Out of all of the far-flung places musicians go to record albums, Altona is not a popular choice. However, this humble suburb of Melbourne is where the magic happened for Immigrant Union, who ventured west to record second LP Anyway. Featuring musician Brent DeBoer (of The Dandy Warhols) and Melbourne muso Bob Harrow, the band have moved ever so slightly away from the country sound of their previous releases. The result is a sun-drenched odyssey of trippy jams that makes one wonder why more musicians aren’t congregating on that side of town.
If you, like me, are a self confessed indie music wanker, a band who class themselves as “country” might see you grimacing into your craft beer. Indeed, as an enthusiastic listener to almost anything but country, I was a little concerned I wouldn’t love this album. However, Immigrant Union has given country just enough alt-vibes to please younger markets, and the album is a thoroughly enjoyable listen.
With most of the album’s songs coming in around the 5 minute mark, it is evident immediate, snappy tracks aren’t their schtick. At 3.44 minutes, Alison is the album’s shortest track and probably has my favourite lyric of the whole album, (“I’m starting to think Alison is a jerk”). Songs are heavy with delayed, layered guitars, and the whole album is glazed with a warm, thick tones. This hazy ambience can be attributed to the collection of 50s and 60s microphones at Colour Sound Studios where the LP was laid down. Nice.
War is Peace is the standout for me. Any song with hand claps and shouted lyrics gets a huge stamp of approval. There’s something reminiscent of Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros about this track, it sounds as if it’s being sung by a room full of people and has a kind of haphazard charm to it. With De Boer’s exaggerated accent and the track’s slide guitar, this song is probably about as country as the album gets, perhaps only surpassed by In Time. Almost slightly western, this song has a genius film clip and bluesy harmonica. The best of both worlds!
Shameless and Wake Up and Cry are probably both equal third amongst my favourite tracks, after aforementioned Alison. Both are slow burners, heavy on the reverb and feels. Final track The End Has Come features a surprise familiar face, with guest vocals from the one and only Courtney Barnett.
Any band that was conceived out of a meeting at Cherry Bar were destined for greatness, and overall, this album is a solid effort for Immigrant Union.