Seams are one of those bands who, though they occasionally become hermits, they always come back with an enchanting tale to deliver to an eager crowd. An experimental pop group with a wealth of musical talents, a strong stage presence and responsible for what could be argued to be some of the best-written songs to come out of Perth for some time, Seams should be on the radar of anyone living in Perth – and by extension everywhere else as well.
Consisting of the ‘exceptionally lovely’ Louisa Burton, the ‘in-far-too-many-bands-to-count’ Lyndon Blue, the ‘cute-as-described-by-my-friend’ Ben Firkin and ‘the-one-I-couldn’t-think-of-a-compliment-for’ Daniel Firkin, I first had the good fortune of encountering Seams many years back at a small show where, despite the small venue, they created a generally great vibe by playing their hearts out and jumping energetically around the venue. Since then they’ve only become better, having released various singles and EPs to positive reviews, in particular their last dual single release, the high energy Magic Circle (which is technically a 3 track if you include the remix). Also did I mention that Lyndon plays a Theremin from time to time? There’s not much I haven’t seen this band attempt musically and as such I was highly eager to get my hands and ears on their newest EP ‘Bad Prisms’.
Opening with an instrumental track, Perry Lakes begins with seemingly randomised synth/pop sounds and beats that soon meld together around the lull of harmonised vocals, adding an almost haunting flavour to the track. Followed by a crescendo that introduces the kick of drums and symbols the flow of the track goes from slow and mysterious to fun and exciting without losing the haunting atmosphere. The sound of synth button presses and horn loops intensifies the song, reinforcing the fun and exciting vibes before eventually changing key as the song quickly sinks to a stop, the instruments and vocals washing out into nothing almost like being sucked down a drain. The more ethereal instrumental beat pressing of ‘Perry Lakes’ doesn’t sound a lot like previous songs from the 4-piece but the new sound has a lot of depth and is most likely an influence taken from Lyndon Blue’s beat making side projects. Whatever the reasoning however the song serves as a brilliant opening which accentuates the upbeat tones and haunting lows that flows throughout the entire EP.
As a side note Seams put together a simply shot but oddly entertaining video for Perry Lakes that i think captures the energy of the track and the quirkiness of the band as a whole which you can see here:
But enough frivolity about Seams filming themselves in a shower… onto the next song!
Clawing back from the drain that swallowed Perry Lakes, track 2 Blueberries kicks back in with infectious synths before a healthy does of drums and the twinkling of harps build up the song, the crash of symbols making way to the dual vocals of the first verse. Louisa’s slightly stronger vocals make her the lead here but Lyndon’s harmonises help the vocals to flow better, particularly in the chorus when the synths and drums return stronger. Together it all makes for an addictive chorus that practically demands a sing along – Since first listening to this song I’ve regularly found myself loudly singing…
“I’m not done, I’m not done,
I wanna get, wanna get, wanna get young,
Put the berries on my tongue,
I wanna get, wanna get young”
… only to be met with many a pair of peculiar judging eyes one too many times. I honestly dare you not to sing along to this.
Not content to rest on what up to this point would have already been a memorable track the following chorus is filled with more than welcome symbol crashes before flowing into a synth/drum heavy bridge that is bound to get feet moving. Combined with the memorable choruses ‘Blueberries’ is bound to be a crowd favourite to sing and dance along to at live shows. Ending with a similar energy to the bridge the song ends on a high note. My only complaint is that much of the song feels a little too dry on record, in particular the drums. This doesn’t make the recording necessarily bad, just that it makes the band feel a little more distant and not in the same room with you when you close your eyes. If anything this recording should serve as a good primer to seeing the band live where the raw sound and energy of the song should impress even more.
After the pulsing energy of the last track perhaps it’s only appropriate that listeners are allowed to catch their breath by fading into the much slower pace of Town Square. Beginning with naught but the haunting vocals of Louisa and Lyndon a slow beat soon kicks in before a guitar and stripped back drums join in creating a very light but beautiful combination. Apart from the opening harmonies that repeat throughout, Louisa serves as sole vocalist whose slow, haunting vocals lend themselves perfectly to the simple lyrics and tone of the song. The chorus adds a touch of increased energy that differentiates themselves from the lower verses but the song never gets too overcomplicated, preferring instead to maintain the simplicity that’s created at the beginning of the song. The song could easily have added a few more layers and whisked and weaved a bit more but the simplicity makes for a perfect song to just close your eyes and let the whimsical nature of the song take you away…
And then Mawson starts, a song that I really don’t think I can describe – but for all the good reasons. I could point out all the little things, the slow/dark piano notes, the ethereal harmonies, the uncomfortably appropriate clicking beat that gets stuck in your head throughout and everything else that combines into a truly amazing surreal song. Or I could describe it in the only way I think I can do it any glimmer of justice:
Trapped within a dream of darkness you struggle to wake up, the occasional dark piano note echoing throughout your mind. As the echos intensify you find the willpower you find the energy to open your eyes but as you do you find yourself suspended, several hundred meters below the surface of the ocean, the light of the sun barely reaching you. You want to swim back up to the surface but as the water around you starts to sing ominously you can’t find the strength to even try; instead all you can do is watch, watch as the light of the sun slowly gets fainter and fainter as you continue to sink. You’re not sure how or even why this happened but you try to fight the inevitable before you can’t fight anymore. It’s almost peaceful, no pain, just the repetitive clicking in your mind telling you to sleep. You give in, close your eyes and wait for the end… but just as you do you feel the water around you shift, almost as if it’s pulling you – not to the surface but towards a dark shadow that you can’t make out. You try to stay awake but you black out.
As an angelic womans voice breathes life into you you’re eyes open up wide as you cough up water and gasp for air. You climb out of the pool of water you find, eventually catching your breath enough to look around and see the temple like structure you’ve awoken in. Large halls extend out from you filled with towering support columns, water cascading down them which eventually streams down to the pool that just crawled out of. As you walk forward however the voice twists and turns as the beat of drums wail down the hall, the walls twisting and turning in response. You cover your ears, the overwhelming sounds causing you to crash to your knees. Your eyes soon distract your eyes however as the twisting walls reveal a number of gruesomely weird creatures, almost Lovecraftian in appearance. They slowly approach you, seemingly not in malice of any kind but more so out of curiosity as to who you are and what brought you here. Their distorted visual appearance makes you uneasy however, exacerbated by the way they continue to surround you. You start to worry. You begin to feel short on breath.
You try to find a way out but as you realise you can’t you pass out from the combined stress of everything your mind is trying to process, the angelic voice strangely whispering in your ear that you have nothing to fear…
All I can really add is that it’s one of the most creepily beautiful songs that I have heard from a Perth artist to date and one that will be hard to top.
Fifth track Deep Bones continues the ominous tonality though not nearly in as dark a manner as ‘Mawson’. Instead the distinct sound of synths and a faster drum beat keep things more active. Dual harmonies also return, this time between Lyndon and Ben. The dual male vocals lend an increased sense of seriousness to the song, something that matches the darker lyrics in a way that might not have worked as well with the Louisa/Lyndon approach. Louisa’s distinct vocals still feature in the more uplifting chorus however, which suits the change of pace of the chorus better. It’s an odd mix to combine the more serious verses/bridge with a more upbeat, almost danceable/easy to sing along chorus but it helps to keep the song from being too overly serious and the verses still have a fast enough beat to get heads moving so it manages to work together fairly well.
Title track Bad Prisms rounds out the EP in formidable fashion. Opening with light keys, guitar and flute, along with Louisa and Lyndon back on dual harmonies you’d be forgiven that this was going to be another slow momentum track. The chorus however kicks things up a notch which keeping you on your toes before returning to the pace set in the verse. It all makes for a nice chill out track to end the EP off though the crescendo near the end does feel like it could have been fleshed out a bit more, hitting a nice high but then following on from it a little too flat. A lot of this comes back down to the recording sounding a little too dry overall but it just feels like there should have been a bit more energy or a slightly larger arrangement injected into the ending to strengthen it.
Seams new Bad Prisms EP is fairly solid though with a few cracks. Those coming from the Magic Circle release and expecting more of a faster paced offering from the 4-piece may find this 6 track a little lacking while several of the songs feel like they could have used a little more time to hone, mainly in the recording process. Perhaps if there were another faster paced song like Blueberries to add more variety or if Bad Prisms ended a bit stronger this wouldn’t be the case but overall it’s still a fresh and much welcome collection of new songs from the experimental pop 4-piece who are bound to have more musical adventures to share with us in the years to come.
You can hear and see more about Seams at:
—- Impartial Cameraman —-
A Microphone, a loop station, a microphone and a voice. these are the things that Perth sound artist Sam Perry uses to compose his songs. One of Perth’s best alternative and possibly most interesting up and coming acts his talent in building a song is something that is an experience in itself. Unlike normal songs starting partly composed however, Sam starts with a fresh slate then builds up, adding new beats and rhythms before hitting you with everything that he has to offer. It’s amazing to hear but 10 times more-so when you go out and see him live when you can see the energy and strength from Sam no matter the size of the venue.
Also working in his favour are the the variations that come from every show. While the base may be the same for the same song from two shows the fact that Sam records and presents everything raw to a crowd makes every show a different and must see event. Even when things don’t to plan though Sam keeps his cool and comes off as well as ever. I can recall that when we filmed his set at The Rosemount hotel a few months back that when he started his song “Fever” that he started in a higher pitch and faster tempo than what he planned to. Instead of restarting though he went with the flow and turned it into an Eminem “Lose Yourself” freestyle. It was only after that he revealed to me that the freestyle pushed him to his limits and that he almost fainted from it. If that doesn’t prove that Sam is a passionate and talented artist then I don’t know what will.
Surprise to me however was that there was a Facebook event to get one of the videos we shot for Sam up to 5000 views! It’s quite a leap to get to but the views for “Fever” have risen quickly so I’ll have a drink on standby if it ever gets to the mark! On top of press I can only assume that the reason for this event is also because of Path to Laneway. Sam is currently in the finals of the competition to earn a place to play at the Perth Laneway Festival and would be the perfect event to showoff his talented vocals and overall sound artistry. From a local perspective it will also be a great way to get his music to those in Perth who have been raised on mainstream radio/music and rarely venture into a live band set in the city. Sam Perry is also going up against my favourite Perth based folk act Simone & Girlfunkle though so I feel a little split between acts. Their both equally talented though so no matter who wins I know it will go to a worthy act.
On top of Path to Laneway though, Sam is also releasing his EP this Saturday at The Rosemount Hotel and given that it sold out weeks ago it’s sure to be the place to be this weekend. Even if you haven’t got tickets I’m sure you, the punter can find a way in – without haven’t to resort to anything too illegal!
With an EP under his belt it’s certain that you’ll start to hear Sam’s tunes more and more around Perth and with a mountain of a special showcase show coming up sometime in the next few months at The Fremantle Prison, you can be sure that it’s full steam ahead for the talented individual. Keep an eye out and your ears peeled for this new standout act at a venue near you!
—- Impartial Cameraman —-
The Brow Horn Orchestra are this weeks feature artist on Triple J (Feature here) so it seemed only fitting that I finally managed to start editing the video footage we shot at their single launch show.
I’ve only edited up a small section so far but here is a preview of what has turned up half decent so far. this is from the end of “Dreams Do Come and Go” and isn’t too shabby if I say so myself. Still have a lot of work to do editing wise and this is all pre grade/matching, motion/reframing and final audio mix so will be some time before it’s all finished but will be worth all the hours of work!
Anywho here it is. Hope you like it and remember to look up the band if you’ve never heard of them before!
You can read the Triple J feature here:
—- John Aliaga, Impartial Cameraman —-
Okay, so before I go on I think I need to add a bit of backstory to this. The last year has been my final year at uni and for the most part has been like hell. Or purgatory, maybe a mix of both. For the majority of it I’ve been slowly and forcefully pushed out of my comfort zone (not in a good way) and limited in time for what makes me happy most in life – being with my friends and taking photos! I’ve still maintained my freelance photography but nowhere near as much as I used to. As such I’ve taken a stand. My final assignment is due in a couple of weeks but I’ve stopped work on that to finally shoot some new footage and even more photos! As such I’m starting up “New Photo Monday’s” to showcase my favourite photos taken from the last week! This is partly to share my photos with you dear reader but also just to give myself a goal to work on, in this case shooting something each week good enough to post the following Monday to get back in a creative mood – something that uni has siphoned a large amount from me lately.
So what have I shot in the last week? Surprisingly not too much, but last Sunday I did get to film The Brow Horn Orchestra and the Sunshine Brothers! We only had a simple camera setup due to the last minute call and was using my own stills camera to shoot the fixed wide shot so had to rely on SD video cards for a lot of it. When our video memory cards ran full though I decided to swap to my photo only card and take as many snaps as possible. As usual I took a ton of photos and after reviewing them afterwards found some that even surprised me! Good to know that after all the time I’ve focused on uni that I still have some shooting ability left. As such, below are my favourites from Brow Horn Orchestra’s set:
I love this shot of Lyndon Blue. I can’t remember the last time I saw him but he didn’t have a moustache which made this day quite eventful for moustache related banter! It was this very humour that made this photo all the more amazing – With the hat and sunglasses his moustache looks almost second nature. Looking at this I’m pretty sure Lyndon could be a badass cowboy, trailing the wastelands with a violin in tow and turning his foes into dust simply by looking at them. Doubt me? Well then look into his eyes below and get back to me.
Brow Horn Orchestra’s resident trombone player Karri-Harper is quite the personality though just as noticeable as a musician. I’ve always had an affection for the instrument but have never picked one up – I’d probably break it! I think I’ll leave the trombone playing to Karri here but I’ll happily take snaps of him in action. Must remember to try to play with the reflections on the trombone for next time though. Might just make for a great shot.
I’m not sure if it’s just because I’ve primarily been a band photographer for a while now but I always seem to be welcome on stage most of the time (or maybe they’re just cursing my presence under their breath). A shot from the bands perspective is always a welcome change for me though among my running around. Something about the change of situation always gets me. Perhaps I’m addicted to one day being an on stage musician playing to a crowd as well – or maybe I’m just trying to compensate for the fixed focal length lens I use on most shoots. In either case I get to be onstage so I’m happy either way!
Another shoot over I was glad to have gone out for the first time in a while, even if I was a bit sore afterwards. I have a habit of climbing up and jumping down from high ledges in order to get to the best angles at live shows and get to the next best angle quickly. Having not shot anything for a while though I was a bit unfit for such a thing but got back into the groove after a while. Hopefully after getting through a few more gigs I’ll be back in top form to leap from ledge to ledge without having to worry too much about my legs taking too much strain. This was also the first time I started to play around with trying to achieve a vintage photo look to a small degree. I’ve always wanted to organise a photoshoot with the style but thought that I’d try it with these photos to a small degree without pushing it too much, especially as I’ve shot for them before and wanted something a bit different. Took a bit of tinkering but I think it turned out pretty good, especially in the first photo of Lyndon – makes the cowboy backstory I wrote in my head even more believable! The summer sun helps make the effects pop even better which was a great help. In any case it was a great night and I got some great shots so any and all pain was well worth it. Met some great people from the local music scene as well which is always a plus. Here’s to many more gigs in the future!
Or you can read my article + review on them here:
—- John Aliaga, Impartial Cameraman —-
An Analysis, Review and Thought Bubble Piece:
It’s not uncommon for artists of completely different backgrounds and genres to team up for projects or bands. A lot of the time these acts don’t end up going anywhere fast, the two or more sides never finding a common ground or differences in opinion eventually breaking the band up. Sometimes though it results in a great mix, a new sub-genre of music or, in some cases altogether something that never should have worked – but did. The VeraGroove are one example of the latter.
Comprised of Ricky Moore (Vocals/Guitar), Sean Lee (Keys), Corey Groove (Bass) and Johnny Groove (Drums), The VeraGroove are a wide mix of artists that on paper would be almost impossible to see working. Culturally each member comes from dramatically different styles which after putting in a room together would result in a styles and influences board consisting of motown, funk, classical Hawaiian/reggae, John Bonham, Bud Gaugh and Django Reinhardt to name a few. It’s an almost nonsensical mix and you wouldn’t think to put them together at fear of laughter from the surrounding crowd. As a band though they surprisingly do mix well.
As The VeraGroove, their mix of styles has resulted in what can only be described as dessert reggae with a solid mix of rock and roll that springs off their instruments almost seamlessly. It was only after hearing their music that I discovered their varying musical backgrounds and it makes the fact that they sound so good as a collaborative band even more difficult to believe. Did it all click from the start? Were there power struggles? Did fights break out in the studio when someone wanted something different? I never found out but whatever the truth is they have built up their foundations in the genre and are set on rising up. As a band though they are influenced by the “Truth in Music” approach, that what some may consider music may not be music to others – and I think that it’s a good philosophy to go by, especially for a band with such broad backgrounds. This philosophy is probably something that has also influenced the varying differences in their tracks, something that has shown their versatility and allowed them to rise up with a variety of different tracks.
And speaking of rising up, The VeraGroove are no slouches onstage either. From what I’ve seen they definitely sound much more musically comfortable on stage jumping around and getting into the performance. A band that is great on record but performs stiffly is never fun for much longer but The VeraGroove have got both their recording and on stage performances down. I wouldn’t necessarily call them shows that break any new barriers but they have fun and in turn the audience have fun as well – which is all one can ask from a live show and more than a lot of bands ever accomplish. It seems to have worked for them as well as they’ve already been noticed and made the rounds with a growing number of acts:
“We’ve had the honor and privilege to work with national and local bands such as The Dirty Heads, Shwayze, The Voodoo Glow Skulls, Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds, Badfish, Authority Zero, Two Tone Lizard Kings, Captain Squeegee, Katastro, Willie Northpole, Josh Fishel, Sinizen, and the Warsaw Poland Brothers. The flexibility of our sound has allowed us to perform with a variety of bands over the past year, stretching across genre gaps but rooted in quality music.”
It’s an impressive set of names but it’s that last part that I think is most important. The VeraGroove does have a flexible sound, something many bands attempt to achieve but never do, either finding themselves in only one style that works for them or failing completely. The VeraGroove however have achieved a solid area of versatility and I agree that it has worked in their favour when it comes to sharing the stage with other acts. It’s this drive that will hopefully see them become an act that can be compared to the Kings of Leon, an act that appeals to them in both a musical and business sense.
“The evolution and versatile nature of their music keeps them ahead of the musical curve, while still remaining independent and a unique entity. We admire the choices they’ve made as a band and organization, because in these tumultuous times they have remained constant and stuck to their guns.”
With these foundations laid down, it was at the end of last year that the band eventually built up the momentum to record and release their Travelin’ Man EP. For any band the first release can make a massive difference as to their future and the pressure can be more intense for a band with a mix of styles. So does it hit all the marks? I think the the short answer is yes. I think the long answer though, like the band itself, is a mix of an answer.
The opening track “Hand In Hand” starts with a simple piano progression that relaxes audiences before quickly injecting them with a pumping dessert sand reggae mix that sounds great and gets people moving. Instrumentally it’s not the most complex track but it meshes together so well that this is definitely one of the best tracks on the record and as such a great opening track to make people remember the band from the very start.
Following on from the less intense intro track most listeners are likely to be surprised by the second/title track “Travelin’ Man”. More rock and roll that the first track it quickly accelerates into a mash up of fast drums, electric riffs and much louder, deeper vocals. As a follow up track it would have felt more natural to place a slightly less rock song as the song to follow from Hand In Hand in order to build up to Travelin Man’s harder rock style but I think that when held on it’s own accord, this track holds it’s own and shows off VeraGroove’s pulsing strength and energy.
Third track, “Days With No Sunshine” goes back to the Reggae feel, though with a distinctly more rock infusion. Chilled out guitar, drums and vocals, it all escalates to a rock infused chorus full of energy that fills the room. It also feels lot more versatile than the title track – I could easily just sit in the corner and chill out to this track or hit the floor/pit and move around to it just as easily. It also would have been the perfect bridge between Hand In Hand and Travelin’ Man as it’s not as soft as the former but not nearly as initially hard as the latter.
“Mind Body and Soul” rounds up the EP with a much more chilled and less serious feel that the other tracks. Replacing the hard drums for the soft bongos you get an idea how much more raw and down to Earth this track is. Feeling more emotional and as if telling a story it also feels like the perfect track to leave the EP on though much like the second track it does feel a little too out of place after the strong finish of “Days With No Sunshine”.
Overall Travelin’ Man is an impressive selection of tracks from a band that have managed to pull off what many other bands haven’t – blended their unique styles into something that sounds great both on and off stage. Each track has it’s own unique feel and sound that, though may blend with another song, is entirely different all the same. In particular “Hand In Hand” and “Mind Body Soul” are the most impressive tracks. It think though that this EP has two main negative points which prevents it from being really great. The first is the pacing of the track listing. Simply put they don’t flow into each other as well as they should which is a huge distraction. This is a problem with many EP’s as artists try to narrow down their best songs but don’t always put as much thought into the flow of how the listener will react to each subsequent song when listening from start to finish. The VeraGroove have definitely chosen great tracks but the pacing could have been perfect had tracks 2 and 3 been swapped around. This would have allowed a buildup to “Travelin’ Man” and allowed it’s softer finish flow better into the stripped back final track. I think that this would have also resolved my other issue with the EP which is that the songs feel a little too mixed and different. This is often the case with EP’s as an acts best songs may not always flow well into each other but again this is something that reordering the track listing resolves in my mind. I do feel though that the title track “Travelin’ Man” is the weakest track on this EP. The VeraGroove have a great versatility but they definitely excel at their more reggae numbers that feels stronger and more emotional than their more rock focused tracks which just need a little more work done.
These points aside I think that Travelin’ Man is a great first release from The VeraGroove that will hopefully get this fresh but impressive band more exposure and allow them to share their music for a long time to come. Definitely an act to keep an eye out for!
Or buy their EP here:
—- Impartial Cameraman, John Aliaga —-
So it’s official! Though I hinted the possibility of it a month ago I just got the confirmation yesterday that we’re actually filming Gotye at the Laneway Festival when it hits Perth early next month!
For those who need a refresher, Gotye is a project by Wally De Backer, a Belgian born but Australian raised singer songwriter that has been a favourite among Australia’s stages. Two studio albums, a remix album, an ARIA Award and several Triple J awards and nominations up his sleeves he is an accomplished musician that creates music that ranges from moving melodies such as “Hearts a Mess”, to more upbeat singalong tracks like “Learnalilgivinanlovin'”. Needless to say I’m excited!
Last year we also filmed the festival through the assistance of SAE Perth, using their powers to get us access to shoot footage for promo purposes. That said it was through Laneway Festival that we met and afterwards found ourselves filming one of my favourite local acts Boys Boys Boys – who I’ve since filmed several more times and also shot a documentary on. They were a significant part of my filming experience last year and always made for guaranteed fun on and off stage so hopefully filming Gotye will lead to another great year of work under my belt from filming such a high profile act in Australia. It’s my last month or so of my degree so along with the few other projects I have on the go this will be a great final bang to go out on.
Stage presence wise it’s only going to be a small setup from Gotye compared to the the accompanying 13 piece orchestra from the video below. He always throws a great show though so he will be an act you should do everything to see! The video below is one of my favourite live videos of him though so watch it if you haven’t heard or seen him before.
To be honest, in the lead up to the festival I approached numerous artists to ask if they wanted to be filmed at Laneway and though I kept my fingers crossed I’m actually glad that it was only Gotye’s management that got back to me. Partly because I have so many assignment and deadlines due (end of uni is a real buzzkill) but mainly because it means we can focus everything we have on the one set. With Gotye being one of the last acts to play on the day, chances are we’ll cover at least one other act in a spur of the moment shoot, probably for one of the local acts that I’m friends with (Check out Boom! Bap! Pow!, Carl Fox or Seams anyone?) and I’ll have my sturdy Canon 550D on me to take snaps of all the acts throughout, backed up by a VIP laminate to help get the best angles. I know I said it 3 paragraphs ago but I’ll say it again – I’m excited!
A little over 3 weeks to plan everything, I’m going to go all out on this one so that’s going to mean as many camera operators, assistants and one great producer to get our impartial shoot on. If you’re going to be at the festival you might see us so say hi – and do try not to assault the cameras, we’ll need them at 11pm when Gotye hits the Museum stage!
And you can find out more about the touring Laneway Festival here:
—- Impartial Cameraman —-
Posted January 17, 2011on:
In many places it’s rare to see a local band consisting of more than 5 people on stage at once. The sheer strength required to keep a band of 6 or more members can be straining as can just the sheer act of keeping everyone on the same wavelength to turn up to the right venue – and lets not even go into the matter of how you cram that many people on stage in some venues. All this said however, The Brow Horn Orchestra, composed of Nicholas Owen, Karri Harper Meredith, Alex Vaughan, Sky Eaton, Angelique Ross, Lyndon Blue, Ben Lanzon and Lauren Todhunter have certainly not short of numbers or have faced all these issues and managed to keep afloat, becoming one of Perth’s favourite local acts in a seemingly short amount of time.
Starting as a 2 piece busking duo, evolving to a 15 piece bonanza before now becoming an 8 piece band, The Brow Horn Orchestra have certainly evolved over the last 2 years. All of this evolving though seems to have paid off as the last year has seen them win The Next Big Thing, become finalists in the 2009 National Campus Bands Competition and shared the stage with Arrested Development, Public Enemy, John Butler, Art vs Science, Miami Horror, Pez, The Beautiful Girls and Urthboy to pick at a few names. Listen to their music and you could see the gleam that hinted as to why all this was accomplished in such a short amount of time but see them live (as frontman Nicholas Owen proudly tells punters) and the reason becomes clear. Numerous microphones, keyboards, drums, brass instruments, percussion tools a guitar and a bass litter the stage with what seems like an impossible number of things to combine into each song and song good. Once they hit the stage though you know you’re in for a show. With an almost trashy style of afro-electro, hip-hop, dub, ska, pop and anything else they feel like playing when on stage they paint a great uptempo beat where almost every note and word is almost perfectly in time and in sync with every other instruments that are simultaneously playing. Occasionally this isn’t the case, usually when part of the band is too busy to perform. Like I referred to earlier, keeping 8 people free for every single gig isn’t the easiest thing to do. See them in full arsenal though and you’ll never want the music to end! The fact that many of their songs transform almost seamlessly into what could be mistaken as another song is one thing. When it’s one of their epic transformations though the entire band changes. Often it involves Nicholas lifting while continuing to play an electro sounding keyboard, Alex grabbing a drink and dropping a beat like there’s no tomorrow, while close to the front of stage Angelique juggles or spins around objects that could almost take out someones eye if the wrong wrist movement was made. It’s an OH&S nightmare but it’s what makes them one of Perth’s favourite local acts.
After the success of last year, all that was left to do at the end of the year was to release an actual single – and better yet they released two! To a sold out venue at the Llama bar and a cheering crowd The Brow Horn Orchestra threw a stellar show where nearly every one of their songs could have been called epic and all in the name of releasing “Goliath + Do You Wanna Sing Forever?” to a loving crowd. Featuring two of their greatest live tracks there’s probably no other track that could have described them musically as well as these two and were great choices as to what to release to the public. Contained within a lovely blue cardboard sleeve with minimalistic artwork and a Cd covered in all the words that best describe the Brow Horn it’s also wonderfully packaged.
First track “Goliath” has always been a crowd favourite and on record it comes pretty close to recreating this entertainment value. Recorded and engineered by local favourite Laurie McCallum, the track opens with loud brass horns and an easily followed jungle inspired beat that’s easy to get into and keep you’re ears perked as to what’s coming next. Going from the loud horns to strong lyrics, a loud chorus and Alex Vaughan throwing down his vocals for the third verse, Goliath certainly won’t grow tiring quickly. The chorus though does seem to miss the beat just by a touch. One of the choruses that in a live venue usually gets the whole room singing in ghostly unison, it’s a little saddening that the chorus on record feels entirely different. It was always going to be different but it feels almost foreign and too clean. I quickly dismissed the majority of these thoughts after turning the volume up to unearth all the underlying sounds that my stereo could barely pickup on my normal listening settings but for those wanting a quieter Brow Horn experience it does miss some of it’s punch. I wouldn’t necessarily call this a bad thing though and if you’re not hungover should simply be an excuse for you to turn up the volume – assuming you’re in an environment where that is allowed (doing so at work may result in either being warned by the boss or for a dance party to start at random, do so at you’re own risk).
The second track “Do You Wanna Sing forever?” is also one of Brow Horn’s most popular live tracks. Starting with a 1950’s styled warning about the atomic bomb and how we should learn to duck and cover, the track quickly explodes into the brass instruments that are their trademark intros. Vocally the overall lyrics and performance from Nicholas Owen is pretty much spot to what he would give in a live show and suit the song perfectly. Alex Vaughan’s vocals on the other hand feel a little washed out and less impacting. Much like Goliath, turning up the volume will fix the vast majority of this (and Brow Horn are generally a loud band on stage) but I still can’t shake the feeling that this seems like an unnecessary step to take to enjoy a song. Again, if you’re in a situation where you can turn the volume up though then by all means do so and enjoy this track throughout. Getting to the actual words “do you wanna sing forever?” is one of the highlights of this track and a great outro barred only by the small pause close to the end where the drums that welcome you back feel slightly underpowered. What sounds like Lauren’s vocals laying down a background beat also sounds a little too computerised among the horns and smooth percussion of the rest of the songs long outro which makes it stand out a little too much for comfort. As a whole though Do You Wanna Sing Forever is fairly solid, more so infact than Goliath and a testament to Donovan de Souza’s abilities as a producer.
Overall, as a first release Goliath + Do you Wanna Sing Forever manages to hit the mark of at least getting this band more exposure and giving fans a well earned hard copy to own. Anyone that has seen them live though will know that Brow Horn are a dish best served in person. Featuring two of their best songs from what is already a great back catalogue of songs, anyone who is willing to go out and see this act live, whether for the first or hundredth time will be rewarded in more ways than one and will hopefully see this act play more sold out venues in the future! I have my fingers crossed though that their next single release (or an EP even!) will be recorded with that extra energy that their live shows have. Obviously a Brow Horn live show can’t be perfectly recreated on disk or even with an actual live release but perhaps that extra energy will emerge as this great act spend more time in the studio learning what best suits them both on and off the stage. Whatever the case is though, this is one act that I’ll willingly walk into the fray with in order to find out.
You can buy their EP on iTunes here:
Or check them out here:
—- Impartial Cameraman —-