Good Heavens is a lesson in the law of opposites: the theory, held by Greek philosopher Heraclitus, that things become their contradictions.
The new three-piece from Sydney, Australia, unites the divergent musical styles of three of the nation’s most talented rock artists: singer and guitarist Sarah Kelly, formerly of theredsunband, and ex-Wolfmother members, keyboard/bass player Chris Ross and drummer Myles Heskett. The result: a synthesis of ethereal dream-pop with the brute force of acid rock.
It was Kelly who jump-started the process that led to the band’s formation. After popular Sydney trio theredsunband went their separate ways in 2009, Kelly decided to focus her energy on songwriting. By early 2011 she had a demo ready and needed musicians to help realise it; record label Rice is Nice suggested Myles Heskett as a potential collaborator. “We’re not another band who were friends in high school,” says Kelly. “This is a band that came together through the traditional A&R process from the 1950s and 60s, when a label would take on the role of finding an artist suitable musicians for a project.”
Despite theredsunband and Wolfmother sharing stages at festivals such as the Big Day Out and Meredith in the mid-2000s, Kelly and Heskett knew almost nothing about each other: “If a musician is hyped, I’m one of those people who immediately hates them,” says Kelly. Nonetheless, the two musicians were drawn to each other and began rehearsing Kelly’s collection of songs on themes ranging from lucid dreaming to suicide. When it became clear that the project required a keyboardist and bass player, Heskett’s old bandmate Chris Ross was an obvious choice.
After their much-publicised split from Wolfmother in 2008, Heskett and Ross were wary about committing themselves to a new band. “We were also afraid of wolfsmothering Sarah’s beautiful songs,” says Heskett. “The pair of us are a heavy brush to start painting with, and if you start painting it’s going to be that particular colour.”
As their rehearsals continued, however, the three began to develop a common musical language that was new and distinctively theirs. “We realised this was much bigger than just helping out Sarah,” says Ross. “It grew organically, taking on a life of its own.”
The result is Good Heavens’ stunning debut album Strange Dreams. From the first heartbeat-like pulses of the guitar on the opening track, it drifts in and out of altered states, reflecting the trio’s shared obsession with psychedelia.
Highlights include the slow-motion ketamine dream of the title song, frenzied screamer ‘Are You Sick’ and the album’s outro ‘Know Your Own Heart Reprise’. Recorded in a tequila-fuelled session as a flash flood raged around the studio, the final track typifies the band’s spontaneity as well as the collective decades of musical experience that make it possible.
Strange Dreams’ influences span from The Beatles to The Black Angels, paying a particular debt to the golden age of psychedelic rock. Fans will also recognise the tumbling drum fills, fuzzy bass lines and ethereal keys of Ross and Heskett, and the blurry, waiflike vocals of theredsunband. The album is a study in contradiction, with fragile beauty balanced by dark, twisted themes and sonic textures.
GOOD HEAVENS – STRANGE DREAMS
02. It’s Not Easy Being Mean
03. Strange Dreams
04. Are You Sick?
05. I Am Not Afraid
06. Anybody But You
07. Down On Me
08. I’ve Got This Feeling
09. You Lose
10. Know Your Own Heart (Reprise)
Strange Dreams - VINYL
Good Heavens are singer and guitarist Sarah Kelly, formerly of theredsunband, and ex-Wolfmother members, keyboard/bass player Chris Ross and drummer Myles Heskett. The result: a synthesis of ethereal dream-pop with the brute force of acid rock.
- Know Your Own Heart
- It’s Not Easy Being Mean
- Strange Dreams
- Are You Sick?
- I Am Not Afraid
- Anybody But You
- Down On Me
- I’ve Got This Feeling
- You Lose
- Know Your Own Heart (Reprise)