With a multitude of varied acts taking over Melbourne venues across July 13th to 23rd, it was hard to pin down only a few of which to recommend to you. Leaps and Bounds Festival brings acts of all genres to all manner of venues in Melbourne town, to help us forget the bitter cold outside. Here’s a few names that stood out this year for yours truly.
#1 Jazz Party
The many-headed band chose the Leaps and Bounds Festival as the conduit to release their summery jazz number Flowers. There isn’t a skerrick of pretension in the room when Jazz Party play; they play simply so that you might have a good time. Although the name implies they only do, well, jazz, the band have their fingers in many a pie, as evidenced by the doo-wop swing of Tents, or the soul-pop of Out of Sight, Out of Mind – a particular favourite of mine, thanks in no small measure to the warm, strong vocals of Loretta Miller.
#2 Amaya Laucirica
Satisfying alt-pop is Amaya Laucirica. Her new album Sway and the tracks therein show off the singer-songwriter’s penchant for diverse pop music; kicking in and out of 90s-era rock/pop with synths and horns to boot. Laucirica combines a sweet, ethereal voice with solid production (of course: it was recorded by Dave McCluney [Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds]) and a deftly-executed mish-mash of genre sounds.
Pop-electro two-piece GL are infectious in their positivity and energy. Graeme Pogson (on the mechanics) and Ella Thompson (vocals) just really seem to enjoy performing their dripping-with-80s-synthy-goodness tunes, and that feeling is definitely contagious. Single Destiny is pure 80s dance, with Thompson’s vocals taking on a slightly more contemporary sound, helping them to stand out. As Thompson bounds and spins and sways about the stage, the gig exemplifies why people love pop music: joy, dance, a dash of darkness but, ultimately, love for the craft of fine tunes.
The two-piece act– Conor McCabe on vocals and Barnaby Matthews on production- may delve into electronica, but their finest work is in the R&B/soul arena: a lot slow jams, chill and contemporary R&B- think more neo-soul than Usher. Tracks like Hero Man show off a sparse but effective sound; the emphasis is on the cadence of McCabe’s vocals and lyrics, and Matthews’ delicate beat-work.
#5 Freya Hollick
Country crooner Freya Hollick crafts beautiful, nourishing, snug music that, even when made of sadder content, will not fail to envelope you in a sort of lovely cocoon. Hollick grew up in the Goldfields and certainly has that old-timey sound embedded within her. Her particular vein of country music seems more deeply-rooted in the Appalachian sound; soft country lilts that sprang from the area, most notably, in the 1920s-30s. Think more finger-picking and soft yodels than wailing guitar slides and pickup trucks. Her track A Man Is The Water is a standout; intricately-crafted storytelling with softly-swaying, sparse instrumentation.
Image sources: Bandcamp, Speaker TV, Triple J Unearthed, Alfitude, Dashville, GL Facebook.