End of Fashion
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Rolling Stone Australia

Top of the Pop

West Australian buzz band deliver the promised goods

End of Fashion / End of Fashion / Capitol/EMI 3 1/2 stars

Long before the Sleepy Jackson’s Lovers was on shelves, their guitarist Justin Burford had a plan. One Day he’d lead his own band, a group that would hark back to the glory days of rock & roll – strong hooks and up beat, infectious pop delivered by a front man with charisma in spades. So when the stage soon proved too small for both Burford and Steele, the guitarist left to get his End of Fashion under way – taking Sleepy Jackson’s Rod Aravena with him – and it didn’t take long for the buzz to start.

While early glam-rock singles “Anything Goes” and “Rough Diamonds” showed early – albeit derivative – form, the band’s debut album sees End of Fashion move towards crafting their own sound. And sure, their influences are again well defined here – there are some epic Beatles moments, and even a Pixies “Where is My Mind” flicker on pop single “O Yeah”. But Burford’s ear for both a catchy hook and an enduring melody shines through, carried by his versatile voice – at once indie-rock raw and perfect for hi-fi pop production. So while “O Yeah” first sounds disposable (and, frankly, quite annoying), it becomes irrepressible.

The same can be said for the entire album. Opener “She’s Love” is an immediate standout, all toe-tapping infectiousness and lush, epic layers of guitars and fuzz. “Too Careful” is another winning pop-rock single, but just as good is the stomping, melodic “Love Comes In” and “Lock Up Your Daughters” with nice restrain shown on the laid-back jangler “Oh Strain” complete with pretty harmonies from Burford’s gal, Little Birdy’s Katy Steele.

Given their Fremantle roots, it’s no surprise that Burford, guitarist Rod Aravena, drummer Nick Jonsson and bassist Tom King conjure up a sound remarkably similar to Eskimo Joe at times (even if this album was laid down far from home in Mississippi). Like their mates A Song is a City, End of Fashion’s edgiest, rockiest moments are still cleverly tuned for the commercial FM dial. At the same time, though, excellent sequencing sews together individually great tracks to make a slow-burning killer pop-rock album.

Bronwyn Thompson

- Rolling Stone, Australia


Discography

Rough Diamonds/Anything Goes EP
Too Careful EP
O Yeah (single from debut album)
End of Fashion (debut album-released August 05 in Australia, 1st quarter 2006 internationally)

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Bio

END OF FASHION

“I wrote O Yeah for a bet,” says End of Fashion frontman Justin Burford, of the anthemic first single off the band’s self-titled debut album.

At the time he was playing with another Perth band, The Sleepy Jackson, alongside End of Fashion’s guitarist Rod Aravena. “A friend bet me that I couldn’t write a song at the drop of a hat. Of course I can’t, and I was going to look like an idiot, but my mate was egging me on and I was high on life that day”. He said, “Go on then, write one right here right now. And I did. It’s the only time I’ve written a whole song in one sitting! To shut him up…”

O Yeah is the first single from End Of Fashion’s self titled debut album. With its thumping bass line and stick-in-your-head chorus, it sits between ten equally punchy and unforgettable tunes that make this foursome from Perth, founding members Justin and Rodney, Nick Jonsson on drums and Tom King on bass; one hell of an item to look out for.

End of Fashion spent the start of the year in Sweet Tea Studios in Oxford, Mississippi recording their first longplayer. “Oxford is a college town. People outside of the studio seemed a bit bemused,” laughs Jonsson, “that a band would come all the way from Australia to this small town they all wanted to get out of. But it was cool. There’s a good feeling there and great music.” After work they saw Model T Ford in Proud Larry’s bar and P Lander Z and King Elementary in a club called Two Sticks.

Aravena reckons if you listen hard you can hear Mississippi on the record, though clearly End of Fashion don’t sing the blues. Producer Dennis Herring, a veteran who’s worked with Elvis Costello and Counting Crows and produced the Modest Mouse record last year, is Mississippi born and bred.

“Some producers can be grumpy old opinionated men, but Dennis is the opposite. He’s a musician’s musician and an artist in his own right,” says Burford. Aravena adds: “In some ways he’s pretty radical in his thoughts because he’s worked with such eminent musicians who are known for certain ways of doing things - Dennis had to be the guy to go in there and shake things up. He made us really think about what we were playing and not get hung up.”

Your first songs tend to wear the influence of where you come from. And you can hear everything from old school guitar solos to wall of noise crescendos and straight-up garage rock on End of Fashion. Sometimes Burford sounds a shade like Freddy Mercury (“I’m still a huge Queen fan. You can like anything, even Fleetwood Mac, when you’re in a band called End of Fashion”) sometimes like John Lennon in his White Album phase.

There’s no trace of Jean Michel Jarre (Aravena’s favourite as a kid), Sisters of Mercy (Burford went through a Goth phase at the age of 10) or Nirvana - though every band member sites the latter as a formative influence. “We’re not really an angry band,” grins King.

Boil it all up and End of Fashion sound like no one but themselves. “For my part, I went into the studio thinking if something’s essential I’m going to stick with it, but if I can change something, I will,” says Aravena. “We don’t want to record songs that the sound the same as our demos. I’m always asking, have we progressed? Have we evolved? Have we found the End of Fashion Sound?”

They have: and it’s infectious, timeless get-go fabulous rock that makes you want to join in, sing along, jump up and down. That’s the vibe on the feel-good opener She’s Love, the blissfully noisy The Game and the rollicking O Yeah. Anymore pulls right back to spotlight Burford’s distinctive wail. Then it’s back to the relentless energy of Too Careful and Lock up your Daughters.

All 11 tracks take root in your psyche after just one listen. Not bad for a band that’s had humble down from the start:

“Initially I just wanted to get up and be able to play the same stages as I’d seen great local bands like Jebediah and The Fergusons play in Perth: the late great Grosvenor, the Rosemount, Mojo’s in Fremantle,” says Burford. Jonsson’s dream is a simple one: “to tour and play drums every night,” while King aims to “stop doing car washing to pay the bills”. Ask and you shall receive.

But critics beware the lure of stamping this band the new whatever. Because fashion is the last thing on End of Fashion’s collective mind. “I want to break down the walls - within that context, that image, we can do anything we want no matter whether it’s super cheesy or punk,” says Burford. “I want to kill fashion, see the end of it.” Amen to that.