Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Josh Pyke - Memories & Dust


Yet another of the "troubador" lads that line our collection, Josh Pyke stands out to me because of his unashamed Australian accent.  There are many people who jump up and down in this country about hip-hop artists if they rap with US accents, but nobody seems to give a damn about singers.  And yet here's Mr Pyke, flattening his vowels with the best of them.

Apart from that I think he's got a lot to offer.  The melodies soar and swoop, he's got a nice line in romantic imagery beyond the trite moon-and-June stuff, and his voice can hold its own with any of the other man-and-his-guitar (plus some additional orchestration) albums we own.

I haven't listened to this a lot before - and I'll have to remember it for some kitchen music, as it forms a thoughtful background for mindless tasks like chopping and stirring.  Nice.



I first remember seeing Josh Pyke out front of his band, An Empty Flight, when they supported Sick Puppies at a small local Sydney venue.  Although I was more interested in the headliners, I was suitably impressed by Pyke's smart and sharp indie rock.  This was in the early 00s.  (Mine says: and one of our fist dates, as I recall!)  Since then, both the Puppies and Mr Pyke have seen their respective careers bloom.

But his solo work is very removed from his band.  Instead of taking a further step down the math-rock road, Pyke stripped himself back to reveal the bare, beautiful bones of his song writing.  After first gaining exposure with the single, Kids Don't Sell Their Hopes So Fast and its accompanying EP, he followed up with a number of EPs before releasing Memories & Dust.   As a d├ębut, it deserves to be hailed as a classic, not only for the strength of the songs but also for the sheer weight of his talent.  Boy, can this man sing and play.

Unfortunately, this is another of those discs we've added to the collection at some point then promptly forgot about.  This is not indicative of a bad record, more of a bad memory (on my part).  But I can't help but listen to this and get a hankering for Elliot Smith.  The similarities between the two artists are striking.  This isn't a good or a bad thing, but its there for all to hear.  Maybe it is because I'm such a fan of Elliot that I'm unable to fully appreciate Josh.  However, I'm willing to make an effort because I really do believe he's worth it.


For more information go to http://www.joshpyke.com/


  1. I might have to give this one a shot. I was listening to some Redgum the other day and I quite enjoy how they didn't try to hide their Aussie accents when singing.

    I'm kind of in a singer/songwriter mood today. I think it's the seasons. There's just something about Autumn. So much of the material of singer/songwriters evokes this season so well. Until I have a chance to hunt down this one I'll probably be spinning some Billy Joel, Ben Folds, Brian Vander Ark, and the late great Harry Chapin.

  2. Interesting point about 'singing in an Australian accent'. It seems that the accepted accent for pop/rock is American. Even here in the UK, everyone uses it. The only home grown accents appear to be;
    Peter Gabriel - English
    The Proclaimers - Scottish
    Cerys Matthews - Welsh

    As to the rest..transatlantic drawl (as we say here). The only other Aussie accent I can think of is the delicious Angie Hart (hard 'a') from the vastly under-rated, Frente!

  3. Perplexio, never been a big Redgum fan but I get what you're saying. While you're moving into Autumn, we're coming into spring, but oddly, this time suits the same kinda music - although my choice of singer/songwriters would more likely be M Ward or Elliot Smith


  4. MO, I know what you mean, except, funnily enough, in hip hop and rap. I worked with a very good, young Australian rapper for a while, writing music and doing production for him. His influences were Tupac, Eminem and Ice Cube and when he rapped, he sounded neither Australian nor American but a hybrid of the two. Most Aussie rappers have a very strong Aussie accent so he has had problems breaking in. Hopefully, his talent will over-ride their parochialism.

  5. If the appropriately named Canadian white rapper, Snow, can score a hit ("Informer" back in 1993), I don't see why an Aussie rapper couldn't do the same!