10 Jun 2023

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Damien Binder - Album Review: Bright Side

20 Apr 2023 // A review by Roger Bowie

Damien Binder’s new album Bright Side has been toiling away in the background for nearly three weeks now, trying to connect. There’s something vaguely familiar about the sound and about that voice and the name also rings a bell louder than the natural conclusion that it’s just a good rock n roll name.

The first clue hits me when playing the opening and title track. Bright Side starts with some simple but powerful chords before the beat starts and, hey presto, I’m back in 80’s Aussie rock, and in particular the Iva Davies led Icehouse. That must be it, Damien Binder is a retro-pop rocker bringing back the 80's to a mainstream 2020’s audience. But that’s not enough. Damien is a kiwi living in Australia and currently Perth, and ergo his story must be more than just Australia. There must be a kiwi link in here somewhere.

And then alles ist klar, as the cool sounds of a 1996 epic album called Slinky emerges from my archive. Second Child was a late 80's early 90's high school grunge band with a leaning toward progressive and long songs where nothing happens more than once and opening stints for an exhausted and aloof Nirvana. Way before my New Zealand time, though, as I didn’t get back from my international adventures until 1995 and cautiously began to sample the local fare. Slinky simply slunked, a more commercial expression of the remnants of grunge, into a very, very good album, highlighted by the Pearl Jam like rock ballad Crumble. Didn’t think they would crumble after a record like that, but they did, and Second Child were soon to be sadly no more.

Here It Is, Damien Binder left for Australia and started making solo albums, and this is his fifth, and so the story completes, well almost. Important to note that Second Child also featured Chris Van De Geer on guitars and also production and he went to Stellar* and then became a producer and co-owner of Big Pop Records.

But Damien wrote the songs, and he still does, and his song writing has now developed over the nearly 20 years spent in Australia and Connected with that earlier, ground breaking sound which was known originally as 1980’s Aussie garage rock which I prefer to refer to simply as Aussie Rock, happy and light and poppy (but not always) in contrast to the relative nihilism emerging in England at the time with post punk and hardly ever joyous bands like Joy Division.

Damien Binder has a passion for wine and supplements his regularly occasional ventures to the recording studio by working in the industry he loves. Both of them. Not surprising that he is a self-described optimist, and his songs reflect the resilience of a life lived through good times and bad and an ability to bounce back from even the darkest days. Looking on the Bright Side. And now sharing the wisdom of experience through gentle lyricism and compelling melody. Break this heart, Start This Heart, he can come back again.

Matt Gio produces from his Rada Studios in Perth, and Bob Shepheard from way back adds guitar to Damien’s own efforts and of course the whole thing is wrapped around slinky silky vocal tones which are universal as well as Iva. As well as that other Aussie Rock legend James Reyne, with whom I can also find a parallel in terms of mature song writing emerging over time and over journeys. Journeymen.

Ah, isn’t context everything? And as I play Damien Binder’s Bright Side One More Time, I encourage you to follow the journeyman’s journey. It’s There for The Taking.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Damien Binder

Singer-songwriter Damien Binder has been writing and recording his original style of moody alt-rock for more than 20 years.

Since his self-titled debut in the early 2000’s, the APRA Silver Scroll nominated artist has gone on to release four acclaimed solo albums and performed internationally supporting some of the world's leading acts including David Gray, Marianne Faithfull and Ani Di Franco.

Prior to pursuing his solo career, Damien fronted New Zealand rock band Second Child who shot to fame with their debut album Slinky which saw the band play esteemed support slots for acts such as The Jesus and Mary Chain, Powderfinger, Rollins Band, Hunters & Collectors, Fugazi and famously Nirvana on their only NZ tour.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Damien Binder


Bright Side
Year: 2023
Type: Album
A New World
Year: 2016
Type: Album
While The Wind's At Your Back
Year: 2009
Type: Album
Til Now
Year: 2003
Type: Album
Damien Binder
Year: 2000
Type: Album

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