'The Barstools' out now thru Walking Horse
Who are these masked joys and curl?
Maybe begin with Alex Elbery - singer, songwriter, accordion toter, guitar swinger and laptop puncher who fronts Stereoflower – who was indeed Stereoflower completely by himself, performing a Chapinlesque solo version of his shtick in Perth pubs at the age of 16 until he was approached by Rufus Marmaduke (guitarist) and Doctor Blythe (drummer) after the couple saw him play at The Norfolk Basement in Fremantle. Marmaduke and Blythe were looking for a singer, and explained to Elbery that he was their man, all the more so because they had not realized they had been looking for a singer before watching his set.
Elbery, who coincidentally had been looking for a band with whom to escape the JD Salinger vibe of the solo circuit for the Dr Seuss possibilities of a band, agreed that everybody present should adopt one another, and from that meeting Stereoflower (the band) arose. Slightly later that month Elbery found himself wandering a semi-rural paddock at some absurd hour, possibly in the detritus of some godawful rave type thing, and coaxed a stranger from a hay bale. This stranger quickly revealed himself to be none other than Marco Remarko, bass player and fellow conquistador.
A propitious beginning for a band that stakes such a large claim on the absurd. Fast forward a few formative months to June 2009 and to the low rent atmos of the Railway Hotel in Fremantle. West Australian Newspaper correspondent Matt Giles is there to cover RTRFM's Winterfest, an annual showcase of Perth's Indie music, feeling that he has his expectations properly calibrated. He is there afterall, to review a line-up of "local heavyweights", of the type that exist nearly everywhere, quality artists largely unknown abroad, but of course quite familiar to the local music critic. Whatever the outcome of the night's performances, predict Giles, the Earth shall remain unshaken.
"That impression was shattered when Rufus Marmaduke (which must be a stage name) busted out his first blazing, flawless guitar solo, and singer, Alex Elberry, threw his spirit on the stage from start to finish..their ability, and the prodigious talent of Elberry, who flailed limbs, wailed and mounted the drum stand, position them at the start of a very long and promising music career...as I filtered out of the venue into the terrible port city weather, the thing foremost in my mind was the tenuous nature of expectations revealed by an overwrought kid in skinny jeans and fat Doc Martens."
In their short time together, the band has pulled some impressive support slots, including The Middle East and Kim Salmon, and gladly done the home and away gigs with the local heavyweights, and the bantams, too – they are themselves, unashamedly, mere featherweights in the grass-roots ring. Yet many have noted, as Giles did on that chilly June night in Fremantle, that theyare already punching well above their weight.
But there is something Elbery excels at beyond climbing kick drums. Wit and melody are the real thunder falls of his impish step. Indeed, if there is a better 18 year old song writer in the English speaking world, we are all in for a damned good ride. In the meantime, the remarkable debut album from Stereoflower (slated for release by Walking Horse Records in April 2010) will just have to do.
No less than the songs that propel this album into something knee-shakingly singular, are the performances of the band itself. Blythe is a minimalist drummer (there is not a single roll on the album) who takes her cue superbly from Maureen Tucker. Tasteful stuff. Marco Remarko drives the bass guitar like an immaculate muscle car from the 1970's (way before he was born too, of course), and Rufus Marmaduke does what a good guitarist has license to do with such a rhythm section and such masterfully lyrical sentiments: administer crescendos and break-outs more or less intravenously. Musicians will be quick to point out the excellent rhythm guitar of Elbery and the trashy interjections of his pedal stomping moments. All will dig the raspy tenor of his vox, because that's the register where tone really counts.
Keep an ear to the ground, and your eyes on the night sky in 2010 as Stereoflower prepare to take off and It's Alright/It's OK/Satellite Commander is launched.
Written by Joe Bludge.
Alex from Stereoflower will be playing a song live on SYN FM in Melbourne tomorrow at 8:35am (Melbourne Time). http://syn.org.au/
Catch Stereoflower supporting Those Wretched Horses at their launch tonight at The Bird!