The Deceptively Simple Sound Of Scott And Charlene's Wedding

Nov 14, 2016
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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Our rock critic, Ken Tucker, has a review of a new album by Scott and Charlene's Wedding, a music act that consists primarily of singer-songwriter producer Craig Dermody. He's a Melbourne, Australia, musician, who’s also a painter and has a new album called "Mid Thirties Single Scene."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DISTRACTED")

SCOTT AND CHARLENE'S WEDDING: (Singing) I'm stuck in my room. The television's on. We only get channel 9 because the area...

KEN TUCKER, BYLINE: The most typical Scott and Charlene’s Wedding scenario is something like this. A bewildered man sits in an almost barren room, wondering how his life took the turns it’s taken. He muses about what kind of decisions he’s made that have placed him in this lonely, somewhat squalid situation. Instead of succumbing to despair, he writes and sings a song about it all.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SCRAMBLED EGGS")

SCOTT AND CHARLENE'S WEDDING: (Singing) Wake up in the morning, I make scrambled eggs, and they're immaculate. When I go to work, I lift heavy stuff, and it keeps me sharp. After work beers with the boys that I love. Maybe have a bet, maybe not. Wake up in the morning, I do it all again, again, again. Whoa. My life was so different when I knew you. Whoa. My life was so different when I knew you. Last I heard from you...

TUCKER: Are you curious about the band name? So was I. It turns out Scott and Charlene were characters in a popular Australian soap opera called "Neighbours" that was a favorite of Craig Dermody’s mother. Scott and Charlene did indeed get married, and their wedding episode was one of the highest-rated episodes of the entire series. There’s even a music connection here. Charlene was played by Kylie Minogue, who went on to become a fine pop star in her own right.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DELIVERED")

SCOTT AND CHARLENE'S WEDDING: (Singing) Going back again to that back again. I think we're near the end. We'd better call a friend. Oh, oh, I know I only met you, thinking that I love you. Know this might be trouble, but you've got to have that number of that fella who delivers. Yeah, that fella who delivers, delivers, delivers, delivers, delivers, delivers, delivers.

TUCKER: Craig Dermody frequently sings in a flat monotone that reminds me a little of Lou Reed, a Lou Reed who’s a bit more chipper than we usually think of Reed being, but not without the occasionally ominous or morose edge. Take, for example, the song “Maureen.” It’s kind of like the sort of song Lou Reed would have written if a woman named Maureen had had the temerity to ask Lou Reed to help her move some furniture.

(SONGBITE OF SONG, "MAUREEN")

SCOTT AND CHARLENE'S WEDDING: (Singing) She lived in the country all of her life and then (unintelligible). We were hired to move her house a little further into the country. She wanted to help with her heavy furniture. I said, Maureen, that's too heavy. And she said she doesn't care. But watch out for the spiders there. And then she said the spiders, they know my name. It goes, Maureen. Spiders knew her name. In the forest, she has fame. She looked like...

TUCKER: Craig Dermody and the various musicians who accompany him perform a deceptively simple kind of rock music. It’s not necessarily a music of sincerity. Very often, the narrator is sneaking in his resentment while talking about how immaculate the scrambled eggs he’s just made are. The album title is quite accurate. This collection called, "Mid Thirties Singles Scene" describes the thoughts and actions of a persona he’s created who says he’s just turned 34. He wants to get across how variously curious, depressed, horny, bemused, and bereft he’s feeling, without self-pity or much self-consciousness. The life he summons up here sounds great to me.

GROSS: Ken Tucker is critic at large for Yahoo! TV. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.