It’s been a fair few months since we last heard anything from Antun Opic and to satisfy this hole in our lives he has produced a brand new EP containing four new, and needless to say phenomenal songs that will tide us over until his next major work.
If you have never been lucky enough to have previously heard Opic then Shovel my Coal might just be the perfect time to introduce yourself. Each song has a widely different feeling to it, embracing and showcasing his vast and versatile talents. The EP opens with a bracing, catchy guitar medley with a soft, subtle mariachi feeling to it. Not dissimilar to his work on Hospital and Juanita Guerolita it has a playful optimism to it that belies the actual content of the song. His rich, gravelly vocals cut through the song like a hot knife. The song is filled with a stunning brass section giving it a wildly uplifting, swirling jazz sound that is backed up furthering by a deep, thrumbling double bass making for a charming but darkly tinged swing song.
Opic then turns our attention to The Journalist which is a stark contrast as it opens up as a roaring, edgy rock tune with a soul-rolling bassline. Evocative and rough it’s a song that takes a rather scathing look at the journalists who visit war-torn countries to present the news. It’s a stunning composition that on one simple level is just musically superb; deftly produced, catchy, hard to ignore. But on the other more complex level it’s dark and disturbing, a tender topic to broach and difficult to discuss but when presented with such force and passion it becomes something chilling, exhilarating and controversial.
Hide & Seek however is where Shovel my Coal really comes into its own however, showcasing Opic’s playful yet charmingly sinister side. This is a composition that could easily be played in a nightmare circus with Opic standing center-stage in the flickering lights with a gnarled whip at his fingertips. This song is truly like no other – it’s a swirling journey through continents that starts off with a soft almost Mediterranean feeling to it that is quickly overshadowed by a surreal tuba introduction as Opic begins the countdown to his search. Split between two fractured personas, the one who hides and the one who seeks the song is as sinister and terrifying as it is lively and addictive. His chiselled voice is perfect to bring this kind of fragmented music to life and despite not being the title track this just might be the best track on the album.
With the fourth and final track we are actually allowed to wind down with the immensely gentle Come with Me. This song is as soothing and sweet as Opic gets; gentle and lulling this acts to lower your excessive heart rate after the exhilaration of the last three songs. It has a sunshine quality to it that’s reminiscent of Hawaiian songs designed to sooth the soul. Listening to this you could easily be swinging on a hammock on some far away beach.
Shovel my Coal is a truly outstanding EP and a perfect introduction to the insane and wonderful world of Antun Opic. It’s the perfect showcase of his exemplary and seemingly endless talents and systematic proof that he is one of the acts to watch out for in coming months. With a sound like this he’ll be breaking onto the world stage in a very big way soon.
Review by Joe Knipe