Review Summary: It's a dark night, and you'll need a few drinks to get you through to the morning.And if I'm fighting with anyone Jess, I'm glad that it's you
Because you sing my songs with more passion than I do
South East Facing Wall is an EP released by The Smith Street Band in late January, 2011. A raw, painfully personal record, helped even more by the low quality recording and strained vocals of Wil Wagner. Be it through the various crescendos, drunken reminiscing or ridiculous natures of some of the songs found here, this record contains a short, sharp, pleasing experience.
The Smith Street Band is a very strange case, in terms of both sound, and lyrical content. Whether it comes from Wil Wagner's anecdotes on scaring individuals on public transport, or reminiscing of inducing sleeping pills, most of the lyrical passages here give off the feeling of being genuine, not written for the general public, not written for the fangirls, not written because of the impending threat from the label. What you get is an outpouring of Wil's thoughts and feelings on his life and the things that it revolves around. This leaves the listener imagining a late night out, alone, watching the light from the ashtray fade and the cool breeze bringing a sobering chill, a scenario that is actually described from a variety of perspectives on the four songs.
I hope I scare people on public transport, no shoes, my eyes rolling back into my head
As far as the music is concerned, it is a top notch level. The drumming is appropriate, succinct and dynamic. Building from simple rock beats, to excellent use of cymbals, without inflecting too heavily on the music or taking away from the melodic, mellow feel that is required so desperately here. This is best demonstrated with the build up in My New Dress Up Shoes
where the crescendo from 3:00 onwards demonstrates the building power of the drums to the point where it overbears the vocals, adding a fantastic level to the composition. The elegant fills, whilst simplistic add another level to the canvas, another dimension to the depressed melody.
And in your mother's hatchback with the windows rolled down, my dear, you were a ***ing joy to be around,
Arriving at the guitars; the worn thing chords, the boosted, not distorted tones.The guitars stay very true to the overall theme and movement of the album, in a way that mirrors the drums, keeping very simple yet more emotional then fast, out of control solos, or complex riffs and interludes. The melodies make up for the lack of technical skill, yet do so without feeling worn or tired, repeated or generic. They have energy when it is required (I Hope I Scare People On Public Transport
), or a sadness to lean back on (My New Dress Up Shoes
). Like most of the music found here, the dynamic value of the guitars, bass and else, contribute a sense of perfection to the record. There is loudness, there is quietness, both of which have an audible difference. Unlike so much of the modern marketed music, what you are left with here is a defined sound, without being pretentious or over the top.
If you drive me home,
I would've sat with you by the fire until my eyes closed
As this review comes to a close and my eyes begin to to tire, it occurs to me that this record has the ability to be played again, again, and yet again without sounding to tired. It may be the appeal of a record that sounds so true to my home in Australia, or my dreams of wandering. What is fact is that this EP shows the development of The Smith Street Band's distinct sound and style.
Where I sit and I watch the heavy rain fall,
Yeah I sit and I watch Smith Street drown