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Morningwood – Morningwood

The music is great for parties or for making your prudish friends uncomfortable, but will we remember Morningwood the morning after?

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As you can probably infer from the band’s name, Morningwood are the latest metal-inspired party band to be as bad and potty-mouthed as they want to be. Their songs feature lyrics like “We would both lift up our shirts / Kissed him once, you kissed him twice” (“Ride the Lights”) and puns involving the word “come.” The quartet’s frontwoman, Chantal Claret, is spastically sexual with pure, gutsy attitude pumping through her veins. And while Morningwood is undoubtedly out to rock and shock, its shtick is predictable.

Nevertheless, its self-titled debut has its hard-rocking moments. “Nü Rock” kicks off the album with loud authority, charging guitars and crashing drums. Claret’s rowdy yelping adds edge to “Easy,” an old-school metal anthem reminiscent of AC/DC; “Body” is similarly thunderous and straightforward, with contrasting vocals that cement the band’s personal style. The band steps out of that established style on “Take Off Your Clothes,” a meandering, mostly spoken ode to (what else?) sex. The song is oddly fascinating and kind of fun, but it’s harsh on the ears.

“Nth Degree” is a sugary contrast to the dirtier songs and is catchy as hell. In fact, it’s so infectious that American Eagle is hilariously using the song’s chant of ”M-O-R-N-I-N-G-W-O-O-D” in a television commercial to sell its tank tops, jeans and other casual basics. This band absolutely loves to spell things out- it doesn’t end with “Nth Degree.” The “Everybody Rules” features a chant of ‘E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y.” If Morningwood wasn’t so darn crude, they could make fun and exciting musical videos teaching youngsters to spell.

Claret is a spunky and likeable frontwoman with range, her vocals effortlessly swinging from a sweet and gentle coo to a raucous howl on songs like “Jetsetter” and “Televisor.” But her persona is so out there that it pigeonholes the band and constricts Morningwood’s chance of expanding its audience. The “sexy” conversational banter between Claretand bassist Pedro Yanowitz on “New York Girls” and “Take Off Your Clothes” is more comical than stimulating, yet the deadpan delivery proves that yes, they are serious. Perhaps the players behind Morningwood just need to let their sense of humor shine through. 

Morningwood’s self-titled debut is certainly interesting, with commanding riffs and provocative vocals. However, it’s tough for a band to make a career out of female-fronted cock rock; similar bands (remember the Donnas?) have made a quick buck and disappeared into obscurity. The sub-genre is so overtly raunchy and desperate to shock that its bands are destined to be a short-lived novelty from the beginning. The music is great for parties or for making your prudish friends uncomfortable, but will we remember Morningwood the morning after?

(Capitol Records)

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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

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Hatchie Keepsake

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.

(Heavenly Recordings)

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