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Ciggie Witch – Classic Connection [2016]

Ciggie Witch – Classic Connection [2016]

If you’re new to Ciggie Witch, Classic Connection will probably leave you feeling slightly torn. It is their first new work since 2014, and it’s pretty much an all encompassing of the guitar sounds of Melbourne; it’s casual and catchy, filled with pop sensibility that’s ultimately undeniable for any listener.

On paper Melbourne six piece Ciggie Witch might just get lumped in with the ever growing quantity of quite excellent jangly Australian downer pop that has been birthed from our nation’s sullen womb over the last handful of years, but doing so would be selling these fierce, wonderful humans short; and would likely just have me repeating the same buzz words I usually vomit out while trying to define our new national treasures; that’s just not on.

It’s been nearly two years on the dot since Ciggie Witch’s debut, Rock and Roll Juice, a record that has very little to do with methamphetamines and a lot to do with feeling awkward and meandering through modern life. Two years ago just about literally feels like a million years ago and a million years ago I was deeply entrenched in a world of off-kilter guitar pop. Somehow though Ciggie Witch kind of just fell under my radar, their cyclone of twang spinning off in the wrong direction. By the time I’d finally got on the juice my world had quietly mooched off in a different direction. Despite this tragic turn of events, somehow Ciggie Witch still touched me, if only with the most gently fleeting caress.

By my reckoning Ciggie Witch as a rock ‘n’ roll collective haven’t ventured up to Brisbane since launching their debut, but thanks to three wonderful, musical cuts, drip-fed to me by way of those all-engrossing online webs, I’ve been working myself into a pretty frothy lather in anticipation of their follow-up record, Classic Connection.

Classic Connection kicks it off with the absolutely killer Look of Pain, a slightly melancholy, sweeping and gorgeous piece of Bill Murray-esque guitar pop. A hazy, laid back number, waxing lyrical, with a healthy level of self depreciation and wonder. Ethereal backing vocals are layered with subtle keys and this most excellent steel lap guitar that continues to resonate throughout the entirety of the record. It’s simply the perfect accompaniment to the tag team vocal attack from crooner-cum-slackers Zac Denton and Mitch Clemens. Early cut, When I Say Jimpy, might just be the best example of the keys and lap guitar working in perfect symphony; the track is reminiscent of when a young Stephen Malkmus added his pop sensibilities to my favourite Silver Jews record, American Water, morphed Dave Berman’s alt-country and injected some serious pop mysticism into the mix.

Just as Classic Connection really starts to grab a hold of me and hit its stride with two of its most charming and whimsical songs Walking On The Tracks (which sounds like Mac Demarco stopped cramming random objects up his butt and moved to Melbourne) and Meet Me In The Middle (which appears to be the very point at which Australiana and Americana make sweet, laboured love), the record blasts through its second half and before I know it I’m humming away to album closer Latest Fashion; suddenly I’m left in a stunned silence. My only sane and sensible option seems to be starting the record again from scratch and letting those sultry, dream-like vibes wash all over me again. Another good excuse to pop back down to the shops and work on my inner turmoil whilst trying my absolute best not to be a dickhead as I saunter through my hazy, mundane routine.

Ciggie Witch have produced some of the most interesting, affable slacker pop I’ve heard in recent times. They seem right and ready to carry the torch for the sound as the last remnants of the previous generation of Aussie battlers slowly fade into obscurity and our memories of them become grey mush. Classic Connection is a rich, endearing and laid-back slice of Australian guitar rock and without overtly trying has sunk its hooks into me deep. It’s music that reminds me that the best parts of life aren’t the dizzying highs or the harrowing lows, but all those moments in-between, wandering aimlessly in the afternoon sun, searching for something I can’t quite put my finger on.

– Jay Edwards.

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