Alex Lahey

Alex Lahey

“I’m just some random from Melbourne.”

Alex Lahey likes to keep it real. The 24-year-old Australian musician takes her rise up the ranks from music student to ‘an artist with one of the most highly anticipated debut albums of 2017’ in her stride.

Lahey sees her life as ordinary: “I fall in love, I have a family, I go out with my friends, I like to have a drink.” However, most people can’t distil those universal experiences into wry, punchy indie-rock songs - three minute odes to millennial angst and all the complicated feelings that come with it. Alex Lahey can. ‘Love You Like A Brother’ is proof.

Born and raised in Melbourne, Lahey initially studied jazz saxophone at university but unimpressed with “learning music in such a regimented way” she switched to an arts degree (see her ‘B-Grade University’ EP for more details). Her tenure with cult music collective Animaux allowed Lahey the musical anarchy she yearned - hell, she booked the band their first gig before they’d even prepared a single song.

Lahey stepped out on her own once she began to write songs that didn’t fit Animaux’s party space. Songs that were inspired the two people she considers the greatest songwriters of all time, Dolly Parton and Bruce Springsteen. Songs that got her noticed at a local industry conference and scored her a solo management deal. Lahey had graduated.

The ‘Love You Like A Brother’ album drops fresh off the back of Lahey’s breakthrough in 2016. Last year her ‘You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me’ single was inescapable and landed her a spot in Australian radio network triple j’s prestigious Hottest 100 of 2016. The song’s universal tale of rejection took Lahey global - its message, she says, is the flipside of the usual break-up scenario: “Yeah, you’re right. It’s not me. It IS you.”

And that no-shit-taken attitude is the backbone of ‘Love You Like A Brother’. From the stomping title track ‘Brother’ to the gently moving ‘Money’, Lahey’s debut long-player tells it like it is.

The album found Lahey back in the studio with production partner, and one-half of Holy Holy, Oscar Dawson (Ali Barter, British India). The pair pushed each other to create an intimate sonic experience that comprises scuzzy guitars thrumming over pop melodies, helmed by Lahey’s unfussy but arresting vocals.

The album’s songs traverse the everyday themes of family, heartbreak and identity. Lacey tells her stories with character… and dry humour – “I’ve figured it out,” she sings in ‘Awkward Exchange’, “you’re a bit of a dick” – but there are also moments of darkness. In ‘Taking Care’ she muses, “I’ve gained weight and I drink too much, maybe that’s why you don’t love me as much.”

‘Taking Care’ was written after Alex had an eye-opening conversation with her mother. “I was seeing someone who I knew wasn’t treating me well, and chose to ignore it, and I think my mum had picked up on it as well. She just said to me at the end of the conversation, ‘Alexandra, whatever you do, just make sure that you take care of yourself’.”

The poignant ‘Backpack’ is a tribute to Lahey’s latest relationship, and the unsure start it got off to. “When we first started going out, they warned me about how they’re really flighty, and I was like, ‘I just want you to stay. And I don’t know if you are.’ It’s just saying it’s hard to hold someone down if they’re always thinking about the next place that they’re going to. It’s hard to give someone a hug when they’re walking away. And sometimes it’s good to chase them down and be like, ‘Hey, I’m here.’”

And, in case the album’s title hadn’t given it away already, there’s a track for her brother too. “We don’t get a choice/So let’s stick together,” screams Lahey in ‘Brother’. That angsty love you’re hearing is easily explained by Lahey, “My brother and I clashed for a long time, and then all of a sudden as adults, we’re really close. I feel like this song is my gift to him.”

The themes of Alex Lahey’s album might be universal, but it’s the unique approach she takes unpacking them that’s earned her millions of Spotify streams, buzz-worthy showcases at SXSW and festival sets alongside the likes of Flume, The Kills, At The Drive-In and James Blake as well as guesting on tours with Catfish & The Bottlemen, Tegan & Sara and Blondie.

Photo: Giulia McGauran

Dude York

Dude York's Sincerely opens with a blast—the massive opening chords of "Black Jack," a squealing track that blends the swagger of glam with the heavy riffing and ringing hooks of arena rock.  The Seattle-based trio—Peter Richards on guitar and vocals, Claire England on bass and vocals, and Andrew Hall on drums—is announcing itself with an album that couches its themes of anxiety and eroding mental health in rock tracks that amp up the sweetly melodic crunch of powerpop with massive distortion and bashed-to-heck drums. Sincerely is a loud, sweaty rebuke to those moments in life when it seems like nothing's working, a testament to the power of friendship, staring problems directly in the face, and finding solace in art.

Richards, England, and Hall have been through a lot during their four years of playing together, and tracks like the speedy, dark "Paralyzed," the Creedence-echoing "Twin Moons," and the frustrated yet ebullient "Something in The Way" combines lyrics that play on the trio's travails with jumpy, riff-heavy distorto-pop. England handles lead vocal duties on the zinging kiss-off "Tonight" and the slowly grinding "Love Is," the first time she's done so on a Dude York record. "Times Not on My Side," an intimate farewell note sung atop jangling acoustic, caps the album.

A first pass at a home-recorded version of Sincerely led to the band being told that there was "drywall in every piece of [the record]," says Hall, and they had to go back to the drawing board. Longtime Sleater-Kinney and Bikini Kill producer John Goodmanson and JR Slayer (aka The Blood Brothers’ Cody Votolato) helped Dude York craft a record that captured the energy of their live show while finding new ways to expand upon its ideas.

The band’s thoughtful approach to putting together Sincerely's songs echoes the album's overarching themes of almost-punishing inward focus.

"I feel like it's about losing perspective—a spiraling-inward perspective despite what may be ready support networks around you," adds Richards. "It's like, 'I don't need anybody's help. I should be able to do this myself, because it's just, like, living.'"

Bringing England's straightforward drawl into the mix underscores that idea, and its contrast to Richards' excited yelp heightens the tension on Sincerely, a chaotic, yet ultimately triumphant album that's a vital tonic for these increasingly confused times.  

"Your back's against the wall," says Richards, "so all you can do is fight."

$12 Advance // $14 Day of Show

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