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Megastick Fanfare - GritAglow

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Sydney experimentalists Megastick Fanfare have been working on their debut album Grit Aglow for the best part of four years since first venturing into the world of music at a Sydney University band competition. Like many other bands of the same ilk, the five piece released a number of singles alongside a split 7” inch record with fellow Sydneysiders kyü entitled Brain Tooth amongst relentless gigging in their home city and more sparsely, interstate. After playing alongside the likes of The Middle East, Cloud Control and Leader Cheetah and with appearances at the Come Together, Peat’s Ridge and Parklife festivals under their belt, 2011 marks the culmination of Megastick Fanfare’s hard work with the release of Grit Aglow.

The word “experimental” certainly sums up the majority of Grit Aglow’s make-up, as the songs flow statically and sporadically along with a surprising level of class, given the somewhat lo-fi conditions the album was created amongst. Produced by Frey Lindsay and the band themselves in their own rehearsal space, Grit Aglow marks another credit for Jonathan Boulet, this time in the mixing department. His influence in the Sydney indie scene is markedly growing, and he certainly has carved his name into a lot of great experimental rock sounds coming out of the city in recent times, a glowing reflection on his own ability. The production side of things here is often quite lush, with flavours of guitar, synth and on occasion, warm brass fermenting above a percussive-heavy backbeat that beautifully juxtaposes the raw elements of the band’s sound with its clearer components.

June Strangelets is a great example of this; it begins almost in the ilk of early Dappled Cities or Faker recordings, then twists and turns with a bubbling, pitch shifting synth line that separates the refined from its opposite, all accompanied by a breezy melody that really encapsulates a lot of what Megastick Fanfare are trying to achieve on Grit Aglow. That is, make the listener inclusive while making music which can at times be considered exclusive. Other inviting moments, such as Teething and Do What You Like, demonstrate the band’s willingness to make enjoyable music that very much encapsulates the jungle-like soundscapes surfacing heavily amongst Australian acts at present. The former has a lot going on, what with its glitch-laden electronics, layered tribal percussion and constant vocal shrieks, which all make for an insightful listen. The combination of these tracks with songs like Good Øer and Pow – both of which use stranger keyboard lines to create their melody – allow the band to push its musical boundaries whilst remaining firmly within the realms of making music that is listenable.

In fact, upon listening to the album a number of times, you do begin to feel more at ease with the soundscapes on offer throughout Grit Aglow, as the immediacy of its weirdness and oblique nature starts to become more normal and easy to consume once those barriers are broken down. This is a credit to Megastick Fanfare, who have found a way to make music that draws the best elements from traditional pop sounds and genuinely experiment with them. We can now add these guys to a growing tribe of Australian underground musicians willing to defy genres in order to stand out from their peers.

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