Archives for posts with tag: The Church

allan-smithy-mirroredAs you listen to “The Streets” by Allan Smithy (not his real name) you can easily imagine the the sun beating down and the warm breeze on your face as you drive through the tree-lined sun-dappled streets of Sydney’s inner city and coastal suburbs with the windows wound down. Well, OK, it’s easy to imagine that if you’ve been there I suppose. But if not, then imagine you can imagine it.

If the song sounds like it could be from The Go-Betweens’ classic “16 Lovers Lane” album then that’s probably exactly what Allan Smithy (not his real name) would want. I mean, the entire Bandcamp artist description text reads “80’s Nostalgia-Australiana.” No beating around the flaming Wattle bush there, mate.

Allan Smithy is the pseudonym used by Sydney musician Matt Amery for his latest music venture. This Allan Smithy character is “an avid believer in the aural benefits of listening to home-grown 80’s bands. He has a sense of pride in Australian music and proudly wears his influences (The Go-betweens, The Triffids and The Church) on his sleeve.”

These are noble enough sentiments. But what makes the music of Allan Smithy so good & worthy of the time of both 80’s Nostalgia-Australiana fans and the uninitiated seeking simply new soundtracks for their lives is that the songs on this EP deliver on those influences and add – with considerable interest – their own qualities and sense of place and of wonder.

Here’s “Air” from the EP too:


Day Ravies_Liminal Zones press photo
PopLib usually features songs rather than album reviews. It’s hard enough to write about one song let alone a dozen or so. But an exception will be made for the exceptional “Liminal Zones” – the 2nd album just released by Sydney band Day Ravies.

Day Ravies have been a fixture on the PopLib stereo for the past few months since discovering their early 2015 releases – the “Hickford Whizz/ Taking Your Time” 7” single and the perfect 4 song cassette EP “Under The Lamp”. Both these exploratory releases indicated Day Ravies were moving a little further from their debut album “Tussle” and its generally ‘shoegaze’ daze.

In hindsight though, “Tussle” is a much broader, satisfying album revisiting it now than it was on first impressions. Amongst the gazey guitar effect shimmer there are plenty of hints of the raw guitar/ keyboard pop side developed further on “Liminal Zones”.

If there’s a new sonic template on “Liminal Zones” it’s the ‘co-lead’ role of keyboards – often outrageous squirty synth – duelling with the swooping, restless guitar lines. There’s not much shoegaze influence to be heard now but what’s here instead is a wondrous mix of a distinctly Australian gritty post-punk/ New Wave with something more timeless and European. Amongst an album of standout tracks an early favourite is the precocious New Wave art-pop of “Nettle”.

“Liminal Zones” has a solid foundation provided by Caroline de Dear’s weighty overdriven bass lines and Matt Neville’s inventive drumming (and occasional drum machine programming). Over top Sam Wilkinson’s guitar playing oscillates between scouring fuzz, swooping feedback dive-bombs and chiming chorus pedal effects. Lani Crooks’ keyboards dial in an exuberant mix of 80’s New Wave, European motorik, garage rock and Day Ravies’ own variation on Stereolab via Broadcast. Often all this is swirling around in the same song.

The other essential part of “Liminal Zones” is the more confident mixing of vocals which highlights another of Day Ravies’ strengths. Lani Crooks’ measured and sophisticated cool plays well against Sam Wilkinson’s melodic rasp. The variety and personality from each the two voices is a big part of the album’s appeal for me.

Sometimes (like pre-album single “Hickford Whizz”) those angular lead guitar lines, and Sam Wilkinson’s vocals, may suggest a reminder of the early sounds of Australian post-punk pioneers The Go Betweens . Other times (like the sombre “Skewed”) dark psychedelia of The Church in their early form may come to mind.

But there’s also frequent use of sounds and sensations which bring to mind My Bloody Valentine, Broadcast and Stereolab. However, the way these tracks are crafted, arranged and recorded, together with the character the members of Ray Davies all collectively imprint on their songwriting, adds up to a distinctive and recognisable sound of their own.

“Liminal Zones” is a perfect combination of characterful songs and an eclectic variety of styles and sounds. It’s consistently fresh and engaging and frequently delights and surprises. It’s also a bit rough-hewn and home-made which keeps it real and vital for me. A new Australian classic album.

“Liminal Zones” is released on Day Ravies’ own label Strange Pursuit (CD and DL) and also on Sonic Masala (LP – neon pink & standard black options). Beko Records in France (which released the excellent 7″ single earlier this year) is stocking the album in Europe if you are in that part of the world and want to save on postage.

Rabbits wedding front

In my collection of 7″ singles is a solitary white label single from an Australian band called Rabbit’s Wedding. It is a single I regularly pull out and play, yet for years I have known nothing at all about the band, other than that they were Australian and the single was recorded in 1986 in Sydney. I think I was given the single by Richard Langston, who probably received it to review during his fanzine writing period for Garage and Alley Oop in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The cover is as enigmatic as the songs, which are the kind of perfect and melancholic minimal & obscure guitar pop I used to love at the time and still do today.

Earlier this year I tried to track down more information on Rabbit’s Wedding. Their MySpace page revealed several songs and a blog entry from 5 years ago which mentioned Glasgow label Egg Records was planning a compilation. Further research showed Egg Records had vanished. To compound its fate a Wiki page had even been removed by over-zealous editors who decided Egg Records was a minor regional label of such insignificance it didn’t meet Wiki’s entry requirements. Incredible really given Egg Records released not only several notable Scottish releases by the likes of The Bachelor Pad but also The Bats from NZ.

Sadly in the makeover of MySpace mid-year the blog archives are no longer available, removing any residual historic value of that platform to music archivists. With the help of an international collaborative effort of music bloggers I managed to track down Rabbits Wedding vocalist Paul Watling. He confirmed the compilation never happened, and summarised the history of Rabbit’s Wedding:

“We started in Perth in 84 i think it was. Our heroes were local band The Triffids and we moved to the big smoke of Sydney where things were happening a lot more. We released a few records and toured a fair bit. Apart from our own gigs, we spent most of our time playing with bands like The Triffids, The Go Betweens, The Church, The Lighthouse Keepers. I’m sure you are familiar with those bands. We were also influenced by some of the New Zealand bands of the time. I remember seeing The Chills, The Verlaines and Straightjacket Fits. I remember Phil playing “I Love My Leather Jacket” and “Pink Frost” to death on the stereo in one share house that we lived in.”

Rabbits wedding back

Here’s a video of a rare TV performance of “Hit The Road Pussy” from around 1987, after they moved to Sydney. It’s a song that never was on any recording they released.

If you see any Rabbit’s Wedding releases in your record shop trawling grab them. They are lost treasures of Australia’s golden period of guitar pop.

Paul’s current band is Dusken Lights.