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Howzat! Archive - May 12th 2010

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Back in the '80s, Joe Camilleri started a label called Spirit. He got all the artists together, put 'em on a train, and "the Spirit Express" toured around the country. Melbourne label Popboomerang Records hasn't got a train, but they're launching a spirited new label night, "The Pop Boom", with a gig at the Grace Darling Hotel on Friday. "Originally, I pitched the idea to a few other Aussie labels, where we would all provide a band each for the line up and share in marketing costs and try to inject a real sense of community and spirit into the pop rock scene," explains Popboomerang boss Scotty "Pop" Thurling. "We were not met with overwhelmingly positive responses, so we decided to go it alone. The idea is to match the like-minded Popboomerang acts with the occasional new act that we have our eye on." The Pop Boom concept kicks off with Deserters (launching their seven-inch single, Waking Birds), Danna & The Changes, Russell Crawford (launching his debut album) and Adrian Whitehead. The first 50 payers get a "Pop Boom" CD featuring tracks from all the acts.

Most of the Popboomerang acts are Melbourne-based, so how did the label discover Sydneysider Russell Crawford? "We have to thank Popboomerang act Bryan Estepa for the union. Russell and Bryan are friends and have both recorded with Michael Carpenter." Michael is the Sydney pop guru (he's also worked on Lazy Susan's upcoming pop masterpiece, Places That Made Us). So what makes him great? "Michael and I are both drummers," Russell explains, "so our approach and understanding of music is pretty similar. He's really quick and efficient around the studio. Michael is forever introducing me to power pop bands. He basically lives on YouTube and Facebook, posting clip after clip. I think he just soaks it all in and is keen to share it with the rest of us."

How tough is it running a record label in 2010? "At times, it feels like each release could be the last, but you hang in there," Scotty Pop says. Rubber Records has just stopped producing physical CDs. What's Popboomerang's policy? "As a music purist and collector, it will be a sad day if there is not physical product to enjoy and hold and haul around when you move house. The idea of smaller pressings of collectable, fan-only releases to complement the digital distribution is more appealing than closing the door to the physical product."

Despite having the word "pop" in the label's name, Popboomerang was never intended to be strictly a pop label, "though early signings did reflect a taste for catchy jangle pop and power pop". But the label - which started in 2002 - soon branched out to include punkier pop like Remake Remodel, folkier acts like Tamas Wells, Georgia Fields and Young Werther, the rootsy Skipping Girl Vinegar, and even Sydney spoken word act The Aerial Maps. They have also just released Distance Is A Gun, the debut EP from Celadore, who sound a little like the much-missed Motor Ace.

Russell's album is called Floating Aimlessly, but what is his aim? "I often feel like I am floating aimlessly, but not always. Making the record and getting it out took a lot of focus. My aim now is to have it heard by as many people as possible. I've made a few music videos and have a release in the UK lined up, so the goal is to just work it really hard."?The album features 11 sparkling originals plus a cover of The Golden Girls' theme, Thank You For Being A Friend. "Looking around online, I found a 70s piano pop artist named Andrew Gold," Russell explains. "I really liked his style and I discovered that he wrote Thank You For Being A Friend." So who was Russell's favourite "Golden Girl"? "Rose. She always reminded me of my Nan."

In 2001, Epicure released an EP called Elevator. The thank-yous included "our beloved Epicureans: thanks for riding with us in the elevator, we'll see you in the penthouse". Did they ever make it to the penthouse? "Well, at that time I wanted to call our next album 'The Penthouse', based on the front cover of a Mike Oldfield album called Crisis," explains Epicure singer Juan Alban. "It's a picture of a high-rise building rising out of the ocean and a single light shining from the top floor. It was a really lonely image that captured the mood of our songs at the time. But that incarnation of the band collapsed shortly after Elevator, and those songs became The Goodbye Girl a few years later." After more than a decade together, Epicure are exiting the elevator, with their final Melbourne show at the East Brunswick Club on Saturday. They then have two farewell shows in their hometown of Ballarat, on May 28 and 29.

Vanessa Amorosi hits the Top 10, and Idol's Stan Walker scores his second hit.

Mr Mysterious VANESSA AMOROSI (number six)
We Speak No Americano YOLANDA BE COOL (24)
Unbroken STAN WALKER (27, debut)
Sweet Disposition THE TEMPER TRAP (30)
So Lonely CHRIS SORBELLO (39, debut)

Bieber fever keeps AC/DC's new album out of top spot.

Iron Man 2 AC/DC (number two, debut)
Koonyum Sun XAVIER RUDD (six, debut)
Compass MARK VINCENT (seven)
Down The Way ANGUS & JULIA STONE (nine)
April Uprising THE JOHN BUTLER TRIO (10)
Conditions THE TEMPER TRAP (17)
On Broadway DAVID CAMPBELL (19)
Gloves OPERATOR PLEASE (20, debut)
Platinum INXS (21)
Golden Rule POWDERFINGER (23)
Cohesion GYROSCOPE (25)
Hazardous VANESSA AMOROSI (33)

Under Your Radar EPICURE
Something Borrowed, Something Blue GEORGIA FIELDS
Distance Is A Gun CELADORE

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