Reunion Blues Gear Case Giveaway

Need to store your favourite piece of gear? Never fear – we’ve got the perfect solution for you.

Thanks to DI Music, we’ve got four amazing Reunion Blues Continental and Oxford gig bags and cases to give away to celebrate this issue, with something to suit every guitarist, bassist and drummer up for grabs.

All you need to do to enter is follow us on Instagram and sign up to our newsletter using the form below, and you’re good to go!

Please note: all giveaways are only available to our Australian readers. By entering, you agree to receive marketing collateral from Mixdown and competition partners.

This competition will close on Thursday December 31, and the competition winner will be notified within two days of competition closure.

Good luck!

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Tash Sultana: Australia’s guitar superstar

Tash Sultana: Australia’s guitar superstar

Five years ago, you might have been fortunate enough to stumble upon a lone busker performing for small change amid the hustle and bustle of Melbourne’s Bourke Street shopping precinct. 

Wielding an electric guitar and expertly navigating their way around a loop station to create a smorgasbord of head-snapping grooves and psychedelic guitar solos, it was clear from the get-go that this particular busker wasn’t just your average street performer. Yet still, no one could have predicted the astronomical rise to stardom that laid ahead of Tash Sultana. 

After the viral success of their 2016 Notions EP track ‘Jungle’ led into a never-ending touring cycle that’s eventuated in sold out shows and headlining festival sets all over the globe, there’s no doubting that Tash is now well and truly at the top of their game. 

At the age of 25, Sultana has achieved more than many could ever dream of, and now they’ve got yet another notch to add to their belt, joining an elite company of shredders to unveil their very own signature model with Fender – one of only three Australian artists to ever do so. 

“Honestly, it’s a bit of a no-brainer when one of the biggest guitar companies in the world comes to you and says, ‘Do you want to design your own line?’,” Tash gushes. “It’s like, ‘absolutely man, what the fuck!?’

“The local music store that I’ve been going to since I was seven just told me that they had ordered the guitar when I went in there the other day. I remember I used to be a little kid walking in there just wishing that any guitar was mine, and saving up all my Christmas and birthday money for years just to buy one – now, they’ve got like five of them on the wall, which is just fucking sick.”

With a design that bridges the gap between classic Fender and forward-thinking ingenuity, the Tash Sultana Signature Stratocaster is a testament to the Melbourne multi-instrumentalist’s tremendous musical prowess. Instead of just regurgitating another production model and slapping a signature on the headstock to call it a day, it’s a guitar that’s made to encourage emerging generations of guitarists to follow in Sultana’s tracks, packing all the features necessary to imprint one’s sonic identity on the world stage.

“I wanted a custom-looking guitar for the Signature series,” says Tash, describing the lengths they went to alongside Fender in order to perfect the guitar’s design. “But the thing is, is that it really is a custom guitar. It’s a Signature Stratocaster that exactly suits my specs, and it was really important for me to create an affordable Fender Strat that sounds and looks good.”

Completed over the course of several years due to their endless touring commitments – and set back even further due to the impacts of COVID-19 – the Tash Sultana Signature Stratocaster is truly a unique guitar. With its rich Transparent Cherry finish, matching painted headstock, gold hardware and pearloid pickguard, the guitar packs an immediate visual flair, while an alder body and maple neck adds a classic touch of Fender tone. However, as Tash reveals, their signature guitar could have turned out to be a wholly different looking instrument altogether.

“I actually prototyped a different model first that wasn’t quite right, and I had to make the time to get it right. It was very brown and had a rosewood neck, which is why we had to change direction, because you’re not allowed to do that anymore,” says Tash, referring to rosewood’s status as an endangered tonewood.

“It looked classic, but it looked like an old man’s guitar – like some sixty or seventy-year-old jazz cat was going to pick up this guitar, which is cool, but I’m not a seventy-year-old man, and I just wanted to revamp it a little bit. So we came up with this Cherry Red colour, matched the body to the headstock, popped the gold hardware on there, changed the scratch plate from tortoiseshell to pearloid and put a maple fretboard on, and then I saw it in person and was like, ‘That’s the one. That’s it’.”

One of the defining characteristics of the Tash Sultana Signature Stratocaster also comes via its electronics, pairing two Alnico 4 Yosemite single-coil pickups with a coil-splittable DoubleTap humbucker in the bridge position to allow the player to tap into a wide spectrum of tones. As Sultana reveals, this configuration wasn’t just an off-handed decision in the R&D process, but a deliberate modification to seamlessly integrate the guitar into their live looping set.

“To make the rhythm loops, I’ll always use the neck pickup, because it’s a bit more of a smooth, full warm tone. As I layer things, I’ll move back down the bottom of the guitar and use the single-coil if I’m going to launch into a solo to cut all the way through, and I feel like it channels the wah that I use in my effects chain better.

“When you’re layering, you’re ultimately stacking audio on top of what you’re multi-tracking. With my looping, everything’s multi-tracked, so with the guitar, it’s the distinction of changing things sonically, so you don’t have frequency buildup in the same ranges because you’re stacking layers. If I’m doing something on the front pickup that’s rhythm, I’m not going to put the harmonic layer with the same pickup, because it’s going to clash in the mix.”

Of course, the Tash Sultana Signature Stratocaster isn’t just a guitar built to perform marathon live sets with: as it so happens, the guitar makes its maiden recorded appearance on Tash’s upcoming sophomore effort Terra Firma, which is due for release early next year. 

“I actually used it for the first time in a song for ‘Greed’,” says Tash. “There’s a couple of solos where it makes a feature, where I maxed it out with UAD plugins on the effects chain and just had a blast.”

Tash hints at another crucial factor in the how the Stratocaster’s sonic versatility comes into play throughout their live set, talking about how making the switch across to modelling systems from the likes of Kemper and Axe-FX helped to hone their sound even further.

“I made that change ages ago, and I highly recommend it for anybody who loves to merge analog sounds with the digital world,” says Tash. “I still love amps. I have a fuck-load of amps and I love just plugging them in and playing, but mate – if you’re going on tour, you don’t want to lug that shit around when you can just profile them in a tiny little box in my rack.” 

Despite having rotated through an arsenal of Strats both on the road and in the studio for years, it may come as a surprise for some to see Tash opt for a Stratocaster when it came time to create a signature model. During their breakout period, the looping phenom was usually be spotted playing an array of other Fender guitars, including an Olympic White Jazzmaster and a slick Richie Kotzen Signature Telecaster.

“That Kotzen Tele is one of the best fucking guitars that I’ve got,” Tash says. “That does not sound like any Telecaster that I’ve ever played. I love that tone, but there’s a time and a place for that in what I’ve been doing. I wouldn’t say I’ve moved over from other guitars, I’ve just added many Stratocasters into the catalogue along the way. 

“There was something that I was missing in what I was trying to do sonically that I found when I picked up the Strat. That thin, protruding tone – the ability to shape your tone however thick and warm or thin and screechy as you wanted was something that I couldn’t quite get on the Tele. I could get the full-body tone and the twang, but there was something else: something a bit more jazzy, something a bit more psychedelic rock, something a little bit more like Jimi Hendrix, you know?”

Hendrix isn’t the only factor that led Tash towards the iconic silhouette of the Stratocaster: Sultana also makes mention of another major influence in the form of blues wunderkind John Mayer, who has been a constant source of inspiration upon their playing while cooped up at home over the past year. 

“I’ve been doing a lot of that bluesy, jazzy in-the-box playing at the moment with the Strat,” says Tash, noting at how their playing has evolved as they’ve been getting acquainted with the new Stratocaster in lockdown.

“It’s so good to experiment with different technicality, you know? Applying different modes, methods, scales to where you travel on the fretboard. Back in the day, I would follow a couple of the different blues scales to make my way around solos, and now I’ve had the time to sit down and really learn because I felt like I was just regurgitating everything that I already knew rather than exploring the broader horizon with things.

“Once you realise that you actually know fuck all and that so many other people know so much more than you, all of that knowledge is just wealth that you can accumulate in your brain and apply to the shit that you do… man, the sky’s the limit. Everything that we already need is already there, you just need to go and get it.”

Check out the Fender Tash Sultana Signature Stratocaster in guitar stores today.

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Reviewed: Shure MV7

With the ever-increasing army of podcast producers hungry for the highest calibre podcast microphone they can afford, Shure have delivered with the MV7. Taking inspiration from the immortal SM7B (famous for being used to capture vocals on Michael Jackson’s best-selling Thriller), this hybrid mic is designed for capturing pristine vocal recordings both inside the studio and at home.

Good design can inspire you, give your home set-up a refreshing air of professionalism or spark a conversation with a potential client. The SM7B influence is immediately apparent in the striking silhouette of the MV7. Look closer and you’ll see that subtly concealed in this retro design is a built-in touch panel which gives you tactile control over gain and monitoring levels.

There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack to give you immediate monitoring over your vocal performance. Its solid build and robust construction feel ready for the impromptu nature of podcast production.

Being the egalitarian and mobile medium they are, means podcasts are often being produced in imperfect recording environments. Shure know what a modern producer needs and that’s why Voice Isolation Technology is at the fore of the MV7’s design. The MV7 is designed with a unique pick-up pattern to capture purely your voice with minimal room or background noise.

USB connectivity and free software allow for further fine-tuning of the sonic palette; including adjustment of the tone of the recording and setting the distance of the microphone from your voice. Auto Level Control will be another popular feature given the large dynamic range of vocal recordings (I think we’ve all heard enough distortion from gamer’s speed runs to last us a life-time). If you’re no stranger to FX chains there’s a manual mode to adjust an EQ, Limiter and Compression settings.

An XLR input makes the MV7 compatible with any professional studio. You’ll lose the adjust controls but the signal chain you’re recording the XLR into will hopefully have these instead. There’s no small overlap between podcast producers and musicians and I think this is who Shure had in mind with this hybrid aspect of the MV7. Being able to record a demo at home on the computer is great but getting to bring it to life with preamps, EQ’s and compressors certainly appeals to us at Mixdown Magazine.

It’s a smart move by Shure to make their iconic SM7B vocal mic not only more affordable but better suited to a digital workflow. They know that podcasting with entry-level equipment is a short-lived affair and those in it for the long-run are after a quality microphone. The ShurePlus MOTIV app really opens up a refined set of tools to shape the sound the MV7 can capture, to get the most out of your voice in a limited recording environment.

While the SM7B design works so well for Joe Rogan with his professional team of producers, the MV7 offers the perfect podcast mic for producers looking to go the next level, without having to invest in an entire studio. 

For more details, visit Jands’ website today. 

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STUMPS break down the influences behind their rousing debut, All Our Friends

There was no better era for indie rock than the mid-’00s – that’s a fact. The angular interweaving guitars, fist-pumping choruses and driving disco beats employed by Bloc Party, Foals, Phoenix and Two Door Cinema Club not only soundtracked the era of flip phone, but helped to bring indie rock into clubs around the world and kicked down the door for hundreds of acts to follow in their wake.

One such group – and one of the brightest bands in Australia’s indie rock scene today – is none other than Sydney’s own STUMPS. The trio, fronted by charming lead vocalist and guitarist Kyle Fisher and bolstered by the relentless rhythm section of Merrick Powell and Jonny Dolan, play a brand of indie rock that’s forever indebted to the heroes of the 2000s without being a pastiche of the sounds of the era.

On their debut album All Our Friends, STUMPS showcase their talents across 12 sensational tracks that merge powerful performances, intricate production and heartfelt songwriting for a record that’s limitlessly exuberant and fun. It’s a record that’ll please both old school indie purists and new listeners alike, and begs to be heard played obnoxiously loud to a sweaty dance-floor full of slippery limbs.

With the release of the record today, we linked up with each member of STUMPS to find out more about the influences behind the making of All My Friends. 

Fleet Foxes – ‘Helplessness Blues’

Kyle: ‘There are few artists out there in modern music that can take you to another place, another world. Especially without the gentle rub of nostalgia. From the moment I first heard Fleet Foxes I was entirely transported. The moment you put on a Fleet Foxes record is akin to taking your first steps into a fantasy.

‘I was a fan of Fleet Foxes after initially hearing ‘Mykonos’ on a surf-movie called ‘Castles in the Sky’, but it was ‘Helplessness Blues’ that blasted an artistic hole through me. How the fuck can someone write a song this perfect?’

Digitalism – ‘Pogo’ 

Merrick: ‘I was first showed this song by a dear friend and it became the anthem of our pointless night time teenage endeavours. Times when we would sneak out of the house just for the sake of it, with zero plan of where to go and what to do. It was also in the middle of a time where dance-rock combos ruled our listening, when bands like Cut Copy, Midnight Juggernauts, and Gossip were ruling our iPod shuffles.’

Bloc Party – ‘Helicopter’

Jonny: ‘I remember seeing the music video for this song on Rage or Channel V or something when I was young, and was taken aback by it straight away. It’s definitely not the best video I’d ever seen or anything like that, but the music itself just struck something with me. It was my first proper taste of indie rock, those jagged guitar driven hooks—it led me down a path to discovering many other bands, like Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys, or pretty much any other band on FIFA ’06.’

CHVRCHES – ‘The Mother We Share’

Merrick: ‘This is probably the last song I remember listening to on repeat, for the next however many days… I was obsessed with everything about it. The same can be said for pretty much their whole discography, it’s incredibly intelligent pop music with the right amount of ’80s throwback (read: heaps).’

Paramore – ‘Decode’

Jonny: ‘This is such a fun song to play on drums. This band’s influence on me as a drummer is pretty immense, and each album they put out makes me love them more. Every new direction they take just works, and they have a knack for writing bangers.’

Black Kids – ‘I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You’

Merrick: ‘This one entered my library as a free iTunes single of the week. It has a classic indie rock guitar part, complete with bass octaves, really playful synth melodies, and chanty group vox. 10/10 indie pop.’

Blur – ‘Beetlebum’

Kyle: ‘If there was ever a soundtrack to my first memories, a four-year-long loop of Beetlebum would be accurate. Every car trip, every lazy Saturday morning, every chance I could get, I begged my Dad to play this song. Something primal within my doughy five-year-old brain simply resonated with it.

‘It wasn’t until much later, and after the passing of my father in 2001, that I realised how formative Damon Albarn was for me. It’s one of my favourite songs of all time, but not for any joyous or melancholic reason. It just simply is. I know it sounds pretentious, but this song has been with me as long as I can remember. I know it almost as if it were a friend.’

All Our Friends is out now via Cooking Vinyl Australia. 

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Arctic Monkeys, Deafheaven + more: five new releases to listen to this weekend

Friday has finally arrived, which means it’s release day for a bunch of artists at home and around the world. With so many hot releases out there to tuck into, we’ve compiled some of the best to present to you for the weekend.

To kick off this week, we’re exploring two extraordinary live albums from two of the most inspiring acts of the past decade – Arctic Monkeys and Deafheaven – as well as a ripper effort from Sydney indie stars STUMPS, a revisited EP of material form Mia Dyson’s ARIA Award-winning record Parking Lots and the new one from Maryland rapper Rico Nasty. Let’s dive on in!

Arctic Monkeys – Live At The Royal Albert Hall 

Few groups have shaped the course of indie rock over the past 15 years quite like Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys have. From their raucous up-strummed stylings of their iconic debut and its all-too-underrated follow up Favourite Worst Nightmare through to their explorations into desert rock, smouldering balladry, hip-hop and lounge music in the decade that followed, the band – bolstered by the ever-fascinating penmanship of Alex Turner – have blazed a trail for dozens to follow, and it’s this legacy that they aim to cement with the release of Live At The Royal Albert Hall: an electric live album with a career-spanning setlist that sees the band at the peak of the powers.

Recorded on the band’s Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino tour in 2018, Live At The Royal Albert Hall is jam-packed with 20 songs that see the Monkeys at their finest. Matt Helder’s drumming is explosive on early cuts ‘Brianstorm’ and ‘Crying Lightning’, while bassist Nicholas O’Malley’s muted playing on AM tracks ‘Arabella’ and ‘Knee Socks’ injects a subtle hip-shaking funk into the band’s sound.

The band’s expanded ensemble help to bring tracks like ‘Star Treatment’ and ‘Four Out Of Five’ to life in a manner many would have missed on the studio versions, while the unflappable Alex Turner is in top-notch form across the performance as he croons, growls, shouts and shreds his way through the band’s discography, making for a sumptuous experience that any indie fan will thoroughly get behind.

Deafheaven – 10 Years Gone (Live)

Deafheaven are a force to be reckoned with. Fusing influences from black metal, shoegaze and post-rock, the San Fransisco band are among one of the most critically acclaimed metal acts of the 2010s, with their now-legendary 2010 demo and their spellbinding sophomore effort Sunbather asserting them as one of the most dynamic bands going today.

On 10 Years Gone, Deafheaven celebrate their massive decade with an immense live album that sees them perform the set they intended to perform on their now-scrapped 10 year anniversary tour, delivering eight visceral, explosive tracks for fans to devour. With a wide ranging setlist that includes their first ever song ‘Daedalus’, fan favourites ‘From the Kettle Onto the Coil’ and the immense Sunbather closer ‘The Pecan Tree’, 10 Years Gone is the ultimate chronicle of just how great Deafheaven truly are.

As expected, George Clarke’s vocals across the record are simply mind-boggling, while the textural guitar arrangements of Shiv Merhra and Kerry McCoy on tracks like ‘From the Kettle Onto the Coil’ and ‘Vertigo’ are as pristine as they are brutal. Chris Johnson’s melodic basslines stand out across 10 Years Gone more than ever before, and of course, Daniel Tracy’s drumming is totally punishing. There’s no denying that 10 Years Gone is a record that’ll go down as a defining document in the story of Deafheaven, and with the band already working on new material for 2021, it seems like that story won’t be ending too soon yet.

STUMPS – All Our Friends 

All Our Friends, the debut LP from Sydney indie outfit STUMPS, positions them as one of the country’s most exciting groups of their calibre. Drawing influence from the likes of Bloc Party and Phoenix, the trio channel an electric palate of angular guitars, driving disco rhythms and anthem hooks to stake their case as the next big thing from down under.

Album opener ‘Mt. Pleasant’ carries all the potency of Bloc Party’s own electric debut Silent Alarm, while the chorus-soaked guitars and guitarist/vocalist Kyle Fisher’s sing-shout baritone on ‘Laugh About It’ brings back all the sonics of a dirty 2009 dance floor in a spruced up manner for modern ears. Meanwhile, the bouncy bass groove and catchy hooks of ‘Suburbia’ and ‘Mouth Static’ stick out as album highlights, with their subtle synths and relentless drums further asserting the Sydney trio’s instrumental prowess.

While there may be a few sonic elements of All Our Friends that will never not be tethered to mid-’00s indie, it’s the exuberance and energy that STUMPS bring to the genre on their debut that pulls it across the line. A wonderful, nostalgic listen for any indie purist.

Mia Dyson – Parking Lots (Revisited) EP

Mia Dyson’s Parking Lots was a tremendous release in 2005, fusing rootsy blues rock stylings with heartfelt arrangements and spotlighting Dyson’s talent as a vocalist and songwriter alike. 15 years on, Dyson has released a new EP of reworked tracks from the record in the form of Parking Lots (Revisited), shining a new light on the record and offering a fascinating listening experience for die-hards of the original release.

Based around a stripped-down sonic palate, the brunt of Parking Lots (Revisited) sees Dyson paired with nought more than the bare essentials, putting the focus straight on her storytelling and strong vocal inflections. The scuzzy garage blues of ‘Roll Me Out’ is replaced with a tender arrangement led by plucked guitars and pianos, while ‘Parking Lots’ stays relatively faithful to the original arrangement, save for a plinky honky-tonk piano and foot stomping groove to power the tune.

Dyson’s vocals across Parking Lots (Revisited) are pristine, with her delivery on tracks like ‘I Meant Something To You Once’ and the Hammond-accompanied ‘Choose’ standing out as major highlights on the tracklist, making for a fantastic reinterpretation of an already brilliant album.

Rico Nasty – Nightmare Vacation 

A dynamite presence in today’s hip-hop landscape, Rico Nasty has stepped out with her latest full-length Nightmare Vacation: a hard-knocking collection of impeccably produced and written trap, drill and contemporary hip-hop that sees her in peak form for a thrilling 16 song effort.

For fans of her earlier works, ‘Candy’, ‘OHFR?’ and ‘Check Me Out’ see Rico Nasty lay down her aggressive vocal inflections and high-energy over obnoxious trunk-rattling 808s that are bound to spark any festival crowd into a seething moshpit.

Nightmare Vacation also sees Rico explore different styles and put her own colourful spin on them to varying effect: the soaring, Amine-assisted ‘Back & Forth’ is without a doubt one of the record’s best tracks, whereas the AutoTune-drenched ‘Loser’ with Trippie Redd comes off as awkward and forced.

Nevertheless, Nightmare Vacation is a thoroughly enjoyable and unique rap release that solidifies Rico Nasty’s spot as one of the brightest talents in hip-hop today, and there’s no denying that this album is going to go hard as hell when played out onstage – whenever that may be.

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Good Things Festival announce dates and venues for 2021

Good Things Festival, Australia’s favourite alternative music festival, has today revealed the dates and venues planned for next year’s events.

Good Things 2021 will go down in the first week of December 2021, with large outdoor events being planned over three days in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

To the delight of many, the festival will be returning to the same venues as last year’s events, with Melbourne’s leg going down at the Flemington Racecourse, Sydney being planned for Centennial Park, and Brisbane bringing it home at the Showgrounds.

The Good Things team have also stated that they’ve used all the downtime this year has brought to plan one of their biggest events yet for 2021, booking a full lineup to deliver a live music experience unlike any other.

“We have built Good Things into a day that is looked forward to by alternative music lovers across the Country,” a statement from the team reads.

“We cannot wait to deliver another incredible event for you all next year, so save the date as we reveal the dates and venues for Good Things Festival. So, in that spirit we say Frick Off to 2020 and bring on 2021!”

Check out the dates and details below.

Good Things Festival 2021

Friday December 3 – Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne

Saturday December 4 – Centennial Park, Sydney

Sunday December 5 – Showgrounds, Brisbane

Head to the Good Things Festival website to sign up for all updates.

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