CONSONANT CACOPHONY - Danna & The Changes (Pop Boomerang)
The cover art comes across like the Waltons and the unwieldy album might knock a radio announcer out of his or her comfort zone, but this is pretty and often potent powerpop with a kick. Danna and his collective The Changes ring the, uh, changes, from Big Star to the Beach Boys to The Replacements, sometimes with effortless charm.
Danna is originally from coastal Victoria and used to be part of Melbourne mod-popsters The Suits. The Changes are his attempt not to be boxed in with the same band (even if a couple of members have been with him since his earliest cover band days.) There's an open invitation for anyone to come and try their luck, but it sounds like you'll have to be pretty good.
But who plays what on this album? It's a bit of the mystery with the CD slick giving no clue. Myspace throws up a few more indications but this is a band where everybody is on a first-name basis only. Blame early onset Alzheimer's or those crazy marketing guys. The focus remains squarely on guitarist-singer Danna's who's an ace vocalist and carries the material well.
Opening cut "Baby Love" is more infectious than German measles (and, unlike that disease, won't send your pregnant sister's unborn child blind.) A rockin' backbeat with dropped-out guitars and a hook from right out of left-field make for a strong statement to kick "Cacophony" into high-gear.
The rest of the album doesn't consistently scale the same heights, but that's not a bagging. From here on in the trip swings through charming country pop ("Janie"), piano pop respites ("He And She", "Long Time Alone") and catchy rockers (the slinky "Shake H Up", "Good Duet".)
At times, "Cacophony" tries to cover too many bases. "Good Times" is a case in point and at 6min30sec wears out its welcome by the halfway point. Next track "He and She" is mawkish in a Kinksy, pastoral way and you can make up your own mind if another uptempo rocker might have been better placed in the wake of "Good Times".
Not content with writing and arranging the songs, playing guitar and singing, Danna went and produced the whole thing as well. Rumour has it he picked up all the empty bottles scattered around the studio, put them in the recycling bin and drove everyone home after the recording, but that might just be a fabrication to reinforce his green credentials and exempt him from being the designated driver at the launch party. Truth is sometimes wilder than fiction.
There's more substance than style to this album and that's a good thing in a world obsessed with the ephemeral and trite. All things considered, this is a convincing debut and one that bodes well for future recordings. - The Barman
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