Illustration by Tim Andrew
Shining Bird have only recently emerged onto the honourable mentions lists of music blogs around Australia, but they’ve already made a big impact, due mostly to their debut single Distant Dreaming. At the time of writing this piece, its racked up over 170,000 YouTube hits since its release two months ago. An incredible result for a band who were previously relatively unknown, but 20 seconds into this clip and you’ll understand why. The band’s website describes them as “a collective of musicians, draftsman, scholars and bodyboarders who got together over their love of the sea, Australian cinema, Dennis Wilson’s ‘Pacific Ocean Blue’ LP and the great Australian poet Henry Lawson.” Shining Bird certainly rep the borderline kitsch, 80’s Australiana vibe, but by replacing the tackiness of the time with a clean sound and genuine talent, they totally pull it off.
This Friday, Shining Bird will drop their eagerly awaited debut album, aptly titled Leisure Coast. The album moves from 80s, synth-heavy Australiana pop, to broody, bushman inspired ballads. The opening track, Terra Nullius, (the Latin term for ‘Land belonging to no one’) is a gorgeously slow and wistful intro to the album, peppered with lyrics that speak of “dried gumtrees on the beach” and “dust beneath your feet”. Dane Taylor, lead vocalist and guitarist, has a Nick Cave-ish richness to his voice that compliments the soft dreaminess of the band’s sound. Must Have Been Dreaming blends layers of Taylor’s vocals with a slow, delicate romance in the style of Tears for Fears or The Church. It’s a five and a half minute track that manages to pack in a synthesizer solo with a glittery, poetic narrative. Don’t Get Down is the fifth track and the first to evoke a certain sonic darkness from the band. It’s a contemplative and refreshing new dimension to the album, which really needs to be listened to from start to finish to be fully appreciated. Rolling over to You Won’t Feel A Thing, Shining Bird continue to impress me. This track is an angelic and slow burning four minutes and is a contender for my favourite on the album. It encompasses all the elements needed to create a strange and beautiful wind-down piece, including rich guitar slides and an eerie but perfectly timed crackly recording of a female, non-English speaking voice to conclude the track. Last Wave is the appropriately named conclusion to Leisure Coast, and it sounds like Christmas feels. Its one part jolly, one part contemplative, one part celebratory.
My favourite kind of music is the kind that evokes a visual response, with sounds that work perfectly to both create and support a visual aesthetic. Shining Bird have constructed a visual narrative through Leisure Coast, one which takes you from the dusty, terracotta-burnt landscapes of the Australian bushland, to the aquatic freshness of it’s oceans, providing us with the soundtrack to an Australian summer of times past and times to come. It’s nostalgic without being sulky, and cheerful without being cheesy. Shining Bird was born on the South Coast of NSW, and I reckon it’s just a matter of time before wider Australia falls in love with them. Fans of Magnetic Fields and Lambchop will be in auditory heaven after just a couple of tracks on Leisure Coast. It brims with subtly and wit unlike anything we’ve heard out of Sydney in a very long time.
Leisure Coast drops Friday September 6th through Spunk, and they’ll be touring nationally on it throughout September. Hell yeah…
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Our epic Shining Bird illustration is by Tim Andrew, a Sydney based artist. His work has been published in Australian and international art and design periodicals, and has recently exhibited work in Hong Kong, Melbourne and Sydney. For more info, visit timandrewart.com