This week I’m sticking with albums by Perth bands. Or at least, bands that started as Perth bands …
I always had trouble getting into The Drones. They were one of those bands that all the indie-kids loved but I couldn’t quite understand the hype. The songs I’d heard, like Shark Fin Blues and I Don’t Ever Want to Change were decent, but they never made me want to rush out and buy an album. When I saw them live at the Bakery with Snowman supporting there was a definite passion and energy being displayed on stage, but as much as I tried to enjoy their set I became bored quickly.
Finally, it all changed when a friend handed me a copy of this album. From the opening bars of twangy guitar on Nail it Down, an all encompassing sense of darkness and drama is evoked, helped along by Gareth Liddiard barking lyrics like “Thunderheads creeping down the hill, and pretty soon everyone gets ill”. Second track, The Minotaur, raises the stakes with one of the most abrasive rock songs around. In the track’s closing moments, as “Vini! Vidi! Vici!” is shouted over and over, listeners will either be enthralled or scared away entirely – with very few falling somewhere in the middle. The rest of the album moves between devastatingly quiet, intimate moments and devastatingly loud, but still strangely intimate moments, with very little optimism to be found. In fact, the album must have some of the most depressing lyrics around, such as this one from Oh My – “You want to shrink your stinky footprint? Get your tubes tied. Or even better yet, go commit suicide”.
It’s only on the final track, Your Acting’s Like the End of the World – a surprisingly bright sounding piece of pop-rock – that a bit of light shines through. It serves as interesting afterthought, as if the band are finally reconsidering their pessimistic stance (“All this doom and gloom has got to me”).
Now that I’ve fallen in love with ‘Havilah’, something tells me I wouldn’t be bored by their live show at all.
THE HIT SONG: The Minotaur
MY FAVOURITE: The 8 ½ minute epic, Luck in Odd Numbers
I first saw the Sleepy Jackson when they supported The Vines around 2002. Retro-rock was king at the time, and The Vines were riding high on a wave of hype. I thought they played a decent set too, but it was the smaller support act that really stole the show. In later years their act would very clearly become the Luke Steele show, but at the time they had the extra entertainment factor of Justin Burford, making them a force to be reckoned with (Burford would soon break away to concentrate on his own band, End of Fashion, taking the Sleepy’s bass player with him).
Around this time the band released two mini-masterpieces of quirky, eclectic pop-rock; the EPs ‘Caffeine in the Morning Sun’ and ‘Let Your Love Be Love’. The album that followed was a slight disappointment in comparison, but due to it including the best songs of the EPs (Good Dancers and This Day), plus a few added gems (eg. the choir-laden Don’t You Know) it’s still a fantastic listen.
THE HIT SONG: Probably Vampire Racecourse
MY FAVOURITE: Good Dancers
Jebediah – Slightly Odway (1997) (Reproduced from a 2008 Facebook post)
In high school, every now and then an album would come along that was a kind of phenomonon. It seemed that every single kid would own it, or at least know most of the songs. The Presidents of the USA’s debut was one of these, as well as Offspring’s ‘Smash’. But the one that I took a shine to the most was by a local band with a picture of a lawn bowling club on the front.
It’s a bit difficult for me to explain why ‘Slightly Odway’ is so sweet. I guess it’s partly because it represents a time and place in my life … but there has to be more to it. This was the first album I ever bought, and I can still listen to it over and over again. It’s got to be something pretty special for that to happen. I guess that in the end it’s just that the band knew how to write great pop songs, and there’s enough of a ‘rough-around-the-edges’ feel to make it exciting.
The singer (Kevin Mitchell – who later took on the alias Bob Evans) has a voice that would give Billy Corgan a run for his money in the nasal department, but it cuts through the buzzing guitars like a knife and his delivery is full of the kind of enthusiasm that just makes you want to sing along. There’s a few diversions into a bit of darkness (Harpoon and Military Strongmen seem to both be rather bitter break up songs) but mostly the album is an ode to teenage boredom, and the crazy fun times that come with it. In fact, tracks like Leaving Home and Teflon practically begged to be played at your party.
THE HIT SONG: Leaving Home
MY FAVOURITE: Harpoon