indie sounds centralIndie Sounds From The Cenny Coast - Various Artists (Vinil Records)

A lot of people try before they buy physical CDs or vinyl, whether it be via streaming or the ubiquitous Bandcamp website. 

Fair enough, too; If the various post offices around the globe are going to ream you and make you take out a second mortgage just to have something shipped across international borders in a padded envelope, you wanna be sure it’s music that’s worth playing more than once. 

Unless you’re one of those vinyl-fixated numb-nuts that buys every coloured variant of the latest release and photographs the sealed copies on a custom-built shelving unit for other fools to admire on Insta, you probably care more about the music than the medium.

Just remember, they’re records not vinyls, and that we’re here to help.

Which brings us to this compilation from re-born Australian label Vi-Nil. Yes, it’s another of those regional samplers of bands. And yes, most of them you’ve probably never heard of. Compilations like these can be hit or miss. If coming from a geographical location is your claim to fame, that’s a flimsy qualification.

Which thankfully isn’t the case here. 

Label head and compiler Mark Fraser was until recently one of the owners of the Link and Pin, a small bar in Woy Woy on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia with a deservedly large reputation. It’s a no frills place, 90 minutes north of Sydney, that’s everything many music venues are not. And it’s become something of a breeding ground for local musical talent, as well as a convenient stopping point for small-ish touring bands. . 

It’s friendly to most musical genres, pays the bands and fills a gap as a nursery where new acts can hone their set. It’s close enough to bigger places like Newcastle and Sydney to be accessible, and the owners give a fuck about music.

“Indie Sounds From The Cenny Coast” comprises two songs each from a varied crop of NSW Central Coast (“Cenny Coast”) bands: Tyrants, Lemon Joe, Lion Island, Froth Dogs, Shacked, Not Good Not Bad, Turtle Custard, Sitting Down, Soda Simulator and Outer Control

This isn’t going to be a track-by-track critique of each of the participants, only two of which I’ve seen live. Stylistic diversity is a given. Some of it is offbeat, sometimes incongruous (metal lead breaks mixed with nervy punk rock). Perverse pop with hints of psychedelia is a theme. 

As the label blurb puts it, this is “Infectious chunks of power pop, indie rock, funkadelia, garage, pysch, pub punk, sugar pop and more”. And a helluva lot more interesting than the emasculated tripe dished up by Oz radio stations like major label orifice Triple J. 

You could liken Mark Fraser to the Pied Piper for his role in booking, advising, in some cases recording, and exposing these (and other) young bands from the Central Coast. You could give onetime Sydney institution, Damien Gerard Studios, a wrap too, relocated as they are to the Central Coast and being where these 20 songs were committed to hard drive. 

Most of all, you could lend your ears to the bands on this collection by buying a copy and immersing yourself in a diverse but somehow coherent trip. It’s on CD and vinyl but (oddly) not on Bandcamp. Go here.