Beloved Australian rock outfit Ocean Alley have independently released their upcoming fourth album 'Low Altitude Living' today (14 October 2022). Holiday Records had the pleasure of pressing this double-LP in six different colour variants (the most we have ever done for one artist) which have since been distributed around New Zealand, Australia, USA and the UK in time for release.
Opening the record with a feeling of warmth and familiarity, ‘Home’ (video below) is soaked with bright tones and subtly adorned with twinkling keys. The song is a product of the band’s opportunity to slow down in 2020, with space to reconnect with themselves and the environment around them. Guitarist Mitch Galbraith explains “We’ve felt more connected than ever to the people and places that are around us at home. Normally, we’d be spending most of our year away on tour but we felt very lucky to spend the last two years with the people we love.” The accompanying video was shot all the way from Melbourne to Broken Hill and directed by W.A.M. Bleakley (Courtney Barnett, The Middle Kids, DMA's) who also worked on their previous release 'Deepest Darkness'.
While the six-piece could have rinsed and repeated the styles and sounds of their previous full-lengths - the ARIA-nominated 'Lonely Diamond' (2020), their Gold-certified breakthrough 'Chiaroscuro' (2018), and self-assured debut 'Lost Tropics' (2016) - 'Low Altitude Living', produced by longtime collaborator Callum Howell, sees the band construct their broadest ranging sonic framework yet. As suggested by the diverse feels of previous singles ‘Touch Back Down’ and ‘Deepest Darkness’, Ocean Alley cohesively honour the traditional features of their distinct sound, and equally give it a refreshing and exciting new edge. Mitch shares “It’s no secret that we don’t want to repeat ourselves… there’s a constant sense of betterment, growth and exploration.”
Where in the past, Ocean Alley have cited the influence of 70's stalwarts such as Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, this new album sees the band explore their musicality through pure instinct. They experiment with sludgey ‘90s alt-rock on the reverb-laden ‘Changes’, they bring a side of bluesy slide guitar akin to the Commodores on cruisey ballad ‘Snake Eyes’, while the haunted and sensual ‘Parking Fines’ would slot right into an Interpol record. Lach Galbraith (keys/vocals) shares “Pushing each other to try new things, inside and outside of music, is really important for us to keep things fresh. Musically our songwriting has become more intricate as we explore new styles and techniques in recording.”
2022 has seen Ocean Alley perform 62 shows around the world, with a huge run of international headline dates and local festival performances to come, namely Falls Festival, Lost Paradise and Heaps Good Fest. Earlier in the year, their Australian tour sold more than 35,000 tickets, followed up with extensive stints across the UK, New Zealand, Europe and North America where they have sold a cumulative 40,000 tickets - including London’s iconic Roundhouse, Toronto’s Opera House, Spark Arena in Auckland and Amsterdam’s Paradiso.
Despite major festival billing across the likes of Reading & Leeds (UK), Splendour In The Grass (AUS) and Sziget (HU); Double Platinum certification on their smash single ‘Confidence’, Gold certification on five singles and two ARIA Awards nominations - it feels like Ocean Alley are just getting started. With 550 million catalogue streams under their belt and counting, they know who they are, and remain true to what serves them. As frontman Baden Donegal explains, “Low altitude, being by the beach is where we all have the most peace. So naming the album 'Low Altitude Living' made a lot of sense. The title of the album doesn’t necessarily represent any one song in particular, or tie them all together. But it does tie our band to the music. I feel like it’s more of a title that describes why we sound like Ocean Alley.”
We had the pleasure of catching up with the man himself, Baden Donegal, to chat about his influences, the new album and of course - vinyl. Catch it below.
Tell us a bit about yourself - Where are you from? How did you get into music? Who are your favourite artists?
I was born in the UK in 1992 in the area Kent. My parents moved to Australia with me shortly after that so spent most of my childhood and teenage years growing up on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. I picked up the guitar for the first time at age 16 after my younger sister gave up guitar lessons and we had one laying around the house. From there I became obsessed with learning how to play, which then uncovered my passion for singing as I learnt a bunch of my favourite covers. I’ve had a vary broad taste in music over the years, from playing in heavy/hardcore bands in high school but also having a strong love for hip-hop and classic rock. I wouldn’t say I have favourite artists but some recent ones I’ve been enjoying are Fontaines D.C, Hether, Free Nationals and Black Pumas.
Tell us a bit about the album - What were some of the inspirations behind its creation and the album itself?
The album was a project we began writing over the pandemic. We had recently moved from our share house in Sydney up to Byron Bay and with all tours cancelled and travel on halt we pretty much took the opportunity to enjoy the down time whilst heading away to different locations on the east coast to surf write music and drink beers. The record feels like that classic OA sound but with a more mature nature and with plenty of laid back grooves, riffs and bass lines. We took a lot of inspiration from our surroundings either being locked away in a beach house or in the hills of the northern rivers and had time to refine and re write which we haven’t done in the past.
Tell us about the album artwork - What was the inspiration? Who is the artist/photographer?
We wanted to experiment with a portrait style image on this record. In previous times we have had talented friends illustrate an image for us but we felt the music needed a more mature representation and so we went for the photograph style image. The artist/photographer was our dear friend Kane Lehanneur - the second half of The Sauce. The Sauce team take care of all things OA media and design. Kane designs all of our merch and was the artist behind the Lonely Diamond LP cover. It only felt natural to use his amazing photography skills for the new cover. We were on tour in Europe at the time and wanted to make the most of its historic old buildings. Kane and the team came across a heritage listed house in Dublin where we had just finished up the tour and we did the whole shoot there.
Tell us why you chose to press it to vinyl - What do vinyl records mean to you? Why did you choose Holiday Records? Any reasons behind the colour vinyl choices?
As a band we have always shared a love for vinyl and the way it’s sounds played back. Gotta love the crackle of an old player. Also the physical copy of a record on vinyl is such a cool part of owning an album and the art that comes with it. Holiday Records is pressing some of the biggest and best artists around the world at the moment and we wanted a quality product. We know the team there will deliver the goods! The colour pallet we got from the album shoot had a lot of dark tones with some earthy tones scattered through it so it only made sense to try and match it all up with the vinyl.
Any upcoming gigs we can plug?
We will be playing through the west coast of America over the next month and then home to play a run of festivals for the summer. Lost Paradise, Falls Festival and Heaps Good Festival in Australia and then over the ditch to NZ we will be at Live In The Park, Soundsplash and Beachbreak Festival.
See the video for the track "Home" from their upcoming album, Low Altitude Living below. Directed by W.A.M. Bleakley - shot entirely on 35mm film.
Buy merch, tickets and vinyl on their website here.