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PREMIERE: Could this be a perfect debut? Melbourne’s Barcelos hit an easy 5 out of 5 with Blairgowrie

As a fresh-faced band from Melbourne on the verge of releasing their debut track, Barcelos have little history to their name as yet. However, we do know that there are five members who formed the band five years ago. Something about this tenuous reoccurrence of the number five struck me.

Suspend disbelief for just one second and you might be interested to know that according to numerology, five is the most dynamic and energetic of numbers. Whether by the virtue of the number or otherwise, Barcelos undoubtedly embody these features, as demonstrated by their debut release Blairgowrie.

barcelos blairgowrie

A high-strung rock track wrapped in an indie exterior, Blairgowrie represents one of the best debut singles of the last six months from Melbourne’s Barcelos.

I’m slightly loath to borrow any more from my limited research into numerology, but ‘unpredictable’ and ‘always in motion’ are uncannily fitting for Blairgowrie.

In Barcelos’ own words, the song “captures their unique brand of indie-rock”, although that now somewhat maligned term only touches the sides. Deliberate and punchy, there is something more dreamy and doom laden underlying the more familiar indie and rock edges.

Opening with a guitar line almost reminiscent of vintage U2 in it’s skittering melody, a slower riff and a growing ambience makes the whole thing more ethereal and bleaker than originally promised.

With it’s genesis in escape from bad crowds and bad habits, the name Blairgowrie (referencing the Victorian seaside town) suggests a sunny kind of retreat, but it seems that vocalist James Medley’s internal brooding won out in it’s expression.

Recorded between studios and bedrooms, the track was jammed out on location as per it’s namesake. According to Medley:

“I guess we wrote the song during a rather eye opening and destructive part of my life. I was an insomniac. Lost and uncertain, always drinking too much and hanging with the wrong crowd.”

Although set down in the DIY school of recording, Blairgowrie received it’s effective polish from Joseph Carra (King Gizzard, Courtney Barnett) at Crystal Mastering.

The dreamy vocal melodies and sparse percussion are cut through with heavy, aggressive guitars. Giving way to a stomping chorus, the vocals rip through the mix with rough disdain.

With the briefest of pauses amongst phrases cut short and clean, the mood of the song shifts in a schizophrenic manner. Precise and deliberate despite the fluidity of their writing, it’s an interesting touch to throw you off balance.

As a debut single, Blairgowrie places Barcelos as a band far beyond their baby steps. Traversing such a geography of instrumentation and influence, and doing so with such certainty and precision, is hardly child’s play.

With another single to be released later this year and the promise of live shows on the cards, I wouldn’t bother with any more numerology or horoscopes. Peering into the mystical future, my Magic 8 Ball already told me “outlook good”.

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January 20, 2017