Nil to do with the Mamas and the Papas song, this is from the fab Fast Cars album “LAX” and it’s a lush, string-tinged brooder that’s a great calling card for the psychedelic long-player.
Remember albums? They were those things where a band put more than one idea into extended pieces of music (aka songs) that became a sum of a greater part. Fast Cars - once a Sydney mod band but these days vocalist Di Levi and multi-instrumentalist Fabian Byrne - sure do, and evoke more in these few minutes than a lifetime of downloads by Taylor Swift clones.
“California Dreaming” is part of a concept about ambition and star-making in a strange environment and place but you don’t need the back-story to appreciate the 45.
The flip is a brave take on the Russell Morris song of the same name. No marching jackboots but a heady sonic picture nonetheless. You’d hope Molly would appreciate it because it works all the same. It’s mastered a little quietly but you can compensate by playing it loud. Available as a 45 from here.
In a digital world where old rules are made to be re-written or not read, Fast Cars have resolutely done things their own way.
The one-time Sydney mod band reformed virtually in 2015, assembling music from composite parts written and recorded by principal members, vocalist-guitarist Di Levi and guitarist Fabian Byrne, on opposite sides of the world. It was polished pop with hints of its Sussex Hotel beginnings, lush in lots of places and moiving into the realm of dream pop.
Virtual band, huh? Live shows were where Australian bands traditionally honed their act and of course people interacting in a studio adds an energy that can’t easily be replicated. With Levy visiting Australia from the UK, Fast Cars did a handful of pre-pandemic shows, and part recorded “Hard” with Peter Bennett (The Welcome Mat, Fiction Romance) on drums and David Pye on bass.
Where they’ve come from is academic; it’s where Fast Cars are now that counts. The onetime ‘80s Sydney mod-power-pop band has been a creative duo since reforming in 2015, working on opposite sides of the globe. “LAX” suggests distance only makes the creative muse all that much stronger.
“LAX” is what people used to call a “concept album” - back when single song downloads weren’t the staple currency of the musical economy. I know what you’re thinking: Concept equals Pretentious. Wrong. “LAX” stays well away from that precipice. It’s 12 songs of classy psych pop, alternately dreamy and lush, occasionally funky or wrapped in strings, and framed loosely on the theme of seeking your dreams in a big city.
“LAX” is also a Dropbox record. Dropbox is the cloud app that’s become stock-in-trade for projects like this. With vocalist-guitarist Di Levi based in Bristol, UK, and guitarist-songwriter Fabian Byrne living in Sydney, Australia, the swapping of ideas, sketches, recorded parts and, ultimately, fleshed-out songs, had to occur online.
Fast Cars grew out of the Sydney mod scene of the 1980s. Home turf was the fertile Sussex Hotel and they made a modest mark with a couple of EPs before moving on. This five-song CD is their first release in 30 years.
Here’s what a mod band sounds like after it grows up. That’s not being trite or dismissive. Creative people don’t stand still - and bands like Fast Cars were no exception. Guitarist Fabian Byrne went on to the dance-orientated Fiction Romance, shifted into management and ran the Method label that gave a leg-up to bands like Allniters, Paul Kelly, Spy vs Spy and The Amazing Wooloomooloosers. So you’d expect “More?” to sound different to Fast Cars of the ‘80s.