Monthly Archives: August 2019

Review: Skyscraper Stan – Golden Boy Vol I and II

Melbourne-based Kiwi songsmith Skyscraper Stan’s (Stan Woodhouse) folk-rock wordplay continues at the forefront of his second full-length release. 

‘Golden Boy Vol.I and Vol.II’ presents itself in the same vein as his 2015 release ‘Last Year’s Tune’, whereby Stan builds his sound on Americana, country and folk-rock rhythms, and riffs that move with the flow of his lyrical and melodic cadences.

The album’s instrumental arrangement combines slick rhyming schemes with polished production – tight drums, twangy guitars, thudding bass lines, and cool female backing harmonies. Combined with Stan’s imaginative storytelling it makes for a compelling listen. His deep drawl sits clear above the solid instrumentation and his words fall in structured pattern. His voice, pronouncing vowels with a Kiwi signature, at moments growls, at times wails and wavers, providing the captivating foundation for his stories.

The songs here document tales of outlaws, mythic figures, desperate places and times – often old-worldly and sometimes outlandish. The worlds of the album may simply be fictitious, or hyper-real reflections of his own experiences, but they are used to infuse moments of knowing wisdom.

Several listens may be required to glean the singer/songwriter’s intentions, but his explicit and selective detail forms distinct landscapes into which the listener is readily drawn, and carried away by.

Review: Skyscraper Stan – Golden Boy Vol I and II

Yes, Stan Woodhouse does literally stand tall, but he also has a towering musical presence on this second album after Last Year’s Tune about four years ago.

He’s a troubadour who explores characters on the periphery of society or those – as on the opener Dole Queues and Dunhill Blues where he reaches for the anxiety of the young David Byrne, bewildered and angry about the world he is given – desperately clinging on.

The Melbourne-based Kiwi isn’t just a distant observer however and on Tarcutta Shade – a very Australian theme of small town lives – has an empathy for those out there where it is dry and so oppressively hot that anything as bold as getting out requires too much effort. But there is latent menace here too.

Then it gets very dark in places during the second half (Vol II?).

In the troubled On the Corner about a damaged man drawn back into a bad relationship he sings: “I’ve been watching headlines flash across my TV screen
And I’ve been listening to the neighbours saying things that neither of them really mean . . . that’s got me walking around in circles blind . . . ’cause you know I take every word to heart. Yeah I keep my temper but I’m keeping score, tonight I’m dreaming of a brand new start but tomorrow I’ll be right back on your corner, just like all these other men . . .”

This is where the therapy sessions need to start.

With twanging country-rock guitar, rail-clack rhythms and his voice somewhere along the Nick Cave (in country-pop mode) and a less aggressive Tex Perkins.

There are ballads here: the nihilistic alcohol and drug rumination of Dancing on My Own Grave, the almost-Elvis sound of Child.

There was an old poem which said word to the effect that if you want to drive someone insane just abandon them in the middle of the 20thcentury.

Many of Stan’s characters are now located in the even more crazy and terrifying 21stcentury where they don’t want to see another front page photo of old white men shaking hands (Flag of Progress) or have someone who isn’t family come around (the brittle countrified power-pop of Doorbell, a metaphor about political isolationism in these days of desperate migrants) in this age of uncertainty.

The title of the final track is a quietly film-noir/short story entitled . . . Man Misunderstood.

With an excellent band on hand, this is an album where the songs are snapshots in fading black’n’white with rings of a booze glass or the edges burned by a stray joint.