The tragic death of Go-Betweens co-founder Grant McLennan sent tragic soundwaves throughout the music industry. It was especially tragic in McLennan’s native country, Australia. His unexpected heart attack at the age of 48 touched many musicians personally. Prior to his death, McLennan had been collaborating with Steve Kilbey, who was the frontman for The Church, another successful Australian band who have been very consistent in releasing solid albums since 1980. Their style of enjoyably catchy jangle-pop have often put them in the same category as McLennan’s Go-Betweens. After setting off some musical sparks, McLennan and Kilbey decided to collaborate and went under the name of Jack Frost. Most of their recordings were done between 1988 and 2000, during the period of which the Go-Betweens disbanded for the first time. They released two albums, including the underrated Snow Job, which was released in 1996. Earlier this year, Karmic Hit re-released the album for some deserved recognition.
The duo’s songwriting talents shine through each and every song. My favorite is the haunting ‘Angela Carter’, a tribute to the post-feminist novelist (McLennan has several other songs dedicated to authors, as well). The song is just as good as anything that the Go-Betweens of The Church have ever released. McLennan’s mysterious vocals have always sounded brilliant to the brooding theme of isolation, and this is no exception. “She lives in her own world,” both moan distantly as fading guitars lead the musical front. The repetition makes it especially dramatic, almost as if they are reaching out to Carter, who died a few years prior. ‘Jack Frost Blues’ and ‘Shakedown’ are less dramatic, but may be more fun in a lighthearted sense. ‘Jack Frost Blues’ is a great opener to the album, with a catchy chorus enhanced by twin guitars and vocal “Oohs” talking ’bout the Jack Frost blues. ‘Shakedown’ often feels more like a monologue than an actual song, as McLennan almost raps his way through distorted guitars and viewpoints. The song really picks up at the end, building on itself slowly. For songs with the quality of ‘Angela Carter’, I suggest checking out both albums from Jack Frost. Oh, and if you haven’t already, check out the Go-Betweens, The Church, and McLennan’s impressive solo career as well. You’ll find it most beneficial. While McLennan spent many of his songs writing about influential artists of all forms, he will now be remembered as one of those great artists who has impacted the musical world.
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