5 Albums That Have Influenced Okay Dane's Sound

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Melbourne indie rockers, Okay Dane's newest single is titled 'Someday'. Melbourne indie rockers, Okay Dane's newest single is titled 'Someday'.

Last month, Melbourne indie-rock group Okay Dane released their newest single, the melodic, grungy 'Someday'.

 

'Someday' presents a new chapter for the band, with guitarist and vocalist Iseabail Lewis and drummer Nathan Winn now in the fold.

The group recorded 'Someday' at Melbourne's Homesurgery Recordings way back in February working with producer Jon Grace (Dear Seattle, Kingswood).

"We were lucky enough to record the last few days of February, right before everything shut down, and we ended up with two singles we're really proud of," Okay Dane says.

"The first being 'Erase' that we released in May; the second being 'Someday', which is a slower burn that indulges more of our indie-alternative influences like Pixies and Ball Park Music.

"'Someday' is about the moment after saying something you can't take back, realising that you f...ed up."



Speaking of influences, the band have selected five albums that have greatly influenced the sound of Okay Dane.

1: Pixies - 'Doolittle' (1989)

'Doolittle' is one of those albums that I've been hooked on since my first listen.

After hearing that Nirvana enlisted producer Steve Albini to produce their final (and my personal favourite) record 'In Utero' (1993) because of his work on the Pixies first album 'Surfer Rosa' (1988), I was curious to give them a listen.

Although it's now one of my all-time favourites, I initially wasn't sold outside of the more successful and well known singles like 'Gigantic' and 'Where Is My Mind', as I was nowhere near prepared enough for how strange and often jarring it can be.

This is where 'Doolittle' steps in as a more polished, palatable and poppy successor to 'Surfer Rosa''s raw and real sound. It still has plenty of oddball moments, but overall presents them in a way that's more conventional to the standard rock fan as opposed to someone who's fully invested in Pixies style quirks and all.

This album showcases all of my favourite things about Pixies.

The way things are pushed and pulled by Kim Deal's simple yet impossibly catchy basslines (ie 'Debaser', 'Gouge Away', 'Hey'), Joey Santiago's super hooky yet frenetic lead style ('Wave Of Mutilation', 'There Goes My Gun', 'Dead'), David Lovering's explosive yet tight drumming ('I Bleed', 'La La Love You', 'Crackity Jones') and singer/ guitarist Charles Thompson's (known by his stage name Black Francis) eclectic style in both performance and songwriting (the ultra-poppy 'Here Comes Your Man', the blistering and dynamic 'Tame', or the Cohen-esque spoken/ sung dirge 'Monkey Gone To Heaven').

There's a lot to love on this album and not a single bad track on it. 'Doolittle' is a door to all the weird greatness Pixies have to offer.

 

2: WAAX - 'Big Grief' (2019)

This is one of the most recent albums to influence us in a big way, but in the year since it's come out it's had an impact not just on the way we've written songs, but also on our guitar parts and compositions.

A great example of interesting guitar work on this album is on 'FU'; throughout the verses they balance these raspy and thin guitar lines that play simple parts, but they add on and build up throughout.

As the verse progresses, the guitars and bass become a pressure cooker of dissonant and unresolved tension that creates a great launching pad into the the chorus. When the chorus does kick in, the guitar parts are much more direct and full which is a great cathartic release and a killer payoff.

WAAX don't only play with dynamics here but also tension and release.

Another main draw to this album is vocalist Marie 'Maz' DeVita's lyrics and performance. Throughout the album, Maz is able to shift from understated vulnerability to impassioned rage in a very real and believable way.

Her lyrics are confessional and personal and they add intense emotional weight to the already intense instrumentals.

These traits can all be heard throughout the album, but a standout moment that comes to mind is the closing track 'I.D.K.W.I.F.L' (short for I Don't Know What It Feels Like).

There's a true honesty to the story being told and the subtle inflections in Maz's voice, like her controlled vibrato and wavering add another dimension to the storytelling.


3: Nirvana - 'In Utero' (1993)

Nirvana have been a huge influence on me musically since my introduction to their music in school.

I remember being 12 years old in the late 2000s, going to the local library and picking out a bunch of CDs they would loan out. There was a strange and eclectic mix of music there but they had a fair few punk, alternative and rock albums.

Nirvana at this point were a band I'd heard of but not yet listened to so I picked up the only album of theirs on the shelf – 'In Utero'. Straight away I remember being floored by how raw and noisy the album was, but also how melodic and catchy the songs were.

There was a great mix of frenetic and noisy cuts like 'Scentless Apprentice', 'Milk It', 'Radio Friendly Unit Shifter', 'Tourette's', and also more accessible pop songs like 'Heart Shaped Box', 'Dumb', 'Pennyroyal Tea', and 'All Apologies'.

My favourite thing about the album has always been these two extremes. However, even the poppier songs live within the framework of Steve Albini's noisy and raw production.

My favourite songs on this album are the ones that exist in the middle of those extremes, showcasing both Kurt's thoughtful melodicism and also the band's unbridled rage.

For example, 'Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle', 'Rape Me', and 'Serve The Servants' all have moments where they're near exploding with noise, but also reel themselves in with pretty vocal melodies and vulnerability.

There's not a bad song on this album and to rank them would be very difficult, but I can easily say 'Heart Shaped Box' would have to be my favourite song of all time.


4: Violent Soho - 'Hungry Ghost' (2013)

This album was a game changer in the Australian alternative rock scene and still has a lasting impact; most of our favourite bands have cited this album as an influence and since our first listen, it's collectively been a favourite of ours.

There are many things to love about this album, but the first and most immediate thing to grab me were the guitars; they're super punchy, loud and clear. The clean tones are sparkly and spacious with a tasteful amount of reverb, and the distorted guitars push hard to create a huge wall of sound.

Soho are also great at layering parts and are able to fill out the space sonically, with the heavy rhythm guitars sitting on the rumbling bass, and the chime-y lead parts sitting atop the rhythm guitars; they blend well together but the parts sit in their own space.

The album is mixed well and consistent, there is a definite atmosphere and space that the songs live and breathe in, which lends itself to the soft/ loud dynamic; as the drums get louder so does the room sound.

The drumming on this album is also top-notch; Mikey is a hard hitter but has great feel and groove, and is able to lock in tight with the guitars to really push the songs along.

Luke Boerdam's vocals and lyrics are also one of my favourite things about this album. He avoids being specific or explicit about subject matter. Instead his lyrics are filled with vivid imagery, metaphors and similes.

The lyrics are sung directly and convincingly and you can feel the anger and apathy coming through, but the words are thought provoking and poetic.


5: Ball Park Music - 'Museum' (2012)

Picking a favourite Ball Park album is an impossible feat given how great and different all their albums are. However, we can easily single out 'Museum' as having the biggest impact on us musically, especially on our upcoming single 'Someday'.

'Museum' is full of the same cheeky fun as Ball Park's debut 'Happiness And Surrounding Suburbs' (2011), but is less afraid of getting dark, sad or dreary.

This album made us re-think the way we approached chord progressions and re-evaluate our compositions from the ground up, the catalyst for this being 'Bad Taste Blues (Part 2)'. That song manages to straddle a line between cheeky and dark; it can be menacing and light-hearted at the same time which isn't a tone many bands can pull off.

'Part 1' also has a similar feel but dips more into the heavy side (and has a glorious theremin part on it). 'Part 3' is coming on their upcoming self-titled album and I couldn't be more excited.

Another thing Ball Park does perfectly is vocal harmonies; the interplay between Sam Cromack and Jen Boyce's vocal parts is glorious on every track of this album, and is something that has influenced our writing on our new songs heavily.

It is reminiscent of Charles and Kim from Pixies, but with a more technical singing style and better range.

The instrumentation on this album is also very cleverly put together, and a lot attention is paid to guitar tone, bass, keys, synths and whatever they had their hands on.

A great example of this is on the closing track ‘What's On Your Mind?', as the song evolves so does the instrumentation, it opens soft on electric piano, explodes into the chorus with loud fuzzy guitars, reaches a middle section where it breaks down to just organs, and then shoots off into space in the outro with everything at once and these sci-fi synth/ guitar leads.

It's a more-is-more approach but these sounds and quirky instruments never feel novel, they feel right at home because this experimental approach is tastefully applied throughout the album.

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