Melbourne psych-pop supergroup The Ronson Hangup – featuring members of The Anyones, Dallas Crane, The Church, Even, Paul Kelly’s band and Courtney Barnett’s band – have launched their second album ‘Centaurus’ and given the constituent ingredients, it is no surprise it is an album of distinction.
Opening title track ‘Centaurus’ blasts off proceedings with a bit of thundering chain mail in the cloth, with a nod to the sixties/seventies style of Cream or The Hollies – a barbed wire spine of riffs leavened by glorious harmonies that shine and sparkle above the dark and ominous guitars. There is a space rock psychedelic tone complete with a wild and glorious guitar solo.
Founding members Steve Pinkerton (The Anyones, Dallas Crane) and Ashley Naylor (Even, The Church, Paul Kelly’s band) and rest of the band which includes Courtney Barnett’s drummer Dave Mudie, Luke Thomas on Bass (The Saints, The Pictures) and Erica Menting (The Golden Rail) exhibit a wild afro-haired velvet bell-bottomed clad abandon in this track. It’s like it’s 1967 and the Summer of Love all over again.
‘Waxes & Wanes’ has delicate layers of intricate guitars interplaying and glorious interweaving vocal harmonies from founding members Steve Pinkerton (The Anyones, Dallas Crane) and Ashley Naylor (Even, The Church, Paul Kelly’s band). There is a sixties folk jingle jangle at the edges of the track with and a melancholic burnish. The rest of the band includes Courtney Barnett’s drummer Dave Mudie, Luke Thomas on Bass (The Saints, The Pictures) and Erica Menting (The Golden Rail).
The result is something that recalls long hot lazy summer afternoons and the hazy fugue that can settle in after bacchanalian midday excess. It’s gentle and reflective, a laid back and enigmatic piece that shimmers like stars in the firmament. There’s a little bit of Simon & Garfunkel, a little bit of The Hollies with a little antipodean grit.
The accompanying video is a simple but effective performance piece that captures the enigmatic interplay between the singers wielding sparkling guitars:
‘Alive’ glides with gorgeous harmonies surfing over a jangling guitar riff, filled with a yearning melancholia that wrenches the heart. The track moves us more into a nineties thrum reminiscent of bands like James with the soaring melodies and pace. It’s a dynamic, euphoric track that positively shimmers into an anthemic, cinematic classic. ‘Can’t Stop’ is a sweeping track, again filled with an anthemic splendour and drenched with melancholia and guitars that scythe across the skies.
It is the crystalline guitar sound that mixed with the heart thumping harmonies create such magic – ‘SSDD (Same Shit, Different Day)’ with its Mamas and Papas sonic glide and a jingle jangle that would fit in a set list from Naylor’s other band, The Church. The sixties Mamas and Papas brilliance reappears in the folk-infused harmonies of ‘Hitchcock’s Curse’ and ‘Tragic’ which soar like amphetamines in the system as the guitars create lines contrails in the sky. The pop melodies sparkle and glitter in the firmament.
“Easy’ coats on a subtle bed of feedback with darker deeper vocals and wailing guitars adding an ominous tone. A Spanish guitar trill introduces ‘Mother Of Invention’, a high stepping track that lifts the pace, while final track ‘Just Steady’ has an enigmatic riff and counterpoint guitars with sonic interference at the edges – a far more experimental sound with its slightly muted and distorted vocals. The effect is something psychedelic, surreal and transfixing – a dreamy end with female vocals to the fore. It’s an electrifying and extraordinary end to the album.
‘Centaurus’ is a brilliant album – a genetic code firmly implanted from lush sixties folk with the jangling guitars and luscious harmonies and yet one that reflects the zeitgeist – a dark resonance exists throughout – a modern inflection of melancholy and tristesse under the sparkling exterior.
‘Centaurus’ is out now and available to download and stream through the link above and through all the usual sites.
Centaurus’ will be launched on Saturday December 2 at the group’s favourite haunting ground, The Workers Club in Fitzroy, with tickets on sale now.
The tracks on Centaurus were written either collaboratively by Pimkerton and Naylor, or by Pinkerton solo – and they were brought to life by the musicianship of each of the band members. Co-founder and former member Mal Pinkerton trades guitar riffs with Naylor on six of the tracks.
The Ronson Hangup formed around the partnership of Steve Pinkerton, former frontman of The Anyones (aka The Everyones in the US) and current longtime drummer for Dallas Crane, and Ashley Naylor, much-loved Melbourne guitarist who recently joined The Church (he plays on their new album The Hypnogogue), is a longtime member of both Paul Kelly’s band and The Rockwiz Orchestra, and who has fronted popular Melbourne trio Even since the early ’90s.
Guests on the album include award-winning classical guitarist Slava Grigoryan, acclaimed jazz pianist Tony Gould AM, Jane Pinkerton (sister of Steve & Mal) who has spent many years with The Australian Opera, and pedal steel guitarist Shane Reilly (Lost Ragas, Tex Perkins, Beck).
The Ronson Hangup’s self-titled debut album was released in 2010.
The new album was partly recorded with the legendary Wayne Connolly at Head Gap Studios and mixed at Albert Studios while the remainder was recorded and mixed by Steve at his home studio.