Listen Up: Wednesday, January 30, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Something for Kate

Echolalia (Murmur/Red Ink Records)

By Ken Shimamoto

Australian bands have been making inroads on America for some time — think of Men At Work, Midnight Oil, INXS, the Divinyls, silverchair — and their underground has been as fertile as anybody’s. (For proof, seek out the double c.d. compilation Do the Pop! on the Aussie Shock label.) In a just world, the recently-disbanded Died Pretty, which took its shot at the U.S. market a decade ago, would have been as successful as U2 or REM. Melbourne-based Something for Kate is only the latest Aussie contender.

While totally unknown here, the band is huge at home. They cite the same influences as loads of Yank and Brit bands: REM, Radiohead, Fugazi. They record for the same Sony subsidiary as silverchair. They’ve won every available award (including “Most Shaggable”) in the Australian Rolling Stone readers’ poll for 2000 — the same year this c.d. was released there.

It’s hard to pinpoint what elevates Echolalia, their third full-length disc, above the truckload of emo-ish albums that we’ve heard recently. It’s not just singer-guitarist-songwriter Paul Dempsey’s flair for melody and impenetrably introspective lyrics or the band’s use of interesting instrumental flourishes that serve, instead of overwhelming, the songs. A large measure of responsibility resides with producer Trina Shoemaker, who’s engineered albums for Sheryl Crow, Queens of the Stone Age, and Whiskeytown, among others. She gave the band a big, clear, multilayered sound, full of shimmering textures. For a relatively quiet and moody record, Echolalia has a lot of depth and dimension.

To sweeten the deal, this release, like lots of those from Down Under (where a c.d. typically sells for around $30 American), gives you Something Extra — a whole other disc of songs from the band’s earlier albums and live versions of some new ones. Crikey! That’s a good value.


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