Playing good songs

Wurld Series (left to right) Luke Towart, Brian Feary, Ben Woods, Abi Macilquham. Photo: Supplied
Wurld Series (left to right) Luke Towart, Brian Feary, Ben Woods, Abi Macilquham. Photo: Supplied
Most bands, when asked to describe their music, will respond with a long period of silence and then a genre made up by Pitchfork such as "Foamcore" or "Bath House" writes Fraser Thompson.

When I spoke to Luke Towart, from Wurld Series, there was no hesitation. "It's really straightforward, just indie rock. We're just an indie rock band."

And that sort of sums up Wurld Series, really. There is no layer of pretence or veneer of grandiosity, it's just solid indie rock made by a bunch of friends in a storage unit in the industrial suburb of Woolston, Christchurch.

Their first album, Air Goofy, came out last year on Melted Ice Cream. It strongly evoked that lazy period in the '90s when four-track cassette recording became affordable and everyone was making indie music in their parents' garages (as opposed to the even lazier period we're currently in where DAWs are free and everyone is making mumble rap in their bedrooms).

It's a comfy sound to sink into, for me anyway, and this new EP, Stately and Befrothed inhabits a similar space while being more cohesive and mature. The last LP, with its 14 tracks, which were mostly about two minutes long, felt like a collection of snapshots, while this EP feels like a whole.

"I think the first album was kind of like a bit of almost like a compilation album," explains Luke.

"It was recorded over a long period of time with different members and stuff like that.

"And then, kind of, with the line-up changes and stuff like that, we, kind of, solidified into a more live band, so, like, when we were practising we were writing all the songs together and stuff like that. So I think that kind of makes you write better songs in a way, because you all, kind of, collaborate and listen to each other so the songs can kind of stretch out and get more jammy.

"It was recorded, like, last year in November and now we've got new members again because two of the members went off to do their own solo things, so it's kind of like an ever-recycling line-up."

A constant part of the line-up has been drummer Brian Feary (not to be confused with Bryan Ferry) who also recorded and mixed both this album and the last on cassette via a four-track Tascam Portastudio. It sounds nice, the drums and bass especially saturate in just the right way.

The production is "raw" over "slick", but not too raw because, as Luke explains, "It's nice to be able to hear everyone's guitar parts".

The quality of home cassette recordings of the '80s and '90s has been romanticised today but it's important to remember that back then the lo-fidelity was a necessary limitation, not an aesthetic choice.

"The song should always come first." explains Luke. "Some things sound better with a bit of grit but if your whole aesthetic is sounding shitty and you don't have any good songs, then there's not much point really.

"There's something quite transcendent about, like, a beautiful song. Like those Daniel Johnston songs that are shiveringly beautiful but they come through this tape hiss and this shitty recording quality, and they almost, like, battle through it, which is almost what's great about it, you know?"

The reason why the early music of artists such as Daniel Johnston, Pavement or Guided By Voices continues to stick around is because of the songs, not the noise floor or the frequency response. And while I'm always a sucker for weird recording techniques and tape saturation, the main reason I like Wurld Series is the songs.

They play this Friday at The Captain Cook as part of their EP release tour.

The gig

Wurld Series plays The Captain Cook Hotel, with Evil Kid and Fazed on a Pony, as part of its Stately and Befrothed EP release tour, on Friday, July 20. 

The album is at: meltedicecream.bandcamp.com/album/stately-and-befrothed

 

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