Hailer : Good Canyon
Hailer are one of the better bands recently unearthed by JJJ. Comprising Phil Orr on vocals and guitar, Angus McDonald on bass, percussion and other instrumental duties and Scott Spence on drums, this Sydney trio are rounded out by keyboardist Greg Burgett. Album cover aside, just about everything else on this debut longplayer reeks of maturity and a dexterity that comes with playing for five years. It’s a rollicking knees-up effort, sprinkling acute observations amid raucous tunes. It raises a smile, and of pop, not much more can be asked.
Opener Forever belies a more joyful Spiritualized in terms of contemporary psychedelia, minus the occasional daft noodling and Je M'en Fous sees Hailer attempting to locate their inner Bob Dylan and Ryan Adams. They manage to hit the target despite it usually being quite easily missed. The sense of craft and discipline pervade their mood of mellow vibes, like good company for a long walk home. Unfortunately, how true it sounds when they sing “You won't hear this on your radio.” But rather than fall into the mire of defeatist regret about the sad state of affairs, they reclaim the position, “But l don't mind / We don't mind / Free your mind.”
Let It Ride has a welcome sense of urgency and is a lovely slice of nostalgia with a nagging melody and jingle. Distant Land then finds the band stumbling around the outer reaches of the stoner solar system that could also be fitting of Galaxie 500. “So when you're dressed up / But you have bottomed out / Just don't leave without a thought of me” leaves the listener claustrophobic and gasping for air.
Elsewhere, The Redundancy Song is the two finger salute of the drudgery of working for the man. “They can fuck with your life but they can't take your dreams.” Like a Billy Bragg protest song that you can hum blissfully sitting in an office. The type of song that will leave many desk-bound misfits hopelessly smitten, Clouds kicks into gear with some crunchy guitar before an extended outro. Superficially less abrasive than it may have been, Dead Bodies then presents a nice segue. It’s a mournful reflection from grim badlands. “You know the jury didn't like the look of me / They sensed that my reason was not pearl or silver encrusted / Like your simple puritan world.” It has a My Bloody Valentine brooding guitar noise moment, but at nine minutes it may have benefited from some pruning. Good Canyon stands up to repeated exposure.
Hailer, Good Canyon is out now through Laughing Outlaw Records