(self-release), from Brisbane, Australia
Suggested Single, "Jaisalmer" (track #1)
Brisbane band The Valery Trails have always had to navigate the challenges of writing and recording over long distances, well before the world was impacted and turned on its head by the pandemic of the last two years.
Andrew Bower (vocals/guitars), an expatriate Australian then living in Houston, enlisted his brother Sean Bower (bass) and Dan McNaulty (drums) in his hometown of Brisbane, Australia to form The Valery Trails in 2011. With the assistance of the internet and some intercontinental travel, the trio developed a set of songs started in Andrew's home studio into the band's debut album Ghosts and Gravity, released in 2012.
Albums released in 2014 (Buffalo Speedway) and 2016 (Chameleon Bones), to differing degrees also involved long distance recording and exchanges of ideas but when Andrew moved back to Brisbane in 2020 due to Covid-19, the band was able to spend time with one another in the studio, between lockdowns and restrictions, producing a wealth of material for their busy 2022 release schedule.
The Valery Trails released the Introvert Blues EP in February, followed by the Disappear EP in May leading up to their fourth album, The Sky Is Blue, released on August 2022.
The Sky Is Blue is The Valery Trails’ most ambitious album to date, with the band working without a deadline and taking the time to produce each song to its logical conclusion without strictly adhering to a rigid sonic framework. Help was enlisted from Brisbane friends Tim Steward (Screamfeeder, We All Want To – guitars and vocals) and Skye Staniford (We All Want To – vocals) as well as online collaborations with a horn section in Atlanta, Georgia (Terminus Horns) and strings by Swedish musician Filip Magnusson.
The album was mixed in North Carolina by Scott Solter, who has recorded and mixed an eclectic array of artists including The Mountain Goats, Superchunk, St Vincent and his own avant garde / ambient projects such as Boxharp and The Balustrade Ensemble. Scott was the perfect choice to bring together the diverse elements and different ideas explored in this set of songs, honoring each song’s direction while bringing them all together as an album.
The maturity and poise of Andrew Bower’s songwriting provides the canvas for the band to layer sparkling guitars, fuzz-laden riffs, cascading melodies and a weighty and fluent rhythm section. There’s a muscularity to the music but one that’s equally tempered by sensitivity and, at various times, a dreamy sway or a surge of electricity.
The strength of the album lies in the way the band imbue the songs with their various international influences, seamlessly blending and embedding them in the songs. There’s the sound of Brisbane in the 70s and 80s, the textural shoegaze side of UK indie in the 90s, the literate jangle and fuzz of some of the New Zealand Flying Nun bands, the rhythm and drive of Melbourne’s Underground Lovers and the nuanced guitar sounds of US college rock.
Even as the band’s lives change and the world around them changes even more, The Valery Trails continue to strive towards their goal to build a body of work on their own terms.