Article and Interview : David D. Robbins Jr.
Album: City Calm Down/EP
CAN’T-MISS BAND: Okay, get on the bandwagon now. The Melbourne quartet, City Calm Down, finished putting the final touches on their self-titled debut EP, and it won’t be long before throngs outside Australia begin to take notice of their music. They combine heavily hook-driven electronic dance-pop, techno and old-school synth with strong rhythmic bass lines. Jack Bourke’s voice balances the band’s pretty spacial grooves with a darker edge, his vocals sometimes sounding a bit like Peter Murphy or Ian Curtis — with more range and softer appeal.
You’ll hear a bit of Joy Division/New Order in “Lost. Trapped” — one of the best songs on the EP, and one of the coolest tracks released this year. This isn’t some run-of-the-mill electronic outfit. City Calm Down’s EP is a beautiful bridge between the memorable anthemic sensibilities of the 80s, modern instrumentation and introspective lyrics. “Lost. Trapped” aches like “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, but offers a vision of things getting better: “Give it space /And give it time / We told ourselves / We knew how to do this / Empty ourselves of whatever’s left / Maybe one day we’ll get through it.” It’s hard to listen to “Lost. Trapped” and not hear it as some cool hybrid of Curtis and Jim Kerr.
City Calm Down’s “You Can Have It So Much Better” begins with a speedily-paced spacey rhythm and these chilled, altered vocals, “You are running out of time now.” But it transitions into a driving bass beat, and this verse, “Life’s not passing … / Passing me by / But you wanna know … / You wanna know my secret / So you can tell everybody else.” The song builds with a shouting background vocal, and a saxophone solo that threads throughout the end of the song. Yes, you read right — a saxophone solo begins at the 2:33 mark. It’s highly creative. It’s unique. And it’s gorgeous. City Calm Down joins the list of newer bands like the xx, Dark Mean, Braids, and Uncles as groups with glowing futures.
City Calm Down’s lead singer, Jack Bourke, was kind enough to answer some questions from Their Bated Breath. This is the very first question-and-answers session on this blog. And I’m pretty excited that it’s with a band whose music I really enjoy. The hope for this feature, is you’ll get to know a little something about some of the best musicians around, and they get a chance to talk directly to you about life, music and whatever is on their minds:
A: We’ve just finished recording our debut EP so after a short tour interstate we will be looking to begin writing and recording another release almost immediately. We’re unsure as to whether it will be a full-length LP or another EP, but I think that will be decided once we have a lot of our demo ideas consolidated in the studio.