Archives for posts with tag: Australian pop

Dumb Things

What is it with the endless and effortless supply of gloriously melodic, slightly wonky, low-key-charming, guitar pop emanating from across the ditch in Australia? Just when you think it can’t be possible to discover another band better than the one you found last month, there’s a band like Dumb Things waiting to make you fall for their understated brilliance. It’s hard to pick just one song from their just-released second album to share, but here’s track 7: “Fade Away” to introduce their new album.

Dumb Things are Pat, Maddie, Adam, James, Andy. We will have to guess at their surnames* because they are so low-key I can’t find anything about the band. Maddie takes the lead vocal on half the songs, and I’m not sure who out of Pat, Adam, James or Andy takes the lead vocals on the other songs.

Of course there’s hints of all the other Aussie jangling guitar-pop bands old and new that you love in here. But there’s also a lot on the album “Time Again” that reminds me of US band The Feelies as well.

Maybe it’s because there are three guitarists, two usually doing a slightly different strum texture, rhythm and tone, panned left and right, while the lead guitar picks a simple-but-intricate pattern through the song, and the bass and drums provide momentum without fuss.

And then there’s the vocals, alternating between the aforementioned blokes and Maddie, which are a kind of reserved Australian equivalent to Stephen and Katrina of The Pastels.

No-one sings like they’ve ever had a lesson (thankfully), and everyone sings like they’d rather not be the one who has to do it, which I like a lot. But Maddie can certainly hit, and hold, some ace high notes in those lighter than air harmonies and chorus melodies.

In each song there’s something pleasantly unexpected. On “Fade Away” once you’ve been mesmerised by that intricate woven pattern work of the lead guitar and the gentle rise and fall of Maddie’s vocals, the chorus does that gravity defying descending repetition of “Fade Away” which still catches me by surprise each time I hear the song, lulled in by it’s gentle invitation to eavesdrop.

In other songs on the album the overcast day monotone melancholy of a verse will be miraculously transformed by some angelic chorus vocal harmonies (usually from Maddie) bursting like sunlight through the storm clouds.

There’s a kind of effortless and unfussy busy-minimalism to the way the songs are performed, and arrangements are crafted, and the way the album has been recorded and mixed. It’s more honest than polished, and that suits the songs, the subject matter, and the voices. The songs on the album album also convey a sense of place, and of a time of life for its creators, and of overthinking in the humid heat-induced suburban ennui of sub-tropical Brisbane, Queensland.

It’s all quite wonderful and “Time Again” is an album I’m looking forward to playing a lot this summer.

[*Further sleuthing has revealed the band let their guard down recently and revealed all in a recent interview.]

Amaya Laucirica“Little Clouds” is the opening track from a new album called “Rituals” by Melbourne’s Amaya Laucirica.

Before pressing play on this opening track I read the information on the album Bandcamp page: “Amaya’s work blends the swirling contours of the Cocteau Twins with the wistful melodies of The Go-Betweens and the sonic depth of Yo La Tengo.”  Fair to say that raised an eyebrow and thought “yeah, right.”

Turns out that’s actually a fairly modest statement. Not only is that close to the mark, it’s only the half of it. OK the Cocteau’s reference relates only to the second half of their career when their starkly unique post-punk had mellowed out to lushly produced dream-pop. But there’s no denying that these songs have the kind of classic construction you would associate with The Go-Betweens circa “16 Lovers Lane”.

The widescreen cinema-scope surround-sound of those extravagant synth washes also evokes memories of another Australian classic – capturing the sense of space of The Triffids “Wide Open Road”. The songs, arrangement and production on the album also remind me a lot of the classic pop of 80s, particularly UK popsters The Lightning Seeds. Slickly produced, glistening pop, and such perfect songs washed in big lush reverb synth pads and with crystalline guitar parts and Amaya’s distinctive vocals providing a unique heart.

Thanks to When You Motor Away for the tip off on this future classic album.