Australian-based and evocatively-named The Great Emu War Casualties (TGEWC) have released the EP ‘Vanity Project’ – a dynamic, fresh and dazzling collection of effervescent shimmering tracks.
There is an indefinable sound to the band, but it is one grounded in a great musicianship and creative, innovative songwriting – an indie pop sensibility that has been transcended and transformed into something altogether more dynamic. Most refreshingly, it is not indie by numbers.
TGEWC has an international flavour – while now based in Australia, singer /guitarist Joe Jackson is British, originally meeting Australian bassist and keyboard player Saskia Clapton in Liverpool and forming the band there where they started recording. Having eventually settling down in Melbourne, the band added Nepalese percussionist Bibek Tamang (‘B-bek’) and with a coterie of additional talent have released a series of singles and EPs, garnering international attention.
‘Vanity Project’ is produced by Alex Newport (Death Cab For Cutie, Bloc Party, The Mars Volta) which has resulted in an open spacious sound that is delicate and melodic yet has an inherent power. The clever and evocative lyrics make insightful observations on the curious nature of existence, narcissism and isolation.
Opening track ‘I’m A Yes Man’ sets forth with an imperious and bold wall of noise that the echoes The Cure before the vocals soar in and the tone changes into something more funky and smooth. With a restless, wandering bass and a scintillating guitar sound that swoops with a dizzying range, this is a sound that ultimately defies comparisons.
This innovation does not rest on its laurels. ‘Flies In My Eyes’ is another vibrantly paced track flowing on a bubbling synth and rhythmic bedrock. Jackson’s falsetto vocals drive over a pounding bass and layered harmonies. Intricate drum patterns create a hyperactive, insistent drive. This a fantastic welding of an indie sensibility with a funky snap. Check out a live lockdown version of this track:
Crackling vinyl, backtracked recording and splashing guitars introduces the more restrained and reflective ‘Sad Seaweed People’: a beautiful treatise on balancing creativity with the mundane nature of existence- take some corporate creativity, find a quiet space to work in, keep a notebook, write down your ideas, you’ll learn it all on the way. This is a grand, cinematic piece with delicate layers of sound resting on a grand melody and filled with an eye-watering wistfulness.
A jazzy, funky flow reappears in ‘spacebatangeldragon’ – a bubbling instrumental flow where, again, there is a delightful fluidity between the interaction of the bass, guitars and drums. You could trace the genes to Talking Heads and Arcade Fire in the passionate and expressive delivery ranging across intricate patterns of music.
The intriguingly named closing track ‘TIAGAHNIMSM’ runs on an arpeggiated flow of crystalline guitars and keys. The thread of melancholy connects strongly to the rest of the EP with a reassuring steady rhythm.
As an interesting post note, the Great Emu War was a nuisance wildlife management military operation undertaken in Australia over the later part of 1932 to address public concern over the number of emus said to be running amok in the Campion district of Western Australia. The unsuccessful attempts to curb the population of emus, a large flightless bird indigenous to Australia, employed soldiers armed with Lewis guns—leading the media to adopt the name “Emu War” when referring to the incident.