Dean Manning dips his toes into dreary soundscapes on Sunday Mountain

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Award-winning musician and visual artist Dean Manning is back with a brand new album, Sunday Mountain, which signals a notable change in his style and sound.

Known for his blending of rock, pop, and electronic musical styles, this sophomore solo effort sees the co-founder of Leonardo’s Bride and Holidays on Ice heading in a much more moody direction. Despite its seemingly pleasant title, Sunday Mountain is a record infused with lush, dreary soundscapes.

Opening with distorted guitars of ‘Be My Friend’, Manning sets the tone of the record early with warped, shrill but lush production.

Guitar and rock elements still play a key part throughout the record, but the likes of tracks like ‘Carry On’, the closing title track, and the instrumental ‘Red Egg’ see Manning dabble in organs and synth-heavy soundscapes with minimal percussion, filled up by warm bass hanging in the background; and he succeeds in setting a creepy atmosphere.

However, while there are really exciting moments of Manning dipping his toes into more experimental territory, where this album really succeeds is where he combines these sounds and elements with tracks more within his wheelhouse. The results are refreshingly entertaining.

The big highlights in this instance is the guitar-driven ‘Casino Town’, the darkly humorous lyrics and story of ‘Hola Senorita’, and ‘Messy Time’, a forlorn but catchy ballad with a heartbreaking story in the lyrics.

Within these digital soundscapes, Manning has created a very moody record. It’s a sublime record with moments of genuine power in its songs.  Sunday Mountain is an album that won’t fit into every scenario, but if you are in the right mood, it’s a gem. Listen below.

HI MOTIVE create infectious groove on ‘Gone’

The Sydney-based boys Matt Rowe and Ed Rose of HI MOTIVE continue to impress with their new pulsing single ‘Gone’.

Originating from different parts of Australia, Matt and Ed bonded over their broad love of music. The titillating electronic duo, still only in their first year as proper artists despite writing music together since 2014, have created a beautifully complex tune.

The track explores the inner narrative of loss and naivety experienced in a fallout, featuring an enigmatic mix of melodic vocals and infectious synths.

Known to latch onto an electronic groove, the pair began creating mixes together in their university dorm room where they refined their sound into a melodic, moody style.

After selling out their Sydney 'Silk' launch event in July, HI MOTIVE will be performing alongside Kira Puru, Tom Tilley and others this month at Jam In A Jar Sydney, a charity event raising funds for Headspace.

If you’re a fan of RÜFÜS DU SOL, ODESZA or Hayden James, you’ll love the steady beat, echoed synths, and distant vocals of HI MOTIVE’s third release. Stream the infectiously throbbing single ‘Gone’ now.

BIGSOUND 2019 HIGHLIGHTS - DAY 3

BIGSOUND, the week-long festival that turns Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley into an oasis of young and upcoming musical talent has been and gone. Relive the top three highlights from day three below!

1.     Kymie

What do you get if you mix buckets of musical talent, two cups of style, three tablespoons of humour, and a splash of sass? Sydney’s hip hop queen, Kymie.

As I rocked up to day three of BIGSOUND in quite an exhausted state, it was the stylish artist from South Africa via Western Sydney Kymie who brought me back to life.

Smoky purple lights drowned Ric’s Big Backyard to set the mood, and even BIGSOUND 2018 king Kwame couldn’t help vibing Kymie’s set.

The singer who wore a bright orange outfit brought the emotive spirit of soul with heavier, club-catering production and the crowd were loving it. She even invited the crowd to the front for a dance.

With a debut 6-track EP on the way, BIGSOUND was the perfect opportunity for the young musician to show her evolution over the years.

Kymie has a similar sound to USA’s Dojacat, and she may be on her way to being just as popular. As the artist unfolds every side of herself before executing it in a musical form, watch this space.

2.     DREGG

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The anomalistic, thought provoking band DREGG had Crowbar going off for their BIGSOUND set on Thursday.

Unsure what to expect, I went to the show with an open mind and open ears, ready for the DREGG experience. I was surprised in the best of ways.

Dressed in Fox Racing merch, masks, polka dot bow ties, and upside-down sunglasses, the group brought crazy amounts of hardcore energy to the stage.

The Melbourne group known for their tongue-in-cheek take on the political, social, and spiritual state of the world captured the best elements of metal/punk within the set. ‘RETURN OF THE DREGG’ easily had the most crowd involvement of BIGSOUND. Moreover, the rapid lyricism of lead singer Christopher Mackertich in between screaming choruses was a sight and sound to behold. Definitely one of the highlights of the night.

The band that want people to be their true selves at DREGG shows put on an absolute blinder, and I’m keen to hear what’s next.

3.     Approachable Members of Your Local Community

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Funny but not a joke, approachable but not simple, and generously glazed in extra servings of personality… meet Approachable Members of Your Local Community.

After pushing my way to a good view of The Foundry stage, the funky fellas of Approachable Members of Your Local Community burst onto stage in their matching adidas outfits. The Melbournites’ charismatic aura instantly had the audiences’ full attention.

The band with a fairly long title and releases anywhere between indie rock, neo-soul and hip hop effectively used their platform to spread positive energy, revitalising a tired BIGSOUND crowd.

Their July release ‘On + On’ was a personal favourite which had everyone jumping as the electronic chorus blasted through the venue. Additionally, the delivery of groove-inspired retro vibes within ‘Semiotic Vision’ was exactly what I needed. Aiming to inspire young people in the LGBTQIA+ community with ‘Millennium Queen’, the funk-fuelled disco feels were real.

From discussing what they had for dinner to telling a story about how they tried to hand out biscuits and mandarins to people before the show, the approachable members’ casual mood was one to remember. Will definitely be seeing these guys again.

BIGSOUND 2019 HIGHLIGHTS - DAY 2

BIGSOUND, the week-long festival that turns Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley into an oasis of young and upcoming musical talent is back for yet another massive year. If you weren’t able to attend this year or simply want to relive the magical moments, check out our top two highlights from day two below!

1.     The Dead Love

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After a string of huge 2019 performances, The Dead Love were a BIGSOUND act I was not missing.

They managed to pack out Crowbar, and within a song or two, punk lovers were everywhere. Wherever you looked people were banging heads, crowd surfing, and having a sick time. It was a special moment.

Before heading off, I managed to hear their punk singalong, ‘Frown’. As the audience belted out the punchy chorus, an overwhelming sense of comradery surged through the venue.

Closing with their hit ‘Sugarcoat’, the guys put on an awesome show which saw all the punk necessities: long hair, shirtless band members, and a screaming audience. The mosh went hard, nailing every lyric of every song.

If their BIGSOUND set was anything to go by, the future is going to hold a lot more music, work, and growth for The Dead Love, with a lot less sleep.

The Dead Love connected with the audience on a deep level, and never eased up on the pace. A set to remember.

2.     Nerve

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Whilst waiting to see Tkay Maidza’s surprise BIGSOUND performance, I was lucky enough to witness the gifted Brisbane underground rapper, Nerve.

Despite playing his own show at The Wickham minutes earlier, Nerve knew exactly how to hype up the already exhausted crowd. The musician’s quick-paced, self-assured style was an unquestionable crowd favourite, especially in the way his voice hovered above the shaking production of every song.

Nerve has improved a lot over the years with his diverse and rich discography of releases. As the musician rapped about his musical, social and mental development, his intense, untamed talent became clear to the audience.

As the bars fired up, so did the venue. Out of nowhere, the mosh erupted. As guys threw themselves across the Flying Cock dancefloor, even Nerve himself couldn’t resist joining in mid song. I don’t think anyone expected the amount of energy that mosh saw.

The ability to convert deep-rooted rage into positive energy is a skill very few can do effectively, especially on stage. However, Nerve is one of those few. He nailed song after song with clarity and enthusiasm to exhibit his experience.

With two EPs, an album and a few singles under Nerve’s belt, the young Aussie boy with his head screwed on is bound for huge things.

Can’t wait for the third and final day.

BIGSOUND 2019 HIGHLIGHTS – DAY 1

BIGSOUND, the week-long festival that turns Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley into an oasis of young and upcoming musical talent is back for yet another massive year. If you weren’t able to attend this year or simply want to relive the magical moments, check out our top three highlights from day one below!

1.     STEVAN

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As the first act I had ever seen at BIGSOUND, Stevan remains to be one of my favourites. It wasn’t surprising in the slightest to see the sheer volume of people packing out Ric’s Big Backyard for the young sensation.

The musician sounds even more the Australian version of Frank Ocean live, specifically through his calming vocal tone and sauntering back-beat that buries itself deep in the listener’s head.  

The mature songwriting, entrancing acoustics and calming percussion of the set painted an accurate picture of what it means to be young and in love.

As the audience began murmuring while Steven and his 3-piece band paused in between songs, he finally announced it was: “Time for Timee”.

Being the most anticipated song of his performance, it did not disappoint. Although slightly ambient in an outdoor setting, the artist was captivating enough for it to be a spectacle.

Ending his phenomenal set with: “Sweet, thanks guys... yeah, thanks,” the seemingly stress-free vibe of Stevan had the audience chuckling as they praised his performance with applause. The artist has proven his understood musical direction and it’s only up from here.

2.     SPACEY JANE

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After sprinting to The Brightside in an effort to experience Fremantle’s Spacey Jane, it was all worth it the second I heard their catchy indie-rock swagger.

As the set progressed, their popularity and overall quality increased dramatically. Spacey Jane members Caleb, Kieran, Ashton and Peppa have a chemistry like no other band you’ve heard before. The raw talent of the outfit is unbelievable, and they could very well find themselves being compared to Skegss, San Cisco, and The Jungle Giants very soon.

If the crowd weren’t already psyched up enough, the opening strum of ‘Feeding the Family’ sure did the trick. As heads banged from the front to the back of the venue, it’s safe to say the band have found their sound.

If you’ve been spending your time under a rock recently and somehow haven’t listened to this group yet, get onto it ASAP. Spacey Jane are going places.

3.     BUTTER

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With minimal knowledge of the group, I decided to roll the dice and check out the 6-piece alt-hop/neo-soul outfit, Butter.

I was blown away.

Staying true to their name, the Perth group had some of the smoothest hooks, rhythms and rhymes I’ve ever heard in a live setting. The jazz-inspired instrumental sections blended incredibly with the lead singer’s powerful, laid back voice.

Butter’s popular single ‘Hocus Pocus’ was an undeniable crowd favourite. Every single person in the room nodded their head to the keyboard rhythm and percussion.

The band oozing with personality owned the stage by taking the audience on a charming musical journey.

From cracking jokes on stage to having chilled chats with the audience, not much else can be said other than it was simply a cool f*****g set.

Bring on day two.