SITUATIONS - Get The Basics

Situations - Get The Basics

11 songs
38:43 minutes
***** ****
Beyond Your Mind


The cut-and-paste technique of the cover artwork screams already retro in your face. But don’t worry, the Situations from New Zealand never sounds like some kind of revival band, they rather give the impression as if they started playing music in the Sixties and were somehow propelled through time into the here and now. Their home island has an astonishingly high number of great bands (more than the much bigger neighbouring Australia for instance), and the Situations certainly don’t intend to be the exception. On their debut album Get The Basics, they play some kind of distorted garage rock which sounds more authentic than the current stars of that genre (The Strokes, The White Stripes, with whom the Situations shared the stage already in the past). In some ways that is due to the very basic production that just sounds like placing a microphone into a strategically good place and record the guys playing. But more important is the freewheeling energy the band is spreading throughout the album which starts with two pop songs that hide between screaming guitar walls, and the vintage keyboard sounds emphasise the retro sound even further. Fashion Girl shows the band from a more uncommon mellower side which they master just as well. Their slower songs are always located at moments where they give some welcome variety to the sonic flow. Highlight is the obscure Daniel Johnston cover version Brainwashed where the Situations manage to sound like the young Johnston accompanied by his later band the Nightmares, only much tighter. I have rarely encountered artists that captured the sensitive spirit of this cult musician so perfectly, and wished that they re-recorded Johnston’s early period material (1979-1983) to give it the justice it deserves.

Get The Basics is full of little garage gems, with the seven minute epic Man’s World giving them opportunity to freak out on their instruments. Only towards the very end, the band loses a little steam, but they are forgiven, because overall they recorded a fantastic album, catching the spirit of the New Zealand Flying Nun sound with a charming Sixties garage to early Seventies proto punk sound, without every forgetting the pop sensibilities that make their songs so worthwhile. I prefer this over hyped retro bands any day of the week.

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