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Sunset Studies

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Album Review

Those buoyed by Doves' and Elbow's retrenchment in Britain, away from the rueful, ego-bloated Brit-pop excesses and back towards more vintage, challenging subconscious post-punk pop (going back to such titans as Joy Division, the Comsat Angels, the Sound, the Chameleons, And Also the Trees, and early Cure), are advised to pick up Sunset Studies. It's right up there with those two groups in scope, ambition, and beauty, only very different. Voted "Top 5 LP of the Year" by the listeners of powerful Aussie national station JJJ, this simmering, sweet powderkeg is perfectly produced by the band and (mostly) engineer Paul McKercher. Each guitar chime, bass burble, and cymbal crash registers serenely on such a sinewy, methodical work. It's got all those spine-tingling elements, but this is not dream pop, nor is it strictly mood pop. Instead, this is a quartet that uses quiet, and hints of disquiet, to infect their beguiling art. The album really gets you when they drop the electric guitars on track three, "There's No Such Place," in favor of a melancholy piano and picked acoustic bed — and you become, in the lyrics, "frozen in a waking instant." Singer/songwriter Glenn Richards exhibits a honey voice as he pulls off this bittersweet, lulling, cat-hair-soft material, continuing on the light waltz "Tulip," and later on the striking, Byrds-like folk track "Men Who Follow Spring the Planet Round." Without any filler for an hour-and-a-quarter, Augie March are in no haste, meditating in little passages and dropping in bits of vibey instrumentation. A major-label LP from the other side of the world, it's worth the effort to track down, particularly for those who think there are no more musical craftsmen out there. [The CD was also released with a bonus track.]

Biography

Formed: 1996 in Melbourne, Australia

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Augie March formed in 1996 in Melbourne, Australia, where guitarist/singer/songwriter Glenn Richards, guitarist Adam Donovan, and drummer David E. Williams were attending college. The three grew up together in Shepparton, Victoria, Australia, but it wasn't until they reunited as friends during their college days that Richards, an English major, began writing songs and invited the other two to accompany him. Both Donovan and Williams were studying music and the two sought out bassist Edmond Ammendola,...
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Sunset Studies, Augie March
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