Monday, April 23, 2012

Bleeding Knees Club: Nothing To Do

A little more than two years ago, Aussies Jordan Malane and Alex Wall were two friends who decided to form a band. Never mind that it was their first band. Never mind it didn't have a name. Never mind they didn’t know how to play.

They quickly learned as they went along, settling on the Bleeding Knees Club for name and a lo-fi punk/surf/garage sound. And then it all caught on, enough to release an EP with IAMSOUND Records.

The EP, Virginity, barely clocked in at 11 minutes. But the tunes included were undeniably fun. Have Fun and Bad Guys reflected the duo’s punk sound. And that was enough to hone their skills while touring alongside bands like Wavves, sharing the stage with bands like Black Lips, and playing festivals like Liverpool Sound City.

Imagine their surprise when NME named Bleeding Knees Club among the 50 Best New Bands of 2011. In truth, it was a mixed blessing. It gave them recognition and created some lofty expectations. But somehow they still managed to take it all in stride. They just kept doing whatever they wanted, which is why their next step was just a leap of faith.

They signed with a major label to produce their first full-length LP, aptly titled Nothing To Do. It was recorded in New York City over five days with Dev Hynes (Blood Orange, Lightspeed Champion) producing and Dan Grech-Marguerat (The Vaccines, Radiohead) handling the mixing and touch ups.

Nothing To Do is spontaneous, raw, urgent, and good clean fun.

As with their EP, the band continues to favor brevity, with the album tracking at less than 27 tight and swaggering minutes. The longest song of all (Lipstick) clocks in at just over 3 minutes. But short doesn't mean there is nothing to it. They pack it all in much like they did on their EP with Teenage Girls.

Teenage Girls, which appeared in the Virginity EP, gets a replay here because it fits so nicely. Nothing To Do is a bit different. It has a cleaner, more cohesive sound than their EP, but still gives the band the freedom to be loose and inspired.

It’s also clear that Bleeding Knees Club is influenced by bands in the United States and the United Kingdom rather than their native Australia. The best example is Lipstick. The song has a 1950s-inspired sound, complete with a quasi Shangri-Las spoken-word intro and perfectly placed female backing vocals, courtesy of the Vivian Girls and The Like. It was arranged by the tasteful Hynes.

Not surprisingly, inspiration for the song came from the band watching and listening to American Graffiti again and again. It’s arguably the strongest song on the album.

The title track, Nothing To Do, is youthful and energetic, with a bit of a Ramones feel. The official video for the song is worth checking out. It was produced by animator Jon Vermilyea (The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror). It’s a live action video that features the band as crime-fighting witches (yes, witches) battling monsters presumably to save a damsel or two in distress (although there’s a twist).

While the video came out different than the band had envisioned, the result showcases their goofy I-don’t-care attitude and demonstrates their willingness to just have fun. Other standouts on the album include the surf rock Girls Can Do Anything and the punk of Boy In Lust.

At just 22 years of age, Wall and Malane don’t have a wealth of life experience to draw on for their lyrics, which suits them just fine. They write about what they know — girls and looking for something to do to combat the boredom they apparently felt growing up on Australia’s Gold Coast.

It probably included listening to lots of music too. While their sound has influences in American music from the 1950s, punk, surf, and garage scene, there are elements of early Raveonettes and maybe some Violent Femmes. Somehow it manages to work, maybe because they don't know better.

Nothing To Do By Bleeding Knees Club Surfs In With 4.4 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

While the band is technically still a duo, they did add drummer Matt Woods to join them on tour. It was necessary because they needed a fuller sound on stage, giving Wall the chance play guitar and shifting Malane to bass.

Think short attention span meets girls on the beach and then find Nothing To Do on iTunes. You can also find the CD on Barnes & Noble or download/order Nothing To Do from Amazon. Right now, the band is on tour in their native Australia through the end of April.

You can find upcoming tour dates by checking the band out on Facebook, but their interesting and eclectic blog is worth a look too. If you don't get it, then maybe you can ask them what's going on via Twitter. If you ask me, they are just having fun and it happens to sound good.
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