Beaches from the album First Dance
Brown Paper Bag
Formed in 2005 during the dizzy days of high school, Bridezilla began as a group of teenage girls – Holiday Carmen-Sparks (vocals, guitar), Daisy Tulley (violin), Pia May Courtley (guitar), and Millie Hall (saxophone) – battling boredom with strings, horns, and a storm of emotion. Then along came a boy who put beats in their blood – Josh Bush (drums) – and suddenly the puzzle was complete. Somehow, it worked.
Steadily building buzz in the Sydney live music circuit throughout 2006/2007 – sharing stages with the likes of Architecture In Helsinki, Midlake, and Snowman – the group would release their self-titled EP in 2007. Winning instant acclaim, the EP saw critics scramble to comprehend the band’s sound, likening it to everything from Dirty Three’s instrumental explorations, to Cat Power’s country-noir and PJ Harvey’s darkened outsider-pop. Yet no such description could quite capture the band’s unique synthesis, and the excitement surrounding Bridezilla continued to grow.
In the years since, they’ve taken to the stages of Big Day Out, Homebake, Laneway Festival, Golden Plains, Splendour In The Grass, and the inaugural Australian All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival (curated by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds). They’ve supported international acts including Wilco, Cold War Kids, and Stars, and played with homegrown artists as diverse as The Drones, Sia, and Decoder Ring. In September 2009, Bridezilla joined legends Dirty Three and The Drones as the only Australian act/s to take the stage at New York’s All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival. Curated by ATP and The Flaming Lips, this festival saw Bridezilla join a bill including the world’s premiere indie acts: Animal Collective, Sufjan Stevens, Panda Bear, Deerhunter, Iron & Wine, Crystal Castles, Atlas Sound, Caribou, The Boredoms, and The Jesus Lizard!
In amidst all of this madness, Bridezilla somehow found the time to sign on the dotted line with Inertia’s in-house imprint, Inertia Recordings. In January 2009, they teased fans by releasing their gorgeous new track “Forth and Fine” on a split 7” with Mick Turner/Jim White (aka. The Tren Brothers).
Now, they present their debut full-length – chiefly recorded in rural New South Wales, and helmed by superproducer, Kramer. An industry legend, Kramer has played as part of bands including Ween, Bongwater and Butthole Surfers; as well as produced for the likes of Galaxie 500 (whose entire catalogue he produced), Low (whom he discovered and produced), Daniel Johnston, Palace Songs (aka. Will Oldham/Bonnie “Prince” Billy), King Missile, Half Japanese, Urge Overkill, and – only earlier this year – Adelaide’s Leeder Cheetah. Following the Colo adventure, Bridezilla completed the album by recording four further tracks at BJB Studios in Sydney with Chris Townsend (Sun, Portishead).
Recorded in a barn by The Colo River, New South Wales, the recording of ‘The First Dance’ saw Bridezilla face off against bats, rats, flies, lice, and African thorn-bush. They dealt with depleted food and water supplies, absence of doors, synchronised menstruation, mild paralysis, and endless Oolong tea steepings. The delights of the country came in the form of bird song, trampolines, and burnt marshmallows. Living in such close-quarters, isolated from society, suffering from all sorts of trivial trials and tribulations Bridezilla have created something they are truly proud of. In Kramer’s words: “We fucking nailed it! It shines gently on the darkness, it briefly illuminates the shadows, and it gingerly shades the blinding light so you can look directly into it… I hope it sells forever”.
The tracks on ‘The First Dance’ are as creative and curious as the young minds which spawned them. Lead single, “Beaches”, flutters with yearning and escapism; written in Adelaide on a 40 degree day (“heat that no one could ignore”). The near-completely instrumental “Soft Porn” was written on a warehouse rooftop, and possesses a resultant air of peace and perspective. “Forth and Fine” is a ballad of eccentricities, telling the tale of a couple who wake up one morning and break up, but continue live together. “The Western Front” and “White Feather” are sparse, cinematic journeys; tales of relationships, filtered through a lens of love and war.
“Heart You Hold” reflects on the band’s time at the Colo River; a life that, in Holiday’s own words, “couldn’t be more perfect unless I was living there.” “Tailback” is a gentle nursery rhyme about ambition and competition; “Lottery Tickets” is an ethereal pop number about show-biz and L.A; and “Shipping Man” is a floating melody about the sale of a house-boat.
Other tracks are more closely grafted to moments in time. “Queen Of Hearts” was inspired by Holiday’s playing The Queen of Hearts in The Scare’s film clip for “88s”. “Soft Toys” was born from time on tour with PNAU: “blind from lights, deaf from beats”. “Magnetic Arrest” was inspired by Holiday’s trip to Washington/New York, and political aspirations. Hushed but intense opener, “Lunar Eclipse”, was written on a night when the earth blackened the moon. And unwinding closer, “The Last Dance”, is a frank attempt to reason with death.
Inheriting the introverted lyricism and dark atmospherics of our nation’s rock tradition (The Birthday Party, Nick Cave, The Drones) and combining it with bustling instrumental beauty (Dirty Three), Bridezilla are one of the most compelling new Australian bands in years. Years in the making, their full-length debut, ‘The First Dance’, is destined endure as one of the decade’s most fascinating Australian recordings; not to mention one of 2009’s finest albums.
Australian Press for Bridezilla
WEBCUTS “Webcuts editorial team is excited about the forthcoming album especially after hearing the single “Beaches”….a short but sweet taste as delicious as the pomegranate the adorns The First Dance’s cover.”
MESS AND NOISE “Beaches makes you feel like rising from bed to go out and find true love”
JOY ***** It’s about time this album was made – finally I’ve found what’s been missing from my life. This Sydney five piece of four ladies and a fella blend together to create this album full of rising crescendos, stirring strings and sax, divine rhythms that feels like the best part of a massive thunderstorm encapsulated in a disc. Five stars. I would give it more if humanly possible.”
ROLLING STONE **** “A near-flawless display of virtuosity” “This sublimely confident debut is in a class all of its own”
CYCLIC DEFROST “‘The First Dance’ is evidence that Bridezilla have the ability to step in and fulfill the hype that has surrounded their growth. It is a consistent and strong work. It’s best qualities are those which show that the band doesn’t feel the need to be grandiose, but are confident in their own understated brooding.”
ROSE QUARTZ “This album is actually pretty fucking great. This is some seriously sublime Cat Power-esque country noir: all stately and spacious with that downbeat kinda wistful vibe.”
Albums / Lp’s
|Holiday Carmen Sparks: Vox, guitar||Bridezilla (self titled debut EP 2007)|
|Pia May: Guitar||The First Dance (LP 2009)|
|Josh Bush: Drums|
|Daisey Tulley: Violin|
|Millie Hall: Saxophone|
|The First Dance (Released 2009)||www.myspace.com/bridezillaa|