Tag Archives: The Grates

375. Happyland – “Welcome to…”

It’s a chilly morning here in Melbourne.  I am trying to finish a referee’s report on an academic article, yet I’m being sucked into a perversely perky private party on my stereo.

This side-project by then-coupled Spiderbait and Regurgitator members is pretty much exactly what you’d expect if you brought those two bands together (we’ll see more from both bands on here in a couple of years time).

It’s trashy guitars, big cheesy sequencer riffs, choruses that stick and vocals that could come straight of some manga comic about a pop band in the 23rd century.

Well, at least that’s the go for the two big singles Don’t you know who I am? and Hello!, plus the theme track and the opener Chicken?

The remainder is more indulgent electronica which, while not jarring, and reasonably coherent within the album context, is nothing that I’ll be rushing to revisit.

Having only listened to fellow BrisVegans The Grates a couple of weeks ago, it has been fun to revisit a genuine precursor to said band.  Even the costume habits look a little familiar:

File under: Welcome to singles-land

G, that was fast

In the blink of an eye, the letter G has been knocked off in our journey towards Z. This was the fastest letter so far, with 37 reviews in 36 days. See what happens when I finish teaching.

G was a revelation. It doesn’t get as much attention in my life as it should (the perils of being bottom shelf on that particular rack). The Top 10 shows a very strong Aussie flavour with 7/10 CDs local treasures.

  1. Gersey – “Hope Springs”
  2. Grandview – “Room 15”
  3. Golden Rough – “This Sad Paradise”
  4. The Guild League – “Private Transport”
  5. The Guild League – “Inner North”
  6. Gossip – “Music for Men”
  7. Gossip – “Standing in the Way of Control”
  8. Mary Gauthier – “Mercy Now”
  9. The Grates – “Gravity Won’t Get You High”
  10. Gersey – “Storms Dressed As Stars”

I’m gonna do a bit of housekeeping (i.e. a few reviews of recent purchases and albums I spotted on the vinyl and compilation shelves from A-F) before diving into H. I can tell you that this artist will be one of the early subjects in H-land (but not this song which is off an EP):

351. The Grates – “Teeth Lost, Hearts Won”

Yesterday I supposed that I would have been even more appreciative of the Grates’ debut if I was a decade and a half younger and thus willing and able to push myself up near the front and embrace the ecstatic vibe of it all (ok, I am paraphrasing/embellishing). 

Their follow-up is an album I’m sure I would have embraced with greater enthusiasm back in the day.

It’s got that “more difficult” second-album thing going in. 

There isn’t a killer single.  Oh Yeah is the most obvious contender and wouldn’t crack the top 5 from album #1:

The sound is more polished, but more predictable.  It ain’t nearly as poppy.  It feels like the band feared becoming the Frente of their generation, and thus put away their silly hats and instead embraced the more surly Yeah Yeah Yeahs side of their personality.

I’m probably being harsh here. Milk Eyes works, as does Burn Bridges.

As a younger man, I would have spent more time with the album, allowing myself to be seduced by its standoffishness, delighting in my persistence and sophistication in “getting it”.

I ain’t got that in me anymore, especially on a rainy day ill-suited to brash electro-rock.

File under: My patience is lost

350. The Grates – “Gravity Won’t Get You High”

The Grates popped on to my CD shelf in a very Gossip-like fashion.

They too had an enormous breakout single that was on permanent rotation in my skull for months.

The outrageously energetic and raucous 19-20-20 is irresistable in its silliness:

The Grates are one of those bands that make me wish I was younger and more agile. Jumping around to these guys and basking in their enthusiasm would have been just the ticket back in my more skinny days.

The Brisbanites take Karen O vocal stylings and add a zaniness and playfulness that sits the right side of forced. The grooves are party-worthy, the choruses infectious and fun to sing along too.

The weakness is the hit and miss nature of it. The weak songs on here are just irritating (e.g. opener I Won’t Survive).

But the winners are ample compensation. Not many debuts have such strong tracks as Inside Outside, Science is Golden, Trampoline and Lies.

This is perfect walking-to-work music (it’ll make you smile on the mopiest of mornings). It sucks as background music for proofreading a report however.

I love the energy of these guys so much I’ve embedded three clips instead of the usual maximum of one.

File under: Patience is golden

239. The Asteroids Galaxy Tour – “Fruit”

Here’s another recent acquisition that falls in the “reviewed” portion of the alphabet. It was a very generous birthday present that arrived in the mail in November from a long-time Danish buddy of ours (thanks Jesper).

He took a bit of a gamble sending us a random Danish outfit’s debut, but the bet was a winner.

This mob are a truckload of fun and energy.  It is big, swinging pop that sounds like it stepped right out the opening scenes of a late 60s Bond flick. 

We hear horns and keys wrapped around vocals that would do Shirley Bassey proud.  

Thus duo (plus session/live accomplices) have reportedly made a splash globally off the back of an Amy Winehouse connection and iPod ad (which I missed) and even appeared in an ad campaign down under (I need to stop muting the ad-breaks!).

Sometimes those coke-snorting marketers (and skanky chanteuses) get it very right.  This album is a party you should attend.  The songs have hooks a plenty. The vibe is fun. I want to see these guys in a live space (c’mon Aussie promoters).

I’m struggling for any comparisons here – an upbeat Portishead? A less shambolic Grates?

Give this a listen and tell me what you think:

File under: Harvest this bounty