#1 Fan - The Pink Tiles (self released)

number one fanMelbourne’s reputation for throwing up more unique bands than Sydney could ever dream of goes from strength to strength on the back of The Pink Tiles. Their second LP is an unabashed mix of girl pop with garage rock and cheap, synth-y sass goodness.

It took the first spin of a promo burn on a road trip to show that The Pink Tiles stood out from the pack. Some proper listens since then have cemented “#1 Fan” as top-shelf pop. The soundtrack to sunny days in a beer garden or on the back porch.

The Pink Tiles kicked off as a bedroom project and grew into the Melbourne pub scene, adding members as they went. There are six members and Ex-Rocket Science guitarist Paul Maybury is one of them. He produced “#1 Fan” at his own studio and it’s drenched in reverb, with its sharp edges left intact.

A Sunny Afternoon At The Zoo - The Smart Folk (Studio 57 Recordings)

sunny afternoon at the zooThere’s no hiding the mod influence on this six-track CD from a bunch of Sydney veterans. It’s beat pop with a bright disposition that sometimes sounds like Paul Weller on happy pills.

TSF began life as a duo, playing acoustic covers under the name The Mayday Dreamers. By accident, design or both, they grew two more members over the next three years and took on their new moniker. This is their first release.

Like the band's story, the songs are relatively uncomplicated but well constructed. Folk traits are evident and pop harmonies abound. Peter Kowal’s pleasant vocal carries most of the songs, with fellow guitarist Chris Newton singing earthier lead on a couple. Keith Claringbold (bass) and Pete Iacono (drums) are much better than workmanlike, down there in the engine room.

Dangerous - Sugarchild (MGM), Get Bye Good High - Papaya Fuzz (Burning Sound) and Bigger than Life - Jack Lee (Alive Naturalsounds Records)

sugarchild dangerousOne of these CDs bored me pissless, but I’m going to give it four-and-a-half bottles. One of these is a seven bottle disc, the other is also four-and-a-half bottles and (I thought) a damn sight more enjoyable.

Nothing exists in isolation. We all develop differently, in different ways, from the same stimulus. One man is a banker, another, a thief.

Musicians are popularly both isolated and part of the crowd. Some might as well open their own bank ("Elton’s Bank’) while others we suspect nick the washing off clotheslines and have garage sales every Saturday and Sunday morning to make ends meet. (No, I won’t snitch).

Arrow Pierce My Heart - The Bonnevilles (Alive Naturalsound Records)

bonnevilles aliveDirty-ass R&B twisted into their own nasty, digging thing. 

It's awarded five bottles of beer. Maybe more. I’m too busy listening and dancing and making the car dodge those gigantic Woollies trucks.

Fuck this is fun. There’s only two of the buggers, a drummer and a guitarist and yeah, I know. The White fucking Stripes. Boy they were over-rated, weren’t they? Yeah. They were. But The Bonnevilles are the genuine crumbly biscuit, all warm and fuzzy from the hearth. Hearth?

Aquarium Session - The Red County (Grrif/ Burning Sound)

aquarium sessionNever heard of ‘em. The call themselves ‘TRASH-COUNTRY-GARAGE & BLUES-PUNK’ which is … oh, for fuck’s sake, why can’t bands be a little more adventurous and just skip the fucking definitions?

Oh. Cos then audiences won’t know what they’re like, and instead of giving them a twist on Spotify, will skip on to Bachman Turner Overdrive or something equally vile. Also, of course, their name brings up a swag of completely irrelevant sites, so it’s almost impossible to find out anything about these buggers.

Swing Cremona - Pierre Omer’s Swing Revue (Voodoo Rhythm)

omerOmer was one of the founder members of The Dead Brothers (of whom I’ve extolled the virtues of elsewhere on I94bar). However, I listened to the disc before I learned that. If you’re one of these cats who don’t quite ‘get’ how jazz as well as blues morphed into rock (the big bands in the '30s and '40s prided themselves on how loud they were), then all I can say is… dig this, suckers.

"Swing Cremona" is that rare item, a disc you can bop, hop and jive to, as well as dance like you’re tanked on tequila. So, it ain’t quite jazz, ain’t quite folk, blues and on and on. They said that about Django Reinhardt, and they were right. They squealed about Monk being too wrong to be jazz, and being too jazz to be pop, but he was both, and ended up in the bop basket.

Sublime - Charlie Marshall and The Curious Minds (Charlie Marshall) & Silver/Lead - Wire (Pinkflag)

sublimeWire do enjoy their titles. “Akin to A Bell is a Cup (Until it is Struck)”, “Silver/ Lead” hints at alchemical alteration of roles and realities. What if what we assumed was one thing, wasn’t really that at all…

Being from Melbourne, Charlie Marshall is more direct. He says exactly what he means. “Sublime” is his view of the machinery of the universe and our world - that stuff up out there, and that stuff all around us down here. What if what we assumed was one thing, wasn’t really that at all... 

silver lead wire

Both “Sublime” and “Silver/ Lead” are magical. Both reach out and touch your heartstrings, both have a confident sensuality about them. Both wield lyrics like conversation: we discuss all manner of things, how we’ve changed our world, what it is, and our place in it. All this without being either preachy or boring; falling into both “Sublime” and “Silver/ Lead” is in like one of those enlightening conversations in a pub without an argument. Although both Sare in many ways rather different, they beat as two hearts. Both belong in your collection.

On Air - Queen (Virgin/EMI/BBC)

Queen On AirThe Barman didn’t want me to write this review, or submit it, or publish it. What is it about Queen, Barman? 

“Over-arranged, over-played and over-compensating for the fact that, at least initially, nobody liked them.”

Well, that last is true. But I think we can all name bands that nobody liked initially who became megafauna. Anything else spring to mind?

“Sure. Overblown pompous crap.”

Follow The Sun - Various Artists (Mexican Summer)

follow the sunQuestion: Who is this compilation of 20 songs of Australian folk obscurities of the 1970s for? Answer: Head to your nearest record collectors fair.

These are mythical gatherings, full of badly-dressed people with body odour problems who are entirely bereft of social graces. They clamber over each other, poring through crates and boxes while entirely oblivious to the other’s existence. They wear T-shirts commemorating concerts that nobody went to or that occurred before they were born. Or so the cliche goes.