Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Nature Strip, Past Pacific, 2018

EP Review

By Henry Lipput

It's been just about a year since Australia's The Nature Strip released their album Beetle Bones (one of my favorite albums of 2017). We now have their excellent EP Past Pacific.

Last year's album was the first one by The Nature Strip in which band members John Encarnacao (vocals, guitars, and occasional bass) and Pete Marley (vocals, bass, some guitars, and what's being called "heavenly transport" on the song "Just Like You Do") each contributed an equal amount of songs to a project. This happens again with Past Pacific.

The EP contains five original songs and a cover from 1981 by Models, a new wave band from Australia. The Nature Strip's "Atlantic Romantic" is a faithful version of the original right down to the cheesy 80s organ.

Encarnacao's "Push The Past Away" opens the EP with a synth riff that also recalls that decade but then bursts out into a full-speed rocker with some great drumming from Jess Ciampa and bass work from Marley. Marley brings the acoustic guitar-based gem about an old flame "Georgia's In Town" and its clever lyrics: "Georgia / Yeah, yeah, Georgia / All those torches I carry for ya" and "But what can I do? / This photo of you / It just won't leave my wallet."

But my two favorite songs on the EP are the ones written by both Encarnacao and Marley. "Just Like You Do" is a folk rock keeper not unlike what we've heard -- and loved -- recently from the band's country mates, the wonderful Fallon Cush (for whom Marley plays bass in the touring band and on recordings). There's some very fine keyboard work from Matt Langley on the track, and Marley's bass is in full McCartney mode.

And, if I had to choose just one standout track from Past Pacific, it would be the gorgeous, awesome "Store Of Tomorrows." I'm not sure what the song is about, but it just sounds so really good, which is due in no small part to the amazing cello playing from Anthea Cottee (who also provides backing vocals on the track).

Unfortunately for fans of The Nature Strip (and I've certainly become one), it's been nearly nine years since Encarnacao and Marley started the band and they're going to take a long break. There may be a couple of gigs before the end of the year, and they might get back together when the songwriters have enough new tunes for the band to record.

But all is not lost. Encarnacao has a solo record ready for early 2019, and Marley has something in the works, too, including continuing to work with Fallon Cush.

Past Pacific is out now on China Pig Records.

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