Thursday, October 9, 2008

australian pride: guy blackman, the bank holidays, even as we speak

Sometimes I think about how much I like Australia - you know, with our seemingly endless summers and Caramello Koalas and paying out on New Zealand, it's a good country to live in. However, it's shameful for me to admit, but the quota of Australian records in my collection to all else is, well, pretty small. I'm turning this ratio around, though, because there's been quite an influx of really, really good Australian records spinning on my stereo of late. Aside from the aforementioned Lucksmiths and Guild League records I have to look forward to, here's a few others I'm in love with at the moment:

Guy Blackman

Melbourne's Guy Blackman has been making music for ages now, but I think he will win himself a whole new group of fans with his album Adult Baby. It's an album of stories - of best friends, of mothers, of love won and love lost. This balladeer, with his deep, slightly naive vocals and beautiful old organ sounds, tells a story once and makes you want to hear it again and again. About a month ago, I saw Guy play at the Powerhouse, supported by the Sly Hats, and his performance didn't entirely win me over for some reason - it was good, but perhaps I just wasn't in the right Sunday afternoon mood. However, since buying a copy down in Sydney a few weeks ago, tracks such as "Carlton North", "Stay On The Beat" and single "Gayle" have attached themselves to me and I don't want them to go away. Well worth listening to!

Guy also runs Chapter Music, a label with a fine history and a fine roster to match. If you're keen to hear some Australian post punk from the 70s and 80s, I suggest you lay your hands on a copy of the Can't Stop It! compilation.

The Bank Holidays

For those of you in the UK and Europe who recently saw Perth's The Bank Holidays on their continental tour, then I'm awfully jealous. They're a band who have interested me for a few years now, but I've always missed their Brisbane shows when they've come to town. Shameful, really, as they're one super lovely pop group. With songs that remind me a lot of The Shins, Belle & Sebastian and Australian pop from the late 1990s, their album As A Film is 12 tracks of pretty, string laden pop that sparkles and soars at every opportunity - my definite highlights are "Oh Daylight" and "Cheating Cheating". I also love the title track from their earlier EP The Greatest Game - it's the best song you'll ever hear about badminton!

Even As We Speak
It wouldn't be a proper Australian pop discussion without mentioning one of our esteemed bands of yore - Sydney's Even As We Speak. One of the few Australian bands to appear on Sarah Records, the singles collection A Three Minute Song Is One Minute Too Long is well worth adding to your collection. They channelled pretty melodies in one song, the sound of backyard Australia in another, then captured the Sydney power pop sound in the next. Why weren't they bigger? Well, that's all explained in the liner notes, but it's a great injustice to a band who could have been so much bigger. "Blue Suburban Skies" is my favourite track on the compilation; it's a shame "Drown" wasn't included, though, because even though it does sound a little dated now, it's one of those really great early 90s pop moments. I had the pleasure of seeing Even As We Speak play in Brisbane in 2005, and it's an even greater pleasure to have these 17 tracks to love all the more.

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