Archives for posts with tag: chapter music

Brisbane trio The Goon Sax are preparing to release their third album “Mirror II”. Here’s the captivating opening single “In The Stone”:

The Goon Sax are James Harrison, Louis Forster and Riley Jones. Still in high school when they made their first album of awkward teenage guitar pop “Up To Anything” as 17 year olds in 2016, the trio added additional layers of delight with their second album “We’re Not Talking” in 2018.

It’s impossible to tell from just one song what the third album will be like, but the wonderful “In The Stone” may indicate a further development into deeper and darker territory, without losing any of the melodic guitar-pop charm of the first two albums.

Louis Forster is the son of The Go-Betweens Robert Forster. Some of his songs on the 2018 “We’re Not Talking” album (“Sleep EZ” and “We Can’t Win” for example) could’ve been on early Go-Betweens albums. “In The Stone” here may share vampires in common with the lyrics of a Robert Forster Go-Betweens song, but the song is a much darker Post-Punk creation more aligned to the slow cool march of New Order or The Cure.

“Mirror II” is available to pre-order now on Chapter Music in Australia/ NZ and Matador Records in the rest of the world. Here’s the official video for “In The Stone” followed by a live version video:

Thibault 2020[Photo by Jamie Wdziekonsk]


“Centrelink” is the first song shared ahead of the release of the first album, called “Or Not Thibault” by Melbourne’s Thibault.

The album isn’t out until September, which is a couple of months away yet, pandemic allowing, but you can pre-order the LP now. I did, in an instant. Not really an impulse buy, more just decisive common sense based on what “Centrelink” offered and the track record of the musicians involved in Thibault.

Thibault is made up of Nicole Thibault and Julian Patterson, who were both part of ‘lo-fi jazz pop’ band Minimum Chips, one of the most wonderful and under-recognised Australian bands of the past few decades, along with Rebecca Liston (Parsnip) and Lachlan Denton (Ocean Party). All those bands have been featured on PopLib in recent years so it only took a few seconds of this one song to know that this was an album worth committing to early on.

When I first heard Minimum Chips, through a song on a Chapter Music compilation, I wrote in a PopLib post that the song: “seems to me to transcend ‘indie-pop’ whatever that is, although it is clearly independent and clearly pop. It is the kind of thing you might imagine in a fever dream involving members of Stereolab and Broadcast forming a secret group and releasing a single on Sarah Records or some other equally unlikely kind of musical fantasy in an alternative universe.” 

Thibault’s “Centrelink” also fits within that musical fantasy. Harpsichord introduces this tale of dignity-crushing humiliation of the Australian unemployment office – the despised Centrelink of the title. But for something with so much sadness at its core, it is an exultant escape and triumphant overcoming of life’s set-backs, with a glorious brass and 12-string guitar instrumental passage reminiscent of the bold instrumentation and arrangements of John Barry’s 1960s film soundtrack music.

Minimum Chips released one highly recommended perfect studio album “Kitchen Tea Thankyou” and there are other collections of their early EPs which, at their poppiest offer a more fragile and subversive experimental lo-fi DIY Melbourne take on the  kind of odd-pop that the likes of Stereolab and then Broadcast were exploring in the UK and Tokey Tones in New Zealand.



Beaches by Darren Sylvester

BEACHES (photo by Darren Sylvester)

Continuing the heavy psych theme, here’s a blissful Sunday Psych-out fuzzfest called “Arrow” from Melbourne five-piece band BEACHES:

BEACHES have just released (September 2017) a double album of ultra-melodic psychedelic rock called “Second of Spring”. Actually, it’s a bit more than *just* psych rock, as the double LP format allows the band to mix their usual 60s/ 70s psych-rock via German 70s experimental motorik and 80s New Wave goodness with even more shoegaze melodic pop stylings to great effect, as “Arrow” here shows.

Some songs may even remind anyone who has established a long-running relationship with Australian alternative guitar music (guilty here) of the fuzzy melodic power-pop goodness of the likes of 80s/ 90s bands The Hummingbirds or Someloves. To my ears BEACHES more natural propulsive and joyful psychedelic stylings are way more preferable than the over-worked self-indulgent noodling of some of their much more vaunted Australian psych-rock contemporaries. Enough said!

BEACHES are Antonia Sellbach on guitar and vocals, Alison Bolger on guitar and vocals, Ali McCann on guitar and vocals, Gill Tucker on bass and vocals and Karla Way on drums and vocals.

They’ve been playing and releasing singles, EPs and albums as BEACHES since 2008. You really ought to dig back into their catalogue for stunning gems like the 2013 release “She Beats” which features even more motorik psych+melodic fuzzrock wonders.

Minimum Chips

Minimum Chips is one of the great band names of the modern era. Fortunately that evocative name is matched to exquisite music. Their label Chapter Music describe their sound as ‘lo-fi jazz pop’ but have a listen to “Jolly Jumper” and make up your own mind.

“Jolly Jumper” is a new recording by the band, and it is included on “20 Big Ones – 1992 – 2012” which celebrated 20 years of Chapter Music, the Melbourne label which brought us the likes of Dick Diver, Bushwalking, Twerps, The Stevens, The Cannanes, The Goon Sax, and… well, the list is quite long. The album was released in 2012 to coincide with the label’s 20th anniversary show and has re-appeared on the Chapter Music Bandcamp page today, which presumably means it has been repressed.

“Jolly Jumper” seems to me to transcend ‘indie-pop’ whatever that is, although it is clearly independent and clearly pop. It is the kind of thing you might imagine in a fever dream involving members of Stereolab and Broadcast forming a secret group and releasing a single on Sarah Records or some other equally unlikely kind of musical fantasy in an alternative universe.

The guitar and organ meander; interlocking, overlocking, unravelling, reforming patterns again in hypnotic and exultant ways. The drums are crisp and adventurous and there is no jazz in earshot, save for some experimental organ chords towards the ending (and what a dramatic ending). The vocals sound distant yet close, the words being sung almost sound French, yet it’s an Australian singing in English. Mystery upon enigma. Of course, I’ll be carefully, patiently discovering the rest of this band’s back catalogue for years now.

There are 19 other songs on the album. They all have their magic and help tell a story of a label giving a voice for over 20 years now to people the more commercially-focused mainstream part of the ‘music industry’ ignores. It’s a good entry point to explore the label catalogue. Chapter Music is a very good musical rabbit hole to fall down.

Chapter Music is a long-standing label established by a then 17-year-old Guy Blackman in Perth in 1992, before relocating to Melbourne. Read more about Chapter Music in interview with Guy here.

Chapter 20

Goon Sax

Brisbane teenagers The Goon Sax are three songs into their debut album pre-release roll-out and there’s no let up in the simple perfect brilliance of their wryly-observed and playful pop song-craft – as demonstrated here by “Boyfriend”.

When The Goon Sax name first popped up last year I listened because they were on Chapter Music (The Stevens, Twerps, Dick Diver etc.). They sounded like the perfect and charming combination of a bit of naive pop reminiscent of the earliest Pastels, blended with that peculiarly Australian minimalist strum-pop of label mates Twerps.

But there was also a throw-back to the simple rhythm guitar/ bass/ lead guitar and vocal stylings of The Go-Betweens in their earliest form, circa “Send Me A Lullabye” or the Missing Link/ Postcard Records single.

Turns out there’s more than just a stylistic connection to the aforementioned Go-Betweens, but that genetic link shouldn’t be a factor in determining the worthiness of The Goon Sax or their debut album.

The three tracks so far indicate not just the rare talent for wry observational pop music with simple but memorable arrangements. They also show an unusual confidence in singing about stuff that teenagers would normally avoid sharing publicly and presenting themselves as coolly ‘uncool’ and almost celebrating their awkwardness. That was also one of the features of that early 80’s Glasgow scene with Orange Juice and The Pastels risking ridicule by establishing themselves as outsiders in an otherwise macho culture. Which was also why those bookish Aussies The Go-Betweens fitted in so well in Glasgow back in 1980.

The album “Up To Anything” is released on Friday (11 March) on Chapter Music – a Melbourne label with a 24 year history of releasing music from the fringes of Australian music culture. Here’s the video for the song too.




Here in NZ we are meant to hate Australia(ns). It’s some kind of dumb pathological insecurity-fuelled nationalistic competitive thing, mostly based on sports. And, to be fair, Australian sports-people do their country no favours by being arrogant winners and bad losers (if I may generalise somewhat).

Well, music isn’t sport, music is far more important than silly ball games and some of my favourite music over the years has come from Australia.

Plus, you have to feel sorry for them right now. They have a doofus Prime Minister and a climate-change-denying, flat-earth-embracing Government that makes NZ’s PM and sackful of clowns in Government look almost classy (no, not really). And now their dollar has plunged to be pretty much on a par with the NZ dollar.

The good news out of their declining dollar is that we can show how big we are by helping their ailing economy by buying their fabulous LPs for under $30 NZD, including postage.

If you are a regular reader of PopLib you will know there’s a lot of great new Australian underground pop music been released so far this decade. Here’s a quick guide to three of the best labels recommended for your urgent/leisurely investigation:

Rice Is Nice Records
Sydney label with releases from Sarah Mary Chadwick, Summer Flake & many more. Read more about Rice is Nice in an interview with founder Julia Wilson here.

Chapter Music
This long-standing label was established by a then 17-year-old Guy Blackman in perth in 1992, before relocating to Melbourne. Read more about Chapter Music in interview with Guy here. Chapter Music has released several great PopLib-endorsed albums recently from The Stevens, The Twerps, Dick Diver and Bushwalking amongst others.

Bedroom Suck Records
Fabulous Brisbane, Queensland label with an eclectic roster of artists, many of whom have been PopLib favourites, including albums by Ela Stiles, Peter Escott, Fair Maiden, Blank Realm and Totally Mild. Although Bedroom Suck records has only been going for a little over 5 years many of their releases have been licensed to big-indie Fire Records for release in the US and UK, which gives you an indication of the quality of their catalogue.

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