The English Rain, Echoes of You
It’s a long way from dreary ’60s England to summery 2020 Brisbane, but on their debut album local lads The English Rain are keeping the spirit of the Beatles, Monkees and assorted Britpop alive and well into the millennium. Strummy first single My Town recalls The Go-Betweens’ Streets of Your Town, no coincidence as it’s a tribute to the late great Grant McLennan as well as Bris Vegas itself. Not to be confused with the Stones tune of the same name, She’s a Rainbow is a joyous Monkees-like singalong, while Cassi Marie lends her vocal chops to Baby Please. With a rotating guest roster, there are also star turns from members of Speedstar and Cheap Fakes. It’s not all bubblegum pop, though: they get down and dirty on tracks like the trip hop of Before the Dark and bayou rock of Swamp Girl, which closes out the set. CD out now, available on streaming soon.
Vacations, Forever in Bloom
(No Fun/believe.) ***1/2
From the ’80s-style synth to the Phil Oakey-like vocals, Newcastle’s Vacations bear more than a passing resemblance to Human League. And when they’re augmented by female vocals on previously released single Panache, the comparison becomes undeniable. “Can you feel the storm approaching?” frontman Campbell Burns inquires ominously on Time Crisis which, yes, is inspired by the video game. The band’s sophomore album is bookended by the naturalistic Floralsun and Wildflowers, while breezy, upbeat tracks like Actors also recall indie acts of the ’80s such as Go-Betweens, and standout earworm Avalanche is saved for almost last.
Mike Elrington, Aftershock
(Only Blues) ***
Melbourne’s Mike Elrington is ostensibly a blues and roots artist, but he refuses to be pigeonholed on this his ninth album, inspired by the pain of his marriage break-up. The most interesting bits are when he shares the spotlight and/or is genre-bending. Exhibit A: Don’t Give Me a Dime with scorching raps from Where is Leroy and Maelstrom. Exhibit B: She Don’t Want Nobody, a rare fully plugged in rocker in the spirit of Radar Love, with powerful guest vocals by June Harrison. Broken lumbers along like a chain gang as he breaks the chains of heartbreak. The shimmering electro-funk of Walk It With You showcases his growling vocals and, likewise, Dirty Death tests his roar and range.