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A Life in Stages

Elbury – A Life in Stages (2021, LP)

Presenting our new album! This latest work, a follow-up to 2017’s Haunting Ground, originally carried the working title “the 2019 LP”, which was later replaced by the “the 2020 LP” and, eventually, “the 2021 LP”. Finally, with two months left in 2021, we agreed on a title for this super-extended, pandemic-disrupted, always-second-guessing, second album project – “A Life in Stages”.

Have a listen now on Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp and most major platforms.

Elbury is a different band to the group that produced Haunting Ground, both in membership (Brooke joined on keys and transformed the band just in time for the 2017 album launch) and in creative process. Involvement in a songwriting club (at least for Edward’s output) meant that there were many more songs (or fragments) to choose from, when putting the track list together, and a more rapid approach to song writing has resulted in lyrical content that is more ambiguous, more economical and more open to interpretation. Add to this strong contributions from Michael (Popular Hero), Brooke (Rose and Red Arrow) and Luke (Violet Town), and the result is a more diverse album than our previous release. The fifth voice – Tam’s light and pure harmony – is woven into most tracks on the album, and provides long-time listeners with a link back to some of Haunting Ground’s finest moments.

A theme to unite the work of multiple songwriters can be elusive but, ultimately, the idea of passing years, and recalling specific times in our lives, emerged as a common thread and was captured succinctly in a line from Passport – “a life in stages”. Whether it’s reflecting on a past love (Rose, Violet Town), yearning for a more innocent time (Popular Hero, Hollow, Sugar) or dreaming of eternal youth (Pickle),
the songs capture the joy, grief and loss we can feel so strongly for times gone by, and for our former selves.

Lead single – Whispers – was completed early in the project and launched in December 2019. It went on to claim a surprise bronze medal placing in the 4ZZZ Hot 100 for 2020. The pre-COVID Whispers launch show at the Paddo Substation feels like another lifetime… or maybe just a different stage.

So, we present our latest work, but these are not new songs for us anymore, and the desire to get on with the next evolution, and get started on new recordings, is a strong pull. Talk again soon.

Album Review – Measure Once, Cut Twice (Treehouse Letters)

“Measure Once, Cut Twice” is the debut album from Brisbane piano-guitar duo, Treehouse Letters. Ten tracks of beauty, sadness, hope and yearning; the mostly unadorned guitar-piano arrangements leave these feelings unmuted and close to the surface.

Treehouse Letters is Dominic Pinzone (guitar and vocals) and Ethan Butler (piano and vocals). A dig through Spotify reveals a 2019 self-titled EP, and the band have released two advance tracks from the album – Wake Up Mary in August and Fall to the Ground in November, via a delightful hand-drawn animated music video.

This is a great place to start – Fall to the Ground opens the album, perfectly expressing a complex “resigned-but-still-hopeful-sadness” in the opening piano phrase. The band claim Bob Dylan and Paul Kelly as influences but, for me, the shape of the verse melodies and the richness of the lead vocal bring Elton John to mind, in the best way. Lyrically ambiguous but allusions to death and burial bring a slight chill, as the song reveals itself. These themes reappear, and more overtly, later in the album (the beautifully harmonised, spiritual-tinged Be Here Now) but whether death is the literal subject or a metaphor is a puzzle I haven’t cracked yet (nor the meaning of the album title, for that matter).

I’m a bit obsessed with the second spot in a track listing – the position of choice for so many sleeper hits (Counting Crows – Omaha, R.E.M. – Try Not to Breathe, Radiohead – The Bends… I could go on.). Which is why a slow-burn piano instrumental (Is Your Affliction Dear to You?) is such a brave and interesting choice here. Taking the yearning of the first track to deeper levels, it becomes an overture for the album – almost a reset after the first track, allowing the listener a chance to get lost in reflection and the mental images that are conjured up (for me – a lazy afternoon, sunshine, nothing is wrong but vague dissatisfaction hangs).

Throughout the album, beautifully crafted light jazz piano interludes punctuate verses and choruses, and this is a real strength of the arrangements – lightening up the mood at times, where the song content goes into heavier or more thoughtful territory. It’s a great balancing act – an emotional push-and-pull; light and shade that extends my appetite for the music. See Track 3 (Lovely) for a case in point but there are lots of great examples.

In the fairly infrequent moments when there is obvious use of layering, this is again thoughtfully and effectively done (Lovely – again – and Track 8 How Do You Like It? are good examples). I’m torn on this – I would like to hear more layers of voices and instruments and a “bigger” sound but the simple arrangement is central to what works about the album. Another balancing act, and again they have struck a good mix.

Other quick shout-outs for lead single Wake Up Mary, with beautiful guest vocals from Brisbane singer Ebony Walker and country stomper Silver Town – probably my favourite but that’s a hard call. It’s got a great energy!

“Measure One, Cut Twice” lands Feb 20 on streaming platforms and you can (and should!) pre-save it now. Have a listen and look out for a show – Treehouse Letters are well worth a look.

Lucid Safari @ Collies & Co. 30/10/2021

Collies and Co. is a café in Samford Village (with resident Border Collie and puppies) who recently hosted a morning of original live music, as part of the Moreton Bay Live and Local project. We were lucky enough to catch Lucid Safari, a new reggae-rock project fronted by Brisbane musician Daniel J. Lewis.

Let’s start with the fourth song – Lady – which lands November 18 (pre-save now!) and is a good showcase of the genre-mix the guys have got going on. Here is my internal dialogue – “it is definitely reggae, unmistakably, but am I hearing hints of Pink Floyd (Live at Pompeii era)?? Hold that thought – is it Ocean Alley? Sticky Fingers?” It’s a great combination of all these things – as advertised, Lucid Safari deliver a costal-reggae-vibe that is all their own.

Till the End takes the second spot on the set list delivering a smooth, driving reggae feel and I am there with them – cruising in a top-down convertible! Flickering Lights and Liquid Dreams roll into each other with Dan and guitarist Braeden Hall (who joined the band two days prior – you wouldn’t know it!) stacking the Stratocaster tones, as they wrap rhythm and counter-melody around the classic off-beat grooves. Drummer DJ brings home Liquid Dreams with an all-out punk beat and, before I know it, we’re into a slick cover of Arctic Monkeys’ Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? (with a reggae twist).

Later in the set, Always On My Mind, takes a slower approach before Sunshine and Fever Dream pick it up again. By now, I’m settled in – no more analysis and comparison – just enjoying the Lucid Safari show (but maybe some solid riff passages à la Osaka Punch through this section??).

I caught up with frontman Dan after the set and realised what I’d just heard was his heart and soul – the sound he wants to be known for. Following an epiphany in the spring of 2019, Dan honed in on this idea.  He wrote set-opener – Walking Free – the very next day (and the rest is history!).

Today at Collies and Co. Dan and Braeden are joined by DJ and bass man Shane Kumar (also a new arrival). DJ keeps it impeccably “in the pocket” and Shane reinforces the low-end with confident, inventive bass lines, beautifully locked into the rhythm.

Their penultimate song is a confident cover of Ocean Alley’s Confidence, before original tune Delirium – the title track of their forthcoming EP (coming early ’22).

In between each song Dan keeps you engaged; Shane and DJ always in the pocket (oh I already mentioned that, well damn it needs to be said again) and Braeden only two days old in the Lucid Safari world; this is obviously a well-oiled machine and well worth a place on your list of local bands to see. Their website proclaims “bringing good vibes, immersive grooves and catchy hooks, Lucid Safari has the crowd in-step to their offbeat flow” and we can heartily endorse this message.

Passport!

As we enter the home stretch on this super-extended, pandemic-disrupted, always-second-guessing, second album project, the time has come to release Passport into the wild. Passport was the last song written for the album, sneaking onto the track listing when it was still incomplete, but with enough promise to win a spot.

Lyrically ambiguous but evoking a feeling of being lost in your old haunts, unable to find your way back home. In the end, Passport is about trying to make a journey back to somewhere in the past – but that could be a place, a time in your life, a state of mind. Elbury bassist and film-enthusiast, Luke, took up the task of bringing these feelings to the screen, and put together a music video through the course of 2021.

The video presents a simple trip on a suburban train as a metaphor for a more personal or spiritual journey, with the protagonist seemingly contemplating some other destination. Through dream-like sequences, the faces of colourful personalities in our Brisbane communities blend in and out. They progress through their personal vignette – most of which were improvised – and disappear from view.

The idea was to capture their reactions, in reflective moments, spurred on by either hearing the song or having it explained to them. Each person was invited to design their own moment, and we were looking more for the instant emotional impact than a pre-planned shot.

Armed with a handy camera to truly capture the spontaneity of every person’s “moment”, we bore witness to the possibility of all being included on that journey of reflection.

Heroes & Villains is out now!

Another album, another beautiful video by Patrick Delaney! This time around, he has helped us bring our vintage-love-song-soft-rock-slow-dance number, Heroes & Villains, to life! Between the Morningside School of Arts and the bedroom and bathroom at Mike’s place, we captured the nerves, pitfalls and triumphs of a school dance and, as an added bonus, the band got to play on a stage under lights for the first time since before the pandemic!

Heroes & Villains stars Tahlia Downs and Daniel Hutton and they both worked perfectly in the roles! Direction and concept development by Patrick Delaney. Music by Elbs.

Featured post

“Whispers” takes #3 in the 4ZZZ Hot 100!!

A massive shock for the crew early in the evening on New Years Day – “Whispers” had landed the #3 spot in the 2020 4ZZZ Hot 100! Massive thanks to all the Zed crew who supported our 2020 efforts, especially Simon at Zedition, the OZONE team and Tina at Goldilocks Folk. We’ve never actually had a song that was eligible for voting, let alone making the countdown, let alone making the Top 3! Huge thanks also to everyone who took the time to throw a vote our way.

Have a listen to “Whispers” (and its humble B-side “Half the Night”) at elbury.bandcamp.com and see what all the fuss is about 😉

New music soon!!

“Whispers” launch!

Our launch show for “Whispers” at the Paddo Substation was a great night – big thanks to Treehouse Letters for bringing the cool tunes and the good vibes, and everyone who made it along. We were overflowing out into the footpath, which was a great feeling! Check out some snaps from the night below, including original artwork on the CDs by David Turner (@slowdukespress).

And make sure you give the tracks a listen on Triple J Unearthed below (and rate, and review!).

Whispers
https://www.triplejunearthed.com/embed/8846486

Half the Night

New single “Whispers” and video!

Our new single “Whispers” (and a B-side) is almost set to be launched into the world… Partake of the grand unveiling on Saturday 7 December at the Paddington Tramways Substation, good sir! Indubitably, the premiere occasion on a great many social calendars this spring season! Details here… Tickets here

But how can we launch a killr single without a killr video?? We can’t. So, early in November, we got together with film students Brendan and Sterling for a one-day shoot to bring Whispers to the screen! Check the photos below – between our DIY approach to filming a moving car (without leaving the garage) and some extremely sketchy acting by the band, an interesting outcome is all but assured!

See you Dec 7!

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