Beaches go into overdrive on their new seventeen track album. It’s their magnum opus of sorts, taking everything they’ve explored on the first two albums and synthesising it into one kaleidoscopic take on all things psychedelic.
The album opens with two relentlessly churning tracks that set the stage for what is to follow. It signals their intent to push further out into the sonic aether, bridging the gap between melodic noisy pop hooks and hypnotic guitar-drenched head trips. Void is a brighter, headlong take on Wooden Shjips, psych-Kraut interstellar explorations while on track four they ease up on the gas and introduce chiming guitars, a post-punk interlude and a back half that sounds like The Primitives jamming with Look Blue Go Purple. Calendar sounds like a lost Pixies outtake with its mix of raw grind and dreamy vocals while Wine dives and shimmers like Crazy Horse doing shoegaze.
Arrow is the headiest pop rush the quintet have conjured up, the perfect nugget for the approaching warmer months and it feels like the apex of Second Of Spring. In the back third Bronze Age Babies adds a surprise with a recorder voicing the main melody before Grey Colours takes a gloriously melancholic wander that Robert Smith would be proud of. There’s a lot to take in but it’s an endlessly rewarding and freewheeling album for a band who are the equal sum of their parts and eager to explore all musical possibilities.
Melbourne quintet Beaches produce an excellent debut album five years ago that reinforced the continued relevance of creative guitar music. Thankfully the group have again convened to collectively pen a new batch of free-ranging, sonically psych-imbued songs that highlight their ability to compose songs rich in melody across anexpansive musical terrain.
In some ways Beaches are an instrumental band. Sure they have vocals on a number of tracks but really they best serve as another layer of notes and melodies to bolster the intertwining guitars and drums around them. The real delight in She Beats is the way they balance the more straightforward jangly guitar pop of songs like Dune, the irrepressible Chills-esque Send Them Way and the Pixies’ surf (alt) rock of Runaway with outstanding psych/drone workouts like ‘Distance’ and Granite Snake. Both songs feature the stellar guest guitar work of krautrock master Michael Rother (Neu!, Harmonia) and both succeed by virtue of the intensive rhythm section and the avoidance of vague noodling, a hallmark of the best space rock.
She Beats is another strong addition to Beaches discography, an album for all seasons via its masterful interpretations of dark and light textures and simply just a great hook-laden psychedelic rock record.
On Saturday July 20th Carriageworks in Sydney will host At First Sight which is being billed as a ‘vinyl romance’ style festival with 11 bands and more than 10 DJs soundtracking the day while you peruse the record bins of record stores, labels and private sellers. This is a killer line-upof bands that you are unlikely to see all on the same festival stage. Great music, great concept – embrace it.
HTRK, along with Twerps, The Laurels, Beaches, Super Wild Horses, Straight Arrows, Songs, Holy Balm, Day Ravies, Client Liaison, and Shining Bird
Yo Grito, Jimmy Sing, Count Doyle, Noise In My Head, Marcus King, Smokie La Beef, Basslines, Nic Warnock, Flash Back, Beat Club.
Melbourne quartet Beaches return with their second album She Beats, out May 3rd on the ever excellent Chapter Music label. Their debut was a brilliant mix of bittersweet psychedelic rock woth shades of krautrock and jangly guitar pop. They’ve refined that mix even further on their new single Send Them Away which sounds very reminiscent of New Zealand’s The Bats. I’m really looking forward to getting hold of the new LP on vinyl as their debut still gets plenty of plays. Look out for them on tour in May/June.
Friday May 31 – Hobart, Brisbane Hotel
Saturday June 1 -Melbourne, Northcote Social Club with Bushwalking + Early Woman + DJ Lady Shakes
Friday June 14 – Brisbane, Black Bear Lodge
Saturday June 15 – Sydney, Goodgod Small Club with Songs + The Friendsters + DJ Jack Mannix
Check out the equally ace video directed by Ben Montero and edited by Rosie Adams.
Dan Deacon, Beaches, High Places, Lawrence Arabia, Mark Barrage.
Oxford Art Factory
February 27th 2009
Mistletone had a big year in 2008 releasing a raft of indie albums from Beaches, High Places, El Guincho and Beach House. They’ve started off 2009 with a bang and should be commended for putting on the Summer Tones festival in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, which highlighted a nicely varied mix of the acts on their label.
Mark Barrage was the unlucky person who had to kick off the proceedings to a virtually empty venue. It didn’t seem to bother him too much as he tweaked and sequenced his way through his vocal and electronic one man show. His is an interesting approach as he established a bed of cold and generally sparse digital sounds before applying his sombre dark vocals over the top. It is a mix of the more electronic end of krautrock mingled with a post punk voice, hinting at Cabaret Voltaire or a more industrial New Order in their earliest post Joy Division days. Barrage ensured the rhythm remained central to each song as he swaggered around his musical setup, giving the clinical music an imperfect human quality which served it well.
New Zealand’s Lawrence Arabia has a new album out and he was happy to introduce nearly every song they played and noted if it was on the newie Chant Darling. Backed by members of NZ band The Sneaks, renamed Broadsword, he injected the most indie pop of the evenings performances. Quirk vocals and immaculate harmonies stood out as highlights of an exceptionally tight and effortless sounding set. Song titles like ‘Auckland CBD pt 2’ were poetic takes on mundane places and like The Ruby Suns who mainman James Milne has been a member of, he knows how to write a simple pop song based on melody and a light musical touch. Many of the growing audience wouldn’t have heard of Lawrence Arabia but many seemed quite impressed.
High Places are yet another of those groups that incorporate live vocals over digital music (El Guincho, Ruby Suns, Barrage) but one thing they seemed to struggle with was how to project their songs strongly live. Each one blended into the next with the same similar percussive flavour from Robert Barber. The voice of Mary Pearson is a restrained instrument at the best of times and her sing song school girl incantations were begging to be louder in the mix, instead they bypassed everything and became a background nursery rhyme, not annoying but not contributing any great energy to the songs. Sandwiched between Lawrence Arabia and Beaches didn’t help their cause as there delicate tribal spells unfortunately felt like too much of a lull in the evening.
Beaches have had a busy summer with festival and solo gigs up and down the East Coast. Those shows have helped their songs to mature quickly in the live context and there is a drive and confidence that wasn’t as obvious in earlier performances. Playing songs from their fantastic debut Beaches album they worked the crowd into a mesmerized, swaying groove. Beaches have an ability to use their vocals to highlight and accentuate the rise and fall of the intensity of their songs. Their voices rarely take centre stage and when they do it is fairly irrelevant what they are saying. It is all in the mood and the way they lock the songs into mantra-like boogies. They’ve earned their support slot for Mogwai and the much deserved nomination for the 2009 Australian Music Prize.
Dan Deacon, musician or entertainer? That is the question I was left with after his headlining slot. Coming on a late (or early the next day) hour some of the crowd had dispersed but there were still a diehard mass there to partake in the Deacon madness. Wearing cutoff jeans and a Flintstones t-shirt he took his customary spot in the middle of the dancefloor and after a frustratingly long setup time he kicked things off with a couple of tracks from his forthcoming Bromst album. They revealed a density and restraint entering his music with less of the wacky Woody Woodpigeon vocals and a more mature electronic composition style. Before long the crowd interaction began and it culminated in a moving caterpillar of arched arms leading across the room, up the stairs and out onto Oxford St; leaving a few photographers and the more intoxicated punters who wondered where everyone had gone. A handful of tracks from Spiderman Of The Rings were played but it is clear why Deacon has said this is his last run of solo shows. The audience participation stunts do wear thin on the 2nd or 3rd time and there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to take the music, so the news that a full live band is his next incarnation is exciting to hear. His music is unique and standing back and just listening to it does deliver rewards but the talking point from the show would have been unfortunately focused more on the antics than the music.
That loveable nutter Dan Deacon returns to Australia after highly memorable performances at this years Laneway Festivals.
He will be playing at the Perth Festival as well as Summer Tones which has been put together by Melbourne label Mistletone. Summer Tones will happen in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and will feature other bands such as High Places (USA), Lawrence Arabia (NZ) and Beaches (VIC).
As listed on the Mistletone site, the lineups are:
SUMMER TONES SYDNEY – Friday Feb 27 @ Oxford Art Factory w/ Dan Deacon, High Places, Lawrence Arabia, Beaches and Mark Barrage. Tickets $32 + BF on sale Fri 21/11 from Moshtix.
SUMMER TONES MELBOURNE – Saturday Feb 28 @ The Espy w/ Dan Deacon, Pivot, High Places, Lawrence Arabia, The Ruby Suns, Beaches, Kes Band, Ned Collette Band, Fabulous Diamonds, Mark Barrage, Panel of Judges, Qua, The Smallgoods, Mountains In The Sky, Ships Piano, The Stabs, The Twerps and a few more.
SUMMER TONES BRISBANE – Friday Mar 6 @ The Zoo w/ Dan Deacon, High Places, Lawrence Arabia, Beaches and Ruby Suns. Tickets $32 + BF on sale Fri 21/11 from The Zoo and Oztix outlets.