Of all the emails we get sent from companies as far away as Nigeria (though, to be fair, most of those are trying to to steal our personal details) and record labels from everywhere from London to Jamaica, Mucho-Bravado’s are the ones we ignore the least. That’s partially because those folk up in Brisbane are just so darn nice and they know how to spell our names properly, but also because they have an enviously good strike rate when it comes to bands who go onto bigger and better things. So far, they’ve introduced us to Hungry Kids Of Hungary, Art Of Sleeping, Emma Louise and Ball Park Music, in less than two years, which is pretty impressive if you ask me. Today we present yet another Brisvegas act to join the stuffed MB ranks aboard the success ship, five-piece Charlie Mayfair, who have a bit less of a sunny disposition than their labelmates but that’s precisely what makes them so darn interesting. Also, the primary vocalists are female. This is a nice change.
With so much music flying about at the moment, there’s always a chance that I get sent a band’s vido clip before even hearing the song itself, which is precisely what happened with ‘Waste Me’. My general music review policy has always been that if a track has enough merit, it should stand up without the visuals first and then benefit from that treatment later. As such, I played the (admittedly impressive) video for ‘Waste Me’ in exactly the same way as I did Azealia Banks ’212′ and Loyal Divide’s ‘Vision Vision’ the first time I heard them, in another window, behind the one I was currently working in. Thirty seconds in and I already knew this was a pretty special piece of music. Ping-ponging arpeggiated vocals bouncing around the speakers belie a feverishly danceworthy beat that could easily belong to an electronic artist if it wasn’t being played by a live drummer. With only delicate, palm-muted guitars and light piano chords for accompaniment in the verse, and the amazingly operatic melodies of either Hannah or Irena (I’m sorry girls, nobody told me who took lead on this one), it’s kind of like an indie-rock arena anthem packaged in a tiny song; there’s so much space between the voice and the instruments I’d be surprised if it wasn’t produced by the same guy who does U2 records. [Hot tip, it wasn't.]
Where ‘Waste Me’ really comes together, literally and figuratively, is in the first chorus, where all the other instruments that have been lying dormant until this point rush in to fill the void left open by the previous section. Big jangling guitars, sweeping cymbal rolls, upper-octave lyricism and some neat male-assisted backing vocals in the last turnaround and hey presto, we’re looking at a really fucking great piece of widescreen pop here. By dropping out the bottom end for dramatic effect in the chorus and then pushing it back for the next verse, the band create this continual source of tension and release that works really well. As it turns out, the Very Skilled Drummer in this band is also the publicist who sent us this song, something which would ordinarily smack of nepotism except for the fact that I didn’t put two and two together until right now. Also he has a perfectly alliterated name, so you can’t really be mad. Nice job, Will Weightman. By the time the second chorus rolls around we’re in full-on kick out the jams territory, everything’s crashing out of time and before you know it it’s a return to the Foals circa-’This Orient’ vocal ostinato that opened the number. We finish on that cool turn of phrase ‘The silence will break your heart’ and by jove, if you don’t believe it by now then I doubt you ever will. Charlie Mayfair are now onto EP number 2, which means that I’m simply an asshole for not having heard of them earlier. Alternatively, I’ve saved you all a lot of effort from being similarly placed assholes by unveiling their unique brand of mood-rock onto fresh ears. Well done Brisbane; you remain a flawless musical city.
Charlie Mayfair – ‘Waste Me’