To end Australia Week let us ask a question. Where would the world be without the music coming from Down Under? Consider the cultural impact made by these bands and artists: AC/DC, Midnight Oil, INXS, The Vines, Hoodoo Gurus, The Church, Natalie Imbruglia, Nick Cave, Counting Crows and so so many others. And don’t deny the guilty pleasures of The Bee Gees, Savage Garden and Air Supply. You know you sing along at the top of your lungs to “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All” when you’re alone in the car.
Australia’s most important export may be its culture. And in truth, wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all had a little Aussie in us?
For the finale of Australia Week let’s do a flashback to one of my all-time favourite bands from the Land of Oz, Men At Work. Can’t you hear the thunder?
One of my favourite new bands from anywhere right now happens to come from Sydney. So of course I was going to try and include Circle (check out my original review if you are so inclined) in Australia Week if I could. And they make it so easy. It seems they are releasing a “studio demo” every other week now, teasing us with what they’re working on.
The latest creation they’ve let us have a peek in on is “Shake It Off”. It’s interesting hearing the bare bones germ of a song. And this track has me very excited to hear the final product.
I usually like to compare a band to other, often better known, bands. Doing so for Circle doesn’t seem fair though. Perhaps you will catch a glimpse of something like Death Cab For Cutie in a track or two, then others are reminiscent of Swedish bands The Legends or Acid House Kings. Sometimes the taste was something a bit like The Cocteau Twins. But Circle isn’t really any of those other bands. What they are is yet another brilliant alternative band from Australia delivering some of the best alternative/electro pop/indie rock (or whatever you want to call it) music I’ve heard in awhile. Seriously, what’s in the water there?
Although the band has been playing in some form since 2005, The Middle is first studio album from Circle. The wait is worth it though because Radi Safi, Dan Shaw, and Rebecca Shave surely have created a masterpiece here. It’s not often I listen to a brand new album on my morning commute and then find myself throughout the day singing to myself multiple tunes off of it. The album really kicks off, for me, with track two’s “Fashion Me a Drum”. The pulsating beating intro, layered a moment later with synth chords, then finally the slightly airy but understated Radi vocals draw you into the song immediately. The sucking in continues when Rebecca joins in on the chorus, but the coup de grâce is when Rebecca’s solo kicks in. When I find myself singing along “I will follow the beat, I will follow the drum, I will follow the sound… the sound that made me love you”, I really really mean it.
Other tracks along the lines of “Fashion Me A Drum” are “Half Race Girls” and “Brothers”. Both are incredibly accessible, having all the hooks you’d ever want and will have you singing along in no time at all. (I hear my 4 year old son singing the melody of the “ooooh ooooh ooooh”s from “Half Race Girls” all the time.) The tracks “Gorgeous”, “All The People”, and “Hold” are what gave me the glimpses of The Sundays and The Cocteau Twins I mentioned earlier. Ephemeral, melodic, hypnotic…brilliant.
P.S. Tell me this video isn’t the most hipster thing you’ve ever seen…
It’s no secret that ever since our inception your friends at Froglix have been quite enamored by the music from Down Under. Black Knight, San Cisco, Abbe May, Sarah McLeod, The Brisbane Project, etc. have most certainly captured our attention and our ear, for that matter. This new wave of indie and alternative artists are very talented but not more so the pioneers from the Land of Oz who blazed the trail before them. It is here that we direct our attention for this week’s Flashback. Back in the 80s/early 9os it was Hoodoo Gurus, or the Gurus as they are commonly referred to by their fans, who took the college radio scene quite literally by storm. They dominated. Not just in their homeland of Australia, but here in the States as well. By successfully combining the edginess, attitude and excitement of punk with the melodic elements of pop, they created something unique…their own sound. The combination of Dave Faulkner’s eclectic vocal style, inventive lyrics and exciting melody lines couple with Brad Shepherd’s guitar work elevated the Gurus above a number of other bands in their space vying for air time.
Narrowing it down to one (1) track from this band for Flashback was indeed challenging. We could have selected any number of their songs from any one of their albums. Take your pick. It’s all good. So, why then did we choose “Miss Freelove ’69” from their album Kinky? Honestly? Of all of their videos, this one seemed to best capture their personality as a band. That’s it. That’s my reason. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to get my Guru on.
artist: Sarah McLeod | genre: alt-rock, electronica | label: unsigned
While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I think it’s fair to say that, as a general rule, we really don’t pimp a lot cover tunes here at Froglix. It’s not that there is anything wrong with a band playing covers but it’s a bit contrary to our mission which is to shine a light on indie artists around the world who are performing original music. That, my friends, is what we are all about and it is also why I really wanted to hate Sarah McLeod’srendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” but try as I might I just couldn’t do it. In this, rather dark, Depeche Mode-like interpretation of Springsteen’s classic, McLeod takes a boppy MTV standard (remember a young Courtney Cox jumping on stage in the video…of course you do) and creates her very own mystical, melancholy version that comes complete with an extra serving of angst. McLeod slows down the tempo, loses the cheesy 80’s keyboard adds in a healthy dose of of her airy yet edgy vocals to complete the mix. Well done, Ms. McLeod…well done indeed.