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"Where do you go when the heart breaks?"
When a friend heard Skipping Girl Vinegar's new album, she
was stunned. "What's happened to the fun-loving guys and
gals of Skipping Girl Vinegar?" she asked Howzat! "Have
they all grown up since the last album, broken up with their
girlfriends/boyfriends?" It's a fair question. The new album,
Keep Calm, Carry The Monkey (out now on Popboomerang), is
deeper and darker than the band's debut. Sure, it opens
with a song called Chase The Sun and starts with some "la
la las", but looks are deceptive. This is a beach song where
the undercurrent is dark, and danger lurks beneath the surface.
Later in the song, Mark Lang reveals, "I was lost, I was
lost". The rest of the album sees him trying to find himself.
Howzat! had SGV pegged as a summer band. But suddenly it's
winter. Keep Calm, Carry The Monkey is the sound of a band
on a desperate search for meaning in a changing, confused
world. "Want to be in real time," Mark sings, "social networks
cold/I'm just looking for a hand to hold." The conclusion
(a beautiful piece with Ron Sexsmith on backing vocals)
is that "in the end, love's all that you have". It's probably
true. But the journey has been so unsettling that initially
you're not sure of anything. "What do you do in the moment?"
All you know is you want to play the record again.
SGV are not afraid to rock out - Hand To Hold and Hell Out
Of Town sound like they're having nights out with Nick Cave
and Wagons - but Keep Calm, Carry The Monkey is deep and
dark. And it will haunt you. It's an album of layers, but
none of the songs outstays its welcome. No track is longer
than 3.30, and eight of the 12 cuts clock in under three
minutes. No flab, all fab. Album of the year? It's going
to be hard to top.
Skipping Girl Vinegar play at Basement Discs on Friday at
12.45pm, and launch the album at the Arts Centre's Fairfax
Studio on June 4.
It's always exciting when you hear a great new talent. Indecision,
the opening cut on Phia's debut EP, Garden Of Youth, grabs
you immediately. A caller to Neil Rogers' The Australian
Mood on RRR suggested it sounded like "a more indie and
Australian version of Lily Allen". The EP also reminds Howzat!
of Georgia Fields, as Phia (Sophia Exiner's stage name)
also likes to use exotic and playful instrumentation - the
EP features toy piano, glockenspiel, Mellotron, kalimba,
banjo, saucepan and toy percussion. Phia launches the EP
at the Grace Darling on Friday.
KILLJOYS COME UP WITH A PEARLER
Twenty-one years after their ARIA-winning debut album, Ruby,
The Killjoys are getting set to unleash a sequel, Pearl.
The first single, My Old Guitar, a collaboration with Charles
Jenkins, is launched on Friday at the Northcote Social Club.
"My first memory of meeting The Killjoys was when we went
to Adelaide to play a gig a long time ago," Charles recalls.
"I was spotty and unsophisticated, they were worldly and
outrageously good looking. Nothing has changed." Charles
is a big fan of duets, "though maybe I'm showing my age.
I thought they were so dumb when I was a kid; you know Johnny
Rotten would never do a duet and all that." So what's his
favourite duet? "Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's Your Precious
Love." My Old Guitar is a tale of nostalgia and longing
with a great guitar metaphor. "I walk on by you in the hall,"
Charles sings, "I don't pick you up at all." Believe it
or not, Charles owns just two guitars - a Fender Telecaster
'78 and a Maton Jumbo Acoustic '97.
YOU'RE A WINNER WITH A RONSON
It's definitely one of Howzat!'s favourite band names: The
Ronson Hangup. It's both meaningful (paying tribute to a
little known legend, Mick Ronson) and meaningless (who knows
what it really means). It's a great name. Not a bad lineup,
either. A supergroup, if you like, with Steve and Mal Pinkerton,
Ash Naylor, Luke Thomas and Dave Mudie. As The Ronson Hangup
prepare their second album, they're playing at Yah Yah's
Howzat! thought of the High Fidelity line while listening
to Dan Hall's new solo album, A Parting Shot, which he's
released under the name South Side Rebel: What came first,
the music or the misery? Did I listen to pop music because
I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to
pop music? "I love that book," Dan says. "Shame about the
movie. I believe misery and pop music go hand in hand. Music
is a form of therapy. It really does help me get through
tough times. It's a great way of conveying how you feel
when you can't say it in words. I really don't know what
came first though - my money's on misery." Dan is playing
at Pure Pop on Saturday at 4pm followed by a gig that night
at Hardimans in Kensington.
DJ Havana Brown scores the first Aussie Top 10 hit in three
We Run The Night DJ HAVANA BROWN (number seven, debut)
From The Music THE POTBELLEEZ (16)
What Happened To Us JESSICA MAUBOY (40)
Damien Leith's Roy Orbison tribute jumps from five to two.
Roy DAMIEN LEITH (number two)
Rrakala GURRUMUL (14)
The Life of Riley DRAPHT (18)
Weekend Detention CONTINUOUS CALL TEAM (25)
When I First Met Your Ma VARIOUS (29, debut)
Kosciuszko JEBEDIAH (30)
I Want That You Are Always Happy THE MIDDLE EAST (35)
Best Of DAVID HOBSON (36, debut)
You Can SKIPPING GIRL VINEGAR
Before Now CAITLIN HARNETT
My Old Guitar THE KILLJOYS
This Darkness DAN HALL
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