Personnel: Matthew Liveriadis (vocals, guitar); Carolyn Hawkins (vocals, drums).
Recording information: Bakehouse Studios (09/12/2015); Penny Gaff Studios, Thornbury (09/12/2015).
Australian trio Chook Race put out an impressive debut album in 2015. About Time was the work of a band deeply in debt to the scrappy sound of early Flying Nun bands like the Clean and the Bats, the chiming guitars of the early-'80s jangle pop bands in the U.S. like R.E.M., and the insistent, detached sound of the early Go-Betweens. Fast forward a year or so and their second album, Around the House, makes good on the promise of their debut, while delivering strong songs and more assured performances. Working as they did on About Time with Tom Hardisty of Woollen Kits, this album is cleaner and stronger, with fuller guitars that blast their jangle directly into the listener's brain. The songs are sticky too, with lots of simple hooks that sink in deeply and nice male/female voices that combine to sing relatable tales of life's small struggles and love's tender disappointments. It's an easy sound to swallow and the album makes for a very pleasant listen with a melancholy tinge around the edges. When the band puts some extra zip in the rhythms or some bite in the guitars, like on "Sometimes" or "At Your Door," the album really takes off. They do a good job of balancing these amped-up moments with quieter songs that allow for lyrical introspection and musical reflection. Loads of bands have used this sound and formula in the past, many of them quite memorably. It's also a prevalent sound in 2016, with groups like Dick Diver and Twerps doing special things with it. Chook Race aren't quite up to the level of those bands, but with Around the House they aren't very far from getting there. ~ Tim Sendra