©Photography by Jess Gleeson
Ever wondered what it would be like if you went down to your local pub on a Friday night, gave everyone an instrument, and tried to make a band out of them? It would probably be a horrible noisy mess...
But what if the pub was a small pub of nine people and everyone in the pub was musically talented and happened to know how to play a set of perfectly matched instruments? What if the nine people in the pub had even played in other legendary Australian bands like Saskwatch, The Bamboos and Eagle and the Worm? Well if you took those nine people, chucked in a dash of psychedelia, some snarly guitar and a hell of a lot of stage presence, you might get something resembling Dorsal Fins!
Dorsal Fins are a Melbourne outfit lead by Liam McGorry, also trumpeter in Saskwatch. Their sound is a sort of orchestral-psychedelic indie rock. Their 2015 release Mind Renovation presents melodic guitars on tracks like Sun & Stars (a personal favourite), with psychedelic and rhythmic riffs reminiscent of Tame Impala, exemplified in the title track Mind Renovation.
Their more recent release, Digital Zodiac, has taken the band in a more ‘pop' direction, continuing the strong melodies found on earlier releases and combining it with a more conventional, and perhaps less psychedelic sound. They have moved in to indie-rock-pop territory reminiscent of Foster the People, or even late-stage-Angles-era Strokes kind of thing.
The lead track, Sedated is definitely worth a listen, and goes to the heart of the more pop end of the pop-rock spectrum, whilst Roll Back the Years takes it down a notch and provides one of the more laidback highlights of the album. Precious Hands is another highlight that harks back to the more psychedelic sound heard on their debut album.
"It's easy to get people going when they can see you're enjoying yourself. When you're playing in a large group of your mates, that's easy to do”
On any given track there are male voices, female voices, keys, guitars, multiple percussive sounds, electronic flourishes and brass. Their tracks bristle with an energy that only a band of so many people can provide. The number of people in the band is its defining feature, and makes for a hell of a live show. However, spending hours listening to Dorsal Fins in your headphones or through your speakers at home is like peering longingly at a caged albatross – you are just never going to see it in its full glory.