Tag Archives: You Am I

363. The Greenhornes – “Dual Mono”

Jumping from one review to the next, it is hard not to make connections between the albums.

So, slipping this album out of the record stack and returning ‘Grease’ to its sleeve, I am predisposed to hear this LP as a retro effort.

I suspect that would have been the case irrespective. We jump forward from the cheesy early ’50s of slicked back hair and burgeoning sexual freedom, to the anything goes, lava-lamped, strobe-lit haze of the late 1960s.

The Greenhornes are a garage band with all the trimmings. They recreate the world where psychedelia meets British invasion, and nail the sound and vibe perfectly.

Put in an Australian context, these guys sound like a hybrid of Even, You Am I and Radio Birdman. So, it’s pretty tidy stuff and well worth throwing a stylus on.

The opener Satisfy My Mind is a pounding power-pop treat. The highlight involves a guest vocalist however. Holly Golightly pops in to deliver a perfect cameo on There is an End. It would serve as a perfect montage companion in some trippy ‘happening’:

File under: Cool phono

342. Golden Rough – “Twin Firs”

G is proving a hotbed for Aussie action. And it all happens in threes (as in three album careers) from male-dominated, guitar-toting bands from the 1990s.

This is the debut full-lengther from this Sydney country-tinged combo.

It kicks off like it might be a You Am I album. Joe Fisher’s Blues would not be out of place on Hourly Daily.

The album settles down after that into a warm, even-paced, alt-country rock effort. This is alt-country of the easy listening, poppish variety.  The only real country elements are the use of steel (and occasionally pedal steel)  guitar, and the ever-so-slightly-stretched vocals. Think Pernice Brothers (the Roughies played as Joe Pernice’s backing band on at least one tour of Australia) and you’ve pretty much got the vibe.

Lead singer Dave Orwell does have a similar voice to You am I’s Tim Rogers, but none of the British Beat affectation.  He plays off well against the guitar riffs and rhythms.

The songwriting is strong, weaving self-contained tales of travels and loves.

This album does stumble once or twice and doesn’t really have a killer track, but it’s a damn fine afternoon listen.

File under: Warming

292. Even – “Less is More”

Despite my lukewarm affections for the band, I also own Even’s debut long-player on vinyl.

Giving it a rare pair of spinnings this afternoon, I stand (well, sit) pretty impressed.

Perhaps it’s the crackly, earthy sound of the platter and stylus, or just my relaxed post-work, beer-sipping demeanour, but I find this earlier work considerably more vibrant and energetic.

It sounds less like a tribute and more like a band with their own ideas.  It’s somewhat janglier and less consciously British.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve been listening to a bit of Big Star today (in honour of Alex Chilton’s passing), but I hear that same joyous love of the guitar power-pop artform.

Ash Naylor’s vocals and guitar work hook up well with Matt Cotter’s and Wally Meanie’s rhythm work.

This serves as a worthy companion piece to other Aussie retrograders like The Stems, You Am I, Icecream Hands, and even the Hoodoo Gurus.

This set would get my attention if they played it next time I stumble across them on a Fitzroy stage.

File under: I might scream for More

273. Steve Earle – “Side Tracks”

As I keep confessing, when pressed (it doesn’t take much) to belt out a karaoke tune, I often opt for Steve Earle’s tale of John Lee Pettimore.

On this album we get a sense of Earle’s preferences when in such a position. This is a collection of curios from his career, many of which are covers.

Earle has unsurprisingly eclectic tastes, which ditties here from The Flying Burrito Brothers, Nirvana, and our recent reviewee Bob Dylan.

He also is prepared to tackle the reggae genre (not particularly successfully), and also embrace very mainstream country.

Steve also some slightly cooler crooning buddies than most of us. He shares a mic here with cycling’s former First Lady (Sheryl Crow), and You Am I soundalikes, The Supersuckers.

As my description perhaps gets across, there are many elements that make this release pretty disjointed and throwaway. The saving grace is Earle’s enthusiasm, his love of performing, and his ability to not tread across into the (large) embarrassing uncle area of the karaoke stage. 

This is far from an essential Earle effort (there are a few more of his CDs that I suspect are, and which I do not (yet) own). 

File under: You don’t win friends with side-salad

199. Custard – “Wisenheimer”

I was starting to question the veracity of much-feared ‘poor second album’ stereotype. Alas this effort from the mighty Brisbane powerpoppers falls squarely into that category.

Album Cover Custard WisenheimerIndeed, this CD is a certain sub-species of the ‘Opus disappointica’ phenomenon.  Here we see a cavernous gap between the better tracks and the lesser.  The “filler” on here does not warrant such an ambivalent moniker – said tracks here should be called “Brussel sprouts”, “dog turds” or “Alexander Downer”.

The very best tunes on here are about as poppy, catchy and fun as this band ever produced. 

Apartment is an insanely infectious little ditty (that sounds surprisingly like You Am I). Lucky Star delivers on that early-90s Boston sound. Venus Flytrap and Lightening Bug throws doo-wop, country-punk and a little bit extra in the pot and comes up with quite an intoxicating brew.  Leisuremaster is straight out of Pavement 101, laying down a very chilled vocal over slide guitar and cymbals and brush rhythms.

I can’t help but feel the Pavement-influence is what brings this album down.  Too often the tracks capture only a portion of said band’s approach but without the necessary imagination or flair (Bring it On is a prime example). Other tracks here are just throwaway twaddle.

File under: None the wiser