I'm not sure what it is, but for some reason I can tell foreign pop-rock bands apart from American ones without knowing anything about them. Before I'd read anything about Garageland, I popped in their CD and there was just that small something about them that sounded different. It's one of those things that's a little difficult to explain, since they're not really doing anything that's too much different from anything anyone else is doing.
The quartet actually hails from New Zealand, but there are no accents to be heard, and they draw influences from UK and US indie pop and sort of swirl them up into a pretty infectious batch of 13 tracks. Their setup is fairly straightforward with the percussion/bass/guitar/vocals combo, and they add just a touch of organ on some tracks to help fill things out a bit. Considering the lead singer called the album, "A document of a band touring the world for three years drinking beer," it's actually quite a bit better than what you would expect.
The first two tracks on the album are actually a couple of the best, as "Love Song" starts things off with a jaunty little rhythm before squalling guitars blast out during the first part of the chorus before calming to almost a twinkling lullaby in the second part. It's a nicely building track with a few controlled outbursts for the right amount of release. The second track "Trashcans" is another layered pop gem that steadily marches up chords until the singalong chorus. Again, it's simple and not anything that hasn't been done before, but it's done well.
"Good Morning" adds itself to my long list of great morning-themed music (along with the Boo Radleys "Wake Up Boo!" and others) with a light feel that will drag you out of bed on a Saturday and get you moving along at a steady pace. One of the only issues with the album is that for a pop/rock disc, it clocks in just slightly long at 50 minutes and 13 tracks. While some groups can pull it off with different styles (hell, Magnetic Fields did it for 69 songs), but this is obviously a group that has talent in writing a good track. If you're into a more mainstream sound of indie-rock (something that could easily pop over into heavy rotation), Garageland might just be up yoru alley. Not only that, but they're offering their release for only 6.99 over at their website. With most releases coming in at over twice that, this is a band you can afford to take a chance on.