Dec 9, 2008

Some Fine Australian Music

Firstly, November saw the release of the debut album from Sydney's Dead Letter Chorus. This is certainly an impressive start for this exciting band. Last year saw them release an EP and tour quite heavily, forging a considerably impressive live reputation. "The August Magnificent" manages to capture that live energy and also expand on it with quite formidable results. Drawing from rock, country and folk sources they have created a sound that is both timeless and modern. There is classic song structure, augmented with ambitious production, as the band use all manner of instruments to reach for the stars. The highlights for me are the epic opener "The Peaceful Sleep Of Death", which features ferocious drumming and a great bridge where the guitars soar and sing, and the angry "Silly Little Man/Kill The King", a fiery burning cinder. Also "11th Dream About Aeroplanes" and "Fathers And Daughters" show that their live prowess is not lost on record. This album is one to definitely track down. It features great vocals, gorgeous arrangements and lashings of howling guitars and drums. Great stuff.

I am a sucker for any band that features violin quite heavily. Sydney's Charge Group do that and earlier this year they gave us an album that has grown on me with impressive results. "Escaping Mankind" is a quietly beautiful album. It doesn't shout greatness. It whispers it. Vocalist Matt Blackman has a plaintive, yearning voice that is full of pathos and grandeur. It is backed up by sweeping guitar work and the violin. Oh, the violin. Listen to opening track "Lunar Module" to see what I mean. It stutters and floats, creating a languid, yet beautiful aura. "Redcoats And Convicts" continues the greatness, a glowing number full of leisurely refinement. This is a strong and assured piece of music. It speaks of empty hallways and dusty rooms. It is waiting to be discovered, for its strengths are many.

Earlier this year I saw Seagull as a support act. I had never seen nor heard this Melbourne act before and I was blown away by them. Their sound was/is quite unique. "Goodbye Weather" is their debut album and it is essentially the work of Chris Bolton, although he plays with a full band live. Bolton's voice is oh so delicate and slightly affected. It is not classically good, but it is so tender and real that it manages to carry a lot of weight. The music of Seagull is ethereal and fragile, with sweeping soundscapes created with relative ease. There are many songs to enjoy on this album, but I do love the jangling guitar on "Baby", the crushing beauty of "Ash Wednesday" and the ominous slow burning "Spear". A wonderful Australian release.

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