Electric Trails From Nowhere - The Golden Rail (Off The Hip)
Here’s the thing with pop music - at least for me and probably for many of you, too. First impressions count for a lot; I'm impatient. And the initial take-out from a spin of “Electric Trails From Nowhere” was how grown up the music sounded.
For two reasons. As the bio says, “Electric Trails” is the output of a 30-year songwriting partnership between Ian Freeman and Jeff Baker, the Melbourne-via-Perth principal members of The Golden Rail. The other factor is that The Golden Rail sounds like none of the music that passes for “contemporary pop” in 2017.
You can tell when a songwriting combination works. They don’t have to be the performers on the record. The songs just “fit”. There are probably technical reasons that bear that out but who cares? If you do, go write an academic treatise. For most of us, it’s how music feels, not necesarily how it sounds, that makes it touch you.
How it doesn’t sound is a critical element of that opening statement. Today’s pop music is vacuous, slick, over-produced and squeezed through digital compressors until it’s punchy and bright enough to dazzle Helen Keller. It’s a commodity. Pitch correction really does suck.
The Golden Rail’s music is warm, organic sounding - at least in the sense of being played by people and not machines - and wistful. It was recorded digitally but with common sense and intent, too. The hooks cajole rather than grab you hard, and the vibe is early ‘70s - without indulgence. The songs wander (not a band thing when the mood is right.) There’s a late night, early evening mood.
Freeman and Baker have worked in bands like The Palisades, The Jangle Band, The Rainyard, Header, Summer Suns and DM3. That’s a good chunk of Aussie ‘90s pop history right there. Ex Header guitarist Dave Chadwick has joined them on bass and Saki Garth is on drums.
“Oh My!” Is the most immediate song and the lead-off single. There’s. Whole bunch of others bustling for second place closely behind. Freeman’s vocal is mellow. The playing is top shelf. Shimmery guitars, mellowed-out feels and gentle shuffles. Gentle observations, lyrically speaking.
Fans of the GoBetweens, the Neilster and the Triffids, take note.