I loved Harry Potter as a kid. Loved it. Got to high school and fell out of love with it as I grew up, but not before I finished the last of the books as they came out. But even a decade ago, when there was that three year gap between the fourth and fifth books, I started to find the fandom lame. Now, people my age still love and rage about it. I’ve been to a 21st birthday with a Harry Potter theme. Quidditch is now a proper sport with real human players*.
Adult sincerity for Harry Potter is a popular phenomenon that leaves me out, in the cold rain, alone from everybody else, my exclusion forcing me into an intellectual wasteland of introspection, the dissonance also making me re-evaluate my life values. I could go on about Harry Potter, but I’m here to talk about rock band The Frowning Clouds.
Here’s a riddle for ya… how is Geelong psychgaze like the Harry Potter fandom? Read Nick’s review of The Frowning Clouds’ new album Legalize Everything to find out!
The five fellas from down Geelong way turn out tunes firmly in the surf-shoegaze-psychedelic-indie-folk crossover sound that, to my mind, is quickly becoming just a tad tropey. Just like mentally-sound people over the age of 15 genuinely loving Harry Potter, so too does this product of our modern zeitgaze make me feel despondent. I’m clutching at straws trying to find the appeal in a musical style that sounds more like middle-class blandness than real innovation, which also rips pretty hard on an already hackneyed genre. I mean, the Madden Brothers, a sustainable definition of tripe, have tried to reinvent themselves by emulating this sound, for science’s sake.
Well despite my patrimonious ramblings, judging by the amount of local artists producing this sound, it seems pretty popular, so I’ll give this band a proper go.
As I’ve mentioned before, this band plays with a sound that features the convergence of indie, folk and surf, together with the smothering shoegaze/psychedelic buzz. My first thought listening to them was picturing their music video in my head: the five boys dressed in 1960s swimming trunks, are synchronously dancing the monkey (or something similar) in front of transposed image of a beach and eccentrically coloured surfboards.
The video would basically be that for three minutes, save for some kaleidoscopic effects, the image fractured like a fly’s eye and spinning as well as bulbous, fun text popping up to introduce the song. Also, the picture definition would be deliberately tuned down to match the postwar analogue aspects of the time period, cos, like, copying the past is cool man. Yo dude, check it out, everybody’s doing it!
The lads have recently put out a new album, Legalize Everything (what did I say about a trope?). In between the majority of the songs, which follow a formula, there are a few interesting turns that the band goes down. Radio Telescope is an ambient, instrumental piece, slightly spooky with its scraping whistling noises, Andean pan-flute cameos (an absolutely necessary thing) and the revolving fuzz rhythm that underpins the track.
Two tracks later, No Blues follows a country path, featuring a harmonica and piano that sits you down in a saloon, and another two tracks on, Somewhere Else introduces the slightest hint that math rock and electronica might’ve been on the radio when they recorded this particular song**. However, all these three songs are still heavily coated in the so-cool psychedelic, indie surf fuzz, as if the band is American cuisine that can’t let anything go without copious amounts of added sugar, salt and fat.
If you do enjoy this sort of radical, wavey grooves, then I guess you’d be well satisfied by The Frowning Clouds. This album does maintain a stylistic consistency across all the songs, and that to me is generally a good sign of a decent product. It works for AC/DC and look at them, they’re really popular in Latin America (and Legalize Everything is being released in Europe by a Spanish record label Saturno. Methinks they understand the lesson of AC/DC well).
Legalize Everything will be out on Thursday September 12th via Rice is Nice and whilst they do not currently have any tour dates happening, they’re sure to be soon what with their new album out and all – their Facebook is the best bet to catch any fresh updates.
* I used to have friends that lived in the Eastern Suburbs too
** Show me the radio station that plays Math Rock and I will forever be in your debt. And none of this Apples In Stereo bullshit either, I want some Tera Melos style eargasms – Alex