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Hitch On the Leaves

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Album Review

Practically unheard of outside Gaslight Radio's home continent, Hitch on the Leaves is a wonderful debut album from this quintet, equal parts pretty Cocteau Twins-inspired shoegaze and fragile rock drive. With the lovely chime of "New Estate Dreamboat" starting things off very well, Rory and Martin Cooke's guitars containing all the open-ended ringing one could want, the fivesome merrily make their way from softly melancholy strength to strength. Songs like "Spindlings of the Summer" and the majestic "Rosalie," with its vast sense of space and gentle impact, are sure to make any Chapterhouse, early Verve, or Kitchens of Distinction fan weep with delight that there's at least some bands out there still carrying the flame. Happily, Gaslight Radio don't sound like a cloning of any one group in particular, partially since the group turns from total feedback overdrive to subtler, slow motion approaches. Rory Cooke's lost, calmly rasped singing makes another distinguishing factor — if anyone's a parallel, it might be Doug Martsch of Built to Spill or Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, but even that's not a true comparison. What is sure is that the brothers know exactly how to work together, while everyone else is no less important in making everything wonderful (check out the steady rhythm build on "Angel Wired," tension slowly working its way to the break and release of the chorus). Almost half the tracks are less than two minutes long, most being perfect miniatures of the band style, like the great "Red Shield Marchin'" or the equally entrancing "Blue Horizon." When it comes to the longer numbers, the group often aims for the epic and almost always makes it work. "Shadowing" in particular is a major winner, with hefty but never pounding drums from Piper and some of Rory Cooke's most impassioned singing wedded to an imaginative arrangement that builds to a climax twice.


Formed: 1995

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

One of the best bands in the neo-dream pop underground but also one of the most obscure, Gaslight Radio's lack of relative attention lies not merely with its initial run of releases on small labels but its location -- Australia. In a country generally more well-known for harder-edged rock, brothers Rory and Martin Cooke, both guitarists and singers, formed the band in the town of Burleigh Heads on Queensland's Gold Coast. The other members recruited include keyboardist Matt Davis, bassist Michael...
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Hitch On the Leaves, Gaslight Radio
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