Inmigrant Union: Inmigrant Union (2012)

Pocas veces suele ocurrirme que tras la escucha de un sólo tema me apresure a buscar el resto del disco con tanta fruición como hice con el debut de Inmigrant Union, la súper banda australiana formada con miembros de The Dandy Warhols (Brent deBoer, su batería, toca aquí la guitarra y compone), Lazyson o Galvatron.
Pues bien, la búsqueda, desgraciadamente, resultó ser algo infructuosa. Inmigrant Union (2012) es un disco correcto, sin más. Un álbum de una banda anclada al Country and Western más tradicional que parece no querer salir demasiado de su rígido corset. Su sonido es impecable, su ejecución, más que competente, pero por más que lo oigo, no consigo encontrar emoción en ninguno de los trece cortes que no sean My heart´s a joke, indudablemente, la mejor con una diferencia sideral de todo el álbum. Sus influencias son demasiado claras, e Inmigrant Union no parecen tener rubor en querer ocultarlas: la huella de Gram Parsons, The Byrds (bueno, más bien los Byrds de Sweetheart of the Rodeo), The Flying Burrito Brothers o The Band son tan evidentes que podríamos rastrear sus rastros en cualquiera de sus temas. Pero lo sorprendente es que, al contrario que hicieron Parsons o Roger McGuinn, al querer renovar un género inmovilista, Inmigrant Union se complacen en ofrecernos tan sólo esa cara amable del Country sin apenas atisbos de otras sonoridades. El resultado es, pues, como decía, una cierta tendencia al sopor. Eso sí, My heart´s a joke es un corte fascinante, una canción que destila un sentimiento a medias entre la pereza y el lirismo más hermoso. Un oasis dentro de un disco del que podríamos haber esperado bastante más.
Prometen nuevo disco para este 2013. A ver si la cosa se anima…


It is trite folk-law to recall the guiding influence of Tennessee whiskey, cocaine and countless other substances of addiction in shaping country music and the mythology that surrounds its pockmarked progenitors.  Add elements of that indeterminate grab-bag of sounds that is so often labeled “psychedelia” to the country’n’western mix and the listener might be forgiven for imagining the influence of some kind of psychoactive Appalachian fungus or mescaline-bearing desert cactus on the resulting sound.  This, perhaps, conjures the peculiar quality that was gestured at by the late Gram Parsonswhen he referred to his output as “cosmic American music”.  In this vein, although a far cry from Parsons’ more homespun and clearly country sound, is the “cosmic Antipodean music” of Melbourne-via-Portland band Immigrant Union, whose self-titled debut LP was launched earlier this month. 
The influence of artists such as The Band and The Flying Burrito Brothers is writ large on Immigrant Union’s sound, but the group also brings its own brand of indie-pop catchiness to the equation.  The resulting album bears repeated listening, although there is an undeniable homogeneity to this collection of 14 songs.
A profound love of lists and all things catalogue compels me to confirm, although it has been recorded several times elsewhere, that Immigrant Union are a concretion of Dandy Warhols drummer Brent DeBoer, former Galvatron keyboardist Peter “Gamma” Lubulwa and one-time Lazy Son Bob Harrow, plus slide-guitarist and indie garage-cum-log-cabin songstress Courtney Barnett, “Bones” Sloane and David Mudie.
Readers unfamiliar with the band may recognise them from an April 2011 episode of the ABC’s In Gordon Street Tonight with Adam Hills, on which the band performed a jangling and immensely catchy version of the Rose Tattoo classic Bad Boy for Love.  Based on their Tamworth performances earlier this year, the song appears to be a regular fixture in the band’s set and is definitely a fun cover to hear live.
With the exception of a faltering start to opening track Saturday, Immigrant Union is perhaps best described as “consistent”.  The term is not necessarily applied here as a euphemism for “safe”, but “safe” is not far off the mark.  The album sticks to similar themes and arrangements across its 14 tracks, featuring soft backing vocals and restrained but solid organ and keyboard parts throughout.  Allegedly adding background texture and flavour to many songs are banjo, harmonica and the occasional appearance of pedal steel.  All these embellishments, however, tend to blend into the background and are never allowed to provide a point of reference or distinction from track to track.  Ultimately, however, if this is a fault, it is probably the only substantive fault to be found with Immigrant Union.
The band’s polished (and numerous) Tamworth performances provided an excellent showcase for the songs featured on this album, but for those who weren’t fortunate enough to find themselves in the country capital in January, Immigrant Union is equally capable of winning new fans. Throbbing bass-lines buttonhole you by the rhythm-centre of the pelvic floor.   Lubulwa’s gentle keys are superb, and the vocal mix is excellent.  There is also a satisfying integrity to most of the songs on the album – each track feels polished and neatly packaged, as if the entire creative process from conception to execution to mastering has been a tightly controlled and seamlessly executed operation.  While slower tracks are pleasant, the real successes on this album are the more infectious and danceable numbers such as Oregon, Back in the Fall andWinter.  A real highlight also comes in the form of 12th track Wrong” (earthquake in the poor house)

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