While still staying true to their down-home, bluesy, Southern-rock inflected roots musically, Sydney’s The Snowdroppers have branched out with Business. On their new record they cover some indie-rock ground and along the way, find that it’s territory to which they can marry their style with. It works a treat.
Iron out those wife beaters and dust off your old boots, The Snowdroppers are back, infusing their classic blues sound with a sharper indie rock edge on Business.
For comparison, I cast my mind back to seeing them at the Newtown Festival in Sydney some years ago, and the spell they threw over the crowd. Do the Stomp, a gritty, boot grinding, hip twisting number had everyone going off, and the memory of dancing to them and singer Johnny Wishbone’s guttural, rousing “I been working haaaard” amongst a yahooing crowd of impressed revellers and serious bootay-shakin’ never left my mind.
While a few tracks on Business touch on that flavor, such as Devil Child and I Don’t Think I Want You To Come Over Tonight, the rest of the offering is bourbon-splashed indie rock through and through. It’s kind of like The Black Keys meets The Killers, and the culmination is brilliant. In Love Letters there’s a little less of the swaggering blues influence, replaced by some honest, simple rock that rather than sounding like a blues track, retains the only its character. With whiskey-smoothed vocals and a laid back, melodic vibe, the track is going to be a radio favourite and is perfect for launching into the warmer months.
Maryanne is another perfectly constructed indie rock song. Johnny pines over a girl of the song’s title, despite her self-destruction, and incites her to invest in their love. This is where The Snowdroppers sneak up on you. Sure, they are entertaining, catchy, fun and proficient in their own style of music, but lyrically they are always bang on. Tales of hard luck and hard love disguised in something to get you moving and it’s a pairing I love.
Dead Frenchmen and Damn Arms (circa 2007) pulled this off wonderfully, although with wildly different musical styles. But their tales of chasing women, bad break ups, frustration with the status quo alongside awesome music really made it something you ended up investing in to some degree emotionally. And whether I realised it or not at the time, it’s the words as much as the music that I could lose myself in.
I think it’s an exciting time for this band and I think, also, an exciting time for this kind of music in Australia. There’s an innately raw and respected element to blues music and when it’s distilled via indie-rock or even pop, and done well, it can be really charming. On Business the heartbreak is vivid and palpable, and a long drink to the bottom of the bottle, but the music, like the rye, is top shelf.
Wishbone and his compadres have come a long way and yet again redefined their sound while staying true to the spirit of what endeared them to us the first time ground. It’s not a translation from genre to genre that is easy to make, but The Snowdroppers have done so with aplomb and sass.