The Australian music fans and critics have a secret. It’s not that they haven’t tried to tell the rest of the world; it’s just that we’re not listening. We’re too wrapped up in the UK invasion and the garage sound to hear anything else. Our talk here in the US music scene is consumed by how great we think the next Coldplay album is going to be or how Wilco and the Strokes are God’s gift to music. Gee, thanks Rolling Stone!
Meanwhile, the Australian critics have been touting a 5 Star masterpiece, the debut release from The Dissociatives. Is it really any good? Album of the year so far for me. So why isn’t anyone else in the US talking about it? It’s been out two months and you’re more than likely to find a promo copy of the CD in used bin than a new copy on a shelf in a store. It’s one of those that EMI agreed to release here but with no promotion or budget behind it. That’s probably one of the biggest reasons. But why haven’t those of us who have seen the Dissociative light been able to turn anyone else onto this brilliant and artistic pop gem? There are a few reasons that explain the reluctance of others to listen…First and foremost; it’s a new band by the front man from the group Silverchair. I didn’t want to mention that, because I’m trying to convince you to give this CD a fair shot, but it seems many have a hard time believing anything formerly associated with Silverchair could be good. Well, up until their last CD, I happen to agree with most that Silverchair sucked. But then something happened, after seemingly disappearing, they released one last album a couple of years ago called Diorama. It was a Beatle-esque and Jellyfish sounding power pop album with some string arrangements that sounded like something between the ELO and George Martin style. There were 2 really great songs on that album and the rest was just okay. Then Daniel Johns, the lead singer and songwriter, left to start this band with production and electronics wizard Paul Mac. The result is nothing short of fantastic. Rolling Stone magazine (the Australian version) calls this record “A pop/rock record for the ages, to be placed up alongside your Beatles and Beach Boys discs." I happen to agree. The songwriting and melodies are definitely in that ballpark and combined with the adventurous electronic production this is a home run. The opening track is called We’re Much Preferred Customers and is somewhere in the neighborhood of OK Computer era Radiohead meets ELO. The vocals and the melodies are the strongest part of this disc. Beautiful hook-filled pop. It’s not at all derivative. This isn’t just another Beatle-esque or Brian Wilson influenced flash in the pan. This is both creative and original. The highlight for me is track 4, Lifting the Veil from the Braille. There are many great songs here and the lush and often layered vocals will amaze you.
The only complaint I have is the band name. I think that’s another thing that’s hurting the success of this record. The Dissociatives doesn’t exactly roll off of the tongue. The real problems though are that this doesn’t sound anything like the latest slew of UK bands and it has absolutely no promotion in the US. Who cares if Rolling Stone here in the States is too busy raving about the mediocre (at best) new ones from Springsteen and Weezer to give this the time of day? Listen to it anyway.