Scott and Charlene's Wedding

Any Port in a Storm

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Craig Dermody of shambling indie rockers Scott & Charlene's Wedding dreamed of living in New York when he was kicking around Melbourne, and his second album, Any Port in a Storm, finds him putting the realities of that into song. Having found a full-band lineup and a home in Brooklyn, Dermody's musical roots show in more ways than one. The album's more polished, embellished production on songs like the equally catchy and gross "Gammy Leg" has a solid feel that enhances the '90s vibe of his earlier work, as well as the East Coast cool of influences such as the Modern Lovers, Television, and the Velvet Underground via Pavement. Still, the way Dermody's personality shines through his lyrics is what makes his music unique. Unlike many of his influences, he doesn't couch his feelings in poetry or whimsy. He's as honest and autobiographical as ever on Any Port in a Storm, whether he's ruminating on dogs and storms ("Lesbian Wife"), the epic NBA Playoffs of "1993," or needing a little distance from the object of his affection on "Clock Out and Leave." Just as Dermody used to tie the highs and lows of his time in Melbourne to local train stations and lines, these songs use New York as an emotional map. He does this most literally on "Spring Street," where walking down the sidewalk inevitably reminds him of an ex, but throughout the album, New York appears at different times as a friend, lover, and foe, most strikingly on the punky "Jackie Boy," where Dermody sings, "This town wants to eat me up/It better have an appetite." While the band's songs sometimes still shamble a little too much for their own good and Dermody still has some interesting notions about pitch, when everything comes together the results can be breathtaking. "Wild Heart" closes things with a poignant and reassuring epic that delivers the rock & roll salvation Dermody sought throughout the rest of the album. Scott & Charlene's Wedding sound grounded -- but not gridlocked -- on Any Port in a Storm, securing their reputation as one of the most heartfelt acts inspired by the '90s, and one of the few who bring a more contemporary urgency to that sound.

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