FDF Volume 3 Issue 297 - The Hummingbirds - loveBUZZ
Album - loveBUZZArtist – The Hummingbirds
Key Players – Mark Temple – drums. Robyn St.Clare – bass, vocals. Alannah Russack – guitar, vocals. Simon Holmes – guitar, vocals.
Produced By – Mitch Easter
Release Date – Late 1989
What caused me to blow off the dust? - This one has been sort of staring at me for a bit, but honestly I wasn't sure what I'd find on them. Well finally I decided I just had to.
Overview – Sydney, Australia jangle pop band “The Hummingbirds” were formed in 1986 and quickly became a very popular band by the late 80s. Once signed the band would release this record to solid reviews but despite such praise the band didn't sell well in the USA. The band would struggle after the release of a second full length with label and some internal issues. They'd disband by the end of 1993.
FDF Comments (aka the songs) – Right out of the gate you are hooked as “Blush” starts up.Great harmonies, gritty guitar, but layers of acoustic and a super catchy chorus. Really, just listen to the clip below and you'll get it. “She Knows....” starts with layers of acoustic and electric guitars. There are a few overdubs on this section as layer upon layer builds. The group sits on that main riff for some time before Temple clicks it off. St. Clare and Russack give the subtle layers underneath Holmes. With each breathy line, they'd then soar and be right on the side with Holmes. A perfect blend or harmonies. “Hollow Inside” has more electric feel at the outset with Temple working around the kit. As with the other tracks Holmes will sing the first layer while the backing vocals remain strong. St. Clare and Russack have unique styles of both rough and tumble to soaring high harmonies. The vocals actually seem overly complex at times, but always interesting. Holmes takes the first run at any sort of guitar solo, but Temple gets it all back to the initial vibe of the track. As the track draws towards a conclusion the Holmes seems to repeat his “ooh/ahhs” while the ladies sing in the round. A frantic closing ensues. The tempo is a little lighter as “Tuesday”beings. This time Holmes is not the primary vocalist. Russack and St. Clare take those duties. Holmes is not left out, taking to his guitar with a little more of a distorted delivery. Temple is after it a bit more as well, but the ladies keep it all very clean. Holmes is back as the primary vocalist on “Word Gets Around”. The guitars seems a bit more “in your face”. We are not that deep in to the record and its easy to hear what set this band apart, really solid focus on the harmonies of the vocals in this rock setting. No one member seems to outshine, or overtake the other, they all mesh so well. “House Taken Down” is a slower tempo song, but still full of big sound. Temple seems to want it to get rolling, but the band is okay with the smoother/calm delivery. The guitars get big later in the track which is a great touch and Holmes to get after it some, but the long chord drones are something to listen for. “Get On Down” is a quick romp with the guitars in the front. The bass levels are lacking I've realized by this point. The vocals make up for it, I guess. Temple clicks off the side of his drums as “Alimony” starts up. The guitar tone is great here, with that perfect blend of jangle and fuzz. A sound many guitarists look for. Holmes seems a little monotone, but the ladies again make it all very interesting. St.Cllare takes the lead on “Everything You Said” another easier feeling tune. The drums sound solid, but everyone is pretty held back. Short guitar chords, 2-3 bass notes, but nothing overly complex. After the second verse the band seems to find a fun groove and within the mix you hear St. Clare get a little bit on the bass, fun line she lays down. The verse is done, they come back to this fun jam, then Temple seems to want it to break down more and goes after it on the kit and the band joins in for a fun run on the hook. The guitars do the slow fade up and “Barbarian” gets underway. Again you can hear some of the bass work which is nice, but the dueling guitars stand out here. Temple keeps it pretty simple, not over doing it. The guitars are the showcase here, really playing off one another. Key word here is guitars...a decent solo from Temple towards the end before it layers nice to the end. Acoustic guitars seem to be a bit more prevalent as “Three in the Morning” gets underway. My desire to hear bass is now being answered as St. Clare has some solid fills under the jangles of the guitar. The harmonies continue to be solid, always catching your ear and then the guitar attack happens and suddenly ends as the bass and drums get the verse back going. An organ opens up the track “Michelle As Well”. It is short and then Temple does some cymbal strikes and off we go. Another mid-tempo track that fits with the albums mood. “If You Leave” starts with acoustic guitar layered over by electric guitars. It seems like an ebow but the ring is not there. The ladies work in tandem here and Temple is careful to not over do it. Holmes will sing a line before another sung line from Russack. The layers are overwhelmingly complex, and the band makes it all seem easy. The 14 track album concludes with “Miles to Go”. A hushed vocal delivery accented with the solo acoustic guitar. This is how it is laid out but then the guitar picks up and the vocals get quicker, almost in the round singing, but then it goes back to the feel of the intro. The “in the round” was more fun, but I can see them ending calmly.
Where are they now? - The band re-formed for an appearance 2011 as part of the Big Day Out Festival in Sydney Australia. In the early part of the break up Holmes and Russack played in bands or as solo artists. St. Clare wrote “Into Your Arms” for the Lemonheads and had recorded with other bands.
FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – I never saw the band live.
FDF Overall Take – If you like a jangle to your guitars and solid male/female harmonies this is something worth searching out. Overall its “decent” but for the most part the first track is their gem. Not sure how easy to find, but those in the know appear willing to spend the dough, so be careful.
Curious? Check out some MUSIC!
It is out of print but can be found. If you look at amazon.com The only issue is you are paying collectors prices it seems.
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