Track Of The Day: Jen Cloher – ‘Mana Takatāpui’

How am I so late to the Jen Cloher party?! An integral part of the Melbourne indie scene that also gave us Courtney Barnett, Cloher is a long-established and hugely respected songwriter and performer. And, when you listen to ‘Mana Takatāpui’, taken from their first album in five years, it’s not hard to see why. It’s dazzling. A masterclass in songwriting, ‘Mana Takatāpui‘ celebrates the indigenous Polynesian people of Aotearoa, New Zealand and the Māori, LGBTQ+ community. It’s also an important reflection on finding yourself and the concept of ‘home’. 

Cloher’s warm honeyed vocal, reminiscent of early Cat Power, is so soothing and spiritual that it makes your heart swell. And, while their lyrics are both personal and political, they are delivered with such love and pride that the song never feels heavy. From the opening harmonies to the upbeat affirmations that come later, it’s joyous. This is music to bathe yourself in.

Of the meaning behind the track, Cloher explains:

I’m no expert but I’m guessing Māori pre-colonisation didn’t hold the same beliefs around gender and sexuality as Queen Victoria’s England. I’ve read that our men were hands on dedicated fathers and some of our best midwives; that our women fought side by side on the battlefield and that our wāhine atua (female gods) held as much mana (power and respect) as our tāne atua. Christianity came hand in hand with colonisation; their missionaries introducing the concepts of body shame, sexual repression, a woman’s menstrual cycle as impure, homosexuality as a perversion and gender as binary.

Watch the poignant new video for Mana Takatāpui here:

Cloher’s upcoming new album, I Am The River, The River Is Me, is set for release on 3rd March 2023 via Milk! Records/Marathon Artists.

Vic Conway

Photo Credit: Marcelle Bradbeer

Track Of The Day: Panic Shack – ‘Meal Deal’

Arriving just in time for Christmas sandwich season, the latest single from Cardiff’s Panic Shack celebrates the humble meal deal. Much like a bag of fancy crisps, ‘Meal Deal’ is two and a half minutes of pure joy. The crunchy bass and frenetic drums give off a proper punk energy, while the band’s yelping vocals make for an instant earworm. It’s both energetic and effortless, kind of reminiscent of Amyl and the Sniffers (if Amyl and the Sniffers were Welsh and harboured a love of cheap sandwiches).

‘Meal Deal’ is a stupid amount of fun, but Panic Shack don’t shy away from sharing an important message. The chorus of “Feed me, I’m fucking hungry!” and lyrics that explore the realities of working in an undervalued, underpaid job are a painful reminder of how tough life is at the moment (as if any of us could forget). It’s political, but a proper party banger too.  

Panic Shack’s passion – and their rage – is infectious. Following the successful release of their sold-out debut EP, Baby Shack, and with acclaim from the likes of BBC 6Music’s Steve Lamacq, I can’t wait to see the band spread it even further over the coming months. We need them! 

Baby Shack, the latest EP from Panic Shack, is out now – order here. Catch Panic Shack live on their upcoming headline tour, or supporting faves Yard Act later this year. Details here.

Vic Conway

Photo Credit: Ren Faulkner

Track Of The Day: Alex Lahey – ‘Congratulations’

Congratulations’, the latest single from Australian artist Alex Lahey is an irresistible slice of grunge-fuelled indie rock about your exes moving on and settling down with someone else. With its swaggering guitars and soaring vocals, it’s an anthemic, fist-pumping three-minutes, building from bittersweet to completely bad-ass.

Lahey’s songwriting and musicality really shine here. Reminiscent of Pixies and the incredible Du Blonde, this is lo-fi guitar rock delivered with such power, polish and energy that Lahey could have the power of a whole band behind her. I’m talking proper stadium rock vibes, and it begs to be played loud!

Emerging from the vibrant Melbourne scene that also gave us Courtney Barnett, ‘Congratulations’ shows Lahey is a force to be reckoned with. Her last new music in 2021, ‘On My Way’, made it to the soundtrack of Netflix’s The Mitchells Vs The Machines (NB. parents and carers to small people will have watched this at least a dozen times…) and with more new music to come from her this year, Lahey’s potential seems limitless.

‘Congratulations’ is out now via Liberation Records.

Vic Conway

Photo Credit: Pooneh Ghana

Track Of The Day: Electric Pets – ‘That Way’

‘That Way’, the second single from Electric Pets’ debut EP is a bold, empowering battle-cry for anyone who’s ever felt like they don’t fit in. Opening with the raw power of Emma Buckley’s unwavering vocal, the lyrics defiantly tell us who Buckley is and dismiss what others tell her she should be.   

But the song’s intimate, confessional tone soon steps up, buoyed by scuzzy, swaggering guitars, to become a proper garage-infused rock ‘n’ roll banger. Buckley sings: “Maybe I should bite my tongue and try to play the game?” But we know she won’t. This is a front-person – and a band – that doesn’t play by the rules. Of the track, Buckley explains:

“You could say ‘That Way’ is my autobiographical ‘f**k you’ to the music industry. I spent so long being too much of something to someone and not enough of the same thing for someone else. I needed to remind myself who I was.” 

And it really is the perfect redemption song. With its sassy, grown-up pop polish and uncompromising lyrics, ‘That Way’ is a great introduction to a band that are brave and completely badass. More please!

Vic Conway

‘That Way’ is taken from Electric Pets’ Rhinoceros EP, which is out soon on Reckless Yes records.