Most of the time, bassists are prone to copping a hard-knock from gear manufacturers. Due
to the powerful frequencies bestowed upon their instrument of choice, they’re forced to make do with amplifiers that are bulky as hell and weigh over a metric tonne to cart around, which is possibly why so many bassists end up with slipped discs or poor posture from carting their gear about.
On the inverse, finding a practise amp that actually sounds like these mega rigs is pretty darn hard, and often, us low-end theorists are forced to compromise and make do with some sort of practise amp that simply put, just won’t cut the mustard.
Recently, however, there’s been a bit of a shift in this ethos from a number of amp manufacturers, with modern technologies such as Class-D amplification and neodymium speakers allowing for bass amps to be smaller and lighter than ever before – all without compromising on tone and power.
Over more than 45 years of operation, Phil Jones Bass have forged a remarkable legacy for creating bass amps that are known to be stage-ready and crazy loud, with many utilising unique small speaker arrays to achieve their power.
For instance, the 16-HBass Horn speaker has a whopping 16 PJB Piranha Type A speakers and extensive baffled bass ports, and it’ll blow your head off. But, as we’ve found out recently, you don’t always need that kind of power.
Enter the Phil Jones Bass Double Four BG-75. This 70-watt pint- sized contraption is a minuscule bass amp that looks like a bass head, until you get a little closer and realise that it’s actually a tiny combo.
It’s a perfect example of Phil Jones Bass’ small-speaker / big-sound ethos in action, and while it probably won’t suffice for use onstage, serves as a killer option for any kind of practise or rehearsal scenario you may be facing.
The Double Four is a single- channel bass amp with a simple three-band EQ, with controls for bass, middle and treble offering enhanced tone sculpting to make sure you get the perfect tone.
There’s also a passive/active/ mute switch with an LED on the input to let you know when you’re approaching clipping territory, as well as a master volume, a headphone jack for when you need to run silent practise sessions and a line out for recording.
Additionally, there’s also an aux in with its own level control, which allows you to plug in your phone, tablet or other device to jam along with backing tracks or demos. In many respects, the Double Four very similar to the Session 77 combo amplifier, but is purposely designed for use around the house rather than onstage or in the studio.
Where the PJB Double Four BG- 75 gets really interesting is in the speaker section. This little pocket rocket makes use of two PJB NeoPower four inch neodymium drivers, which the PJB team spent a hefty amount of R&D time on perfecting to ensure they output low frequencies with ease.
Each one of these speakers is also fed by their own Pulse Width Modulation amplifier, which converts electrical energy to power the speakers instead of running them hot. This means that these speakers will last much longer than your average woofers, which should provide you with all the peace of mind necessary when purchasing a product of such a high calibre.
It’s worth noting that just because the Double Four is dubbed as a practise amp, it doesn’t mean
you have to cut corners with your sound when using the PJB Double Four BG-75. The cabinet may be around the size of a lunchbox, but it’s built to the same standards of all PJB cabinets, which means
it employs heavy bracing and acoustic damping to ensure the clearest, most faithful reproduction possible.
It also means freedom from a problem that plagues many practice amps: dead low notes. That solid construction and heavy damping means that, should you be running a five-string bass, your low B will sound as punchy and clear as any other notes. Whether you’re playing frenetic jazz fusion lines or jamming along to sludgy doom metal, the Double Four will definitely live up to your expectations.
As with the Session 77, the Double Four will faithfully reproduce the input signal, whether it’s an active or passive bass plugged directly in, or a processed signal making its way into the amp through a preamp or effects unit. It also means the auxiliary input sounds nice and faithful too.
Heck, if you wanted to you could use this amp to play music in between sets, should you be playing a small enough room that you can get away with an amp of this size. Because yes, this is marketed as a practice amp, but it pushes out enough volume for at least small gigs, and the line out means you can also plug it into a PA system to effectively use the amp as your onstage monitor while the PA system sees it as a direct box.
Although the Double Four BG-75 doesn’t feature creature comforts such as distortion, compression
or limiting, let’s be real here: how often are you going to want to use these kind of features when you’re jamming along to tracks at home?
Half the time, it’s challenging enough to find a practise amp that sounds decent enough to pull the trigger on, and it’s here where the PJB Double Four shines. It’s a no- fuss jamming solution that sounds and looks great, and at the end of the day, isn’t that what us bassists have been looking for all along?
Childish Gambino’s unique approach to R&B and hip hop songwriting has garnered him a bunch of fans across the globe, but 2016’s Awaken, My Love! and its final track pushed him far into the mainstream and helped to create the monolith we all know today.
This universally loved track reached number 12 on the Billboard 100, and helped Glover win his first Grammy. Back in Australia, it reached number 5 in 2016’s Hottest 100 count, and is recognised as one of his most memorable tunes.
Co-penned and recorded alongside long-time friend and producer Ludwig Göransson, today we’re diving into the array of interesting gear they used to create this track.
The opening keys sounds come from a Mellotron M4000D Mini, this instrument is one of the most iconic in some of the best 1960s and 1970s classics from groups like Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.
Ludwig penned the intro on a Mellotron to give the track its perfect old-school vibe.
Fender Stage Rhodes Mark II
The subsequent keys licks come from the classic Fender Rhodes, a constant of many early classic funk and psychedelic tracks.
These 73-Key keyboards are hard to come by nowadays, and only tend to pop up on swap and sell websites from time to time.
Fender Precision Bass
‘Redbone’s’ iconic bassline was penned and recorded on a pretty slick Fender Precision Bass.
A lover of all things early jazz and blues, in an interview Ludwig noted that all of his favourite artists used this bass, so he tries to use it for scores and tracks whenever he gets a chance.
Roland Juno 106 Synth
A constant of more modern oriented R&B is a heavier, more layered bass track, which is followed on ‘Redbone’ through additions of the Roland 106, where the thick undertones of the Juno mimic that of the Precision.
The Juno 106’s first came into production way back in 1984, but are still heavily in use today, with acts like Tame Impala and Chvrches using it throughout their many respective releases.
Dave Smith Instruments Pro 2
A further third layer is added to the rich bass track with Dave Smith’s Pro 2 Synth, a high quality instrument that truly tops the bottom end of ‘Redbone’
Vintage Fender Telecaster
Slightly within the chorus but loudly throughout the outro, we hear a beautiful guitar line, which comes courtesy of a Fender Telecaster.
Once again, this brand of guitar being the obvious choice for Göransson because of its use in similar sounding R&B and funk records from years past.
The Tele isn’t played clean, with Göransson adding in a couple of effects from the old school Maestro pedal to further the old school intent Glover wanted with ‘Redbone.’
Ludwig opts for the reverb / vibrato setting on the Gibson Maestro pedal, a constant of early 1960s experimental music and used by the likes of Jimi Hendrix.
Ableton’s Echoboy Triplet
The track is recorded with Ableton, where other effects can be added to various lines.
Goransson opts to add in a tremolo effect on the guitar line, helping achieve a more futuristic sound to the instrument, which helps is sit amongst other more space-age sounding tracks on Awaken My Love!
To top off this iconic track, are some “brass sounding elements”, as Ludwig put it. This comes via the Hohner Clavinet.
The Hohner is one of the most popular in the industry, once again, it being a constant throughout old school funk and soul music, and it finding its way into more modern neo-soul as of late.
Lyons 25 Note Xylophone
One of the coolest elements of the track comes via the Xylophone, a memorable addition and the perfect way to conclude this track.
This specific xylophone is made and marketed for kids, which makes it all the more impressive that it is featured on this Grammy winning song.
You Am I have earned a place in the hearts of three generations of contemporary music fans. Formed at the turn of the 1990s by guitarist and lead vocalist Tim Rogers, You Am I have maintained a loyal international following while never straying far from their power pop and alternative rock roots.
Read more interviews, features and artist columns here.
The band’s 11th album, The Lives of Others, is a 12-song LP that positions You Am I not as a legacy act, but as one of the finest rock ’n roll bands working today.
The album was made under unique circumstances, with Rogers and Davey Lane (guitar/vocals) working on demos in Melbourne before sending them to Andy Kent (bass) and Rusty Hopkinson (drums) in Sydney.
Kent and Hopkinson then added their respective instrumental parts – essentially transforming their band mates’ demos into bona fide You Am I songs – before sending them back to Melbourne for Rogers and Lane to complete.
This back-and-forth was happening in the midst of 2020’s COVID lockdowns, which prevented You Am I’s four members from ever being in the same place at once. But despite such fragmented production, The Lives of Others sounds as much like four guys playing in a room as anything You Am I have released this side of Y2K.
“You can be apart and just rely on your instincts and I think we did that,” says Rogers. “I don’t think we did anything manipulative to fudge that. That’s four humans who have played a lot together.”
The Lives of Others’ two immediate precursors are 2015’s Porridge & Hotsauce and 2010’s You Am I, both of which contain a number of stylistic deviations and complementary production embellishment.
When held up against its antecedents, The Lives of Others is the leanest and most spontaneously animated of the band’s recent releases.
“We do individually have interest in making recordings that aren’t just us in a room, but we get together and think, ‘Well that’s probably what our strength is, that we’re a rock n’ roll band and we’re supposed to make trouble,’” Rogers says.
“With the circumstances, we had to think about, ‘Do we want to make something that is very studied and contemplated?’ And we thought, ‘Well, as a group, no.’ We know each other inside and out, we’re very familiar with each other’s playing and so it’s exciting to work that way.”
The bare bones of several The Lives Of Others tracks emerged while Rogers was living in southern New South Wales, around Ulladulla, Mollymook and Rosedale (all places referenced in the album’s first single, ‘The Waterboy’.) Rogers had moved there following a particularly rocky time on tour with You Am I in 2019, which had him questioning whether he’d ever return to music.
This desire to escape reveals Rogers isn’t immune to self-doubt, nor is he cushioned by the numerous accolades he’s received over the years. To recap, You Am I have won multiple ARIA awards, landed several songs in triple j’s Hottest 100 and seen each of their last nine LPs debut in the ARIA top 20.
Rogers is also a well-established solo artist and boasts an impressive CV away from music. He hosts Double J’s Friday arvo program, Liquid Lunch, and previously presented the ABC TV series, Studio at the Memo. In 2017, he published his memoir, Detours, and in 2014, Jason Benjamin’s oil on linen portrait of Rogers competed for the Archibald Prize.
Rogers has also acted in a number of theatre productions and in 2015, the Melbourne Theatre Company produced a stage adaptation of his 1999 solo album, What Rhymes With Cars and Girls.
But despite all this, Rogers was urgently seeking a change of scenery.
“I just became acutely blue, almost to the point of black,” he says. “So, I thought, I should just be honest about it. There’s no use me being miserable around my best friends, and I’m feeling beleaguered by these songs and by being a performer.
“Going out and playing and needing to get so obliteratingly drunk to even get on stage, I just had to walk away and go, ‘Well why is that happening?’ It’s definitely nothing about the trajectory of the band, but I just wasn’t appreciating it.”
Rogers was interested in building a simpler life for himself and so he got a job working behind a bar. But making music has been his primary hobby and vocation for more than 30 years, during which time he’s become something of an automatic songwriter. So, at the same time as he was doubting his future in music, the foundations of The Lives of Others started spilling out.
“[Songwriting] is the only way of making sense of things,” Rogers says. “The chaos of living, even in peaceful moments, write a song about it kids, make sense of it. Speaking with other songwriters who say, ‘Well, it helps me make sense of the world,’ I understand that. Writing songs that will get on the radio, that as a raison d’etre just seems fucking absurd to me.”
Generating radio classics was certainly the furthest thing from Rogers’ mind when the early versions of the band’s newest songs starting taking shape.
“These songs all started as finger picking folk songs,” he says. “And then when I changed them all to band songs, it was all about, ‘Can I hear Russ here? Can I hear Andy? Can I hear David?’ And I just started really enjoying that again.”
A tangible feeling of delight suffuses every track on The Lives of Others, helping to make it the most cohesive You Am I record in more than a decade. Rogers couldn’t be more chuffed with the outcome.
“There were a number of times, and not for the obvious reasons, we didn’t think it’d be completed or come out or there’d be anyone wanting to release it. So it’s a thrill. It’s equal to any other time, even getting first EPs out and things. I’m as excited as I was when I was 20.”
You Am I’s new album The Lives Of Others is out now.
Over the past few years, Artiphon Musical Instruments have established a solid reputation as shakers and breakers in the music industry thanks to their forward-thinking, advanced take on motion-controlled music controllers.
Their debut product, the spellbinding INSTRUMENT 1, was hailed as one of the best inventions of 2015 by TIME Magazine, allowing users to strum, stroke, bow, slide and tap out a varied range of guitar, violin, keys and drum sounds, with inbuilt speakers and a rechargeable battery offering a creative experience unlike any other.
The brand would go on to follow this up with the ORBA – a feature-packed little device that functions as a synth and MIDI controller with some insane motion sensing potential – in late 2019.
The ORBA, which features an onboard speaker, Bluetooth / USB connectivity and looper, is quite literally a tool to create music with straight out of the box. As such, it garnered $1.5 million in crowd-funding and was proclaimed by the New York Times and TechCrunch as one of the best musical products of 2020.
Now, Artiphon’s groundbreaking array of musical instruments and technological innovations are made available within the Australian market thanks to the Koala Audio team.
To find out more about pricing and availability, get in touch with Koala Audio today!
Contact Koala Audio for more details. Find out more about Artiphon Musical Instruments here.
Friday is here, 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.
Today, we’re wrapping our ears around St. Vincent’s glitzy homage to ’70s rock and the stirring return from Melbourne rock veterans You Am I, plus new releases from The Black Keys, Jorja Smith and Babe Rainbow. Let’s sink in!
The ever-dynamic, never-predictable Annie Clarke has released her latest full-length under the St. Vincent moniker, Daddy’s Home. It’s a record that draws heavily from the golden era of the recording industry, with Clarke leeching from psychedelic funk and bombastic glam rock stylings to drape her deceptively personal songwriting and create one of her most accessible outings to date.
Beginning with the gilded swagger of ‘Pay Your Way In Pain’, a track that pairs an electric vocal performance with a groove that’s lint-deep in the pocket, Daddy’s Home wears its influences on its sleeve, and it’s all the better for it. Artists like David Bowie, Steely Dan, Funkadelic and Shuggie Otis spring to mind at various points across the record, with ‘Down And Out Downtown’ and the title track exemplifying these cultural touchstones further through their sauntering instrumentation – think slinky bassline, Wurlitzer pianos and filter-funk guitar, and you’re landing somewhere in the ballpark.
‘Live In The Dream’ is a masterfully woozy ballad that features hypnotic vocal harmonies and Sitar interplay, while ‘The Melting Of The Sun’ explodes into an ecstatic crescendo of double-tracked vocals and pianos. Meanwhile, ‘The Laughing Man’ and ‘Down’ mark two of the record’s most abstract moments, with ‘Down’ being particularly freaky thanks to its squelching synth sequences and a sitar-line that recalls Timbaland’s production on ‘What Goes Around… Comes Around’.
With ‘My Baby Wants A Baby’, ‘…At The Holiday Party’ and ‘Candy Darling’ carrying the torch for the backend of the album, Daddy’s Home might be one of St. Vincent’s most unique projects to date. While void of some of the idiosyncratic songwriting heard on previous releases, it truly excels in showcasing Clarke’s remarkable talent for production and her unique approach to performance, and rests comfortably as another triumph in her all-too impressive back catalogue.
You Am I – The Lives Of Others
Despite being largely recorded remotely over the course of last year’s lockdown, You Am I’s eleventh album sounds just like four blokes thrashing out their instruments in a dingy Melbourne band room. The Lives Of Others is the most energetic release from the Australian rock veterans in more than a decade, with Tim Rogers’ songwriting being as emphatic as ever over the span of a dozen songs that almost seamlessly blend into one another.
Album opener ‘The Waterboy’ sets a tremendous tone for the record as Rogers’ waxes lyrical about the titular Scottish act, with the track blending into ‘The Third Level’ and ensuring the energy remains upbeat. ‘Rosedale Redux’, meanwhile, features some stellar guitar work from Davey Lane, with the flanger-heavy final half of the song ending the album’s ecstatic opening stretch before the tender ballad ‘Manliness’ ushers in a new act for The Lives Of Others.
The jangly, hard-edged ‘DRB Hudson’ picks the pace up again to lead into the tongue-in-check stomper of ‘We All Went Deaf Overnight’ – another Davey Lane highlight – while ‘Readers’ Comments’ and ‘I’m My Whole World Tonight’ feel reminiscent of the band’s ’90s output thanks to their soaring lead vocal performances. This energy seeps further into ‘Woulda Been Mine’ and the album’s closing title track, drawing the curtains on what is surely a hot contender for the best Aussie rock album of the year. Onya boys!
The Black Keys – Delta Kream
After carrying the blues rock torch for fifteen years and attaining unfathomable commercial success with 2011’s El Camino Ohio duo The Black Keys have released an album that pays tribute to the bands that they’ve based their career off with Delta Kream. Each track on the record sees the pair cover a range of seminal hill country tracks, with the album being tracked in only ten hours over two days at Dan Auerbach’s Nashville studio to give it a gritty, live feel that successfully conveys the supernatural magic associated with the blues.
John Lee Hooker’s ‘Crawling Kingsnake’ opens the record in style before Mississippi Fred McDowell’s ‘Louise’ shatters through thanks to some killer slide work from Auerbach, while Patrick Carney’s boogie-woogie drumming on ‘Poor Boy a Long Way from Home’ sets a steady bedrock for Auerbach’s passioned vocal performance.
‘Stay All Night’ and ‘Going Down South’ are both impressive in their own rights, with the duo’s production on the latter being particularly good, while ‘Coal Black Mattie’ and ‘Do the Romp’ see Carney and Auerbach do exactly that, lashing up two servings of drop-tuned, heavy blues rock. ‘Sad Days, Lonely Nights’ and ‘Walk with Me’ make sure that the fun stuff hangs around a little longer, while the fuzzy shuffle of ‘Mellow Peaches’ and the sprawling twelve-bar slog of ‘Come on and Go with Me’ round out what can only be considered a faithful homage to the band’s forefathers.
Jorja Smith – Be Right Back
Ascending to the mainstream over the span of five years, Jorja Smith is now poised as one of the most exciting young R&B artists to spring up from the UK. After the success of her full-length debut Lost & Found, she’s now released an eight-track ‘mini-album’ titled Be Right Back, which sees her play to her strengths over atmospheric productions while testing the waters with new vocal deliveries.
‘Addicted’ puts a sugar-sweet melody atop of a surging groove with swirling, reversed guitars, with Smith’s vocal cadence proving to be one of the project’s finest moments. ‘Gone’ retains the energy of its predecessor thanks to some intelligently programmed and produced drum loops, while ‘Bussdown’ sees Smith trade bars with Shaybo atop of a skeletal beat.
‘Time’ and ‘Home’ are both pleasantly sparse, if not slightly inconsequential, guitar-driven cuts, while ‘Burn’ is a soulful number that functions as a showcase for Smith’s husky vocals. ‘Digging’, meanwhile, layers thumping drums and rock guitars with chanting, war-like shouts, while the jazzy, breakbeat cut ‘Weekend’ ends the project on a high, wrapping up what feels like a creative watershed for Smith – now that she’s taken the time out for this, it’ll be interesting to see which way she pivots next.
Babe Rainbow – Changing Colours
This breezy Byron Bay outfit have caused quite a stir among international fans thanks to their laid-back, surfy take on chiller psych rock. Changing Colours keeps the wheel turning for Babe Rainbow, seeing them opt for blissed-out instrumentation and a surprising vocal appearance from Jaden Smith on their fourth full-length.
Songs like ‘Zeitgest’ show the band’s strengths as arrangers and instrumentalists, with ‘The Wind’ and ‘Your Imagination’ offering a more stripped-down, hallucinogenic take on the Babe Rainbow sound. ‘Ready For Tomorrow’ and ‘Rainbow Rock’ pick up the pace to provide two of the record’s most psych-rock indebted cuts, while ‘New Zealand Spinach’ is an Americana-esque cut with some sublimely sloppy guitar work.
‘Thinking Like A River’ stands out as an album highlight thanks to its washy production, while ‘Smile’ and the Steely Dan-inspired ‘Different Stages of Life’ both present as slithers of neo-psych gold. It may suffer at some points from dipping too heavily into surfy pastiche and cheesy lyrical metaphors, but for the most part, Changing Colours is another enjoyable outing from Babe Rainbow.
Catch up on all of last week’s hottest records here.
After having to cancel its 2020 event due to COVID-19, Dark Mofo makes its return in 2021, promising another eccentric lineup of the bold and bizarre. Today, the festival has just announced its 2021 lineup, headed up by none other than Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore.
Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth has been announced as the first artist set to appear at Dark Mofo 2021
Other names on the bill include Wobbly (exclusive), The Dead C (exclusive), Om (exclusive), Circuit Des Yeux (exclusive) and Jeremy Gara (Arcade Fire)
The festival goes down from Wednesday June 16 to Tuesday June 22
As reported by Double J, Thurston Moore will be joined by a long list of music luminaries – many of whom navigate the elusive expanses of the music world.
The other names include Wobbly (exclusive), Om (exclusive), Circuit Des Yeux (exclusive), The Dead C (exclusive), Jeremy Gara (Arcade Fire), Terminal Guitar ft. Marco Fusinato, Bruce Russell (The Dead C) and Mystic Eyes (Lisa MacKinney), Lucas Abela, Shoeb Ahmad, and many more.
The Aussie lineup is just as fantastic, featuring the likes of Alex Albrecht, Confidence Man, A. Swayze & The Ghosts, King Stingray, Slag Queens and Grace Cummings.
The lineup announcement comes after Dark Mofo was criticised in March for commissioning a confronting art project that asked for First Nations people to offer their blood. The project has since been retracted with the festival offering a formal apology.
Music is just one aspect of the bill with plenty of other artistic adventures on the bill.
Check out the full music lineup below.
Thurston Moore (exclusive)
Wobbly (exclusive) The Dead C (exclusive)
Circuit Des Yeux (exclusive) Jeremy Gara (Arcade Fire)
Terminal Guitar ft. Marco Fusinato, Bruce Russell (The Dead C) and Mystic Eyes (Lisa MacKinney)
A. Swayze & The Ghosts
Chloe Alison Escott
Viola Concerto (A Hut in Toyama)
Gavin Bryars conducts the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (exclusive)
All Saints Compline Choir
Dark Mofo goes down from Wednesday June 16 to Tuesday June 22. Check out the full lineup here.