G'day mate! This special edition of RockPile listens to recent releases by artists from Australia. The genres here are as disparate as the vast Australian landscape, and we really like all of them.
James Williamson & Deniz Tek - Two to One
Former member of the Stooges and Iggy Pop sideman James Williamson gets the top billing in this duo's name but Deniz Tek fronted the seminal Australian punk band Radio Birdman. Here the pair, both ripping it up on guitar while Tek handles vocals, put their significant experience to work on a set of 11 original songs. And they rock just like you'd expect songs from these two vets would: "Jet Pack Nightmare" recalls the Stooges and "Search and Destroy," "Stable" adds an irresistible chorus to a barrage of driving punk rock guitars (and piano pounding from Nicholas Francis Stein) and "Small Change" is a relaxed rocker that would fit nicely in the Lou Reed oeuvre. Tek's vocal phrasing often recall's Iggy's and Stooges fans will love Two to One.
Paul Kelly and Paul Grabowsky - Please Leave Your Light On
Paul Kelly is revered as one of Australia's greatest songwriters and in the States he's probably best-known for his sublime pop hit from the mid-1980s, "Before Too Long." Fellow Aussie Grabowsky is a pianist and composer known for scoring many films and television programs, and here he rearranges a set of Kelly's songs so that they can be performed in a non-pop setting. The result is that "True to You" is a jazzy torch song, Grabowsky's piano playing on "When a Woman Loves a Man" reveals just exactly how delicate the song's melody is, and "Sonnet 138," with words by a fellow named William Shakespeare, turns into a slinky vocalization that the Bard would no doubt have loved. "Time and Tide," originally from Kelly's Spring and Fall album, sticks close to the original arrangement, with the exception of Grabowsky's piano replacing the guitar parts. Fans may wish to think of this album as stripped down; it is that, and the resulting "space" is a very important part of the presentation. Kelly completists will find that this one fits nicely in their collection.
Erthlings - "Irrational"
The four young women that comprise Sydney's Erthlings met when they were 8-years-old, started playing together when they were 12, signed to the Future Classic label when they were 16, and now at 18-years-old continue their recorded output with a new single called "Irrational." The cut features lead vocalist Issy Lowe reflecting on a love relationship with great introspection and a dose of wonderment, the perfect conjuring of emotions to fit the song's title. Despite the mixed-up feelings Lowe portrays, the song's sweet melody and jaunty beat indicate that all is well in love land after all, or will be.
Jon Abo - "Where Did You Sleep Last Night"
This cut is from the Asquith Session No. 3 collective, a group of vastly-experienced and well-known players and singers, and here released under the singer's name. Abo has chosen an interesting cut to interpret, the traditional American folk/blues song "Where Did You Sleep Last Night," famously also covered by Nirvana in unplugged mode. With fiddle and Dobro screeching throughout and Abo's voice waxing ominous on the tale of murder, there's something delightfully dark lurking. As the song's final line goes, "I'd shiver the whole night through," and many listeners will also get a chill up their spine as well.
The Jungle Giants - "In Her Eyes"
One of Australia's biggest indie bands, here the Jungle Giants offer a first taste of the album that'll be coming out in 2021. A breezy pop cut that hints at a fondness for Prince, the cut embodies the walking-on-air feelings that a woman has when she "has love in her eyes." Catchy and fun to sing along to in its audio format, fans also need to seek out the video where singer Sam Hales adds hilarity to the mix by portraying not only both members of a loving couple but also the baby that they have!
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