If you’re from any other state capital, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the phrase “It’s better in Melbourne”. This phrase applies to a whole range of things, from food to coffee to transportation to nightlife to the price of rent, but most pertinently to this blog, these words are so often quoted regarding the music scene*. In my humble opinion, the strongest contender for any truth to the theory is the prolific and extensive psychedelic noise-rock scene down south – but that might just be because I don’t get AFL.
Every city has an awesome shoegaze mascot – Sydney’s got The Laurels, Brizzy’s got Roku Music, but Melbourne seems to have a whole host of bands that are at once reimagining and recreating the sounds of the miserable, pre-grunge/post-punk of the early 1990’s. Contrast, Flyying Colours, Lunaire, Miniatures, The Citradels, Lowtide and Luna Ghost seem like they should all be part of some ridiculous reality TV series run by Pitchfork where they all live in a house together, compete in guitar pedal and acid dropping challenges until the announced winner gets signed to Kevin Shields’ record label and are given thirty grand to cure their tinnitus.
Do you remember our ghost story about Melbourne shoegaze band Luna Ghost? They’re back in our ears with their self-titled EP and its perfect.
But enough bullshit – it’s time to start talking about a band. You might have guessed by the title of this article that you were gonna read some words on the last band on that (short and very incomplete) list. Luna Ghost recently released a self titled EP made up of five evolving, distant, mind altering tracks, which I bloody well love. The Luna Ghost EP was foreshadowed by the release of their single The Sea – a haunting six and a half minute odyssey through asynchronous kick drums, killer fuzz solos and beautifully inaudible lyrics that at times felt more post-punk than anything else. If you enjoyed any musical aspect of the single, then buckle up for an intense trip through another four tracks of nutso shoegazing bullshit, because it’s one any self respecting psych fan shouldn’t miss.
Future End sounds like classic modern noise-rock – you can see the pedal stomps and the ride cymbal transitions a mile off – the structure and texture music being many times more predictable and familiar than the lyrics. The Big Ride Out continues the modern feel with a polished reverse guitar and dreamy whisper breakdown that actually feels a whole lot like the opening track on that Laurels album, and really gives us the opportunity to hear the production side of the band’s brains at work.
Switch On verges on the understandable and structured – I even think I managed to make out some of the lyrics on this one. The fact that there’s a bit more loud-soft dynamic on this one makes it okay for the band to go a bit more nuts on the layering and the effects, and the final chorus on Switch On is one of the rare times that a modulation pedal sounds good in conjunction with shoegaze.
While Switch On might just be the highlight of the EP, don’t turn the dial before hearing the epic, stomach rumbling closer In The Shadows Of Ghosts. Simple, sliding octave guitar chords and a rumbling breakdown that really opens your eyes to the low end of the drone spectrum, Ghosts is an album closer worthy of my ex-wife – vacating suddenly, without warning or closure, leaving you confused and wanting more.
In conclusion – well done Melbourne noise scene. Guitars might not be cool again yet, but if we keep trying, us weird kids in Sydney might manage to churn out something at least half as good as Luna Ghost one day. April 19th will see the band play at something called Block Aid, alongside the ever disparaging Kujo Kings, Klara Zubonja and more at The Horn Of Plenty.
*It is worth noting that the phrase is never used to describe the weather.
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