Rock

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - An­drew McMillen Meldi Arkin­stall

Come Down From the Moun­tain Sa­cred Shrines In­de­pen­dent It’s a rare thing to hear a debut al­bum as con­fi­dent and com­pelling as Come Down From the Moun­tain.

Bris­bane five-piece Sa­cred Shrines possesses a wealth of col­lec­tive mu­si­cal ex­pe­ri­ence. Ban­dleader Phil Usher (vo­cals, gui­tar) and drum­mer Mat Von Diehm were mem­bers of Bris­bane rock in­sti­tu­tion Grand At­lantic, but the quin­tet has been quiet about its pedi­gree, pre­fer­ring to ditch past lives in favour of emerg­ing as a fully formed new en­tity.

From top to tail, this al­bum is a strik­ing col­lec­tion, fea­tur­ing 10 tracks rooted in the canon of mod­ern psy­che­delic-in­flu­enced rock acts such as the Brian Jon­estown Mas­sacre, the Black An­gels and the Dandy Warhols.

Fit­tingly, the band played its sec­ond show while sup­port­ing the Dandy Warhols in 2014.

In such an over­worked field, it’s a tricky thing to bal­ance the past and fu­ture.

The line be­tween im­i­ta­tion and in­no­va­tion is thin, but Sa­cred Shrines at­tack their song­writ­ing and per­for­mance with such skill and vigour that the band lands firmly in the lat­ter camp.

Wah-scorched rock songs are its bread and but­ter, and it cer­tainly ex­cels in this mode.

But a cou­ple of qui­eter, key­board-led mo­ments are strate­gi­cally de­ployed to great ef­fect, as on bouncy al­bum closer Block­ing Out the Sun and the beau­ti­ful, dream­like third track, Lights Turn Green, which fea­tures Usher’s best vo­cal per­for­mance.

Else­where, the chord pro­gres­sion and swing­ing rhythm on fifth track Per­fect Dream is so per­fect it ef­fec­tively ex­hibits a masterclass in rock ’n’ roll song­writ­ing.

Add a blis­ter­ing gui­tar solo half­way through the five-minute jaunt, and the sum is a su­perla­tive ex­am­ple of psy­che­delic rock at its peak.

Even more in­spir­ing are the “drum kit” sounds in the ex­pres­sive ar­range­ment of Too Much Heaven. This is the 12th al­bum from this group, which orig­i­nated from the sim­ple idea of pre­sent­ing a con­cert of laid-back bal­lads in St Peter’s Cathe­dral in the group’s home city of Ade­laide. The con­cert was so suc­cess­ful they have since taken it across the coun­try and over­seas. A Coun­try Mile by alto Naomi Crellin is mourn­ful and at­mo­spheric, and the ABBA clas­sic When All Is Said and Done is earnest and up­lift­ing. The ebb and flow of the sec­ond Sting song on this al­bum, The Pi­rate’s Bride, is well man­aged with its poly­phonic lines and Nick Beg­bie’s use of un­em­bel­lished voice sounds re­mark­ably like Sting him­self at times, and ex­presses the re­signed theme of the song — the tide rolls in, the tide rolls out, with­out a care for the ways of men — well.

Billy Joel’s Lul­labye (Good­night, My An­gel) crowns this al­bum with a breath­tak­ingly beau­ti­ful and sim­ple four-part vo­cal in­tro­duc­tion, fol­lowed by verses sung by Beg­bie and Sally Cameron.

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