Brisbane indie-pop troubadour Jeremy Neale must be one of the hardest-working musicians plying his trade today. Not satisfied with being a member of rabble rousers Velociraptor, surf-rock piss-takers Teen Sensations and space-noise act Tiger Beams, as well as being support act of choice for the likes of The Preatures and Surfer Blood, he’s now releasing a long-awaited debut EP under his own name. It’s reasonable to think that having fingers in so many pies might mean In Stranger Times would be a patchy affair, but in reality, it contains some of the Queensland Music Award winner’s best musical output to date. Giving generous nods to sixties lo-fi garage-pop and classic girl groups of the same era, it’s a fun and catchy breath of musical fresh air from start to finish. Neale’s innate ability to write three-minute pop gems and his soulful garage croon are his strong points, most notably on latest single ‘Swing Left’, which manages to mix clap-along pop with ominous piano-led despondency. The title track is another highlight, as Neale joins forces with Brisbane’s favourite all-girl guitar band Go Violets to run through a perfectly-rounded pop song with instantly catchy guitar intro and boy-girl harmonies to die for. ‘A Love Affair To Keep You There’ is a darker effort; the inevitable break-up song that’s in contrast to the previous lyrical content. It will be interesting to see if Neale continues with his solo ventures in the near future, or whether he’ll be happy to remain as frontman and song-writer for Velociraptor or one of his other acts, but on this evidence the path to take should be pretty clear. (Create/Control)
There’s something pretty irresistible about Go Violets, even before you’ve heard a single note of their music. The Brisbane all-girl indie-pop quartet take the kind of infectiously rosy approach to making music and performing that makes you feel like you’re stuck in some perennially perfect version of your teenage self, with nothing but carefree good times and unadulterated high hopes for the future.
Then you hear their tunes, and before you can work out whether the sweet, summer-y harmonies and tales of innocent adolescent longing are cleverly and carefully reconstructed versions of pop masterpieces from times gone by or whether the reference points are entirely coincidental, you find yourself being absorbed into the simple upbeat beauty of it all and thinking that if there’s any justice in the world, this band will be bigger than Robin Thicke’s ego. That’s pretty damn big.
Heart Slice is their debut EP, and in a nutshell, is a six-track, eighteen-minute blast of power-pop and catchy choruses that will charm you into falling under its spell, even if it’s not exactly ground-breaking or particularly technical stuff. “We’ll stick and never will divide,” sings lead vocalist Phoebe Imhoff on opener and best track ‘Teenager’, starting a lyrical run of subjects that include being “mad about you” and “meeting in the park” – get the idea? Various members switch instruments and take turns at lead vocals, as they do when playing live, with drummer Ruby McGregor and guitarist Alice Rezende swapping spots with ease, while bassist Harriette Pilbeam underpins it all with a punchy pop groove.
There are some pretty goofy lyrics here and there, “Hey Josie, this is not the end, or as the Spanish would say ‘fin’,” on slacker-pop second track, ‘Josie’ for example, but they all add to the overriding senses of charm and fun throughout. Buy this EP, and you’ll listen to ‘Teenager’ about fourteen times in a row – I guarantee it.
HEART SLICE BY GO VIOLETS IS OUT OCTOBER 4
Billed as being for young people by young people, Youth Music Industries’ fourth annual all-ages 4 Walls Festival at QUT boasted quite a line-up this year.
Before a hoard of baby-faced and expensively attired onlookers, local alt-rock quartet Twin Haus provide an early highlight on the rooftop stage with a tidy racket of a set, before English-Australian four-piece Tourism unleash a new batch of Arctic Monkeys-esque tunes with some heavy moments on the main stage in the darkness of QUT’s lecture theatre. During a previous Brisbane gig guitarist Adrian Brown puked on his guitar mid-song, but everyone is clearly under instruction to be on their best behaviour today, which is helped by the lack of bar at the venue.
The biggest draw of the day so far is Brisbane’s Go Violets, who almost send a swelling crowd into spasms with their cheeky brand of all-girl indie, with more than a hint of the ‘1-2-3-4’ aesthetic of J-Pop and near-perfect depiction of adolescent angst. With lines like “I really like you, I like your hair”, they could be any teenager here today, and after eliciting proposals of marriage from male members of the crowd, they finish with the Powerpuff Girls theme song. Once they master stagecraft, this band could be huge.
Meanwhile, SURFER CATS are making a boneheaded yet strangely charming mess of noise on the rooftop stage with a set of songs about – yes, you guessed it – surfing and cats, including tunes with names like ‘Vampire Cat’, ‘Catch A Wave With Me’, and ‘Schizophrenic Cat’.
Baseball cap-sporting Jeremy Neale takes to the main stage to thunderous applause, and proceeds to provide the throat-shredding vocal performance of the day, with ‘Winter Was The Time’, ‘Merry Go Round’, and ‘Darlin’ featuring, before being joined by Go Violets and members of Major Leagues to finish with a raucous ensemble version of ‘In Stranger Times’.
Having just driven from Newcastle to make the gig, Pigeon proceed to up the quality tenfold and steal the show with a high-energy blast of electronica, including a ten-minute Daft Punk medley which fuses ‘One More Time’, ‘Around The World’, ‘Robot Rock’, and ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ into a single pulsating jam.
Late additions to the bill Cub Scouts headline the main stage with their usual collection of well-crafted indie-pop tunes and send the kids of Brisbane home tired but happy, while the rest of us retire to the nearest bar for a well overdue drink.