Methyl Ethel is the uninhibited alt-pop project from Perth musician Jake Webb. The band started in 2013, as an outlet for the reverb soaked home recordings Webb was working on whilst developing his ambient and textural guitar playing in a variety of local outfits. Methyl Ethel has since blossomed into one of the most critically revered and publicly embraced acts coming out of Western Australia in some time.
Built from the ground up in various bedrooms, friends' studios and quiet caverns over 2013, the exceptional EP diptych Guts and Teeth, which explore themes of anxiety, disillusionment and stasis, were released in quick succession. These intricate tapestries of melody, dripping with lush eccentricity, ascended through the ether and onto the airwaves, with Indie Shuffle, Happy, triple j, FBi Radio, 3RRR and RTRFM amongst others all taking note.
So far, 2015 has seen the band hone their sound, on debut LP Oh Inhuman Spectacle and its accompanying singles Twilight Driving and Rogues (awarded 2015 WAM Pop Song of the Year). Recorded in the same manner as its predecessors, Oh Inhuman Spectacle masterfully blends pop and esotericism to create an undeniable piece of work, which has landed at the top of many mid-year album lists and been championed by supporters new and old.
After a year of relentless touring, sharing stages with the likes of San Cisco, Holy Holy, Sunbeam Sound Machine and Courtney Barnett, Methyl Ethel are now a headliner in their own right. With their hometown album launch hitting capacity in a matter of minutes, and their Melbourne date selling out weeks in advance, the excitement surrounding the act and their breathtaking live show is palpable. October will see the band take a break from working on the follow up to Oh Human Spectacle to head stateside for CMJ, with a busy Australian summer to follow.
The band TEEN came together at the turn of the decade, but its members have known each other their whole lives. Teeny, Lizzie, and Katherine Lieberson are sisters. Although they grew up in a musically vibrant Halifax home—their father was the esteemed composer Peter Lieberson—their first band jelled once they all lived in New York.
Teeny officially conceived TEEN in 2010 while on break from touring as part of renowned band Here We Go Magic. Following her self-recorded 2011 release Little Doods, she invited her sisters to join the project, transforming TEEN into a full-blown band. Carpark records caught wind of Teeny’s work, and TEEN signed to the label for its proper debut album, 2012’s In Limbo. The sisters’ unsurprising, inevitable chemistry manifests across the record’s sprawling, lo-fi psychedelia; the familial bonds that formed it gave it a strength that resulted in acclaim from publications including Rolling Stone, which claimed, “the matter-of-fact beauty of [Teeny’s] sweetly somber voice and the album’s unapologetically fat synths…proves highly evocative.”
It was with their 2014 follow-up The Way and Color, though, that the sisters solidified their accessible but complex, psychedelia- and synth-informed pop lens through which they explore romance, womanhood, and social constructs. Of the album’s more outré, electronic-influenced sounds, The New York Times raved: “The band’s new songs bloom with vocal harmonies and double down on intricate counterpoint…. TEEN’s music never [loses its balance].”
Good Fruit, the band’s fourth and newest album, is its sharpest thesis yet. A meditation on life after love, it’s thematically the opposite of its predecessor, 2016’s Love Yes, which The Guardian praised as “reminiscent of…inventive late-70s to mid-80s pop groups.” Musically, though, Good Fruit is the logical evolution of Love Yes’ massive uptick in synth use and sticky-hot choruses. The album boasts self-assured, skyrocketing synthpop anthems including “Only Water” and “Runner,” which betray the crucial lessons the sisters took from experiencing the distinct, enlivening ways that their myriad Love Yes tourmates employed synths. As with all TEEN albums, there are haunting ballads, most notably “Pretend,” which swells into a roaring synthetic climax as it details a relationship’s failure. A precise analysis of life after love, it’s an ideal note on which to end Good Fruit, a bold statement on moving forward and letting go of the past.