Jebediah are an underrated band. After all, most people think their total music output equals their debut, Slightly Odway and specifically its big singles: “Leaving Home,” “Teflon,” “Harpoon” and “Jerks Of Attention”. Sure, they’ve had plenty of novelty-style hits (let’s not forget “Animal”) but if you scratch the surface you’ll discover that there is far more to this Perth group.
Their fifth studio album, Kosciuszko has elicited whispers of “comeback” and “return to the Jebediah of old” with some people attributing this to being part of a nineties resurgence. Disregarding what is in vogue for the latest 15 minutes, Kosciuszko is a strong effort with 11 tracks that boast many changes in tempo and feeling, meaning we go from fanciful and carefree to introspective and maudlin and just about everything in between. If anything, the sheer variety on offer means there is bound to be a little something for everyone (both new and old fans alike).
This record was a labour of love with the Jebs saying they made it simply ‘cos they wanted to. It may have taken five years to create over which time the group had periods without a label or management, but this actually ignited a new creative spark for them as they wrote with a greater spontaneity and relaxed attitude, something they had not had since their actual inception.
And let’s get one thing straight, it’s not like the band were languishing in the studio for years or sitting poolside drinking margaritas (hell, they prefer beers anyway!) Instead we had frontman, Kevin Mitchell making music under his Bob Evans moniker and with the supergroup, Basement Birds. Bassist, Vanessa Thornton juggled playing with Felicity Groom and the Black Black Smoke and studying a nutritionist degree while drummer, Brett Mitchell played in local bands like The Fuzz. It’s been said that guitarist, Chris Daymond “used his time wisely” but other sources have said he “sat on his arse”.
Pursuing all these things in tandem has meant that Kosciuszko has been flavoured with themes like grappling with your sense of self; how the band fits in with the current musical climate and even how you relate to your own little patch of backyard. This soul-searching has been realised in everything from indie pop ditties to aggressive rock riffs, big ballads and other unexpected tangents like a war cry complete with pseudo cavalry in “Battlesong”.
“Lost My Nerve” sees Mitchell becoming a little like a grumpy old man as he takes pot shot at the rich kids making noise on their guitars before showing the youngsters how it’s done properly with some furious riffage by the track’s end. If anything, it seems like a logical next step from artists that wore the indie scene badge of honour with such pride.
There’s the hit single, “She’s Like A Comet” with its soaring and infectious indie pop and cheeky vocal squeeze. It’s said to have come together in just 15 minutes proving some things are best left belted out pure and simple. “To Your Door” takes a different tact and sees Mitchell in a Bob Evans-style, melancholy “Sadness & Whiskey” tone and something that feels part sultry fever and part ballad as he passes the city’s freaks and ghouls on his journey to the entrance.
Their next single, “Control” already seems pre-destined to be a live favourite with its light, 60s-inspired guitars while “Under Your Bed” has a very heavy pulse and balls like a 28 Days homage or indeed riffing on their own track, “Television Lies”. There’s some danceworthy indie rock like a Franz Ferdinand anthem in “Freakin’ Out” and when coupled with lyrics about not over-thinking your life means it even has a hint of old-school, Smashing Pumpkins wit.
Completing the release is the experimental epic and number reminiscent of the Diorama-era Silverchair, “The Lash”. “Are We Okay?” meanwhile, is a big power ballad and like a twinkling lullaby crossed with a John Lennon pop song. Interestingly enough, the LP’s title was actually inspired by the working title for The Beatles’ White Album. The Fab Four thought of calling the album Everest while this lot decided to take an Aussie flavour with our very own highest peak.
Kosciuszko is a sonically layered gift full of reverb, riffs, beats, trinkets and distortion and proves that Jebediah were always more than a garden-variety indie band. It’s a big achievement and solid offering confirming what those in the know had always felt, that Jebediah are bigger than the total sum of Odway and were and are a creative force to be reckoned with.
Originally published on 28 April 2011 at the following website: http://www.fasterlouder.com.au/reviews/music/28296/Jebediah–Kosciuszko
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