It’s not every band that can put support for both the mannered indie of Oh Mercy as well as maverick lothario Dave Graney on their CV, or for that matter, get the seal of approval from the latter.
The Ocean Party, five lads originally from Wagga Wagga now relocated to Northcote, have done just that, they must be chuffed with Graney likening them to “early Orange Juice.” While we’re making comparisons, it’s worth mentioning peers like Twerps and Dick Diver. The Sun Rolled Off The Hills is yet another debut of lo-fi, melodious indie, filled with neat, clean guitars, gentle melodious hooks and some wry lyrics. You could vaguely lump them into the Flying Nun Records/Dunedin sound revival that’s happening, except that they’ve substituted the typically melancholic streak with that of a lazy, summery vibe and never shy of making a few local references (Northcote Station and Shepparton, take a bow).
A track like Deadbeat, in both title and smoothly choppy guitars, does a good job of mapping out the laconic, idle territory The Ocean Party traverse. Featuring Lachlan Denton’s relaxed singing style, forceful doesn’t seem to be a setting he’s familiar with, but his woozy charm matches that of the music. His voice lounging across Curtis Wakeling’s ringing guitars, while restrained piano, plaintive bass and Simon Lam’s minimalist but essential drumming drape the background.
Cuts like The Dogs, The Farm, and especially the 103 seconds of Stepped, demonstrate a band with a get in-get out attitude. Not one of their gently lolling hooks is wasted or overstays its welcome, in fact, it might take a couple of spins before you can work past their breezy atmosphere to realise the strength of these tunes. Shakin’ Like A Leaf would make The Shins’ fans blush, while Every House sounds like The Go-Betweens doing Born To Run-lite. It takes much more than a handful of chords, some reverb and a written reference from Dave Graney to achieve that, and they make it sound easy, the cheeky buggers.
BY AL NEWSTEAD
Best Track: Deadbeat
If You Like This, You’ll Like These: Twerps TWERPS, New Start Again DICK DIVER, Bonfires On The Heath THE CLIENTELE
In A Word: Laconic