Initially comprised of cousins Jamie Turner (vocals, bass) and Matt Williams (guitar), along with Mike Mutt (organ) and Adrian Macmillan (drums), Perth, Australia-based psych rock quartet The High Learys can trace their origins to when Turner and Williams met Mutt in high school, with the band recruiting Macmillan to finalize the band’s original lineup back in 2011. With the release of a full-length album and a number of singles the Australian psych rock quartet have received praise both across their native Australia and internationally for a sound that had been described as a contemporary take on 60s psych rock, bubblegum pop and large rock that seemed to draw influence from the likes of The Doors, The Who Sings My Generation-era The Who, The Animals, The Turtles, The Beatles and contemporary acts such as Oasis, The Black Angels, Elephant Stone, Sleepy Sun and others.
In fact, the band quickly became a JOVM mainstay as I wrote about a handful of singles on this site — including “Letters to Alice,” a song comprised of intertwined, twisting and turning guitar and organ chords paired with a propulsive rhythm section and Turner’s Liam Gallagher-like vocals; “I’m A Fool For You” was their most bubblegum pop-leaning single, which possessed an infectious and sweet melody paired with even sweeter lyrics; and “Clear My Mind,” a single that sounded as though it could have been written, recorded and released sometime during the Summer of Love. Now, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve written about them and in that time the band’s lineup has been shuffled — Macmillan has been replaced by Mitchell J. Benson on drums. And interestingly enough, the band’s latest single “Cabinet” not only marks a change in sonic direction for the band that pushes their 60s-leaning psych rock sound closer to the 21st century and is the first time that the band produced themselves in the studio. Sonically “Cabinet” sounds as though it draws from My Gold Mask and Elephant Stone’s most recent releases, as the band pairs guitars and organ played through distortion and effects pedals, thundering drumming and an anthemic hook. In some way, the song sounds as though it were recorded in an enormous empty room with the instrumentation reverberating off the walls and back down to the musicians and listener.
As the band notes in press notes “‘Cabinet’ explores the insecurities of a young mind. Someone who feels lost in their ways, but at the same time shares the burdens of adolescents with their other half.” And although the song possesses a trippy feel, at its core is a plaintive heartache that should feel familiar — it should remind the listener of the fact that love is almost always awkward but perhaps even more so when you’re trying to figure yourself out.