Posts Tagged ‘ High On Fire ’

A Few Of My Favourite Things in 2011

…or the soundtrack to the inside of my head over the last year.

Top Albums of 2011

1.Harmony – Self Titled

Really there’s not a lot more I can say that isn’t said here.
I will add though that while I am Australian, I am in no way nationalistic. There are however been a small (very small) number of albums that speak of places I have lived in and the things I’ve seen – things that seem part of the unique Australian psyche as far as I can make out. There’s something about suburbia swallowing you alive in the music of The Mark Of Cain. There’s the discovery of our country in The Triffids. There’s the urban solipsism that you may not make it out in The Drones. I’m adding to this, not the pain of modern life in Australia, but what comes after that with the music of Harmony. Not someone you love dying, but what happens weeks and months after they’re gone. Not the achievement of owning your first house but sitting alone at night years later in something that never became a home. Things that might be universal but seem intrinsically slanted to our Australian way of looking at things. These things don’t make easy listening but you can’t deny that they’re not out there and if it’s not us, It’s someone we know who fits into some of these characters. This seems like an album that couldn’t have come from anywhere else. It comes at you like a bored driver hitting a cyclist. It also can hurt as much if you’re on the wrong end. It’s easily the best and most challenging album to come out of this country this year.

2.Harmony – Self Titled

No not a typo. That’s just how much time I’ve spent listening to the band Harmony that they take up the top two spots on my list. Coming at it from a really narrowed, personal aspect (as opposed to thinking of the album in a broader context) – I can’t think of another band or album that has perfectly articulated the psychosis that goes on in my head on a daily basis better than these 10 songs. There’s a few tracks here that stack up as mirror images to things in my past I’d sooner forget and there’s emotions in this music that I get to indulge in all the while hiding any evidence of those emotions from those I love. Maybe, just maybe I’m not the only one in this world with these fears and desires… and that’s what makes music so special.

3.PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

For the past 20 years I’ve listened to punk records (amongst everything else) and my enjoyment never wanes with them but from time to time I wonder about the argumentative nature of a small band of people disgruntled with modern paridigms yelling and screaming at another small group of people who we colloquially speak of as preaching to the converted. Now I’m not saying that this isn’t worthwhile (see above for the power of feeling connected to a message). But I do look out upon the landscape and wonder where are the albums that challenge and call out the wrongs to those whom we think of as the unconverted. I can’t help but think that it’s much more rebellious for someone in the comfort and trapping of a successful career to push themselves to call out the wrongs they see. It’s from this perspective that I have to say that PJ Harvey’s latest is the best punk album released in the last 10 or so years (GY!BE being the one before that comes to mind).
Her songs are beautiful. Her voice angelic and alluring but it’s a poisoned chalice of a message that slips from her tongue. Drink up these songs and think about their words and it’s a telling damnation to our blood-thirsty ways – both of the past and present. Let England shake is a harrowing album if you let it be. I just hope a decent proportion of her vast audience take the time to listen and not just hear.

4.Tommy Guerrero – Lifeboats & Follies

From here, the emotional drama of my musical tastes start to fall away a bit. Tommy is from San Francisco, an ex-pro skater and the maker of great dub-styled jams. This is what goes on in my house when there needs to be some grooving in the kitchen, some chillin’ and relaxing and when everyone in the house just needs to put a smile on their dial. And you know what? Just like the rest of his back catalogue, it works a treat every single time!

5.Teargas – The Way Of All Flesh

A large part of my obsession with this Brisbane hardcore punk band is the musicianship of its members. I’ve seen plenty of sloppy, fun punk bands making a racket and starting a mosh pit but something very different happens whenever Teargas play. Sure things often get violent and I’ve seen a few bloodied noses over the last year or so but the music is so ferocious and so fast and so damn tight that your head feels like an expanded rubber band held that way for half an hour – the tension of it all unrelenting. I figure that’s why folks loose their shit so easily to these five guys.
For me as a drummer, I am mesmerised by Lee Parker, Teargas’s drummer. It’s one of those things where you watch someone and you know what they are doing, you understand the mechanics but you still stand there, a confused expression plastered across your face, not understanding HOW the music is played that way. Teargas are amazing. Great on record. Phenomenal live!

6.Tom Waits: Bad Like Me

Again, I possibly said it better here but Tom is just doing what Tom does and god knows we all dread the day he hollers his way into the hereafter. A really heart-warming album.

7.Earth: Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light

There are not to many people who can make Metal truly soothing. Dylan Carlson is someone who has mastered this art. Metal that is slow and seeps into your pores. Metal that weighs down on you like a dense fog and Metal that takes you places that no other metal bands do (not even Sunn O)))).

8.REM: Collapse Into Now

I’ve always thought that you can’t effectively appreciate music unless you have vast and broad tastes and reference points. Hey, it’s just how I look at things. REM are one of those bands I like that sit at the other end of the spectrum of most of what I listen to these days. When this album first came out I wasn’t to fussed on it. But over time, the stronger songs came out and the “I’ve heard all this before” kind of disappeared into the background. Sure they’re probably not repeating themselves as well as Mr.Waits above but upon the news recently that the band had called it a day, I couldn’t help but think that this was as good and as strong a note as any to bow out on. An added pinch of Pattie Smith also makes any REM album that much better!

9.Boris: New Album

I listen to pop. I own Dépêche Mode records. So I didn’t have to stretch myself that far to take in the latest tangent of Japans Boris. This trio’s version of pop music still doesn’t fit into your standard definition but this album is the most far removed from the heavy hitting Doom and Metal of some of their albums. This is still an album that holds the high standards the band employ on everything they do and while it won’t change your life. It is a great listen and a great record.

10.Boris: Heavy Rocks 2011

For the Most part, what I said above applies to this album too. Not as heavy as Heavy Rocks Mk.1 but I can’t think of Boris ever repeating themselves or their music. This is fun skuzzed out rock that will no doubt really hit it’s mark when we get to see it live in a few months time. Sure it’s quite possible that this band might not ever make an album as life changing as Smile (to me) but still this bands ability to marry the beauty of their music with the sheer force of amplification and distortion that only metal can provide makes them one of the most important musical discoveries of my life.

Best Album/Band/Music discovered in 2011.

Julie Christmas/Made Out Of Babies/Battle Of Mice

You ever skip a band because they have a weird/silly/nonsensical name? I do, all the time. Sure Made Out Of Babies are on Neurot Recordings but they’re still called Made Out Of Babies. Now that’s the biggest single musical mistake I’ve made in a long time. I picked up a cheap three-way split release on Neurot because there was some Neurosis on there I hadn’t heard. The other two bands were Battle Of Mice and Made out of Babies. Both of the latter bands featured a lady named Julie Christmas on vocals.
I was fucking slack jaw after hearing the Battle of Mice song. I bought the album 24hrs later and was left virtually in tears by the emotional vehemence of its music. A few days later I bought ‘The Runiner’ by Made Out of Babies and listened to it more than any Unsane album I owned. The only tempering aspect of all this was Julie Christmas’s 2010 solo album ‘The Bad Wife. Equally beautiful and bad-tempered. These three albums being just about the best thing in both Metal and music I discovered all year.

Top live shows in 2011.

Teargas / No Anchor / Last Chaos @ Burst City

It’s probably because it was at Burst City, run by friends and with bands, who are our friends. This was a great and punishing night. No Anchor tried and in some ways succeeded in punishing folks with light and sound. Teargas just proved that not just anyone can make great music. One of the first shows of the year and still a favourite.

Propagandhi @ Hi Fi Bar

The second of two nights of seeing Canada’s Propagandhi. A band that keeps getting better and better. Almost a religion instead of music.

Built To Spill @ The Zoo

Indie rock never got so good. They played all the favourites and made good on years of wearing their records out.

Bronx @ Step Inn

The night before the big festival and several hundred folks crammed into a room fit for only a hundred. Another one of those shows where rock is meant to be uncomfortable and visceral and memorable for enjoyment that all this brings.

Kylesa/High On Fire @ Hi Fi Bar

Metal in its varying degrees. From the power of High On Fire to the psyched out dirge of Kylesa, it’s shows like this one that prove I enjoy metal more now than any other time in my life.

Future Of The Left @ The Zoo (Both in Jan & Dec)

Snotty, cathartic and funny as hell. Another one of the few rock bands on the planet that have gotten it so damn right. And don’t bother trying to tell them otherwise, you’ll just get hilariously cut in two by their frontman Andy.

No Anchor Album Launch @ Woodland

I have to put this one in. The Launch of No Anchor’s third album went a lot smoother than the launch of the second on (which resulted in a heart attack on my part). Still stressful, still fun and worth all the effort when those amps get dialed to 10 and the wash of sound cracks your skull. Sometimes it’s fun not being in the crowd.

Harmony @ The Toff

A funny one to put in. From all reports, this was a shit show on the bands scale but not to me. I put in a few kilometres to get to this, the bands 7” launch but it was worth it. I heard all their songs for the first time and was devastated by the brevity, brashness and brilliance of this band. It really is a battle between the forces of darkness and light.

Harmony @ The Zoo

Not the only time in 2011 where Harmony were the support band and I didn’t even bother staying for the main act. No point really when you know there’s no chance the headliner is going to be any better. The trauma is worth so much more when it’s mixed with the volume of full PA.

Harmony @ The Waiting Room

Jeez. How much do I have to bang on about this band. It’s embarrassing. At least you didn’t try to listen to the album a 100 times like I have at home. It’s definitely easier being a fan on your own, with your stereo. This intimate show, supported by locals Turnpike was a the second best Harmony show I saw this year but most beautiful of all their shows – thanks in a lot of ways to the surroundings and folks there.

Footnote: About 15-20% off all music I listened to this year was actually released this year.


High On Fire, Trash Talk, Kylesa: The Hi-Fi Bar 01.03.11


Trash Talk

High On Fire

Just a couple of bands blazing in the afternoon sun

Biggest festival at the RNA I’ve ever seen. Bigger than livid. Possibly the most bands I’ve wanted to see at a festival for over a decade too. I didn’t see everything I wanted to see and I didn’t shoot everything I saw but I had fun shooting bands I’ve been waiting a long time to see.

Click on the photos to make them bigger.

Mike Ness and Social Distortion were top shelf.

High On Fire

Dimmu Borgir (were really really really silly)

Ill Nino. These guys were surprisingly good. Think of a Mexican Sepultura and you’re there.

Windmill of the day goes to this guy:

Taking photos of Slash is like taking photos of a cardboard cutout of slash. Strike pose… take photo. Of which I believe Slash has three poses. This one, crouched down guitar between legs and standing looking bored in front of 20,000 people.

This is what Slayer get to see every day! Hmmmm…

This makes me think that if you were to chop off the head of Kerry King, his body would continue to run around playing the solo to Reign In Blood!

…and the guitarist from Exodus did a fine job impersonating Kirk Hammett.

Zach DeLa Rocha’s band One Day As A Lion were better than I expected. Makes me think I should actually go check out more of what they do.

Show-stealer for me was Kylesa. Really great band. So much more weight than on the old record of theirs that I have at home.

Rob Zombie made up for any lacking in aural ingenuity with visual vulgarity!

The Melvins were why I came along and they were totally worth it! I swear that they’re weirder now than they’ve ever been in the past 20 years.

Lastly comes my pick for metal face of the day. There were heaps but there’s something so comical about Dimmu Borgir that with added facial expressions makes them the silliest band of the day! Orgasm face mixed with ‘I am a tiger’ pose = priceless.

Reviews: March 2010

Abyss In B Minor
(4AD/Remote Control)
From the get-go this band has always been getting their My Bloody Valentine on, but what with their first album was the embodiment and evolution of sounds mastered in a time long past is here a series of opaque underworlds uniquely carved out by a band determined to create its own defining vision.
These five Norwegians have grafted all that is pretty about British shoegaze psychedelica with all that embodies the disturbingly ugly psych of the swamp-filled Americas. What’s here are songs that crackle with the condensing of so much dissonant sound into runs of melody and euphoric bursts of electronics and manhandled technology that tracks like ‘Reprobate!’ initially kidnap and confuse much of your sensory perception. Not willing to rest on six strings and a series of pedals, the construction of Abyss In B Minor resembles something Chris Cunningham has fucked around with, songs crackling like flickering images, descending into deepening wells of narcissistic darkness (‘Honeyjinx’) and convulsing beautifully in the bright glacial sun (‘D.I.W.S.W.T.T.D.’).
Like an acid trip on a high-wire, the siren-like swoon of Lina Wallinder is alluring and calming atop the unsettling staccato percussion and mirth of claustrophobic guitar noise. Deep, deep down inside Serena Maneesh is a pop band, doing it’s darnedest to eke out a melody and give it a life of its own. This album is challenging given its concise nature (eight tracks done and dusted in 38 minutes), its density being the key milieu that you’ll have fun flailing about within – just remember to come up to breathe!

From Here To There
Like that of Labradford or Fridge, the key with most electro-acoustic music is not the articulation of sounds arranged into nice, neat concurrent strings of defined abstraction, but the ability to communicate a message and more importantly, actually having something to say. Far too often, the clicks and cuts that play around a pulse are nothing more than the aimless pumping of blood – electro-acoustic music’s ability to actually take you somewhere is scarce in today’s sonically saturated environment.
This paradigm has been a clear challenge for Ben Swire, the sounds here born from field recordings and manipulated electronics and sprinkled with double bass and the odd acoustic drum pattern (‘Passing Through’, ‘And There’). Much of the emphasis of these eight chapters lies on the swelling of the softest of sounds, like air-borne particles amassing into hazy filters to cloud your vision only to be dispersed by deliberate melodies and passages of notes that border on song.
The music here, as hard as it tries, does not inspire new worlds to evolve from the blank canvas of your senses, however, what From Here To There does well is to accentuate what already lies around you – bringing the uncommon parts of your surrounding elements into focus and allowing you a platform to shift the normal of your environment from the macro to the micro. It’s unlikely that you’ll move much from here to wherever there is, but in a way that’s OK because sometimes just being directed to appreciate the “here” is enough to make the passage of time worthwhile.

Elect The Dead Symphony
(Serjical Strike/Warner)
Let’s remove from our minds the toil and the time it takes to become a master musician. Let’s not put into the equation the years required to become good enough to be part of your country’s premier philharmonic orchestra. No, let’s simply look at the proposition committed to tape and elaborately packaged up here.
Serj Tankian is a man who came into the spotlight through his L.A. metal band System Of A Down, but obviously after spreading his wings with his own solo album decided that he could take it further… and take it far too far.
Here we find Tankian fronting not a tight, aggressive rhythm section, but the complete Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra and in turn putting on his best modern day Julio Iglesias guise and garb. Taking his solo material and expanding it to include 27 violins, five basses, three flutes, etc… – you get the idea – nothing here is done by halves and the outcome to bridge two worlds is accumulated in this live album and accompanying DVD.
Elect The Dead Symphony is truly an awful album. Audibly audacious and visually cringeworthy, it’s understandable to document such a unique performance, but to put so much effort into such an absurd narrative in the first place is deplorable. Tankian’s voice is so ill-fitting with the lush, broad brush-strokes of the orchestra, his caterwauling, screeching and grating falsetto nothing short of a quarry lorry careering through a field of flowers. Sure, Serj can belt out a note but it’s apparent from this that the strength of his original genre is what makes his voice and presence so strong.
And listening to someone cry out “baby, baby, oh baby” in these surrounds an insult to the history and the breadth of the musical backdrop Tankian has chosen here. Thankfully this torturous experience was for one night only!

(Two Bright Lakes/Remote Control)
We all would have made a hell of a racket when we were kids, hitting saucepan lids with wooden spoons, singing and swooning around the room making the most uplifting and joyous of sounds. Well, you don’t have to lose that same gleeful abandon as an adult, if you just have those kernels of song and the refinement of friends and a greater array of instruments.
The Brown sisters make jaunty pop music, filled with optimism and ingenuity. Combining their talents with their friend Kishore Ryan, they are Melbourne’s Otouto, and their debut album is the kind of lounge room pop that springs forth from peers like Pikelet, Minimum Chips or Kes. Interplaying the sisters’ vocal harmonies over often barebones instrumentation of acoustic and electric guitars, drum machine, casiotones and, yes, the occasional soup pot and spaghetti saucepan – there is a strange unabashed honesty to these 10 songs that is disarming and alluring.
Songs such as ‘Cartoon Shoes’ and ‘Tennis Players’ waft along like springtime daydreams, muted sounds sidestepping Hazel and Martha Brown’s almost Björk-like interplay while ‘Sushi’ jumps about in a way that makes what is on the surface the simplest of songs sound anything but. Pip really is a concurrent series of miniature musical celebrations filled with the kind of joy that seldom comes along with us as we move from wide-eyed little people to preoccupied adults – and it’s really nice to be reminded of such things from time to time.

Sea Preist
(Dot Dash/Inertia)
Out of the races and onto the tracks comes this Adelaide five-piece, armed with glistening sheets of guitars and a sultry siren’s voice out front. Bringing their trumped up and moody guitar pop, they have taken so much of what’s made bands like Children Collide or Yeah Yeah Yeahs so adored and attempt with this debut to make this sound their own.
Sea Priest really should be seen as a starting point, a foundation where friends have found a common sound to build bonds – these 12 tunes are filled with infectious melodies and rhythms that swell, but subside too soon into familiarity. On the dancefloor or in the heat of the moment, tracks like ‘Ghostress’ or ‘Little Cowboys’ could sweep you up, but over the course of an hour this music fails to deviate from its initial heady trajectory to incorporate much more than some tricky guitar interplay and plenty of vocalised sexual tension.
Those initial songs you hear, whichever they are, will inevitably draw you in hook, line and sinker, whether it’s for the moody grooves or the spring-loaded slices of catchy melody, but neither of these two cornerstones are likely to be enough to sustain everything else that’s here. And so, again, pick out the few tracks that really click and charm and enjoy wearing them out – by that time, with any luck, this band will have found a way to mirror less and model more.

Have One On Me
(Drag City/Spunk)
The opulent, the extravagant and the exquisite – our dear patron saint of such things, Kate Bush, long ago left us for the greener, undulating pastures of the British countryside and since then a void has existed. Joanna Newsom has, with this triple album, taken over the mantle, tending to a musical sensibility that here has born the sweetest of fruits.
These 18 songs spanning 125 minutes find Newsom indulging her every musical whim, elaborately orchestrated songs wisping through the air and settling themselves. With such a delicately articulated vision, there’s no reason to bother with individual song titles or what goes where. This is a world you steep yourself in, the spell only broken by the intermission of having to change discs.
The extended artistic statement can often be a burden to both the artist and the listener, but rather than songs that don’t neatly fit onto a silver disc, you get a story that plays itself out like chapters of a novel, allowing you to come back and indulge as your whim decrees. And digitally, the extent of Have One On Me really does warp the day, coming in and out of focus as the hours pass.
The refinement of much of Joanna Newsom’s music is the key to dipping into this album – never once does anything here bear the overwrought tendencies that were at times reflected her earlier works. From the cover art to the often minimalist nature of the majority of the songs, there’s often a Victorian air about this album (that early Kate Bush thing again), the antiquated nature of the harp, piano, brass and string sections easily separating you from your surrounds.
The maturity and radiant beauty of Have One On Me encapsulates many different things that exist outside of popular music, many things that this album shows deserve to be popularised.

Be Brave
(Rough Trade/Remote Control)
It seems like just weeks ago we were swooning and dancin’ a jig at the sounds of this quartet’s debut album. Well, it was. Belatedly released in this country, Strange Boys & Girls Club it would seem was just the entrée, the taste test preceding the band’s actual new album.
Well, suckered in once, suckered in twice! This band’s garage pop hasn’t aged much in the weeks and months between releases, but double-dipping your sound into that 60s garage pop optimism sure is working its charm all over again. If anything, the bulk of these 12 tunes are more restrained, a lot of the cluttered caterwauling is pulled back to allow the chiming guitar to work its magic around Ryan Sambol’s shrieking vocal chords.
It’s the addition of instruments like the saxophone in the album’s title track, the whirring organ in ‘Friday In Paris’ and even some acoustic six-string and piano throughout ‘Dare I Say’ that really shows these boys are able to expand their pallet to encompass the richness of the bygone era they’re determined to timewarp back to. Be Brave attempts to soothe whereas their debut attempted to save and savour the embryonic joys of rockity roll.
In every way, Strange Boys encompass what happens when white boys find rhythm’n’blues and electricity in the deep south of America. It sounded great 50 years ago and what d’ya know, it still sounds great today!

The artwork to this album shows our New York trio lost in a forest, dishevelled like shipwrecked survivors, but the fifth album by Liars is as focused and forcefully divisive as any unleashed over their decade-long career. If you’ve kept up with the band’s twists and turns then Sisterworld will kink, curl and arc in ways that surprise and reaffirm their unique, danceable din.
Layered with percussion and drenched in thick syrupy moods of disdain, the band come armed with 11 songs that actually sound like songs – but don’t let that fool you. It’s hard to identify where the organic ends and the electronic begins with this band – not that it matters much, as the tools here stretch beyond the standard fare to include bassoon, trombone, strings and piano. Yes, this is a band that seems to perfectly straddle discord and melody, refined vision and avant experimentation, dance-friendly jive and aggressively serrated jibes.
As forward thinking as their music truly is, it’s the regressive moments throughout ‘Scarecrows On A Killer Slant’ and ‘I Still Can See An Outside World’ that manhandle you with the tightest grip – sheet metal guitars vicariously howling out the embryonic sounds of Branca or DNA. All this static energy soon recycles itself into a dank and hypnotic underbelly of pulsing electronics with ‘Proud Evolution’ that actually provides some humility to the passages of extroverted bombast. The Liars have taken what they do well and while bringing it somewhere new, have simultaneously reared the restless spirits of No Wave with engrossing results.
Sisterworld cements one key thing – the arteries of sound that make the Liars such an engaging prospect are also their most subversive of tools. Their fur is silken and their exterior cuddly, but their claws are sharpened and their animal instincts poised and waiting to strike.

Snakes Of The Divine
(E1 Music/Shock)
Muscular doesn’t even start to describe the hard rock come metal of High On Fire. Music that’s the aural equivalent of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s pectoral muscles fighting each other to the death! That’s also how enjoyably verbose this band is at times too.
Body blows and molten growls spawn much of what’s to be found in these eight tunes, the band’s evolution apexing here in their coagulating mix of de-tuned riffery and ram-raid musical delivery. There’s scant few bands though that know how to turn their Motörhead mantras (‘Frost Hammer’) into a quicksand-thick torpor of dirge (‘Bastard Samuri’) and it’s this ability to shift their music like the harshest of elements that sets High On Fire far apart from their kin.
The further you travel into the bowels of this album, the more your ears come to feel like putty in the midday sun – the burgeoning percussion eking out a gaping void. This is especially present in tracks like ‘Ghost Neck’, which is actually debilitating at excessive volumes (which, it should be said, is a mandatory setting for listening to this music).
We all know that singer/guitarist Matt Pike was the epicentre of the much-lauded Sleep and so much of that lumbering is accentuated throughout ‘How Dark We Pray’, its mire of ball-scraping bottom end filtered with Pike’s almost angelic soloing, which builds with a hope that with every chord change turns a darker and more poisonous hue.
There’s no way you could say that Snakes Of The Divine is simply “everything heavier than everything else”. But album number four by High On Fire definitely articulates the kind of collective languor that every burdened beast feels, forcibly trudged to their debilitating demise!

Are The Roaring Night
Like a sharp, dry wind against your bare skin, the swathes of shimmering guitars that open The Besnard Lakes’ third album are vast, beautiful and unsettling. The opening couplet of tracks goes for just under nine minutes – each and every brooding idea allowed to swell until every last detail is illuminated.
These 10 songs are no one easy sound, pretty in the way the various vocal harmonies drift under supple voice of Olga Gorea, but descend as plucked guitars quickly turn into searingly distorted lightning strikes (‘Chicago Train’). The thread here though is that so much of this album is built upon a bed of dead shoegazers – the bones of Ride and Swervedriver protrude from tracks like ‘Albatross’ and ‘Light Up The Night’.
It’s unlikely though that these four from Montreal take much time to look at their feet – there’s simply too much expanse to take in. ‘Land Of Living Skies’ is the perfect example of indie rock opened up to 70s Neil Young proportions, but with My Bloody Valentine’s love of layered density. Pockets of respite do exist in ‘Glass Printer’ and ‘This Is What We Call Progress’, jaunty bouts of urgency ensuring you never lose sight of this album’s true trajectory.
And sure, maybe you’re thinking if you’ve seen one landscape postcard, you’ve seen them all, but no two landscapes are ever going to elicit the same response and those hungry for guitar-journeying beauty are going to stuff themselves silly with what The Roaring Night offers.

Johnny Ray’s Downtown
(Laughing Outlaw)
Perry Keyes doesn’t seem that concerned about the big picture or tales of far-off lands. No, Keyes has his sights set on his own backyard, his local streets and all the characters that populate his colourful town of Sydney.
From the outset, these 16 songs have Keyes following the Tom Petty songwriting rulebook to the absolute letter – and we’re talking that 80s Petty that loved a good solo, overwrought backing singers and the odd country-tinged ballad thrown in for good measure. These songs, every single one of them, are Polaroid snapshots of a time and place that now seems to be gone forever, the characters coming from all walks of life but shown within the same parochial surrounds that should appeal to folks with a reminiscent love of their heyday – but the flipside is this album’s broader appeal is somewhat stilted.
Musically, you get eloquent turns of phrase with each new tune, stripped-back memories carved out of a whispering electric six-string (‘Things That A Boy Would Do’, ‘Queen Of Everyone’s Heart’), brisk belters, chock full of hooks (‘Burnt Down Both Sides’, ‘$35.40’), a break-of-dawn surf number (‘Pest’) and a touch of exotica in the title track.
Keyes has constructed an impressive and elaborate pop creation, the kind you’d be hard pressed to find too often these days – devoid of any of the glitz, but as reliable as the Kingswood that adorns the album’s artwork. But Keyes knows who he’s singing to, the folks in his songs who he’s calling back out to. A lot of the time you can’t help but suspect that Keyes is actually calling back out to himself, the wiser fellow trying to make contact with the young buck. As for the rest of us, we’re just bystanders.