Sly Withers – Gardens
Released: June 11, 2021
Jono Mata // vocals, guitar
Sam Blitvich // vocals, guitar
Shea Moriarty // bass
Joel Neubecker // drums
Perth’s Sly Withers are proving to be a dominant force in Australian indie/punk right now. The band bring about an iconically Australian twang in their music which propels them to the potential we’ve seen fellow Aussies Violent Soho, Dune Rats and The Chats rock so heavily the past year during COVID. Now it’s this west coast outfit’s time to shine, welcoming us with open arms to their “garden”.
Opening up with the line “can’t write an opening line to save my life…”, the band are straight up wearing their gimmicks on their sleeve before bashing out some eager, punchy riffs. ‘Cracks’ kinda sums up the band’s happy-go-lucky demeanour in a nutshell while ‘Breakfast’ picks it up with an anthemic intro and scorching electric punk energy. Featuring a hella catchy hook throughout the chorus, I kinda love this a little too much. It reminds me of a nostalgic time in Australian music — think 2000s Kisschasy. ‘My Bullshit’ is a soaring rock anthem that pulls at your dislike for the mundane 9 to 5 routine and will almost have you writing your resignation as we speak. I know this track is calling for a festival sing along that’s going to have your ears ringing for hours. Vibes.
Co-vocalists Jo Mata and Sam Blitvich have seemingly honed in on their unique Australian identities here and it really does shine throughout the whole record. ‘Taking Steps’ brings a calming, low-key pop punk energy that’ll have you tapping your feet as you go about your day in the office. That optimism will resonate with you hard, and the energy only increases with following track ‘Bougainvillea’. Bringing with it such high-energy pop punk attitude that will put a huge grin on your face as you dream of your next gig, Sly Withers have kinda permanently etched themselves onto my go-to playlist.
If ‘Bougainvillea’ was the mosh worthy punk anthem, then ‘Sleep on the Weekends’ acts as that Sunday morning hangover you spend stuck in bed with that someone. You’ll absolutely be catching some feels here with its melancholy summer rock singalong that soars tremendously, before coming back down and blending into the band’s hugely successful single ‘Clarkson’. Since hearing it for the first time, the song still sends shivers down my spine, with its vulnerable lyrics resonating close to your innermost thoughts.
While ‘Glad’ features a brooding melody that feels almost too soft, ‘Constant Wreck’ will arouse your senses more in all its sheer punk rockiness and pull you back to that high-energy Gardens is really all about. Beginning quite moody before soaring into the infectiously pop rock chorus, ‘Constant Wreck’ is personally my favourite underrated Sly Withers track, acting as the change catalyst of Gardens. Solid stand out guys!
The back half of the album didn’t completely stand out as well as the first half for me, but that’s probably because I’m not generally huge on slow, moody emo rock. However, that may change because Sly Withers are quickly piquing my interest here and ‘Turns Out’ definitely had that effect on me. Is it the boys’ unique sounding vocals that feels so Australian? Maybe, but it’s more likely that their songs have a special way of seducing your emotions early on, wholeheartedly bringing you into a trance, hypnotic state. While ‘Keys’ left me in a sleepy stupor, this emotive Perth rock act on the verge of a breakthrough pick up the energy one final time with ‘Positives’. Introducing a nostalgic rock riff like earlier on in the record, the band’s final track acts as that constant reminder to hold onto that enthusiasm in whatever situation falls into your lap, for an everlasting soul-relapse…
Sly Withers are on the brink of becoming a household name as one of Australia’s premier rock acts. Gardens cements the band with this title, with soaring punk rock energy that’s incredibly vibrant throughout the entire album. This four piece are pairing soaring rock melodies with lyrics that target some of our innermost vulnerabilities, while clearly having a tonne of fun in the middle of it. Gardens will make you laugh, cry, smile and feel many things all at once, but ultimately it’s going to make you wish you came across Sly Withers sooner.
Sly Withers – Gardens tracklisting:
3. My Bullshit
4. Taking Steps
6. Sleep On the Weekend
9. Constant Wreck
10. Turns Out