The three members of the band Cable Ties
Credit: Kalindy Williams

Cable Ties – All Her Plans (Merge Records)

Australian garage rock trio Cable Ties have released their new album All Her Plans via Merge Records. It’s their third album and carries the same intensity as previous releases but with more personal lyrics from lead vocalist and guitarist Jenny McKechnie.

Album opener ‘Crashing Through’ is an intense garage track with guitar riffs which light up the song and a vocal full of energy. It rattles along and is a fabulous start to All Her Plans. Its theme of getting up, dusting yourself down and carrying on when you’re been flattened by something completely out of your control is an apt opener.

In contrast ‘Perfect Client’ is an emotional recognition of society’s refusal to care for those in need, particularly those with addiction and mental health issues.  It’s incredibly personal and hence powerful.  The guitar riff quickly moves into a screeching vocal, bearing out the frustrations of the theme.  This is rage expressed through music – and it’s thrilling. McKechnie further explains: 

“‘Perfect Client’ is about the inability of the health care system to care for someone who experiences addiction and complex mental health problems.  It voices the frustration I have felt watching someone close to me go in and out of detox, rehab and hospitalisation over many years.”

In contrast ‘Time For You‘ is in response to relationships. It begins as a rock track but soon propels into something more raw.  Fuelled by scuzzy guitars and an increasingly passionate vocal this is absolute earworm material, but one you’ll have no complaints replaying over and over again.  As ‘Time For You’ continues it grows in intensity and the thrilling vocal of McKechnie simply becomes more and more animated. She expands on the tracks origins:

“‘Time For You’ is about feeling safe and happy with someone.  I’m a pretty chaotic and anxious person.  I often feel like I’m barely holding everything together and never have enough time for everything I’ve planned.  When I come home to my partner James, I feel safe, happy and like everything is going to be ok . It’s like our time together sits outside of the timeline of the rest of my life.”

The album’s title is drawn from the quieter ‘Mum’s Caravan‘ and here McKechnie reaches into her folk background to pull out sweeter vocals and delicate storytelling. She recognises the sacrifices her own mother has made to care for loved ones when mental health and aged care services failed to do so, a heart-breaking situation. Sonically ‘Mum’s Caravan‘ demonstrates that Cable Ties are not just garage rock fire but can also be more nuanced and sensitive. So much of her own story is shared in this track:

“Mum’s caravan has barely left the shed in the fifteen years since she put it there”

Drummer Shauna Boyle takes over the lead vocals for the first time on ‘Thoughts Back’, which delivers a fierce take on the toll of mental health challenges. The track is a potent expression of the unique frustrations associated with mental illness, especially as it pertains to self-care and caring for others.  Boyle further expands on the track:

I wrote this song mostly centred around my own experiences with mental illness and how consuming and overwhelming it was, and is, for countless people around the world.  It also plays into the themes of the record, such as care-giving and mental workload.  So often people give up their own lives to help others and as a result, rarely have their voices, their experiences or their history acknowledged.”
What a brilliant turn of phrase: “I want my thoughts back.”  Poignant and thought-provoking.  The first half of the track starts calmy enough but as per the subject matter the frustrations grow as the track progresses.  The emotion and the soundscape become more exasperated, just as with the passage of time such feeling would spill over.  Until a quiet but demanding “I want my thoughts back” to finish. 

The themes of the failure of the institutions tasked to deliver care and support to those in society that need to continue on ‘Silos‘. The fury is clear in the visceral spoken vocals as well as the fast and furious pace. ‘Silos’ takes particular aim at privatisation and the lyrics are sharp and cutting, expressing their disgust at such failures. The slight distortion in the vocal towards the end only add to the atmosphere of contempt. On ‘Change‘ the recognition is how slow social progress can feel. These are sadly universal themes. The emotion expressed in the song is accompanied by a soundscape full of spikey electricity. McKechnie shares the following:

“’Change’ is about the trauma left by the violence of the patriarchy, and how to keep surviving and fighting even when it feels like we’re going backwards.”

As with the first track on All Her Plans, album closer ‘Deep Breath Out’ looks inward. Gone is the garage rock fire, replaced by glorious electric guitar riffs accompanying the more measured, reflective vocal of McKechnie. All Her Plans combines themes of addiction, mental health, and Australia’s flagging healthcare system but wrapped in McKechnie own story. That’s not to say this is a melancholy album, far from it. The majority of the tracks are full of the fire of garage rock. Perhaps the last word should go to bassist Nick Brown who says, after a tough few years, the writing process for All Her Plans was liberating:

There was just a sense of enjoying being back together doing what we love. No pressure to make it good – just to make what felt good. With that came a freeing and in turn a playfulness; the re-sparking of why we started jamming together in a shed seven years earlier. The themes might be heavy, but the hands feel unburdened by the world outside our little practice space.”

For more information on Cable Ties please check out their facebook and instagram.


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