Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Album Review: Habitats by Foxtrot


It seems likes every week I'm discovering another excellent band from Australia. This time it's a four piece from Melbourne named Foxtrot. After releasing their debut album Gone Fishing in 2013 this past June they released a new album named Habitats on Jackknife Music. I've been loving it for a while but am only just getting round to reviewing it.


The name of the opening song on Habitats is The Daily Take. Starting out with some guitar feedback before lead singer Josh Newman's distinctive Australian accented vocals kick in. The vocals are loud and clear over some quieter punk rock music, really making you listen to what's being said. The vocals are delivered in quite a short, punchy style making it so easy for a the listener to sing along with and get invested into the song immediately. This leads into the song Updike. Beginning with a little organ playing and Newman's vocals being particularly soft, before the really explode into life and song gets going properly. It's hard not to compare Foxtrot to The Smith Street Band because of their sound. Foxtrot however have so much more of a punk rock ooomph with their music. When they slow things down it's emotional and full of heart but when they really turn up the punk rock you better get ready because the sound is massive and it's great! The Luck Of The Draw feels like a lot of anger went into this song. After some excellent duelling guitars start the track, the lyrics "Who The Hell Are You? Who The Fuck Am I? What Gives Us The Bloody Right, To All Of This, To Be The Lucky Kids, Born In The Right Place At The Right Time" come in. Straight away it's pretty clear that the song is about feeling lucky about being born somewhere safe and free of poverty when some people are born in some terrible places. I wonder if this song was written in response to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's policies on asylum seekers.

The fourth song on Habitats is named No Place Like Home. This track features a lot of "whoa-oh" moments throughout its two minutes and thirty-five second duration. I really enjoyed this - it makes it much easier to get into a song if it has plenty of catchy moments. And what's catchier than a "whoa-oh"? There is also plenty of substance in the track. It's about coming together as a community after feeling like you're all alone and it feeling like a family. Pens, Paper, Strings, the next track, has some added violin during the song. Adding another string to the Foxtrot bow. (I don't care that that is an awful pun, it amused me!) The song is about writing songs to please people other than yourself and adding something different so that you don't get bored - hence the violins. I think this is incredible song writing. Moving on we have a song named My Own Little 48 Hours. Here Foxtrot revert back to the tried and tested to great effect. This song, about longing for the weekend because you hate your day job, is easily relatable. The ending of the song is a little different. It feels very much like an intro for the next track, Time Irrelevant rather than an outro for My Own Little 48 Hours. It's a great piece of musicianship, reminding me of a western movie but it did feel a little odd being at the end of one track when it could have been an interlude or at the beginning of the next song. Time Irrelevant is a song with a massive sound. Continuing the wild west sound, Foxtrot have added some brass to the song to give it an extra layer. Newman's vocals deliver the short, punchy lyrics with plenty of power but the real focus of the song has to be on the music itself. This is one of those songs that really proves that modern day punk rockers are experts at their instruments and it's not all three chords as fast as you can. There is so much skill on show here.

One Way Ticket is the title of the eighth song on the album. Musically we start off with some mellow, jangly guitars that almost fall into the emo genre. One Way Ticket is played at a slightly slower tempo than most of the songs on Habitats and slowly builds towards its big finale. It's a song about learning to deal with things in a more positive way. This is a nice, uplifting song. I Guess That's Why They Call It A Pecking Order has quite a long guitar intro before we reach quite a laid back vocal section, which is followed by a great sing-a-long chorus. This is the sort of chorus that if you can get a whole crowd singing along to it'd be one of the musical moments that can move you. It's a song that makes you look at yourself and question the way you live your life. The penultimate track is also my favourite on the album, Miner Bird. Stripping it back to a mor folk sound, Miner Bird is an acoustic guitar driven song that creates one hell of a party. This is a song that has a couple of ups and downs within it but when it's up you can't help but sing, dance and smile along with it. This is the song at a Foxtrot gig that I imagine really gets the crowd going bananas. Last up we have the song The Things We Forget. The lyrics "Sometimes You Find The Most Beautiful Things, In The Places You Don't Even Bother To Look Anymore" immediately stood out to me letting me know that this would be another uplifting song. It's about remembering all the things that made you happy from days gone by. Some fantastic advice. The song then finishes with the lyrics "If The Smokes Don't Kill Us First Then I Guess It Could Be Worse." More uplifting words about remembering that you don't have it so bad. A fine way to complete Habitats.

The Australian punk scene is currently one of the fastest growing in the world with more and more truly great bands appearing all of the time. With Habitats, Foxtrot show they're amongst the very best of them.

Stream and download Habitats here: https://jackknifemusic.bandcamp.com/album/habitats

Like Foxtrot here: https://www.facebook.com/Foxtrotpunk/