It’s a cloudy, grey day here in Sydney’s suburbs. A steady, cold breeze rattles the wattles and shakes a lorikeet out of the green wire birdfeeders hanging on the sparsely leaved branches of the backyard eucalypts. People meander home from bus stops with their heads hanging low, their bright pastel chambray shirts peeking through their dark, heavy coats. The vibrant colours of suburban Australia- the green leaves and the orange terracotta roofing- become subdued and lifeless under a miserable sky and the chilly Pacific Ocean breeze.
Cut from the same cloth as local melancholic pop bands from the 80’s like The Replacements, Go-Betweens or The Clean, Adelaide’s Bad//Dreems make just the kind of music for a day like today. In fact, listening to them for the first time this morning, I felt compelled to take my laptop out to my verandah, smoke a winnie, have a cup of tea and soak in the unique blandness of the suburban winter while penning this introduction. Their debut EP Badlands draws heavily from the Flying Nun school of wandering, unpolished guitar pop while leaving room for a few tracks to divulge into noisy Pixies style jams and a few modern punk breakdowns reminiscent of Cloud Nothings and Wavves.
For a bit of context, these guys are relatively new additions to the scene, only existing in their current lineup for a bit over a year. Their six track Badlands EP was released this July. I wrote earlier that the band draws influence from Australian indie and underground scenes of the late 70’s and early 80’s, and it seems that these themes of joyless nostalgia have something to do with the band’s geographical location. Their biography (which can be found on their Facebook page) is a dissertation on the derelict urban scenery of Adelaide’s northern suburbs – lamenting the loss of venues around the old West End Brewery and commenting on the bikie wars and the less than desirable reputation Adelaide has as the ‘Badlands’ of Australian capitals.
If this seems like pretentious rambling in order to gain some artistic respectability for what is essentially a post-punk band with a limited catalogue of material, you aren’t far off the mark. But what strikes me about their sound and their self description is that these guys are genuinely capturing and reworking a sound that can be considered uniquely suburban. Their attitude towards urban decay and retreating sprawl, their rejection of the traditional “beachy” sound that is so popular with local guitar bands and their lyrical obsession with hopelessness, unemployment and lost love paint a mature sonic picture of metropolitan Australia.
All in all, Bad//Dreems have put together six solid tracks that should be the soundtrack to everyone’s hair of the dog session this Sunday, and indeed every hungover morning until they release their full length LP. Don’t be surprised if these guys start popping up on lineups for Laneway and Harvest festivals in a year or two – these are definitely a bunch of boys to keep your eyes on, and should be putting on some killer shows in support of Step Panther in October and Bleeding Knees Club in November. Check out their website for more details.
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