That’s the crucible that forges the greatness. A certain breed of Australian bands know all about this. It’s something to do with the heat, the light, the vast distances and the difficulties faced by those who refuse, or cannot, conform to preconceptions of what Australian bands should sound like. Among them The Saints, The Triffids, The Go-Betweens.
And Gaslight Radio. The band, formed on the Gold Coast holiday strip by brothers Rory and Marty Cooke then based in Melbourne, has quietly assembled a powerful body of work across 10 years, numerous EPs and three albums of high distinction, Hitch on the Leaves, Z-Nation and Good Heavens Mean Times. Is it possible to make music more at odds with the image of surf, sunshine, high-rise and conspicuous consumption of Queensland’s holiday playground? Probably not. But anyone who has ventured into the spaces between its gleaming spires knows there is another country down there.
Gaslight Radio songs are things of fervent and sometimes delicate beauty, they can soar then snarl, or glide on a wall of hypnotic guitars. Their strong, sophisticated melodies tend to sneak up on the listener rather than belt them over the head, which is why they continue to resonate years later. Whatever it takes to make a great rock band, Gaslight Radio had it from the start, as witnesses to their legendary early shows attest. They have it now, ringing from the grooves of later songs like Good Times for Bad People and One Kid.
It’s true. Gaslight Radio don’t operate like other bands, in these days of two-album careers and marketing plans. Like their name, there is something about them that seems to come from a more gentle, less bottomline- centric time. Five years elapsed between their first and second albums, for instance.
Marty Cooke doesn’t like to fly and can set off days before the others to reach shows by train. And when their latest album was completed, they dropped it off to the record company ... in the letter box. Despite the quality of their recordings, Gaslight Radio have flown under the mainstream radar in their home country.
“The great independent film-makers don’t get down about it,’’ Marty Cooke shrugs. ”We don’t either.’’ They seem to accept chaos and plain bad luck _ they’ve had their share _ with equanimity. “If there was a trick to get more people to hear us I would certainly be using it,’’ Rory Cooke says. ”But all you can really worry about is how good the songs are.’’ And as a new series of reissues detailing the recording history of Gaslight Radio emerges, it’s clear that these songs, like the band itself, are built to endure all weathers, built to last.
They aren’t tied to a fashion or a look or an era. But there is something about them that just rings true. Noel Mengel Chief Music Writer The Courier Mail Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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