The Vine album review: The John Steel Singers – ‘Tangalooma’, November 2010

An album review for The Vine. Excerpt below.

The John Steel SingersTangalooma

Less a particular colour than a whole rainbow, Tangalooma is the debut album from Brisbane six-piece The John Steel Singers, whose invigorating take on indie pop is distinguished by their ample use of brass instruments. But despite their pomp and bluster, it’s the subtleties that JSS inject into their sound which makesTangalooma a truly great record – and importantly, not just a ‘great debut’.

Check out the banjo counter-melody in ‘Once I’. The whirligig of subtle guitar effects that close out ‘Dying Tree’, and then lead into the grinding bassline of ‘Rainbow Kraut’. The unexpected percussion throughout ‘Toes And Fingers’, which sounds like drummer Ross Chandler is tapping on glasses filled with different water levels. Chandler is an integral force within the band, and not for the obvious reason that he provides the backbeat: his mind seems to work unlike the average drummer, seemingly obsessed as it is with eschewing the obvious in favour of the peculiar. His stuttering beat ushers in ‘Masochist’, while Pete Bernoth’s trombone and Damien Hammond’s bass place emphasis on a three-note flourish. Chandler isn’t beyond playing it straight, though, as in ‘You’ve Got Nothing To Be Proud Of’, a bass-heavy pop jam that sounds unlike anything the band have done before. Bernoth’s trombone and Scott Bromiley’s trumpet team-ups could easily be shrugged off as a gimmick if they weren’t interwoven into each track’s narrative, but they compute. Take, for instance, the assured trombone tones of ‘Cause Of Self’, which lends the song a regal, military vibe. (It reminds me of the Streets level in GoldenEye 007, which is awesome.)

Full album review on The Vine. More of The John Steel Singers on MySpace. The music video for their song ‘Overpass‘ is embedded below.

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