Shuffle: Australia Part Three

In this (what was to be) final look at the music coming out of Australia I’m going to concentrate on The Ocean Party and the many offshoots from the and then finally I’ll take look at few other interesting things that have caught my attention. In the ten or so years that The Ocean Party were recording they made a lot of records, helped in no small part by having five (and later, six) songwriters in the band. They split in early 2019 after the tragic death of Zac Denton, the drummer and one of the songwriters (and brother of Lachlan – who we’ll hear more from later). He was just 24 and the last release was a posthumous EP of songs, ‘Nothing Grows‘ that Zac had been working on when he passed. Here’s the title track – it’s more subdued than is the norm for the band.

I started at the end of their run, so let’s go back and take a look at some key releases from their catalog. The 2013 release ‘Split‘ finds them in typically laid-back charming style, mixing introspective lyrics with effervescent guitars, typical of this is ‘Quarter Life Crisis‘.

For me their best work can be found on ‘Beauty Point’, ‘Social Clubs‘ and their final full length, ‘The Oddfellows’ Hall‘. And from that last album is ‘Rain on Tin‘ where they sound unmistakably Australian, exotic and mundane at the same time. I can hear echoes of The Go-Betweens in this one.

Zac Denton along with his brother Lachlan and Liam Halliwell were also in the six-piece Ciggie Witch. They also left behind a couple of fo really good albums, ‘Classic Connection‘ and ‘Mad Music‘ both contain excellent songwriting and performances with a more expansive sound than The Ocean Party. Here’s ‘Shadow‘ from ‘Mad Music

Zac’s brother Lachlan released a touching tribute, his release with Studio Magic was a meditation on the loss, and though suffused with the sadness of loss it finds ways of dealing with grief and it is eventually an uplifting listen.

Lachlan continues to make music – the album ‘Two Months in Ben Woolleys Room‘ contains lear and concise songs, played simply, with even a cover of The Go-Betweens’ ‘Boundary Rider‘. There are not a lot of videos available but ‘The productivity of These‘ is available and the line ‘You’re the only one who can stop me from drowning in myself tonight‘ is a killer.

The productivity of these Australians is prodigious. Lachlan has a third or maybe a fourth collaboration with Emma Russack ready to drop in October. Again there’s a lot of charm in these collaborations and to prove it, listen to ‘Love for Myself‘.

Aside from solo work and the collaborations with Russack, Lachlan Denton also finds time for Pop Filter. Pop Filter are most of The Ocean Party (of course without Zac Denton) along with Nick Kearton of Cool Sounds. Their latest record ‘Donkey Gully Road‘ has quickly become a household favourite. Videos aren’t easy to find – I think they’re far too busy making music to bother with them normally. Luckily there is one for ‘Laughing Falling‘.

Once again this column is turning out to be much longer than I envisaged when I started. There’s still a lot to get through. Allied to both The Ocean Party and Ciggie Witch, is Snowy Band the new project from Liam “Snowy” Halliwell. It’s not a million miles away from the other bands he’s been in. The quality is similar and the track below ‘Love You to Death‘ is from their first record ‘Audio Commentary‘.

Finally, before we move onto other areas, there is a new release from Lachlan & Snowy ‘Phone It In‘ as well as a new Snowy Band record, ‘Alternate Endings‘, this one also featuring (as the others have) Emma Russack. And as we haven’t really mentioned Emma all that much we’ll finish this chapter with her. She’s released six albums under her name and had an almost moment when her song ‘All My Dreaming‘ was featured in an episode of ‘The Walking Dead‘. Here’s something really beautiful: ‘You Shouldn’t’. Some of you will be thinking I kept the best for last.

Next time I promise I’ll complete this, I mean how many more bands can there be?

About David Cowling 135 Articles
Punk rock, Go-Betweens, REM, Replacments, Husker Du, Minutemen, Will Oldham, Smog, Whiskeytown, Ass Ponys but probably most of all Howe Gelb, led me on this journey.

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