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New music reviews with Party Dozen and Pom Pom Squad

Our weekly fix of the best new music as Julia Mason (aka The Decibel Decoder) brings us her reviews of new music with singles from Party Dozen The Big Man Upstairs and Pom Pom Squad Downhill

Logo for Blowtorch Records blog series Cool Sounds From The Underground

Artist: Party Dozen

Track: The Big Man Upstairs

Party Dozen release new single The Big Man Upstairs
Credit Roger Deckker

Party Dozen are Sydney based duo, saxophonist Kirsty Tickle and percussionist Jonathan Boulet. They have released new single The Big Man Upstairs and announced their new album Crime in Australia which is set for release on 6 September via Temporary Residence Ltd.

The new single showcases Party Dozen's shoegaze side, with its softer vocals and slightly subdued beats. The saxophone of course is still present but provides a calmer layer rather than the frenzy of previous releases.

The single is accompanied by a video which uses documentary footage to tell the story of Joh Bjelke-Petersen, the “hillbilly dictator” who ruled Queensland for two decades, using corruption and police power to stifle dissent, arguably inadvertently creating the conditions for a punk underground to flourish. It's a staggering story and an essential watch. The track feels like a companion piece, and perhaps there is an air of disbelief within the instrumentation, a resignation and weariness with yet another tale of corruption within the political system.

Party Dozen expand on the inspiration behind this track: “It’s a story full of such unbelievable corruption and thirst for power that feels sadly relevant to the state of the world at the moment. A government rife with corruption and an inevitable explosive response of punk rock, activism and counter-culture. There were some very important movements happening at the time but of course we had to focus our scope more on the music side of things. It just doesn’t seem real. A special police task force waging war on music??”

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Artist: Pom Pom Squad

Track: Downhill

Pom Pom Squad release new single Downhill
Credit Eliza Jouin

Brooklyn based band Pom Pom Squad have returned with their first new music since 2021. Downhill is the first taste of their debut full-length album Death of a Cheerleader set for release via City Slang Records.

With badass dynamo Mia Berrin at the helm, Downhill is cheeky, cutthroat, lovable and ominous all at once. Showcasing the glorious vocals it unfurls like a manic spiral at the edge of a bottomless precipice. The lyrics recount that moment of staring into the dark abyss and thinking to yourself, “hey, could be fun.” A life lesson for us all in these turbulent times. It’s a delight to learn Pom Pom Squad will play Pitchfork in London later this year, resulting, no doubt, in broadening their fanbase on this side of the pond.

On the new single Pom Pom Squad say: “In my everyday life, I’m pretty reserved and shy so it’s odd, even to me, that I feel this pull to be on stage – to put my music out and open myself up to everything that comes with that. When I was writing ‘Downhill’ I was thinking a lot about the push-pull between those opposing sides of my personality. Sometimes being ambitious feels like being self-destructive and I wanted to explore the line between the two. Also, it’s been nearly three years since I've released anything new so this song feels like my reintroduction to the world. Pom Pom Squad is soooo back, baby!”


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