The Red Paintings is an orchestral art rock band formed in Geelong, Victoria (Australia). The band consists of lead vocalist, songwriter and masterbrain Trash McSweeney on guitar, sequencing and samples, with a revolving line-up across the globe. McSweeney drives all the band's musical and staging concepts.
The band is known for their rather unique, confronting and intense, themed performances incorporating elements of theater and art, named “orchestral sci-fi art rock”. They often dress in elaborate, themed costumes, ranging from geisha outfits, alien costumes and more recently, sea creature/Neptune garbs. They employ elaborate and eccentric stage props to support their shows, varying from statues, giant robots, children's toys, literary and Tim Burton-themed props to self-made video projections. The act is renowned for inviting members of the audience and local artists, to paint on blank- and human canvases during their shows, to reflect their own feelings in the live music set.
Therefore, the band builds up a strong underground fan base in Europe, Australia and the United States, and their debut studio album was produced almost entirely on fan donations.
Their many costumes, props and street performances are often organized by and produced with the help from their large volunteer street teams. They are also known for their vocal support of animal rights issues and, in particular, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Finally mixed in Los Angeles, after five years in the making, The Revolution Is Never Coming is a record of epic proportions. With their diverse history and cult following this album, is what McSweeney's hopes will be the turning point in the band's fortunes. More than 50.000 Facebook likes can't be wrong, and in the past, they have been asked to support bands like Mogwai, The Dresden Dolls and Mindless Self Indulgence. In recent times they have supported the Posies, Atari Teenage Riot and MSI in the United States.
And what of the actual album itself?
The likeness to Muse stands out straight away, in combination with Nine Inch Nails, Bjork, Arcade Fire and Radiohead.
It sounds like a musical movie, and each chapter probably deserves a video. It is meant to be Art, with a capital A, in all it's splendor. In Hong Kong, in which McSweeney is shouting Hong Kong over an almost math-core like soundscape, it struck me that I had no clue what was happening in the song, nor any sense of cohesiveness, and so the song just became a little inscrutable to me.
In my opinion, the album feels much too ambitious. Some moments are difficult to stomach. It's only when they pull on the breaks sometimes, that the band's musicality becomes clear.
Besides that, the album was recorded in many different studio's through the years, using different equipment and staff. Therefore the album sounds like an incoherent motley mess.
This leaves us with an unorganized mess of a record that, if it weren't for a few moments of artistic brilliance, would crumble under the weight of it's own excess and pretentions. Not my cup of tea at all.
** Gert Bruins (edited by Esther Ladiges)
Where to buy?