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Aussie artists
Welcome to Living in the Land of Oz

Howzat! Archive - November 14th 2012

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The beard is definitely back. "The Beards have been a PR dream for fans of facial hair," laughs The Siren Tower singer Grant McCulloch, who has sported a beard all his adult life. "I was off-trend for more than 15 years, but now beards are everywhere." Grant grew up near Glenrowan, and Zoo magazine recently dubbed him "the Ned Kelly of rock". Zoo also raved about the band's debut album, A History of Houses, calling it "hands down the most quintessential Aussie record we've heard since the golden eras of Cold Chisel or Paul Kelly". Grant is passionate about telling distinctly Australian stories while "staying away from indulgent self-reflections". He bemoans the "lack of creativity and courage in regards to lyrics", citing Paul Kelly, Paul Dempsey and Gareth Liddiard as three exceptions. The album title refers to the mundane sources of stories - "our homes, our families, our friends but ordinary things can be miraculous. We had a saying during the making of the album: 'The magic and the mundane.'"

Many Perth acts head east; Grant went the other way. Though he still barracks for the Bombers, Grant is now a "West Australian, through and through". He grew up on a farm in Edi, near Wangaratta. But after high school, he went for a holiday to Perth and never came home. He embraced Perth's laidback lifestyle, weather and burgeoning indie scene. He met producer Forrester Savell at Edith Cowan Uni; Grant was studying film and journalism; Forrester, sound. The Siren Tower return to one of their favourite venues, the Espy, on Friday. Their songs are winning over plenty of punters, and then, of course, there's the power of the beard. As Grant says, "Ladies are partial to the beard."

Australian rock has never seen anything like it. LRB versus BSG was weird, but this relationship looks beyond salvation. The Brewster brothers and Chris Bailey recently launched a new version of The Angels, with singer Dave Gleeson. Their website is Now, Angels singer Doc Neeson and original drummer Buzz Bidstrup are taking it to the streets, announcing a 2013 tour (15 March at the Prince) via their website, Doc and Buzz's band features all Angels - Bob Spencer, Jim Hilbun and James Morley (switching from bass to guitar). Maybe a promoter could do an Angels battle of the bands? Call it "Face To Face": One night, one venue, two bands, one winner. My money's on Doc.

Popboomerang Records celebrates a decade of pop hits with a birthday gig at the Tote on Sunday with eights acts, including Skipping Girl Vinegar, The Killjoys and Deserters. To mark the occasion, Howzat! asked label leader, Scotty "Pop" Thurling, to rank his favourite Popboom albums. At number one is Modern Giant's Satellite Nights. "Lamenting to my friend Danny Yau about how I'd do anything to sign a band doing boy/girl guitar pop as well as The Hummingbirds or Sea Stories, he replied, 'You gotta check out Modern Giant.' I was in Sydney, listening to FBi, when I chanced on their tune The Band's Broken Up. As I feared, it quickly became a prophecy, but if you can leave a legacy after just one album, then, for me, Modern Giant sure did." Ironically, Modern Giant are also part of Scotty's "biggest mistake". "If my experience enduring the romantic roundabouts of [first signing] Sarah Sarah wasn't enough," he explains, "I went on to sign two bands cut down in their prime, partly or fully, because of the romantic relationships within. Modern Giant disintegrated, while Angie Hart and husband Jesse Tobias, as Splendid, released an amazing EP, States Of Awake, on Popboomerang, but naturally as their relationship ended, so did the band. It's been my experience - as proven by the Meadows brothers in The Sugargliders/Steinbecks, the Di Renzos in Gigantic, Sare and Mark in Skipping Girl Vinegar, and hopefully with new Popboomerang crewmembers Livingstone Daisies (Van & Cal Walker) - that it's much safer to work with siblings than couples in music!"

At the recent Reptiles gig at Cherry, Nick Barker dedicated the band's new single, Bend Not Break, to a friend, Kate Bentley, "who's involved in the fight of her life". Sadly, Kate lost that fight last week, dying after a courageous battle with cancer. Whether it was on-stage, singing backing vocals with Daryl Braithwaite, or off-stage, working at Premier Artists, Kate loved music. And music people loved Kate. Her friends will never forget her.

No Aussie hits in the Top 10.

Battle Scars GUY SEBASTIAN (number 11)
Rock Star REECE MASTIN (22)
Party Bass BOMBS AWAY (25, debut)
Wish You Were Here DELTA GOODREM (26)
Take It Home JOHNNY RUFFO (30)
Boom Boom JUSTICE CREW (35)

A Top 40 debut for The Mark of Cain.

Child Of The Universe DELTA GOODREM (number three)
Essential Oils MIDNIGHT OIL (seven, debut)
Atlas PARKWAY DRIVE (eight)
Armageddon GUY SEBASTIAN (12)
Beautiful Nightmare REECE MASTIN (13)
No Rest For The Sickest KERSER (15, debut)
Beautiful Noise LEE KERNAGHAN (21)
The Abbey Road Sessions KYLIE MINOGUE (24)
Spring & Fall PAUL KELLY (26)
The Rubens THE RUBENS (27)
The Sapphires soundtrack (31)
Songs Of The Third & Fifth THE MARK OF CAIN (38, debut)

For Everything ABBEY STONE

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