School Damage

School Damage

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With a lineup consisting of members of Chook Race and Ausmuteants, it's not a shock that School Damage are a scrappy, punky lo-fi treat of a band. Taking inspiration from minimalist post-punk acts like Young Marble Giants and post-C-86 bands like the Vaselines, while adding a large portion of the low-key charms of the best Flying Nun groups, their self-titled debut album fits in with the many other contemporary bands, like Beef Jerk and the Stevens, trying out their own particular blends of this sound. School Damage carve out their own space in the flood of bands by having two really strong songwriters and a very tight and tough guitar-bass-drums-keys setup. Carolyn Hawkins (of Chook Race) writes very nice melodies and slightly whimsical words, and sings in a candy-sweet fashion. Jake Robertson (of Ausmuteants) balances her style with a shouty, insistent punk approach that might be a bit much over the course of an entire album, but works perfectly in this setting. For every introspective, almost delicate song of hers that displays a tender touch, like "Distance," there's one of his, like "School Damage Rockers," that kicks up a cloud of dust. Not that Robertson sticks to punchy punk alone; he also turns in "Try Something New," a nicely melancholic ballad. Not to be outdone, Hawkins takes a crack at rocking a bit on the snarky "Gasbagging" and knocks it dead. School Damage is a great debut album that may be a one-off or it may be the start of something beautiful. Either way, the album and the band are fine additions to the steady stream of first-rate noisy indie pop flowing out from down under.

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