PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Chad's Tree: Crossing Off the Miles

Aussie indie band gets deluxe retrospective treatment.

Chad's Tree

Crossing Off the Miles

Label: Memorandum
US Release Date: 2010-07-06
UK Release Date: 2010-07-06

There's a 32-page booklet included in this comprehensive two-disc retrospective of Austalian alternative rockers Chad's Tree, one that collects photos and essays from just about everyone associated with the band during its heyday in the 1980s. That's a good thing, at least for me, because I had never heard of them. Despite enjoying critical praise and a semi-rabid fan base, the band never made it big outside of Australia. This compilation marks the first time the music has been available on CD. In other words, AC/DC they ain't. Or even Men At Work.

Which is just fine with them, I suspect. Hailing from Perth in Australia's far west, the band built up a following in the lively local music scene -- one which included such bands as the Triffids -- before traveling to Sydney in the mid-'80s to record two albums, play countless gigs, and eventually disband. This 37-track compilation collects both albums, plus a handful of singles, another handful of demos, and a few live cuts. As far as I can tell, this is more or less everything the band ever put to tape.

Confusingly, the songs are not arranged in chronological order, so the first single the band ever recorded, "Crush the Lily", is number 11 on the first disc. (It follows the ten-track debut album, Buckle in the Rail, which was released well after the "Crush the Lily" single.) In any case, Buckle in the Rail is what one hears first after popping the disc into the player, and "Sweet Jesus Blue Eyes" comes bubbling forth, awash in acoustic guitar and mournful violin.

In this song, as in nearly every other, the most arresting sound is that of Mark Snarski's voice. The founder and main songwriter for the band, Snarski possesses a throaty baritone that carries these songs for better or worse and dominates even the noisiest of them. Not that they are especially noisy: despite the energetic drumming of James Hurst and twangy guitars of Mark's brother Robert, the fiddle playing of Susan Grigg lends a folkie air to such tunes as "The Magician" and "The Vintage of St. Helen’s".

Other songs range from bluesy rockers like "Carve It in Wood" to slower, moodier numbers such as "Heatwater Train" and "Entangled Vines". The band's sound changes markedly from its debut album to the second, Kerosene. The same variety of tempos and approaches is there, only more so: the guitars are brighter, and the palette of sounds has expanded to include xylophone, harmonica, keyboards, and trumpet. Snarski's voice sounds a little calmer, too, while backing vocals from Kathy Wemyss serve to smooth off more rough edges. In a nutshell, that sums up the shift from the first album to the second: fewer rough edges. That said, "North to South" rocks pretty convincingly.

Listeners searching for a musical touchstone could do worse than Midnight Oil; Snarski's voice shares a certain full-throated urgency with Peter Garrett's, and the jagged guitars lend sonic textures ranging from spiky to gentle. Ultimately, it is that voice that will deterrmine the listener's response: in this band, more than most, the singer is the song.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.