DECEMBER 2001 Demos Of The Weeks -
Sugarchild, The Rectifiers

Our Demo Of The Week for 13th December, 2001 is:
The Rectifiers

rectifiers Reputedly six fellers (we can only count five of 'em) from Melbourne who formed in 1996, though several have been playing music together for more than a decade. They have released an ep and a full-lengther, and these are three songs from their in-progress second album. Half A Cow did have a copy of their first album, but it has gone walkabout - the sign of a good cd! And it IS a great cd - from memory ten songs that make up a very unified and compelling listen. Go search!

Line-up: Todd Denham - pedal steel, guitar/David Lord - Hammond, Wurlitzer, harmonica/Jo Volk - vocals, guitar/Nick Volk - bass, vocals/Richard Young - drums

The Rectifiers seem to have begun life as a mournful-pedal-steel-Gram-Band (know what I mean?). It's possible to hear their origins in these three songs, but they have modified the Gram Band sound to suit themselves. Sometimes, moving the sound of a band away from a genre or an influence can mean the band actually moves closer to the essence...the essence being bare paddocks flashing past your car/coach/train window, en route between two cities. Urban country music can sound simply nostalgic, sometimes derivative, at worse, fake. That's why what The Rectifiers have done is so good - they've made a sound that's true to themselves, combining the guitars and pedal steel with organs, backward loops, samples, string sounds. There are no 'bleeps and bloops' - it's all warm and woody. In their bio, they say that they're "six musicians who were just as interested in each other's instruments as their own." Only co-operative experimentation can create such a tailormade sound! The songs themselves aren't the sort you find yourself humming later; maybe they all fit together to make a picture, or an atmosphere (a bit like their earlier release). They are like sentences taken here and there from someone's travel diary. I admit, I wish the songs were more melodic. Then The Rectifiers would be my pick for Demo Of The Year! - LL

contact: the Rectifiers website

Our Demo Of The Week for 5th December, 2001 is...

Sugarchild are a three-piece from Perth: Katie (21 when they sent this to us, which could be, gulp, one or two birthdays ago - sorry, bands) who sings, Joanne (21) who plays bass and does back-ups, and Ian (24) on guitars/programming, who, by the way, has the same surname - Dolphin - as Joanne (this makes me curious about whether they are siblings or spouses or neither). The band has been together since 1995.

Actually, Sugarchild supported Half A Cow band Godstar in '95, and back then they were more-or-less fuzzy pop, and also very young! It's impressive to hear what they have evolved into - melodic, wistful pop songs over reverby beats, a smooth fusion of guitars and electronica. This demo is plaintively titled 'Unmastered, Unsigned, Unreleased', and we, as well as they, no doubt, wonder - why is this so? The vocals are the best vocals we've heard for weeks, both lead and backing vocals; they have a range that means that the melodies don't have limits to speak of, and though Katie has a classically 'good' voice (not automatically a compliment in our books) she sounds so much like a real person (not bunging on an American accent, for a start) AND she sounds like she means everything she's singing, and more! Our yardstick for emotive singing is what was said of Loretta Lynn, "That little lady sure does sing her heart out!"; though Sugarchild's vocals are a bit more restrained than Loretty's. Aside from the vocals, the music is atmospheric and quite unpredictable, with an acoustic guitar popping up, a piano (or a convincingly piano-like sound). Our only query is the predominance of floaty, echo-y sounds: though they give the four songs a strong continuum and a distinctive overall sound, they can be a bit overpowering, clouding all the songs with a melancholy mistiness...this is probably the object, but maybe now and then we'd like to see what it looks like under the mist. And is it really four-track recordings, as the cover says? Or four tracks that they recorded? It's got a bloody good sound if it is a four-track - all the highs and lows. --LL

contact: or

Previous Demo Of The Weeks
NOVEMBER 2001 The Drones, The Savages, Sideshow, Arbuckle
OCTOBER 2001 Halfway, Earth To Nigel, Closure, A Cat Called Monty