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Terrible Things – Terrible Things

It is perhaps the strongest compliment you can pay Terrible Things at this point, that their debut is most definitely solid.

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Tracing the lineage of Terrible Things, you get a sense of the band’s pedigree, and in turn, get a better understanding of just what they sound like. Like an amalgamation of the members’ previous bands, it’s all a crosspollination of late-era Hot Rod Circuit with The Color Fred (and Where You Want To Be Taking Back Sunday). It is as expected from a band whose songwriting comes from Andy Jackson and Fred Mascherino. And for those who would enjoy the sound of Hot Rod Circuit through the The Color Fred, then Terrible Things is a record waiting for your approval.

It should however, not be dismissed as simply a by-product of the members’ musical history. Yes, the sounds of “Revolution” and “Lullaby” could have been culled from Reality’s Coming Through, and the rather pristine Midwestern vibes of “The Hills of Birmingham” could have been what Hot Rod Circuit wrote next, but there is a distinct aura of separation between the tracks here and the past. It’s a new record after all, and while its influences are shown clearly in its sleeve, there is much to like and differentiate on Terrible Things. Its scattered use of additional textures is certainly helpful- the occasional piano, the quiet strings and the subtle touches give the album a new found delicate layer.

Case in point with “Been Here Before”, sounding less post-hardcore and more straightforward rock, the song is a good indicator of the possibilities of Terrible Things expanding on pre-conceived sounds. They’ve upped the tempo in “Not Alone” with good results, and only in “Conspiracy”, where they sidetrack to kitschy piano swayed territory does it really misstep.

Percussion wise, there isn’t much outside out of the standard, but third member Josh Eppard, himself a multi-disciplined musician, gives the record a solid backbone. It is perhaps the strongest compliment you can pay Terrible Things at this point, that their debut is most definitely solid. Some great ideas, good production, and history make up for some serious promise. Like they sing in “Revolution”, quote apropos; “this is not a revolution / until we say it is.”

(Universal Motown)

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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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