It is quite something to experience a bands live show before actually hearing their recorded works. Often, after witnessing the full effect of the band in action, the recordings will seem a bit less energetic, less inspired, and less passionate. Although this is exactly what did happen to me after I was witness to the Dappled Cities Fly (yeah, its a mouthful) live experience at the Falls Festival over new years, the album does not fail to deliver. The (minor) lack of intense energy to be found in their flawless live shows is made up for by the proficient songwriting on the album, and the general message given across by the sounds created by the band.
Unless you are a rather avid follower of Australias Indie scene, it is doubtful that you have ever heard of this band, let alone heard their music. Although they have been around, situated on Sydney's north shore, since they were teenagers in school, they are only now starting to make their rise on the Australia festival circuit. Last year the band performed at the 'Come Together' Festival, and also at the 'Falls Festival' alongside bands such as the Dandy Warhols, the Shins, and the Zutons. They have recently returned from their first world tour, after doing shows in London, LA, New York, and at South by Southwest Festival for the first time. Since then they have completed Australian tours with both Gerling and Youth Group, and have now returned to LA to complete the recording of their second album.
But I hear you ask, what of the music?
There are many bands that DCF draw influence from that will make heads turn. Pavement. The Flaming Lips. Television. Sonic Youth. Built To Spill. Grandaddy. Similarities to these groups can be found at every turn. In the liner notes of the album case, it gives reference to 'Coyne' in the thank you section, which one can safely assume to be Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne, seeing as the vocals on this debut album make good use of a very tasteful falsetto, in the same vein as his vocal styling. Technicality is not the name of the game here. Simple, yet intricate and beautiful melodies are plentiful, usually provided by the dual guitars and dual vocals of frontmen Tim Derricourt and Dave Rennick. The two share singing duties, and do so wonderfully, unlike some bands nowadays. The vocals are generally quite high pitched. They range from a wailing, yet very tasteful falsetto as said previously, to sublime clean singing voices, all the while enticing the listener into a very relaxed state of mind. The two harmonise brilliantly, and this is evident on such tracks as Peach, As I Lay Dying, and Die In Your Eyes.
The lyrics are another very strong aspect of the songwriting. They are on the whole, cleverly written with a strong sense of feeling and wit, and pronounced, they do well to enhance the listeners ability to relate to the signer and the band. The two singers, Derricourt and Rennick, share lyrical duties as well as the vocal duties.
The guitar parts stand out more than anything else. Frequently, two clean parts intertwine over each other to create some of the most beautiful melodies one could care to find. The bass and drums, played by Alex Moore and Hugh Boyce respectively, are often very subtle in the way that they complement the guitar parts, yet the sound is still very pronounced. They do have their standout moments of course. The bass on Cream and States is very inventive, as well as the drum parts in both of those songs and Make You Happy.
The songs all have the same sort of feel going for them, which is very hard to describe. When I saw them live, before hearing anything by them, my immediate reaction was to think of The Flaming Lips, a favourite band of mine for some time. Yet their recorded material is layered to the degree where each time I listen, I find more subtleties I hadn't realised previously, similar to Pavement. These come mainly in various synth recordings and samples courtesy of Dave and his mini-keyboard/synth doo-wacky.
The overall sound of the album is somewhat 'jangly' for lack of a better word. The guitar tone is jangly, and is very similar on most tracks. This sound is best shown on fan favourite Cream, the loudest song on the album, which implements frenzied drumming and guitar to accompany Dave’s softly sung lyrics, for instance:
"Is it the night…that makes the day seem bright…
"Is it just a fresh bulimics thoughts of cream…
There is a certain atmospheric quality to the music, created by the delay used on the guitars. A prime example would be League of German Girls, a very repetitive, yet epic track, building up to a mighty crescendo. The repeating snare rhythm is unusually effective, providing the backbone for the song. As I Lay Dying is a personal favourite of mine, recounting Dave's feelings when he visited his grandparents as a child, having never been around old people before.
"All the leaves are falling, as I lay dying…
The most Pavement influenced song would be Corpus Kinaesthesia, opening with a thumping drumbeat, before a cacophony of that same jangly guitar sound enters. It does not have your average song structure, but rather jumps around randomly alternating between verses and refrains. The outro is very reminiscent of the outro of Pavement's Stop Breathin' from 'Crooked Rain Crooked Rain', and it works perfectly. Similarly, the opener, Peach, is the most Flaming Lips styled song on the album. It contains such vocal harmonies that the Lips are known for, and a build up to a pounding crescendo, which leaves the outro to play itself out in stunning fashion.
States closes the album on a very high point. It starts with a count-in sung by Tim, and is driven along by the ever-present and ever-powerful sounds of Hughs drums and Alexs bass. The album ends in fine fashion with another Pavement-esque outro.
Overall, this has grown to become one of my favourite albums. The vocals are flawless, the melodies and harmonies are aural bliss, and all round production is of a very high standard. This album is a classic to me as it changed the way I feel about the music. However, I cannot give it a 5, as I do not think that their album has actually become a classic in the true sense of the word. I would recommend it to any fan of Indie or indie-pop music, or anyone looking for some feel good music.
For more information on Dappled Cities Fly, visit their website, www.dappledcitiesfly.com, or their myspace, www.myspace.com/dappledcitiesfly.