Band: Various Artists
Album: Caught In The ACT 2007
The annual Caught In The ACT CD came around again some months back, continuing a seven year history of representing Canberran talent to a wider audience. Here’s a short breakdown of some of the best work on this years’ round plastic.
Meatbee – In Bed Asleep
Turning in one of the best written, and most well produced tracks on the disc, recently departed Canberran stalwarts Meatbee start things off well here. In Bed Asleep offers interesting arrangement, versatile playing from each member and a well recorded & produced output. Top marks.
Night Train – March On By
With a fairly standard rock song, Night Train stand out here purely for the production on the track and the strength of the vocal performances from both the lead singer (Dave Bishop) and backing band. Reminding me of a mix between middle period Pearl Jam and the more commercial leanings of latter-day Midnight Oil, you can see why this made it onto the CD, however, I question why a track from a 2005 release (Puzzle) is here representing Canberra music in 2007.
If Angels Were Architects – The Night Bleeds
With that name and track title, you’d be fully prepared to think CITA had cracked to commercial pressure and put a emo/metalcore band on this years CD, which, in all honesty, may have helped them shift a few units. However, IAWA, formerly known as The Fallen, have been bashing around the local live scene for a while now, can lay claim to some pretty mean chops, and deserve much more attention that your local band of 12 year olds wearing black and emoting. Not sure this song is representative of the rest of the bands’ material, however the vocal performance is really strong, and it makes for quite a haunting tune all around. Akin to a somewhat more macabre Julia & The Deep Sea Sirens.
Quinn – Higher Law
This tracks placement on the CD raises another question, of why an ex-Canberran has his track on a CD purporting to represent the 2007 scene in our little town, however, it is a strong song. A roots/reggae driven acoustic rock song, this hits the same vein of more recent popular Canberran acts like Dahahoo and The Andi & George Band, but with a more mainstream focus. Another strong vocal performance (I’m starting to sound like a broken record).
Dark Violence Of Beauty – Burnt Offering
Where’ve these guys been all this time? Well produced and recorded dark rock n’ roll,
I hear all sorts of great influences in here, from Nick Cave to TISM, all the way to a hint of American west coast punks T.S.O.L. Self-described Goth-abilly, this will be something I’ll make a note of checking out at Indyfest this year. More top marks.
Australian Kingswood Factory – Hey Baby
I’ve been an avid supporter of this energetic rock band for years now, and it saddens me even more to spread the news that they’re now on a self-imposed yearlong hiatus. Hey Baby is a representation of the more rockabilly side of the AKF, and despite the not so great production or mixing effort, the songwriting and energy shines through. If you missed out on AKF in these last 4 years, you may have missed something really great in the Canberran rock scene.
Jonno Zilber – Well I’m Goin
Blues act Jonno Zilber turns in a wonderfully traditional blues tune here, replete with a craftily distorted blues guitar sound, vocals that sound like they’ve been recorded down a cardboard tube, and for a good blues track, that’s all you really need. Everyone has a blues bone in their body somewhere, and this will send shivers right through it on every listen.
All in all, the CITA CD this year is split with slightly less than half of it being a solid resume of some great ACT performers, but the other half making me ponder why they’re on there. I question whether the entry cost for bands to participate in this CD might affect the breadth of talent on the disc, because I’d love to see a more true representation of the Canberra live scene from each year. Of the 18 artists, there’s only around 8-10 that I recognize from seeing them play live, and it’s confusing to me why artists would want to put their songs on a disc that has the potential to get them national recognition when they barely even play in their own city.
Why this project no longer gains arts funding is beyond me. After a 7 year history and a fairly successful run, you would think Arts ACT would want to get right behind this each year, as funding would help bring the entry fee down and entice more acts to try their hand at getting on it, which would benefit everyone to have a wider range of Canberran talent to choose from. Let’s see what makes it onto CITA 2008.