Nothing's going On comes in at 17 of the best 20 albums of 2015 in a Tomatrax review of the year that was. The enigmatic super reviewer for TripleJ and general music aficionado has pawed his way through thousands of hours of new music, a thankless task, albeit enjoyable for someone possessing musical seek and discover proclivities. A 10 track album, cobbled together over two seasons, beginning in summer 2014, the collective weight of 8 years of frenetic productivity, hours noodling away, capturing the worthwhile and bringing form to reality, this was the album that did what it did, a natural progression for us and one that had to happen.
Philip Catley Review
CD Review: “Nothing’s Going On” by William Street Strikers
Genre: Rock, Pop, Indie
Rating 5 out of 5 Stars
“William Street Strikers” sounds like a comic strip from a 1960’s Boys Own Magazine, but it’s really a rocked up four piece Indie rock band with plenty of experience and talent behind it.
Having listened to a few of their previous releases I got the impression that “Nothing’s Going On” is the natural progression for a band at ease with itself after years of live performance. The songs swing from the heavy rock undertone of “Seven More” to the Mexican brass intro of “Stalker”, and the delicate folk pop of “Ruby Blue”. Across the ten tracks there is sufficient variety to interest most casual listeners, and it’s all professionally performed and produced. Andrew’s vocals are smooth, melodic and always on point, and there’s plenty of interesting guitar sounds sprayed over the solid rhythm section.
My personal favorite, and this is subjective, is “Maybe”, which, at just under three minutes duration, is a driving infectious three minute pop song. There are plenty of other great tracks though, including the single “Wrong Way Home” which has a bit of Grinspoon about it.
You can digitally download this album, or stream it from Soundcloud, but buy the CD for the quintessential Australian cover photos.
Great work William Street Strikers.
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When I caught up with William Street Strikers’ vocalist and guitarist Andrew Matters earlier this year, he called their latest album “a real hodgepodge.” As I listened to Nothing’s Going On, I realised just how apt that description was. This album goes on a wide variety of musical directions, yet somehow it all works.
By daring to be different, William Street Strikers ensures this album has plenty of highlights. Nothing sounds samey, as it does on so many records, so each song stands up and demands to be appreciated. I love the easy groove of the album’s title track and opening number “Nothing’s Going On.” The single “Wrong Way Home” is one of the album’s strongest cuts. The horns help to balance the menacing lyrics of “Stalker.” The closing track “No Surrender” is good honest Aussie pub rock, defiant and jubilant in its rebellion with big screaming electric guitars and pounding drums.
Before writing this review, I looked back over what I wrote about William Street Strikers’ last few releases. In 2012, I commented that Keep Left was also an eclectic album, but questioned whether the band might have experimented too much. A year later, with the release of the To the Motel EP, I accused the band of playing it safe. Now, with a few more years of experience under their belt, I feel like they’ve got the balance right. Nothing’s Going On is another very diverse offering from the Adelaide band, but it’s one that somehow remains accessible and cohesive. It takes the listener in different directions without alienating them. It’s a very smart release from this up-and-coming Aussie act.
Nothing’s Going On is released on July 31.
To the Motel
Like all bands these days ‘The William Streets Strikers’ must have had that dilemma of making a few dollars to put in the tank to get to gigs and getting their music out there to be heard, and with ‘record’ sales as low as they are putting your music out for free or a donation is one option there is to be heard.
I for one am glad they did as what we have here is raw and energetic and as earthy as rock should be. With four releases and a lot of shows under their belt they recorded their latest effort with a particular idea in mind. ‘To the Motel’ was a deliberately stripped back recording with no overdubs or auto tune. It was recorded essentially ‘live’ to capture all the spill and the essence of the band, but saying that it’s still a quality set.
Railing against the studio tricks utilized on a lot of recordings these days the band felt that whilst using plug-ins and gadgets is pretty much par for the course these days, it can take off the edge. As a result on ‘To the Motel’ you can hear an amp buzzing, an echo from the toms and the woof from the overtones off the bass. It works and what’s more it’s honest, real and as we said raw.
The five tracks on fourth release ‘To the Motel’ are all new and the lead track and title track is as good a place as any to start. This is high energy garage pop-rock with a distinct ‘indie’ flavour and a little dab of blues to keep you satisfied. It’s also fun, without being overly po-faced and the sort of song that will leave you wanting to explore further.
If anything ‘So Fukn Restless’ is even stronger, with an almost Americana-vibe washed across an indie-pop-rock sound not a million miles away from bands like Screaming Trees or Soul Asylum back in the early nineties. Key to the release though is the melody and WSS have a knack of finding one to perfectly compliment some great guitar lines.
Perhaps the most interesting song here is ‘Sure Baby’ which immediately brings one of those iconic names to mind – Bowie. Its strummed intro and vocal phrasing can’t help but remind you of the great man and with such a sweet vocal melody it creates a slightly low mood that divides the release beautifully. It’s a great song that demands you check it out.
Surprisingly the best is yet to come with ‘Suburban Song’ the pinnacle of the indie-pop sound set up with the first two tracks. What ‘Suburban Song’ adds are the best melodies and the most infectious hook here. Again to me it has a taste of the post-grunge bands that fell into our consciousness in the mid-nineties.
‘Blind Fred-e’ that closes the record has a real sixties vibe to it and a simplicity that just works. How you would classify WSS I’m not quite sure? Take an underground vibe, a mid-nineties alt-pop-rock sensibility, a dash of Bowies and a garage ethos with a pinch of sixties simplicity and a sniff of Americana without the mournfulness and you might end up as prepared as I am to say this is just a damn good local rock release that should open a few doors. And all you have to do is head to the site and download it, share the love and get out and see these guys play! I look forward to more!