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Deep Sea Arcade - Outlands (2012) review


Deep Sea Arcade - Outlands (Ivy League, 2012)

Having lived through the 60s, and having experienced all it was and wasn’t, often gives me pause when I hear bands today who are so deeply drawn to those heady times, the sounds, the atmosphere, and the attitude. Then when I kick back and listen to what groups such as Deep Sea Arcade bring to the table, I’m instantly able to put my finger right on the map and say, “Ahhhh, this is what they’ve been listening to, this is what’s scattered their brains, and this, this is what rings true in their ears.”

Finally enough time has elapsed between those mystical psychedelic days and now, enough time so that those who were directly influenced by that era have now influenced others, with those in turn creating a hybrid of the original through listening to those who rode the second wave … just a step or two removed from the original source, yet nonetheless able to influence these later riders of the storm; who I’m sure wish dearly that they had been part of those shimmering nights.

With attention to detail, Deep Sea Arcade have not simply burst onto the scene fully developed or fully formed, they’re a band for whom we can expect more as time passes. Their album Outlands is a vivid sensational success of musical vision and ideas, filled with melodies that simmer and morph in your head, rather than hitting hard, and leaving them no place to venture in the future; much as bands from the 60s did, finding their own footing amidst their shifting influences.


The interplay of guitars are the first thing that will grab your attention, laced with jangling undertones, reverb and surf riffs that hang in the air, but are sincerely weighted in place, though without the heaviness that fuzz and distortion too often brings, preferring to allow the subtleties and textures of their creations to dance effortlessly around those firmly rooted frameworks, dispensing a sonic rhythmic atmosphere where everything works together as one, as if pieces of a puzzle are falling into place without force or hesitation, with no instrument taking front and center stage. Over this Deep Sea Arcade has laid smart lyrics, delivered mostly by Nic McKenzie, that lazily roll off the cuff, nearly matter of factly, creating a catchy almost indie pop style that sounds fresh and enticing, filled with enough perfect hooks to bring you back time and time again.

Their kaleidoscope of influences is vast, often grabbing at small bits and pieces to create their sound, drawn to the Kinks at their most trippy moments, and the rich acid drenched blues of The Doors, yet also groups such as The Stranglers and Ride, developing their own personal Magical Mystery stylistic fashion and synergy that is can not be wholly tossed off as being retro. There’s a vibrancy here that you’re going to have to discover for yourself, and once you do, you like I, will be dancing from one foot to the other, anxious to discover what Deep Sea Arcade will be bringing us on their next outing.

*** With all of this being said, I find it difficult that so few bands from Australia really get the attention they deserve. Just consider the splendor of The Sand Pebbles, and the short run for The Church … neither of which were drenched with musical headlines, causing me to consider that perhaps it’s the distance, and the fact that touring becomes problematic.

- Jenell Kesler
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