Tag Archives: Richard Easton

366. Various Artists – “Feast”

This resides also in the until now ignored F ‘Various Artists’ section.

We’re going for a Candle Records double feature.  This was the  label’s 2002 collection of 20 songs from 10 acts in the stable.

As with most of these compendiums, the tracks were pretty much all previously unreleased.  Many would never see the light of day elsewhere.  These weren’t throwaway b-sides, but rather genuine nuggets of gold from the usual suspects (and a couple of fleeting follies).

It contains a true classic from the Ruck Rover lads. Mortgage is the first in their eventual bookend grizzles about the inanity of conversations with couples. It contains some of the most biting and perfect lyrics in songwriting history (“Was your deposit really that large? Were the bank fees really that low? Are repayments really that flexible? Bugger, me whatta you know”).

Darren Hanlon delivers his usual poignant tale of romantic inadequacy on Yes, There is a Slight Chance He Might Actually Fail, and Tim Oxley debuted his brilliant House Husband. A few of the less known Candlites Weave, and the once off D.O.P.H. manage some passable pop.

I was captivated by the album when it came out, and it’s been fun revisiting.

File under: More meat than Masterchef

365. Various Artists – “Flipside”

Another I missed back in the Fs.

Here’s the third of five Candle Records compilations in my collection.  It came pretty late in the Candle epoch, and was perhaps the most outlandish and adventurous collective action from the label.

While the acts on the roster were predominantly of a simple and gentle bent (musically) with a preference for the organic rather than electronics, the strummed rather than the programmed, this CD saw them handing their precious tracks over to knob twiddlers and song transformers.

What I’m saying is that this is the remix album probably no Candle fans had been holding out for. Before you get too excited, the outcome is not exactly dancefloor fodder (beyond perhaps some demented kindergarten – hmmm, is ‘demented’ superfluous there?).  Typically the tracks have had their strings stripped out with a slightly faster backing of beeps and squeaks parachuted in.

It works most effectively when former Tlot O. Bolwell reunites with Stanley to funk up the classic Ruck Rover track about newsreaders. Guild League‘s Siamese Couplets becomes very cheesy, while Pipas take the LucksmithsHow to Tie to Tie dangerously close to Architecture in Helsinki land (fear not, it retains a melody however).

All in all, this is a curiosity for Candle completists, but not likely to change your world.

File under: Better than a B-side

356. The Guild League – “Private Transport”

It’s been mighty cold and pretty damp in Melbourne town over the past week. At such times, my thoughts turn to numerous grey days I have spent under London skies on my various stays there.

This album is a perfect soundtrack to such feelings.

The Guild League is the vehicle Lucksmiths lead-singer Tali White established to showcase his song-writing and to explore more complex, layered music.

He’d been doing a lot of travelling from a London base during that time. The songs herein capture the joy of exploring new surrounds, and the sadness of love long- distance.

The music swings between upbeat, at times, downright funky (Jet Set Go! and Siamese Couplets) numbers, to wonderfully melancholy string compositions.

Tali has always had a silky sweet voice, but here we also get to see his skill at wordplay and imagery (Cosmetropolis is a treat). He hooks up with a whole gang of collaborators who construct some mesmerising soundscapes and jaunty numbers. The cello, handclaps and layered vocals on Faraway Place are truly ambitious.

This album is not perfect. Its pacing is a little awkward and a couple of tunes are regular ‘skips’, but every backpacker should have it loaded into their iPod.

The band didn’t deign to make any videos, so I did (!):

File under: Moving


 

277. Richard Easton – “From Darkan To Narrogin And Jupiter”

I have spent the past four hours doing some mind-numbingly boring data entry stuff for a research project.

While doing so I had this third album from Easton playing away. 

Unfortunately, it did nothing at all to alleviate the boredom.

It did distract me a number of times, as I was convinced my iPod was having drama and playing the same track repeatedly.  That was the case early on, but from then on the issue lay with the recording itself.

Easton seems to have jettisoned any attempt at creativity, and instead has written six tunes that sound pretty much the same (plus 3 little instrumental segues).  I’m not quite sure this even qualifies as an album.

The track themselves are all slow, vocal and guitar efforts.  There isn’t much energy or oomph.

Perhaps, Richard conceived of this as a concept album of sorts.

I don’t get it.

File under: From here to the bin

276. Richard Easton – “Tallulah O’Shay”

After his low-key but promising debut, Mr Easton trekked east to Melbourne and joined the Candle Records album.

He brought with him this more fully formed follow-up. While it still ain’t exactly AC-DC in terms of aural mass, a lot of the empty spaces have been filled. The new sounds are atmospheric additions, such as strings.

It means a bit more of the soft-loud-soft rhythms than previously.
Easton has got more ambitious in his song-writing too. Here’s where the Candle appeal is most obvious, as he taps into the ‘everyday adventures’ and sardonic melancholy schtick.

When he gets it right it is very good. Wake Up captures the uncertainty and the ebb and flow of a nascent love in five minutes. Indeed, it may the best ode to a girl named Kelly since Woody serenaded said female on Cheers:

When Rich gets lazy it is woeful, however. His whistling cover of Big Country is painful twaddle.

File under: Whistling’s lame mm’kay

274. Richard Easton – “Boganvillea”

This is the debut long-player from a Perth bloke with a pretty sweet voice, and a solid bunch of backing musicians.

Easton went on to record for the auspicious Candle label, but his sound was pretty much in place with this release.

He isn’t as acoustic or poppy as his Candle brethren.  If anything, he’s closer to the jangly guitar of fellow Perthites The Church and The Stems, although he doesn’t quite have their pop sensibilities either.

This is pretty mellow, contemplative stuff.  The lyrical content is pretty standard fare (that little issue of love etc.), although Easton does a good job of making the everyday seem a little more familiar and magical at the same day. His tribute to the Sandman panel van is probably not what most bogans would be expecting. His tirade against the plant in the album title is strident and reminiscent of some of my recent gardening adventures.

The guitar work is effective, and the gentle sundry sounds (bass, some keyboards/organ/accordion) envelope and complement his voice very warmly.

There aint much on here that jumps out and grabs your attention, but likewise, it gels together neatly.  I’ve enjoyed having it wash over me as I’ve worked away today.

File under: Aromatic and pretty (but avoid skin contact with the sap and thorns)

40. Various Artists – “Banter”

I just realised that I’d forgotten to look over in the ‘compilations’ section lately. There are a few banked up that I’ll chuck into the mix over the coming weeks (so as to break up the long streaks of same-artist reviews).

banter-candle-records-compilation-album-coverCandle Records was the home of Aussie acoustic pop from 1994-2007. This was the second of their compilation CDs. The neat thing is that they didn’t just chuck together songs fans probably already owned. Instead this release includes 22 tracks from 11 acts, none of which had yet appeared on recordings. In fact, this CD saw the debut of a few new faces, including one who would become the label’s biggest name (at least down under).

Part of the thrill of Candle for me was that these were bands I was very regularly seeing play around the pubs of Fitzroy (and sometimes even North Fitzroy). Some of the songs were familiar from live sets, others were little tasters of bands from far afield (Sydney, Brisbane, Perth). Songs were typically very well crafted, some with a strong humorous element, many earnest and daggy.

Highlights: the LucksmithsT-shirt Weather, the debut tracks from Darren Hanlon (especially the hard-to-find-elsewhere Funpark Fugitives) and country-chicks Fibrotown who sadly never graced another Candle release. One of my bugbears with Candle was that the artists often lost their vitality and uniqueness over time. These sampler albums are wonderful reminders of them at their freshest. It is sad the label is no more…

File under: A very tasty sampler