The Smith Street Band - Sunshine & Technology
January 21st 2013 05:40
Hype. In music, a lot of bands get thrown into the spotlight of being proverbial next big thing. Websites, fanzines, street presses and radio fawn all over these acts like they are the new messiahs of rock n' roll. They sing their praises and talk these bands up so much that not only do the average punter believes in the hype, but so do the band. The end result is once these flavours of the year move on from the limelight, the reality becomes all to clear like a hangover the next day. They were shit. (Cue what Tame Impala will experience in 2013. Cue Jet circa 2007. Cue Wolfmother. Cue all the bands Triple J and Faster Louder promote to the hills to only dismiss the next year)
In 2012 I heard a lot of noise about a band from Melbourne, The Smith Street Band (a lot of it via social media). I held off from getting sucked into the hype because, with the exception of maybe a handful of bands (some which have now become my favourite acts like The Gaslight Anthem and Against Me) I was worried they would be nothing but less than ordinary. By about September I relented and had a listen to this record via Spotify. I didn't hate it but I didn't have it on repeat listens and would every now again give it a spin usually while distracted with work or other things. Then finally while I was overseas in America, on route to Mexico, I actually sat and listened to the record. I found myself enjoying it. I found myself singing along in the days that followed with a different song getting stuck in my head each day. I then saw Wil Wagner perform solo opening for Joey Cape from Lagwagon and was impressed. I saw the band perform a week later and was blown away by the performance and the crowd that came early to see them play. I bought the record and have been hooked ever since.
What I love about this record is the honest in the songs. Wil Wagner is an amazing songwriter and such talent and wisdom for a guy who is only in his early twenties. His songs about life and experiences resonate with many people who live in the inner suburbs of any suburban city of Australia. The tales of the young and confused. The struggling and the drunks. It's a life I've lived and a life millions can relate to. It's easy for me to compare them to a young Against Me and Wil as a young Laura Jane Grace. He is poet and a exceptional talent. This record is an incredible testament to these talents.
The songs are simple and catchy. The title track kicks of this record and is instantly likable. The second track 'I Can't Feel My Face' is one of the albums highlights and great look into a drug infused situation with credible realizations. 'I Want Friends' is the typical refusal to grow up into responsibilities and fighting to live life free. 'Whats Changed' opens with the great lyric "The hole in the wall reminds me you have to go.....and fix them" and looks at a person who despite claims to the contrary, doesn't really change at all. The other standout track on the album 'Young Drunk' has all the making of a crowd favourite and song that resonates with kids today and the album closer 'Don't Mention The War' is a solo track that is full of melancholy and reflection and ties up the album nicely.
I wish I wasn't so cynical and listened to the hype and I have to thank Jen Buxton's constant praise of the band on twitter to finally give in and listen to the record and as a result, one of my favourite local releases of the year. This is a band to look out for.
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