Most of you may know of Sam Cromick as the frontman for Brisbane-based band Ball Park Music, best known for their geek pop tunes. My Own Pet Radio sees Sam venture out on a solo project taking inspiration from the last six years of demos, beats, samples and unfinished songs that have been swimming around in his head, and turning them into a beautiful debut album.
At first glance the cover art for Goodlum looks like a raw distorted self portrait of an artist. This image sets up strongly the mindset of the first track "Tangible Heart." With the opening line “Fuck all this fake shit” we are left with the artist stripped down and bare, accompanied by airy vocals and an acoustic guitar - Sam has nowhere to hide. This is only just the beginning; we are now in Sam’s world and for the next thirty-five minutes we are on a journey of sound.
"Don't Press Send, Companion" is a psychedelic trip reminiscent of the 70’s. Swirling guitars and crashing drums almost give the illusion that you're drowning underwater, struggling to stay afloat; muffled, muted vocals grasp at air to breathe. Reverb-drenched chords play out the end of the song, with and sense of relief that we have made it to the surface unharmed.
Title track "Goodlum" is by far the stand out track on this album. A pipe organ beckons our attention as phantom vocals hover above spouting “If everyone’s my friend, my only enemy is me” before declaring “I wont do that again” and so the song breaks down and we are left with just a man and his beat and spoken words that flow from his core.
"Enemy/Memory" is a track lead by an electric guitar and crashing drums and could have easily been written by George Harrison himself. It’s a rock ballad that truly sums up everything that there is to love about this album.
There are a few key sounds on Goodlum; Vintage electronic keyboards, futuristic beeps and bleeps and a lot of the time sounds often overlay a repetitive "motorik" beat made famous in indie rock by such 90’s bands as Stereolab, Radiohead and Sonic Youth.
This is a brilliant debut by My Own Pet Radio, and by listening you can just feel the struggle that artists must go through to get their thoughts out into some sort of tangible/audio/visual medium, detached from the security that comes from being part of a band and feeling like your vision is magnified. So its nice to see when an artist braves it alone. It takes courage.
Sam has said: “I wanted to do whatever I felt like. I wanted to feel free and at peace with the art I was making. I think I achieved that." I think you have too, Sam.
Goodlum is out now on CD and digital formats. You can catch My Own Pet Radio playing live at Newtown Social Club on Thursday November 12.