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Emma Russack
Emma Russack

Soda Eaves/Hayley Beth

The Bird

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The phenomenon of unheralded East Coast bands making the trek over the Nullarbor to play Perth has been kinda rare for a while, so the prospect of Melburnian songwriters Emma Russack and Soda Eaves (nee Jake Core) was one to get excited about. Opening for both was demigoddess Hayley Beth, who was again reliably remarkable. Her songwriting has been moving in an increasingly frightening, powerful direction, abetted by Brendan Jay’s noisy electronics, clacking away like a one man Radiophonic Workshop. The lurching Man Dice was a highlight, and the closing Goblin is a stupendously airtight and claustrophobic thing to behold live.

Next was Melburnian miserabilist Soda Eaves, who coaxed dark, distinctly Australian tales of woe, like if Gareth Liddiard kept a diary instead of a shit list. Though it might be tempting to dump Soda Eaves in with the nascent dolewave movement, you’d be hard-pressed to imagine these songs playing in a Centrelink office; maybe the pub at Bundanyabba in a cut scene from Wake In Fright. His imagery is fraught, dark and rural (looking at girls in supermarkets, shadows falling on country houses), and his approach to singing is far less twee than it is Townes Van Zandt. Basically, he’s more flooding rains than sunburnt country, and he brought a sense of tumult to his lonely songs.

Live, the dusky ambience of his recordings is traded in for something a whole lot more physical; like, from listening to last year’s LP Like Drapes Either Side it’s hard to imagine Core windmilling his lank hair around and stretching his gangly frame across his guitar like he’s preparing to throw a javelin, but that’s exactly what he does. I heard at least six people ask each other how to get their hands on the Coopers Green shirt he was wearing.

After Soda Eaves came Emma Russack, who was playing her last show before heading off to Brooklyn. With a band that included Oz stalwarts Cameron Potts and the Ocean Party’s Liam Halliwell, they played a suite. Despite being a member of weirdo six piece Hot Palms, Russack’s songs solo are alternately dreamy and desperate, floating in a thick fog of resignation and generally about thinking too much and drinking even more. Her voice is all smoke and honey, and Tonight (“Tonight I’m gonna go out/and get drunk”) fell like a ton of bricks on the room (in the best way). There Is A Light That Never Goes Out was played as a torch song, and somehow the band deftly managed to avoid falling into the cliché of being a band playing There Is A Light That Never Goes Out. The room was receptive, if a little static to Russack’s wiles, but her songs shone through magnificently. Hopefully Australian songwriters of her ilk can continue to regularly make the journey over.



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