COURTESY IAN JENNINGS/CHERRYTREE
Hot in their home country of Australia, The Grates show promise with their debut effort, "Gravity Won't Get You High."
The Grates: Strictly good times
Upbeat new band from Down Under will do well with their debut album
Patricia, John and Alana say, "C'mon and play with us!"
Already pegged a Hot Band to Watch in the Australian edition of Rolling Stone, this quirky trio of Brisbane young'uns called The Grates have already made a name for themselves for their casual yet studied approach to good ol' punk 'n' pop.
But, to be honest, the leadoff track of their debut album will throw you and should come with a disclaimer like, "Warning: This Song Does Not Accurately Represent What The Grates Will Present To The Listener For The Rest Of This Funtastic Recording."
"I Won't Survive" has Patricia Hodgson singing in a rather off-putting, affected quaver that sounds like a bad cross between folk and artsong, but still the instrumentation -- basically guitar guy John Patterson and drum girl Alana Skyring -- has a bit of a punch to offset Hodgson's vocal.
"Gravity Won't Get You High"
The Grates (Cherrytree/Interscope)
After that, it's pretty clear sailing, and it's a pretty energetic journey to boot. "Lies Are Much More Fun" (and "never believe the truth in you") builds to a jaunty release. The album's first single, "19 20 20," boasts an infectious horn arrangement, wrapped around Hodgson's exuberant rude-girl singing. "Nothing" appealingly teeters between childlike simplicity and triumphant helplessness.
Plus the song that made the band popular Down Under, "Trampoline," is a celebration of unbridled desire, complete with bouncing bed.
The Grates' basic appeal is based on songs that are short, sharp and to the point. Give a listen to "Rock Boys," "Howl" and the driven "Little People" for proof positive. And Hodgson can actually sing well, as shown in "Science Is Golden" and "Feels Like Pain."
The band can also maneuver their way through short-attention-span changes with glee. They confidently veer from angular dance to chant rock on "Inside Outside." The mysterious country dance of "Sukkafish" include a banjo, fiddle and -- yikes! -- triangle.
The Grates are confident with their idiosyncrasies, and "Gravity Won't Get You High" (love that title!) ends with "I Am Siam," its off-hand, self-contained charm pushed by a steady staccato drum beat, ending with a sustained blast of noisy bliss.
In fact, you might say that this band is in-grate-tiating, and makes willing playmates for all within earshot of their music.