Be The Morning – The Marines (Laughing Outlaw)

August 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Music Reviews

The Marines debut album is the product of a lengthy gestation leading to a hot summer spent in a rented workman’s cottage somewhere outside of Sydney. It would also appear that it is the product of a collection of very tasteful record collections.

Not that they are simply mimicking those high quality record collections, but there’s no denying that musicologist listeners are likely to spot strains of artists like Lou Reed, Wilco, Jeff Buckley, World Party and Radiohead threading through these songs.

I’m finding a lot to like about that list.

Thankfully The Marines manage to distill those flavors into something potent and intoxicating in its own right. This is music with not just pedigree but also with undeniable inspiration in its own right. Much of this comes from the songwriting, which is apparently largely the province of singer Dan K. He’s a daring writer who is willing to stretch the boundaries but not self consciously so. His unorthodox twists and turns seem to be the result of instinct in a similar way that an artist like Todd Rundgren or Brian Wilson might have been guided by the voices in their heads, rather than a deliberate attempt to re-produce an admired aesthetic.

The band that has gathered under the name The Marines seems completely empathetic to this approach.  They play very well, but more importantly they play with intelligence – which of course sometimes means knowing when to hold back, or even, not play at all. The Buckley-like Borderline is a case in point, whereas the title track, finds the same band getting all fuzzy and gritty like they were residents of Dirty Boulevard. Dreams remarkably manages to merge this approach with a Beach Boy style vocal approach.

A distinctive element of this band are the harmonies, which may include Dan K’s own contributions (which were apparently recorded post-tracking, in his car). On songs like Trouble the harmonies complement Dan K’s idiosyncratic lead vocals really well. His lead vocals themselves provide some amazing moments as he achieves a hypnotic falsetto to go with his gruffer semi-spoken work on other tracks.

It will be interesting to see what sort of reaction this album gets. By rights it should attract a fervent following and it’s hoped that word of mouth can bring it the attention it deserves.

 

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