Shine & From 3 EPs - The Rosemary Beads (self released)
The Rosemary Beads are a band that sound completely original yet wear their influences as a badge of honour.
Emerging out of the West Australian indie rock music scene during the ‘90s, they released three exceptionally good EPs that ranked as some of the best pop from that side of the country. It was music that was highly ignored and startlingly brilliant
“From 3 EPs” is a compilation of their output ("Breath", "Dog" and "I'll Come When I'm Good And Ready" - two of them on Citadel) from the band’s original run that ended in 1995. “Shine” is their first full album and ther comeback recording (they disbanded after the death of their drummer, Cam Munachen) and arrives after 20 years of silence.
“The Diving Song” opens “Shine” with a huge splash of classic alternative rock. It is melodic and there was a time this would have been on high rotation all around the country with a good chance of crossing over to the mainstream. Of course that was back when there was a glimmer of hope for new and exciting bands to be given airplay.
The sound covers a lot of territory occupied by Magic Dirt, Smashing Pumpkins and PJ Harvey. Bass player Greta Little delivers the songs with just a touch of with melancholy in her haunting vocals, kicking in with choruses that are wonderful melodic sing-alongs. These are consistent featurea of this album
Rosemary Beads mix hooky melodies with jarring and sometimes even Goth-tinged darkness with simple minimum notes splattering over Greta’s wailing. “Stars” is a wonderful song with a nod to Joey of the Pixies. I am thinking that band’s “Bosonova” period here.
Then we’re hit with a straight-forward rock out in “ Ain’t Nobody Else Like Me” as Tim Underwood takes up the vocal duties.
There is a real darkness at times. With uncompromisingly powerful songs like “You’re Still Staring”, Rosemary Beads takes the album to a much more haunting space. This is challenging with a sense of drama. Violence and pyschodrama.
There’s also some exceptional Garageland guitar playing by Underwood. As the rhythm chugs along, the song builds before moving into layered feedback and wild, uncontrolled guitar. This song is a glowing masterpiece and the album is certainly worth buying for this one alone.
New skin-hitter Warren Hall is a fitting replacement; never overplaying but adding a solid backbeat and working well with the dark and shade. Whether it’s moments of atmosphere or songs like “She Says She’s Dead” (a raw garage work-out with Tim Underwood’s distortion and push into the red), Rosemary Beads deliver classic post-pop grunge
“Denial” starts with a county swagger before its vibe shifts to a studio work-out with loops, reverse drumming patterns and overdubs. It covers a massive amount of ground within four minutes.
Played back-to-back, both albums do get a little repetitive but that can be seen as plus too with the band staking out its own territory. That said, this a solid body-of-work and both records are growers.
Fans of that glorious period of music when alternative suddenly became hip - and Sonic Youth T-shirts were worn by people who actually owned their albums - will take to The Rosemary Beads. If you remember when the Big Day Out was THE event of the year, this melodic, melancholic and inventive band is for you.
- "3 EPs" and "Shine"