Esperance trio Grand Casual have just unveiled their new single Western Border. It’s another step forward for the coastal town favourites, who have made their name as a popular live act with shows across WA including Blues at Bridgetown, WAMFest and Nannup Music Festival while also scoring a nomination for a WAM Regional Award.
The track kicks off with Matt Cooper’s scuzzy guitar riff sitting somewhere between garage rock and melodic punk complete with the richness of the opens strings in the vein of Sonic Youth or Silversun Pickups. It contains just the right amount of crunch on the guitar, but not overstated, like a hash brown grilled with greasy tenderness.
If the rhythm section sounds like a solitary unit, that’s because it is. During live shows, drummer Joe Franzone impressively plays the bass on a keyboard at the same time as hitting the skins. As the band put it: “he can play the drums better with one hand than you can type www.pornhub.com into your browser with your left index finger.”
Grand Casual’s playful sentiment in talking about their music, such as in last week’s X-Press Interview, carries through the song. Self-described “overweight, balding 30 something front-man” Kyron Smithson steps forward from the earthy, nineties style musical backdrop to stand front and centre. During the soaring verses he belts it out like Future Islands’ Samuel T. Herring, but with a bit of pub rock rubbed in. The chorus becomes snappier, with Smithson declaring “We’re gonna piece it back together man” before flowing back again to the verse with passion and poise.
Pretty much bang on mid-way through the song the band pull the rug out from under you with an unexpected change. The BPMs drop into a sort of breakdown and the whole thing gets a bit more funky, and raucous. The vibe they have built throughout the first two verses and choruses suddenly becomes a mix of new-wave vocals, glam guitar, tongue in cheek lyrics and echo effects.
It’s an endearing method ultimately, with the band canvassing a direction in the song only to dismantle it, reassuring you they’re not taking it too seriously after all. Having said that, the tune is capped off with an oil-slick guitar solo that makes for a frenetic finale.
Overall this new single shows there are plenty of sides to this group and they have the musical skill to tie together sweeping changes in style and expression. The first half of the song probably has more of a timeless sound but this band refuses to be anyone but themselves, and that’s plenty to build on going forward.