Imagine a couple packing their suitcases.
Some Nick Cave darling? Check.
R.E.M. sweetheart? Check.
Jack Johnson perhaps? Check.
Okay so these 3 artists seem to be at odds with one another in terms of musical style but if you’re New Zealand band, The Checks then they all make for essential listening because the artists lend themselves and their influence to the title of their third album, Deadly Summer Sway.
The quintet started in the business at the age of 15 and did what most teenagers do; they lived through each others music collections and watched as their peers notched up all manner of firsts. The music they made was simple, a self-described “guitar riff and gap where Ed Knowles sang whatever he could think of”. By their sophomore album, Alice By The Moon however, they’d added some experimental twists to their bows. Now celebrating their tenth anniversary together, we get even more diversions into different territory and a skip through the elements.
Deadly Summer Sway is their most confident effort to date. It features ten solid songs that groove with a crisp warmth but that are also mature and weary enough to be mindful of potential darkness. If anything, the elements can be broken down into the deathly grey like the UK where they temporarily lived; the sunshine for the visits to our fair land; and the sway/swagger for the influence of American music no doubt through their producer, Bassy Bob Brockman (Bob Dylan, Notorious BIG, Herbie Hancock).
“Dogs Of Perfection” is a tale of man vs. dog and uses some atmospheric guitars. “Ready To Die” meanwhile, is rather gruff but at the same time groovy as it conjures up the image of a suave male vocal group clicking their fingers in time to the beat despite delivering a death knell.
Some Black Sabbath and Steppenwolf-inspired riffs are found on “Black Frog” and “Jet Plane,” respectively. But “One Sock” has a style that brings about plenty of swagger and finger pointing, something that is notably absent from the slower and more laidback, “Winter Sun”. The latter is romantic with chiming melodies.
But it is single, “Candyman Shimmer” that offers the biggest departure from their blues-driven, high-energy rock sounds.
Deadly Summer Sway is ultimately an effort full of textures and contrasts. Grappling with innocence and darkness and resolving the line between the modern and classic via some airy-light and more sinister moods, it’s a journey that seems to signpost anywhere and everywhere for one altogether rocking and epic trip.
Originally published on 10 February 2012 at the following website: http://www.the59thsound.com/the-checks-ndash-deadly-summer-sway-10022012.html
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