Archive for the ‘News’ Category

August 24, 2022

Sharon Van Etten

A force of nature at the height of her powers, Sharon Van Etten brings her full band down under in the wake of her brilliant new album, We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong

SHARON VAN ETTEN TOUR DATES:

SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE CONCERT HALL: THURSDAY DECEMBER 1
Tickets on sale now;
ticket link

BRISBANE:  THE TIVOLI: SATURDAY DECEMBER 3
special guest: BATTS
Tickets on sale now;
ticket link

FREMANTLE ARTS CENTRE: MONDAY DECEMBER 5 
special guest: Banjo Lucia
Tickets on sale now;
ticket link

MELBOURNE / NORTHCOTE THEATRE: THURSDAY DECEMBER 8
FRIDAY DECEMBER 9 * extra show by popular demand
special guest: BATTS
Tickets on sale now;
ticket link
This event is part of ALWAYS LIVE, a new state-wide celebration of contemporary live music supported by the Victorian Government through Visit Victoria.
Presented by ALWAYS LIVE, Triple R and Mistletone.

MEREDITH MUSIC FESTIVAL: SAT DEC 10
mmf.com.au

Mistletone presents Sharon Van Etten (Shazza to her mates), returning to Australia with her stunning touring band: Jorge Balbi on drums, Devon Hoff on bass, Teeny Lieberson on vocals and synths, and live musical director Charley Damski on synths and guitars.

Special guest for the Brisbane and Melbourne shows will be BATTS (Melbourne producer/singer-songwriter Tanya Batts), with whom Sharon recently collaborated on “Blue”, the first single from the new BATTS album The Nightline (out October 14 on Mistletone Records).

Sharon Van Etten has always been a wholehearted artist — the kind of songwriter who helps people make sense of the world around them. Her newest work concerns itself with how we feel, mourn, and reclaim our agency when we think the world – or at least, our world – might be falling apart. How do we protect the things most precious to us from destructive forces beyond our control? and how do we salvage something worthwhile when it seems all is lost? In considering these questions and her own vulnerability in the face of them, Van Etten creates a stunning meditation on how life’s changes can be both terrifying and transformative; articulating the beauty and power that can be rescued from the wreckage.

Alongside her impeccable back catalogue, with such undeniable classics as Remind Me Tomorrow (“an album of hope, intimacy and perseverance” – NEW YORK TIMES) and Are We There (“one of the great albums of the century”– ROLLING STONE),  Van Etten has collaborated with COURTNEY BARNETT, ANGEL OLSEN and NORAH JONES, as well as Melbourne’s own BATTS; and last year released epic ten, a tribute to her 2019  album epic, with covers by everyone from Lucinda Williams and Fiona Apple to Idles; celebrating Sharon’s legendary status as one of the great songwriters from the very beginning. 

As always, we are at the mercy of Van Etten’s voice: the way it loops and arcs, the startling and emotive warmth of it. What started as a certain magic in Sharon’s early recordings has grown into confidence, clarity and wisdom, even as she sings with the vulnerable beauty that has become her trademark. Sharing her songs remains an optimistic and generous act which tells a larger story of hope, loss, longing and resilience; all held together by Sharon’s uncanny ability to both pierce the hearts of her listeners and make them whole again.

When the time came to return to her solo work, Van Etten reclaimed the reins, writing and producing the album in her new recording studio, custom built in her family’s Californian home. The more she faced – whether in new dangers emerging or old traumas resurfacing – the more tightly she held onto these songs and recordings, determined to work through grief by reasserting her power and staying squarely at the wheel of her next album. In fact, that interplay of loss and growth became a blueprint for what would become We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong. The album artwork reflects that, too, inspired as much by Sharon’s old life as her new one. “I wanted to convey that in an image with me walking away from it all. Not necessarily brave, not necessarily sad, not necessarily happy..” 

Sharon’s new work is intensely personal, exploring themes like motherhood, love, fear, what we can and can’t control, and what it means to be human in a world that is wracked by so much trauma. We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong is as much a reflection on how we manage the ending of metaphorical worlds as we do the ending of actual ones: the twin flames of terror and unrelenting love that light up with motherhood; navigating the demands of partnership when your responsibilities have changed; the loss of centre and safety that can come with leaving home; how the ghosts of our past can appear without warning in our present; feeling helpless with the violence and racism in the world; and yes, what it means when a global viral outbreak forces us to relinquish control of the things that have always made us feel so human, and seek new forms of connection to replace them.

Sharon Van Etten’s Melbourne show is part of ALWAYS LIVE, a new state-wide celebration of contemporary live music supported by the Victorian Government through Visit Victoria.

August 11, 2022

Toro y Moi

artwork; CARL BREITKREUZ

ALWAYS LIVE and Mistletone proudly present Toro y Moi‘s first headline Australian shows in over five years.

TORO Y MOI HEADLINE DATES:

BRISBANE: TUE NOV 15 PRINCESS THEATRE
pre-sale starts Friday 9am, link here
general on-sale starts Monday 9am, link here

SYDNEY: MON NOV 21 @ THE METRO
pre-sale starts Friday 9am, link here
general on-sale starts Monday 9am, link here

MELBOURNE: WED NOV 23 NORTHCOTE THEATRE
pre-sale starts Friday 9am, link here
general on-sale starts Monday 9am, link here
This event is part of ALWAYS LIVE, a new state-wide celebration of contemporary live music supported by the Victorian Government through Visit Victoria.

Toro y Moi aka South Carolina-reared, Bay Area-based Chaz Bear emerged as a figurehead of the ‘chill wave’ sub-genre, the sparkling fumes of which still heavily influence musicians all over today. Over the subsequent decade, Chaz’s music and graphic design has far surpassed that particular designation.

Across nine albums with Mistletone (and US label Carpark), Chaz explored psych-rock, deep house, UK-style hip-hop, R&B and well beyond, without losing that rather iconic, bright and shimmering Toro y Moi fingerprint. As a graphic designer, Bear has collaborated with brands like Nike, Dublab and Vans. As a songwriter and producer, he’s collaborated with Tyler, The Creator,FlumeHAIMTegan and Sara, and Caroline Polachek; and stretched out with side projects such as house moniker Les Sins and ambient project Plum.

Mahal, Toro’s first album with Dead Oceans, dropped in 2022 — and it absolutely slaps. An instant classic, Mahal takes its name from the Tagalog word for ‘love’ and honours Chaz’s maternal heritage (his mother is Filipina, his father Black), with album artwork and videos celebrating the jeepney; the brightly-coloured public transport minibus of the Philippines.

Mahal follows Toro’s highly celebrated 2019 album Outer Peace, which Pitchfork described as “one of his best albums in years” along with his Grammy-nominated 2020 collaboration with Flume, “The Difference,” which featured in a global campaign for Apple’s Airpods and landed at #3 in triple j’s Hottest 100. 

July 20, 2022

Touring: Steve Gunn

artwork by George Gillies

Mistletone proudly presents an intimate solo tour by brilliant New York-based guitarist and songwriter, Steve Gunn

STEVE GUNN TOUR DATES:

Wednesday 12 October – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane QLD with Andrew TuttleTickets
Thursday 13 October – Eltham Hotel, Eltham NSW with Mylee Grace * Tickets
Friday 14 October – Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne VIC with Andrew Tuttle Tickets
Saturday 15 October – The Great Club Marrickville, Sydney NSW with Andrew Tuttle + John Sharkey III Tickets
Wednesday 19 October – Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney (Sol LeWitt: Affinities and Resonances) Tickets

* Presented by Jet Black Cat Music
Tickets on sale Friday 22 July at 1PM AEST.

With a career spanning nearly fifteen years, Steve Gunn has produced volumes of critically acclaimed solo, duo, and ensemble recordings, steadily processing his inspirations into a singular, virtuosic stream. Close listening reveals the influence of blues, folk, ecstatic free jazz, and psych in his continually unfolding output.

Steve Gunn returns to Australia in the wake of Other You, his sixth studio album released last year by Matador / Remote Control; a shined-up, mid-sixties pop apotheosis in a state of high songwriting accomplishment. Other You is a journey that can’t help but summon up Gunn’s debut Way Out Weather in its transformative ambition and refreshing set of ideas about what was interesting about psychedelia, a love for the guitar as an instrument, melody, timbral originality, a keen ear for production. 

Gunn’s voice and lyrics take a new front seat on Other You, right where we can hear them. There’s a person inhabiting these songs, a subjectivity, not just one of the best guitarists in contemporary music, not just a reporter with a winsome observational genius, here, a singer-songwriter, with a first-person voice, even if the songs seem rarely or only glancingly confessional. Now we have beautiful shimmering melodies, great melodies, and also that aching voice, at the tenor edge, and harmonies, singing up front. 

You could imagine listening to Other You on a trans-continental rail journey, or while summiting a mountain range, or while going through an enormous stack of your grandparents’ snapshots, or while baking a cake that has no particular occasion, or while sitting out a pandemic, or while realising, looking out that window, that it’s okay to set aside your regrets, in this beautiful, hovering now, and listen. 

Other You features contributions from friends and fellow artists including Julianna BarwickMary LattimoreBridget StJohnJeff Parker and Bill MacKay. This collaborative spirit carried into 2022 with Nakama, an EP of reworkings and reimaginings featuring Mdou MoctarNatural Information SocietyCircuit des Yeux and Bing & Ruth.

June 27, 2022

Touring: Ty Segall & Freedom Band

Mistletone proudly presents Ty Segall, touring Australia for the first time since 2014 with his colossal Freedom Band (Emmett KellyMikal CroninBen Boye and Charles Moothart), a happy return many years in the making! tickets now on sale via links below.

TY SEGALL & FREEDOM BAND TOUR DATES:
WED JAN 18 – PERTH: THE RECHABITE. Tickets on sale here.
FRI JAN 20 – ANGLESEA, VIC: MEMORIAL HALL. SOLD OUT!
SAT JAN 21- MELBOURNE: THE FORUM. Tickets on sale here. SELLING FAST!
TUE JAN 24 – WOLLONGONG – UNIBAR. Tickets on sale here.
WED JAN 25 – SYDNEY – THE METRO. Tickets on sale here.
FRI JAN 27 – BRISBANE – PRINCESS THEATRE. Tickets on sale here. Presented by Jet Black Cat Music.
SAT JAN 28 – GOLD COAST – MIAMI MARKETTA. Tickets on sale here. Presented by Jet Black Cat Music.
SUN JAN 29 – BYRON BAY – THE NORTHERN. Tickets on sale here. Presented by Jet Black Cat Music.

Hot on the heels of his new album “Hello, Hi” – a cosmic assortment of love songs flowering in righteous unconsciousness – Ty Segall & Freedom Band return to melt our brains and hearts with Ty’s signature blend of psyched-out jangle and space-rock fuzz. Don’t miss Ty Segall & Freedom Band diving down to Australia from a clear, open sky, down through the marine layer and the shimmering waves of all the years.

Tossing down straight acoustic shots with electric guitar back, “Hello, Hi” rides through the valley of yer ol’ Canyon legends, finding an isolated place to unspool Ty’s copious reserves of nervous energy beneath an open sky. Swarms of harmony vocals caper among the clouds, but there’s a rider on the horizon behind, with crossbow trained on his very own heart — the engine driving all the relationships of life, whether down Broadway or over the cliffs at night! Whatever doesn’t get killed is getting stronger all the time. A lean, mean deal, baked in saltwater and sunlight, compassion pouring out its beautiful blue eyes. 

Ty has shared “Don’t Lie”, just one of the many highlights of his forthcoming album, “Hello, Hi”, out July 22 on Drag City. An acoustic take on beloved Oakland garage-pop band The Mantles, it’s an earworm passed through Ty’s brain, straight to yours:

Some songs are so good, you just can’t get them out of your head. And you never want to! Storing them deep inside allows you to dig ’em up again, like (re)discovered treasure, so they can reinvigorate your worldview all over again. And so the love grows.

For Ty, The Mantles’ 2009 slice of garage-pop perfection, “Don’t Lie” is one of those songs. Having played and toured with The Mantles in the Bay Area back in the day, Ty descends compassionately into the layers of morality within their affirmation anthem, uncovering a haunted sense of time passed while remolding the surging rock around the original melody into solo acoustic performance. Intimate and disarming, Ty talks to himself with guitars and voices, an exquisite filigree for the romance cleft ruthlessly open in the lyrics; heartbreak vibes for a new age.

“Hello, Hi” is expansively rendered by Ty, mostly by himself, at home. The isolation suits the songs: you’re only ever as ‘at home’ as you are with yourself in the mirror. Ty’s acoustic and electric guitars and vocal harmonies layer self upon self, forming a spiny backbone for the album. Textures at once gentle and dissonant root the songs as they make their move: melodic arcs convulsing in doubt and bliss and rage. Released from the endless gridlock into open space, these spirits pass on through.

Tossing down straight acoustic shots with electric guitar back, “Hello, Hi” rides through the valley of yer ol’ Canyon legends, finding an isolated place to unspool Ty’s copious reserves of nervous energy beneath an open sky. Swarms of harmony vocals caper among the clouds, but there’s a rider on the horizon behind, with crossbow trained on his very own heart — the engine driving all the relationships of life, whether down Broadway or over the cliffs at night! Whatever doesn’t get killed is getting stronger all the time. A lean, mean deal, baked in saltwater and sunlight, compassion pouring out its beautiful blue eyes. 

“Hello, Hi” follows two releases by the ever-prolific Ty; last year’s surprise release of killer album Harmonizer, along with his first ever feature film score, the soundtrack for Matt Yoka’s documentary Whirlybird, both released via Drag City.

photo by Denée Segall
poster artwork by Callum Rooney.

May 12, 2022

BATTS x Sharon Van Etten – Blue

Melbourne producer and songwriter BATTS joins the Mistletone label fam with her stunning new single “Blue” (feat. Sharon Van Etten) and its dreamy video above, directed by Melanie Scammell.

Showered with global acclaim, “Blue” premiered on Triple R Breakfasters, was added to Double J rotation, featured by Lauren Laverne as her BBC 6 Music track of the day, and won coverage from Brooklyn Vegan, NME, Stereogum and Far Out Magazine; to name just a few.

  • “It’s a gorgeous slow burner that sees BATTS – real name Tanya Batt – crooning above an atmospheric bed of guitars and keys, before an equally striking verse from Van Etten” – NME
  • “A spacious bed of lilting guitars and steadily-loping rhythms – self-produced by BATTS – set the dreamy stage for these two voices to shine. ‘You watch the sun it rises over these blue horizons’, Batt gently sings. Later, Van Etten mirrors that imagery with her equally elegant verse: ‘I feel the moon descending over backlit high rises’. The track truly takes off during a gorgeous bridge and the moment their voices harmonise in the song’s simply yet effective chorus: ‘I wish I could see the blue, babe / But all I do is feel the blue'” – DOUBLE J
  • The track is simply a dream. There are flecks of early ’70s psychedelia, as well as of BATTS’ fellow Australian, Julia Jacklin. Her voice is as warming as a soft blanket on a cold winter’s day” – FAR OUT MAGAZINE UK

“Blue” is BATTS’ first official release since her 2019, AMP-nominated debut The Grand Tour, which saw her collaborate with US Space agency NASA using samples collected from their Voyager Mission. “Blue” now sees her moving away from space collaborations and onto collaborating with one of her songwriting idols – Sharon Van Etten. After touring Australia together in 2019 and creating a beautiful bond, it led to them wanting to create something together.

“It’s a huge honour to write and create with Sharon – someone who has carved such a powerful path in this industry and remains so kind and humble, a truly special human. I started writing Blue when I was staying with my Mother-in-Law and watching a lot of Antiques Roadshow”, Tanya Batt recalled.

“I picked up my guitar to try and write a song that would feel like if Shaz or I played it solo it would feel authentically either of ours – I was in the depths of grief at the time and when Blue started to write itself, it clearly reflected how I was feeling. Sharon sent her verse over and the first time I listened to it was such a moment. She just got it, her lyrics were perfectly in keeping with it all. She absolutely completed it. It holds a very special place in my heart.”
 

Sharon Van Etten recollected, “I got to meet Tanya before I ever got to see her perform live, and she was a bright huge light who wanted to let everyone in and it only let her light shine even more. When I actually got to hear her sing, I was taken to another time, another place that she coloured for me. Helping me step out of myself and feel another soul’s journey. I felt quite grounded and comforted in her essence and all who surrounded her. So it felt quite natural to want to feel included in this group hug that I could tell she was nurturing with everyone around her.”

BATTS has spent a large portion of her career building up an impressive touring resume supporting the likes of Sharon Van Etten, Nilüfer Yanya, Lucius, The Teskey Brothers and Cub Sport (to name just a few). To launch The Grand Tour, Batt worked with the team at Scienceworks to build a dazzling visual experience for three sold out shows in the Melbourne Planetarium.

2022 marks a new chapter of music for BATTS, signing with Mistletone in AUS/NZ and launching her own label, I Feel Fine Records, for the rest of the world. ‘Blue’ featuring Sharon Van Etten is just the beginning of much more to come.



pic; Lisa Businovski

April 14, 2022

Andrew Tuttle – Fleeting Adventure

photo by Naomi Lee Beveridge
it’s a great joy to welcome Meanjin’s Andrew Tuttle to the label roster. A longtime friend of Mistletone, and one of our most admired Australian producers/composers will release his sumptuous new album Fleeting Adventure on Mistletone/ Inertia locally and Basin Rock (UK/Europe), on July 29. Pre-order here.

ANDREW TUTTLE TOUR DATES:
MELBOURNE: Saturday 6 August @ Melbourne Recital Centre, Primrose Potter Salon + special guests Cold Hands Warm Heart. Tickets on sale now.
BRISBANE + SYDNEY dates to be announced soon!

Pilerats has premiered lead single “Overnight’s A Weekend”, featuring Steve Gunn and other international guests; a mesmerising slice of “cosmic Australiana”;

“Overnight’s A Weekend” ripples with the electric guitar textures of Steve Gunn, just one of the celebrated guests gracing the album’s seven glittering, contemplative instrumental tracks. Other guests on this profoundly delicate, gently mind-expanding zoner include Michael A. Muller (Balmorhea), Joe Saxby (These Guy) on saxophone, and France-via-Stockholm violinist, Aurélie Ferrière

As time warps in these strangest of times, life itself feels like a fleeting adventure. Our worlds are smaller and our little lives more fragile. The music made by Andrew Tuttle trickles into the cracks of the pandemic-frazzled psyche like the first rains on bushfire-scarred country. Golden plucks of banjo, gauzy electronics and cosmic guitar shimmer into gloriously expansive melodies that conjure peace and space, comfort and wonder.

This is “comfort music” at its most restorative; a gentle portal to the magical realism of the momentary. A reminder that when we listen deeply, every moment is a fleeting adventure; without traveling, we have already arrived.

Thinking of all his musician friends around the world – each confined to their localised bubbles – Tuttle has been patiently joining dots between the bubbles. Other American innovators who lend their talents to Fleeting Adventure include “cosmic americana” trailblazers Luke SchneiderChuck Johnson and Josh Kimbrough, who each bring their considerable talents to Tuttle’s generative and collaborative musical practice.

album artwork by George Gillies

Tuttle’s 2020 breakthrough album Alexandra (ROOM40) won lavish praise;
* “Joyful and full of subtle vigour, it’s the perfect headphone-heard walking companion when you don’t want lyrics crowding your thoughts” – MOJO 4 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
* “In each composition, there’s an unwavering cinematic quality in the crispness of the production and the ease in which the arrangements flow” – THE QUIETUS
* UNCUT 8/10
* THE AUSTRALIAN 4 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Standout track ‘Sun At 5 In 4161’ popped up on many playlists by peers and pioneers such as Liars, Ben Watt, Yasmin Williams, Forest Swords, Balmorhea and Hannah Peel.

As Tutts told UNCUT for their 2022 Albums Preview feature;

“I started recording in September 2020. I know a lot of albums at the moment are ‘the lockdown album’, but this consciously wasn’t that. Where I live in Brisbane, we’ve really been quite fortunate, because there haven’t been too many cases. So the album is all about this sense of fleeting adventure and excitement, putting things into a new perspective. It’s me opening up to the world again, hearing stories about friends doing things and being able to go to a gig for the first time in a year, or go to the park, or get on a plane.

“I’ve had guests on albums before, but working on A Cassowary Apart earlier this year, with Padang Food Tigers [Spencer Grady and Stephen Lewis], was a great eye-opener. It really got me thinking about working further with collaborations. So it’s a combination of new friends, old friends and everything in between. You have some of the Brisbane crew, like Joe Saxby [saxophone], who I’ve known for years, people who I’ve toured with, like Steve Gunn, and people I’ve met in residencies. And then there are a few people who I met online last year – like Luke Schneider and Michael Muller from Balmorhea. It’s like we became playlist friends.

“I gave everyone a really free brief. If it was a guitar-led track, I’d say, “Do what you want, then send it back. I’ll keep some of it and we’ll go from there.” That made it really interesting for me, because I wasn’t sure what I was getting back. I didn’t know what instrumentation they’d provide or what song they would play on. And I got to play around with things, which I think really helped with getting that spatial element in the music.

“There are two tracks that are really guest heavy: “Overnight’s A Weekend” and “Filtering”. And three tracks are just banjo, acoustic guitar and pedal steel, but it’s not the same people on each one. One track [“Correlation”] has Josh Kimbrough and Chuck Johnson and the other two have Luke Schneider and Darren Cross [“Next Week, Pending” and “New Breakfast Habit”], so it’s funny that there’s almost an accidental trio in there.

“For the first part of the album I was listening to a lot of those things on the Sahel Sounds album, so Les Filles de Illighadad [Tuareg band] and North African guitar sounds. Things that were really ongoing, structurally, and you weren’t sure when each track was going to finish. I hadn’t really spent much time with Fela Kuti before, but it’s stuff I’ve been listening to a lot. And a lot of peers as well. Ryley Walker’s latest album [Course In Fable] was just gorgeous and really kicked my butt into gear. So a lot of different things were inspiring me as I went along.”

FLEETING ADVENTURE by ANDREW TUTTLE
Written, produced, edited by Andrew Tuttle @ Bella Vista, 2020-2021
Additional engineering by Aidan Hogg @ The Plutonium, 2021
Mixed by Chuck Johnson, 2021
Mixed by Lawrence English, 2021Andrew Tuttle: banjo, acoustic guitar, signal processing.
++
Aurelie Ferriere: violin (1)
Chuck Johnson: pedal steel guitar (3)
Claire Deak: harp, piano, electronics (6)
Conrado Isasa: acoustic guitar (6)
Darren Cross: acoustic guitar, electronics (2, 5)
Flora Wong: violin (6)
Joe Saxby: saxophone (1)
Josh Kimbrough: acoustic guitar (3)
Luke Cuerel: saxophone (6)
Luke Schneider: pedal steel guitar (2, 5)
Michael A. Muller: electronics, electric guitar (1)
Spencer Grady: banjo, electronics (6)
Stephen Lewis: dobro, electronics (6)
Steve Gunn: electric guitar (1)
Tony Dupe: piano, electronics (6)

April 8, 2022

Touring: Hand Habits

HAND HABITS TOUR DATES:

Thursday June 9 + Friday June 10 – Melbourne Recital Centre with Perfume Genius. Tickets on sale now.
Saturday June 11 – Vivid Sydney @ Carriageworks with Perfume Genius.  Tickets here.
Wednesday June 15 – Princess Theatre, Brisbane with Perfume Genius. Presented by Jet Black Cat Music. tickets on sale now.
Friday June 17 – Dark Mofo, Hobart. tickets on sale Monday April 11 at 12pm, more info here.

Mistletone proudly presents Hand Habits, brilliant Los Angeles musician Meg Duffywith a full band for the first time in Australia. Hand Habits open for Perfume Genius in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, then perform a headline show at Dark Mofo, Hobart.

Guitar shredder of choice for everyone from Perfume Genius and Weyes Blood to War on Drugs and Kevin Morby, Meg Duffy’s solo practice as Hand Habits turns vulnerable queer confessions into ecstatic mini pop masterpieces. 

Fun House (Milk! Records) is the most ambitious Hand Habits album to date. Produced by Sasami Ashworth (SASAMI) and engineered by Kyle Thomas (King Tuff), the record was not intended as a reaction to the pandemic, but it was very much the result of taking a difficult, if much-needed, moment of pause.

While Fun House shares some of the same hallmarks as previous Hand Habits releases —a kind of outré queer sensibility, a gentle sense of vulnerability — the record is a marked sonic departure from the often muted tones of 2019’s Placeholder and 2017’s Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void). The eleven tracks on Fun House sparkle, moving in unexpected directions and represent the turning of a corner, a means of processing grief, trauma, and recovery while coming to a deeper understanding of one’s own history and what it means to step into your own power.

What started out as a personal reckoning eventually blossomed into a fruitful and convenient means of making new music. Grounded in LA and sharing a house with Ashworth and Thomas, who also runs a studio space in the building, Duffy began to flesh out the songs that would eventually become Fun House. Emboldened by going into therapy and coaxed by Ashworth to push the songs into unexpected new shapes, the resulting music was more acutely personal and stylistically adventurous than anything they had attempted before. The new songs also became a prism through which Duffy could begin to self-actualise in a new way.

There is a moment halfway through Fun House where Duffy asks the question, “How many times must I rewind the tape?” It’s a fitting question planted squarely in the middle of a sonically adventurous record concerned largely with making sense and taking stock. How much time must we spend examining our own past in order to fully understand it? How can we safely acknowledge pain in order to release it and fully actualise who we are supposed to be? Buffeted by strings, synths, and a gently-shook tambourine, the aptly-titled track, ‘The Answer,’ highlights the emotional engine at the heart of the record. “I know the answer,” Duffy sings, “Here’s what I hope to find – it’s always mine.” 

“I felt a massive shift in the way that I was seeing the world and seeing myself, moving through certain emotional patterns and behavioral patterns, and really taking them apart,” explains Duffy“Sasami empowered me to take up a lot of different sonic spaces and challenged me to rethink these limitations that I had about my own identity. I wouldn’t allow myself to step into certain roles because of the little box I was putting myself in based on all of these false narratives that I had come to believe about myself. I think this also coincides with my trans identity too, because so much of that journey for me has been me really fighting against what I’m not “allowed” to be.”

 

While Fun House shares some of the same hallmarks as previous Hand Habits releases — a kind of outré queer sensibility, a gentle sense of vulnerability — the record is a marked sonic departure from the often muted tones of 2019’s Placeholder and 2017’s Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void). Instead, the tracks on Fun House sparkle, moving in unexpected directions and eschewing any specific genre. Tracks like ‘Aquamarine‘ and ‘More than Love‘ package narratives about loss, romantic longing, and childhood trauma inside polished synth pop (“Suicide / Lost a life / Well then who am I? / Why can’t you talk about it?”) while ‘Gold Rust‘ and ‘Concrete and Feathers‘ have a ragged, Neil Young quality.

Friend and collaborator Mike Hadreas (Perfume Genius) contributes vocals on ‘No Difference‘ and  ‘Just to Hear You,’ making for one of the record’s most sanguine moments, his voice providing a perfect counterpoint to Duffy. The push/pull of styles, paired with songs that move deftly between the present and past, give the record a wildly diverse,  hall of mirrors quality that befits its name. Where previous Hand Habits records could be fairly insular affairs, both in their creation and their execution, Fun House feels ebullient, lush, a fully-realised conversation.  

Fun House represents the turning of a corner, a means of processing grief, trauma, and recovery while coming to a deeper understanding of one’s own history and what it means to step into your own power. It’s also, as Duffy imagines it, a testament to the power of creative community. 

“I’m such a collaborative person and that’s where I get nourishment from,” Duffy explains. “That’s why I’m constantly playing in other people’s bands — Perfume Genius, Kevin Morby, Sylvan Esso etc. — and playing on other people’s records. It’s an open system for me, fresh energy, flow, and perspectives. I enjoy stepping into these other roles and taking direction. This time around, I wanted to have that experience with my own music. Also, I think it’s good to step back sometimes and question your own process and why you do what you do. The reason I make music is because I’m interested in connecting with people. I’m not talking to a specific ‘you’ when I’m singing a song. I’m talking to God. I’m talking to the void. It’s a little like casting a spell. And if you’re able to feel moved by it, I’m not thinking that you’re so moved by the tragedy of ‘my’ life or ‘my’ experience, but it’s maybe just that you can relate to the feeling of it. You want people to be able to project their own experiences onto this feeling that you’re trying to create and communicate. That’s the way the spell works. In order for other people to feel it, I have to make sure I’m feeling it too. And with these songs, I really do.”

 

March 17, 2022

Touring: Arab Strap

Mistletone is overjoyed to announce Arab Strap performing as a full band for the first time ever in Australia and for one show only at that!

Artwork by Carl Breitkreuz, limited edition prints available via mail order only, A3 posters on 250gsm stock, order here.

ARAB STRAP TOUR DATE:

Friday June 3 — RISING Melbourne @ The Forum with special guests Xylouris White. More info here, sign up for presales here.

“It’s about hopelessness and darkness,” says Aidan Moffat. “But in a fun way.” The Arab Strap frontman is speaking about the band’s 7th studio album and their first since 2005’s The Last Romance.

The pioneering Falkirk duo of Moffat and Malcolm Middleton called it a day in 2006 but got back together 10 years later to perform a series of acclaimed and sold out shows. “We really enjoyed doing those gigs,” recalls Middleton. “So it made sense to try writing together again”.

Prior to splitting up the band released a string of acclaimed releases spanning albums such as Philophobia, The Red Thread and Monday At The Hug and Pint, several EPs and that most difficult of tasks: a genuinely stunning live album via Mad for Sadness.

Arab Strap started out as an intimate project with home-recorded tapes shared between friends, but after the unexpected success of their inimitable debut single ‘The First Big Weekend’ they quickly found themselves, along with pals Mogwai, as some of the most exciting and cherished music coming out of Scotland. The band’s first gig was recorded live for John Peel, who became an early devotee. The band went from indie record label Chemikal Underground onto the major label Go! Beat and then back again to Chemikal, touring the world and funnelling life’s experiences into a unique concoction of music that explored beauty, sadness, intoxicants, sex, love, and death all rolled into one.

Despite them being a pinnacle group of the era, Moffat makes it clear that the aim is not to “recapture the 90s” but instead to create a distinctly new album, with new tools, sounds and a forward moving sense of exploration. “This album feels like its own new thing to me,” he says. “It’s definitely Arab Strap, but an older and wiser one, and quite probably a better one.”

Across the 11 tracks, the band have tapped into their core sonic foundations and what made so many people fall for them but also stretched it out into new terrain. The deft mix of post-rock soundscapes, subtle electronics, clicking drum beats, swelling strings and Moffat’’s incomparable half-sung, half-spoken vocals are all present, but so too is a variety of new additions from blasts of woozy saxophone to disco grooves and a rich immersive production that plunges you deep into the stories. “We’ve had enough distance from our earlier work to reappraise and dissect the good and bad elements of what we did,” says Middleton. “Not many bands get to do this, so it’s great to split up.”

Whilst Moffat jokingly says “we’re still doing what we always do: Malcolm gives me some guitar parts then I’ll fuck about with them and put some drum machines and words over the top”. 

The band has reconnected with producer Paul Savage, with just the three of them in the studio, as it was the very first time around. “Paul brings comfort and trust,” says Middleton, “And a sense of continuity.” Savage’s light touch approach, combined with the band’s evolved craft, has created a potent production that brings out the best in the duo. “I’ve never been interested in making slick records,” says Moffat. “But the new stuff sounds much fuller, brighter and better because we actually know what we’re doing. I think for a long time we didn’t know how to express what we wanted in a studio.”  

One of the benefits of the band splitting up, coming back to perform live, and then releasing the album as and when they felt it was ready, is having plenty of time. “The initial idea after our 2016 gigs was just to mess around and see if any songs came,” says Middleton. “So we had three years to hammer things out before even setting foot in a studio.” The result is an album that manages to capture the reconnected essence of the pair playing live again, harnessing that reborn but deep-rooted intuition, along with use of time, space and thought to allow the album to grow into its own natural thing. It’s a record that manages to feel like both evolution and revolution: a continuation of what has come before but also a bold leap into the future.  

The album opens with ‘The Turning Of Our Bones’, a comically dark metaphor for the band’s own rebirth that Moffat describes as being about “resurrection and shagging”. Widely covered upon its release with countless radio plays, it’s an immediate addition to some of the band’s greatest work, unfurling via hypnotic beats, infectious grooves and spiralling guitar lines as Moffat skips between narrator and crooner. It sets the tone for an album that often plunges into dark territory, although this doesn’t necessarily manifest via stilted morbidity but simply by being rooted in nocturnal exploration. “The general theme of the album is what people turn to in times of need,” says Moffat. “And how they can hide in the night.”

This theme rears its head in a variety of ways and places. ‘Another Clockwork Day’ is a strangely poignant and beautiful song about a man masturbating in the night as his partner sleeps. Although of course like a lot of Moffat’s lyrics, it’s not simply about just that. Instead the song, backed by Middleton’s sparse yet delicately twisting acoustic guitar, uses the act as a means to explore nostalgia, lost time gone by, love, an ever-changing world and crepuscular creatures of habit.

‘Kebabylon’ merges hissing beats and looping guitar melodies to explore a night-time odyssey that was inspired by Moffat reading a story about overnight road sweepers in London. Elsewhere ‘Fable of the Urban Fox’ shifts from a folk shuffle to a soaring string-laden charge, and powerfully uses the story as an allegory for the racist treatment of migrants, whereas ‘Sleeper’ and ‘Just Enough’ tackle themes of addiction and self-harm.

However, despite the seeming bleakness of some subjects, the album marries the darker underbelly of life, and its lingering sense of hopelessness, with a quiet buoyancy, which coupled with the expansive sense of sonic experimentation results in something as introspective as it is enlivening. As Middleton told the Guardian when they profiled the band upon news of their return, “There’s no point getting back together to release mediocrity.”

March 17, 2022

Touring: Lucy Dacus

Mistletone proudly presents the return of Lucy Dacus and her band, bringing her brilliant new album Home Video (out now on Matador / Remote Control) to Australia.

LUCY DACUS TOUR DATES:

Wednesday June 8RISING Melbourne @ The Forum with special guests Snowy Band. Tickets on sale here.
Friday June 10: The Metro Sydney. Tickets on sale here.
Saturday June 11: Hot Dreams @ Princess Theatre, Brisbane. Tickets on sale here.
Sunday June 12: Natural Bridge @ Eltham Hotel, Eltham NSW. Tickets on sale here.


Continuing to showcase her incredible storytelling and songwriting, Home Video is Dacus’ “most personal album to date, recounting her coming of age, in Richmond, Virginia. She sings about lost friendships, queer love affairs, curfews, and other adolescent pursuits” (New Yorker).

Home Video displays her ability to use the personal as portal into the universal as the songs capture that specific moment in time growing up where emotions and relationships start becoming more complex — the joys, the excitement, the confusion, and even the heartbreak of going through the process of discovering who you are and where people fit in your life and where you fit in theirs.

Dacus’ voice, both audible and on the page, has a healer’s power to soothe and ground and reckon.

There are a thousand truisms about home and childhood, none of them true but all of them honest. It’s natural to want to tidy those earliest memories into a story so palatable and simple that you never have to read again. A home video promises to give your memories back with a certificate of fact— but the footage isn’t the feeling. Who is just out of frame? What does the soft focus obscure? How did the recording itself change the scene?

Some scrutinise the past and some never look back and Lucy Dacus, a lifelong writer and close reader, has long been the former sort. “The past doesn’t change,” Dacus said. “Even if a memory is of a time I didn’t feel safe, there’s safety in looking at it, in its stability.”

Many Home Videosongs start the way a memoir might—“In the summer of ’07 I was sure I’d go to heaven, but I was hedging my bets at VBS”—and all of them have the compassion, humor, and honesty of the best autobiographical writing. Most importantly and mysteriously, this album displays Dacus’s ability to use the personal as portal into the universal. “I can’t hide behind generalizations or fiction anymore,” Dacus says, though talking about these songs, she admits, makes her ache.

While there’s a nostalgic tint to much of Dacus’s work, the obliquely told stories in past songs are depicted here with greater specificity. Triple Dog Dare recounts young, queer love complicated and forbidden by religion. The toxic relationship depicted in Partner in Crime is filled with pining, deceit, and meeting curfew. (“My heart’s on my sleeve/ it’s embarrassing/ the pulpy thing, beating.”) Christine is an elegiac ballad about a close friend vanishing into an inhibiting relationship.

As is often the case with Dacus, these songs are a study in contrast. In Hot & Heavy and she sings powerfully about blushing and diffidence, while the song Thumbs contains an elegant fantasy about the brutal murder of a close friend’s no-good father. After performing Thumbs during the nearly nonstop tours for her first two albums, it quickly became a white whale to Dacus fans, who have been counting the days until its release just as we’ve all awaited the end of this endless quarantine.

While all that touring made Lucy long to re-root in her hometown, her sudden acclaim filled Richmond with funhouse distortions of herself. People she didn’t know were looking at her like they knew her better than she knew herself. Strangers showed up at her front door. “You used to be so sweet,” she sings on the opening track, “now you’re a firecracker on a crowded street.” That truism, both true and false—you can’t go home again—seemed to taunt her at the very time she needed home the most.

In August 2019, after a too much touring then a month of silence, it was time to go back to Trace Horse Studio in Nashville—Jacob Blizard, Collin Pastore, and Jake Finch, her loyal friends and collaborators were at her side again. Dacus’s boygenius bandmates, Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker sang a loving chorus on Please Stay and Going Going Gone while each recorded solo songs during the same session. Dacus’s resulting record—full of arrhythmic heartbeat percussion and backgrounds of water-warped pipe organ— was mixed by Shawn Everett and mastered by Bob Ludwig.

Loyal Dacus listeners may notice that the melodies here are lower and more contained, at times feeling as intimate as a whisper. The vulnerability of these songs, so often about the intense places where different sorts of love meet and warp, required this approach. “When you told me ‘bout your first time, a soccer player at the senior high,” she sings in Cartwheel, “I felt my body crumple to the floor. Betrayal like I’d never felt before.” Yet in Partner in Crime, Dacus marries content and form in a strikingly different way, using uncharacteristic Autotune in a song about duplicity and soft coercion.

That Home Video arrives at the end of this locked down, fearful era seems as preordained as the messages within. “I don’t necessarily think that I’m supposed to understand the songs just because I made them,” Dacus says into a screen, “I feel like there’s this person who has been in me my whole life and I’m doing my best to represent them.” After more than a year of being homebound, in a time when screens and video calls were sometimes our only form of contact, looking backward was a natural habit for many. If we haven’t learned it already, this album is a gorgeous example of the transformative power of vulnerability. Dacus’s voice, both audible and on the page, has a healer’s power to soothe and ground and reckon.

March 17, 2022

Touring: Ana Roxanne

Mistletone proudly presents Ana Roxanne, gracing our shores for the first time to perform at RISING Melbourne plus Sydney and Canberra.

ANA ROXANNE TOUR DATES:

Sunday June 5 – RISING Melbourne @ Max Watt’s with Wilson Tanner and YL Hooi. Tickets on sale now.
Thursday June 9 – RISING Melbourne @ The Forum with Midori Takada. Tickets on sale now.
Friday June 10 – portal [02] Canberra @ sideway with Kavil and Volta Hymn. Tickets on sale now.
Saturday June 11 – City Recital Hall Sydney with Midori Takada. Tickets on sale now.

Ana Roxanne is a New York based musician working at the interzone of electric meditation, dream pop, and ambient songcraft. Her self-titled EP was later reissued by Leaving Records before signing with Kranky for her official full-length debut, 2020’s Because Of A Flower.

Her inspirations span the secular (R&B divas of 1980’s and 90’s) and the spiritual (Catholic choral traditions in which she was raised), synthesised into a uniquely intuitive sonic language, equal parts atmospheric and ancient, healing and hermetic.