Happy Patch were originally known as Wintermind, and played progressive-alternative in the early 1990's: imagine The Smiths and REM combined with Television and early (first album) Verve - albeit before Verve. They were reinvented as Happy Patch, complete with new songs and a heavier sound, after another (inferior) local band The Mandelbrot Set signed to leading Australian independent label RooArt. Happy Patch recorded two songs for a compilation of local Adelaide bands, The Sound Barrier, before releasing two EPs (featured below) and the album Here Comes Oblivion, before again reinventing themselves as the country-tinged Tuscadero.
Happy Patch were built around a solid rhythm section which provided the dual guitarists with a canvas for understated guitar artistry. The guitars often played interweaving lines and counter melodies to each other (and sometimes the vocals), and also provided the musical dynamics, rising and subsiding, alternating between clean and distorted as appropriate. The vocals had a distinct but non-overt Michael Stipe influence, and the lyrics frequently focused on the innocence of youth. The songs were well crafted and avoided standard structures.
The Oleander Land EP features the mid-tempo title track, describing growing up in the Western suburbs of Adelaide. Believe is a joyous track with strong dynamics, whose lyrics "sleepy town where no-one really cares" again surely refer to Adelaide?! Hound is a great song, written from the perspective of a dog, capturing the child-like enthusiasm of man's best friend and describing all the great things about having a dog! A very promising debut, unfortunately suffering from a mediocre production which stifles the song dynamics a little.
The Hotstuff for psycho EP is a step forward on several fronts. It has a much better production allowing the song dynamics to shine through, and the band use dynamics without necessarily invoking the turbo chargers on each song. The inclusion of acoustic guitar also adds further diversity to the sound. Nancy, about US ice skater Nancy Kerrigan ("she's gracious and her thoughts are clean"), is poppy, with tasteful melodic lead guitar and great dynamics. Skywards is a slower tempo song based around acoustic guitar. Bedroom Nation features more great dynamics, and is noticeable for being in 5/4 time without sounding forced. Formaldehyde has a relaxed feel, built around lolloping bass, clean guitar, and melodic lead guitar.
I have yet to hear the Here Comes Oblivion LP - getting my hands on that is one of my major objectives! This may help compensate for the devastating loss of my TDK AD90 cassette containing their fantastic 5MMM session!!
2. Oleander Land
5. Rust yard
Happy Patch - 1996 - Hotstuff for Psycho
4. Bedroom Nation