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Friday, February 24, 2012

"Under the Milky Way"

The Church - "Under the Milky Way" (1987)

An Australian band with at least 20 albums, a big fan base in their home country, and a reputation as a one hit wonder in the U.K. and America.

Bassist and vocalist Steve Kilbey wrote the song with his girlfriend. His band had had success in Australia, but their label wanted them to record in L.A. with professional producers so they left home and recorded Starfish it was apparently a real challenge in the studio with clashing egos and even a request for Kilbey to take singing lessons. By the end of it all, they had their big success story with a top 25 album, and a song that would endure as long as moody teenagers everywhere felt like everything was going to completely change as soon as the summer after high school was over.

I really like Kilbey's voice. It's low and honest and doesn't sound like he's forcing anything. This is his emotional state, and that's what you're going to get. The guitars ring out for the whole song. There's no "between" parts where you can hear a breath or a pause because the guitars are just left to ring out for seconds after they've been played. That jangly guitar sound is part of why the track is considered neo-psychedelia. As the song progresses they layer in a small string section, a chorus of voices, and some electronic keyboard sounds that are the most obvious sign that this is an song produced in L.A. in the late 80s. At around 2:20 where a normal song would have a guitar solo, they do not. Now I'm not 100 percent sure, because it's not listed in the liner notes, but I'm pretty sure that was a bagpipe solo. Could have been a keyboard set on bagpipe though, whatever it was, it was processed electronically a bit, and certainly brave. Late in the song, around 3:45 or so we finally get that guitar solo, though there is some chorus song over it. The lead guitar part really puts this track in the neo-psychedelia realm with that dreamy-underwater yet fast past lick, playing into the fade out.

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