Fifteen years ago, talented Victorian songwriter Danny McDonald told me that Little Murders was THE great lost power-pop band of Australia’s halcyon musical underground days of the 1980s. They were defunct at the time and an Off The Hip re-issue of their early material - and another reformation - were away off in the future.
Of course, Danny was right. He’d grown up with the band’s songs and they’d left a permanent mark. Little did he know that in 2015 he’d join Little Murders for their fifth and latest studio album “Hi-Fab!” - or that it might be the best thing they’ve ever recorded.
It's been mentioned here before that Fast Cars are a 1980s Sydney mod band, revolving around the creative core of Di Levi (vocals, guitar) and Fabian Byrne (guitar), that reformed a couple of years ago to make more music. This EP is their second since re-convening and was compiled for the “15th Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival” in Wales earlier this month.
Mod is a label that suggests Union Jacks, sharp clothes, Vespa scooters and The Who, but Fast Cars aren’t constricted by the genre’s straight jacket. “Rarebits” comprises four old tracks and two new ones and takes the band deep into psychedelic pop territory.
Yesterday Repeating - The Smart Folk (self released)
There’s a treasure trove of slightly backward-looking, beat and mod-based pop by veterans coming out of the UK on a coterie of labels like State Records and Damaged Goods right now. Aussie band The Smart Folk would be right at home on either of them.
It doesn't have the explosive pop brashness of The Embrooks or the raw swagger of Graham Day or CTMF, but “Yesterday Repeating” displays its own slightly darker charm.
Born out of a mod revival duo in Sydney six years ago, these old codgers have become a staple on their hometown’s small but tenacious live scene. “Yesterday Repeating” is their debut full-length album and it’s reflective of the quartet’s stylistic starting point without being limited by it.
Sydney powerpop mods Fast Cars are hitting the crowd-funding trail for their debut album...a mere 35 years after they kicked off.
Fast Cars were a fixture on the Sydney mod scene of the 1980s, issuing a single (“Saturday’s Girl” b/w “No Love Today”) and an EP to great acclaim and lots of Sydney airplay. The first incarnation of the band was around from 1980-84.
Didn't have much time for mods, generally. Growing up in Sydney in the heyday of great, Birdman-inspired music in the 1980s, their thing seemedmore contrived than anything else (although, in retrospect, there was a great deal of energy in evidence on the Sussex Street scene, when it crawled up the stairs and seeped into the Trade Union Club.) The Green Circles are a mod-influenced band from Adelaide, and the good news (for me) is they're more V-6 than Vespa.
It’s a snapshot. Not grainy - this is from a well balanced desk tape - but captured with no attempt to airbrush the minor imperfections. Which adds to the charm.
If you don’t know Melbourne’s mod-pop kings Little Murders your life is incomplete. They were two years into their stop-start career and “Anglesea 1981” captures one of the early line-ups on a New Year’s Eve night in a crammed pub on the Victorian Surf Coast. There’s a fair sprinkling of what you should recognise as classics, plus some spirited covers.
The under-appreciated heroes of the mushrooming Sydney underground scene of the 1980s were the women. Some will say it’s always been the case and continues to be so. For every Chrissie Amphlett there were many others - like Juliet Ward (Shy Impostors), Julie Mostyn (Flaming Hands), Jo Piggott (XL Capris), Annalise Morrow (The Numbers) and Angie Pepper (The Passengers) - who never made it to international mainstream stages.
This exhumed live set by Sydney’s Fast Cars’ underlines this fact. Fronted by Di Levy (vocals and guitar), Fast Cars were habituates of the small but vibrant mod scene that grew in the sweaty pubs of Sussex Street in the Sydney CBD. They occupied a place where ‘60s pop mixed with soul and the sound of what was lazily dubbed New Wave.
Fast Cars grew out of the Sydney mod scene of the 1980s. Home turf was the fertile Sussex Hotel and they made a modest mark with a couple of EPs before moving on. This five-song CD is their first release in 30 years.
Here’s what a mod band sounds like after it grows up. That’s not being trite or dismissive. Creative people don’t stand still - and bands like Fast Cars were no exception. Guitarist Fabian Byrne went on to the dance-orientated Fiction Romance, shifted into management and ran the Method label that gave a leg-up to bands like Allniters, Paul Kelly, Spy vs Spy and The Amazing Wooloomooloosers. So you’d expect “More?” to sound different to Fast Cars of the ‘80s.
Do you still believe in record labels? Back in the ‘80s, being released on an imprint that you knew and loved (Bomp, Citadel, Waterfront) was a surefire indication that a band possessed a “certain” sound, and was good.
Screaming Apple is the garage rock label in Germany that doesn’t release duds, so hearing about it collaborating with Australia's Off The Hip for an album by a band called The Smart Patrol was always going to be news falling on receptive ears.