What began in 2012 as just three mates playing guitar in a garage in Melbourne has since grown to encompass the six-piece alternative rock band Flying Bison. Members: vocalist Hayley Medland, guitarist Paddy Braden, bassist Thomas Currie, drummer Steven Stratus, and rythym guitarist Jeremy Grant played live gigs for a time before their schedule finally allowed them to record the four songs which comprise their debut EP Keep Your Distance.
Boiled down to its core Keep Your Distance sounds more like open mic poetry night than anything else. This is largely due to the cool and collective feel of the band’s music, which is chill and heavy with melodic bass and wah wah guitars which remain clean and for the most part hide out in the background letting the poetess and vocalist Hayley Medland take over the forefront with her powerful yet not over powering sing speak. Flying Bison, at a loss to describe what they sound like, throws out Florence + the Machine as a starting point from which to work from. From the bits I listened to side by side I’d deem it a fairly fair comparison if only for the similar strong female vocal presence.
Keep Your Distance begins with the wispy and rambling “Calling Out” on which can be heard elements of country influenced guitar riffs over which Medland belts out her bluesy vocals while a second and more ghostly tracking of backing vocals echoes in the background. “Half Love” takes on the upbeat jazzy and melodic jams of Earth Wind and Fire. Built around a prominent bass riff “Souls Alight” sees the band going from verses that intersect with melodic jam sessions.
This jamming works best in long form like on the album’s closer “Things I Should Have Said in Earnest.” At seven-and-a-half minutes it’s the band’s most full sounding and original work. Its length serves the swells of instrumentation the band has tried to exhibit in the previous songs, letting the listener become familiar with its calming rhythms.
Perhaps it stems from the fact that many of these songs were written and performed live several years before they were recorded that they have, for the most part, an air of all sounding as though they were constructed using the same directions every single time. What I’m trying to get at here is that even though each song on Keep Your Distance retains its own tempo, there is not much of anything that makes each song stand on its own, which therefore makes the EP sound essentially like one long-playing song. There is no lack of talent and potential among the band, they just need to branch out more, and take risks, for that is essentially how great music is made by chance and experimentation and not by cold hard calculations.
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