This article was first published on 23 July 2013 on Louder Than War.
Scott and Charlene’s Wedding – Any Port in a Storm (Fire Records)
CD / DL / LP
The new album from Scott and Charlene’s Wedding is full of delicious grunge fuzz and anti-folk tales of settling in New York city and finding your place in the world.
The second of album from Craig Dermody’s band Scott and Charlene’s Wedding opens with the warm, resonant strum of Junk Shop. The vocal arrives, a street-poet drawl over the chiming guitar, a fresh slab of slacker pop served with a ’90s grunge vibe.
Originally from Melbourne this album tells tales from Dermody’s current home in New York. It is uncontrived snapshots of life as an outsider trying to settle in, viewing the habits of the natives as often as it is sharing introspective honesty.
Lesbian Wife brings us a story from the aftermath of a storm. Up tempo pop beats and off kilter lyrics born from a sense of being alone, of dealing not only with the situation you find yourself in but coming to terms with the person you are.
By the time the bass tumbles us into the third track, 1993, submission to the summery jangle is inevitable. The grunge is turned down in the melody while lyrically it recalls falling in love with music and a personal awakening to the wider world: “In 1993, it was 1993, 1993, and I ain’t done much changing in what I love since 1993.” And why would you change when Dermody makes it sound this good?
Fakin’ NYC brings the depth back to the sound, a big bubble of fuzz-and-crunch guitars that brings in influences from The Strokes, to Pavement and Pixies. Lyrically it is a drawled drunken giggle, an admission that Dermody “doesn’t know what he’s doing any of the time, just keep it between you and I and I’ll be fine, I’ll keep fakin’ New York city and I’ll be fine.” It is this honest and simply shared emotion which brings a wonderful familiarity, and it is with this that Dermody excels – creating allegorical sketches from his own life for things we’ve all felt.
And it is this recognition that this band are telling out story as much as their own, wrapping it up in layers of Lemonheads, of Dandy Warhols, of chime and strum but our story all the same. It makes the slower pace of Spring St all the more intimate as Dermody sings to a girl who’s already gone, the externalisation of the event a glimpse of coming to terms with the everyday recovery of the spurned.
But this is not an album of unrelenting introspection, it’s got plenty of light cast across it both melodically, with guitars chiming and spinning around tripping beats, and in the lyrics. For every heartbreaking yearn of loss there is also the straight-talking tale of an injured leg, told with a wry-smile and impatience at being merely human.
This sense of wonder and repulsion at the physicality and failing of the body and mind brings a Sesame Street-style ‘can do’ simplicity to the act of cold turkey in Charlie’s in the Gutter.
The album closes with the fluttering guitar riffs of Wild Heart,the steadying backbeat on Dermody’s laconic vocal. A love song and laid-back life advice in one spun out track.
From tales of New York city, to the everyday banality of the daily grind, the wild swing of emotion in love and lonliness this album is a striking study of songwriting, of pragmatic optimism and the chilled out but uplifting sound of surfer grunge.
An album standing alone from it’s influences and once again reminding us all there is comfort in sound.
All words by Sarah Lay.