The Smith Street Band
Sunshine & Technology
10 Track, LP (2012, Poison City)
Related: Smith Street Band, The Smith Street Band, Wil Wagner.
Smith Street is one of Melbourne's un-lovelier boulevards. No Paul Kelly songs list its rough-edged charms, and Dame Edna never bothers to mock it. But it’s a pretty important place, both as a gritty touchstone of what the inner city used to be, and as a major artery through the adjoining hipster enclaves of Fitzroy and Collingwood.
Aside from their moniker, The Smith Street Band (yes, Wil Wagner is still in there but no longer with his name up front, which seems a sensible move for a long-term outfit) don't overtly celebrate the place much here, although the opening title track does toss in a reference to the Hoddle Street commission flats.
Much gigging and high-profile supports have seen the band refine their sound, ending up with a kinda Celtic-y rock thing, which the press release refers to as “folk punk.” You may think it sounds a bit like The Living End and I don’t think the band would deny that, though there’s more going on here than just that. It’s a generally positive and upbeat sound without coming across as preachy, and this album will certainly be a keeper for the warmer months.
There’s an elegant wistfulness in the (deliberately?) cracked vocals of the closing track ‘Don’t Mention the War’, which is a gentle downer to end on. This is beery, rollicking music for the most part, and it is perhaps ironic that a band which explicitly references the drab inner city make music like this. Music that would receive a rapturous welcome at the rural racetracks and footy ovals that form the triple j live tour circuit, let alone the stages of next summer’s festivals – where these guys are sure to be fixtures.
by Trevor Block