Beach Coma - Shifting Sands (Spooky Records/Beast Records)

beach coma lgeShifting Sands are partly comprised of members of SixFtHick and Gentle Ben, whom you may have heard of … and quite a number of Shifting Sands’ songs are ludicrously radio-friendly.

No, I mean FM radio cross-over, cover of Cosmo friendly; "Boyfriend" and "Other Girls" are the tracks suggested; but that’s not where the band always hang. My favourites include "New Flame", "Dead Memory" and "Airway", the latter being a rather clever inversion of your expectation. In fact, the majors should be sniffing around right now.

Some have compared Shifting Sands to Nick Cave, but this is not right. It’s too easy for people to claim Cave, and yeah the man is an influence but there’s only a few tracks where Danielle Golding’s keys recall Mick Harvey’s deft piano but this is really by the by; lyrically Lee Hazelwood or Lou Reed or the mighty Cohen echo here, as does Mark Lanegan’s delivery. Hell, if you’re really looking for influences, you’ll find them whether they’re there or not; Spencer P. Jones and Tex Perkins might also be hiding in there.

But sod the influences, you won’t notice them much the first few listens because this is such a cracker of a record. You put it on and instantly you’re transported, swept away in the throbbing strings, the gently nudging emotion, the glorious choirs; we’re involved, interested, listening for more and more and more.

And Shifting Sands deliver. "Beach Coma" is a glorious, warm, lyrical and uplifting LP.

Best I can say is that once more Spooky have the goods, and you need them in your home. 

Apparently there are a small number of vinyl records pressed on gold vinyl. I’d snaffle one if I were you. - Robert Brokenmouth

rollingrollingrollingrollingrolling Yeah, five gin slings, Barman. And no hangover.

Comparisons are often odious and almost always pointless, so to hold Shiftings Sands, the pop-rock noir project for Six Ft Hick’s Geoff Corbett, up against brother and bandmate Ben’s similarly-hued Gentle Ben and His Sensitive Side does both a disservice.

So let’s not go there. For very long, anyway.

For the uninitiated, Six Ft Hick is a largely meat-and-potatoes Queensland band that’s achieved near legendary status through the sheer relentless energy of their explosive shows (and a pretty cool documentary about one of their European tours.) Geoff and Ben Corbett share psychotic vocals for this most Alpha male of outfits, and their own bands are where they go when they want to wallow in the murky shadows.

Shared surnames and a taste for dark, early morning bar crooning apart, there’s a common thread in both their solo bands in guitarist Dylan McCormick, who’s credited simply as “musician” for Shifting Sands. I’m guessing that means guitar, bass and drums plus more than a little arranging. His playing is beautifully restrained and he also scores a co-production credit with Geoff Corbett and engineer Derek Mudge.

“Beach Coma” shifts effortlessly from full-band pop to sparser, striped back surf twang pop with the mood almost always hovering somewhere between melancholia and resigned despair. Lost love, unrequited love, tainted love and love that hasn’t been categorised dot these 10 songs.

It’s not all wrist-slitting stuff. In fact, Shifting Sands play it mostly straight and don’t show the same depth of deep irony or repressed violence as Gentle Ben at their most dark. There’s a lot of Lee Hazelwood and Lord Cave at work, and a bit of Serge as well, although the bio name-checks Leonard Cohen I’m drawing the line at him because he bores me shitless.

There’s a stunningly seductive songs here in “New Flame”, where a lushly warm and swinging arrangement recalls the Go-Betweens at their pop height. Anna Clifford and Danielle Golding leaven the sound throughout this record with vocal assistance and it hits a mark on this one.

Opener “Boyfriend” is also prime intelligent radio fodder, a hooky but bitter message to an other half that should make your mixtape or its MP3 Age equivalent, if not the mainstream airwaves. Honorable mentions also to “Didn’t I?” and “Other Girls”. Corbett and his band are beguiling storytellers.

Corbett’s naked baritone lies at the heart of the songs, not quite tender but exposed like a raw nerve, now the sound and fury of Six Ft Hick has been torn away. He sounds like a less damaged Ian Rilen or Tom Waits at times, crossing over into contemporary Dylan croaking territory on “Onions & Violins”.

“Beach Coma” won’t walk up and grab you by the short and curlies, as much as creep from behind and whisper drunkenly in your ear. No sexting involved. It grows - quickly and well before last drinks are called.

It’s on CD through Spooky and fat black vinyl via French label Beast. - The Barman

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Tags: beast records, beach coma, shifting sands, six ft hick, gentle ben, spooky records

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