All posts tagged seekae

  • The Weekend Australian album reviews, October 2014: Sounds Like Sunset, The Peep Tempel, Seekae

    Three reviews published in The Weekend Australian in October 2014.

    Sounds Like Sunset – We Could Leave Tonight

    Sounds Like Sunset – 'We Could Leave Tonight' album cover reviewed in The Australian, October 2014With We Could Leave Tonight, Sydney band Sounds Like Sunset has produced its third album since forming in 1997. It’s the first since 2005’s Invisible, and from the opening bars of ‘Second Chance’ it’s clear that the long time between releases was well spent.

    This is a superb collection of expertly crafted indie rock songs that strikes a fine balance between melody and melancholy. The production ensures that the band sounds much larger than the sum of its three components. Vocalist David Challinor often double and triple tracks his guitar parts to add a bed of woozy atmospherics and swooning, distorted tones beneath his straightforward chord progressions, while Tobey Doctor and David Hobson keep the groove on drums and bass, respectively.

    The effect is especially intoxicating on tracks such as ‘Open Up My Eyes’ and ‘Sunshine’, where a few bent guitar notes run beneath the entire arrangement. Elsewhere, ‘Somebody Like You’ is imbued with a killer synth line beneath a massive chorus of ascending power chords, while the gentler ‘Undone’ is built around acoustic guitar.

    Comprising nine tracks in 34 minutes, We Could Leave Tonight is a brief affair, but one that demands repeated plays: the album’s streamlined, propulsive nature ensures that not a second is wasted. Fans of shoegaze and noise-pop bands such as Dinosaur Jr and the Jesus and Mary Chain will find plenty to like here.

    Among a uniformly strong collection, final track ‘Find Your Way’ is the standout: an epic slow-burner that never quite resolves, it’s a winning nod to the showbiz maxim to always leave the audience wanting more.

    LABEL: Tym Records
    RATING: 4 stars


    Seekae – The Worry

    Seekae – 'The Worry' album cover reviewed in The Australian, October 2014The final song on this Sydney trio’s second album, 2011’s +Dome , hinted at a forthcoming artistic progression, as it contained something that had previously been shunned: the human voice. Seekae had established itself as a reliable purveyor of interesting electronica, coloured by cut-up samples, synthesisers and pulsating beats. Still, the chasm between +Dome and The Worry is surprisingly wide, as percussionist Alex Cameron’s vocals are now central in the mix. It’s a bold move and one that risks alienating the group’s fanbase. There are echoes of another Sydney electronic group in this decision: PVT added vocals to its 2010 release Church With No Magic, and it didn’t add to the quality of the songs. If anything, it detracted from their appeal.

    This was my initial response to The Worry: for the first 10 spins, I couldn’t get past the fact Seekae had seemingly reduced its originality by joining the masses of vocal-led acts. Ultimately, through sheer repetition, I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate the new direction. Other fans may not be as patient.

    Cameron’s voice truly impresses only on a couple of tracks, most notably on sweet centrepiece ‘Further’, where he’s accompanied by horn blasts. The high-BPM programming on ‘Oxen Calm’ is the album’s energetic apex, and it would have been nice to hear more compositions of this style and calibre. The Worry captures a band seemingly in the midst of an identity crisis, though thankfully its songwriting abilities remain intact.

    LABEL: Future Classic
    RATING: 3.5 stars


    The Peep Tempel – Tales

    The Peep Tempel – 'Tales' album cover reviewed in The Australian, October 2014This Melbourne-based three-piece trades in sharp-edged, dark-humoured rock ‘n’ roll, and its second album is a fine extension of its superlative debut. The Peep Tempel’s world is populated by broken and desperate men, and by peeling back layers of the male psyche the trio has collected another memorable set of songs. Loneliness, desperation and jealousy course through the veins of the characters inhabited by singer-guitarist Blake Scott.

    Six of the album’s 11 track titles contain first names, while plenty more pop up in the verses. This direct approach to songwriting works in the band’s favour: rather than taking the well-trodden path of keeping things vague to appeal to wide audiences, the Peep Tempel homes in on its lyrical targets with clinical precision. The listener thus becomes a neutral bystander asked to pick sides. It’s a curious and powerful effect best captured on first single ‘Carol’, where amid an urgent beat and stinging guitar tones Scott sings: “I don’t want to be so sanctimonious, I don’t want to be such a negative jerk / But I’m the one who’s been helping you through the divorce, Carol”.

    This emphatic plea of a rejected lover is an addictive listen, captured in four minutes — “I don’t think Trevor is good for you, Carol!” — and the album’s highlight, though the threatening mood and rollicking rhythm of third track ‘Big Fish’ comes close. (Sample lyric: “Take a beer from the fridge, have a seat, Danny / Your Jackie’s been telling tales”). With Tales, the Peep Tempel has improved its songwriting smarts while amping up the tension.

    LABEL: Wing Sing Records
    RATING: 4 stars

  • Mess+Noise interview: George Nicholas of Seekae, March 2011

    An interview for Mess+Noise. Excerpt below.

    Seekae: ‘We’re Too Busy Forging Battle Plans’

    While other bands are out partying, Sydney’s Seekae are too busy playing LAN games backstage. Ahead of the release of second album ‘+DOME‘, they talk to ANDREW MCMILLEN about poverty, illegal downloading and how they recently “annihilated” Cloud Control on ‘Starcraft’.

    Since releasing their debut album The Sound Of Trees Falling On People in December 2008, Sydney trio Seekae have become one of the most interesting independent acts in the country. Both in the studio and on stage, their set-up consists of laptops, MPCs, live drums, keyboards and melodica; their sound, a distinctive and complex brew of electronica. Rarely do vocals work their way into the mix, yet the band have a reputation for delivering: they won a Sydney Music, Art and Culture (SMAC) award in 2009 for ‘Best Live Act’, and re-released Trees with a bonus disc of remixes (and a PVT cover) upon signing with indie label Rice Is Nice.

    So how have the trio – John Hassell on synth/guitar, Alex Cameron on synth/drums and George Nicholas on synth/melodica – spent the couple of years between their debut album and its forthcoming follow-up, +DOME? Playing too much Starcraft, according to Nicholas, though he confirms they still attempt to record new ideas each day, even if most of it is “absolute garbage”. It’s fitting that a video game would distract these three from their artistic calling; they were originally named after the DOS game Commander Keen, before shortening to a stylised version of its initials after discovering that the name had already been taken.

    Though Cameron was initially scheduled to do this interview, some unexpected laptop problems ahead of a show supporting Mount Kimbie in Perth on the next night – simply, a computer wouldn’t turn on – caused him to flee to the nearest repairs store, leaving Nicholas to fill his shoes.

    There was an article published in triple j mag in March last year, where you wrote: “Musicians don’t have any money. They spend all the money they earned on new instruments and laptops.” Is this still the case?
    George: Yeah. I think I’m the poorest I’ve ever been, actually. I don’t think we’re going to hit the jackpot for a while. I hope we do, but we’ve still been eating spaghetti for a couple of weeks now, waiting for our cheque to come in.

    You’re the poorest now that you’ve ever been?
    Yeah. I mean, we put some money into recording the album, and stuff like that. What people don’t understand is that, in order to write an album, you have to take a lot of time off work. You have to dedicate a lot of your time to doing it. I think that’s the main reason why we’re so poor, I guess. But it’s not that bad. We’re not entirely starving. [Laughs]

    Does the lack of money bother you?
    No, it’s alright. I mean, it does bother me, because it’s always hard juggling a shitty day job and a band. A lot of my friends are going and getting real jobs and careers, but I look at this and just see – although I’m not being paid that much for it – it’s good to be able to do this stuff, and have people listen to it. It’s all fine. It’s all gravy! [Laughs]

    You also wrote that you have to “try and convince security that an MPC drum machine is pretty much the same thing as a laptop, and that it was designed to destroy dancefloors, not jets”. I take it this conversation happens every time you’re in an airport.
    [Laughs] Yeah. We always get a few snickers and laughs every time we go through the x-ray machine. I carry all my stuff in my backpack. I carry my laptop, my soundcard, my hard drive, my MPC, my Kaos pad, all in one bag. There’s like 10 different things. It’s really absurd when you see someone taking out all these suspicious-looking things out of their bag. We get a lot of strange looks. But we always make it through, although every single we time go through, we get the explosives check.

    For the full interview, visit Mess+Noise. For more Seekae, visit their Myspace. The audio for their track ‘Blood Bank‘ is embedded below.