“If Ned Kelly was a woman, with a penchant for vicious amphetamines, and her gang used honey mandolins to flail the wicked: they would sound like this.”
The Bitter Sweets are an unlikely quartet of miscreants united by their anachronistic incapacity to entirely fit into contemporary society. Their habits are unpopular, their clothing a little too formal. Their music is inspired by the era that preceded the divisions of country, popular music and jazz which makes them sound thoroughly post-modern but don't be fooled....
Evocative, this music is many things; a catch in the voice, being close to tears, the grain of the song, rough and real like timber, a holler, a hoot, woodsmoke settled in the hills, the collection of kindling, Timbre, timber, emotion, to carry you further up the mountain. This is the meat and potatoes of living, the gritty dirt of a life well lived. Listening to the Bitter Sweets is akin to sitting on the veranda with close friends and getting too drunk and stoned, sharing the profound mundane business of being a human bean.
An acoustic group, persistent in the use of condenser microphones on stage, The Bitter Sweets are: Jen - vocals, stomp box, ukulele and at times, if
pressed, the kazoo, Chris - guitar and banjo, Simon - guitar and Tom double bass and lap steel. Their live performances are marked by an old fashion austerity in delivery - traditional murder ballads, bluegrass standards, sassy rockabilly, a fascination for songs about miners and trains and their original songs - a strange hybrid of country fried jazz folk blues.
'further up the mountain' - independently released April 2009 was recorded in the beautiful farm house studio Phat on the Grill by Chris Hiotakis and mastered by Paul Fox at IndieMasters. Recorded in one day, the album has a live atmosphere, an immediacy unusual in contemporary recordings. Many of the songs on further up the mountain are first takes - there are minimal overdubs. The recordings catch the phantom sound of the room, hands on strings, breath. The songs talk about the dirty business of living - murder, drug addiction, mining the humour of being poor, relationship breakdown, empowerment, the romance of a new love - all with a live, like there's no tomorrow kind of intensity.
Clean old time entertainment - just the way Mama used to make it