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Aussie artists
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Howzat! Archive - August 10th 2011

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Great music is often about magic combinations - Lennon and McCartney, Jagger/Richards, Forster/McLennan, Page and Plant, Chrissy Amphlett and Mark McEntee, Elton John and Bernie Taupin Died Pretty's Ron S. Peno and Brett Myers are another magic combination. A ball of uninhibited energy mixed with a gentle giant, they were responsible for some of Australian music's most intoxicating rock. And their recent performance at Cherry Rock showed they'd lost none of their majestic power.

An artist is blessed to be part of a magic combination; to be part of two means you are truly special - and lucky. A couple of years ago, Ron S. Peno was at Yah Yah's. It was very late at night, or early in the morning, depending on your perspective. The details are fuzzy, but Ron can't say the terrain is entirely unfamiliar. His friend Penny Ikinger introduced him to a fellow musician. "I know who you are," Ron said. By the end of the night, a new songwriting partnership was forged: Ron S. Peno and Cam Butler. Ronnie was a fan of Cam's work with Silver Ray, and, of course, Cam was aware of Ron's history. "I loved Died Pretty," he says. "I actually played in a band in Brisbane with their first drummer. I had seen the Darling Downs, but I'd never actually met Ron until that night." Cam had also never collaborated with a singer, preferring to work on instrumental music. But the combination clicked, and soon Cam would put together Ronnie's new band, who became known as The Superstitions (with Cam on guitar, Tim Deane on piano, Andy Papadopoulos on bass, and Mark Dawson on drums).

As with all great combinations, they are very different people. Superstitions? "I can't think of any," Cam says, while Ronnie lists several: "If I see a ladder, I'll walk around it, if I spill salt, I'll have to throw some over my left shoulder " Cam is methodical, Ron is unpredictable. Cam crafts glorious instrumentals, while Ron creates magical melodies on the spot. "Ron is unfettered," Cam says. "It's all about emotion with Ron, and he can encapsulate a mood. There's a world in his voice."

The resulting album is a landmark in more ways than one. It's seen as Ron's solo debut - 25 years after Died Pretty's debut, and it's also the first time Ron has worked with a string section. Cam did the string arrangements for three songs - New Blood, Gameplan and My Own Fire To Light. "We didn't want to overdo it, but Cam insisted that we have real strings - he didn't want synth strings. So we got a 12-piece string section. It was incredible." Ron actually thought about calling the album "Strings Attached", but then he saw a doco on the cosmos, where a guy stated: "There will be a future universe." It's the perfect title for an album by an artist with an imposing past but who's very much living in and for the moment. Ron S. Peno and The Superstitions launch Future Universe at the Northcote Social Club on Friday.

Sure, it takes a while to get to the chorus. But Gotye and Kimbra's Somebody That I Used To Know might just be 2011's finest single. It sounds like a classic '80s tune, kind of The Reels meets Howard Jones, with a touch of Peter Gabriel and Sting. It's headed for number one (jumping from five to three this week) and here's the tip - it'll take the ARIA for Single of the Year, as well as top spot in Triple J's Hottest 100.

It's been a big year for Howzat!'s favourite Adelaide artist Myles Mayo - he's become a dad and given birth to his first solo album. Myles returns to Melbourne this week, to play with Loon Lake at the Toff on Saturday.

She looks like the girl next door - if the girl next door was carrying a switchblade. There's something delightfully dark about Hayley Couper. She lands in Melbourne via Tasmania and we caught the first night of her Thursday residency at the Grace Darling last week. Definitely an artist to watch.

Now, more than ever, independent media is vital. If you can, throw a few dollars Triple R's way this week - the Radiothon starts on Friday.

Jessica Mauboy scores her fifth Top 10 hit.

Somebody That I Used To Know GOTYE (number three)
Inescapable JESSICA MAUBOY (10)
We Run The Night HAVANA BROWN (24)
Yes I Am JACK VIDGEN (35, debut)
Always A Winner PETE MURRAY (39)

The Panics land at seven.

Rain On The Humming Wire THE PANICS (number seven, debut)
The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating THE LIVING END (10)
Seeker Lover Keeper SEEKER LOVER KEEPER (14)
Like Drawing Blood GOTYE (19)
God Is Able HILLSONG LIVE (20)
Soft Universe PNAU (23)
Live At Red Rocks JOHN BUTLER TRIO (27)
Double Platinum THE TEN TENORS (33)
Angry Boys soundtrack (36, debut)
Down The Way ANGUS & JULIA STONE (37)

New Blood RON S. PENO
Somebody That I Used To Know GOTYE
Leave The Party MYLES MAYO

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