By Edward Burnett
Australia has been the breeding ground of several great indie bands in recent years with the rapid emergence of Tame Impala and DMA'S just to name a few. Yet there is a new name to add to that list as Skegss, with their unique brand of surf-punk, are taking the indie-rock scene by storm. The band who originally formed in 2013 in Byron Bay consists of Ben Reed on vocals/guitar, Toby Cregan on bass and Jonny Lani on drums.
Following on from their 2018 debut album ‘My Own Mess’ which reached number 2 in the Australian charts, the boys are set to release their sophomore album next week on March 26th. Entitled ‘Rehearsal’, the thirteen song strong musical collection is a fresh blend of upbeat soft indie mixed expertly with with relaxing lyrics which all culminates in a genuinely authentic Australian surf/beach vibe. As there are indeed thirteen songs and this is supposed to be a brief and to the point article, I’m not going to go into detail on every one of them. I have however selected two which I think reflect the overall feel of the album and are real gems in their own right.
The first of the two is the band’s newest single ‘Valhalla’ which has already been released. The song is one of the heavier ones featured on ‘Rehearsal’ with a dominating, fast-paced guitar riff which runs thoroughly the whole song, never stopping to take a breath. This particular adrenaline rush is only enhanced by the introduction of a rapid drum beat which kicks in on the chorus. There is a confident boisterousness that reverberates through lead singer Ben Reed’s voice which demonstrates his vocal versatility from the calmer and more relaxed features on ‘Rehearsal’. The lyric structure is fairly simple on this particular track but that is by no means a negative as it allows for the tune to take centre stage in dictating the song’s feel and thematic direction.
The second song I have selected to analyse is the unreleased (as of yet) ‘Running From Nothing’. This is far calmer than the punky ‘Valhalla’ and carries more weight on the lyrical side of affairs hence why I’ve chosen these two songs to show a contrast that appears on ‘Rehearsal’. The song starts with the familiar message of doubt/self confidence which is a relatable topic for many listeners. This is shown in the opening lyric: “running from nothing so nothing can haunt me”. It is a mature topic to focus on rather than the all too overused themes of love or love loss which feature heavily in modern music. Skegss instead focus on self reflection in how usually the negatives we fear or overthink aren’t usually the real, rational or as bad as we think which causes us to indeed run from nothing. The softer, steady guitar track compliments the song as it allows the message to be fully taken in via the lyrics without the instruments taking full precedence.
Overall, Skegss’ upcoming sequel album ‘Rehearsal’ is a refreshing addition to the modern day indie-rock scene. The Australian outfit have given us a diverse album which genuinely fits as a soundtrack to most scenarios no matter the mood or occasion. This universality is certainly hard to come by in music these days and that alone is cause for praise. The boys many new based down under but if they quality of their music stays at this level, the only direction they’ll be heading is up to the top for sure.
If you would like to find out more about Skegss and keep up to date with the release of 'rehearsal" this week, the links to all their socials can be found via the icons below:
By Emily Duff
BAXTR are a London outfit creating Alternative Pop-Rock with a blend of dreamscape sounds. Released on the 12th of February, ‘Grace on Fire’ is the third single from BAXTR, following on from their last release ‘Feathers’ which dropped in September.
Consisting of three close friends, Floss Mackintosh (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Bash Powers (Guitar, backing vocals and keyboard), and Keiko Jackson (Drums and backing vocals). Having known each other for over a decade, the trio had always envisioned making music together and during the 2020 coronavirus lockdowns finally got the chance to make that dream a reality.
Self-proclaimed nerds, BAXTR label their music as DIY Geek pop-rock in dreamspace, a very eclectic description. To me, listening to ‘Grace on Fire’ the band seem to be less ethereal and more experimental. Rather than having a synth element to their tracks that usually comes with this idea of dreamscapes and bubble pop, BAXTR seem to rather create a Paramore-esque sound with dramatic, almost ballad-like, female vocals over the top of juxtaposing rock guitar riffs.
Priding themselves on their kitsch, flamboyant sounds - the outfit bring both fun joy and a sense of female empowerment. With a sound eliciting a mixture of 80's pop and 90's rock bands, BAXTR manages to provide the New Wave Brit Pop bangers you never knew you needed.
Although their music comes across as rather simple and not far from the norm in comparison to their elaborate self-descriptions, the band’s enjoyment and passion for making music are very clear purely through the energy in the tracks.
With great feedback from the likes of BBC Radio One, even before its release, this track is due to be a summer anthem. Contrasting their last release, ‘Feathers’, ‘Grace On Fire’ is a much more lowkey sound. With use of more simple vocal rhythms, the track gives listeners a chance to focus on the instrumental accompaniment unlike ‘Feathers’ which focused on intense vocals with a heavy guitar in the foreground.
Always bringing positive vibes, while ‘Feathers’ fought the idea of self-acceptance, ‘Grace On Fire’ argues the point that people can’t be controlled or have their mind changed - both equally important messages. With lyrics explaining, “Every day I tell her that I love her”, and an acknowledgement that, “It’s not my place”, this track shows friendship at its finest form. Doing the most you can isn’t a guarantee they’ll do the right thing but nobody can be forced to go against their heart, even if they know it's wrong.
Despite being a new band, BAXTR are bringing a fresh energy that explodes with realism but manages to still remain positive - even the colourfulness of their artwork brings a cheerfulness.
If you would like to find out more about the BAXTR girls or keep up to date with their upcoming releases, the links to all their social medias are below via the icons: