Hillsborough – named after the area in Western Queensland where singer/songwriter Phil Usher’s family have been living since the late 1800’s – have a sound that sweeps across an alt. country landscape fringed with a gothic shade and just a touch – tastefully applied – of a rambling bluesy blush. The band consist of Usher and Beata Maglai, with the addition of Glen Russell (Double Bass) and Jonathan Pickvance (Drums) for their live shows.
There is a satisfying swagger, a sort of alt country bluesy pace of the title track with a touch of indie grit enough to satisfy anyone. The track clatters and grinds its way across the dusty landscape replete with jangling cowboy boots, desert landscapes and whiskey-soaked vocals dragged across barbed wire. Similarly, ‘Magnetic Lives’ evokes an endless horizon with tumbleweeds, reverberated guitars and a yearning melancholia.
A Dylanesque twang echoes through ‘Far Away From Here’, ‘When Nobody Knows Your Name’ and current single ‘Stitches’, augmented by wailing harmonica. The latter is a stirring anthemic track filled with a euphoric energy, the harmonies haunting and bold.
Tracks like the brilliant opener ‘Trouble Finds Its Way’ positively jangles in a Byrdsian manner with a shimmering twelve-string shimmer, like an anthemic indie pop standard. ‘Exit Wounds’ with its shimmering guitars and Hammond Organ undercurrent is a haunting ballad that is statuesque and yearning – a sort of laced up gothic tale adorned with fringed vest and cowboy boots.
This is an enormously satisfying album filled with aching emotions, cinematic vistas and scything guitars.
Hillsborough are heading off on tour – details and tickets here.
Usher also provides the beats for indie legends Screamfeeder and Sounds Like Sunset.