TERRY are a quartet of excellently named people from other bands consisting of Al Montfort (UV Race, Total Control, Dick Diver), Amy Hill (Constant Mongrel, School Of Radiant Living), Xanthe Waite (Mick Harvey Band) and Zephyr Pavey (Eastlink, Total Control, Russell Street Bombings).
TERRY tread various avenues of alternative lo-fi exploration, there’s nods to sludgy proto-punk, jangling indie-pop, and gloriously unclassifiable wistful drifting. Theirs is a world of experimental percussion, bright acoustic guitars chiming with repeated tuneful phrases, heavily effected electric guitar exploration and walls of prominent, thick bass. Vocally they seem to share duties amongst them, often throwing loose harmonies from vocals of very different tones, some sweet and melodic, others more monotonous and dispassionate.
TERRY are from the Australian city of Melbourne. The state capital of Victoria, Melbourne is home to over 4.5million residents, making it second only to Sydney in terms of large Australian cities. Originally established by European settlers in 1803, Melbourne’s growth can be traced back to the Victoria Gold Rush, where it served as the area’s major port and service provider. Melbourne is often considered the cultural and sporting capital of Australia, and is noted as a centre for literature, visual and culinary arts. It also has a rich musical history, and claims to even top the notoriously musical Austin, Texas in terms of live venues per capita. Melbourne has given the world a diverse set of musical performers with everyone from Dame Nellie Melba and Nick Cave living in the city (although neither of them were born there if we’re being picky) The city has also produced a number of excellent bands including The Lucksmiths, The Temper Trap and of course, Crowded House.
TERRY released their enigmatically titled debut 7″, Talk About Terry in September last year via Upset The Rhythm. Earlier this month they teamed up with the same label to release their debut album, Terry HQ.
TERRY are the latest example of an increasing number of bands who are re-imagining the earliest days of alternative music, and questioning where else music could have gone if not punk, or glam. There’s an almost primal quality to their music, a return to musical year dot, that makes them sound simultaneously fresh and progressive but also retro.
Similarly to bands like Dignan Porch, Ultimate Painting and Monotony (or Sauna Youth if you prefer) TERRY seem keen to put a more artistic spin on their exploration of music’s past. Whether it’s the proto punk of tracks like Moscow or Uncle Greg, or the most tuneful explorations of Hot Heads or Bring Me The Bomb, TERRY seem to never willingly go down the path of accessibility. For often sub-two minute pop songs, there’s something quietly intellectual about these tracks, and unlike some acts who seem keen to dumb down their music, TERRY are happy to exist in a world of references to oligarchs and government organised murders, without feeling the need to spell out exactly what they’re saying.
The highlights are numerous, although often they’re found in the subtle details hidden within, Chitter Chatter’s bassy dirge is punctuated with thrilling percussive blasts that sounds like someone assaulting a metal tray with a hammer, Bring Me The Bomb barely develops beyond a single beautiful melody, but still effortlessly worms its way into your conscious. Add to those thrills the fact that they’re a band who’d consider the cacophonous fuzzy noise of Don’t Say Sorry as a sensible first single, and you’re clearly dealing with a band who are well worth paying attention to.
The album’s two finest tracks are stuck away in the denouement of the album, recent single Third War and the closing track, Hang Men. Third War is the sort of flawless pop song Pete Astor has perfected, a quietly melancholic vocal, steady rhythmic acoustic guitar and swirling, soaring electric guitars, buzzing with fuzzy, echoing effects, add in a lyric as gently crushing as, “that’s the wish of a certain death, you just wished for a certain death” and it’s perfect pop song, that’ll probably never be popular. Hang Men is an entirely different beast, built around North-African tinged percussion, and a deliciously odd blast of antiphonal singing, the call tuneful, the response dead-pan and monotonous. Mid-way it takes a turn for the nightmarish, a blast of spoken word about a series of killings that concludes, “thanks fella for the ripper night”, then returns to the previous melody as if nothing had ever happened at all, highly disconcerting but rather wonderful.
Let’s face it, lackadaisical sludge punk and lo-fi acoustic jangle haven’t made major breakthroughs for a reason, bands like TERRY will always remain an acquired taste that exist outside of the mainstreams gaze, that doesn’t make this record any less intriguing, and within their particular field, they’re as good as it comes.
Terry HQ is out now via Upset The Rhythm. TERRY play London September 12th, click HERE for details.