Last year was sensational for music. Here, re-acclimatise yourself. This year was even more sensational, so much so that I find myself having to increase this list somewhat to incorporate a little of all the fine music out there. Some but not all, by any means. (I mean, 11 of these slots could have been given over to the Dexys album alone, and another six to Lady Leshurr.) So bear with me. This is where the good shit starts. I’ve broken ‘em down month-by-month in an attempt to give this list a semblance of context.
August was a hell of a month, as was November… or maybe I just finally came into my stride in those months.
Click on the links to find the full original articles. Sure I’ll do a mix-tape if folk want it. (There’s a link to a Spotify playlist in the comments.)
More than anything, the way Royal Headache’s guitars shake and buzz on ‘Surprise’ (and most of this Sydney band’s really excellent debut album, as well) reminds me of Factory Records’ Great Lost Pop Band Of The 70s, The Distractions. That was pop, out and out. Did The Distractions play house parties and semi-legal venues like Royal Headache, Kitchen’s Floor, Blank Realm, The Deadnotes and dozens of other fine Australian pop/garage/punk bands of 2011-2 do? Did Buzzcocks? I dunno. It seems that the underground is as focused as it’s ever been: one crucial difference, though. No one wants to be their generation’s Nevermind. They already saw what that did to a band.
Occasionally, music will intrude upon this world, but you best believe that headphones aren’t much of a way out – it’s too hot, too unpleasant – and if headphones aren’t much of a way out, about the most radical we can go before 6pm (the cut-off point) is Nancy Sinatra, or some bitchin’ shit like that. Unless I’m alone in the car of course, or doing the occasional half-hour down the gym: that’s how I slipped The Book Of Mormon through, the Song Of The Day compilations that survived Daniel’s destruction of the external HD. But I don’t write in those places. So there’s nothing abrasive. Nothing noisy. Nothing to unsettle. We have more than enough of that already, except of course we don’t. My life doesn’t change much day-to-day, you know? Tiredness is always present. I rarely leave the house, even in my mind. Sometimes think about what it’s like down Woodlands, the Valley, one of those cool semi-legal venues in Brisbane where I fool myself that like-minded souls congregate, even though I know no one has nothing in common with me. The long decline. The slow death. The petty bourgeoisie.
Man. Played this six times this morning already, and it’s 2pm now. And I still ain’t tired of it. It’s a little Grace Jones, a little Sparks and a whole load sexy and sinuous and glam and itself. I love the synthetic “yeah’s” and the minimal guitar solo. I love the distant rolling of drums and occasional note of piano, the ongoing narrative, the one-second of feedback that could’ve been lifted from The Pop Group’s ‘She Is Beyond Good And Evil’. The menace is playful but it’s still menace and it’s still seductive as all warm leatherette seats.
There’s a review of the Melbourne three-piece’s self-titled debut album that’s just gone up on Mess + Noise, which boasts the line: “Often compared to Calvin Johnson’s legendary lo-fi outfit Beat Happening…”
I stopped and thought about this for a few seconds (I’ve been known to occasionally wax lyrical about my fondness for Calvin Johnson’s ‘legendary’ lo-fi outfit Beat Happening) and then I clicked on the Soundcloud. Do they have a bass-player? A female band-member?
Sure. I could hear a superficial similarity. Particularly to the third and fourth Beat Happening albums. The vocals seemed a little anonymous, not unpleasantly so, but in a late-night, lo-fi Melbourne pub kind of way. Liked the guitar sound and the Shop Assistants-style stand-up drumming. More Pounding Serfs than Beat Happening if you want the truth of it, but I’m not denying I posses way too much knowledge here. I stopped and thought about it for a few minutes more. Was I to be put off, or snared in, by the comfort of familiarity? Fuck it. Why am I even caring about such notions? If I like music I like it. If I don’t I don’t. This song has a laconic bent, a warm beating pop heart.
It’s a sonically rich landscape where the voices swoop and swerve like dream-pop guitars. It’s a heavily narcoticized girl group who stole the Cocteau Twins’ drum machine (it’s OK — they weren’t using it) and watched way too many episodes of Twin Peaks. I can’t decipher any of the lyrics, but then I need subtitles to make head or tails of The Mighty Boosh so that could just be because I grew up in hicksville America. Hey TTT, e-mail me your lyrics at Scott_Creney@yahoo.com so I can sing along in the car. (Scott Creney)
Music such as this often seems deceptively simple to play. There isn’t that much to it: a few catchy, melancholy choruses, a certain insouciant (though not arrogant) attitude, guitars and percussion that rattles and shakes. Yet it can’t be that simple, otherwise the musical world would be filled with albums as devastatingly beautiful as Twerps.