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Weekly Picks: Ekra, Royal Headache, Vows (02/04/12)

written by: on February 4, 2012

Ekra – Men

This is not background music. The husband and wife duo that is Ekra create sprawling, mind bending music: of the the three tracks on this release the shortest is 10:46. These songs are labyrinthine structures of psychedelic rock that are both euphoric and disorientating. With it’s indie pop whistling and unobtrusive guitar opening, “Tributary” starts off innocently enough but it isn’t long before  squalls of washed out guitar and hallucinogenic imagery takes over. The intensifying walls of sound ease away however, to reveal passages of a more spacious, reflective nature. Noise and sudden shifts in style lurk around each corner,  the unexpected is never far away with Ekra. Each song is a journey, almost like a mini album within themselves. “A Lil’ Called Strength” opens with a darker tone, going on to rise and falls between a myriad of sonic mountains and valleys. These are wildly psychedelic soundscapes, bursting with imagination and invention. An astonishing release from Ekra that will challenge and reward the devoted listener.

Debut LP- Royal Headache

There’s been a decent amount of buzz regarding this Sydney garage outfit recently and rightfully so. Royal Headache pack a huge amount of power and punch into these twelve songs, recalling the best of influential bands such as The Dictators and fellow Australians The Scientists but also exhibiting a looseness reminiscent of The Faces in their pub rock prime. Frontman Shogun(yes, one of those single name entities) has terrific control over his voice, balancing rawness and melody to great effect; and this is true of the bands sound as a whole-an infectious blending of visceral punk and power pop. Take a break from pogoing and you’ll pick up on lyrics of adolescent angst, rejection and mundane days; the age old fuel to the punk rock fire.

Vows – Winter’s Grave

What gloomy, epically glorious things would a person think and hear, surrounded by walls of endless sun drenched sea? Vows may have captured the sound of being marooned. Winter’s Grave is oceanic movements of indie dream pop, currents of guitars and harmonies swelling over wonderful songwriting. There are shades of Papercuts and Beach House here, some off-kilter Beck style moments and more than a touch of Jens Leckman-esque romanticism. There are lonely and transformative moments in this release, where it seems Vows are singing to someone loved who won’t listen. At times it seems they have company on the lifeboat of their sound, and irregular joy breaks through in chants and jangly guitars; but the resonance is isolation- a group of men at sea, making rafts of gorgeously lonely music. Listen and be shipwrecked.