OUR DAYS MIND THE TYME - The Dolly Rocker Movement (Off the Hip)
Our policy of (mostly) only reviewing stuff we like at the I-94 Bar skews the read-out meter to the Positive end of the scale. Life's too short to listen to shit, so if a disc gets stuck in the player for an inordinate amount of time you can bet your bum it has more than a little merit.
And so it goes with this trippy beast, the third long-player from these guys and the most formidable. Talk had it that it was a cleaner, sanitised and perhaps more introspective Dolly Rocker Movement emerging from recording sessions but that goss was clearly off-beam.
What has happened is a bigger budget studio and the deft guiding production hand of Peter Doherty (not the Mental as Anything guy) has sharpened the sound. The band's also pushed its way into Baroque pop territory and mixed up its time signatures. The result is an album that's all-pervading and hard to put down.
The Dolly Rocker Movement (TDRM) revolves heavily around the axis of Daniel Poulter, vocalist, guitar player and songwriter. Poulter is nothing if not adventurous in his tunes and isn't reluctant to augment the band's ranks with other players. On the gorgeous "Coffin Love", for example, Jules Ferrari guests on lead vocals.
"Our Days..." wanders from angry fuzz ("My Heavenly Way") to irresistible driving paisley pop "Memory Layne") to swelling space psych ("Enjoy a Paranoia") and doesn't suffer from its diversity. Even the sprawling closer, "The Ecstasy Once Told", where violins and all sorts of keyboard sounds get thrown into the deal, never strays near pretentiousness.
Jak Housden's guitarwork is a special pleasure - although it's a fair bet that few of TDRM's audience would realise he's an ex-member of mainstream bands like The Whitlams and The Badloves and the son of a key Little Liver Band member. It hardly matters and it's a factoid that's thrown in to show these guys don't much care about prevailing widsom. They play what they do and it works.
Is visionary too broad a word to use? Too bad. Although there are only a few bands mining this sort of turf (at least on this side of the planet) and "Our Days..." is finding its way into Europe via the excellent Bad Afro label which has a like-minded roster, there's no-one doing it as well.
Buy it, absorb it and enjoy. It's that easy. – The Barman
A SOUND FOR TWO - The Dolly Rocker Movement (Off the Hip)
Two quick statements of fact: The Dolly Rocker Movement wears the Moffs' inherited crown as Sydney's best psychedelic band of this or the last 20 years. And this four-song EP ensures the headwear's staying firmly in place.
More Baroque than previous recordings with less fuzz and Farfisa and more synth, the band's always expanding palette makes them all the more compelling. Delicacy and daring in one package. The Dolly Rockers are always pushing the envelope and although the basis for the sound's time-honoured, there's no-one doing it as well.
Daniel Poulter's vocal is more up-front, with the firm but sympathetic co-production hand of Peter Doherty well suited to the songs. The pastoralism of the title tune contrasts with the swirly melody of "Memory Layne", but you'll will want this as much for B-sides "Which Way To Go" and "It's Not Your Touch", neither of which will make it to the new album.
Seven or eight years ago I wouldn't given it or much else in the genre more than a casual listen, but the likes of Donovan's Brain and a handful of others turned that around. Lately, there's been a whole slew of worthwhile new psychedelic music from which to cherrypick. TDRM sets something of a benchmark in their home country but if this is indicative of the album, the rest of the world will pay serious attention.– The Barman
A PURPLE JOURNEY INTO THE MOD MACHINE – The Dolly Rocker Movement (Off the Hip)
A fab follow-up to their first slice of sunny folk-flavoured psych, but what would I know when the closest thing I get to tripping is driving an hour cross-country through western Sydney to punch in as a corporate slave? At least music like this make the journey more bearable (substituting MDMA for sugar substitute in the coffee not being an option when you take your caffeine straight up).
Where the album does go off the rails is its cover art. I love the weird and warped letter art that TDRM get up to for their posters but couldn’t work out whose album title was being crunched by Disraeli’s Gears on the purple and grey background. I’m thinking a snap of some smoky bong-populated Moroccan boudoir, or the results of Timothy Leary’s last colonoscopy might have done the trick equally well. So now that we have the important stuff out of the way, let’s turn to the music…
This is actually half an album of TDRM music with the balance credited to “Dandelion” (aka the band’s guitarist/vocalist Daniel Poulter) who apparently played most of the instruments. I wouldn’t name any of my offspring Dandelion more than I’d slap them with Moon Unit Zappa or Zowie Bowie as a burden to carry through life, but if Dan wants to wear that moniker as the leader of a trippy psych rock band, that’s, er, just dandy with me. Don’t expect me to call him out loud if we’re on the piss and it’s his shout in a bar full of steroid-chomping bikers.
“A Purple Journey…” is book-ended by slices of mood-setting aural ephemera (“Enter the Mod Machine” and “Cross Wired”), a brace of instrumentals to set the mood. What’s in-between runs the gamut from fuzzy menace ("Get Up And Go go") to freakbeat-pop ("Follow the Sound"). "Gypsy Dancer" is bonafide early Died Pretty on one of their more whimsical pop trips. "My Friend" is a sea of calm in the eye of a psychedelic storm, a companion piece to "The Wiser Road".
Dandelion's half of the album comes across as a little edgier and harder-edged but it's only by a matter of degrees. Put much of that down to "Get Up And Go-Go". Then there's a song like "Follow the Sound", which is deceptively simple in its construction, following a simple melody throughout. "I Can See Through Orange" entwines female and male vox to create a slightly maudlin tone.
Production is, for the most part, intimate and quietly transparent, allowing the disparate elements like percussion, acoustic guitars, vibes and sitar (among others) to shine through. It's well removed from almost anything else you'll find on your local record store shelves and certainly not the crap your average mainstream radio station would consider playing, more's the pity.
This is the second TDRM release in nine months and I'm hoping there's more petrol in the tank. Either they have nowhere else to go after this or the psychedelic world's their oyster. I'm leaning towards the latter. – The Barman
ELECTRIC SUNSHINE - The Dolly Rocker Movement (Off the Hip)
There's something special going on here with another band on Off the Hip that deserves to be huge. They probably would be if it was the mid-'80s, and you can take that as a positive. "Electric Sunshine" might be a surprise package to some, but they probably weren't taking enough notice in the first place.
So shoot me for tagging these unassuming Sydneysiders as the spiritual leaders of what might be dubbed The New Psychedelica (shades of a breathless moment of Jon Landau-ness for a minute there, but we all need a crazy tagline to hang a hat on). The point of that non-sequitir is that everything old is new again and the DRM capture the same trippy, blissed-out groove as The Moffs did in the same city 20 years ago.
Like The Moffs, the DRM probably don't give a hippy's hairclip about what's on your playlist 'cos theirs' is full of acid-drenched folk-pop, with overtones of the gentler end of the freakbeat spectrum and the pastoral psych that the Brits churned out so well, circa 1966. Also like The Moffs, the DRM puts its own stamp on what it does.
At the core of the DRM is guitarist-vocalist Daniel Poulter who co-produced and wrote the album. On first listen, you might find the boxy drum sound a little hard to come to grips with, but persevere and you'll be rewarded. It actually suits. Poulter and Aaron Kennedy (The High Society) have weaved some production magic to bring The DRM's deftness and more acrid moments to the fore.
There's a folk heart to most of these songs but also a sense of melody and expansiveness that gives the music real impetus. Whether it's the quirky drive of "Go Go Getter", the gentle, organ-and-harp rural chug of "Steam Train Blues" or the early Died Pretty acid storm of "The Light Ride", there's a depth to the songs that you don't hear very often.
"Will I See My Star" adds vocal sweetening from Cindy Poulter in the way Rebecca Barnard does for fellow travelers Pubert Brown Fridge Occurrence, and works similarly well. Do you miss Syd? If so, indulge yourself with your pill/potion of choice and give "Sunflower" a spin, where a delicate melody underpins faux-English dandy vocals and diamond-eyed Floyddian lyrics.
"What's That Sound" is as stark a neurotic trip into pop's dark territories as you'll hear, which sits at the opposite end of the spectrum to "In My Mind, In My Mind & In My Heart". The latter could be the song any self-respecting mainstream radio station (oxymoron, anyone?) could pick up on. Of course they'd have to shorten the title first. Now that I'd like to hear...
A friend once described an ethereal and slightly out-of-fashion Melbourne band as existing in their own world where punk never existed. Make room for a neighbour. One of the most archaically appealing Australian albums of 2006. Pass on it at your peril.
– The Barman
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