Strange Birds - Giant Moths (self released)
A 30-minute EP. Four songs. Melbourne band. Bring ‘em to your town. However…caveat emptor, baby.
The Giant Moths ain’t for everybody. They are, frankly, a little peculiar, and rather endearing. I’ve heard this EP quite a few times since it was thrust into my hands, and I tell you now, not only is it a grower as well as an immediate smacker, you’ll seek out Giant Moths to see them live not just once, but over and over.
I’m sure the band would not be happy if I were to imply that the band is Andrea Scarlett’s baby - and I suspect that the rhythm section described on the back cover, the lynchpin of the outfit, would be at great pains to protest.
Jeff and Don (as they are described on the EP) have a great connection going on, and without their clatter and throb (reminiscent of Can and a host of similar prog -rock outfits) Scarlett (uh, her hair is a vivid if not frightening red) and Matt Palmer (lead guitar, of Raw Nerves) would not have a thing to wrap their own sounds around.
The Giant Moths manage to sound like an inspired bunch of jams going down, but the songs are equally obviously well-structured - yet with a crucial groovin’ loose-limbed bop…
All that said, their Facebook page indicate that the rhythm section has altered somewhat: Matti Harrod (of Bean Flipper) is now on drums and Marsden Williams (of Cross-Eyed Cats) is now on bass. When I saw them Marsden was “filling in” with bugger-all rehearsal; the band sounded even more Can-ish, and that rhythmic stride, and the clattering drums were in the ascendent. Magnificent.
Palmer’s guitar is very good, by the way - it’s measured, never too aggro when it’s not necessary, never intrusive and selfish. Palmer is not a guitar hero wanker, then, but a musician sensitive to the songs, their travelling, truck-driving nature, the vocalist and Scarlett’s assortment of instruments (flute/ violin/ 12 string). Palmer’s sound is kinda retro, but it’s fresh and smart.
The first thing that will either grab you or at the very least have your head on a swivel a la “The Exorcist” is Scarlett’s distinctive voice. She uses as many bits of it as possible, singing as you’d expect, but also sometimes yelping and screeching, or yearning and begging, always focusing on the nature of the lyric and the song.
It’s damned impressive - but like I say above, you might not get it first go. The first song is the title track, “Strange Birds”, and it got me in, feet and hands.
However, I’m sure I am not alone in loathing such vile instruments of torture as the recorder and the flute. It is with great misgiving that I watched Scarlett pluck one of these horrid things out on the back of a truck outside Muscle Shoals Records a few months back. I didn’t want to enjoy it.
But I did.
“Strange Birds” is a damn fine EP; it’s genuinely original, sounds a lot like a late 1960s/early ‘70s bunch of characters in an analogue studio - the production is also by Scarlett, so it’s obviously intentional. Imagine one of those legendary cult bands who put out one LP and vanished, only to be discovered by a record nut, or a lost soul looking for something to be inspired by.
You’ve got it.