Friday, 30 October 2015

Foley! - Ascot Vale

Ascot Vale is an album about being in your early 20s and getting drunk and falling in love and getting dumped.

Foley! aren't doing anything radically new and they know it on Feeding Egos: "I’ve been writing all these songs and they all sound the fucking same." But knowing their limitations means they stick to what they do best: smash and grab punk pop that takes hold first time.

Sure, you and I have both heard this sort of thing a thousand times before, but every time you hear it afresh you can easily wonder why every band doesn't do this sort of thing. But you know most bands can't do this and Foley!'s new bite, extra venom and pure passion make this album a real treat.

Ascot Vale (the album, not the Melbourne suburb) came out earlier this year. It's on blue vinyl and yours for $AU20.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Moonlight

When Flying Nun restarted I hoped it would release bands like The Moonlight. Bands with songs that have The Verlaines' intense poise (Into The Water), The Chills' extraordinary drama (Last Goodbye) and the Straitjacket Fits' fire and brimstone (Sunset Inside).

There are great New Zealand labels like Fishrider and Melted Ice Cream who are putting out essential new bands. They do a lot, but they can only do so much. So wouldn't it be nice if The Moonlight were on Flying Nun and if Flying Nun spent more time releasing new New Zealand bands than reissuing their back catalogue?

I'm not suggesting The Moonlight are only influenced by older Flying Nun bands. There's been 25 years between this Moonlight album and those FN bands. They've filtered those sounds in different ways just like any number of bands on hip new labels such as Trouble In Mind and Captured Tracks.

Flying Nun is a great brand (it's one of the greatest ever labels, for christ's sake) - putting out this album would mean more people heard The Moonlight. It probably wouldn't pay off FN's debts, but it'd be a great way to start securing a new legacy.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Ardivan Walks

US psych pop on cassette for the next Nuggets generation. This is a one-man (Jake Hannon) band that tips its hat to The Twerps, Miracle Legion and The Apples in Stereo.

I don't know how many bands like this there are out there, but it's always a joy to find one. Added bonus: it had me reaching for The Caroline Know's lost classic Nail/Orphaned Too for the first time in way too long.

5 songs, all fizzing with great ideas and just-right turns, for $3 on one tape. You can't argue with that.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Smudge - Manilow tribute album

Manilow is 19 songs over one record. It's some gift to write this many short songs with so much punch, pop and depth that still sound fresh 21 years later.

Evan Dando co-wrote two of them, but Smudge's Tom Morgan wrote many more than that with Evan for the Lemonheads' It's A Shame About Ray and Come On Feel albums.

And Manilow is at least the equal of either of those albums. It's a slacker masterclass with a punk backbone and an easy way with simple hooks. It hits the spot every time.

That Lemonheads connection is still the claim to fame, but this misses just how vital the Sydney scene was in the early 90s. Nic Dalton's label Half A Cow showcased many of them, including Smudge and his own Godstar.

Nic was playing with Sydney band The Hummingbirds, supporting the Lemonheads in 1991. After that, Nic and Tom joined the Lemonheads.

I came to the Lemonheads through Godstar's Kitchen because a girlfriend knew it as a Lemonheads song. So I went to the Lemonheads' It's A Shame About Ray album that way. Yeah, it's got all the production smarts and the hit singles but you know that doesn't mean it's better.

Manilow should have been a hit, but you also know the world doesn't work that way. A new generation (and Evan Dando) of musician fans has made a Manilow tribute album. I haven't heard it, but Courtney Barnett's Divan cover should be a knockout on the basis of this live version:

I haven't ordered the album yet. They're signed by Smudge. Do you think they'd not sign one if I asked nicely? Yeah, I prefer record sleeves that people haven't written on. What? If you're the type of person who's been buying these sort of records for decades you've got to have at least one (and, in my case, only one) quirk.

Alison Galloway anecdote
Alison was, and sometimes still is, Smudge's drummer. She's the subject of Alison's Starting To Happen. She took a break from rock'n'roll and Australia from 1999-2002.

During that time, my friend Tali from The Lucksmiths was living in London and fulfilling his ambition of using his teaching qualification instead of touring the world penniless and sleeping on floors.

On his first day at a south London school, a colleague said, "There's another Australian here. You probably know her."

Tali told me that this happens all the time. Everyone in Britain thinks there are only about 1,000 Australians and they all know each other.

You're ahead of me here, I can tell. That other Australian teacher was Alison Galloway. She'd interviewed The Lucksmiths for Australian MTV. "The indie mafia is teaching your children," Tali claimed.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Breakfast Muff: I Want To Want To

Bobby Gillespie was once asked why the super short Velocity Girl ended when it did: "Because it's finished."

Breakfast Muff play I Want To Want To like their guitars are spray-painted with YOU CAN DIE ANYTIME. They race for the prize, win and then fuck off because the song's finished. It's brilliant.

Listen to it if you're homesick for Velocity Girl (the band), the first few Crystal Stilts records and the entire Narodnik label.

There are 25 copies of this on an Art Is Hard lathe cut release. They went as quickly as this song lasts.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Transistors - Cuppa Jarra Brossa

This tape is bookended by Ramones ramalama punk. In between there are 3 songs that suggest the Transistors grew up on Weezer before finding Husker Du.

It's pop and punk like The Undertones, it's got new wave moves like The Paley Brothers, it's fun like mid-80s Jonathan Richman and there's no reason I can find not to love it.

The tapes are almost gone. Act fast.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Frozy: Lesser Pop

Lesser Pop shows that Frozy know less is more. The songs are short and sharply effective. They're all raw minimalism like Beat Happening. They're pop music that's rough around the edges like the first Best Coast album.

Sometimes they stumble like The Pastels and sometimes they're all fall-apart fragility. You know how the Mary Chain found a way of navigating 60s girl group pop and DIY noise? Well, Frozy have found another way. And it fucking works.

Stop what you're doing and listen to Lesser Pop.