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Sydney’s Bell Weather Department couldn’t have timed their self-titled debut more perfectly. It’s been about a minute since Oasis finally did what the world had collectively stopped caring whether or not they’d do and Jet are likewise kaput. So naturally we need another band, preferably English or at least a member of the Commonwealth, to fill the gap they left in their wake. Bell Weather Department do a fine job of this heavy task that could easily relegate their band to the status of “just another indie group.” The difference is Bell Weather know this and try hard to make their debut different from the herd.
The Bell Weather bring a modern flare to their sound. They’ve paid close attention to the last ten or so years of NME covers—in some cases digging into the archives to see what was making Mojo headlines in the 80s. There’s all sorts of influences, most of them coming delivered fresh by yellow submarine from the British Isles. But there’s still shades of Brian Wilson, Phil Spector and other Yanks throughout the album.
Receivers starts off as a psychedelic shoegaze-rocker with hints of glockenspiel that’s reminiscent of Surf’s Up-era Beach Boys, before quickly turning into an acoustic-driven indie lament. There’s shades of musique concrete on the ambient and experimental Fireworks in the Moonlight. It opens with a field recording of fireworks (that I’m guessing were in the moonlight). A short, meandering reverse-guitar instrumental then ensues over a stiff electronic drum beat. This album sounds a lot like a collage of sound, than a congruous collection of 10 distinguishable songs.
There’s some definite highlights, in particular Hole in the Sky and the similar-sounding Asterisk. The former is simultaneously reminiscent of Ocean Colour Scene and Arctic Monkeys—a jaunty, bouncy number. Asterisk is where the band comes to finding something of their own sound. It has a chugging Road to Nowhere-like rhythm with some rather sublime chord progressions.