If it comes from the same place as The Triffids and sounds like The Triffids then most people would assume that it IS The Triffids. But this release is by Chad’s Tree – a group that were previously lumped into the same category as the aforementioned group and were even praised by them a few times.
The band was formed by brothers, Mark and Robert Snarski who you may know from pop-noir act, Jackson Code and rockers, The Blackeyed Susans, respectively. Chad’s Tree were active on the Australian rock scene between 1983 and 1989, springing up from what was the desolation and isolation of WA with their brittle sound evoking the distance and nature of Australia’s landscape.
Crossing Off The Miles brings together their first two records – Buckle In The Rail and Kerosene. Added to these are every single and b-side plus a bunch of early demos and live recordings. These in turn are supported by a gorgeous 32 page booklet, are conveniently packaged onto two CDs (the first time they have been released in this format) and are also in no less than full remastered glory.
So indie enthusiasts of the world unite as we enjoy a vast collection of busy songs that use self-described obtuse guitars and dense lyrics. Some of the songs are so full of words it’s like there are walls of these to rival one of Phil Spector’s own sound constructions.
At times the tracks seem to come from a similar place to Tom Waits’ own compositions and elsewhere the journey seems to take a more alt-country route via a yellow suburbia. The music is the kind of thing you would assume has influenced Paul Dempsey’s writing in Something For Kate because while Chad’s Tree started it, it seems the latter have held the torch as of late.
The common thread in all the songs is Snarski’s enigmatically, original vocals which seem hardened by dramatic intonations. Some songs are pure layered pop with lush strings while ‘Calendar’ is like a Wild West hoedown with pistols at ten paces. Meanwhile, ‘The Devil Within (Calendar)’ is like a desert devoid of souls, save the tumbleweeds.
‘Take Away Their Blue’ is sunny pop produced on the xylophone and ‘North to South’ is a perfect rock song pulsing with the spirit of the Australian bush.
For fans of The Triffids and The Go-Betweens, Chad’s Tree provide fans of Aussie rock ingenuity with a comprehensive retrospective on Crossing Off The Miles. The group are often-overlooked and may not come with all the bells and whistles or commercial sheen of the other more successful acts of the time, but this collection proves they were nevertheless integral in contributing to the sounds of our country.
In short, they captured the hearts (and minds) of the citizens in the suburbs who have spiders in the yard; kookaburras flying overheard; and family assembled around the old Hills hoist.
Originally published on 23 April 2010 at the following website: http://www.thedwarf.com.au/nd/albumreviews/crossing_off_the_miles_chad_s_tree
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