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Angus and Julia - Chocolates and Cigarettes

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 27 / 11 / 2006

Angus and Julia - Chocolates and Cigarettes
Label: Independiente
Format: CDS


Laid back, but captivating indie pop on debut EP from harmonic Australian brother and sister duo, Angus and Julia

This Australian duo’s debut EP has already attracted a lot of attention, not least by having one of the best songs, ‘Private Lawns’, featured on the Word magazine CD recently. There’s an abundance of singing male/female duos just now, but this brother and sister from Newport, Australia have, on the evidence of these six songs, captured a warmness and closeness in their songs that maybe only siblings can offer. To say the songs have a laid-back vibe to them is not a criticism; their sun-filled harmonies and acoustic leanings conjure up many a hot summers day yet also frequently bring to mind the work of major talents like Nick Drake. A melancholy feel runs through the songs and both Angus and Julia have distinctive voices which add texture to the songs. Julia in particular has an outstanding voice, although not falling too far from the ‘little-girl-lost’ sound a lot of female vocalists favour these days, Julia has a certain edginess to her voice, not so much from years of cigarettes and whisky, more like months of the chocolate and cigarettes featured in the title of the EP. But it does add a certain rawness which makes the songs more appealing. As is necessary with an EP all the songs are strong, and while they all capture that lazy, summer day feeling so well there’s enough going on in each song so they keep their own identity. ‘Babylon’ is extremely strong, one of the songs where Angus takes the lead vocals and where the acoustic guitars (played expertly throughout by Julia and Angus) are joined by some particularly affecting cello. It’s also the song where the much used comparison to Damien Rice makes most sense. It’s amazing how polished these performances are when one considers that the duo only started to collaborate a few months ago and that the majority of the songs were recorded at the duo’s home where everything was recorded live. They had performed together prior to this, but only using each other as backing when they performed as ‘solo’ artists. Try and take a listen to ‘All Of Me’ for a perfect example of how good this duo are; Julia takes the lead vocals here and shows just how good she is vocally. With her voice sounding like it is on the verge of cracking up at any moment on lines like “well, I made it thorough another day” her despair shows through in every word. The song is heartbreaking but simply gorgeous and truly deserves to be heard. At 25 minutes this EP is just long enough to leave us wanting more, which is how it should be. If you are looking for some reflective, moving music to keep you company during these long winter nights then the songs this brother and sister certainly provide the warmth and comfort to get you through. This EP comes wholeheartedly recommended.

Track Listing:-
1 Private Lawns
2 Mango Tree
3 All Of Me
4 Paper Aeroplane
5 Babylon
6 Chocolates & Cigarettes

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