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Knievel

“It has been a long time since guitar, bass and drums sounded this good,” said Inpress magazine of Knievel’s ‘Steep Hill Climb’ album, and on ‘Emerald City’ they are sounding better than ever.

Knievel’s new album ‘Emerald City’ is a gem.

Knievel is the long-term creative outlet for ARIA award winning producer Wayne Connolly (whose credits in 2012 alone include Hungry Kids of Hungary, The Cairos and The Paper Kites).

Emerald City is the fifth album from the band, comprising Connolly (vocals, guitar), Tracy Ellis (bass, vocals), Nick Kennedy (drums) and Tim Kevin (guitar).

Knievel formed in 1994 and released their first album on the Murmer label in 1995, followed by three more albums between 1997 and 2002: Steep Hill Climb, The Name Rings A Bell That Drowns Out Your Voice and No One’s Going To Understand In My Way.

All the band’s singles received extensive airplay on Triple J, including Might As Well Be Gone, Something Good Must Come, Chance Meeting, Don’t Explain and Are You Still Making Progress.

The band visited the US several times with showcases at CMJ and SXSW, and undertook a more extensive tour of the US in 2002, with dates in Tokyo, when their album was released on Portland-based label In Music We Trust and Japanese label Painted Sky.

Locally, the band toured with Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, REM) in 2000 and also played as his backing band. In 2001 they toured the south island of New Zealand, led by their interest in the Flying Nun label and the Dunedin sound, and played and met with members of The Bats and The Verlaines, which they have often cited as an influence. In 2006 they played a one-off show with Death Cab For Cutie at Sydney’s Petersham Bowling Club. They also played the Big Day Out in 1999 and 2011.

The four band members have an enduring musical chemistry but each has played extensively in other projects over the years; Tim Kevin has played in Youthgroup, La Huva, Hoolahan, The Exiles, Jim Moginie and the Family Dog; Nick has a long list of credits, most recently playing with Jack Ladder; touring Europe with The Dead Sea; and appearing in 41 Drums by Nick Zinner at the Sydney Festival.

For his work in the studio Connolly received ARIAs for Josh Pyke, Paul Dempsey and You Am I, with nominations for The Vines and Youthgroup. Similarly, guitarist Tim Kevin is gaining recognition as a producer with credits for Youthgroup and Toby Martin. With that collective experience, one might expect Emerald City to turn into a production tour de force, but the band kept the process simple with the focus on the songs and playing. The result is a warm and affecting collection of beautifully realised songs about modern life in the shiny metropolis.

Fitting in with Connolly and the other band members’ commitments meant that completing the recording was a slow process. “We essentially did the whole record in 5 days in January 2010 and then it basically took about 18 months to write all the lyrics and finish it, also working in 3 hours lots here and there.”
They Listen Out is the first single from ‘Emerald City’ and it has all the hallmarks of Knievel’s finely honed indie pop, with a subtle interplay of guitar parts and Connolly and Ellis’s harmonies building to a powerful crescendo.  It is the perfect distillation of what Beat magazine described as the band’s “uncanny sense of melodic progression and resolution”.

Another highlight is The Time I Found My Feet in which Connolly presents a beautifully realised vignette of growing up, in the tradition of the Go-Betweens. On This Is The Time, a touching duet about a couple in turmoil, Knievel invited friend Lara Meyerratken (Ben Lee, Luna, Nada Surf) to add a guest vocal to great effect.

The album’s depth is apparent on first listen, and fans will have a hard time choosing their new favourites; Mirrored Hall calls to mind the power-pop of Stone Roses, while New Light evokes a kind of weary optimism with an alt-country feel.

Connolly modestly describes the songs as built on “simple down-stroking guitar work which has the riff built into the chords”, characteristically underplaying the effectiveness of the song craft.

Lyrically, ‘Emerald City’ still draws on the warm-hearted melancholy which has endeared Knievel to a generation of fans, although Connolly says on this album they “definitely made a conscious effort not to try to be too grim or introspective in the lyrics”.

‘Emerald City’ is a mature and rewarding album sure to be warmly embraced by Knievel’s fans, and one which will bring a new generation of listeners to Knievel’s beautifully crafted guitar pop.

‘Emerald City’ will be available Sept 14th (digital/physical) through Alberts

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Discography

  • Knievel - We Fear Change Released 1995
    Knievel: We Fear Change
  • Knievel - Steep Hill Change Released 1998
    Knievel: Steep Hill Change
  • Knievel - The Name Rings A Bell That Drowns out Your Voice Released 2000
    Knievel: The Name Rings A Bell That Drowns out Your Voice
  • Knievel - No One’s Going to Understand in My Way Released 2003
    Knievel: No One's Going to Understand in My Way
  • Knievel - Emerald City Released 2012
    Knievel: Emerald City
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