[4 December 2013]
“I ain’t done much changing in what I love since 1993,” boasts Scott and Charlene’s Wedding main-man Craig Dermody on “1993”, and for this Aussie quartet, it doubles as a mission statement on their weird (in a good way!), heart-on-sleeve third full-length, Any Port in a Storm. Trafficking in the goofy, slightly stoopid circa-’93 vintage lo-fi indie that used to get made right before the alt-rock Lollapalooza explosion, SACW get a little too ragged for their own good in places, but Any Port is still a fine ersatz blast from the past that manages to speak to modern-day insecurities. That goofiness manifests itself in the aforementioned “1993”, Dermody’s recounting of the ’93 NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks (proving you can write a song about anything). “Lesbian Wife”, with Dermody, meanwhile sounds like the love child of Lou Reed and Jad Fair, weaving a tale (I think) of the titular character, a flood and a dog. The most memorable spot, “Gammy Leg”, then features the narrator’s “zombie leg” freaking out his boss, some girls and leaks all over the floor, as “I wonder if it’s ever gonna heal… it looks so gross” is exclaimed.
That goofiness, however, is offset by Dermody’s frequent confessional lyrics. The Brooklyn transplant outlines his self-doubt about his new home on “Fakin’ NYC”, sees his ex with a new guy on “Spring St”, and just generally “sings” in a stream of consciousness that gives one the sense that he’ll die if these words don’t get out as quickly as possible, the concept of “good” vocals be damned. Meanwhile, the band whips up a fine frenzy behind Dermody, too: a little Velvets drone on the opening “Junk Shop”; the guitar riot of “Jackie Boy”; even some Celibate Rifles/Radio Birdman on the surf-y “Downtown”. Dudes know their stuff. Will songs about two-decade-old basketball rivalries and oozing appendages by a neurotic Australian with a jones for Clinton-era indie merit repeat listens? Who’s to say, but with too few exceptions (Art Brut, the Brakes), there aren’t enough humorous, honest bands out there to offset the deluge of dire indie out there.