentals. He rips the rulebook here. He wishes to take on the world by shining light on it. “Denatured” begins swiftly, carrying chords like clouds carrying rain. The storm brews, the drumbeat excels. The vocals here are more subtle here rather than raucous. “Rebellion Story” is a stake into the heart of judgement. Ragan sings about carrying on, moving forward without looking back. The signified rage is apparent.

Throughout their history, they’ve fine-tuned a sound which may not dominate, but what it does do, is connect people. Their hearts are in it, are yours? 

This EP sticks in the mind and the lyrical content is some of the band’s best to date. Optimism isn’t on the agenda, a war cry doesn’t come to fruition, but what it has energy in abundance and age doesn’t slow this outfit down one bit. 

(Epitaph Records)

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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

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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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