Track x Track: Pop Filter - CONO
Aussie alt-jangle-pop supergroup take us through their charming third album track by track
Featuring members from the likes of The Ocean Party, Cool Sounds, Ciggie Witch and Snowy Band, Pop Filter are back three years on from their last album Donkey Gully Road with their enchanting third full-length and most complete record to date, CONO.
In contrast to their first two albums that were recorded during weekends away across short time spans, CONO saw the band meeting weekly in a makeshift studio in an industrial estate in Coburg North - from which the titular CONO was derived.
The result is twelve cuts that range from irresistible jangle-pop to melodic indie rock with a few upper tempo jaunts thrown in for good measure. Lyrically, CONO explores themes of place, isolation and purpose - and the lack thereof, managing to capture commonly explored influences without resorting to cliches, rather staying authentic.
To celebrate the release of CONO, Nick Kearton, Jordan Thompson, Lachlan Denton, Snowy, Mark Rogers and Curtis Wakeling took us through Pop Filter’s third album, track by track:
This song rules. Mark is a great songwriter and is always lyrically poignant. Sideways returns to a well worn Pop Filter / Ocean Party theme of relationship to place and is made all the more evocative by Curt15s melodic slide guitar. Definitely amongst my favorites from the record - Nick
Death, taxes and Scoop Denton writing pop hits. Lachlan writes such strong vocal melodies and is great at letting them carry the song. This track has some cryptic instrumentation, but it’s the vocal melody and delivery that make it so immediate and memorable for me. An obvious single and one I imagine is going to be heaps of fun to play live - Nick
Working at our ramshackle recording room in the back of Lachlan's workshop relieved any pressure from the song writing process. We were happy to get together without any pre-existing ideas and just start playing some music together, it never took long for us to gravitate towards a structure and start recording takes. Later we would come back to the bare bones of this song to add Snowy's vocals, then feel free enough to explore a bizarre percussion break, some backing vocals and finally saxophone. When we were in the mixing stage, tightening up the arrangements, we were hot and cold about whether to keep the percussion break. Eventually it felt right to keep it, it represents exactly the sort of freedom of creativity that we felt in our little recording space comfortable to follow each other into ideas and impulses
Alone came from a nice finger-picked guitar part that Curtis had. It was immediately very evocative and figuring out where to go with it was the challenge. We decided that it just needed room to breathe and be itself, not be incorporated into too rigid of a "song" structure. The big feel change with the slide guitar provides an equally pensive contrast and gives the fairly relaxed finger picking a rollicking feel when we return. The song always reminded me of Moon Safari by Air, and was just asking for a soft and round electric piano. Curtis' lyrics are simple and meaningful, I've always admired a simple phrase that can be repeated in a song and continue to offer meaning, and this is a great example of that. It feels like a private walk in the park with your own thoughts - Jord
Everything Must Go
I reckon that Nick's songs on Pop Filter albums always seem to slot into the tracklist in just the right way. Everything Must Go was the last song we recorded for the album and I think it was just what the album was asking for. It bridges gap between the more lo-fi sketches and the full-blown pop hits. This song paints a really vivid picture for me. I like that there's just a heap of short verses and the little repeated refrain. I think it's nice when we all sing together in a sort of round at the end - Jord
We would all agree that Jord's 'Fighting Spirit' is the centrepiece of CONO. It rocks and it sits smack bang in the centre of the album, closing Side A with a bang and a great punchline, no pun intended. This song is clever and funny but I find it unsettiling in a good way. I like that it's kinda grandiose but also scrappy. Amazing lyrics. Recording those harmonies with Mark was one of the most satisfying musical experiences I can think of - Snowy
I remember Curtis showing us this as a demo on his phone. Pretty sure he made his brothers dog wear high heels and walk around a cavernous wooden floored room for effect. It's a solid vibe, so much so that I think we just kept the original version - Lachlan
Pop Filter; Live!
I do nothing on this song, which I'm pretty stoked about, because I think it sounds great. Sometimes the right thing for a song is to leave it be, and that in itself can be an important part of the creative process.What I really like about this song is the mix in recording quality. I think Mark did a phone recording as the base track and then Snowy or Curtis layered it with this really lush and quite epic guitar. It's grown to be one of my favourite tracks on the record - Lachlan
See What You Like
Snowy is refusing to put choruses in Pop Filter songs. They’re all verses and bridges and intros - bolted together in strange shapes. Cowardice! This one has a deft lyric that carries us along from a plane crash (recent obsession of Snow’s?) to back home in Melbourne - overgrown with weeds. He gets away with no chorus here in part because Jord gives us a massive one in the next song - Mark
This came together really quickly from some guitar lines that Jord brought in. I had heaps of fun on the bass, feeling like I was in an indie band. I was skeptical of the feedback track that sits under the whole song at first but now I think it makes it. A snag in the fabric of the song, a downside to the Silver Lining of the title. Jord’s written a lot of ballads in his time but this is a straight-up rocker. SILVER ERRR LIIIIIIINNNING - Mark
Indulged In Myself
The music came together real quick one evening at CoNo, Lachie had the chords and rhythm all worked out and we got the idea, and layed it down in a couple of takes. Lachie probably got the vocals done in one take as he usually does. We had a little overdub session when Lachie was away and put the backing vocals and finishing touches on, luckily the late additions had Lachie's approval. The lyrics are relatable, describing trappings of stoicism, overthinking and self-reliance - Curtis
Racin’ Like Hell
I think this might have been the first song we put together for the album, it was just Crowman, Lachie and myself and at this point, and we had no idea of how the album was going to sound or come together. It was fun to jam together live and work it out together. Lyrically it describes dealing with death, grief, sickness and coping mechanisms - Curtis
POP FILTER CONO TOUR...
Friday, December 15th - Petersham Bowling Club, Eora (Petersham, NSW)
Saturday, December 16th - Franks Wild Years, Dharawal (Thirroul, NSW)
Sunday, December 17th - The Bridge, Dja Dja Warrung (Castlemaine, VIC)
Monday, December 18th - The Merrie Creek Tavern, Naarm (Melbourne, VIC)