Tuesday, October 31, 2006

All time top ten - #8 - Strange Bird

It may be parochial, but I'm so glad that this most excellent album made it into my top ten (suggesting of course, that it is my favourite Australian album ever). It may be a controversial choice. The newest record in the list, released in 2002, it is little heard outside Australia, by a band that has received little mainstream exposure. But since when has the mainstream been a decent jusge of good music? After releasing their debut, 'Sunset Studies' in 1999, Melbourne's Augie March set abot topping what was a cracking standard.
Theatrical where 'Sunset Studies' was poetic, clamourous where its predecessor was serene, 'Strange Bird' is an anachronism. From the psychadelic rockabilly drunken hoe-down of 'This Train Will be Taking No Passengers' to the distorted waltz with a jazz-lounge (applause included) breakdown of 'Little Wonder', or the 1920s swing of 'The Keepa', (which manages a misspelt cricket reference and is still majestic), 'Strange Bird' is like something from another era, yet is firmly rooted in the here and now.
Along with the aching 'The Night is a Blackbird' and the ukelele-driven 'Sunstroke House', 'Addle Brains' exemplifies the poetic grace with which singer-songwriter Glenn Richards paints his musical pictures. Not a note is wasted, not a word overwrought or forced. There is a lyrical grace sweeping across 'Strange Bird'. Here is a songwriter of the modern day raised on Nabakov, Yeates and Bellow (hence the name of the band, appropriated from 'The adventures of Augie March'), rather than just listening to his folks' old beatles and doors records before forming Jet.
Gorgeous, magical, literate, smart, sweeping, majestic and bold. Adjectives could flow for hours. But instead, you should just listen to it.

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