Words: Doug Wallen
Banner image: Rhea Caldwell
Poster image: Steve Tierney
Michael Beach follows up his stellar contribution to the Split Singles Club with a clip for his track ‘Sessin’. We’ve got the first glimpse, with some on-point analysis by Doug Wallen.
Ahead of a massive U.S. tour, Shovels frontman and rising solo artist Michael Beach unveils a darkly comic video for his casually gripping contribution to the Split Singles Club. The lyric video for ‘Sessin’ shows a figure that’s presumably Beach wearing a mask and gloves in the style of Creature from the Black Lagoon. The hangdog figure dwells on a photo of Shovels drummer Pete Warden before burning it over a lamp candle.
Despite that cheeky cameo from Warden, the plot trajectory matches the song’s themes of longing and disconnect. Observe the bookending lyrics: “I just can’t get over those wild eyes / that cut through all the noise / of human existence” and “And glowing there on the computer / You seem to me just as beautiful / as a saint.” At once romantic and melancholy, it’s a familiar feeling in the age of social media. And it’s given a stark, quirky visual representation thanks to Thomas Charles Hyland, who most recently directed the ambitious clip for East Brunswick All Girls Choir’s ‘Essendon 1986’.
As for the song itself, it opens with quivering, Malkmus-esque guitar shagginess before lurching into a halting chorus and kicking up more raucous dust at the end. It’s the first new music from Beach since the Melbourne-based San Francisco expat’s glorious 2017 album Gravity/Repulsion. Following a handful of previous solo releases, that album earned Beach the most attention he’s gotten outside of his regular band, the angular post-punk trio Shovels.
Originally set aside for an American compilation, Beach recorded the bare bones of ‘Sessin’ with The Ocean Party’s Lachlan Denton drumming. “When that [compilation] fell through,” Beach says, “I stripped the song back to just guitar and drums and rebuilt it as something different, trying to pay homage to the Bay Area scene. Around that time, Andy [Hayden] from Poison City asked me to be part of the Split Singles club, and I was honoured to contribute the track.”
The Split Singles Club is a subscription-only series of vinyl and digital singles showcasing a dozen Australian artists over six months. It’s being curated by Poison City and Our Golden Friend, after the labels Milk! and Bedroom Suck kicked it off last year. Beach’s song is backed by Bitch Diesel’s entry ‘Power’, while the second series’ first split paired Moody Beaches and Bench Press. Other artists contributing to this year’s series include Stella Donnelly, Way Dynamic, Harmony, MOD CON, Mere Women, RVG, 808s & Greatest Hits and Elizabeth Mitchell from Totally Mild. You can still subscribe here.
If you happen to be in the U.S. over the next month or so, be sure to catch Michael Beach on his zigzagging cross-country tour. He’ll be backed by bassist Adam Camilleri (Shovels), while drummers Utrillo Kushner (Comets on Fire, Colossal Yes) and Alexa Pantalone (The World, Rays) will each take a leg of the tour. Dates below.
May 24 – Oakland, CA – White Horse
May 25 – San Francisco, CA – Hemlock
May 26 – Los Angeles, CA – Highland Park Bowl
May 30 – Austin, TX – Beerland
May 31 – Memphis, TN – Lamplighter
June 1 – Murray, KY – Terrapin Station
June 2 – Knoxville, TN – Pilot Light
June 4 – Lafayette, IN – The Spot
June 5 – Indianapolis, IN – State St Pub
June 6 – Columbus, OH – Cafe Bourbon St
June 7 – Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie
June 8 – Jersey City, NJ – WFMU
June 8 – Brooklyn, NY – Alphaville
June 9 – New Haven, CT – Never Got To Be Cool
June 10 – Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class
June 11 – Bloomington, IN – Blockhouse
June 12 – Chicago, IL – Planet Malevolent
June 13 – St Louis, MO – The Nest
June 14 – Omaha, NE – O’Leavers
June 15 – Rapid City, SD – Cave Show
June 16 – Bismarck, ND – Creekside Music Festival
June 20 – Portland, OR – Kenton Club
Poster art by Nathan Ward