Tuesday, July 11th, 2006
Devil Was In My Yard
Three years on from the release of their debut album Lovers, Perth, Australia’s Sleepy Jackson return on July 25 with their new record Personality (One Was A Spider One Was A Bird). Or if you live in Australia, you’ve been enjoying this album since its release on the first of the month.
If you thought Lovers was lush, you haven’t heard anything else. While the debut was undoubtedly indebted to the Beatles and Beach Boys in terms of sonic ambition, it also had a ragged, eccentric streak through it (an impression definitely reinforced by their chaotic, eardrum-bursting live shows of the era). Well in the interim, someone must have prescribed songwriter/svengali Luke Steele some Focusin because that manic energy has been channeled… into even more lush, orchestral sonic ambition. Personality is a giant, sparkling monument of pop grandeur – the cover art is not fooling around.
While there is much to like about Personality, not least of all the sheer audaciousness of Steele’s vision, I have to admit I miss the countryish tinges on Lovers that made songs like “Miniskirt” and “Old Dirt Farmer” such joys. Instead, they’ve traded the twang for a more soul/gospel influence – more grooves, falsetto vocals, smoother production. The spirituality is also reflected in the lyrical content – there’s a running theme of God, the Devil and the places they dwell. Perhaps what I find most interesting is that for a record that is so rich and melodic, the hooks on Personality seem quite subtle and overall it seems to be more of a grower than you’d expect it to be. I’d attribute this as much to the production as anything else – there’s simply so much going on aurally that it’s easy to be overwhelmed. But once you find stable footing in facing the onslaught of voices, strings and sound, it’s a treat.
The Times profiles Luke Steele, who talks to X-Press Online about the agonies of creating Personality, The West Australian about his inspirations. Drummer Malcom Clarke also handles som press duties in talking to Perth Music about the new record.
The Sleepy Jackson have a few live dates in America for the end of July, but with only three shows in New York and Los Angeles, it’s little more than a press junket. Hopefully they will return for a proper tour before too long and hopefully Steele leaves his medication at home – they were insane opening for My Morning Jacket way back in Septebmer 2003. And while their main website is under construction, go here for news and info.
Stream: The Sleepy Jackson – “God Lead Your Soul” (ASX)
Stream: The Sleepy Jackson – “Devil Was In My Yard” (ASX)
Video: The Sleepy Jackson – “God Lead Your Soul” (YouTube)
MySpace: The Sleepy Jackson
One of the bands The Sleepy Jackson get compared to are The Flaming Lips, though that’s not a comparison Steele particularly appreciates (Quoth Steele: “Don’t know about the new Flaming Lips record. There’s no good songs on there”). Guitar Player talks to Steve Drozd, the guy who used to be the Lips’ drummer and was one of the best in the biz, but also now handles the lion’s share of guitar duties on Lips records. It’s an interesting piece since most press talks to Wayne Coyne about the spectacle and overshadows the musicianship aspect of the Lips. The Big Takeover has also finished off their interview with the other Flaming Lip who is not Wayne Coyne, Michael Ivins. I linked part one a while back – here’s two and three.
The act just below the Lips on day one of the V Festival at Olympic Island on September 9, Gnarls Barkley, will be in town one month prior on August 9 for a gig at the Kool Haus. Tickets go on sale Friday for $31.25 so if value is of any issue to you, you might as well just shell out the extra $16 and see the other dozen-plus bands on the V Fest bill. Plus you get a ferry ride. Which is like a pony ride, but on a boat.
From The Rich Girls Are Weeping comes the perplexing news that Shearwater is no longer on the Misra roster? Like one of the commenters points out, I have no idea what being dropped from an indie label entails, but the timing seems strange since Shearwater have just released the best record of their career and certainly one of the best of the year. The New York Times profiled the band and gave their recent NYC show a glowing review – GoodHodgkins is also spreading the Shearwater love. Make sure you come out and see them open for Magnolia Electric Co at Lee’s Palace on September 12. Update: Rumours, innuendo, gotta love the internet. For the record, Shearwater are still at home on Misra records. Now go buy Palo Santo.
np – Ladyhawk / Ladyhawk