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Aussie artists
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Howzat! Archive - January 26th 2011

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"If you want to dance then I'm not your kind." It's an appropriate line at the start of D. Rogers' new album, Natural Disasters (on Popboomerang Records), because you won't see Dave dominating the pop charts alongside Lady Gaga and Rihanna. Indeed, he even admits in that opening track, Not Correct, "There is no one listening to me." He seems happy enough, though there's some envy in the album's opening line: "Drunk at the awards ceremony, staring at the glittering prize." "If I said that was based on real life, you'd know I was lying," Dave laughs. "It's that feeling that everybody around you is doing so well and you can only sit by and watch. And drink."

The album lands as the nation is battered by natural disasters. But this is not a record about floods or fire. Dave is singing about everyday struggle in the suburbs, "living from pay to pay", "going through the motions", "where unpaid bills dress the refrigerator" and "there's always dishes in the sink". "It's the everyday struggle of the modern person," Dave explains. "I'm obsessed with that idea at the moment. But I hope it doesn't come across as completely negative because what I think is inspiring is the way people fight it. I put out music to fight it."

There's a glorious simplicity to D. Rogers' work, though the new album - his fourth - has plenty going on. "I feel I've been moving away from the 'singer-songwriter' mould over the last couple of years," Dave says. "Nothing against it as a genre, but I was bored by the limitations. I was determined to make Natural Disasters the most band-sounding album I've made. So, for me, this album is like hitting the singer-songwriter in me over the head with a blunt object, driving out to secluded bushland and burying the body in a shallow grave."

Speaking of bands, Dave changes his band name every time there's a line-up change. He's been D. Rogers and The Well Wishers, The Magnificent Bastards, The Early Adopters and They Who Ride The Tiger. The band for the launch show (at the Northcote Social Club on Friday, February 4) is called The Blackline Masters. "I had to change the name again because we've added another member, Amy Bennett, who plays keyboard/viola. Emma Heeney and Dave Kleynjans, who have been around since the Magnificent Bastard days, continue to be the heart and soul of the band."

Asked to nominate his three favourite Australian songwriters, Dave lists, "James and Rob from The Boat People. Chandeliers is one of my favourite albums. They write songs the way songs should be written. Next I'll put Bec and John from The Millers Tale. I've loved everything they put out and Union Square may be one of the greatest songs ever written. Third place is a tie between Emma Heeney, Ben Birchall, Tim Reid, Adrian Whitehead, John Palmer, Georgia Fields, Matt Downey and Tom Morgan. You said three, right?"

D. Rogers sits easily among such talent. His sound might not be fashionable, but he certainly knows how to pen a piercing pop song. World-weary has rarely sounded this wonderful. It's still January, but I'm sure that Natural Disasters will find a happy home in Howzat!'s 2011 best-of.

The year's first big reunion happens this Saturday at the Northcote Social Club. Icecream Hands haven't played much since releasing their fifth album, The Good China, in 2007. "But we've never broken up," says singer Charles Jenkins. "We're just too lazy to do a farewell tour." This gig was meant to be the launch of the new Charles Jenkins and The Zhivagos album, Walk This Ocean, but then guitarist Davey Lane discovered he had a You Am I gig in WA, so Charles organised a Hands reunion instead. They'll be playing their 1999 classic Sweeter Than The Radio, one of Howzat!'s 10 favourite Aussie albums of all time.

Howzat! remembers chatting with an Epitaph Records executive, who came to Australia in 1995 to promote The Sacrilicious Sounds Of The Supersuckers album. He didn't know much Australian music, but he did say: "I saw an Australian band the other day - Tumbleweed. They were one of the worst bands I've ever seen." I guess they were an acquired taste. Tumbleweed were hits from the 'gong - Wollongong - and the bong. I still love their classic stoner rock single Sundial, which pops up on the new double disc, The Waterfront Years, 1991 - 1993 (Aztec Music). Tumbleweed were there when the music changed - indeed, they supported Nirvana on their Australian tour. Though the song quality didn't always match the coolness of the image, the sense of humour and raw energy remains.

Just four Aussie singles in the Top 40.

Who's That Girl GUY SEBASTIAN (number five)
Saturday Night JESSICA MAUBOY (16)
Friday To Sunday JUSTICE CREW (22)
Rapunzel DRAPHT (25)

Three local albums in the Top 10.

Twenty Ten GUY SEBASTIAN (number five)
Altiyan Childs ALTIYAN CHILDS (six)
Down The Way ANGUS & JULIA STONE (10)
Birds Of Tokyo BIRDS OF TOKYO (17)
Gilgamesh GYPSY & THE CAT (21)
He Will Have His Way VARIOUS (23)
I Believe You Liar WASHINGTON (25)
Running On Air BLISS N ESO (27)
Get Closer KEITH URBAN (28)
Get 'Em Girls JESSICA MAUBOY (33)
Immersion PENDULUM (39)
We Are Born SIA (40)

Buyer's Remorse D. ROGERS
You Could Be Reported ICECREAM HANDS
Everything You Need NICK BATTERHAM

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