I went back the other day and revisited two songs: “Cyclone” and “A Love Letter From Me To You,” both songs by a band that has left a lasting impression on me. Their vulnerable, stripped down versions deliver a state of awe, as well as impeccable storytelling and raw emotion. While their studio versions deliver on so many different aspects, it’s the band’s ability to break it all down which makes them unique.
This is the story of how I came to meet the band Sticky Fingers.
No, not the famous Rolling Stones album. Sticky Fingers, the five-piece band hailing from Sydney, Australia. The rambunctious crew of Dylan Frost (lead vocals/guitar); Paddy Cornwall (bass/vocals); Seamus Coyle (lead guitar); Beaker Best (drums/percussion); and fan favorite Freddy Crabs (keys/synth) comprise a group that has the ability to send you into a melancholic state one moment, a psychedelic trance the next and finally skipping your way down the street with an uncontrollable joy. Simply put, they can do it all.
But after three years of listening and unpacking the endless catalog of this band, there’s something that has never changed. The two songs that exposed me to the band, “Cyclone” and “A Love Letter From me to You,” have forever changed the way I listen to music.
“Cyclone” tells this story of a crumbling relationship, and opens with “Here comes a story of a hurricane / And a temper lost like crying tears in rain / No love is lost or no sweet wisdom gained / So save your tears then save yourself the shame, ” using the storm as a metaphor for the whirlwind of emotions and problems this couple is facing in the demise of their relationship. The peaceful melodic fingerpicking by Coyle in the intro is rudely interrupted by the first line as Frost (aka Dizza) strums three simple chords almost the entirety of the song. You’re left admiring how effortless the notes ring off Coyle and Frost’s guitars.
Frost’s vocal range is tested in the song’s bridge, when he sings, “so bend down them bridges, dig up them bones / What's that you got? Cause I'll have one of those / Darcy, I could never hate ya if I tried,” bringing the story of this failing relationship to an end and into the final chorus which he sings, “cyclone…. You’re on your own” which leads into a guitar solo by Coyle, exposing the raw talent that he holds while playing that six string.
“A Love Letter From Me To You” offers to the table something more playful and exuberant than that of “Cyclone,” exposing the band’s ability to switch from that of a more melancholic vibe to one that brings a smile to your face - and you can’t help but smile when Coyle breaks out into a solo which brings Frost to a sway and puts a smile on his face from ear-to-ear. The song’s chorus that has Frost singing, “I think you’re real cool / oh come for a swim in my pool,” shines light on this playfulness that Sticky brings to the table in not only this acoustic jam but a handful of their songs.
Now over six years from that acoustic session, and two years since their last record, Sticky Fingers is not done yet. With their new studio album “Yours to Keep” released in February, stifi fans have been gifted with an 11-track album filled with a mix of dreary, dilapidated lyrics while expanding on the reggae-rock sound that has solidified them as one of the most unique bands to come out Australia in the past decade.
On March 8, 2019 I was lucky enough to witness the band that I had been following for over two and a half years. The Brighton Music Hall was barely standing after the likes of “Bootleg Rascal”, “Gold Snafu” and “Cool & Calm.” While “Australia Street” prompted Frost to jump into the drunken slew of concert-goers for a crowd surf. (Which if you look close enough in the picture, you may see the writer of this piece with uncontrollable bouts of stoke during that sequence of events.)
photo courtesy: Sam Brumby, https://www.sambrumby.com/
But the true beauty of the night was when Frost was brought to tears singing “Not Done Yet” one of the singles from the new record. The song was in memory of Manu, a friend of the band. The lyrics move in an upbeat fashion despite the haunting guitar melody. The chorus tells the story of Frost’s battle with his schizophrenia, which is what sidelined the band for almost a year before releasing this album. “But I won't see red / Despite what's within / Yes, I knew you always cared / But I'm not done yet,” he sings during the chorus, shining light on his condition. In the mix of all the emotions during the night, Frost could barely finish the final chorus as tears filled his eyes. Red eyed and wiping his face, he looked to the crowd, mustering up the closest thing to a smile he could. It was a deeply emotional and vulnerable moment for not only Frost, but myself as well. Two years into this relationship with this band, I finally witnessed the firsthand the raw emotion that Frost, and the other band members pour into this music.
When the band took to intermission and out came Frost and Coyle with two acoustic guitars, I crossed my fingers for the two to play the song that had instilled in me a greater appreciation for music and their work.
And when that fingerpicked intro by Coyle filled the venue, I looked to my cousin Logan with the biggest smile and exclaimed, “cyclone…”