Words by Emily Hollitt – AKA Malina Claire
In a time where live music seems like a distant memory, it can be nice to reflect and reminisce on some of our favourite nights out. One of the best shows I ever saw was put on by local group, Ban Solo. It was a smaller gig at Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall but, despite that, the group still managed to put on an absolutely unforgettable show, turning the intimacy of the space into something that felt so much bigger! I remember seeing the bands bassist Axel making his way across the venue- stopping to get a drink at the bar, walking around the higher seating level and eventually sitting with us at our table. Their sound and stage presence was fun and exciting to watch with the band interacting with each other in a comfortable and friendly manner- just a group of guys having a really good time. The sound was a mix of indie rock and reggae, a very current sound prevalent in Australia’s original music scene that the band do oh so well. It was a night I will surely never forget.
I may not be able to re-create that feeling right now, but luckily the group released their debut EP ‘Sick Sad World’ earlier this year which feels like watching a live performance. Self-described as being full of “FULLY SKITZY BANGERS!” the recordings are all very natural and not in anyway over-produced or commercialised, expressing the band’s sound and style brilliantly. Crunchy, bright and modulated guitar opens the EP with Millionaires a catchy, riff-heavy track driven forward by it’s up-tempo drumbeat and hopeful message. “I’ll just keep doing me, while you keep doing that shit you do” sings vocalist Ben. “We gon’ be rich, we gon’ be millionaires” he sings in the chorus, adding a layer of dreamlike hopefulness each time the song peaks. End of the World starts with a high-range guitar riff and sparkly synths before the drums come in, taking the track in the direction of a more reggae style track. The song begins sharing a typical Monday morning, from waking up next to your partner to thinking too deeply about why they’d want you, the track turns monotony into something more exciting and thought provocative. The simple lyrics “This is the end of the world, and I’d rather watch the TV” ends each chorus nonchalantly.
Breathe was the most memorable track on the EP for me. The opening riff, although similar to the rest of the album, is the catchiest and most memorable. “I’m sorry I can’t sing as high as those other guys. But I will make you weak between the knees.”Ben sings confidently to open the song. The panning of the guitar parts give this song a lot of depth, This, teamed with the octave difference between the two main guitar parts, the high pitched flute-like synth that sits above the track and the heavily reverberated chorus lyrics work together to give the track a sense of space and atmosphere.
Opening for the first time on the album with bass, Mistress leans again more heavily towards the reggae side of the band’s genre, using the higher range and percussion to give the track a more tropical vibe. Featuring what seems to be bongos, the track has a bouncy, danceable rhythm.
“Go to your friends, you tell them I’m a fraud, but that’s not the story, is it my love?
Cos maybe I hurt you, but you hurt me too. And now we all know, you were guilty!”
He sings in the second verse, following the story of an ugly breakup. The song’s breakdown is one of the best of the album, with the slightly off-pitch guitars and the steady rhythm giving the track an extra layer of uninhibited emotion.
Title track Sick Sad World ends the EP, opening with percussion which gives the track a strong groove from the get-go. The instrumental constantly stops and starts, introducing that the song is going to be particularly rhythmically focused. This is reflected in the fast-paced, rhyme-focused lyrics, similar to that of Bootleg Rascal’s work, adding to the overall flow and danceability of the track. This final track shows the best of what Ben’s vocals have to offer, with the fast-paced verse at the end showing off his higher range and vibrato, posing similar qualities to Denny’s from Peach Fur. This is the perfect high-energy to an excellent album, putting together all the best strengths and ideas the band has to offer in to a track that makes you want to play the EP again right from the start.
I am sad that I can’t go out and see these guys play ‘Sick Sad World’ live, but I am happy that they were able to gift us with this high-energy, raw EP in the mean-time. The natural production and energy of the recordings is a paramount element of the genre that the band have absolutely nailed, giving the record an overall organic sound. This is the first step in what I can only imagine to be a long career of energetic and exciting recordings, and I cannot wait to see what the group does next!
Listen to ‘Sick Sad World’ HERE
Ban Solo are:
Benjamin Solomon – Vocals
Rigby Wilshire – Guitar
Axel White – Bass
Kieran Farrell – Drums
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