Marcus, Jo and Rob are listening to Houses by Soviet X-Ray Record Club.
Marcus: The first thing I noticed about this song when I was mastering for vinyl was that the production is very up front compared with all the other tracks. Soviet X-Ray Record Club wins the loudness war for Volume One.
Rob: I had the same experience when we were curating the tracks. I was walking around with all the songs on headphones, and this one kept shuffling in from nowhere and blowing my head off. It feels twice as loud as all the other tracks, especially the drum sound. I got into this song right away. The sound is intense but balanced out by a cool, understated quality.
Jo: The first time I heard this was quite soon after we watched that Joy Division documentary, and I was impressed by how this band seemed to be channelling that vibe, which is different from most of what we heard putting the record together.
Rob: Yes, I mean it’s no insult to say a band is influenced by Joy Division because what underground band isn’t? But there are certain elements of Joy Division that will always be mysterious to me, and the way Ian Curtis was able to create catchy, emotive vocals with almost no melody has always been the deepest magic trick for me. The vocal on SXRC is coming from that difficult angle and it works, which impresses me.
Jo: I agree. It’s tricky to develop a sound as a contemporary band from that reference point. Singers tend to sound goofy when they try it. Ian Curtis’s voice was beautiful and sad and ecstatic at once.
Rob: I feel like there’s an immense graveyard of horrible 1980s acts who tried to copy Ian Curtis but they all had pompous voices and lightweight personalities, posers and ponces and fashion victims to a man. Four decades on, we’re still trapped in the toilet paper aisle of the supermarket, listening to I Ran by Flock of Seagulls on Coles Radio, contemplating the slow death by inanity that is contemporary consumer culture.
Jo: Who is Flock of Seagulls?
Marcus sings the chorus of I Ran.
Jo: Oh yes. What kind of band name is that?
Rob: It’s a pompous 80s new wave band name, like Men Without Hats, who also butchered Ian Curtis’s vocal style in their high rotation Coles Radio smash, Safety Dance. Fuck me those songs are depressing. Somewhere in hell, an infinite flock of seagulls is showering an infinite quantity of guano on an infinite number of men without hats.
Marcus: Anyway, back to Soviet X-Ray Record Club, who have a decent name, in my view.
Rob: I like the cold-war era Europe feel of it. It matches the sound. I also like the acronym, SXRC, which makes me want to say SEXROCK, which would be the opposite of HTRK.
Jo: I’m thinking Interpol’s Turn On The Bright Lights is also a good reference point for this band, the way they integrated an Ian Curtis vocal style with the guitar sounds of early nineties noise pop.
Marcus: That’s true, but SXRC are also bringing back some of those vintage synthesiser sounds of the 80s in a likeable way here. It all comes together.
Rob: They have found a third way. This is a very considered piece of songwriting, altogether.
Jo: Yeah, focusing on the intrumentation, I actually hear more of a New Order influence than Joy Division. But the singer has that authoritative low voice, which reminds me of both.
Rob: It captures your ears, for sure. The chorus is almost spoken rather than sung. Like I started saying before, you need a certain timbre to do that in a way that sounds musical. It’s a mystery to me personally. I’ve sung my share of Blue Monday in karaoke, and it’s always noticeable to me how phoney I sound when I try to pull off that kind of arch post-punk low voice. How does it feel when your heart goes cold? I end up sounding like the Broodwitch from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Come to me and taste the future.
Jo: Don’t eat the sandwich!
Marcus: This is rock journalism.
Rob: Par excellence.
Marcus: It would be nice to end sort of on topic though. Can we give the band some kind of juicy quote they can slap on their objects to shift units?
Jo: Soviet X-Ray Record Club is a powerful blend of post-punk and noise pop that both evokes the great bands of the past and transcends its influences. Definitely a band to watch. Something about other cool stuff they do, etc. I’m pretty sure they will be ok and have made good life decisions in terms of starting this group. I can’t wait to see them live at Frankie’s Pizza in Sydney on December 2nd for the Echo Room Vol. 1 launch.
Marcus: Great job!
Rob: Get money.