On 14 December 1988, 4ZZZ was taken off air and forcibly evicted from its UQ premises by the then student union executive, headed by one Victoria Brazil. The move prompted many previously apolitical students to take a firm stand against the move and to rally support for the station. While Zed was not to return to the premises its' volunteers had helped hand-build, unprecedented community support saw the station live to fight another day.
Sometimes, getting a bit lost can be the best thing that happens to you. After a frenetic 2010, Australia’s Grand Atlantic could be forgiven for disappearing for a while. Tours of the US, Japan and Australia had gained them a swag of new fans, and their second album ‘How We Survive’ gained huge exposure and US airplay… so a strategic disappearance was in order.
Over the later part of 2010, around 20 songs were written and arranged by the band for their third long-player. The power-pop flavour of the first two albums gave way to a darker, more introspective set of tracks that tip the hat to the shoegaze sound of the early 90’s, while stripping back the arrangements to a leaner, tougher, more direct sound which embraces the trippier elements of their previous work.
In early 2011, the band bunkered down in Seacliff Lunatic Asylum, an abandoned psychiatric hospital near Dunedin, New Zealand, with producer Dale Cotton to record their third album ‘Constellations’. As singer Phil Usher noted, “We had a few strange experiences while we were there—hearing voices during takes, strange sounds, and we also saw a microphone stand move like someone knocked it.” That strangeness, and the unease of not quite knowing where you are, informs the sounds and feel of the record.
‘Constellations’ is sophisticated, psychedelic and completely immediate, its beating heart urgent and undeniable. Yet the band is content to let the music build and peak, unhurriedly and with tangible conviction. Intimate and inscrutable, these songs bend and fold, stretch out and explode. Guitar-pop mutates into a lush psycho-geographical map where the band’s headspace mimics the manic contours of the equally beautiful and punishing New Zealand countryside where the album was recorded. The reception to the album has been uniformly enthusiastic, with critics here and overseas praising the new sound and attitude.
Formed in 1996, Grand Atlantic has steadily and quietly amassed an acclaimed body of work. Their first album showed their mastery of orchestrated, Beatle-esque pop, while their second was widely hailed as a power-pop masterpiece, especially in the US where band made a significant impact at radio. The single “She’s A Dreamer” attracted airplay at over 50 influential radio stations, which led to their first 15-date US tour. In March 2010, Grand Atlantic barnstormed across the US and Canada after invitations to showcase at SXSW and Canadian Music Week, following extensive touring of the album in Australia and a growing call from the US powerpop scene. The release of ‘How We Survive’ in the US prompted a glut of media attention and placed them on a bunch of SXSW ‘bands to watch’ short lists. They didn’t disappoint, with the live shows building a solid base of fans.
This was followed by a well-received Japan tour in July 2010 to support the release of ‘How We Survive’ in that market. The band then took some time off to write and record ‘Constellations’ before resuming normal transmission…
March 2011 saw Grand Atlantic return to the US for a repeat tour of both the East and West coasts, as well as SXSW again, this time 17 dates in three weeks, and with bigger audiences and new markets. That tour cemented some significant licensing outcomes from NBC/Universal and TV shows like ‘Gossip Girl’ and MTV’s ‘I Just Want My Pants Back’, reflecting the band’s higher profile and commitment to the US.