The Level Spirits
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The Level Spirits

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | INDIE

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock

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The video for our just released Video! - YouTube


Slamming us straight out of the fifties comes a band from Melbourne, boasting sassy vocals, twangin’ guitar, thumpin’ double bass and pumpin’ drums. But will this claim be substantiated? Dave Roberts takes a listen to find out.

Dear readers, I feel a short story is in order. Well before I was a metal-head, before the days of discovering Dream Theater in 2003, I was what is affectionately known as a swamp rocker. Heavily influenced by people like John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival, the grunge of the guitars and the thump and punch of the drums and bass was what I lived for in music. And in fact, it’s still hanging around in my taste buds every now and then. With their big blues chords, I can't help but stomp my feet whenever a swamp rock song comes on the radio - or a simple air guitar to the simple solos.

I’m very glad to see that the sound is making a comeback in the form of a band emerging from Melbourne’s music scene. Yes, The Level Spirits are a combination of all the best from the fifties and sixties including The Yardbirds, Big Star and of course the swamp master himself - John Fogerty. To spice things up though, the band has added a female singer – and in no way has that detracted from the overall sound of the band.

Onto the album, which seems to be split almost into three separate parts: The rockin’ first bit, the more mellow middle part, and then the upbeatly hopeful tail end. The immediate thing I noticed of the album was that it’s LOUD. I even had to turn my speakers down whilst listening to almost being off to write this review with it in the background. But it wasn’t long before the ol’ foot stamp was back – and with it the head nodding and the smile accompanied with a good blues song. The title track causes all of this, and the song following, "Big Wheel", continues the trend. Crunchy guitars and a full sound weren't expected, but are definitely well received.

Sadly though, that was the end of the rockin’ start section and we then journey into the more mellow, softer middle part of the album, which also contains the song you may have heard on YouTube: "Take It Out". It’s still quintessentially sixties and fifties blues rock, but slower and more melancholic in it’s approach, with songs like "Man of my Dreams" keeping the trend going.

The section does pick up occasionally with songs such as "Psycho for Your Love", although the overall feeling still remains somewhat similar in it’s execution. It is in "Bad Habits" where we see the vocalist’s range. Her voice goes from grungy rock chick to alternative pop singer, displaying a real ability few singers can obtain – versatility.

It is tracks nine and ten however, that bring us to the final section of this album – the more commercially acceptable and pop influenced "Be Alone Tonight" and "Taste of the Same". For once however, I’m enjoying the more mainstream, because these two songs take the cake for the entire album. Allow me to describe the sound – think The Living End meets Magic Dirt. And that’s pretty much the entire last two songs – but they sound fantastic, and sum up the album beautifully.

Now, moving onto the technical details of the album – the production quality is fantastic, as I mentioned before it’s loud, hitting you right in the face as you turn it on. Everything a good rock album should be really. Everything is mixed perfectly, and there’s not really much more I can say about it on that note.

If there’s one criticism I would make it would be that they need to give us a few more songs like the last two on the album, just to balance the rest of the album out but other than that – it’s a fantastic album filled with promise, and promise that it delivers.

In fact I cannot wait for their tour – assuming of course that they do have one – because I’ll definitely have to dust off my boots and my denim jacket, head on over and rock out with them – I have a feeling it’d be a blast.

Consensus: Well written, well performed and well produced, this album is one that will knock your socks off again and again. It’s fantastic to see Swamp Rock making a comeback in this age of plastic music. - THE AU REVIEW


It’s surprising what you can do with a basic rock ’n’ roll recipe and a dash of garage attitude. Sure, there’s nothing particularly surprising in the mix – no freaked out soundscapes bending your mind into irretrievable oblivion, or weird electronic collages destined to forever re-shape the boundaries of contemporary music as we know it – but it makes for many a damn good time.

And so it is with The Level Spirits. The Level Spirits are in the (amateur, like the best of ‘em) business of good ol’ fashioned rock ’n’ roll. Led by the siren-like pipes of Molly Jean Morrison, backed by the recently Stems-less songwriting and guitarist talents of Stems bass player Julian Matthews, The Level Spirits are the band you want to revive ailing rock ’n’ roll spirits when the world is saturated with sycophantic talentless turds wed in unholy matrimony with the parsimonious commercial parasites who run the music industry.

There’s a stompin’ and a shufflin’ on the opening title-track, somewhat akin to a gang of boozed-up rockers flexing their winkle-pickers to Gene Vincent on a Saturday night, Big Wheel eases out of the garage and onto the illicit suburban speedway with a sneer and a spit, while Take It Out is all whispers, soft kisses and images of Jackie DeShannon. The Meteors’ Psycho For Your Love gets a wild, rockabilly-and-benzos treatment, Bad Habit leans across the bar and waves a battered copy of an early Detroit Cobras single in the faces of disbelieving punters and Midnight Bus whisks you down a glistening road to a utopian world of teenage romance.



There’s even a faint whiff of Talking Heads’ Life During Wartime in the opening riff to Not As Much as it goes on to mine a rich ‘50s torch-song fragrance; Be Alone Tonight is a statement of individual defiance with a lick sharp enough to slit and spill your most vital of organs.



There was a time – about the time Vietnam and Watergate had plundered the vaults of American integrity and the country was searching for some semblance of cultural rehabilitation – that music like this would have been labelled pejoratively as ‘nostalgia’. It ain’t nostalgia. It’s the real deal. Getinnooit.
By LES FAVELL Posted on January 19th - BEAT MAGAZINE


By the time THE STEMS are finishing their set with...
By the time THE STEMS are finishing their set with a staggering She's A Monster, my face hurts from smiling so much and my voice is shot from singing along! holy moly they were fantastic. There's always a real danger of disappointment when a really cool band from a long time ago reforms for whatever reason. Will they be able to recreate the magic, the sounds and the energy after 17 years apart? Will they live up to the memories (or the legend), will they look old (or make me feel old)? When they were around the first time in the mid 1980's riding the wave of 60s influenced garage rock (Lime Spiders, Hoodoo Guru's, et al) they were one of the most exciting bands you could ever want to see. They looked and sounded great : all pointy boots, paisley shirts, pageboy hairdos, Rickenbackers, Vox amps, groovy keyboards and an armful of killer songs. But that was almost 20 years ago, could they still pull it off.

The paisley shirts and do's were gone but last Thursday The Stems surpassed our wildest dreams, with a perfect set of sixties tinged garage rock, dripping in perfect pop, the songs are still killers and band air tight. Dual singers Dom Mariani and Richard Lane have had their differences in the past, the hatchet seems well buried, with them obviously digging playing these classic songs together. Make You Mine, Can't Resist, Love Will Grow, At First Sight and the underground classic Tears Me In Two were slotted amongst b-sides and album faves like My Beach and Mr Misery. They are so powerful, their songs so tuneful, I felt I should be out in the streets dragging people in to see a blueprint of how to be a fantastic band.

The night belonged to the mighty Stems, let's do this again - soon! - ADELAIDE TIMES


Beat Magazine
It’s incongruous to think that Heads Up is only Th...
It’s incongruous to think that Heads Up is only The Stems’ second full length album, and the band’s first new release in twenty years. Incongruous not just because The Stems remain one of Australia’s most virtuous garage and power pop bands, despite a playing and recording history that lasted a mere few years in the mid 1980s, but also because Heads Up is so pure, fresh and potent that it could have been recovered from recording sessions shelved at the height of the band’s original popularity or – better still – found lying dormant on tapes discarded at the apex of the halcyon days of the 1960s garage rock era.

Whereas Iggy meandered through the motions on The Stooges’ The Weirdness, and David Johannsen and Sylvain Sylvain mocked band branding reality on One Day It Will Please Even Me to Remember This, on Heads Up The Stems – comprising original members Dom Mariani, Richard Lane, Julian Matthews and Dave Shaw (sometime drummer Gary Chambers is, by some reports, farming potatoes in rural Western Australia) – are as vibrant as the day they first donned stove pipe trousers, flopped their fringes over their eyes and went in search of fuzz laden lands.

Mariani's opening line on the stomping Leave You Way Behind – "I'm feeling so much better/All of my pain has gone away" – is significant. The Stems imploded in the late 1980s under the weight of a relentless touring schedule and egos unable to manage the pressure of burgeoning national and international fame. Twenty years later the band has rediscovered the basic ingredients of the rock'n'roll form, sans all the industry bullshit that smothered their original zest and enthusiasm. She Sees Everything gives a power popped Loved Ones flavour to the wild eyed perspective on matters of the heart, and the Dave Shaw penned Surround Me is positively drenched in the sunny eyed optimism that none of us should ever forget (and neither should we ignore Mariani's spin on Roger McGuinn's Eight Miles High solo that appears late in the song).

For a healthy dose of garage attitude, '60s fashionista style and a slick sound to die for, you'd be insane to go past What's Your Stand, while Hellbound Train finds Mariani rediscovering a brutal riff he left lying around the studio after the recording sessions for the last Stoneage Hearts album, and discovering his band mates love it just as much he does. The rock'n'roll perfection that characterises Get to Know Me puts the seal of authenticity to the rhetorical statement that forms the song title – why would you do anything else but embrace contemporary The Stems after hearing this song?

Richard Lane's Only if You Want It shows what you can do with a bit of garage spice on a simple pop tune, and Liar is as down and dirty as much of the rest of the album is brimming with sunshine and beauty. Finally, Mariani is at his power pop best in Get So Bad – a tale of adolescent emotional dysfunction, a simple and catchy melody, and a guitar solo that slices and dices the air like a razor sharp Ginzu steak knife.

The ironic beauty of rock'n'roll is its seemingly infinite interrogation of simple riffs, melodies and specious narratives. If you need an antipodean example of the intrinsic attraction of garage rock and its close cousin power pop, look no further than The Stems – and if you need proof that rock’n’roll is an attitude, not a date on a birth certificate, check out Heads Up. - BEAT MAGAZINE


The Level Spirits kick off the night in scorching fashion bringing a good dose of rocking heat to a saturated and chilly Melbourne night. It’s rock’n’roll as it was originally intended; not rock’n’roll like you hear on Triple M. Real rock’n’roll: as when the lines between rockabilly, country and rock were still blurry.

With thumping double bass, drums and guitar, The Level Spirits present a rock goddess front woman who could have been – had she have been born thirty years earlier – Wanda Jackson. You know, with hip-rolls as deep, sultry and well-developed as her husky voice. The Level Spirits give the impression that they could go off the rails at any moment but it’s just an act. Or rather, a feeling. They’re sooo tight – every leg kick, cymbal crash and booty shake atop a solid groove. Fantastic. - Faster Louder


Discography

The Level Spirits - Double Crosser - Debut Album
The Level Spirits - Take it Out - Single
The Level Spirits - Double Crosser - Single

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Bio

Formed a year and a half ago as a band to play a one off party for a friend the chemistry was immediate and profound. Offered a record deal and cash to record their first album after just their second gig THE LEVEL SPIRITS decided to take their time - it all felt too good to rush.

Before going in to record their debut THE LEVEL SPIRITS racked up over 40 shows in Melbourne and Sydney. The resulting album feels and sounds like a band who know how to play together - and like a band that knows what they want.

Mining the sounds of the 50's and 60's and melding it into a rock and roll "mixed tape" of all the members favourite sounds they have been steadily building a solid following in their hometown of Melbourne Australia.

The band comprises indi rock veterans as well as relative "new comers".
Guitarist Julian Matthews played in the legendary Australian band "The Stems" who's debut album was listed by Rolling Stone as one of Australia's top 100 albums of all time. Mark Mansour has played with Melbourne psychobilly legends "KingPin 440" as well as recently playing bass for UK act Aqualung and country singer Krista Polvere on their recent tour around the US. Singer Molly Jean Morrison has been running a Burlesque troupe around Australia for a couple of years, THE LEVEL SPIRITS is her first band - although you wouldn't know it! Drummer Robert Urban has played around Melbourne doing session work and in a number of touring bands.

The album is 10 tracks of pure rootsy rock and roll bliss, mixed by Australian Rock royalty Wayne Connolly and Rob Younger of Radio Birdman fame at Alberts Studios (ACDC) it shows a maturity and swing most bands take years to perfect. Sometimes dark, sometimes fun THE LEVEL SPIRITS may just be your next favourite band.

Lynda Kay from the Lonesome Spurs reaction when a preview of the album was delivered to her... "Y'all sound freakin' great!!"