There are bands that like to be mysterious and decide for themselves when they want to be heard. Garbage and flowers Such a band. Originally from Wellington, New Zealand, now lives in Sydney, Australia. The last time they released something was in 2016 (EP You don’t go anywhere/live in Newtown) has another EP out now, Sea of CinnamonRecorded in a former courthouse that now operates as Airbnb.
Founder and vocalist Helen Johnstone originally trained with bandmates Ben Wright Smith, Paul Yates and Tom Williams alongside co-founder Yuri Prusin. The songs he had written earlier started to take shape and he was able to add a few more. The band’s sound hasn’t changed much in thirty years. It’s dissonant, underproduced, unruly and very DIY, with influences from The Velvet Underground.
Only… you don’t make it American worship band enough. A very short way. Already during the opening song ‘Kaan Nee Yaretya Naam’, you hope it gets better after this one. Even after multiple listens to the mini-album, this song that evokes memories of The Byrds is still somewhat acceptable. Not only was Johnstone’s voice out of tune, but it didn’t follow the rhythm of the music. The title ‘Cinema Sea’ continues in the same vein. You’d think one in five would point this out to her. Luckily she didn’t have to sing much on ‘On The Radio’.
When Frusin finally takes over the vocals, you hope it’s at least improved. Unfortunately… the protest song ‘Red Star’ has to be the most horrible and annoying song on the album. The monotonous voice spoken/sung on acoustic guitar hits inspires us “Lenin is my hero, Trotsky is my hero”Johnstone will talk about this in a moment “You owe me a whole dollar” He sings. Closing Jacob B is not so good ( “You’re driving in your car, your world is so small, you feel so tall” ) and musically it’s not much: the melodies aren’t strong and the simple guitar chords aren’t captivating enough.
If Garbage and Flowers are the best in New Zealand music, the country should start worrying. Maybe they should move to Australia from the local taste police? Anyway: unless you’re looking to tease the neighbors, you can safely skip this album.
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