PSYCHEDELIC PORN CRUMPETS – ” And Now for the Whatchamacallit “

Posted: September 10, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , ,

Their new record, “And Now For The Whatchamacallit”, is sitting at the very top of the Australian vinyl charts, and for good reason. They scratch an itch in Aussie music that strikes a rare balance between immediacy and complexity the sheer momentum of their riff-based psych-rock nearly outruns its own anxious underbelly.

Since the advent of language, all things have needed to be called somethingespecially rock bands. To break out of the psych-rock hotbed of Perth, Australia, a truly absurd moniker was chosen: Psychedelic Porn Crumpets. What does it mean? We have no idea and neither do the fellas in the band. However, like their music, it’s undeniably memorable. Hailing from the same pub and club scene that spawned psych-pop superstars Tame Impala and cult favourites Pond, the Crumpets’ brand of psychedelic rock is decidedly more over-the-top than the fare their compatriots put out. The Crumpets make brash, exuberant music that takes the intrigue and textures of classic psych and injects it with an unhinged, restless energy that feels like peaking on LSD while riding a rollercoaster.

At the core of the Crumpets’ sonic universe is an unabashed love of cartoonishly large and colourful guitars. With their third LP, And Now for the Whatchamacallit, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets have created a loose concept album which applies the aesthetic of a 1930s carnival to the turbulent circus that is touring life for a young band. Tracked chiefly in frontman/principal songwriter/guitarist Jack McEwan’s bedroom studio (with some overdubs done at Perth’s Tone City Studios), And Now for the Whatchamacallit is indeed a guitar carnival that revels in dazzling multi-layered harmonies, chunky, fuzz-laden riffing, and delicate ambient passages that’ve been tweaked, warped, or pitch-shifted in interesting ways. Finished with a dash of ’70s glam pomp and a hearty dose of indie-pop melody, the album ticks a lot of hallowed guitar-rock boxes while forging unique territory.

And yet, lead singer Jack McEwan is anything but world-weary. Gleefully sipping a schooner on a Monday morning with the rest of his exhausted band behind him, he seems as stoked as a man could be. With occasional interjections from bright-eyed keyboard player Chris Young, we chat about escapism, how Perth shaped their music, and the way song writing fills the void.

Beyond being a compelling listen, the Crumpets’ latest release is a fine example of how good a guitar-focused album can be without access to expensive gear, or much reliance on tube amps or even high-end modelling rigs. The Crumpets’ musical identity is a by product of Perth’s isolation, where bands are decidedly less overwhelmed by an influx of outside art and additionally forced to use whatever tools they have at their disposal in a place where American-made and/or vintage gear is difficult to come by.

A big fan of the “work with what you’ve got” philosophy, McEwan tracked almost all of his guitar parts in Ableton through DI and employed clever production techniques (like eschewing amp sims altogether for an extremely hot compressor) to get his guitar sounds, which are rarely sterile, despite often sounding like anything but a guitar. While McEwan’s guitars live almost exclusively in the digital realm, lead guitarist Luke Parish is a fan of vintage gear and has hunted down and imported some gems, including a ’60s Sears Silvertone amp and a ’68 Fender Deluxe Reverb, which he used to add organic warmth to McEwan’s digital guitar pastiche. The pair complement each other exceptionally well as guitarists despite having vastly different backgrounds as musicians: McEwan is a converted bass player and Parish came up playing in jazz bands and then followed the typical blues-rock heroes of yesteryear.

With McEwan and Parish riding in the back of a tour van, traversing a Welsh highway. The duo discussed the band’s writing process, unique home-recording techniques, the travails of sourcing decent gear in an isolated locale, and what makes Australia such a fertile place for rock ’n’ roll.

They are certainly channelling some of King Gizzard magic . With its slashing garage rock riff and driving bassline, it starts out like something out of the Gizz’s Nonagon Infinity, particularly with its hushed vocals. This docks it a few points for originality. However, the song’s distinguishes itself a more melodic cerebral second half.

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