CHRIS LEE AND THE WRECKHOUSE ‘MISERY’
Ciao! ‘Tis Lana, your resident pond-hopping North American.
Though I’m working here in London, I’ve been bitten by the travel bug, a nice deep jabbing of easyJet fantasies infecting its way into my subconscious desires. In other words, I’ve been taking a heckuva lot of weekend trips. This past weekend, I flew off to the forests of Northern Italy for a music festival. Although it was less than an hour outside the city center, this lushly forested venue was very distinctly not the metropolitan city of Milan: monstrous dragonflies, bubbling brooks, and bare feet galore- ’twas a grimy, sweat and mud-filled ecstasy, a tropical foreign paradise. In this place of Frankensteinish flies, of grass-adorned clothing, of foreign tongues, the ear quickly attunes to smidges of familiarity. Amongst the time-stretching inundation of experimental electronica, I heard a sliver of English! Though roots were in Brisbane rather than Boston, a central linkage of mother-tongue English and ~chill vibes~ affect had led me to a group of awesome Australians. And yet, out of this enveloping, metaphor-laden story emerges a segue: Chris Lee and the Wreckhouse, a three-piece Aussie camaraderie composed of frontman Chris Lee, bassist Peter Green, and drummer/sandwich-artiste Brendan Maclean.
Fresh off the plane and back in the office, I was browsing around Bandcamp, aided by its wondrously permutation-prone discover feature, and was struck by the stabbing fangs of familiarity. Not familiarity in the sense of “I’d heard this before, its exact carbon copy,” but rather the familiarity you feel when you meet someone for the first time yet suddenly feel that insta-connection; maybe their voice reminds you of a childhood best friend or their greasy hair of that punk-head university lover. “Misery,” the second track off of Chris Lee and the Wreckhouse’s debut EP/demo/album pings several pressure points- its sepia-tinted psychedelic Californian intro, its handclap-inciting percussion, its pitch-shifted lo-fi speak-singing… it calls forth memories of sore fingertips from first guitar lessons, of tambourined campfires, of driving back up north after a summer reunion. Chris Lee’s warbling voice chants a sort of hypnotic hymn, soothing the womanly personified “Misery” through wistfully romantic consolation backed by a seductively unnerving “Speak to Me / Breathe”-style recursive loop. His folk-influenced delivery coloured with an undeniably amiable Brisbane accent allows for the emergence of a friendly endearingness, an empathic smile, twinkling eyes of recognition amidst a swirling cloud of psychedelic enmeshment. Take Chris Lee his mates out for a spin, get stabbed by their acupunctural nostalgia.