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Aussie artists
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Howzat! Archive - February 17th 2016

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Everything you see is just a memory When my friend Billy Pinnell met Joni Mitchell, he wanted to give her a present, something that summed up Melbourne. He gave her a copy of Stephen Cummings' Lovetown. In my mind, Joni loves that album as much as I do. Stephen's third and fourth solo albums, Lovetown and A New Kind Of Blue, provided the soundtrack to my early 20s. "Where are you going?" Stephen asked. "Can I come for the ride?" I took Lovetown with me everywhere, not that I ever really went anywhere. Lovetown is a masterpiece, and A New Kind Of Blue is just as good. And this weekend Stephen is playing both albums at the Caravan Club, on 20 & 21 Feb. When Lovetown was released, I was meant to be writing police stories for The Sun, but I would skip work to see Stephen do a Saturday afternoon gig at the old Governor Hotham Hotel near Swinburne Uni. Lovetown introduced us to a waitress named Jane, who would reappear in Stephen's work. "So I bought the waitress a stinger while I had a gimlet and a daiquiri." I had no idea what Stephen was talking about, but it sounded so cosmopolitan and compelling. Fast-forward to A New Kind Of Blue and I was in a new share house, looking after my best mate's room while he was overseas. I fell in love with my best mate's secret girlfriend. Only she also had another boyfriend. It was complicated. One of Stephen's songs was called Screwed Up State Of Affairs. "The spirit is fragile," he sang, "and it climbs up on the roof, who said love was foolproof?"

When The Age did a poll to come up with the 50 greatest Australian albums, I placed Lovetown at number one, calling it "the sound of Melbourne melancholia". "You can't have everything," Stephen sang, "sometimes you can't have anything at all." Stephen wasn't built for stardom, but when Lovetown was released, he was dubbed "the St Kilda Sinatra", a fair description, though Stephen is a better songwriter. In his Rolling Stone review, Clinton Walker called A New Kind Of Blue "a record for our times". Twenty-seven years later, I'm a different person, and I'm not a fan of critics who make the review all about themselves. But the great artists write songs that are all about you. When I listen to Lovetown and A New Kind Of Blue, I'm young and unsure again, "holding hands in the back of some taxi".

"Some prayers are answered unexpectedly, from time to time" - Stephen Cummings, Some Prayers Are Answered.

Flume has the year's first Aussie number one single.

Never Be Like You FLUME (number one)
Keeping Score LDRU (17)
Cheap Thrills SIA (22)
Hoops THE RUBENS (23)
1955 HILLTOP HOODS (25, debut)
Youth TROYE SIVAN (26)
My Sunshine MASHD N KUTCHER (34)
The Trouble With Us MARCUS MARR & CHET FAKER (37)

Good golly, Molly leaps from nine to one.

Molly Soundtrack VARIOUS (number one)
This Is Acting SIA (five)
Bloom RFS (nine)
Currents TAME IMPALA (17)
Dream Your Life Away VANCE JOY (24)
Triple J Like A Version Vol. 11 VARIOUS (25)
Adam Brand And The Outlaws ADAM BRAND AND THE OUTLAWS (33)
The Very Best INXS (36)
Blue Neighbourhood TROYE SIVAN (37)
Hoops THE RUBENS (40)

Your House Is Falling STEPHEN CUMMINGS
When Love Comes Back To Haunt You STEPHEN CUMMINGS
Everybody Wants To Get To Heaven But Nobody Wants To Die STEPHEN CUMMINGS

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