The title This is What is Happening in Sydney may be tongue in cheek, but their talent for crafting beguiling psych-garage gems ensures we’ll pay further attention to The Dead Heads. 

Local five-piece The Dead Heads have delivered an accomplished set of hazy psych-garage tunes, recorded, produced and mixed in their bedroom studio.

 

The Dead Heads wear their musical influences proudly, as the band lift heavily from The Beach Boys, Nirvana and Brian Jonestown Massacre. ‘Sonic Youth’, a spirited homage to the NYC art-rock pioneers, appropriates their seminal tune ‘Teenage Riot’ with an increased urgency in the vocals. ‘Zombie Dreaming’ could have been written by Anton Newcombe, with its blissed out, summer arvo vibe, slacker vocals and extended guitar jams all neatly packed into the feel good tune.

 

That’s not to say that The Dead Heads are derivative, since they’re clearly working towards constructing their own ‘sound’. Unlike many other local psych-garage groups with a lo-fi sound, their musicianship is exemplary, from the solid rhythm section, intricate, multi-layered guitar and keyboard harmonies to Oscar Jeffery’s charmingly carefree vocals. However, there are moments where the group strays into psych-rock meandering, such as on ‘Long Long Way’, which doesn’t really come together, despite being packed with innumerable ideas and disparate harmonies and sections.

 

Imbued with their lo-fi DIY sound, the record is a balance of ‘poppier’ tracks such as ‘Never Understand’ and the infectious grunge anthem ‘When I’m Dead’, and longer, more unconventional tracks, namely the slow-burning sing-along ‘Your Conversations Lack Any Substance (Whale Song).’

 

3.5/5 stars

 

BY LARRY LAI

 

This Is What’s Happening In Sydney is self released.

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