Review by Ben Connolly
There are a couple of caveats to make about Stonefield as they took to the stage at The Northcote Social Club. The first is that they are a band of young, impossibly cute sisters from country Victoria, all apart from singer/drummer Amy Findlay, able to lay claim to being teenagers. It’s abundantly clear at times, too, with their youth defying their position – furtive, self-conscious glances to each other through face-shielding long lanky locks, seeking silent approval and encouragement – never mind the packed room full of hopeful adoration right at their feet.
The second note is about the style of music they produce – 70’s era synth-heavy psych-influenced prog-rock straight from their parents vinyl collection. It’s a genre with a shaky recent history in the Australian rock scene, with name after name hailed in the UK press as the next great hope of rock music only to fall in a heap come time and critical analysis. It’s a hype seemingly mirrored in Stonefield’s already mythically-charged short history – plucked from their country-town garage, they won a slot at Perth’s One Movement industry event, where a band booker snapped them up to play on the John Peel stage at the holiest of holy grails, Glastonbury. All of this while still labouring under a short EP and doing the merry-go-round of Triple J’s perpetual Unearthed treadmill.
Together, these points combine to create one powerful sense of gimmickry which could threaten to undermine what it is this band was intends to convey. From the opening keyboard strains and a deep-red curtain of smoke enveloping the stage, though, it was clear that the gimmick was far from this band’s intentions.
A rising jam reminiscent of Black Mountain’s entire catalogue underlaid openers “Yes Master” and “You Want It All”. Amy’s kit-work barely hindered her lisp-tinged diaphragm busting vocal chops in stand-out single “Foreign Lover”, which also thrust the baby-faced Holly to the fore with a delicious walking bass line. It’s this lick, however, which also underlines the musical immaturity on display: whilst technically adept, both Holly’s bass and Hannah’s guitar work both suffer from a lack an intuitiveness at times, which leaves both sounding a little stunted and jarring. It’s not so much a criticism as a noted exception to what was otherwise a pretty flawless display of rawk.
New songs “Move Out Of My Shadow” and “Ruby Skies” both show a depth of talent yet to be displayed from their 5-song EP. But it’s not until the slow-groove of “Walk My Way” later in the set that I cotton on to keyboardist Sarah’s influence to the overall drive of the group. Arguably the quiet one of the group, her chops happily sit underneath her starring sibling’s talents, but flashes of brilliance such as the almost In-A-Gadda-Davida inspired keys on this song, nails the band’s colours firmly to the wall.
And as if they needed to confirm the inspiration, covers of Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” and Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” mingled happily with the group’s own singles – the thumping “Bad Reality” and the equally bombastic “Through The Clover”. Gimmick or not, these sisters are already on their way to proving themselves as bona fide rock royalty. And all before half of them can legally be considered adults.
Review by Ben Connolly
Read our interview: Amy Findlay – Stonefield here…
Photos by: Tony Proudfoot PHOTOGRAPHY for Life Music Media.
Event: Stonefield @ Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
Date: 24th April 2012