Levitating Churches - Levitating Churches (No Squares Or Hippies)
Adelaide is known as the City of Churches but don't let the name distract you: Levitating Churches have their feet placed firmly in Melbourne, the home of Australia’s live music scene and a magnet for similarly-minded underground acts. This, their self-titled debut long-player, is enough to make the rest of Australia jealous that they can’t lob down to their local music dive and regularly soak up this stuff live.
Their name and cover art summon preconceptions of a meeting between Steve Kilbey and Co and the Thirteenth Floor Elevators (the band moniker apparently derivies from a mis-heard Roky lyric) but there’s a rough and ready undercurrent to Levitating Churches’ music that comes straight from the Aussie pub rock scene of the ‘70s.
The band dives into psychedelia on the swirling “Time Machine” but harks back to sterner stuff on “1973” and the blues-chugging “Levitating Boogie” and most of their LP rocks rather than floats. If rocking rows your boat don’t approach with trepidation.
Guitarist Matt Allen sometimes channels David Byrne in his vocals with a great deal fewer affectations than the man in the baggy suit. He also rocks fearsomely on guitar. No surprise to hear he’s a former member of seriously hard New Zealand garage rockers Slavetrader. Shaun (bass) and Dave (drums) are a nimble engine room with plenty of drive and keyboardist Grant provides some nifty texture. (He's since been replaced by a second guitarist.)
“Little Boogaloo” opens proceedings and positions Levitating Churches squarely in Rock and Roll Land with its Hellacopters-like guitar crunch and expansive bass runs. It’s bookended by the equally strong “Make Your Own Luck”. “Bo Diddley” reincarnates the man hisself and his beat that never goes out of style and wraps them both in distorted guitars.
Shimmering keys bump the guitars sideways momentarily on “You Can’t Sell Soul” and comes across as a space-rock trip. The title of “Paint It Black You Devils” might be a crib from Died Pretty circa “Using My Gills As A Roadmap” but sounds like “Their Satanic Majesties Request” spawn before building to its heavy-as-fuck denouement. “Paint It White” could be regarded as a companion piece, at least in name, and soars on the back of some killer guitarwork.
Don't expect to find Levitating Churches on CD. This one’s a limited run of 300 LPs on their own label and if you like it there’s a second black plastic platter and a 7” single to acquire.