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Big Skies

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Songhoy_Blues_Resistance.jpg

by Mere Women

Feature Records for the week beginning Mon 12 Jun 2017

Mere Women Big Skies (PBS Feature Record)
The Sydney establishment has really done their best to rid the city of any DIY culture in the past few years – pokies have ruled the pubs for years, but now it seems to only take a loud sneeze after 10pm to have the cops kicking in the door. ‘Culture’ is almost exclusively reserved for the big ticket arts festivals, proudly brought to you by the NSW government and a long list of corporate sponsors – so much so that the Opera House is now a viable option for putting on a punk show.

A popular misconception that comes with this is that there isn’t much of a music scene left in the city. Mere Women, like many of their peers that once gravitated toward the legendary Black Wire Records (RIP) show this for the falsehood that it is, and that perhaps this relative isolation and a stifling environment for creativity can encourage people to forge their own path. That Mere Women’s third LP Big Skies is seemingly so much about place, and isolation within places may be a consequence of this.

It’s a moody and at-times solemn record – the urgency of early single ‘Numb’ (released last year on a split 7” with Melbourne’s Gold Class) sits easily alongside the plaintive ‘Tin Rooves’ and full-throttle charge of recent single ‘Drive’. The common thread here is a stated aim of exploring women’s experiences of isolation in rural areas, though the sense of alienation that abounds on this record is likely relatable for many women, irrespective of place. The sonic palette Mere Women are working with has expanded with the addition of bassist Trisch Roberts, who has helped solidify their goth-y take on post-punk with basslines that would make Simon Gallup proud, adding weight to Amy Wilson’s commanding vocals and the impressive, though never overly flashy drumming of Kat Byrne. Despite its thematic or circumstantial connection to a specific time and place, Big Skies transcends both.

Songhoy Blues Résistance (featured on The Breakfast Spread)
Songhoy Blues follow up their much loved 2015 debut record Music In Exile with this joyous and infectious record - Résistance. Like the name suggests, this is a band committed to breaking down the oversaturated and racist stereotypes often imposed by westerners about the singular narrative of Africa. Much like the rest of the record, lead single “Bamako” is a taster of the vibrant nightlife in the capital of Mali. The super tight rhythm section underpins sprawling guitar jams. The cheerful vocal harmonies of the children's choir that close out the release on "One Colour" lift the record to new heights.

A truly awful guest appearance from Iggy Pop further underlines just how great this band is - they don't need washed up Western stars to translate their energy and power. They've got a sound and message that connects with people far beyond Mali. If you want to groove, this is for you.

Review by Beth AQ and Nick Brown (The Breakfast Spread)

This week's Top 10: 
Mere Women - Big Skies
Songhoy Blues - Résistance
Elder - Reflections of a Floating World
Yiannis Kassetas - Northern Lights
Multiple Man - New Metal
Suzi Analogue - Zonez V.3
Leah Senior - Pretty Faces
Institute - Subordination
Fuji Yuki - Orient
Will Guthrie - People Pleaser

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