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Howzat! Archive - February 2nd 2011

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"No one can escape the truth of who they really are," she sings on her new solo EP, Stiletto Survival (Part 1). But who is Fiona Lee Maynard?

She's one of Melbourne's greatest rock chicks. Howzat! will never forget seeing Fiona for the first time. It was at The Club in Collingwood and she was fronting Have A Nice Day. Of course, we'd seen Suzi Quatro and Joan Jett on TV, but we'd never witnessed such a formidable female rocker in the flesh. Soon after, Howzat! interviewed Concrete Blonde's Johnette Napolitano. She was also a fan. "Please get Fiona to give me a call," Johnette insisted, "I want to sign her."

The new EP - the first half of an album - features a confronting title: Biggest Bitch. "I took this line, 'Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, because I am the biggest bitch in the valley' from a poem my mother had used when she was roughly the age I am now, to help give her strength to overcome some workplace bullying," Fiona explains. "I was about 12 at the time and that poem made a big impression on me." Fiona played the song live, asking the crowd if she should call it a polite name, "Landmark For The Pain", or "Biggest Bitch". The answer was unanimous.

Stiletto Survival - which Fiona is launching at the Caravan Music Club on Sunday, March 6 - is delightfully dark, filled with melodrama and menace. It's like the soundtrack to a late-night movie. Call it pop noir, if you want. And the highlight is Fiona's evocative voice. She could sing the phone book and make it sound sexy or scary. The EP opens with a song called Opened The Door. "When I was 20, living in a share house in Carlton, I was a 'victim of crime'," Fiona reveals. "I opened the door one night to a home invasion. This event means I have to live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for the rest of my life, but I have become very good at managing it with the support of my family and friends." Fiona had never been able to write about the experience, but just before comedian Dave Grant died of cancer, Fiona was giving him Reiki. "He was a very good friend, and when I shared this story, he said, 'Fiona, you weren't to blame for that, all you did was open the door.' Together, we realised we're not always to blame for the trauma we face in our life. When I returned home, I went straight to my recording machine and wrote the song."

Howzat! agrees with the late-great James Freud who wrote in his first book: "Why is it that Triple J, which is funded solely by Australian taxpayers and is run as a non-profit organisation, doesn't play 100 per cent local music? Surely that should be their mandate - to reflect Australia's artistic, political and musical diversities? We all own Triple J, let's make it 100 per cent local." That said, it was pleasing to see that more than half of Triple J's Hottest 100 was homegrown. Angus & Julia Stone's Big Jet Plane became the first local song to top the listener-voted poll since Augie March's One Crowded Hour in 2007 (and the first to feature a female vocalist since The Cranberries' Zombie in 1995). Nine of the 18 year-end Hottest 100 winners have been local: Spiderbait's Buy Me A Pony, The Whitlams' No Aphrodisiac, Powderfinger's These Days and My Happiness, Alex Lloyd's Amazing, Jet's Are You Gonna Be My Girl, Bernard Fanning's Wish You Well, and Augie March and the Stones.

D. Rogers loves a good short song. "I subscribe to the 30-minute theory of human attention," he says. His new album, Natural Disasters, contains a dozen songs and clocks in at just 32 minutes. But it closes with a couple of epics - This Part Of Town (3.44) and Food & Electricity (3.51). "It seems as though I've tried to hide the longer songs up the back of the album, hoping that no one would notice," Dave laughs. "But that's not the case. Even though I tend to write shorter songs, I never think about how long they go for when I'm writing. I'll never tack on an extra chorus or force a middle-eight just to get the song to the three-minute mark. Or maybe I wanted the album to have an epic finish." Dave launches Natural Disasters at the Northcote Social Club on Friday.

The Hottest 100 success sees Angus & Julia Stone return to the Top 40.

Who's That Girl GUY SEBASTIAN (number seven)
Saturday Night JESSICA MAUBOY (17)
Friday To Sunday JUSTICE CREW (18)
Rapunzel DRAPHT (23)
Big Jet Plane ANGUS & JULIA STONE (32)

Birds Of Tokyo fly from 17 to 11.

Twenty Ten GUY SEBASTIAN (number six)
Down The Way ANGUS & JULIA STONE (nine)
Altiyan Childs ALTIYAN CHILDS (10)
Birds Of Tokyo BIRDS OF TOKYO (11)
Gilgamesh GYPSY & THE CAT (17)
Get Closer KEITH URBAN (20)
We Are Born SIA (24)
Running On Air BLISS N ESO (26)
He Will Have His Way VARIOUS (27)
I Believe You Liar WASHINGTON (29)
Little Bird KASEY CHAMBERS (34)
Get 'Em Girls JESSICA MAUBOY (35)
Immersion PENDULUM (37)

Buyer's Remorse D. ROGERS
The Circus Clown NIC DALTON
Everything You Need NICK BATTERHAM
Mark The Day LAURA

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