Once upon a time a kid came around to my house for guitar lessons, well many years later and several bands later the master and the apprentice, now the apprentice and the master have joined forces to create a guitar band where we stomp and twang called The McAvaneys... Influences range from Bowie (excuse my vocals), Queens of the Stone Age, and Band of Horses.. The McAvaneys reside in Melbourne Australia and are exclusively signed with DJD UK Global Music.
1. Good to be Bad
I’m introducing “The McAvaneys” with this song in the same way Grace Slick did for her band Jefferson Airplane before they played “Somebody to Love” at Woodstock in 1969: “Alright friends you have seen the heavy groups now you will see morning maniac music, believe me… yeah. It’s the new dawn… the regular guys.”
Graham Horne’s words sung with certainty “it's good, good to be bad, stay happy not sad, ah bad to be good, ...yeah” frees your soul still, brings back the psychedelic images and the song’s percussion moves your heart, your body and your mind. You’ll feel this music like you did at the rock concerts in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s where you met up and tripped with your friends. And then lead guitarist Damon Goulas will do a solo in the middle of it that sounds a lot like what guitarist Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple did live in the middle of “A Strange Kind of Woman”.
You’re gonna want to turn this song up loud, play your air guitar, trip with your friends, and relive those good times all over again!
2. Lit the Fuse
Before the breakdown happens, the mental health episode raises its head, the argument ramps up to an explosion the “Fueled by desire” starts the communication game to take control… “to keep playing the game” just as with any other interpersonal exchange. It doesn’t matter the drama, the reasons for the breakdown emerging, the glimpse of a flower or a dream that could save you… it was this that took over: “Yeah, I lit the fuse”, “to sink ya” rather than what could “help ya”. What holds others together is fantasy in your mind. The truth you know best is the game.
This country song mellows your struggle, helps you face your demons and harming desires. You can move to it in a trance. The tambourine shakes over and over again, the low volume kick drum and other percussion keeps the beats long enough for you to safely enter into your kind of self-realization. And it’s ok.
The electric guitar sounds through pedals offers soothing organ sounds, soft vibrato, subtle, buffered, mid-depth, lush slow strums to help you to comfortably face your temptations toward an understanding of them. You feel them uplifting what you keep well-protected. And you can sense you’re gonna be ok.
If a woman sang this to you it would be Joni Mitchell from her early years. If another two man group sung this it would be with credence felt from the voices of Loggins & Messina. For this two man group, the McAvaney’s, their lyrics opens your heart wide enough to fill it with desires that “impress ya” while masking the noise, the chatter, and the stress that can “sink ya”.
3. Lazy Crazy
Just when you thought your posting online fun was fitting with your crazed “big boots” bad boy or all-that girl peer group allegiance you get caught at your game by adult voice surveillance. And when that isn’t enough every bit of music you hear has the same messages ringing in your head: “Conspiracy”, “Don’t say no if you can’t say maybe”, and “Why don’t you just think about it”. Now you’re stuck on questioning your typical pothole cutting reaction before you type it. Yes, you hear the ‘yes I can’ half-melody sneaking in, but you’re stopped in your tracks by a sudden ‘WHAT!’ guitar strings triad singular pluck reminder. And then you get ‘WHAT!’ plucked again to stop your fingers from hitting the keys you know so well. Flatter held drum stick slams on the rising cymbal of the hi-hat to remind you the messages will still hack their way into your head!
Is there only one conclusion “you’re lazy crazy”? So do you “think everything's against ya”?
Percussion starts this piece, cow bell and triangle strikes announce someone is taking a monitoring glimpse into your hideout, light less-bass kick drumming, and a fast beat carries you through the alternative messages. But damn you love that guy’s voice! So maybe you’ll consider to be different?!
4. Last Man Standing
I believe I have found “the Battle of Bettencourt did you know” to be one of the bloodiest fights during the first World War: the Battle of Somme (a French river). Several countries, including British Kingdoms, fought against the German line there. More than a million died or were injured including over six thousand Australians who died there many who might be buried at the Bettencourt-Riviere Churchyard Cemetery… “Like a crash landing”, “shootin’ over the trenches”, “so many lives have been lost along the way”.
However, this song may also be in reference to the BBC TV show of the same name where athletes go to east Africa to learn how to fight with sticks called “Donga” to settle tribal disputes. No one dies. The winners are those who make the opponent bleed in the legs or on the head. And the reward, far better than going home with hell in their minds, injured or in a box, is a trip to see the women who are attracted to such men. And while these tribes do have guns where “them bullets have been passed onto the son”, indicative that some are “set in the old ways”, that like the contestants (athletes) “I gotta stay strong” there is the option that it is better to fight with sticks than guns.
This hard hitting work of words to “forge your own way” starts with muted country twang dual guitar playing with one full tone distinct carrying the melody and the other of string vibrations along with a few slides. The male vocal overrides them both singing the story in a gradual low mention with supportive guitar strums sounding like a hard setting on a Hammond B3 Leslie tremolo pedal played before each chorus line.
And while the piece ends quickly it will be this message that lingers inside you at your coming dispute: ‘Wouldn’t you rather use a stick?’
5. Pot of Gold
A real quiet late-into-the-night aged blues song with only a few full tones, short melody lines, electric guitar strums and quick hard pick pressing on each string to make it harder for the string to release from it to make a sudden loud ending of a verse line or for the beginning of the next one.
It’s two guys sitting on stools on a small stage in a dimly lit bar filled with their older fans who understand all too well about hanging onto a long relationship. With half opened eyes one pours out the story of a man about his needs worn down after years in his relationship and from far too many impressive add-ons that have grown his relationship over time. He’s at the dulled romantic end not yet sung by Andrew “Roo” Panes’ “Lullaby Love” of what still holds him “level” and “awake” long after his career has ended. But not for this “cranky old man, getting by doing what I can” and knowing the sex will be gone and “I may end up alone”. He realizes all he needs is “money in my pockets” and “your pot of gold” to hang on by a thread still. He doesn’t need any more “fancy food”, comedy show laughs, the “smelly dog”, or that “box of chocolates”. All he needs now is just her and her “pot of gold” for the end of their rainbow.
So touching this thin covering inside one’s heart. Well done!!
6. Shades of Blue
A move on, let’s go forward, let’s go around this “shades of blue” bump on our road together kind of song. ‘Let’s not do that I gotta get into “your world falling apart”, “guide you out of the fear”, or help you “sort out of everything”’. I know you can’t remember everything. Yeah, “I’m telling you, telling you”. ‘I don’t wanna fight you any longer….every single time a rock, a pebble, a grain of sand is sitting in front of us on our road.’ It’s ‘let’s not get into the details’ again. ‘Let’s just move forward’. ‘Let’s just let go of it’.
The work starts out with Ian Paice-like hard bass kicks, hard stick vibrating strikes on toms with lighter snare taps for that classic song intro. Then those high quality guitars drop in with one pedaling through fat distinct sounds for a powerful lead with another supportive just before Bernard “Pretty” Purdie-like clean pounded bass kicks and tom drumming style add to the mix where the vocals start inside them. The voice is thinned down a bit, pulled back with spot sized midrange tonal quality like that good guy friend of yours playing his guitar who wants you to hear every word and yet still fits in a few others at the end of a verse before he sings the next line.
The recording is well mixed with no instrument or vocals overbearing, but rather clear and precise and each having a hand in the words sung out. Look for it… there are several instrumental sections played as if they are singing verses to keep you in the mood for their simple message. Love that!!
7. The Brave
A slow country ballad for those in a deep caring relationship with another especially those who are having a tough time with hardships, disabilities or mental health challenges as is the case with this song where artist Graham Horne sings about his daughter and her struggles with disability and mental health.
The lights have lowered, the fans have begun to sway side to side to the beat as they come to understand the endearing lyrics of a father’s admiration for his daughter “To do what you do, when you do what you do, everyday”. They connect to how she feels “chaotic thoughts are swimming in your head “, how she feels as if “the water fills” to drown her, how alone she is as if “outside looking in”. Their tears start to flow as they hear him say “I’ll be here to stem the tide”, “you know this won’t last forever”, “this moment will pass”.
An acoustic guitar melody drops in first and moves to an electric guitar filling the room with pedal-infused captive bass and passive twang without drowning out the words. Strings played are midrange full clean tones. Light tapping on the cymbals and supportive drumming is heard in the background. And a few strings go through twirls. There are quieter spots in the music for memories to emerge from members of the audience that bring everyone closer together. Their hearts overflow with emotion as they feel the awe this caring and loving father has for his daughter “You’re brave, you’re brave”.
And I am reminded that when one so lovingly cares for another like this they put inside that person: ‘Remember: I am with you in the forest’.
8. The Best I’ve Ever Had
Sometimes we don’t really realise how much we love someone till they are considering to “walk out the door”. At that point all anyone can think of is “You’re the best I’ve ever had”, “I’m so indebted”, “It can be like before”, and “And I love you even more”. The natural purity that built that foundation contains all the defining and holding components constructed to near perfection much like the Led Zeppelin “Stairway to Heaven” sounding acoustic steel stringed guitar beginning. And then that door thing in your head does that sudden impact hard and wide bass thumpety-thumpety thing like a Harvey Mason “3RD Degree” (Fourplay) drum beat to start the vocal message to blast through all those years of stress and difficult issues to
“Can’t you see, it’s just me”! So “Don’t walk out that door”... just realize ‘I’m so connected to you’ like “You were always connected” ‘to me’!
9. Nancy and Bob
They say it is a special club we each enter into when we become parentless tho the blessing are often the good memories we have of them. And in this song Graham Horne gives many thanks to his parents Nancy and Bob for leaving “a little kid like me” all grown up with good memories. He remembers the trips they took him on, the “Steering wheel shaking like a leaf” over the rough, red, rock and pebbly red soil of a “Turn to Alice ” and up to the world popular 550 million year old more than 3,000 foot high “Ayers Rock” some “500 miles from Coober Pedy ”. He recalls those trips “helping healing me” despite whatever ‘I went through growing up and into my adulthood’ and the hot temps even at high elevations “rock lizard cooking in the sun” not much different than home in Coober Pedy at lower elevations during the early and late months of every year… ‘my summers’.
The music starts with a down strum on the acoustic guitar, than another guitar sharing and dropping in guitar picking of the melody with pedal-infused clean full tones with uplifting lead-ups to say “Thank you Nancy, Thank you Bob” with deep reverence. There’s a wee bit of snare play to set the beat with supportive light drumming and muted light kicks to follow.
This is the kind of song that makes it worth it to stand in the long lines to see the McAvaneys on stage because so many can connect with their stories. My parents recently passed and I know of the many thanks I give to them for all the trips they took me on and the memories they left me too. Thank you for writing this song! Heart!
10. Where Do We Go From Here
Too often we hold on to our fears so we can feel a connection to the world that “outside goes insane”. But is this what we need or what we want even when we know another thinks we should focus on “just the simple things you just gotta hold onto”?
It doesn’t make sense when another says “can’t help but think of your pain” because my pain is my normal. I can’t just “let it be”. I don’t want to face my fears. They’re all I know. And I question those who say to me “Where do we go from here?” and am bothered by being told “When will we learn?”. I don’t want to learn to do otherwise. Why aren’t they asking me what I want?
The vocals are articulate in the hope of getting the message through to “to face our fear”. While the tambourine shakes constantly like the noise in my head... is the hi-hat slapping slightly the beat of who I am? Or are the pedal-infused guitars being played with delay and sustained smashing and flushing of the tremolo the state of my mind? I won’t let the pick-y string sequences and finger strumming wake me up. I don’t trust the little things. Rather my unsettled life is my strength… what others call “your pain”. I’d rather they be ok with what they know best about me: “I know somebody’s looking….after….you”! I wish they would just accept that I am ok just as I am and not worry so much.
An interesting song with much thought to ponder for those we think we can help when perhaps it isn’t the time yet.
You can learn a lot from cats... to purr when our friends and family members need our support, to know we could get caught in our communication games because cats give us this 'whatdya up to now' look when we aren't paying fair and honest attention to them, that flying bullets go places they can't be found, but a stick can be and the cat can show up at your door all proud with it in their mouth seeking their reward. Yes, cats know when we aren't feeling well, when our daily struggles need a snuggle of warmth from them. In fact cats show us their love by jumping on our laps to sleep on it. Cats accept us for who we and come when we need them. They love us whether we stay or seek to walk out the door. Their curiosity is our comfort. Their playfulness tempts us to be brave and reminds us hard times will pass.
So remember be a cat with your loved ones. Don't jump up on their laps. Just hug and hold them for a moment.
(c) 2019 John Koudela III for DJD UK Global Music.