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Kirin J Callinan

Provocative Aussie singer/songwriter Kirin J. Callinan is impressing audiences as a boundry-breaking solo artist after first coming to prominence as the enigmatic guitarist for Sydney-based indie rockers Mercy Arms. Equal parts Scott Walker, Trent Reznor, Birthday Party-era Nick Cave, Bryan Ferry, and Patrick Wolf, Callinan cuts a mercurial, often primal and androgynous figure, as he dabbles in everything from arty, experimental rock (such as 2013's Embracism) to evocative electro-pop (on 2017's Bravado and 2024's If I Could Sing). Kieran John Callinan was born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on January 21, 1986. His father, Brendan Callinan, had a career in music, playing keyboards with the Radiators, stalwarts of the nation's pub rock scene in the '70s and '80s. In 2005, Kieran was briefly a member of a noisy post-punk band called Lost Valentinos, but he had a longer run and greater success with Mercy Arms, who issued a self-titled LP in 2008 before creative conflicts between co-founders Callinan and Thom Moore led to an indefinite hiatus in 2009. Shortly before parting ways with Mercy Arms, Callinan self-released his first solo project, Am I a Woman, Yet? It received little notice, and it wasn't until 2013 that he released his next LP, the dense, difficult, and ultimately rewarding Embracism, which was released by Terrible Records. Callinan moved to Caroline for his third long-player, Bravado, which featured guest appearances from Mac DeMarco, Weyes Blood, James Chance, Alex Cameron, Connan Mockasin, Owen Pallet, Sean Nicholas Savage, and the Finn Family. The outing saw Callinan flexing his EDM muscles while maintaining the nervy post-punk foundation that made his 2013 debut such a prickly affair. That same year saw Callinan make his acting debut, appearing in the second season of director Jane Campion's award-winning television drama Top of the Lake. In 2019, he released his fourth studio effort, the all-covers LP Return to Center, which featured reworked versions of songs by the Waterboys, Ultravox, Momus, and Robert Wyatt, among others, as well as one new original. Callinan launched his own label, Worse Records, to release 2024's If I Could Sing, an album steeped in electronic pop and indie noisemaking. In addition to its standard release, it also appeared in a limited vinyl edition of 110 copies featuring hand-painted artwork from Callinan himself.
© James Christopher Monger & Mark Deming /TiVo


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