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The Heavenly States - Self Titled

Woo Hoo! Local Colour! Or: what you might call a human interest story.

The following is a review of a Canberra show played by US Indie-Rock band The Heavenly States, and supported by local outfit The Cold Heart Projects. Readers should note that, while like the poster for Jack Black's supposedly 'funny' novelty band, The Heavenly States blew my ass out live, their recorded material doesn't (yet) match that intensity. This isn't because I'm stupid, and have compared them to bands that they just aren't like (or can ever hope to approach). I'm not stupid - I've read several books. So what the fuck, man ... see them tour. Do I have to spell it out for you?

The Heavenly States
Cold Heart Projects
Toast, April 18

What's that saying? If something looks like a duck and quacks like a duck - but carries a violin - it's probably a band doing a good job of being Mogwai, right? For a band playing only their second ever gig, though, that's hardly anything to scoff at. Especially if they also arranged and promoted the second Canberra show for the touring US Indie-Rock band they were supporting... Local five-piece Cold Heart Projects, played pseudo-instrumental songs reminiscent of a-certain-Scottish-band-starting-with-M's louder Young Team era dynamic, and a certain soon-to-be-touring avant garde New York band's love of feedback. Jangling guitars building and looping back on themselves, driving rhythms and a violin or keyboard dancing atop the thrashingness make for a fine, enveloping sound, if sometimes a little too like it's influences. However, the label 'pseudo-instrumental' does imply that when the band's violinist/keyboardist took up the vocals, things weren't so great. His voice was a little weak in places and didn't really live up to the sound that the band produced. Having said that, you did see the words 'second gig ever' a little earlier didn't you? That does leave a lot of space in the 'room for improvement' bracket, and judging by their final song, which built up through 'Summer'/'Angels v. Aliens' feedback looped thrashed chords (er...) into something made unique by the addition of perfectly implemented fiddling, that slack is already being taken up, and should be received with open arms by anyone that's had their fill of Canberra's inexplicable rash of funk bands (I'm jus' sayin', is all...).

Of course, that jibe about originality wouldn't have made it into this review if headliners The Heavenly States had managed to suck, but judging by the first three lines in my notebook, that didn't happen. Lets see here:

"Fugazi bassline, vocals mixed too low. Oooh, that's some catchy riffage. A little too college radio + violin, but still ... that violin flies, fracturing chords and making something special, together with damn fine, powerful drumming"

Indeed. Other than exposing the depth of poetic wordplay I've picked up from Rolling Stone's Guide To Hackneyed Rock Journalism, that says something about how quickly The Heavenly States grow on you. Where Cold Heart Projects sounded like two other bands, though good, THS has a unique sound (ok, a bit of a Fugazi backbone) with chords cut by violins and keyboards, a damn tight rhythm section and each song distinctive, sharp and mentally stimulating. Their song about Columbine was as good an indicator as any - comparably mature, musically and lyrically, to Sleater-Kinney's style of catchiness, but faster and janglier, and incredibly tight - but, really, the whole set was varied, energetic and sharp. Like an album with no filler, or something. Each song revealed something unique. The Heavenly States are definitely Indie, and with techniques reminiscent of that F band, as well as Jane's Addiction (ok, a little, a tiny bit ... not at all?) but completely their own. This will most likely be the last time they'll play venues as small and intimate as the Green Room and Toast, but if you think that's going to lead to a 'shame on you if you weren't there' line, you're wrong. When they come around again, playing bigger places, they?ll fill them just fucking fine, man. Keep and eye out?

The Heavenly States have a self-titled album out in America. It's also 'coming soon' to Australia. They have a website here.

The Cold Heart Projects also have a website - with downloads! - here. Check 'em out. They don't suck.

No seriously, catch them live. They fucking rock.
Posted by Niqui at 07:22 PM May 16, 2004

Hey guys. You might want to know that the Heavenly States album is out in Aus on Baria Records.

You can get it at our web site or in the shops.

Incidentally we loved the Canberra crowd and we are coming back for a big big tour in late 2004 - maybe even having Xmas in the sun.

Comment posted by: heavenly states at May 19, 2004 09:04 AM

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