Graham Reid | | 4 min read
With so many CDs commanding and demanding attention Elsewhere will run this occasional column by the informed and opinionated Yasmin Brown.
You can read her previous columns here and Yasmin's profile appears at the end of these brief but pointed reviews . . .
Dear Seattle: Dear Seattle
Sydney four-piece Dear Seattle have burst onto the Australian pop-punk scene and joined the ranks of other Aussie bands such as Luca Brasi in their success. Their debut EP brings together everything that is good about the modern punk rock scene, maintaining the angst that we came to know through genre-defining bands such as Blink 182, but also bringing forth a new level of maturity to the scene.
The EP is described as being a culmination of a bad break-up, a lot of beer, and a week on a farm, and odd as that may sound for a band of this genre, it somehow works perfectly.
Dear Seattle is clearly fond of slow build-ups, during which frontman Brae Fisher’s Australian accent shines through in a way that sets them apart from the American bands that produce similar music. The band has supported a number of pop-punk bands over their four years of existence, such as Trophy Eyes and Citizen, and before too long they are bound to start seeing the same kind of recognition as their peers, especially considering their popularity on Australia’s biggest alternative radio station, Triple J.
Dear Seattle have put together something hard hitting, yet relatable, and combined it with an accessible yet complex sound, and are sure to go far within the alternative music scene.
Selon Recliner: Stories of Later
Fresh out of an eight-year hiatus, Auckland based Selon Recliner are back with a collection of dark and dreamy tracks. The female vocals of frontwoman Bels Bradley aren’t quite strong enough to successfully carry the complexity of the music that the other six band members contribute to the group, but the unusual tones in her voice do still add something intriguing to each song.
From the offset, it’s easy to tell that this band is made up of a fair few members, and while most bands who make the decision to add such depth to their music have to rely on backing tracks for their live shows, Selon Recliner have created an EP that will translate flawlessly to the stage. Each track creates an individual vibe, from the bright, magical feeling created in opening track Come on Rain, to the moody, middle eastern Wharf Report – all the while integrating synths and electronic sounds and layered vocals. As a whole, the EP leads you on a journey through a particularly dark moment in time and back into the light, and is certainly worth a listen.
Stories of Later is available for streaming soon.
Ghost Dance Collective: Haunted
It’s no easy task to successfully integrate Sixties country rock with the more modern sounds of electro pop, but Edinburgh based Ghost Dance Collective have somehow managed to do just that with their debut EP Haunted.
The band’s old-school inspiration stretches beyond their chosen genre, and also seeps into their preferred recording method too, where they are wont to use analogue tape, making this EP perfect for music fans that are sick of living in an exclusively digital world. This juxtaposition of the old and the new makes Haunted unlike anything I’ve heard recently, which is no mean feat considering the scores of new albums we now have at our fingertips every day.
Highlights of the EP include the smooth male vocals, impressive instrumentals, and the unexpected yet consistent use of organs throughout. The sound presented on this EP will by no means be for everyone, but those with an appreciation of both classic rock and the popular psychedelics of today will undoubtedly be in for a treat.
SAINTE: Smile, and Wave
Shortly after the announcement that American pop-punk band We Are the In Crowd were going on an indefinite hiatus, the world was introduced to SAINTE. The project was born from songs originally written and recorded as We Are the In Crowd, but which on reflection, did not fit with what had come to be expected of their existing band.
Upon listening, it is immediately clear as to why the band didn’t simply discard these seven tracks. Even though each one leans more towards electro-pop than pop-punk, and their sound is unquestionably different, frontwoman Tay Jardine has managed to carry across her talent for writing powerful and relatable lyrics, and a strong voice with which to sing them. Despite the range of emotions that this collection of tracks incites in the listener, there is always an essence of colour present, thanks in part to the vibrant artwork and music videos that accompany singles With or Without Me and Technicolor.
Ultimately, though, it comes down to the amalgamation of power-pop, synths, and remnants of the band’s pop-punk past, which together create an altogether effervescent sound that will have you constantly smiling and tapping your feet. Thematically, Smile, and Wave showcases a healthy balance of positivity, (as in If You Ever Feel Alone), and bitterness (as in Feels So Wrong), and takes you on a sonic journey of ups and downs that will make you want to both dance and cry.
I am very glad that this project has emerged blazing out of the dying embers of its predecessor.
Yasmin Brown is a dedicated music lover and avid critic, currently completing her PGDip in Communication Studies at Auckland University of Technology with hopes of going on to become a successful music journalist. She’s at her peak when buried in the middle of a mosh pit . . .