As I write, I’m sitting in rain lashed London, listening to an eminently listenable band called English Rain, who hail from Australia. Strangely, although I’ve not tended to write often about Australian musicians, this is the second in succession and the third in the last couple of months – music like this makes me want to return to Australia (I’ve been a couple of times), and yes, the video below is a part of that. The band is based in Brisbane and was founded by Steve Boom and Neil Steward in 1983 and played in Brisbane bands such as Nightwatchman and The Psychotic Iguanas (isn’t that the most fantastic band name?). Named after Steve’s favourite Beatles song and that English rain can be both depressing and joyous (it’s not joyous today), the pair wanted to make music that could say the same and had strong melodies and hooks: jangly pop songs.
On the evidence of these twelve songs, I have to say that Steve and Neil have achieved their aim; the album, Echoes of You, is an eclectic rip through a variety of genres and styles, showing an almost ridiculous song writing versatility. Although Steve and Neil played on all the songs, the vocals are shared between Alister Bell, Cassi Marie and Hayden James, the collaborations bringing that little bit extra to each track.
The best track for me is the sixties style ode to the Monkees, ‘She’s a Rainbow‘, with a wonderful video that makes you want to jump on a plane and land in Brisbane right now. The song is gloriously cheerful and upbeat, from the harmonies, to the structure, to Alister Bell’s vocals. It definitely is a “rainbow in a month of rainy days” and will have you dancing around your house happily when the rain, English or otherwise, pours down. I imagine it works just as well on a sunny day too!
The album opener, ‘My Town‘ is another catchy tune full of danceability, albeit in a totally different, indie pop way. The band’s liking for jangly pop is certainly evidence here and the Beatles influences are there too in the harmonies and lyrics that sound straightforward but are deceptively simple. A love song to their town,
the sun is shining, life is good in my town
the track also portrays what it’s like to live in a place that is full of memories
I can’t take a walk without seeing your face and the places we used to go
This light touch with lyrics can also be seen in the alt country based song ‘Baby Please‘ which has warm vocals from Alister Bell and Cassi Marie that complement each other to perfection:
you didn’t break my heart, you broke my soul
The other tracks on Echoes of You take a walk through a cornucopia of song writing styles, all of them showcasing English Rain’s musicianship and writing skills. Fans of indie rock will love the title track and ‘Swamp Girl‘, whilst the rootsy, jazz infused pop of ‘Just Think of You‘ ran ‘She’s a Rainbow’ close for best track.
The band’s advice for aspiring musicians is as follows:
Be very self aware of your own abilities, and have a clear idea of what your expectations are. The majority of us write and play because we love it and are well aware that this will be unlikely to provide us a career. Despite this, it doesn’t stop us from becoming better players or writers.
From a song writing perspective, write everyday, treat every song like it will be a single, don’t be afraid to re-write a song. Your goal should always be writing the best song you can. Dig deep within yourself and pull out the real stuff, that’s where the great songs come from
Echoes of You was released on 25 September. Get your copy here.
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