There is no denying the sheer breadth of musical talent across the Central West, but rock music has, of late, found itself to be the quiet-achieving sibling in comparison to the 'golden child' status of acoustic folk.
But if the soaring choruses, male/female vocal combos and fuzz-laden guitars of indie rock quartet Civil Hands are anything to go by, it's clear a love affair with rock hasn't gone astray among the Dubbo music scene.
Civil Hands features the husband/wife duo of Fred and Mandi Randell sharing lead vocals and playing guitar and synths respectively, and are supported by the unfaltering rhythm section of Erin Kelly [bass] and Brad Purcell [drums].
Their second record, Skylines Fall [released in March this year], showcases a band beaming with confidence in their sound, as well as their superb ability to craft an attractive hook.
A key standout of Skylines Fall is its firm understanding of verse-chorus structure, with the verses of every song on the record generating plenty of engaging momentum for the powerful chorus binding them together.
Then there's, of course, the outstanding vocal play between the Randell's, which is a particularly impressive feat considering how different Mandi and Fred sound.
Mandi has a sweet, charismatic voice that is both soothing, but also knows how to lead the band as a defiant rock vocalist; think Chrissy Amphlett [Divinyls], Janet English [Spiderbait] and even Shirley Manson [Garbage].
Fred's, meanwhile, clearly fits the band's self-confessed admiration for R.E.M., as he gives the impression of Michael Stipe tinged with Australian inflections.
How do Fred and Mandi make this work you might ask? Well, they both know exactly when to take the lead, as well as when to step back, and when they weave their vocals around each other, the songs hit a whole new level [see 'Eye of the Storm', 'The New Plastic' and 'Crash'].
Skylines Fall also showcases Fred as a guitarist who relishes in those famous tones of Peter Buck [R.E.M.] and Paul Westerberg [The Replacements], but isn't afraid to channel his inner Slash [see 'The Living Stream'].
Kelly and Purcell also add a great deal to the overall sound, and while they're happy to play back-up roles to Fred and Mandi out front, their sublime, effective contributions on bass and drums respectively cannot go understated ['Ghosts of California' is their song].
Skylines Fall is an incredibly confident release that shows Civil Hands have a brilliant knack for crafting a solid rock hook.
Rock still has room to grow in the Central West, but the quality of Civil Hands proves Dubbo is a regional leader for rock music.
For more information on Civil Hands, visit www.civilhands.com.au.
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