October 28th, 2010 5:00 pm ET
By Michael David, Boston Music Examiner
2010 has been an eventful year for the Church. The Australian rockers continue to celebrate their 30th anniversary with their on going Intimate Space tour, which passed through the Boston area back in April. They also were recently inducted into the Australian ARIA Hall of Fame. Yet many Americans only know them for their classic 1988 hit, “Under The Milky Way”.
Hopefully the band’s broader reputation will begin to change as Second Motion Records have recently started to reissue the group’s back catalog with remastered sound and bonus tracks. They also just brought out a 2 CD collection titled Deep In The Shallows: The Classic Singles Collection that covers their entire career. This compilation is a great place to start if you want to explore one of the most consistently interesting bands of the last 3 decades.
The Church formed in Australia back in 1980, and their front line of Steve Kilbey (Vocals/Bass), Marty Willson-Piper (Guitar/Vocals) and Peter Koppes (Guitar/Vocals) have been together ever since, although Koppes briefly left the band in the mid-90’s. Drummer and respected producer Tim Powles has been playing with the group since 1994.
The Church’s unique sound is a combination of Kilbey’s hypnotic vocals, stream-of-consciousness lyrics and supple bass playing, mixed with the intertwining guitars of Willson-Piper and Koppes which can clang and chime on upbeat numbers, or give off a spacey, ethereal vibe on their slower, softer material, which at times is reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s work in the first half of the 70’s.
Deep In The Shallows includes early Australian hits like “The Unguarded Moment” and “Almost With You”, 2 fine examples of power pop, with jangling Rickenbacker guitars and Kilbey’s distinctive vocals. Cult classics like “Electric Lash”, “Tantalized” and “Reptile” are also included, as is the aforementioned “Under The Milky Way”, which was voted by readers of the Australian in 2008 as the best Australian song of the last 20 years.
Commercial success may have started to elude the band in 1990’s, but they continued to release great music without compromise and attract a hardcore audience. Tracks like “Ripple”, “Comedown”, “Louisiana” and “Song In Space” hold up as well as anything to come out of the shoegazer movement.
Deep In The Shallows also includes songs from last years critically acclaimed Untitled #23. The dreamy “Pangaea” show a group still on top of their game. A rare feat for a band 30 years into their career.
While many of their peers play the nostalgia circuit, or have broken up in acrimony, the Church continue to persevere. They are always looking forward, and never make concessions to the record industry. Deep In The Shallows: The Classic Singles Collection is a fine introduction to a band that has been putting out quality music for the last 3 decades.