The Nature Strip


I Don’t Hear A Single Reviews Beetle Bones

I covered The Nature Strip’s Presents album in March here and so I’m delighted to tell you that the band’s third full length album is with us. The Sydney based outfit have built on their excellent past, but reached out further with this splendid affair.

The songwriting has previously been handled by John Encarnacao, this time round it’s split 50 / 50 with Pete Marley. So all the New Wave influences are still there, but they’ve been broadened to include departures into Funk, Blues Rock and even Synth Pop.

Fear not though, these departures are all still held together by Encarnacao’s vocals. Even something heavier like Hildegard unt Winifred could still be The Sugarplastic if it were not for the Guitar riffs and solo.

There’s also great detail in the album, experimentation and depth. The Brass on Eye Section is another interesting departure, an almost Andy Partridge type intrusion. The XTC comparisons continue and so it will be no surprise that John Encarnacao and Drummer Jess Ciampa are part of probably the best XTC Tribute band, Scarecrow People.

Great Big Wave is a corking slice of Psych Pop, Save The Hive could easily be an outtake from XTC’s Mummer and the Stripped Down I Wanna Do The Right Thing is great New Wave. Miss You More could be on a mid 70’s Jigsaw album. The centrepiece is probably Waterfall, far more laid back, very Jefferson Airplane, with a sublime organ solo.

There’s more than enough here to keep previous followers happy, but there is also a departure to drag more in. These departures enhance what you hear rather than deflect. Beetle Bones is professionally recorded and arranged in a way that continues the band’s journey forward without deflecting from what they are good at.

This is a great album and deserves your attention. You can listen to and buy the album here.

Beetle Bones Review – CoolDad Music

By Henry Lipput

With a band name like The Nature Strip, you shouldn’t be surprised that their songs are about, among other things, the ocean, insects, the moon, and the weather.

Beetle Bones is the third full-length album from this Australian band made up of John Encarnacao, Pete Marley, Jess Ciampa, and Matt Langley. It’s the first one in which the songwriters Encarnacao and Marley each contribute an equal number of songs (they also co-wrote one of the tracks). The styles and arrangements are as different as the song subjects and include 1960s guitar jangle, psychedelia, new wave, and post-punk.

With the rocker “Tide Song,” the album kicks off with a Mike Campbell-like riff (think “American Girl”). It’s one of Encarnacao’s songs; and you’d think that, along with his even crunchier “Hildegard and Winifred” later on the album, that this is the sound he brings to the album.

But right after “Tide Song,” we have the acoustic pop gem, “Break Through,” a terrific example of what Robert Forster of The Go-Betweens once called “that striped sunlight sound,” on which, it seems, Australian bands have cornered the market.

Encarnacao’s “Eyes Are Blinded” is a slow burner and another example of how The Nature Strip use musical elements from the past to create their own sounds. With a mix of “Got To Get You Into My Life” horns, Middle Eastern-sounding organ fills, and a great lead guitar solo as the track winds down, “Eyes Are Blinded” is a song that encourages repeat listens. And his “Broken Leg” could have been a solo Sid Barrett track.

Marley’s songs are just as wide-ranging in subject and style. “Waterfall” is a splendid mid-tempo number with a great vintage 60s organ as part of the mix. I really like his description of being inside the watery veil: “Staring out through sparking raindrops / Waterfall is crushing me.”

His “Peace And Light” swings and is a wonderful showcase for his bass playing (he plays bass on the new Fallon Cush album, Morning, and has also been part of that band’s touring ensemble). “Peace And Light” also features some amazing drumming in the extended instrumental break. “Inside Voice” combines the sounds of new wave and Crowded House to create something new and extremely catchy. Marley’s “Supermoon,” which closes the album, is a fine example of gorgeous pop craftsmanship and contains jangly guitars and a marvelous melody.

Beetle Bones is out now on China Pig Records.

Bernard Zuel reviews Beetle Bones


Beetle Bones (China Pig)

One of the reasons I love The Posies is their willingness to be sweet and sour: from harmonies that echo the Hollies, to guitars and drums which resonate like some hard-nosed bar band; from lyrics which speak to the soul, to lyrics which pick hard at social scabs; from sensitivity and softness, to declamatory frankness.

And yet at all times to approach songs as if pop music is a noble craft, as if having tunes and immediate connection to a listener is not something embarrassing and only for daytime radio and after school care.

The Nature Strip don’t much sound like The Posies a lot of the time (though Save The Hive would definitely nod its head their way) but they do share their philosophy. You can start singing these songs pretty quickly and you will keep singing. You can pull apart elements of it and admire construction or just let it catch you in its wave. You can approach each track like an adult and still be reminded why you fell for music in the first place.

The organ emphasising the tone underneath Waterfall, and the backing harmonies that kick in at 46 seconds (and again at 2.05), would be enough to satisfy on their own, but the melody is a warm accumulator – that actually reminds me of The Hollies – the organ solo from Matt Langley raises the temperature without even breaking sweat and when Peter Marley sings “I’m alive again” it feels less like a cliché and more like a release.

Hildegard + Winifred has the cocky swing and pumping piano of glam with a clarion guitar sound from John Encarnacao that cuts through like some updated Ace Frehley. And it matches those with a melody that is all grinning fun for a frisky lyric line that has you wondering just what would Winifred’s sister do for you.

Then there’s We Don’t Like The Heat that opens like a semi-threatening Pink Floyd ballad (later boasting a very Roger Waters line that “crying is for babies”) and actually does end up like one of those beautifully drifting Floyd moments. And the powered pop of Save The Hive, which partially hides its light under a muscled-up organ/guitar bushel.

Or the late-period Monkees of Great Big Wave which manages to go from The Birds, The Bees & The Monkeesto Head in a few minutes, the acoustic guitar bliss and sugary outer voices of Supermoon, and the running-with-freedom pleasure of Tide Song where the ever-versatile Jess Ciampa sneaks through some cracking xylophone that is the epitome of joyful cheek.

In short, Beetle Bones is a proper pop album: catchy, brainy, energised, witty, knowing, but still with some innocence.

If you’re in Sydney on September 1 this album is being launched at Camelot. You should go.—BEETLE-BONES-REVIEW

Great review of Presents in the SMH

A nice review of our latest album here in the Sydney morning Herald:

The Nature Strip
PRESENTS (China Pig Records)

For their second album, this Sydney four-piece continue to show they place far more importance on creating a damn good tune than trying to fit into any particular musical style. It is that preoccupation with off-centre pop songs that has largely led to regular and favourable comparisons to fellow non-conformists XTC. So while it may be an eclectic mix, it is well measured and perfectly controlled rather than a random mish mash. King Biggie gets into a grungy groove before breaking out into a summer-laden chorus. Shoes manages to mix the simple melody sensibilities of Simon and Garfunkel with the agitated pop of You Am I, while Deadly By Night can best be described as scurrying country. There is a light-hearted edge to a lot of the lyrics with lines such as: “Can I have another cup of tea, coffee’s just like a line of speed to me” in the bounding Cup Of Tea. It may all add to the quirkiness of the release, but the delivery and top-class musicianship are more than enough to ensure it is taken more seriously than that. There is plenty of warmth throughout this record, and it is magnified in the embracing Hammond organ sounds in closer The Geeks or the Fuzz. A very satisfying listen. PAUL SMITH