There’s no long history for this band apart from the collective curriculum vitae of the Melbourne people involved and the obvious fact they have an affinity for each other’s playing. It was recorded in a suburban shed on an oppressively hot day in 2014. It also grooves and rocks like the proverbial.
There are no Volumes 1-9 or even an 11. The Heartbrokers are Van Walker (Tasmanian-born singer-songwriter) on guitar and vocals, bassist Cal Walker, drummer Ash Davies, roots-rocker Jeff Lang and rockabilly-country pianist Ezra Lee. Plus friends like Jack Howard (sax).
Names can confuse and so can genres. Just as they toy with their title, these guys confound pigeonholing with their broad range. More (early) Seger than (doomed) Thunders but maybe a little Petty in terms of borrowing some sounds from Americana, The Heartbrokers defy categorisation other than good, old-fashioned, boogie and blues-based rock and roll.
When you take your surname from a character in a James Ellroy book, you nail your colours to the mast as a fan of most things American. Naples-born Guy Littell might be as Italian as pizza with a cappuccino on the side, but his music is drenched in Americana.
Littell’s biography mentions his links to Steve Wynn (of The Dream Syndicate and a long solo career) on whose next album Guy guests, and the impact of hearing Neil Young and Mark Lanergan. “One of Those Fine Days” shows those influences writ large - plus a deep dish serving of Matthew Sweet.
Littell might not have the pipes of Sweet - who does? - but he and his band tackle these 10 self-penned songs with a similar measured, rock-pop aplomb.
Shayne Carter first emerged on the New Zealand rock scene in the ’80s with his high school punk band Bored Games and their “Who Colonel Mustard “ EP, which was one of the first releases on Flying Nun Records.
Part of the original “Dunedin Sound" scene, Carter went on to become a major player in the Flying Nun independent rock story as the singer-songwriter and guitarist in outfits such as Straitjacket Fits, Doublehappys and Dimmer.
Carter is Melbourne-bound for three shows in February - hist first since 2016 when he and his band played a searing three-night residency at the Yarra.
Regarded as one of New Zealand’s greatest alternative rock figures, Carter has carved out a distinctive and innovative body of work that places him in the top pantheon of that country’s best songwriters.
His band Straitjacket Fits - a group that became well known to Australian audiences in the ‘90s - produced a blend of rock dissonance and melody that became hugely influential; predating both the shoe gazer movement and the angular rock of bands like Radiohead and others of a similar ilk that followed in Straitjacket Fits' wake.