It’s time for some new music, as entertainment editor John Turnbull checks out new releases from Country rockers Tempermore, musical tofu Ed Sheeran, one man band Dope Lemon and Melbourne singer/songwriter Lucille.
New EP from a New Artist
Central West NSW may not traditionally be known as a hotbed of new music, but if Tempermore are anything to go by, that may all be about to change. After meeting at Orange TAFE where they were studying music, band members Corey Roche, guitarist Alexander Kastrounis, keyboardist Jason Ferguson and bassist Darcy Coates started playing together regularly. But things didn’t really click until they recruited drummer James Vanderhel, making the Tempermore lineup complete.
While they certainly fit in the broader "rock" category, it’s not easy to put Tempermore in a specific musical box. With a line in funk inspired by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the chunky layered guitars of the Foo Fighters, Tempermore forge a sound that’s uniquely Australian. In their bio, the band also pay tribute to "biggest selling act in history", the Eagles, but frankly there isn’t anything as soul-crushing as Hotel California to be heard on their debut EP.
Recorded at Dotted Eight Studios in Orange, NSW, Diversity lives us to its name, covering a lot of musical ground across the six tracks. Opening track Travelling Sideways is a singalong stomp that captures the long hours driving across country NSW, while first single Poppin’ starts as a contemplative celebration of life, which gradually reveals a seedy underbelly.
There is a hint of Led Zeppelin on the slow-burning Magic Man, evoking the spectre of supernatural beings and things beyond the realm of human understanding, while Funk in the Dark sounds like Sly and the Family Stone took an extended holiday at a caravan park in country NSW. If you have the chance to check out Tempermore live I highly recommend it — this is a band that’s going places.
Standout tracks: Poppin’, Travelling Sideways, Magic Man
Sample lyric: “It really sucks being a pedestrian when you’re travelling sideways.” (Travelling Sideways)
Verdict: 8/10 — authentic Aussie rock with nuance.
New Album from an Old Artist
Ed Sheeran: No.6 Collaborations Project
Some people love Ed Sheeran, some think he’s the worst thing to happen to music in the new millennium. I tend to sit somewhere in between. I mean, he’s clearly a talented artist, and seems relatively humble for a massive pop star, but he still actively chooses to hang out and make music with Justin Bieber, which means I must seriously question his taste in both music and friends. Speaking of Ed’s friends, No.6 Collaborations Project is all about friendship. And that’s a good thing, because friends make Ed Sheeran slightly more interesting.
I would be far from the first to call Sheeran "musical tofu", but that description is apt, as he takes on the flavour of whoever he happens to be collaborating with. If that collaborator is someone like Chance the Rapper or British rapper Stormzy, the result is a banging track with some decent backing vocals. If, on the other hand, the collab is with someone of Bieber’s ilk, then the result is the saccharine-sickening dross of I Don’t Care, truly one of the worst tracks to be released in 2019, despite an annoying catchy hook.
Other guest stars on this album include Young Thug, Eminem, Travis Scott, Meek Mill, Khalid, Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and Skrillex, which either suggests that all of Sheeran’s friends are much cooler than him (except Bieber, obviously), or he’s trying to buy some credibility by partnering with the hottest artists of the day.
Unless you really don’t like Ed Sheeran, there’s a good chance you’ll find something to like on this album. By the same token, it will take a pretty dedicated Sheeran fan to get through the entire album without grimacing at least once — Ed Sheeran isn’t quite the accomplished rapper that he seems to think he is. On the upside, the final track on the album (BLOW, featuring Chris Stapleton and Bruno Mars) is a perfect 80s hair metal track, kind of like Steel Panther without the herpes.
Standout tracks: Take Me Back to London. BLOW
Sample lyric: “You make me wanna make a baby, baby. Uh.” (BLOW)
Verdict: 6/10 — you wouldn’t eat an entire three course meal of tofu, would you?
Album I Expect to Suck
Dope Lemon: Smooth Big Cat
I generally make it a policy not to slag off Australian musicians, but I find the music of Angus and Julia Stone slightly less interesting than watching paint dry. I’m sure they’re both lovely people who smell slightly of patchouli, but their music is the closest thing to sonic sleeping pills I’ve ever found. The reason I mention this seemingly irrelevant fact is that Dope Lemon is the side project of Angus Stone and, hence, raises many musical red flags.
On the positive side, Angus plays every instrument and sings every note on Smooth Big Cat, which means he doesn’t have anyone else to blame (or credit, I guess) for the result. While none of the instrumental parts are particularly complex, Stone is a talented multi-instrumentalist, and certainly seems to know what sort of vibe he is aiming for.
If you’re one of those people who think modern music is far too well spoken and needs to be mumblier, then Smooth Big Cat is the album for you. Stone sounds half asleep (ignoring the obvious joke here) on most tracks, mumbling about cocaine and lost love like a low rent Lou Reed. If you’re in a super laid-back mood, this may be fine, but I found myself wishing for the whole thing to be over.
It has been said that there is something for everyone, and there is no doubt more than one person reading this review who thinks I’m an idiot with the music taste of a marmot. You’re right about that, by the way. All I can say is that Dope Lemon isn’t for me, despite positive reports of his bizarrely cat-filled performance at Splendour in the Grass, which I’m told was "transcendent" (unless the cops confiscated your stash before he came on stage).
Standout tracks: Nope
Sample lyric: “Get rid of all your ghosts, leave them all behind.” (Dope & Smoke)
Verdict: 2/10 — meh.
Ch... check it Out
Lucille – Best of Me
Born in Berlin, Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Lucille spent much of her life travelling around the world, living in Germany, the UK and New Zealand as a child before settling in Australia. Raised by hippy parents who didn’t care for pop music, Lucille and her siblings learnt to play instruments when they were young, taking the folk and gospel influences of their parents and fusing them with the 80’s pop they occasionally heard on the radio.
Like many people, Lucille wasn’t sure she was interested in the cut-throat world of music, so went into the professional world until the siren-song of performing became too strong. Released in March 2019, her first single The Killing Season received strong support from regional radio networks around the country, despite the song’s dark political themes.
Follow up single Best of Me is the polar opposite, a vulnerable reflection on relationships past and connections lost, driven by the perfect blend of Lucille’s striking voice and Jeff Lang’s moody acoustic guitar. Moving from near-whispered confessions of shattered expectations to a powerful challenge to relationship power dynamics, Best of Me shows an artist finding her true voice.
Sample lyric: “I don’t know If the visions, dreams, dancing in my mind are what you see.”
Verdict: 8/10 — an amazing voice and songwriting talent to match.
Books by John Turnbull are available on Amazon and Kindle, including supernatural thriller Damnation’s Flame; action/romance Reaper, black comedy City Boy and travel guidebook Bar Trek: Europe. Damnation's Flame by John Turnbull is also available in paperback in the IA store HERE (free postage).
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