glasshouse, the four-piece rock band from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, have just released their follow up to debut EP plastic. This new single, ‘hello’, is a great introduction to the band’s distinctly nostalgic take on 90s grunge and 00s alternative rock. Comparisons can be drawn to the Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam and Nirvana. However, this track also demonstrates their particularly Australian grit, which bears a close resemblance to their fellow Queensland contemporaries, Violent Soho. For only their second release, and their fifth track, glasshouse show that they not only have potential to grow, but also a very clear and defined sound.
If plastic is the band showing they understand the balance between melancholy and angst that goes into grunge, ‘hello’ is the band showing they understand what to do with this balance. With a distance, soft guitar riff and a gentle rock beat in the background, singer Caleb Anderson wails the verse with that iconic vocal twang of alternative rock. His voice is remarkably similar to the tripped-out vocal performance of the Pixies’ Frank Black, with the melody landing somewhere between the Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind?’ and the Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Rhinoceros’, down to the falsetto howls that harmonise with the guitar. The chorus then explodes, with the drums intensifying. The guitar melody becomes less clean, with a heavier and more grungy rhythm guitar blasting chords to muddy the background. As a result, the loud and emotive vocal outcry sticks out in the foreground, hammering the high end. The pace slows down and the repetition of “hello” starts to echo, over and over, contrasting the bombastic instrumentation with reserved vocals. This contrast is the quintessential balance between angry and sad that defined 90s and 00s rock and glasshouse tap into this emotion perfectly. The track isn’t too heavy, but it isn’t soft. Special mention needs to go to lead guitarist Maxwell Williamson and his solo, which soars in the high end to the same effect of the vocals but with the added grit of the guitar. It is a treat to still hear guitar solos in 2019.
While it would be easy to dismiss glasshouse for being too heavily rooted in old conventions, that would be an oversimplification of their sound. It is without question distinctly grunge and alternative rock. However, this small band from the Sunshine Coast have put such an authentic Australian spin on it that it separates these genre conventions from the time they were created. It is a modern take on rock that uses the tone of 90s grunge and 00s alternative rock without jumping back to the 90s or 00s. Nostalgia might drive someone to listen to glasshouse, but it is their authenticity that will keep them coming back.