Emerson Snowe is the solo project from Brisbane musician Jarrod Mahon, also known as the bassist of The Creases. His debut EP That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll is an inspiring collection of songs spanning across two years, which explores the internal struggles and dealings of his own vices, while also addressing love and romance. The EP is honest in its approach, as Snowe leaves everything on the table with his very personal lyrics.
“Human” is the recent single from the EP, filled with a breezy, summer feel, garnered by the bright guitars, catchy chorus and the repeated phrase “Like a human”. Snowe is talking to his parents in this song as he almost pleads to him how he wants to be better and not let them down. The cheerful and warm tones continue on “Our Home”, with simple strumming guitars and sugary, sweet lyrics, like “Finding one another, learning to care for one another”. “If I Die, Then I Die” from the beginning appears to be a dark and somber song, however, once the chorus comes in, Snowe sounds as if he accepts the inevitable fate of death.
Throughout That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, upbeat instruments are cleverly juxtaposed with his lyrics to give a sense of uncertainty, while Snowe searches for personal discovery. This is most notable on “Boy In Control”, where Snowe brings back those bright and sweeping guitars, while he describes his mental state and the feeling of losing control. The tone then shifts with “Could You Love Me” with a mellow, unhurried sound accompanied with an organ-like synth. This is a romantically driven song with softly sung vocals to make it sound more dream-like. Snowe explains his favorite dreams about the person he loves and puts forward the rhetoric question “Could you love me like you do / When I am dreaming?”.
The tempo is once again lifted with “Sunlight”. A simple yet effective synth chord progression, matched with a heavy snare that moves the song along to a moderate march, helps make this one of the catchiest songs on That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll. The EP finishes with “You Say”, an optimistic song that leaves you in a state of peacefulness.
That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll allows you to step into the rich mind of Emerson Snowe, as he explores the fundamental ideas of self-reflection, acceptance and personal growth. There is no doubt Snowe is capable of creating memorable and upbeat hooks, but it’s his lyrics, describing the internal battles of life, which will connect with you on a much deeper level. Those who have not seen or heard Emerson Snowe before will be pleasantly surprised with his debut EP.
Emerson Snowe’s That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll is out now via Liberation Records.
Hatchie – Keepsake
Keepsake, the debut album by Brisbane dream pop artist Hatchie is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars
Brisbane indie-pop artist Hatchie (known to her friends and family as Harriette Pilbeam) is in the envious position of being a pop artist unspoiled by the many trappings of what it is to be a modern pop artist. Unlike some of her contemporaries who craft music by committee or with Sheeran-like self-importance, Hatchie is as of now, unsullied by the pressures of the cookie-cutter pop machine. Hatchie’s debut full length is a showcase for a talent who is supremely confident and composed in her abilities, and Keepsake is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars. The album is also a wonderful throwback to pop’s dreamy 60s influences that shuffle in and out of this delirium while working alongside distinctly more current musical touches.
There is the lush dream pop sounds of “Without a Blush”, taking cues from the best of what Stars and Goldfrapp conjure but heaping a tonne of Pilbeam’s charisma on it. Like her vocals, “Without a Blush” has this elegance that has the ability to elevate songs from being beautiful to grand. It is the kind of vocal elegance that really shines through on songs like the skittering, beat-driven “Obsessed” and the alternative, guitar-fuelled (yay!) “When I Get Out”. Indie/electronic closer “Keep” is a wonderful end to proceedings.
However, the great strength of Keepsake is not just its composure in how all the songs have been put together. It is also this genuine, natural-sounding quality that permeates the album- nothing overly written, overly produced or put together by research groups or music analysts. It just sounds like talent. We can argue that much of pop music is constructed to appease the moment- designed to grab as much attention as possible in an A.D.D. world. And sure, that can be said about almost any kind of music, but the resulting aural tone of Keepsake is anything but transient or transparent.
The best way to combat tepid chart-topping music is to write better pop songs. Songs like “Her Own Heart” and the disco-toned “Stay” are examples of pop music that come across as timeless. We are moved by the songs found on Keepsake when we listen to them today. And I suspect that in 10 years time, or in 20, we will most likely feel the same. It is rare to find the sort of ageless beauty you find on Keepsake.