Originally from Liverpool before moving with his family to Brisbane and later on his own to Melbourne, Justin Wilding Stokes doesn’t stray far from his first home when making music. Previous bands the Whistlestops and Isle of Man made no secret of his love for 1960s British music, but his solo debut as Wilding is positively steeped in Beatles, Beach Boys and Kinks. It taps the most whimsical side of those acts, finding playful instrumentation in kitchen utensils and other offbeat sources.
In 1930, hundreds of pounds were being placed by Australians on the strong favourite and winner Phar Lap in the seventieth Melbourne Cup, while across the globe in Ireland a more modest sum was bet on a more modest horse. The horse was Wilding and decades later it would inspire an album of melodic psychedelic pop.
That day, William Stokes won a princely sum on Wilding– enough to buy a ferry ticket across the Irish Sea to Liverpool, England. In homage to the wheel of fate which threw him off the emerald isle and into the smoke-filled arms of Liverpool, he named his first child Wilding. Thereafter, generation-after-generation, every first born Stokes child was named Wilding.
Bird’s Bread is the debut solo album made by William’s great-grandson Justin Wilding Stokes.
In 2010, work began on Justin’s debut Wilding album, Bird’s Bread, recorded with Robin Waters of indie-pop aces The Boat People and acclaimed band Machine Translations. It was made at Robin’s Brunswick home studio in between work commitments, The Boat People and other distractions. And usually on a Monday. Just over a year later the recording and mixing was finished and the album was mastered by producer Matthew Redlich (Hungry Kids of Hungary, Ball Park Music).
At Bird’s Bread’s core is a sense of playful pop experimentation and idiosyncratic song-writing that has arisen from the method of its making – a distinctly British flavour which takes in Abbey Road psychedelia, Canterbury-prog, freak folk, Merseybeat and British music hall. Influences which flow naturally from Wilding ’s early years in Liverpool and the music that was around him.
Bird’s Bread exists in a musical habitat that delights in slyly curling melodies, frank if at times absurdist lyrics about love and desire, and whimsical, multi-hued arrangements that lay bare the spirit of freedom, madness and fun in which it came to be. The album’s addictive melodic catchiness happily pulls you under its charms and into its feel-good world. Bird’s Bread is reminiscent of the feeling you had as a kid watching HR Pufnstuf – coming out of your speakers in hyper-real TV technicolour.