“(100)” – ‘Tehachapi’
One of three albums I intend to review as a trio from home-grown Melbourne-band ‘Tehachapi’, “(100)” delivers an inspiring debut akin to bands like ‘The Middle East’ in audacity and performance. Their style is casual but effective, and their songs pay close attention to detail, neither overstating nor understating a chorus or crescendo.
With a style comparatively similar to the amalgamation of ‘Coldplay’, ‘Mogwai’ or even ‘Florence + The Machine’, this prog/post-rock band reignites my faith in Australia to pump out epic bands that sound years ahead of their time. And, albeit a little late on our parts to pick up on these guys – debuting back March-way – they certainly have stirred my interests…
So, without further delay, I say it’s never too late to review:
‘Tehachapi’ comprises “Constantine Stefanou”, “Anthony Cook”, “Laura Christoforidis” and “James Ruse”, formed earlier last year ’09, and according to their bio on last.fm, the band’s Native American name translates as: “the land of four seasons and sweet water.”
Combining the elements of instrumental post-rock similar to ‘Mogwai’, while also imagining a duet between “Florence Welch” and “Chris Martin”, listeners will find themselves immersed in the world ‘Tehachapi’ offers almost instantaneously. And while I can only safely say that “Laura Christoforidis” is on alternate vocals, I’m bereft as for confirmation on her male counterpart, who is just as mesmerising. Pairing up for tracks like “Sighing Eyes” displays an awesome arena for sound and performance; solos are just as emphatic from either lead.
‘Tehachapi’ considers their sound relatively similar to the forms of psychedelia and post-rock – taking inspiration from such bands as ‘Tame Impala’, ‘Mogwai’ and even ‘Radiohead’. Despite my own opinion that the elements of psychedelia seem less prominent in ‘Tehachapi’ than in ‘Tame Impala’ or even ‘The Phenomenal Handclap Band’, it will sometimes manifest itself in a dreamy atmosphere, a solo, something I think fittingly resembles shoegaze rather, in a sort of airy quality. Nostalgia is limited – if you consider the nineties history, well, then I suppose you could say they are nostalgic – because the sound feels only slightly older than anything from the noughties.
The album itself is strikingly well crafted, albeit short-lived, and it delivers in its ephemera an uncanny display stereotypical of elsewhere other than Australia; totalling eight-tracks across the span of nearly forty-minutes, it’s primed for vinyl and feels rather like an EP. It is not to say that in such a small amount of time, ‘Tehachapi’ don’t make some sort of definitive impact – it’s a real replay situation, with play-through after play-through delivering just a little bit more every time. It’s just, I would have liked more – and I suppose in this sense, it’s better to leave fans wanting more than having enough.
Something to be said about ‘Tehachapi’ is future-potential – their success may drive a mainstream audience nuts: they might simply adopt them like lost children, evidently milk them for all their worth, and move on to the next band like the musical-vampires that they are. I feel this is what was done with ‘Midnight Juggernauts’ – suddenly they made a big hit, were oozing talent, potential. Their debut skyrockets, takes the country by storm, and the follow-up in my opinion, just didn’t deliver…
‘Tehachapi’s’ stand-out qualities – apart from quality itself, because every track has its own unique flavour, disparaging boredom – can be found in delicate guitar riffs offset by noise-filled crescendos/solos, typically found in ‘Mogwai’. That, and ‘Laura Christoforidis” contribution to vocals has a totally different effect on a track, making it feel as though there were two bands instead of one, or double the amount of music itself. While she will often simply reinforce as backing vocals, her leads contrast the music so effectively, that I almost prefer listening to her solely.
“Solders Of The Sun” opens for “(100)” with a set-up so much like a lost ‘Coldplay’ song – think “Rush Of Blood To The Head”-style – that I was literally blown away by its spooky resemblance. Tempted, I must admit at this stage, to simply turn away, I pressed on: I thoroughly enjoy ‘Coldplay’, you see…
Although not as particularly noteworthy as, say, “Sighing Eyes”, “Soldiers Of The Sun” has been rated highly amongst the listeners [presumably because it is the first track?]. My favourite, which follows-on from it, “Sighing Eyes”, shows a lot of promise for ‘Tehachapi’, and has to be one of the best tracks “(100)” offers. It sees the first duet between male/female vocals, trailed by a thin trickle of guitar, an emphatic thump of percussion and a shake of tambourine. Excellent juxtaposition between soft and loud allows for distinctive solos and choruses. At 3:23, a fantastic finale with the lyrics “Sighing Eyes” slowly fading to end the track.
Here’s where things get even more interesting: “Stars Are Dying”, the third track, embodies ‘Mogwai’ in the rawest sense possible. With a pure instrumental devoid of vocals, and a length of six-minutes, it stays true to the very essence of a ‘Mogwai’ instrumental, complete with explosive chorus and all.
Tracks like “Winds In Motion” [where I feel the “Florence + The Machine” comparison fits in] and “Numbered Lovers” are simply delectable, with their opening riffs employed as excellent introductions. Throughout, they are rarely overshadowed by too much sound or too much voice. I admire this above all else: these little tid-bits should not to get lost. Instead, they should grow, evolve into something else just as beautiful, or simply stay the same. It’s a real tease for a track to just give you something and take it away after a few seconds or so. I really do scold bands for doing this…
With that said, tracks are particularly self-contained: this allows for a listener to pick up where they left off without the fuss of starting all over. Unless that’s what you like to do – personally, I always have to endure an album from start to finish and after dutifully doing that three or four times, skip ahead to the ones I like. You never know what you might fall in love with on a second or third repeat. “(100)” is circular in nature, without real end. You kind of just start at an assumed beginning again. And maybe, that’s what I like about it the most…
Reviewer’s Pick: “Sighing Eyes”
Stand-out Tracks: “Sighing Eyes”, “Stars Are Dying”, “Winds In Motion”, “Numbered Lovers”
The Enantiomorophic God