Rushmore and Drive Thru folks describe this music as catchy pop songs coupled with rock and roll beats. They honestly are doing their own band a great disservice because I definitely wouldn’t lump this band into the hundreds among hundreds of the all too familiar watered down pop punk bands that fill the pages of PureVolume and MySpace. Being the first band on Drive Thru’s new sister label Rushmore, it’s a typical and expected signing but its refreshing to know that Self Against City does have potential to grow based on this EP. Self Against City are way more accomplished, polished and tight with their musicianship than most bands of their genre.
Yes, the music isn’t breaking any new boundaries or forging into any uncharted waters, and it does fit into the pop rock genre but the execution and delivery of these songs are what give Self Against City the possibility of a bright future. They honestly sound like they have been playing together for years so there is clearly an abundance of talent with all these guys. While the band plays the pop punk format of music the lyrics and vocals are delivered in a more mature fashion and the song topics range from more than just relationships gone bad. The lyrics also come across pretty open-ended which leaves everything open to interpretation. Vocalist Jonathan Temkin also has an above average voice, which is a nice change of pace from the shrill vocals that often accompany the pop punk style.
The EP also is structurally put together neatly with most songs being very aggressive and blaring but they manage to slow things down a bit like on the track, “Speechless.” It offers a nice break down early on in the EP. The band also manages to change and shift the guitar tones around quite a bit to make each track a little different offering some variety where it is rather hard to find in the pop punk genre anymore. It will be interesting to see how this band makes the jump from EP to full-length. Lately, it seems a lot of up and coming bands are doing an above average job with their EP’s because with only five or six songs they are able to offer just the right amount of material to satisfy. It seems to me though that at least Self Against City seem conscience of this as they already have put their EP together with this in mind so with their full-length, they should be all right. I also must admit that I was very skeptical of this whole Rushmore thing- figuring it was an excuse to release more of the same. And while Self Against City fit into the Drive Thru formula, they really are an above average band with their execution and I think they definitely have the talent to grow.
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.