Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Hen Shuffle: a Shuffleathon 2007 review

I'm going with the standby reviewing format of track by track. This is not least because at first glance I've not heard of most of the artistes, let alone the songs. That's brilliant as I always like to find new stuff.

With a cracking drum intro, the Hen Shuffle kicks off with a real bang - and a clear statement of intent. "I've done all the dumb things". That would be Australian icon Paul Kelly's work. I'm in quite an upbeat mood from this and a fairly self-reflecting and defiant one too.

We then move onto a slower paced but equally percussion driven track with "That's When I think of you" by 1927. Hmmm. I'm beginning to spot another trend here: there's a distinct antipodean flavour to these tracks! Hey, that's well cool given that this house of Rullsenberg and Roberts has considerable links with the southern hemisphere via Neil's family in NZ and so many friends in Australia.

Right: we now have a piano introduced track - and here comes that cracking percussion again! Woo-hoo! And more than that, this has the sort of lyrics that I just feel SOOOO in-tune with. "I will not go quietly": now doesn't that title just ooze Rullsenberg bolshie-ness!? So with a big hands in the air whoop, I hereby declare that this Southern hemisphere inflected collection is hitting the spot. This track will certainly get airplay in the house on a VERY regular basis. Well done Whitlams.

Onto the next and the pace keeps upward with a mid-tempo, cymbal crack sentiment. There's a real sense of being jollied along here with some carefully thought-through selections. Even with the (male) perspective on life, there's something so affirming about the tunes and lyrics that you can't help but be swept along. So thank you Custard for your "Girls like that".

And now as we start towards the middle zone, there's a definite slowing of pace and its here that we get the softer familiar voices of Savage Garden: with lyrics speaking more directly to a female recipient, we have the tenderness of "Crash and Burn". I certainly think I know of several people who will appreciate these lines:
When you feel all alone
And the world has turned its back on you
Give me a moment please
To tame your wild wild heart

Let me be the one you call
If you jump I'll break your fall
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night
If you need to fall apart
I can mend a broken heart
If you need to crash then crash and burn
You're not alone
Keeping that tone of offering one's self to the beloved, we have the even gentler musical constructions of Crowded House: "Fall at your feet". Again, there is the echo of an offer of caring attention that may not go anywhere but where the love is given in endless hope of something more. Yeah, we have all seen that...

Opening with soft guitar plucking under quirkily half-sung/spoken lyrics, later picking up a slow percussive beat, we now take a very different route. And then we get some jazzy trumpet playing come in: oooh, this is kinda funky! So I get introduced to yet another new band in The Cat Empire and their uplifting "The Crowd". Very nice indeed!

It's a long way in but there it is: a female voice. Welcome Missy Higgins with "Ten Days"! This reminds me very much of someone else but I can't quite make the link - there's elements of the voice of Raissa but not quite. But there's a lovely strings interlude here and everyone here knows how I'm a sucker for the use of strings in pop music.

Again, it's a mid-to-slow paced burner with Hunter and Collectors' "Throw Your Arms Around me" (video here). Again there is the familiar and reasurring drive of a percussive sound and yet another melancholic desire in the lyrics. Overall, I get a sense of longing from this collection - a defiance but also deeply romantic character, acutely aware of relationships, change, unrequited emotions... Of course, that may not be the case at all - hell I have a real penchant for the same... hmm, that may not actually refute my interpertation...

Moving on, we next have a soothing electronica shuffling track by George "Breathe in Now". I especially like the female voice of Katie Noonan. Hmmm: that's throwing my iTunes as I have two other tracks by a band called George from the Pickled Egg collection Jar. Let's just try that out: yep, that voice sounds familiar! Yeah! Brilliant: I already have something by these people.

And so we come to the final track: John Williamson's "True Blue" - a more than heart on sleeve and wryly humoured pean to Australian-ness.

So how has this collection been received in the Rullsenberg house? Very well. Pretty much all the tracks on here will get good rotational airplay, with perhaps only the Missy Higgins track striking a less than fully memorable bullseye. But I can definitely say that the Whitlams track will be well-circulating in recommendations and I'll also be following up on artistes to get more of their work.

Thank you Suburban Hen. A big hit!


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Lisa. I'm chuffed the cd has landed on such a welcoming doorstep :)

I'm especially glad that the Whitlams track enjoyed such a good reception. One of my fondest gig memories is of Tim giving a open air performance from the back of a truck at the racecourse across the road from my then home in Brisbane.

I am, as is evident, more of a fan of the male vocal. A lady has to have a particularly unique voice for it to register on my radar. I'm not a fan of 'sweet'...
The Missy number found on The Hen Shuffle was around her second or third single release and isn't her most popular, that being 'Scar' (and also 'The Special Two').

Re: your observations about the Hen

defiant - yes; quietly. Possibly in a bad way. Sometimes I have to check to make sure I'm not being defiant just for the sake of it.
deeply romantic - yes, but in a way that's not evident on first, second or possibly even third meeting...eventually though, I like to think that my friends and especially my boy-person come to realise that underneath that gruff exterior beats a pretty tender heart.
Well, in the least, I'm sure my cat knows it.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Gruff exterior - tender heart: isn't that just what many Australians actually are?

Glad you liked the review: I really did enjoy the CD and its certainly found a happy home here.