Album of the Day: Various Artists, “Thirty Days of Yes”

Thirty Days of Yes was created in response to the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, which is being held in the country until November 7, in order to gauge support for same-sex marriage. The compilation serves two purposes: first, and more importantly, it raises money for the LGBTQI+ organizations Minus18 and Twenty10, as well as the campaign to support marriage equality; but a bonus feature is that it also serves as an introduction to the extremely healthy Australian independent music scene.

The bands featured mostly tend toward the rock end of the spectrum, but even within that broad umbrella there is a universe of gradation. “Sage,” by The Murlocs, is a gritty, bluesy stomper, squawking guitars and greasy, back-porch harmonica smashing into loose-limbed percussion. The roaring “Damaskus ||,” by DARTS, lands like a hybrid of Modest Mouse and The National, raw-throated vocals clawing their way up a steadily-expanding musical backdrop. And “Settle Down” by the Beaches offers ample indication of why the band’s profile is on the rise: the guitars arrive in thick, tight bullets, with layered vocal harmonies skating and sailing blissfully over top.

The tracks that veer away from straight-ahead rock are just as captivating: Xavier Dunn’s remix of Bec Sandridge’s “In the Fog, In the Flame” has the same hazy mystery as prime Kate Bush, Sandridge’s voice tripping upward over glassy synths before a big bass beat comes crashing up the center. Total Giovanni pull off a kind of pop-rock disco on the revved-up Sam Weston remix of “Your Light.” Everything is sugared-up and jittery, rubberband bassline stretching and snapping over a firecracker rhythm. On their own albums, The Jezabels tend toward expansive, anthemic pop; but Aaron Harris’s remix of “Come Alive” is a miracle in the miniature, every element toned down and refined, all instruments stripped out save for a heartbeat rhythm, cloudlike electronics, and the occasional curlicue of guitar. Thirty Days of Yes is a vital compilation for a crucial cause, artists from across the country banding together to fight for equality.

J. Edward Keyes

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