By Stuart McPhee Oct.28.2008
In: Album Reviews, Other, Recommended

Flying Under Your Radar: Epicure

Epicure - Postcards From A GhostLast Sunday evening as I sat in a bar in Elwood, a pint of beer in hand, listening to a good friend of mine sing the weekend away I noticed a woman at the table next to me.  Gillespie’s music often has that effect.

Yet it was another band that attracted me to her.

Many years ago (sometime after O.J. got off but before the towers came down) I was a journalism student at Griffith University when I became friends with a girl named Emma. Hello to Emma if she’s watching at home.

Emma, like me, also worked in a Record Store and we both shared a fondness for the music of Jeff Buckley. It was Emma who would put me on to the then unknown Ballarat band Epicure.

I say ‘then unknown’ but, short of one semi-hit single (‘Armies Against Me’ from 2002), Epicure are still not a household act in this country and I am at a loss to know why. I am hoping their latest record changes all that.

Postcards From A Ghost is the band’s fourth long player (not counting the 2001 B-Side collection Airmail - yes I own that as well) and it is certainly their most well rounded release, comprising the various styles they have dabbled in over the years. Whilst they continue to trade in the sort of bluesy piano numbers that typified 2005s Main Street like the gorgeous ‘Landslide’, the lads also show an urgency not heard in their songs for some time.

‘Snakes & Foxes’ is hands down one of the best opening salvos you’ll hear this year and certainly contains one of my favourite first lines: “When we first met you were dancing in some guys lap peering out beneath your cowboy hat going by another name.” Tell me you don’t have the visual in your head.

‘Blood On My Hands’, ‘Loves Me Not’ and first single ‘Cobra Kisses’ also bristle with the same energy and fervour. Vocalist Juan Alban sounds at home on these heavier tracks as he also does on songs like the introspective album closer ‘How This Will End’. I’m sure Juan is sick of the Ed Kowalczyk/Michael Stipe comparisons by now but it is worth noting this: I gave up buying Live and R.E.M. albums a while ago, I still wait in anticipation for Epicure releases.

Finally, an flourish (see: ‘One Last Chance To Reach You’ and ‘Soft Place To Fall’) courtesy of new guitarist Mick Hubbard (ex Jen Cloher And The Endless Sea – another great act) adds another dimension to the band’s overall sound.

Epicure are primed for the success they so richly deserve with the release of Postcards From A Ghost. I can only hope it comes their way.

Postscript: As it turned out, the woman in the bar looked a lot like Emma but it wasn’t her. I thankfully worked that out for myself without having to embarrassingly ask. Besides, if she had said no what was my reply to be without it sounding like I was trying to pick her up? I guess: “Buy the new Epicure album” would’ve worked.

Comments (6)

  1. Dave Anderson Nov.4.2008@8:54 am

    ah…now I stumbled on your site and loved this post for two reasons:

    1) “I was a bar in Elwood”. I’m from Perth, live in Sydney, wanting to move to melbourne and love Elwood. You weren’t at the Elwood Lounge by chance?

    2) I love epicure and their music and also think they are the most massively underated band. I remember sending a message to them after the Goodbye Girl telling their manager that I was single handedly fill shephards bush empire with fans i loved it that much.

    I also love this new album but I loved Main St too.

    The only upside to them being underated is that I got to sing with Juan at my launch, and have opened for them.

    Yep my epicure t-shirt is in the mail and I might just fly down for Torquay cos I missed their Sydney shows.

    Great post!

  2. Mez Exley Nov.4.2008@2:08 pm

    Here,here, have just finished playing Postcards and share the sentiments of your post.”Goodbye Girl” has always been a huge favourite of mine,Juans lyrics just melt me.
    Have been blessed to see them live twice in the last two Coastfest on a hurricane type night..where they rocked and again at Erina on the NSW Central coast, where my hubby and I got to meet them….dream come true…absolutely gorgeous, talented and as you say so terribly underated. Im a little sad now as I dont know when I will get to see them live again. And a question to Dave Anderson , was that you on youtube singing ‘self destruct’ with Juan playing guitar? Lucky You!Great to meet people with good taste. Mez.

  3. smcphee Nov.4.2008@5:58 pm

    Thank you all for your feedback. To Dave, yes it was the Elwood Lounge – great bar, especially on a Sunday evening. And to Mez,thank you also for the sentiments.

    Finally to Epicure: you keep making great music, I’ll keep writing about it. Deal?

  4. Dave Anderson Nov.8.2008@1:08 pm

    Hey max

    Yeah it was me. I supported them a year or so ago, and I asked Juan if he’d support me for my album launch in Melbourne. He’s a great guy and asked me up to sing Self Destruct cos I’d told him that I covered it a few weeks back. Lucky I didn’t lie, cos if I’d got the words wrong I’d spew.

    I missed all their shows as I was away…I’m going to maybe fly down to Tassie, or he did say they might be back out again in Jan…FINGERS CROSSED!!!!

  5. Fletcher Thompson Jan.19.2009@12:11 pm
    Fletcher Thompson Jan.19.2009@12:11 pm

    I had the very good fortune to see Epicure when they played at the Wollongong unibar at the end of last year (the day before ‘Postcards’ launched). It was an utterly fantastic gig, with only one flaw, of which I am deeply ashamed. There were about 30 people in the audience.

    I felt deeply ashamed of my fellow UoW students (well, I’m an alumni now, but still). The turnout was abysmal, and as a result I actually went around and apologised to the band members after the show / begged them to come back again some day.

    As it turns out, apparently the Grates had played there the night before, Michael Franti was playing two nights after, and it was right at the end of stuvac, so everyone was madly cramming for exams. Also, unibar management are dickheads, and pretty much hadn’t advertised the gig. Lame, lame, lame.

    Ah well, like I said, the show was absolutely fantastic, chock full of older classics and all the good stuff off Postcards from a Ghost (inc. solo acoustic version of Landslide courtesy of Juan – beautiful). I only hope that they come back again some day so we can get a better audience together!

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