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It's a crowded marketplace and if you're not on The Voice
or The X Factor, it's hard to break through. There are no
tricks or gimmicks when it comes to Andrew McDonald's debut
solo album. It's simply world-class music. Melancholic and
moving. When Howzat! reviewed our notes about the record,
one word kept recurring: Beautiful.
The album is called The Fugitive Assembly. "Originally,
I wanted to start a band rather than do the one-man acoustic
thing and I was actually thinking of a band name," Andrew
explains. He then saw the 1932 movie I Am A Fugitive From
A Chain Gang. "I liked the word fugitive and pieced it together
with 'assembly' after listening to the band Frontline Assembly."
Andrew's solo sound is less frenetic than his previous band,
Tiltmeter. "I do occasionally miss being in a band," he
admits. "I miss the camaraderie and sharing the highs and
lows. If I have a good gig, I can't exactly high-five myself,
or if I'm having a bad run, I can't really talk it out with
band mates. The best thing has probably been the freedom
of writing something different and not becoming conditioned
to any one way of writing. The worst thing is money, unfortunately.
In a band situation, it's like, 'Right, everyone cough up
a buck to pay for this', whereas now it's just me."
When Howzat! gave the album's opening cut, The Soaring General,
a spin on the radio, listeners compared it to Elliott Smith,
Josh Pyke and The Beach Boys. "There's one particular line
in that song that made me think Josh Pyke when I first heard
it recorded," Andrew agrees. "To be honest, no one's really
told me that I sound like any one particular artist, which
I guess is good. Indirectly, I'm sure I'm ripping off tons
of songwriters." Who are Andrew's songwriting heroes? "I'd
be lying if I didn't mention Something For Kate. I've been
watching them since before they even released albums and
I've kind of grown up with them. I also liked the way Paul
Dempsey would transcribe the songs onto acoustic and play
shows, which gave me the same idea when I was playing in
a band. Plus I still marvel at the arrangements, the hidden
noise tracks and the often slow build to an emotional peak."
Andrew sings about "landing soon", but The Fugitive Assembly
has taken a long time to arrive. "Yeah, it's been an awfully
long process. In fact, I hit another snag when trying to
press CD copies - which I'm still going to do. But in the
meantime, I got so frustrated I just made the album available
online (at bandcamp.com). There's just been a series of
minute details that have held it up, especially artwork.
At one stage, I was content to just take a photo of myself
wearing a towel and say, 'Done!'"
One track is called What Scares You Most. Andrew still shudders
when he thinks of Amityville II: The Possession. "It's probably
not that scary now, but I saw it as a kid and it kept me
awake for years. I'd have to sleep on the couch until ushered
to bed for fear I'd be possessed the same way as the boy
in the film." In the song, Andrew sings, "At this late stage,
I feel my age." But The Fugitive Assembly shows there's
a lot of life left in this artist. "The finish line's nowhere
in sight, it's still not over yet."
HOW DO YOU GET YOUR KICKS?
Fancy having a kick of the footy with Even? It's one of
the many packages on offer at www.pozible.com/evenfirst18,
where the band is celebrating its first 18 years by asking
fans to pick their 18 favourite Even songs and help fund
a new compilation. Meanwhile, Ben Lee is getting his fans
to finance his forthcoming album, Ayahuasca: Welcome To
The Work, at www.pledgemusic.com.
Ben explains that Ayahuasca is a South American jungle vine,
used as "a visionary, healing medicine … I only hope the
music contains some small portion of the deep nourishment
that I have experienced from the plant medicine." Howzat!
has already signed up for the vintage Ben Lee beanie and
signed CD - a bargain at $35.
LONG LIVE LIV
Happy birthday to arguably Australia's most influential
artist, Olivia Newton-John, who turns 64 today (Wednesday).
Greg Arnold's The Swamp Dandies, who released a tribute
to Livvy last year, called Olivia, are launching their new
single, Tomorrow, at the Northcote Social Club on Sunday
afternoon with Carus Thompson.
It's six weeks on top for Guy Sebastian.
Battle Scars GUY SEBASTIAN (number one)
Boom Boom JUSTICE CREW (seven)
Set This World On Fire THE JANOSKIANS (22, debut)
Run Alone 360 (29)
When The Lights Go Out HAVANA BROWN (30)
Domino THE COLLECTIVE (35, debut)
The Rubens arrive at number three.
The Rubens THE RUBENS (number three, debut)
This Was Tomorrow SETH SENTRY (six, debut)
The Sapphires soundtrack (seven)
Pacifica THE PRESETS (10)
The Winter I Chose Happiness CLARE BOWDITCH (11, debut)
Wreck & Ruin KASEY CHAMBERS & SHANE NICHOLSON (14)
Chasing Ghosts THE AMITY AFFLICTION (15)
The Ol' Razzle Dazzle MISSY HIGGINS (23)
My Journey KARISE EDEN (27)
Falling & Flying 360 (30)
The Story So Far KEITH URBAN (31)
The Temper Trap THE TEMPER TRAP (34)
Timomatic TIMOMATIC (39)
What Scares You Most ANDREW McDONALD
Tomorrow THE SWAMP DANDIES
I Still Can't Find Her HENRY WAGONS
Oh Japan MINIBIKES
Why Don't We Just Stay Home SARAH HUMPHREYS
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