Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Late Arvo Sons album review

Letters From Another Alphabet
Up Yours Records

These guys have been gigging around a heap over the last year or so and it’s been a treat to see them build on a little cache of great songs—canning some, keeping others, growing, polishing. Better still, Late Arvo Sons have had the common decency and sense to get an album out quick-sticks and keep the momentum up. Sure, to do so they’ve virtually had to do it themselves but, with the help of a few friends and plenty of heart, they’ve punched out a ripper of debut.

The biggest difference between Late Arvo Sons’ garage pub-thrash and so many others in town is that vocalist Mark Lording can actually sing. Think about it. There’s nothing flashy here, just honest Australian rock tunes, recorded live and mixed by Melbourne DIY guru and genius type Mikey Young (ECSR, Ooga Boogas etc...). Lording’s vocals steady the raucousness of the band, and while he’s no Frank Sinatra or Antony Hegarty, his simple lyrics sung with authentic gravel add integrity to the sound—he actually brings it from his internals and it shows.

Delicate moments fit with quicker surf tunes and classic pub rock well. What’s come to be the signature opener ‘Skin’ is about as catchy as it gets with call and response style screeching between Lording and guitarist Kent Thomas. Instrumental ‘Buckley’s Hope’ opens things out a bit, meandering ‘Make the Drop’ allows them to cut loose, while the up-tempo closer ‘Northern Nightmare’ steals it.

If Late Arvo Sons’ diversification thus-far is anything to go by, we can expect much bigger things for these four in the future. Tristan Ceddia’s pastel sharky artwork is living proof that a no-budget record need not be packaged shabbily, and the songs here lay testament to the band’s undeniable song writing and aesthetic appreciation. While some bucks and flash recording gear may well thicken up the sound a bit for the next one, Letters From Another Alphabet is a worthwhile sample of solid unsung, unsigned local goodness.

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