Half a Cow Artists
2 Litre Dolby|
PRESS RELEASE! 2 Litre Dolby threatened with legal action!
December, 2002: Email from 2 Litre D****'s manager to HAC:
"We need to remove the 2 Litre Dolby pages from the Half A Cow site. The Dolby Corporation are still on the band's back about the mentions of the band on your site and are threatening further legal action unless all references to Dolby are removed. Ê If you want to keep the pages up that is ok as long as 2 Litre Dolby are referred to as 'the band formerly known as 2 Litre Dolby' or as '2 Litre D****'. Can you please ensure this happens as soon as to prevent any further trouble."
Now come on D**** Corporation! We'll do as you say as we don't want to get sued! (gee, wouldn't that give the band some extra exposure!) But, really, how many times do we have to tell you that the band named themselves after one of the many members of the Dolby clan, there's plenty of us around (hey, I've got Dolby in my genes), even the famous 80s popstar Thomas Dolby. There's more to the great D**** name than a switch that adds a murky and dull sheen to your recordings!
So don't be so self-important, D**** Corporation - Grandpappy Eugene Dolby was around a long, long time before you!
For more information on the Dolby family name:
Welcome To Dolby Days (and Dalbey Dalby Dolbee) Genealogy Website at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~bandy/dolby.html
(and other famous Dolby's on the "other" page)
Meanwhile, back to 2 Litr - (woops!) the band formerly known as 2 Litre Dolby:
On Saturday 3rd March 2001, the band formerly known as 2 Litre Dolby travelled to Sydney to 'play their last Sydney show' supporting Tweezer at the Hopetoun. See ya later guys...
The album bio: Having narrowly escaped within an inch of their lives from the testosterone fuelled and angst ridden grunge rock wars of the nineties, the band formerly known as 2 Litre Dolby (version 2.0 mark II) began gigging December 1996 with newly acquired drinking buddy and soul brother Leo Mullins assuming bass playing and singing duties...the only surviving elements of the original Dolby trio being a passion for long repetitive cyclic songs; & band members Leif Svensson on guitar and Craig "Skull Mc" Peade beating the drums.
Following contributions to such compiliations as Cop It Sweet (All Hail! King Presser) on Antfarm Records, AuGoGo Records Wonder From A Quarter Acre (Honey Von Catulle & Frida Kahlo) and the release of a 7" inch single on Blind Records (Fist Fit/Wrong Compass), the band formerly known as 2 Litre Dolby are finally unleashing their debut album El Caballo Rojo - roughly translated in English as "the red horse" - through Half A Cow Records.
single cover Drawing on influences as diverse as documentaries, films and their soundtracks; literature, comics, artists, & "naturallezabella", the band formerly known as the 'Dolby have been tagged by some "desert rock"...the music rises & falls, barely audible vocals whisper desperation, hypnotic cycles of sheer dry noise invade...
El Caballo Rojo was recorded and mixed in just 11 days, between August and November 1998, at Charing Cross Studios by Steve "Fousellini" Foster, with some assistance provided by Matt Maddock. It was mastered by Festival Records legend William Bowden.
album cover Having gigged constantly in Sydney's shrinking and ever increasing shallow poker machine cancer ridden easy money/dollar orientated profiteering venue scene, the band formerly known as 2 Litre Dolby have recently relocated to Melbourne. They have began to acquire a steady following and look forward to promoting the record extensively mid-year and throughout the second half of 1999 in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and where ever else people will have them!
Art of Fighting|
The Trifekta label released the debut Art Of Fighting album Wires on 26th March 2001, following two successful mini-albums on Half A Cow. Titled The album was recorded by Tim Whitten (Clouds, Crow, Gaslight Radio) and won the best Independent Album for 2001 in the ARIA Awards.
Art of Fighting formed in 1995 around the nucleus of Ollie Browne (guitar/vocals) and Peggy Frew (bass/vocals). Joined six months later by Cameron Grant, and as only a three piece, the band released two demo tapes to growing label and booker interest. Two songs from the second demo tape (The Chorus Is Suffering, You and Me On Mars) appeared on the Au Go Go Records compilation Wonder From A Quarter Acre (1997).
The end of 1997 saw Art of Fighting enter the studio to record their debut release, a six track mini-album entitled The Very Strange Year, which was released on Half A Cow at the end of 1998. It received great reviews both Australia-wide and internationally, and had airplay on RRR (Vic), PBS (Vic), RTR (WA) and Triple J. This acclaim widened the band's audience and increased their touring opportunities. In the first 6 months of 1999 Art of Fighting toured the east coast states and South Australia on separate tours with Pollyanna and Bluebottle Kiss, playing regional areas for the first time. They also played live at the Music Industry Critics Awards in Adelaide, where the strength of The Very Strange Year saw them nominated for Best New Talent and Best Debut EP/Single.
In June 1999 Art of Fighting re-entered the studio with The Very Strange Year engineer, Nick Carroll, to record a new mini-album, Empty Nights. Continuing with the gentle introspective sounds explored in their debut, this second record refines these themes into a more focused set of songs, with an emphasis on melody and contrast. Empty Nights also features the first recorded input from new member Miles Browne (guitar, trumpet) who joined the band in early 1998 to tour The Very Strange Year.
Empty Nights was released on November 15th 1999 and is another 6 tracker totalling 37 minutes in length. Meanwhile, Ollie Browne has been busy and, apart from touring overseas with his other band the Hoodangers last year, has released a record with his other-other band The Remotes. Featuring Kristian Brenchley (from S:bahn) on guitar and Ollie on guitar and vocals, the album called Lonely Tremor has ten songs and is available on BBQ'd Browne Records and also available from mailorder here at Half A Cow (see "Shopping").
Art of Fighting and Half A Cow have secured a UK release of Empty Nights on the Words & Works Rejected label.
Bernie Hayes has been playing, singing, writing and recording for thirty-odd years now. And for thirty-odd years, well intentioned people have been telling him that he could really go somewhere.
Well, now, in his third solo album Homebody, the taciturn Bernie finally responds:
I’m forty five for fuck’s sake
Do you think I want to go there?
from "You’re the best thing"
No. Bernie’s happy working in the relative peace and quiet of obscurity, teaming up with the likes of Brendan Gallagher, Peter O’Doherty, Bow Campbell and the Bernie Hayes Quartet of Bill Gibson, John Encarnacao and Jess Ciampa to forge an album that is rich in experience.
This isn’t girl-meets-boy stuff. This is about love surrendered, mistakes made, patience gained, time wasted, persistence rewarded, lives lost and courage found. It’s about watching and waiting and worrying. It is, though he’d never tell you himself, as personal and revealing a bunch of songs as he’s ever written. And perhaps that’s why Bernie is prepared to say that Homebody is his most satisfying album to date.
Bernie Hayes Lucky Dip the b-side compilation
As a producer, Brendan Gallagher, found the experience pretty rewarding, too.
"Bernie Hayes is a diamond in the music business, gold and silver too,” he says. “His songwriting alone guarantees him a seat at the table of great popular music writers, his incredible voice into the bargain elevates him to the status of national treasure. His is a majestic touch informed by raw talent and the dear school of experience. In a word he is an artist... long may he reign."
Domestic Departures (hac106)
Domestic Departures is the long-awaited follow-up to Bernie's debut album. Every Tuesday, Sometimes Sunday came out in October 1999 to across-the-board acclaim and strong record sales. On this new album Bernie will be 'sharing the stage' with his Quartet; every track of the album features the band - John Encarnacao, Bill Gibson and Jess Ciampa - who have been playing live with Bernie since the release of Every Tuesday, Sometimes Sunday.
Bernie: "The first solo album was a chance to record songs that I'd coveted for a long time, as well as recording my own stuff. Initially I was quite open to the idea of using a similar format this time around, but when I thought about the songs I'd written since the first album it seemed to me that they all belonged together."
Unlike its predecessor, which was acoustic-based and had songs spanning twenty year's worth of songwriting, Domestic Departures is given the full band treatment and features twelve songs, the bulk of which have been written over the last three years.
Bernie: "I guess a whole lot of things had to fall into place. Having the right songs was definitely an important factor, but I guess it took that long to gel in my mind that I wanted to make a band record and for it not to be the same approach as the last album."
Domestic Departures was co-produced and recorded by Genevieve Maynard with help from Peter O'Doherty and includes the previously released single 'Your Green Light' (hac98) which was co-produced by Nic Dalton and mixed by Paul McKercher.
Bernie: "The last album started as a solo project and sorta metamorphosed into a multi-guest extravaganza. This one is the result of playing with the same group of people for three years now and really having an easy understanding of what we can do together. John, Jess and Bill have been so brilliant live I really couldn't contemplate leaving out their contributions to the music. I've found a group of people who really are able to get the best out of each song, who are creative in their own right, who aren't just doing the paint-by-numbers thing."
Bernie: "Heading off to the airport to do some shows in Melbourne we drove under the Domestic Departures sign and I thought: yes, that's what the album's all about. It's about romantic departures and life travels and deaths and goodbyes...A friend told me the second album is always an on-the-road record. Well, hopefully there's more than that here but certainly that's an element."
Your Green Light EP (hac98) This five track EP was re-released on March 17th, 2003 and the title track is from the album Domestic Departures. 'Your Green Light' is a pop song of the highest order, featuring backing by the phenomenally talented Bernie Hayes Quartet - Bill Gibson (bass, backing vocals), Jess Ciampa (drums, percussion, vibes, backing vocals) and John Encarnacao (guitar, vibes and drums). The EP includes four previously unreleased recordings - 'Intermission' (different from the album version) and 'Round Trip' plus live recordings of 'Mission In Life' and 'Slumber' from Triple J's Live At The Wireless.
Every Tuesday, Sometimes Sunday (hac84)
So who is Bernie Hayes?
Even if you haven't heard Bernie Hayes sing, you may have heard about his voice: the pop soaked, soul smoked vocals that sweep to rainbow heights and sink to deep sea depths. The notes drop from beer sticky speaker boxes like a gift from the angels, but this is, in fact, a voice carved out by a thousand long nights of singing, in pubs and clubs and bars up and down the east coast.
Bernie began earning a living by singing, playing and writing songs even before he left school. It was all he did and it was everything he did. What was captivating natural talent back then has more to offer now. The sweet voice has been made tender and terrible by experience, a life drawn into song by effortless melodies.
For the best part of a lifetime, Bernie has belonged to the crowds that came to see him play, huddling into tiny city venues on winter evenings, falling out onto the footpaths on summer nights. On his first album he was whispering in your ear, on Domestic Departures you'll be singing along and tapping your toe.
Three singles were released from Every Tuesday, Sometimes Sunday - 'Mission In Life' (hac78, released 13/9/99), 'Matchbox Cars And Marbles' (hac83, released 10/5/99) and 'Your Boyfriend's Back In Town' (hac90 released 29/6/00) which included 5 non-LP tracks 'Trip Away', 'Wrong Side Of The Road', 'Follow The Rules', 'Dealt A Hand' and 'Last To Leave'.
Carton are Alison Galloway, Kellie Lloyd and Mandee Barron
Well, with an inner city legend like Crow where does one begin? Does one litter it with superlatives and hyperbole terms which are more a tool of marketing graduates than that of a fan? Definitely not. Crow the lovely 4 letter word they were, made a huge presence in a city defined by its rock and roll/pop/thrash lineage. Local magazine 'Juice' in 1998 labeled them to be the 'best band in Australia since the Birthday Party'. High praise indeed but unnecessary and very spoiled. For how could one be termed the best? Should they not be considered one of the more important bands since then? Crow were a breath of fresh air. They defied categorisation, a band who simply defined difference and that for me and many made a fine love affair.
To understand Crow the band is to endure a journey of emotive qualities which soared at its best moments and plunged at its worse. The early Crow years from 1988 to 1992 were a shambolic affair and for many the most memorable. The excitement of band who could so easily derail was well worth its ticket. Both Peter (vocals and guitar) Fenton and John Fenton (drums) such nervy personalities that they are played on sheer energy and rawness. Bassist Jim Woff and lead guitar/axeman Peter Archer helped this spark no end. Tracks from their first vinyl 'Sunburnt Throats and Happy Thunderclouds' (Phantom) like the epic 9 minute 'Charlie Horses' and the achingly beautiful 'Sourpuss' echo this claim.
To witness an earlier Crow show was an affair to be believed. I remember many an overseas band, i.e. The Verlaines and Straitjacket Fits being blown away by their intensity. It was as if the gig was over once Crow had packed up and finished. Rather than showering over you their music had that special quality of moving through you like drugs can but less expensive. Later on the band lost the likes of Fenton, J. and Archer but not before they recorded a memorable Australian album called 'My Kind of Pain' (HAC 19) that was subsequently nominated for an ARIA award in 1993. Recorded and produced by Steve Albini (Big Black) in 1992 and re-mixed by local Tim Whitten in 1993, it was an album that reflected a more mature sound particularly evident in 'Railhead' and the cracking 'How and Why Wonder'.
Set ListJohn Fenton left the band not long after 'My Kind of Pain' and was replaced by Andy Marks ( Lunarcide). Another Half A Cow release followed with 'Helicon Days' in 1994. Extensive touring followed and it wasn't long before the band became hot property as color spreads on weekly magazines started to occur. The band was snapped up by large local label Roo Art who released their second album 'Li-Loing' in 1995.
Peter Archer then moved to Melbourne in 1996 to start a family and this left the band without one of its real creators. Though the extraordinary talents of Chris Abrahams and Michael Christie were added on keyboards a more stripped back sound evolved and this is very evident on their last player 'Play With Love' in 1998. Though the said album received industry kudos it was not the necessary amount of sales support needed for a major label like BMG.
Crow will be sorely missed. Any memory is a worthy one.
Bob Blunt, May 1999
Godstar: Coastal/Before And After Coastal (hac42/hac105) Originally released in 1995 is Coastal - the second album from Godstar (the band Nic Dalton formed after the Plunderers and before Sneeze started playing live) which, according to some, remains to this day his musical peak when it comes to the psychedelic pop aspect of his varied career. Other members of Godstar include Tom Morgan and Alison Galloway from Smudge, Boston band Fuzzy, Evan Dando and David Ryan from the Lemonheads (the track Go Now on Coastal being the last ever recording by this line-up of the band), John Encarnacao, Tania Bowers and Robyn St. Clare from the Hummingbirds. The 14 track album has been re-released with a further 4 extra tracks that previously appeared as b-sides and is also bonused with another 14 track cd comprising of unreleased recordings, rare tracks and a live show from November 1995. Limited edition 32 track 2CD.
Released 10th February 2003
History of Godstar
band photo Until Sneeze started playing live in mid-1996, Godstar had been the main focus for Nic Dalton's songwriting and recording since 1992, following the dissolution of the much loved Plunderers, and in between his commitments to the Lemonheads, which took up a lot of time from 1992 to 1994. band photo
Having featured an ever-changing line-up for most of its existence, Godstar released two studio albums on Half A Cow in Sleeper (1993, also released in US by Taang!) and Coastal (1995) as well as a bunch of seven inch singles that came out in USA, Spain, England and Australia. A compilation called Way Out Jim was released in Japan. The final Godstar release was the September compilation which came out in 1997 under the name The Godstar Reminder and was a compilation of recordings from September 1993.
John E Inspired in equal parts by the Modern Lovers, Buffalo Springfield, power-pop, Philly soul and the Velvet Undergound's quieter moments, the band did two tours of Australia in September 1993 and September 1995 and two shows in Boston in May 1994. Apart from Nic, Godstar has included Tom Morgan, Robyn St Clare, Evan Dando, Alison Galloway, John Encarnacao and Eugene Kelly. A new line-up of the band played some of the support slots on the Sneeze UK/Europe 2002 tour with Nic and Tom joined by Sneeze drummer Simon Gibson and Tom Van Heesch on bass.
Tania From late 1996 Nic Dalton decided to no longer record under the Godstar moniker, with the last release from the band being the Has She Got Your Time Now 7 inch single on the Blind label.
Grandview is Trent McNamara and Tim Oxley. They originally met when Trent's band Four Horse Town played a string of shows with Tim's band The Dearhunters back in 1999. Making friends, discovering their love of love songs and perfect harmonies, they joined musical forces in April 2001 as Grandview.
Their new album, Room 15 is a collection of eight songs recorded while living at the Grandview Hotel in Melbourne and an additional five songs recorded when they followed their hearts back to Sydney. Room 15 is full of beautiful melodies, ranging from the sentimental to the downright romantic with gentle guitars and gorgeous harmonies that will make you weep and smile at the same time.
Room 15 released October 7th, 2002.
Grandview will be in Melbourne to launch Room 15 from October 25th playing a few shows including some for the Harvest Music Festival. Dates are Friday 25th Oct at Rosstown Hotel, Saturday 26th Oct at Corner Hotel - Harvest Music Festival show, Sunday 27th Oct at Raoul Records, afternoon instore - Harvest Music Festival and Sunday 27th Oct at Empress Hotel - Tim Oxley solo.
In The Beginning... Hippy Dribble was one of the alter-egos of the Plunderers, who were Stevie Plunder on guitar and vocals, Nic Dalton on bass and vocals and Geoff Milne on drums. The Plunderers first played under the name 'Hippy Dribble' for Geoff's debut show with the band in late 1988 at the Kauri Hotel in Glebe along with the Proton Energy Pills first Sydney show. Geoff was replacing Pete Pillage, whose last show ( billed as "All Petered Out!") with the band was a couple of weeks later on the 29th December.
They originally formed as a separate entity to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of The Woodstock concert by putting on a huge night at the Lansdowne Hotel in August 1989 called the "Love-In Reunion". The night was sold out by 9pm and was one of the biggest and most memorable nights ever at the venue (but if you remember it you weren't really there, right?) and Hippy Dribble were joined on stage by Fudgetunnel (anti-hippies, Velvets-style Hummingbirds) and Swirly Maharajahs (a potpourri of Moffs and Hellmenn, who musically stole the show, according to their guitarist). All Petered Out! Documents show that Hippy Dribble hired some special outfits for the night: 1x red/green jacket, musketeer hat, wig, headband & feather, 1x Indian vest, green wig, 1x purple vest and cleo wig. Hmmm, wonder what a 'cleo wig' is? For two weeks the Plunderers had been learning a special set of late-Sixties classics done acid-style (Open My Eyes, Nights In White Satin, Almost Cut My Hair, If You're Going To San Francisco) and then proceeded to get totally fucked-up and 'de-learn' the songs on the big night. Their art co-ordinator made dozens of huge peace signs to hang from the ceiling and not long before showtime it was realised that dozens of Mercedes Benz logos had been hung around the Lansdowne! With the help of some masking tape they were ready to proceed with the show.
Hippy Dribble decided to continue as a band proper, separate from their main outfit. Jon Casimir wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald: "What do you do when you write more songs than you could possibly use? Overwhelmed by their own songwriting prolificacy, Nic Dalton, Stevie Plunder and Geoff Milne (collectively known as The Plunderers) were recently faced with the choice of either dumping some of their favourite songs from the set or radical surgery. Love In! They opted for the latter and, thanks to modern science, have now become three bands, each with it's own personality". In June 1990 they entered the old Troy Horse studio on King Street, Newtown to record four songs for an EP. In typical Plunderers fashion, the band decided to celebrate the "Love-In Reunion" Woodstock night again coming up in August but this time by launching their new EP and playing an entirely original set - just to confuse the audience! They were joined once again by Swirly Maharajahs and lovers of everything sixties Elastique Mindbladder. The poster for the gig said: Hippy Dribble will be making their debut as a real band with an all-original set they have spent months concocting. But that's not all! On the same Saturday the 25th August, Hippy Dribble will launch their first record! It is called Wild Strawberri and is a 12 incher and features four tunes "Take a Ride", "Dog The Bone', "Motels On My Mind" and their theme song "Hippy Dribble". It was a busy time for the boys, as on the following Saturday, The Plunderers launched their new 7 inch single "Christo" at the Annandale Hotel (wrapping as many objects as possible in the venue!).
Released on their own label Trip Records, Wild Strawberri contained a very early Plunderers song "Take a Ride" which was one of the first songs that Stevie and Nic wrote together. "Motels On My Mind" dated back to their days with Get Set Go (a folk-pop outfit with Stevie on bass, Nic on drums, future Falling Joy Suzie Higgie on guitar and her sister Jenny on casio keyboard). The two remaining songs were written especially for Hippy Dribble. The Plunderers were now in a strange position where they had two completely separate bands, both vying for the songs that the Plunder/Dalton/Milne team were churning out. set list They had created a sometimes frustrating situation where the Plunderers fans assumed that the 'Drib were strictly a silly sixties side project for the boys when in fact a lot of the more contempory cutting-edge songs and Sonic Youth-inspired epics were joining the Dribble set rather than the Plunderers. In an interview with Rave mag, Nic said: "People think we're stupid because we released a Hippy Dribble record. We just like to give it different names because people think 'Oh, the Plunderers, they do three minute pop songs', so we give it a name. It's sort of like an actor playing a part." When asked why they had two very similar bands hitting the live circuit, they would reply that they had too many songs to play in one set so it made sense to split them over two bands. This all came to a head on New Years Eve in December 1991 at the Annandale when Hippy Dribble supported the Plunderers and, according to most reports, blew the headliners off stage!
In 1990, The Plunderers had just had a great deal of success with their "Sarah's Not Falling In Love" 10 inch ("The Shining" on the b-side has a chorus of 'hippy dribble' chanted over and over) so it only made sense to follow it up with a classic pop number called "Cheerleader" by Hippy Dribble, didn't it? If strong-armed by a major label (who wouldn't go near them) "Cheerleader" would have definitely been released under the Plunderers name but this song (written by Nic and Tom Morgan at the old Half A Cow store) was given to Hippy Dribble to "catch up" to the Plunderers! As they had to pay for all their own studio time, the recording of the song went from June 1991 to February 1992 over three different studios. Based on a true story about a 26-year old man Charles Daugherty who enrolled in a high school as a girl and got into the all-girl cheerleading squad, escaping detection for a week, the song starts off with the same drum pattern from "Sarah" before launching into the bubblegum chorus. The "Cheerleader" 7 inch was released in 1992 when Half A Cow did a deal with Regular Records. Three songs appear on the b-side, most notably "Eskimo" which is a different version to the one that is on the "Silver Apples" compilation. The "Cheerleader" cd single wasn't released until 1993 with a karaoke version included plus two versions of "Eskimo". A cartoon video of the title song was also made by their friend Jay Ghost. They even made a fan out of Dr Karl who descibed the song as "...the greatest piece of music ever written in the history of the human race, after Beethoven's Later String Quartets and Muffin Man by Frank Zappa". Despite its catchy chorus and radio potential, the single sank without a trace but this can mainly be attributed to the fact that by the time the single came out Nic was in the US playing with The Lemonheads and Stevie who, having already formed the Whitlams, was also playing guitar in the latest version of Rob Younger's New Christs.
band photoOne show that is worth a mention was when Hippy Dribble supported Dread Zeppelin and Mojo Nixon at Selinas on Saturday 11th January, 1992. Apart from being extremely late (which stressed out the promoter, a certain R. Grierson), the band played early to a half-empty room. This didn't deter the band from putting on their full show, which concluded with a violin - no, not what you've seen done by Jimmy Page or the guy out of The Creation either. While Nic made monster noises with the violin bow scrapping across the bass strings, Stevie grabbed the violin by the head and attacked his guitar with it - not the underside either, but the violin strings and bridge down hard onto the guitar. Nic, with bow in hand, came over to Stevie and started playing the violin as well until it all exploded everywhere!
Barry Divola wrote in the review for The Drum Media: "Hippy Dribble were the Plunderers with blinding trousers and no inhibitions. They're the band that Pebbles compilation forgot. They're tripping in the bubblegum garage. Some of the songs are about drugs, some are about girls, and some are about drugs and girls. They're as sloppy as a bowl of porridge, but they're a lot louder and a lot more fun. By the end, Stevie is scraping the back of a violin over the pickups of his screeching Strat, Nic balances his bass precariously on one hand while sawing a bow across the neck, and Geoff flails away like he's auditioning for The Electric Mayhem".
Another reviewer in OTS wrote: "I found Hippy Dribble so awful that to think about them hard enough to review their performance would surely make me puke!!"
band photoBefore Nic went away in May 1992, Hippy Dribble recorded the six songs that were going to follow on from "Cheerleader" on a proposed 12 inch mini-album (in their lifetime, the Plunderers never released a cd - only 7, 10 and 12 inchers). Apart from new songs like "Spree" and "That's Wow" were another two songs dating back to the Canberra days of Get Set Go in 1984 , Stevie's "Just Another Dream" and "Oceans So Deep". Special guests included The Smudge Choir on backing vocals and Half A Cow Store work experience teen Nyree Webster on the flute. Because of Half A Cow changing their sugar-daddy from Regular to Mercury the recordings didn't surface until March 1995 under the title Silver Apples and included all the Hippy Dribble recordings and also Captain Denim's Fade. Captain who?
To confuse matters even more, the Plunderers started up a third band Captain Denim, to play the more laid-back songs mostly from the very early Plunderers days when they were influenced by the likes of Buffalo Springfield, Country & Western and folkrock. In a Sydney Morning Herald interview in August, 1990: "We have heaps of Velvetsy, Triffids-type songs we wrote when we first started. Captain Denim is for all the people who have heard The Plunderers and thought we were just a thrash pop band - Captain Denim is their chance to like the songs we do. Whereas the people who like the harder stuff will see Captain Denim advertised in the paper and think 'No, they're too wussy for us'."
tickets Captain Denim's live debut was supporting Hippy Dribble at the Sandringham, Newtown in December 1990. The band wore denim from head to toe (of course) and, apart from their own originals, played songs such as "You're So Vain", "Burned" and who could forget Don McLean's "Everybody Loves Me Baby, What's The Matter With You?". In the winter of 1991 they recorded four songs at Troy Horse - again two of them ("Last Time" and "Dying (So Long)" - not the same song on the Plunderers Green Fez 7 inch) from Get Set Go days and the other two ("Crayon Cafe", "And So The Story Goes") from early Plunderers. The band gave themselves appropriate pseudonyms (Geoff Jag, Nic Lee, Stevie Leisuremaster) and when they rung up Michael the engineer to find out his last name for the credits were most surprised that it was actually Levis! "Fade" was released on 10 inch under their own Vest Records banner, each cover with its own denim star (lovingly helped by Plunderers manager Caroline Pegram and jeans supplied by the girls from North Sydney Girls High) and hit the stands sometime in mid-1992. Like all of the Plunderers records, the 10 inch is now deleted but all the songs appear on Hippy Dribble's Silver Apples compilation.
"But history lessons aside, the sound is more important than the statistics. The disc happily presents a collection of slinky, mellow songs (like "Filthy" and "Dying") and zippy pop tunes with its fair share of 'ooh oohs' ("Lurve") and 'woo woos' ("Crayon Cafe") and 'ba ba bas' ("And So The Story Goes"). The trio also turn up the faders on the rockier tracks such as "Take A Ride" and "Dog The Bone". Tunes like "Spree" show an ever-economical side to the band with each of the above styles cropping up in five minutes of music. And don't forget the psychedelic "Last Time" - weird vocals and creepier backing vocals amidst a swinging '60s beat. All in all a top album. Plunderers fans will love it, and so, quite possibly, will you." (Melanie Jones, Rip It Up 3/95)
The Last Show last show
When Nic finally left the Lemonheads in September 1994 and resumed his life back in Sydney it was a given that the Plunderers and Hippy Dribble would start to play live again despite Stevie being busy with the Whitlams, Geoff playing drums in the Red Planet Rocketts and Nic completing the recording of Godstar's "Coastal" LP. The Plunderers had been saving up many songs for an album that they knew they would record sometime down the track and Hippy Dribble had a forthcoming compilation ceedee to promote. A night was booked to launch "Silver Apples" at the Annandale Hotel on 23rd March 1995 with Whopping Big Naughty and Small Handgun as supports. As Geoff, Stevie and Nic hadn't played live together since March or April 1992 they decided to give the fans a special treat by playing a "best-of" set of both bands - Plunderers and Hippy Dribble - something they had conscientiously made sure they never did (like slip "Cheerleader" into a Plundees set). In typical fashion, if they'd billed the night as the Plunderers there would have been more than the 180 payers who paid to see the show that night.
Sadly, this would be the last show that the Plunderers/Hippy Dribble ever played as Stevie was to take his own life on 25th of January, 1996 at Wentworth Falls in NSW. His death was, and still is, a huge shock to his family, friends and fans and he will be incredibly missed forever.
The Late Nineties
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998
Last night John Peel played Hippy Dribble's Eskimo at 10.25pm on National Radio One!
The Love Positions was Nic Dalton and Robyn St.Clare. They released an album (vinyl only) called Billiepeebup and a 7 inch single 'Light Of Day', which were both released in October 1990. All songs recorded on a Tascam 244 four track onto cassettes (mostly old TDK compilation tapes taped over!) in various houses in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney between 1985 and 1989. At the time of its release Robyn was playing in the Hummingbirds and Nic in the Plunderers. The Love Positions played in Sydney about 4 times. The name "Love Positions" comes from a cheap paperback title about sexual positions for young couples!
The album Billiepeebup was the first full-lengther released by Half A Cow but Half A Cow had the test-pressing of it for close to a year as they didn't have any money to press the record (John Needham of Citadel Records ended up putting the manufacturing on his account when Nic told him their predicament!) and the 'Light Of Day' single was the first seven inch released by Half A Cow. Each copy of the single was touched off by Musk oil scent and the old Hac store smelt of musk for a few weeks. The band were very surprised when both album and single went in at #2 first week in on the Aria Alternative Charts in October 1990 . Rolling Stone gave it a very positive review (by future EMI Records head honcho John O'Donnell) but the Drum Media (or OTS as it may have been called then) said they were disappointed with it's sound quality - I think they expected more since it was the work of one of the high-profile Hummingbirds and one of the Plundee guys. Looking back, releasing an album of 4 track home recordings wasn't really the done thing in Australia at the time (even though across the Tasman, Flying Nun had been doing it for some time). Speaking of Flying Nun - a major influence on the attitude behind the Half A Cow label and also the only label that were ever sent a Love Positions demo tape to(they got no reply!).
Billiepeebup contains the original versions of two songs that went on to be massive hits for other bands. 'Don't Slow Down' was written by Robyn and Simon Day of Ratcat and they rewrote some of the lyric and turned it into 'Don't Go Now' - a #1 hit on the Australian charts for Ratcat in 1991. 'Into Your Arms' was covered by The Lemonheads in 1993 and was the biggest hit worldwide that Evan and Co. had - yes, bigger than the other more well-known cover 'Mrs Robinson'. 'Into Your Arms' was the first single off The Lemonheads Come On Feel album reaching Top Ten in the UK, New Zealand and many countries throughout Europe. It has also been covered live by such bands as Hole, Redd Kross and Eugenious. The song has been on the soundtrack for at least two Arron Spelling TV productions and two Hollywood movies so far and appeared on the Rhino Records Power Pop Compilation Volume 3.
In 1997 Half A Cow finally released the album on compact disc with ten extra tracks - in fact everything that Nic and Rob recorded together between 1985-1989 is on the ceedee release of Billiepeebup. The bonus tracks include an electric version of 'Into Your Arms' (that they didn't even know existed!), covers of Prince's 'Kiss' and Captain Sensible's 'Glad It's All Over'.
Love Positions: Billiepeebup (Half A Cow 1990)
“Now that the fevered indie-rock gold rush is over and things have settled back into boring old normalcy, it’s still possible to be dazzled by small, shiny nuggets that were overlooked in all the madness. Billiepeebup is just such a sliver of solid gold. The Australian duo of Nic Dalton, who was between stints in the Plunderers and Godstar, and Robyn St. Clare, a member of the Hummingbirds, recorded a batch of gorgeous, witty, dreamy pop songs in the late 1980’s. The LP, named after Joey Ramone’s slurring of the words “Blitzkrieg Bop”, was released on Dalton’s Half A Cow label in 1990. Only a handful of mail-order/import rack devotees heard the album in these United States. Half A Cow has reissued the record, plus bonus tracks that boost the CD’s total to 24 songs. Listening to Dalton’s perfect pop hooks and St. Clare’s little-girl-lost vocals is a welcome flashback to a time when bands like Small Factory roamed the land, playing clubs and making records just because it was fun and they loved it. Dalton went on to play bass in the Lemonheads, which had a hit with the St. Clare song “Into Your Arms”, here in two versions. Call me sentimental, call me a fool: I love this stuff.”
(Phil Sheridan, Magnet Magazine April/May 1999)
pApAs fritAs is:
When Half A Cow Records heard pApAs fritAs' latest album, they decided to make an exception to their commitment to supporting Australian-only artists and release Buildings and Grounds, Half A Cow's first non-Australian release since Bettie Serveert's classic first album Palomine.
pApAs fritAs was formed in Somerville, Massachusetts in late 1992 by three Tufts University undergraduates. Mere kids at the time, the band's three members - guitarist Tony Goddess, drummer Shivika Asthana and bassist Keith Gendel - have watched each other grow into adults over the past seven years. During that time they've also released two stellar pop albums, made videos and television appearances, recorded a slew of singles and compilation tracks, toured with the likes of Blur, The Cardigans and The Flaming Lips. Unforgettable experiences, all. But it is this passing of youth in the face of an inherently youthful art form that most informs their current perspective and latest album, Buildings and Grounds.
Named after a college janitorial service that Tony and Keith both worked for, Buildings and Grounds is a true hybrid. Most of the record's instrumental tracks were recorded at the band's Columnated Ruins studio in Gloucester, MA, on the same analogue equipment used for their last long player Helioself But the vocals and much of the post-production work were done at friend and producer Paul Sanni's digital 24 track studio in nearby Somerville. This marked the band's first foray into the digital realm, and the record's synthesis of old and new technologies is indicative of the sounds they yielded.
Which isn't to say that Buildings and Grounds is pApAs FritAs' "electronic record". In fact its clearest distinction lies in its refusal to adhere to any single musical paradigm. Buildings and Grounds transcends what Goddess refers to as the "genre pieces" of their previous albums and finds him claiming his own voice. Goddess has synergized his influences (Fleetwood Mac, The Band, Sly and The Family Stone, the Philly International posse among them) and gained a deep understanding of the quality that links them all - that an artist must do more than embrace genre, he/she must advance it. "We still have our big bouncers" says Goddess, referring to the ultra-catchy, three minute pop that pApAs FritAs is known for, but without question, Buildings and Grounds is the most kaleidoscopic pop the band has ever conjured. Goddess continues, "This is our longest album, and you can tell we gave ourselves more room to breathe this time around. The chord changes are more sophisticated, the songs are musically more rich," he pauses and laughs, "and there¹re more solos!"
Two of the band's core doctrines - one, that a song is not just a song, it's also an event; and two, that the sound you feel is just as important as the sound you hear - are further advanced on Buildings and Grounds. More prosaically, the album is quieter, groovier and full of adult love songs, written by people who are starting to become experts on the subject. Both Keith and Shivika contribute their own compositions to Buildings and Grounds with "Vertical Lives" and "I'll Be Gone" respectively, which only adds to its myriad charms.
Half A Cow Records is proud to release the third long player by a band that label boss Nic has been watching closely since 1994 when he first saw the band perform at the Middle East Cafe in Boston and purchased their first seven inch. Back then Nic and the band corresponded with each other and Half A Cow was keen to release their early 4-track cassettes on ceedee (something he still hassles the band about to this day!) and upon hearing Buildings and Grounds called them up and said "This is your best record you¹ve made! Send over the contract!"
Buildings and Grounds will be released in early May with the first 300 store orders bonused with a 4 track cd featuring "Far From An Answer" and three exclusive songs. Available from "Shopping" and at the following stores:
NSW: Hum (North Sydney, Chatswood, Harbourside, Darlinghurst), Mall Music (Brookvale), Sandy's (Dee Why, Manly), Raiders (Liverpool), JB Hi-Fi (Parramatta), Cd Warehouse (Surry Hills), Plum Music (Bondi Junction), Impact Records (Canberra), Land Speed Records (Civic), Shop(Belconnen, Woden, Civic)
VIC: Gaslight, JB city, Borders, HMV city
QLD: all HMV stores, Skinnys, Rockinghorse, Toombul Music, Sunflower Broadbeach, Sanity Wintergarden, Canelands Music, Cosmic Music
updated news 2014
Banana Smoothie Honey (hac93) double cd
First released in 1992 on the Citadel label, Banana Smoothie Honey is a collection of all the 7 and 10 inches released by the Plunderers lineup of 1989-1992 (Stevie Plunder, Nic Dalton and Geoff Milne). The original Citadel Records release (which has been deleted since 1994) has been expanded to include a handful of songs the three-piece band released under other names (Hippy Dribble, Captain Denim) and one previously unreleased track - all highly produced by Rob Younger, Michael Levis and the Plunderers.
The nineteen songs have been split over two discs. The first disc contains all the a-sides, such as the power-pop gems Sarah's Not Falling In Love and Christo, and the b-sides, including the album highlight, the Stevie Plunder-penned Peggy, also Take A Ride and the 'should-have-been-a-huge-hit-but-they-released-it-under-a-silly-name' Cheerleader (which has been re-mixed especially for this compilation). The second disc has all the Plunderers' psychedelic epics all linked up into one sprawling suite as originally planned by the band - five tracks totalling 36 minutes!
In the coming years, Half A Cow will be hunting through the vaults to release more Plunderers, including the 1985-1988 line-up featuring Pete "Pillage" Velzen and Andy Lewis. The band never got to record their debut album due to the tragic death of Stevie in 1996 so this collection is as close as we¹ll ever get to marvel and smile at the pop sensations of the Plunderers. Exclusive, shrink-wrapped cardboard packaging with replicas of the original vinyl covers which will bring back the memories of the Plundee fans who were there at the time and make new fans wish they were!
Two new seven inch singles from Martin Craft and Nick Craft - released at the same time!
The first fruits of what's been happening with the ex-Sidewinder brothers are these 45ers that have mysteriously appeared on the UK label 679 Recordings. Under the name M. Craft is Come To My Senses backed with On The 389 which is an 'intercontinental home recording extravaganza' recorded in Coledale, NSW and in London, where Martin has been residing since the end of Sidewinder.
Nick Craft's new outing is The Zillions, also released on 679 Recordings, with the upbeat Raincoat Girlz backed with Saturday's Child. Recording by Nick in Sydney with help from Martin playing bass on Raincoat Girlz. Both singles have fantastic artwork and are a must for Sidewinder fans (so get that turntable outa the closet!). Go to roughtrade.com in London and they'll have it for you.
From 1992 to 1999 Sidewinder offered the world their amazing collection of songs and music, which had a sound that was distinctively all Sidewinder and Sidewinder alone. From the no-budget but space-bound recordings of T Star to the psychedelectronicfolkrock grande finale of Tangerine. A classic band that Half A Cow has been immensely proud to be associated with.
Formed in Canberra, Australia, as a four piece in June 1991 by brothers Nick and Martin Craft, on guitar and bass respectively, with friends Pip Branson (guitar) and Giri Fox (drums). Then, at the end of the year, joined viola player Jeremy David; teenagers all. Their original demo recordings from this period was a curious, murkily recorded (well, the dub that Hac had of it was) adventurous space-rock outing with a '60s twist, especially on standout track Sunburst. Alannah from the Hummingbirds heard their tape, then saw the future of ROCK when Sidewinder played in their hometown of Canberra so she rushed to the Half A Cow office yelling "You gotta sign these guys! They're Amazing!" So impressed were Half A Cow that room was made on the upcoming Slice 2 compilation for their track Last Time. There was also a Canberra connection between Pip Branson and Nic from the label as Pip's brother David had played violin with Nic in the Plunderers' first line-up (and their debut 45 was on Sidewinder Records!). Sidewinder were signed to Half A Cow in mid-1992 (Martin was still only fifteen at the time) which resulted in their first EP, T Star (hac13) which was recorded over numerous weekend road trips from Canberra to Sydney, with some members still having to juggle highschool commitments.
Like all great beginnings, things were pretty low-key as the band found their feet in both the studio and on the stage. T Star, a fuzzed-out mysterious collection, released in early 1993, gave greater nods towards the likes of English bands Ride and My Bloody Valentine rather than the 'Seattle' sound so popular at the time. Maybe the fact that the Craft family had moved from England to Australia in the 1970s had something to do with it. As the band later explained: It wasn't largely a conscious decision to make a 'wall of melody' style record, but rather the result that comes with being in the studio for the first time and wanting to try everything.
From the original T Starbio: It sits somewhere between current indie trends and more traditional rock & roll. Beneath the riffs lies an understated vocal, harmonies, a rhythm section with ample power, and a background viola drone that consistently fills out the sound. Moments Like These is an unforgettable and incredibly catchy pop song, that despite the cheap recording, shows where Sidewinder would soon be heading. "A space rock epic about the closest galaxy to Earth" is Nick Craft's description of M83 while following track Earthbound 153 features 'a bit of industrial noise courtesy of a powersaw' and the final track Dead Words comes from the band's earliest batch of songs.
The band continued to grow musically and another EP followed in 1993 called Yoko Icepick (hac24) which showed Sidewinder becoming more focused on the song rather than spacey jam-outs (though their love of the epic stayed with Sidewinder right through to the end) and their own style was developing at a staggering rate evidenced in the songs Now You Know and Thanks For Comin'. Meanwhile violinist Jeremy departed (Pip would soon take up violin in the band) and in mid-1994 drummer Giri was replaced by ex-Hummingbirds drummer and Queensland-raised Shane Melder. dewinder's more frequent visits to both Sydney and Melbourne started gaining them a loyal following with their concerts showing the energy that the early EPs lacked, and also the band's dedication to well-crafted psychedelic rock, now powered along by Shane's drumming skills (later to be utilised by Died Pretty, Fragile and The Empty Bottles and Dave McCormack's Polaroids amongst others - but we're jumping ahead).
The first month of 1995 saw the release of a third EP, entitled The Gentle Art Of Spoonbending (hac32) named in tribute to the sadly-forgotten psychic Uri Geller. Spoonbending was pivotal for the band. Two tracks, Day After Day and Up To You, were flogged on the Australian airwaves (with Day After Day becoming an INSTANT CLASSIC - a mellow ode to doing nothing that showed a completely different side to the band featuring violins, trombones and laid-back acoustic guitars). By now, the band had, for the most part, made the move to Sydney. When they weren't writing new songs and getting to know their new home, their live shows were becoming very professional (thanks to soundguy Marty Beath) and their crowds were getting bigger and more enthusiastic all over Australia, as interstate touring consumed more and more of their time.
They were part of a group of band such as The Fauves, Powderfinger, Custard and Magic Dirt, who could play anywhere, any night of the week and get upwards of 400-plus punters - thanks in the main to the national Triple J airplay, and in Sidewinder's case, new management (Smash, who also looked after The Clouds) as well as the best local bookers in the land (IMC, headed by Joe Seg and Jess Ducrou). Another Sidewinder track Come Inside also appeared on rooArt's Youngblood IV compilation of 'bands on the move' in Australia and was all over the radio at the time. Hey, rooArt even took Sidewinder 'out for lunch' trying to woo them away from Half A Cow, with the band eventually signing to a direct deal with Half A Cow's then sugar daddy, Mercury Records, whose distribution got the new Sidewinder EP in all the stores across Australia. Here was a band definitely on the move.
In mid-1995, armed with an unlimited recording budget and twelve new songs, Sidewinder entered one of Sydney's a-list Studios, 301. With engineer/producer Tom Blaxland (who had worked with The Church to Rick Price to You Am I) and plenty of days to get the songs down, the band opted instead to put down on tape the entire album live in the studio with, at most, one or two overdubs (handclaps and a tambo track). This insight will come as a surprise upon hearing Sidewinder's debut album Atlantis (hac53) as it's a well-realised collection that sounds like many a day's lead guitar overdub was added. More than happy with the results, feeling that they had finally recreated in the studio their energetic live sound, Sidewinder unleashed Atlantis (which was named after the removal company who moved their record label across Sydney from one building to another around the time the band were recording) on January 22nd, 1996 and celebrated by playing a fantastic show that same week at Sydney's Big Day Out festival. bdosetlist right: Sidewinder's Big Day Out setlist 1996
From the Atlantis bio: 'Combining the best of the dirty sounding Sixties melded with modern pop, a hint of psychedelia and amazing production, Atlantis is firm testament to the depth of talent in this band. From the folky strains of Stones In My Shoe through to the kick-in-the-guts mathrock crunch of Down To Luck and the instantly addictive riff-pop single Evil Eye, Atlantis has Sidewinder really delivering the goods.' Pip's debut songwriting and singing credit is also included here in L. Ron, his bizarre ode to Scientologist L. Ron Hubbard. From Atlantis onwards, all their cd artwork, posters and show ads were created by artist Simon Killalea whose style and film, light show, slides and stage set-ups were an all-important part of Sidewinder's look.
Sidewinder loved being in the studio and any chance to record 'b-sides' for their singles were always something they, and their fans, looked forward to. From the irreverent to the impressive, there's always something more than worth its b-list status on a Sidewinder cd single. Three singles were released from Atlantis - Anything You Want (hac47), Evil Eye (hac49) (featuring a loose take on Rod Stewart's Every Picture Tells A Story - Sidewinder's only recorded cover version) and Not Coming Home (hac55) which had as its a-side a remixed, shorter, 'radio-friendly' version by big gun Nick Launay at LA's Larrabee Studio. Following are tracks called A Boogie Woogie, Noriega Donkertool's Second Theory Of Optical Revelation and and the full 7:47 minute album version of Not Coming Home. Their major label bank account also helped deliver filmclips for all of the above singles plus a very memorable one for Day After Day, made by award-winning video director Jesse Peretz. Sidewinder toured relentlessly in support of Atlantis playing nationally with Custard and Powderfinger on the huge Sunset Strip tour and other tours with both Snout and The Fauves.
With Mercury being taken over by Universal, no one at the label (HAC was ending its deal with Universal so was kept in the dark) was really keeping an eye on the progress of Sidewinder's recording sessions for the next album while the band determinedly chipped away at late night after late night recording sessions with engineer and co-producer Paul McKercher. A first single Titanic Days (hac61), mixed by Nick Launay at Alberts, was rush released during the recording sessions in April 1997 to co-incide with the Australian film Black Rock, which Sidewinder also appeared, playing the beach house party band, and Pip, bringing out his Canberra theatre roots, having a small speaking role. From the Titanic Days bio: 'The first taste of where the Sidewinder juggernaut is heading. Still rooted in rock, but encompassing some spaced-out synth sounds and a groove not heard in their recorded material to date, and according to the band, is only a hint of what is to come in terms of tunes, arrangements and sounds.'
Again,with a seemingly unlimited budget, and two years after their first album recordings, the band astounded one and all when they finally delivered 24 master tapes to the label, of which twelve (along with the already released Titantic Days) of the various 'mixes' would make up their second album Tangerine (hac66). Sidewinder took up the challenge of making an album that encompassed the old and the new and proved that the classic pop song recorded on 2 inch tape could be married to modern electronic beats and computer based studio-trickery. Released 22nd September 1997, it's an adventurous and exciting album that should have made the band HUGE, blasting out of every stereo across the land.
From the bio: 'Tangerine takes a confident leap at the future and gets there through head-bending pop psychedelia. We're looking through kaleidoscope spectacles, but ones with contemporary frames of reference: breakbeats, synth freakouts, choice samples, trip-hop excursions and atmospheric, soulful rock. It was a fitting display of Sidewinder's inner-city inspirations when, at the media launch of Tangerine at Les Girls in Sydney's Kings Cross, the room was pretty much cleared of bewildered industry folk when a drums 'n' bass set blasted over the PA after the quartet's similarly future-sounds-of-Sidewinder set which incorporated drum-triggered loops sitting alongside their crazy barrage of pop beats showcasing tracks from Tangerine . The album received fantastic reviews and, in Juice magazine's 'best records of the 90s', You Am I's Tim Rogers placed Tangerine in his top 10.
Here She Comes Again (hac65) was released as a single just prior to the album's release and featured as one of its b-sides a mellow revisit to Atlantis track Down To Luck and the 'nuggety' Seedcake Skies. A third single off Tangerine, God, came out in late 1997 with a further three non-LP tracks. A radio-only single release of Mummy/Daddy also came out at the beginning of 1998 but by this stage, Mercury had been going through a lot of changes due to international shake-ups with Universal which eventually led to the band getting out of its recording deal. The 'big push' was over.
In an interview with the Oz Music Project in 1999, Nick Craft had this to say: This time last year we just felt as though we needed a break. We'd been touring for years (literally) the promotional '9-5 week' of Tangerine had left us in need of a 'weekend'. We decided to take three months off, and three months turned into six...Then we managed to extricate ourselves from our contracts with Mercury, find ourselves a new manager, take care of business in private, rather than show any external signs of life.
In the meantime, the band had set up their own studio and spent the following year demoing new tracks which would have created a third Sidewinder album in 1999 (even discussing with Half A Cow about releasing the forthcoming record) but for one reason or another, with band members going on various trips overseas and wanting to experience life outside of a rock and roll band (after seven years from high school onwards that was pretty understandable), the band quietly dissolved with Martin, Nick, Pip and Shane going their separate ways.
Shoulda Woulda Coulda. Who knows? Sidewinder had the chops (facial variety too!), the songs, the sounds. In the words of Down To Luck: "Is it really down to luck if I win or if I lose?" Listening to their recorded legacy and the memories of their incredible live shows, Sidewinder were and will be, for always, winners.
Sneeze, Brutals, Wifey, The Falcon & The Jewel, Vegan Mosquitos
Thursday, April 29, 2010 starts 7.30pm finishes around 11:45pm (school night!)at the Sandringham Hotel, King Street, Newtown.
The Brutals THE HONEYMOON PERIOD Album Launch!
THE RETURN OF SNEEZE
Their last show was the Half A Cow Sweet Sixteenth night at the Annandale in November 2006. Now they are back! Tom, Nic and Leti will be joined on drums by long-time cohort Andy Calvert, currently riding high in Wifey. Sneeze will be playing at the Bald Faced Stag, 345 Parramatta Road, Leichhardt on Friday 12th June supported by Adelaide bands We Grow Up and the British Robots.
The History Of Sneeze...
SNEEZE evolved via the suggestion of Mickey Levis at Troy Horse back in 1991 that Nic and Tom should record a seven inch album. The idea being planted SNEEZE sprouted into 41 songs, written mostly over the counter at the old Half A Cow Shop. You can just picture the humble beginnings; Tom and Nic sitting around playing guitar while working the shop. In a busy and creative time with Tom forming Smudge and Nic doing the Plunderers and 'subbing' in The Hummingbirds, the SNEEZE recordings began when they asked the 'overseas touring band' The Lemonheads, who they'd only just met a few days before, to come in (before sound check at The Landsdowne) and record a couple of songs.
With co-producer Mickey, SNEEZE chipped away at recording bringing in special guests along the way. Simon Day from Ratcat sings and plays on PEDAL, Alannah "Hummingbird" Russack performs SHAKY GROUND, the Lemonheads play two songs AUTUMNAL EYES and TROUBLE IN SCHOOL, which happen to be the last ever recordings featuring the original line-up. Simon and Robyn Hummingbird sing a lullaby BABY ASLEEP. Smudge, the Plunderers and Swirl all get a turn as well.
The end result is an album full of classic pop songs all under two minutes. No bits and pieces of throwaway music (well....) great for those compilation tapes - what to do with that last minute?? but fully realised pop songs shrunk down to the bare classic essentials. Looking back, it seems that SNEEZE captured the post-Ratcat/pre-Nirvana early '90s of Sydney - a pretty mean task in only 47 minutes (there's a mis-print on the spine which says 49 minutes).
album cover What does a band do after their last release - which was a ceedee with 41 songs in 47 minutes? A: They record an 19 minute epic and release it on 12 inch vinyl.
And this is exactly what Sneeze have done. In May 1996 Nic Dalton and Tom Morgan, the two heads of Sneeze, sat in a loungeroom about to head off to a recording studio to begin what they had been calling for a few years "Sneeze 2".
A band should move on, progress, rally forth they both agreed. An idea struck. Let's record our interpretation of "The Four Seasons". Yes! What better way for Sneeze to return than with the opposite of an album of songs under two minutes in length - an epic titled "The Four Seezons".
So it began and they recorded one day each over the next four seasons to capture the spirit in the air. 19 minutes later "The Four Seezons" appeared. Available on 12 inch vinyl (green, alas!) and backed with a live-on-radio-FBI broadcast from July 1996 featuring 11 songs including the classic "Shaky Ground", "Ripped Jeans" and "I'm Upset Enough (Parts 1 & 3)".
Tom and Nic have been joined in the live arena for some time now with the permanent position of Simon Gibson (from Half Miler) after their original live drummer, Lara "Stix" Meyerratken left to play keyboards in the Ben Lee Band and moved to New York.
Sat 29th Jan KB's Surry Hills w/ Intercontinental Playboys (Sneeze play 2 sets, then the Playboys!)
Just The Blues Sped Up added to 102.7fm RRR SOUNDSCAPE in Melbourne.
"I have the new Sneeze cd and think it a major work of rich and rare energy. It is more than a little bit mad ( and thats good, of course)." - Sir Dave Graney
Fri 30th Hopetoun Hotel, Sydney (the record launch) w/ royalchord, Modern Giant
Just The Blues Sped Up has been made a mini-feature album of the week on Triple J and FBi has added 'When Honey Snaps' to their playlist.
New album! Just The Blues Sped Up (hac109)
20 tracks. Total playing time 51:44
Sneeze do a complete u-turn from the soul sounds of 2001's Lost The Spirit To Rock & Roll and come up with a sprawling, crazed and defiant 20-track ode to Rock & Roll. The recording of Just The Blues Sped Up dates back to 1998 when Sneeze planned to trump their 41 Songs In 47 Minutes album with a 50-tracker. Realising that they didn't need to prove for a second time that they could put out a record crammed with short tunes, instead all the sad, sweet soul songs were assembled into Lost The Spirit To Rock & Roll and the more upbeat Rock & Roll ones were reserved for the next one. And that album has now arrived. If Lost The Spirit were a melancholic love-sick woman, then Just The Blues Sped Up is her out-of-control teenage lover.
With a solidified line-up of guitarist Tom Morgan (recently gracing the airwaves with Givegoods), multi-instrumentalist Nic Dalton, drummer Simon Gibson plus bassist Bill Gibson and keyboard wizard Cameron Bruce, the bulk of Just The Blues Sped Up was completed in 2003 with special guests - such as Leticia Nischang, original Sneeze drummer Lara Meyerratken, You Am I's Russell Hopkinson, John Encarnacao and Ben Whitten - filling in some of the blank spaces along the way. The album had its ups and downs, for example in the last few months of recording when Nic had a brain haemorrhage and Tom and Leticia got married. Huh?
Some of the songs are old standards from when Sneeze first started playing live in 1996 - 'Going Skiing, Pretty Weird', 'When Honey Snaps' and 'Loud & True' - to more recent crowd faves such as 'Dress Ups' and 'That Man's My Weakness'. The album also contains the recent Triple J and FBi summer hit 'If It's Catchy It Means You Stole It' which features backing vocals courtesy of Treetops' Ben and Jordan and the audience at the Annandale Hotel on June 13th, 2003.
To set the pace, the album starts off with the 6-and-a-half-minute 'On Again, Off Again' which was a song that had its genesis in a dream. Nic dreamt that You Am I were playing at a party where they decided to write a reply to the Beatles 'Got To Get You Into My Life'. They started playing the main riff and opening line, which, when he woke up, Nic sang into a Walkman - this eventually became 'On Again, Off Again'. This song also features the debut of Sneeze's new secret weapon: the fuzzwah mandolin. That's it playing the solo. Hey, they're not shy!
Sneeze take a quick breather with the next song, Tom's country-rock-flavoured 'Might As Well Chalk It Up' which contains the banjo talents of Sydney's own Jenny Shimmin. Bill Gibson takes centre-stage on '(Take The) Headache Over Heartache', his vocal style being perfectly suited to this classic 70s AM Radio hit about a guy who'd rather drown his sorrows with a bottle of booze than worry about his broken heart.
Okay, there just ain't the room here in this bio to write about all 20 songs on the new Sneeze longplayer Just The Blues Sped Up so if you want to know what the songs are about, you're just gonna have to work it out on your own! Oh, and there's also a mini-rock opera in tracks 12 to 19 about a heartbroken guy who goes from a party to a few clubs and ends up on the ski slopes. Right. Who said Rock & Roll had to make complete sense?
Sneeze will be playing their last Sydney show until December as the band will be trekking over to UK and Europe for a long-awaited tour. Sneeze's latest album Lost The Spirit To Rock & Roll will be released on August 12th, 2002 in the UK and Europe, licensed by the Fire label (long-running London-based label that has been the home to Spacemen 3, Pulp, Teenage Fanclub, Dave Graney, Bill Janovitz and Neutral Milk Hotel amongst many others).
Fire Records are flying Sneeze over to play approximately 28 shows in 30 days across Spain, Germany, The Netherlands (playing the famous Paradiso in Amsterdam), Belgium, England and Scotland from August 30th to September 28th. Joining Tom, Nic and Simon will be Marti and Leticia (from Spanish band 120 mins) on bass and keyboards. This will be Sneeze's first trip to UK and Europe. A sporadic tour diary will be at Gesundheit The Ultimate Sneeze Site!
Sneeze: the Maybe Moving In EP (hac97)
Release date April 15th, 2002 and available now in Shopping. Sneeze are back with a new EP, featuring the upbeat Maybe Moving In Together Wasn't Such A Good Idea, taken from last year's Lost The Spirit To Rock & Roll. The Maybe Moving In EP also includes seven phenomenal new b-sides; first up, the beautiful and catchy (Love Theme From) Cousin Erich, a duet between Tom and Lara about a Marrickville couple who just can't get it together. Then there's (Theme From) Smoke! - Sneeze's buoyant theme song for a 70s TV show, whose hero is a Shaft-esque Native American PI . Track four, Beibe Pelu, is a Spanish rendition of Baby Asleep (the original version was released on Sneeze's debut album) with the lovely vocals of Leticia Nischang (of Spain's 120 mins). Next up are four separate tracks that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle - Tittie Bar (Part 2); Girls, Girls, Girls, Crazy Girls; Nurse Jones; and Tittie Bar (Part 3). The Tittie Bar Suite is a 13-minute journey through the sad world of strip clubs, seen through the persective of a lonely customer, a club MC, and a single mother stripper with a law degree.
78 Records instore
SNEEZE SAVES 'DEAD' MAN
A man in Saudi Arabia has narrowly escaped being buried alive by sneezing loudly just as his relatives were preparing to seal him in his grave. The Okaz daily newspaper in Riyadh said the man had been struck down hit by an illness that put him into a deep coma. Believing him to be dead, his family washed the body and wrapped it in a burial shroud before going to the cemetery. Just as family members were preparing the grave, the corpse gave out an almighty sneeze.
Kim Bowers: guitar & vocals (aka Wikky Malone)
Liz Payne: guitar & vocals (aka Rosy Glo, Lou Marvel, Belle)
Tania Bowers: bass & vocals (aka Tania May)
Melanie Thurgar: drums (aka Finnius)
Hailing from Sydney's western suburbs, where they started playing together at Campbelltown High School in 1990, the band were laughed at and not taken seriously at all in their hometown of Campbelltown. " 'Electric Boogie' was the first song I learnt on the guitar," said Wikky and this was to be the first song that inspired the four girls to form the band. After the hurtful isolation dealt out by their home crowd, Spdfgh decided to take their love to Sydney town. "Nobody had any faith in us whatsoever," Mel said in an interview in 1996. "When you're out there in Campbelltown, you're just not exposed to it (the Sydney music scene)." The band members began introducing themselves to the city's groups. Not by playing the venues, mind, but by the novel approach of following other bands around and delivering an impromptu acoustic set backstage or at soundcheck time. "That was our thing," said Wikky. "We used to get our guitars and go 'Hey, Ratcat are playing tonight, let's go and play them some songs'."
"We knew about soundcheck times and how to sneak in to venues," says Tania. "They (the bands) freaked out, I reckon." This was how they got the attention of Half A Cow Records and the band eventually signed after staking out the label at every interesting rock'n'roll show in Sydney's inner west in 1993-4. "I was 'subbing' on the bass with the Hummingbirds and we were in the Tarago on our way to soundcheck and there were these girls all set up playing outside the loading dock at Selinas. They were playing a selection of Hummingbirds and Ratcat tunes, I think." The band first heard of Half A Cow's intention to sign them up via an interview Nic did with UK's Melody Maker where he described Spdfgh as "four girls who wistfully rock!" He also claimed that the band had two Aboriginal girls in their line-up when actually Kim and her sister Tania were born in South Africa, moving to Melbourne when they were children. He still hadn't seen the band play live when he put them on a show at the Annandale Hotel so the Sydney music scene could see the new band in all their glory. "You're taking a huge risk tonight," said one music lawyer, "What if they're absolutely terrible?" Luckily for Half a Cow, the band played a great show - winning over the audience with their soon-to-be trademark onstage giggling, jokes and those ten minute tune-ups of their guitars. Upon signing to Half a Cow, Nic presented Spdfgh with their very own tuner.
Though their initial repertoire consisted of a range of cover versions from acts like Sonic Youth and the Cure, the band credits those Sydney bands that they 'stalked' as a main source of inspiration (The Hummingbirds even getting a special dedication when their debut album came out). An early tape given to Half A Cow was titled "the We Want To Play With Smudge demo" (coincidentally, Noiseaddict sent their first demo to Hac with the exact same title!) and showed the melodic potential of Spdfgh and included a cover of a Breeders tune (who the Spd's got to support a couple of years later). JJJ's Richard Kingsmill graciously agreed to play the band's demo on air, after Tania rang up the station to read out her High 5 on his show one night, taking the opportunity to plug her young band.
Spdfgh quickly proved that they were something to behold on stage as well as on tape. Their name came about kind of by accident when it was conjured up uisng the keys of a typewriter late one night when bassist Tania May was fooling around, going in an almost straight line across the keyboard. Another earlier theory for the band name was when Liz's older brother was studying for a Science exam and had to memorize the molecular structure in a compound. TV Week wrote at the time, "Spdfgh must have the dumbest name in Australian rock. Fortunately, this all-girl group from Sydney are better at making music." And one of the first recordings to be heard was a track called "In Me" (recorded in 1992) that appeared on a cd that came with Eddie Magazine's 'music' issue sometime in 1993.
Originally mining the power-pop vein, as evidenced on their "Grassroots" EP which was recorded (produced by Hummingbirds' Robyn St. Clare and engineer Greg Wales) in late 1994 for a shoe-string budget, which is quite noticable production-wise but suited the band's style at the time, capturing a greatness in its simplicity. While the band were waiting for "Grassroots" to be released, Dirt Records (from New York who had released label-mates Swirl in the US) have the honour of putting out Spdfgh's debut release, a 7 inch of "Nightime" which came out in mid -1994, the song taken from sessions recorded for the "Grassroots" EP.
"Grassroots" was released at the beginning of 1995 and contained 5 tracks intercut with spooky backwards talking. A video was made for the first track "Too Much", which was written by Tania, and contained the classic line, "I've been listening to too much, too much, just too much...Dinosaur!" Fast forward two years to Spdfgh playing at the Public Bar in Melbourne and J Mascis is in the crowd watching the band play whilst on a Dinosaur Jr tour of Australia. Tania belts out the words clearer than ever. Dirt Records released the "Grassroots" EP in the US and Puncture magazine from the US descibed the EP as "the bastard offspring of Mudhoney and The Cannanes." The band quickly gained attention in other countries and early releases included a split-single called 'Gay Pride' (along with Pansy Division, Chumbawumba and others) on UK hardcore label Rugger Bugger which included an early demo record of a song called "Sweet" (Liz on guitar and vocals, also on the Dirt 7 inch).
The band's expanded vision became a little clearer on the stunning "Leave Me Like This" LP (recorded in Autumn of 1995 and released in February 1996) which, while based in guitars & drums, showed a leaning towards hip hop, groove & all things funky. The album was also released in the US on New York-based Dirt Records. Three singles were released from the album "Wikky's Ode" , "Give Me Time" and "The Pseudo Blues". Opening the album, "The Pseudo Blues" was inspired by Billie Holiday and other greats, while the record's second single, "Give Me Time", written by Tania, comes from a similar period. "That reminds me more of old songs from the '40s and '50s," says Kim. "Tania especially is interested in looking back. People are saying retro is from the '80s and '70s, but I've been inspired by old blues and stuff like that. It's starting to come out more. Punk rock's great because it makes you really jump. But the blues is good because you can feel it. We mix the two together." These roots are matched by the album's upbeat moments, including tunes like the happy/sad ditty "Jack", the chop change of "Gun" and the sweepingly beautiful "You Made Me". Other highlights include the raucous "Salt To Pain" and "Blue Angel", featuring Liz's angelic, childlike vocals.
Spdfgh got their songs into some Australian high-profile films with "Steal Mine" being included in the movie and soundtrack album of "Love And Other Catastrophes" and "Hey Freaky Stripper" and "Gun" included in "The Well". The first pressing of "Leave Me Like This" included "Small Mercy", a limited edition cd of an extra 5 songs which was recorded over the hot summer of December 1995 on Nic's four track and showed a more laidback side to the Spds. Another unreleased track, "Hide" billed as Liz Payne And Spdfgh, appeared on the now deleted "Heard It Through The Bovine" Half a Cow promotional compilation along with a re-mix of "Wikky's Ode". On the side, Tania went on a national tour playing bass for Godstar on the ill-fated "Coastal" tour in September 1995 and in 1996-97 Kim became a 'roving reporter' for the popular ABC youth-orientated Recovery programme. Tania also was the cover star for Linda Jaivin's book "Rock n Roll Babes From Outer Space" and members of the band played at the book launch in October, 1997.
With the departure of Liz Payne, Spdfgh had their first line-up change which marked the end of the 'gang mentality' of the early days, when they were a young and playfully ambitious all-girl four piece. According to the press at the time, she was ousted over her apparent disinterest in the band. Like a lot of groups who form when quite young and still at high school, Spdfgh had been through all the usual rites of passage: dodgy gigs, burn-out, the realities of the music industry and the old faves "personal and musical differences". In hindsight, Liz's departure from the band was more a case of all the girls naturally growing up and apart rather than just a simple case of 'disinterest'. "I knew that when we went in to record the album that it was going to be Liz's last involvement with the others and you could feel the tension all the time, a bit like 'The White Album' with one or two members and friends coming in to play on different songs," says Nic, who co-produced the album. "I knew that Liz leaving straight after the album was completed was not going to sit well with Mercury (Hac's distributor) but I didn't want to stop Spdfgh from making a fantastic debut album." "It was just hard the whole time," says Mel of the atmosphere in the studio. "Everything blew up afterwards..." "It signifies a time, " adds Kim. "When we listen to that record now we just go, 'Shit!' We still know the songs are good." "When you go home and think about everything that was going on while we were putting the songs down, it's just like..." Mel lets out a depressed sigh. "All the songs are really reflective of what was going on." "Which is good because now we can look back in our lives, and we've got a record about it," concludes Kim.
When guitarist Liz left (going on to form Rocket with Brad from Gerling and Jamie from Blue Bottle Kiss on drums), recruiting Sally Russell from Sydney band Lustre 4 (Sally wrote "You Made Me" on Leave Me Like This and Tania re-paid the favour by giving a song to Lustre 4 and played bass for them for a while), who played a few shows with the band until her commitments to Lustre 4 made it impossible to continue. Just prior to the release of "Leave Me Like This", a permanent replacement was found in Christina Hannaford, who was discovered when she jumped up on stage at a 'secret' You Am I show at the Annandale Hotel in Sydney. "Tim Rogers said, 'Does anyone want to get up and do backing vocals?', Christina explains. "No one was getting up, and my friends tried to convince me and pushed me up there." The result was a short stint onstage with You Am I, singing the chorus to Barrett Strong's "Money(That's What I Want)." And it certainly made an impression. From there, Chris was initiated into the Spdfgh world, complete with in-jokes, unexplained giggling and inspired rock tunes.
But Christina's stay with the band proved to be short-lived. Her song "Pretty" on the "Small Mercy" bonus disc and additional recording on "The Pseudo Blues" single was all the contributions she made to the band. Throughout most of 1996, despite a resistance to promoting their album by touring up and down the East Coast (standard for most bands with an album through a major), Spdfgh played a handful of shows (the 1996 Big Day Out being a very exceptional show), a JJJ live session and a national tour of Australia with Frente and The Spinanes. "The Pseudo Blues" cd single (the final single lifted off "Leave Me Like This") was released in late 1996 to coincide with the Frente tour with two mixes of the title track and a beautiful re-working of "Wikky's Ode" showed some of the new direction the girls were heading in. Tony Wall and Marc Scully of Gift Productions re-mixed the single. "Just recently I've come into contact with cool DJs and people who just aren't in the norm," noted Kim at the time. "It's just really interesting what you can do musically if you stand back and look."
Incorporating members of the male sex into the band for the first time, Spdfgh began operating more as a collective in late 1996 and into the following year with their very infrequent shows sometimes having up to seven people on stage. With Tania switching to guitar, new boy bass-player Lee Grupetta (ex- The Affected, who had to travel up from Melbourne), and Elise Kelly and Josh Morris on extra guitar and keyboards made this a drastically different but very impressive new Spdfgh. Their final show, supporting Elastica at Sydney's Metro in January 1997, had Kim and Tania in one song out front on the stage, sans guitars, rapping to a new song while squirting water pistols at each other!
Sadly, sometime in early 1997, Spdfgh quietly dis-banded. Kim and Tania toyed around with idea of continuing, possibly under a new name, and some new recordings were made and tapes sent over to producer Mark Saunders in New York for re-mixing but the band and label weren't completely happy with the results. It was all a little too late as by this time Half A Cow had left their deal with Mercury (therefore had no money to inject into the roster for about a year) and the remnants of Spdfgh had decided to move onto other projects. A huge loss to music, Spdfgh were a truly great band who had an original sound and style and were impossible to make comparisons to.
It's now 1999 and where are the girls now? Liz is living in Tasmania and plays and records music with ex-Gerling member Brad. Tania released a solo mini-album on cd under the name of Sunday (titled "Thema", available from Heavy Records, PO Box 391 Glebe NSW 2037 firstname.lastname@example.org) and has recently moved to Chicago to start a band with producer Casey Rice. Kim has a new band called Deep In Sound and she also contributed the majority of the music (along with a track from Tania's Sunday project) to Sydney director Neil Mansfield's movie "Fresh Air" and a single was released from the soundtrack called "Hit The Sky" credited to Screamfeeder + Kim Bowers. Melanie has put her drum sticks away, has had a baby boy and married her high school sweetheart Jason.
(thanks to Juice article by Simon Wooldridge, Feb 1996)
Swirl formed in 1990 on the Northern Beaches of Sydney and, after playing at an "open mic night" at the Lansdowne Hotel, attracted the attention of Nic from the Half a Cow label (who was mixing all the bands that night). The original line-up, which lasted from 1990 to 1997, was Ben Aylward on guitar and vocals, David Lord on drums/occasional keyboards and Nicola Schultz on bass and vocals. Their first recording was a song called "Burning Castles" on Half A Cow's 7 inch "Slice" compilation which was released in 1991 and showcased the "new breed" of Sydney bands that came in the wake of the succes of Ratcat and The Hummingbirds and the recent touring of international acts such as Sonic Youth, Ride and My Bloody Valentine. Swirl instantly became local favourites with their split-personality sound of heavy, sonic-induced epics and cruisy, acoustic-based pop songs. Playing support act for nearly every band that came through town, managed by Stephen Pavlovic (under the name of Magnet Promotions) and being chased by Chris "Sorry Nic, but I've got the cheque book in my back pocket!" Dunn from Waterfront Records, it was all looking great for this very new band. Waterfront were very interested in signing up Swirl but the band decided to stay with the new and energetic Half A Cow label, which was still being operated out of the bookstore at 85 Glebe Point Road.
colour photo Swirl recorded their debut release - a 12 inch EP (with Nic as uncredited producer) that showed both sides of their music, "People I Know" heading off one side and the amazing "Breathe" on the other, and then began work on an eight song Mini-album which would include two songs from the 12 inch. Meanwhile, Magnet Promotions released a 10 inch record called "Fresh From The Womb" with all their roster on it in 1991 and included "Feel" by Swirl (along with tracks by Crow, Nunbait and Tumbleweed) and was packaged in a very tasty origami-style fold out cover.
Making history by releasing the first ever Half A Cow compact disc, "Aurora" is a stunning record that quickly sold out it's first pressing (distributed by Shock Records before Hac did a deal with Regular records, it unfortunately has been deleted since 1993) and gained the attention of Dirt Records from Chicago, USA. Dirt were originally called Aurora and the similar title of Swirl's album caught their attention. Their first US 7 inch, "Fade Away" (which came with a packet of real Australian dirt) was released in November 1993, and was followed by two cd's which spanned their career to date (described as "pure melodic noise guitar - Sonic Youth meets Galaxie 500" in an early Dirt bio). Meanwhile, back in Australia, a single had been released of "Aurora" called "Tears" (which kicked off the new Half a Cow deal with Regular) followed by an EP of new material called "Touch".
the last unicorn The band had a triumphant trip of The United States in 1993 (playing support to the likes of Luna, Versus and Yo La Tengo), coming back with management deal in New York and glowing reviews from their tour and CMJ Music Seminar sojourn. CMJ highlighted them as one of the 15 "buzz bands" in the world at the time and a live review in Minneapolis described their set as "Evenly paced, alternating between powerfully executed sonic sculptures and easily absorbed pop. I was simply stunned by their performance." Swirl also came back with their first full-length album called "The Last Unicorn" which was recorded in Australia at Festival Studio with Mark Thomas and mixed by both Lou Giordano at Fort Apache in Boston and Tim Whitten in Sydney.
"The Last Unicorn" was released in May of 1994 and gained many fantastic reviews across Australia and later, from the Dirt release, in the US. Ross Clelland from the Drum Media wrote "The Last Unicorn as a first album is special, and as I said before if they came from Boston or Middleborough there'd be many falling over themselves to laud their greatness. But through a weird accident, they're ours - appreciate them now." In a round-up of the 100 greatest albums of the 1990's, Roger Grierson (Australian music svengali) put the album in his top ten and it was the most added record to American College radio upon it's release in the US. The album showed some new sides to Swirl - the beautiful and haunting vocals of bassist Nicola and the addition of strings, which added to the grand sweep of their style. Swirl returned to the US for a more extensive tour, again playing at the CMJ seminar.
Unfortunately, The Last Unicorn was released at the same time that Half a Cow was prematurely ending it's contract with Regular Records and didn't get the support it deserved. A new deal was struck with Mercury Records for the label with a re-release of The Last Unicorn as a priority for the new partnership, hence a new record cover and a more flowing tracklisting. The title track was released as a single ("The Last Unicorn" EP ), which was played heavily on the national radio station Triple Jay, and contained a cover of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds "The Ship Song".
b&w photo The remainder of 1995 and for most of 1996 was a very quiet and frustrating time for Swirl. While spending a lot of time and money recording demos for a second album for Half A Cow/Mercury, the band did release a four song EP called "On My Own" which showed the changes from their previous recordings. Nicola stepped up to share the spotlight (writing and singing two tracks), David's growing use of keyboards and a more sparse and arranged production was evident overall (courtesy of producer Tim Whitten) to make this a very accomplished release with the title track receiving strong critical acclaim and national airplay on Triple J. Problems with Mercury Records not wanting to fund the Half A Cow label put a stop to the recording of their next record and the band was released from its contract.
Swirl's longtime sound engineer, Fraser Stuart, was also in the band for a year between June '96 and July '97 (playing approx 15 shows with them) on bass and keyboards and also introduced the band to sequencing/sampling. 1997 was a time of transition for the band with the amicable departure of Nicola Schultz and the addition of two new members Richard Anderson (bass, keyboards) and Keira Hodgkison (vocals, guitar). This resulting line-up unleashed a wave of creative energy enabling the band to reinvent and re-define itself, whilst still retaining its distinctive sound. The band also left Half A Cow to sign directly with the rejuventated Festival Records (headed by long-time fan Roger Grierson) and started recording more demos (yet again!) for a follow-up to "The Last Unicorn", a wait for fans of three years since the "On My Own" EP.
This metamorphosis has seen the band shed its indie tag and transform itself into a lush and sophisticated pop band. The finely honed songwriting skills are evident in the new-found partnership between Ben and Keira and a new single has been released on Festival called "Time" - written by Keira and Swirl and produced by Daniel Denholm (The Cruel Sea, Earthmen) - which was released in May 1999 and their long-awaited second album to follow later in the year.
The Orange Humble Band|
Humblin' (Across America) (hac91) Want to conjure up a pop fans' dream band? That's exactly what The Orange Humble Band is. Band leader Darryl Mather (ex-Someloves) has put together an incredible line-up including musical legends - no arguments here! - such as Spooner Oldham (Dan Penn, Aretha Franklin, Neil Young's "Silver and Gold"), Jim Dickinson (producer of Rolling Stones, Alex Chilton) and Jody Stephens (Big Star, Golden Smog drummer). There's also co-producer/mixer Mitch Easter (twiddled the knobs for REM, Pavement), Jamie Hoover (bassplayer for The Spongetones), Anthony Bautovich (The Lonely Hearts) and lead singer Ken Stringfellow.
Ken Stringfellow has many musical hats: a founding member of Seattle's the Posies (makers of the classic album Frosting On The Beater), part of the reconstituted version of Big Star and, over the last couple of years, touring as a member of REM. He recently visited Australia on a well-received solo tour and is concentrating on his most recent band, Saltine. He's also found the time to record with a staggering list of bands (too numerous to mention here!) including as the lead vocalist for the deliciously mysterious Orange Humble Band.
A hot and humid Memphis spring day greets five uniquely gifted musicians converging from all corners of the globe for the recording of the Orange Humble's second major release. The band have chosen the famous Ardent Studios as the appropriate venue for their latest artistic splendour, Humblin' (Across America).
Humblin' is band leader Darryl Mather's vision to create a unique hybrid sound: essentially pop, but coloured with Southern roots-based influences. Consolidating the critically acclaimed first effort, Assorted Creams, Mather's Orange Humble has retained the key nucleus of Ken Stringfellow, Mitch Easter and Anthony Bautovich. To complement the "Pop Roots" vision of the project, Mather chose to recruit legendary Big Star drummer Jody Stephens and Southern pop luminary, bassist Jamie Hoover. In addition to the core band, Mather called upon two of the most respected pianists and Southern rock and rollers in modern American music history, legends Spooner Oldham and Jim Dickinson. Clearly, this is not a record made by a bunch of "first timers". the highlights
Undoubtedly the focus of this record is the magnificent vocal performance of Ken Stringfellow. In an inspiring performance, no doubt his best to date, Stringfellow delivers a gorgeous performance that highlights the soulfulness of the tunes. With outstanding harmony vocal support from Anthony Bautovich, this is absolutely a record for vocal lovers. Other great performances are put forward by the driving rhythm section of Stephens and Hoover, the minimal precision of guitarist Mitch Easter, and the lush acoustic sound of Mather. Finally, the tinkling of Oldham and Dickinson create an authentic southern edge to the whole effort. Humblin' also incorporates some of the hottest brass players in the region. As Mather says, "To fulfill the concept of the album, we needed the integrity and input of the players who understand the Southern music idiom. There was no point going to record this type of record in Memphis if we couldn't call upon the authentic great players of this region".
All in all this is an adventurous and masterful musical journey brought to you by masters of their craft. The overall charm of the record is brought together by the crystalline musical production of Mitch Easter. The dry and natural texture of the sound creates a warm musical atmosphere that ensures Humblin¹ will endure as a classic.
Embrace Humblin' (Across America) as an experience in which we may listen, enjoy and hopefully learn from.
The album was recorded at the famous Ardent Studio in Memphis. The Orange Humble Band spent an incredible amount of time to create a rich and layered pop masterpiece. In his own words, Ken Stringfellow gives his "best lead vocal performance captured on tape" so far in his career and he loved the microphone used at the sessions so much he bought it off the studio!
the lineup who made Assorted Creams 1996-1997. Missing: Mitch Easter, Ken Stringfellow
The Orange Humble Band's previous releases include the Assorted Creams (Hac67) album released in 1998 and the Down In Your Dreams (Hac 79) cd EP, 1999. Any Way You Want It (Hac89) includes 3 non-LP b-sides (Sleepin' 99, A Dream Of Butterflies, Annie Run Run Run).
Assorted Creams bio:
Formed in early 1995, The Orange Humble Band is the current brain child of respected Lime Spiders and Someloves founder, Darryl Mather.
Consisting of Ken Stringfellow of US outfit the Posies, former Lonely Hearts member, Anthony Bautovich, American indie producer/manager legend, Mitch Easter, and Mather, the quartet have finalised the band's first release deliciously titled Assorted Creams.
band photo Produced by Mather in association with Bautovich & Easter, the quartet presents 15 beautifully crafted pop tunes capturing the joy, sorrow & humour of everyday life. The result is that Assorted Creams is a rollicking yet majestic rock & roll experience highlighted by Mather's melodious songwriting and Easter's glimmering and glazed presentation of the material.
band photo Orange Humble's unique sound arises from Mather's creative synthesis of influences ranging from 60s to 70s pop & rock'n'roll, bluegrass, country, folk & 50s barrelhouse Louisianan R&B. This combined with Mather's pure pop signature style results in an eclectic brew which is delightfully relevant to the 90's and generations beyond.
Surely the peak moment of Orange Humble's debut is the heart wrenching vocal efforts of Ken Stringfellow. Stringfellow's emotional down-the-line performance evokes a mood not often captured in today's musical recordings. Emotions swing constantly from rejoicement to hilarity and downwards to utter despair. Moreover, the combination of Stringfellow's and Bautovich's voices resemble at many times the finest moments of some of pop's greatest vocal combinations.
The arrival of the Orange Humble Band is a refreshing change to the current musical roster so often caught up in technology sampling and harsh one dimensional melodies.
A demo cd by a Swedish band called The Savages arrived at the Half A Cow Records office late last year. Once it was put in the cd player, it was never taken out - and, hearts pounding with the fear that another label had already snapped 'em up, Half A Cow contacted the band and offered to release their demo. The Savages were very excited as this was the first response they'd had from a record label (Half A Cow thanks record labels world-wide for not listening to unsolicited demos!), let alone one all the way from Australia.
They decided to deliver up a whole batch of new recordings to be their debut mini-album. The band wanted their songs to have a rawer sound, and Daniel, the singer, planned to aim for nothing less than "Roger Daltrey's rock vocalist throne". The Long Live You sessions, taking place at the legendary Polarjungle and fuelled by lots of humour and several exciting gigs in between, fulfilled everyone's expectations - "We recorded Who On The Bayou once again and this time we think we really captured it. Higher percussion instead of drums and very airy Stones oohs on the chorus makes it sound closer to water than ever!"
The Savages, from Fagersta, pop.12,000, have been together since 1997. They are Mats Larsson on drums, Magnus 'Bass with Brains' Sjolind on bass, Fredrik Andersson and Magnus Osterberg on guitars, and Daniel Haeggstroem on vocals.
Meet The Smallgoods!
Shags is a psychedelic mastermind, a Portasound virtuoso, and is on the cover of the latest edition of Thongs and Socks Monthly.
Ben Mason: vocals/guitar
Ben is a sucker for Sunday mornings. He always matches his shoes with his shirt. He can never decide what facial hair to sport.
Ben Browning: bass
Ben is the brother everybody never had. His dance moves are as slick as his dress sense, and his bass lines are always on the money.
Lachlan Franklin: vocals/guitar
Some say that Lachlan received a higher than recommended dose of coastal air when younger. Is sometimes dreamy and likes to surf tangents. Avoids funk like the plague.
Gus Franklin: vocals/drums
Gus enjoys Stones green ginger wine and concept albums. He's that guy that keeps popping up in the middle of a dance floor, leading the handclap orchestra.
After a super dooper series of Christmas shows back in December, the Smallgoods are easing into the new year with a special outdoor show on Sunday 16th January in Melbourne. The Smallgoods are performing as part of the Summertime Grooves series on the Arts Centre Outdoor Lawn stage (on stage at 2.30pm) so pack a picnic, select a patch of the greenest grass, sit back and enjoy. It's a free outdoor event so keep your fingers crossed for some gorgeous sunshine.
The Smallgoods are excited to be reunited with their buddies from Albuquerque (a place famous for its left turns) the Shins. Once again the Smallgoods will support the Shins on their return visit to Australia (along with Sydney pals Dappled Cities Fly) on Thursday 10th February at the Corner Hotel. Tickets are on sale now from the Corner website and Box Office.
In other news, The Smallgoods are very pleased to report that they have received funding from Arts Victoria to make their second full length album. Recording is slated for April and the Smallgoods have some grand plans for this new record so keep your ears peeled for new songs in their live shows over the next little while.
August 9th sees Melbourne's most pop-tastic quintet The Smallgoods releasing their new EP This Is The Show (hac110), the highly anticipated follow-up to their critically acclaimed debut album Listen To The Radio released last November through Half A Cow/MGM.
The EP is a stunning performance of three part vocal harmonies, soaring guitars and bouncing synth lines resulting in some feel-good-psychedelic-pop! This Is The Show EP includes the JJJ radio favourite 'Round and Around' and also features EVEN front-man and all-round good-guy, Ashley Naylor trading guitar licks and rock postures with the band in the title track.
Thu 5th The Prince of Wales supporting Ben Kweller (USA)
Wed 25th the Zoo, Brisbane w/ Dappled Cities Fly & Balls Falls (Canada)
Fri 27th Spektrum, Sydney w/ Dappled Cities Fly & Balls Falls (Canada)
Friday 10th September Corner Hotel (Melbourne EP Launch)
Fri 11 Prince Of Wales, St Kilda w/ The Panics & RedSunBand
Fri 25 Hopetoun Hotel, Sydney w/ Even & City Lights
Sat 26 Hopetoun Hotel, Sydney w/ Even & City Lights
Sat 3 Criterion Hotel, Warrnambool w/ Ground Components
Fri 9 Rob Roy, Fitzroy w/ The Zebras
Feb 04: The Smallgoods debut album, Listen To The Radio, is currently being adored by those who are listening to it. Print reviews are taking turns in praising a very strong debut from one of Melbourne's most creative pop bands and we're thrilled with the local and national radio support. We're also proud to report that Listen To The Radio is receiving a very healthy amount of airplay on college radio in the States. smallgoodsred
Half a Cow Records are very pleased that Listen To The Radio has just gone into repressing, as the first run has sold out since its release in November.
For those of you who haven't seen what makes The Smallgoods one of Melbourne's finest purveyors of pop, they're giving you a few last chances before they head back into the studio to add some finishing touches to their follow-up, also out through Half a Cow in the next few months.
Shows coming up...
Thu 19th Front Bar of the Espy with The Rumours, The Hovercrafts
Sat 21st Ding Dong, Melbourne w/ The Zebras (Brisbane)
Sun 22 the opening of the Port Fairy Skate Park!
Fri 5th Pelly Bar, Frankston w/ the Pictures
Sat 6th Espy, Brunswick w/ The Pictures smallgoods2
Dec 03: The Smallgoods are currently enjoying some healthy JJJ rotation and warm love from community radio stations across Australia including RRR (Mel), PBS (Mel), FBI (Syd), 2SER (Syd), 3D Radio (Adel), 4ZZZ (Bris) and RTR (Perth) to name a few. The good folk at FBI in Sydney have deemed Listen To The Radio a Feature Album and we love them for it. Melbourne folks are encouraged to check out the finest Melbourne indie record stores Polyester, Gaslight and Missing Link as they are all featuring different Smallgoods window displays, each one hand painted and sewn. Red Eye Records in Sydney is sharing the Smallgoods love and will have a display up soon too. monkey bars
Someone smart once said that the best bands are gangs.
The Smallgoods fit this description, consisting of two brothers, their best friends from childhood, and someone they all met later in life and found a musical bond with immediately.
The Smallgoods formed at the end of 1999, and have been impressing Melbourne music lovers ever since. Their music is a blend of sweet three-part harmonies over feel-good psychedelic pop, with more melody than you can poke a stick at! The Smallgoods have enjoyed playing with such illustrious groups as Mid-state Orange, Architecture in Helsinki, Snout, Even, the Icecream Hands, the Lucksmiths, The Brunettes and The New Folk Implosion. hac108
The Smallgoods' anticipated debut album Listen To The Radio hit the stores on Monday, November 3rd through Half A Cow Records. The album is a celebration of the airwaves. It skips along like your favourite radio station where every song is one you want to hear. 'Good Afternoon' was released as a promo single and instantly earned Melbourne and interstate community radio airplay. It has also made its way to a national audience through Triple J rotation.
The album demonstrates a high level of song crafting with an emphasis on melodies and harmonies. Testament to this is Melbourne's Inpress magazine bestowing Single of the Week status upon the song 'Abraham Lincoln', which appeared on a split 7" shared with New Yorkers, The Essex Green. The single was released as part of the Singles Club collective, through Low Transit Industries.
Listen To The Radio was recorded over 2 years with the help of Melbourne producer, musician and all-round good guy Paul Thomas. Paul has been in bands such as The Huxton Creepers, Weddings Parties Anything and Custard, and recorded Tim Oxley's stunning debut album, It's All About Love.
Buckle up 'cause you're in for a meandering ride along the Smallgoods psychedelic pop highway in the sunshine with the top down, listenin' to the radio!
Listen to the Radio will be distributed in Australia by MGM from November 3rd and is available on HAC's mailorder now.
the Trouble Dolls|
Sticky is the debut album by the Trouble Dolls, the only band in Brooklyn, New York, whose record collection includes more Fleetwood Mac albums than Gang of Four albums. On Sticky, the Dolls dip their tusks into a gooey mix of styles including bubblegum ('7:05'), folk-rock ('Marcelle') and garage rock (the title track). They break out the backward guitars on the psychedelic ballad 'Something Blue Amazed Me' and the sleigh bells on the holiday tune 'December'. Ten of the album's eleven tracks spotlight the sublime vocal talents of Cheri Leone.
The Dolls' 2002 EP I Don't Know Anything At All, released in the U.S. on their own La La La unlimited label, drew comparisons to Apples in Stereo, the Swimming Pool Q's, R.E.M. and Mazzy Star. They would prefer, however, to be compared to either Kylie Minogue or Susie Beauchamp.
Sticky hit the stores November 3rd, 2003.
Half A Cow Records is proud to present their latest signing, Vermishus - a young rock band, fresh out of Sydney's Eastwood. Suburban Parallax is their debut mini-album, which was two years in the making, from that first time Half A Cow put their demo cd in the player (picked out of the mail because the hand-drawn, wobbly-writing, black-and-white photocopied demo cover was so...well, demo-ish) only to be completely blown away by the amazing vocals (can one person really sing so low and so high?), the angsty toughness, and the originality of the songs and the sound. "I like Veruca Salt, Magic Dirt and Fleetwood Mac's Tusk," said Jacinta Perram, the chief songwriter, at the band's first meeting with their prospective record label.
Two years later, Suburban Parallax is ready for release. The sessions, produced by Nic Dalton, capture the vitality of Vermishus at the first stage of their career, making music as if their lives depended on it - with all the urgency and frustration, the untested confidence, the lack of self-consiousness and the seriousness, of pissed-off teenaged girls! - and one boy. That's Naren Hooson, on drums, the lone male member of Vermishus. Then there's Jacinta Perram who writes most of the songs, plays guitar and does backing vocals, Anna Needs on guitar, Liz Eylander on lead vocals and Lizzie Lamb on bass.
Their only previous release was an earlier mix of Amaze Me which appeared on Half A Cow's La Femme, No Homme? compilation.
Whopping Big Naughty|
Are they still goin'?
I'll tell ya right now, the answer to that is YES.
And after listening to BENDER, their third full length album, you'll soon realise that 'still goin' is only half the story. Formed in Sydney about ten years ago they were lauded by friends and foe as a classic rock band and were immediately signed to no one. Undertaking prolonged couch tours while spending their dole money on recording and releasing their wild "rock 'n' rong" albums, launching them at friends' places and loving themselves, they stayed in touch...with the devil.
Described by some as one of the few great, true rock & roll bands left rockin' out in Australia, the Whoppers have produced a killer, 10 track, 32 minute blast of melodic, honest rock & roll. Stanley (aka Justin Hayes) is the youngest brother from the very musical Hayes family (Pat, Pete, Bernie and Stevie Plunder) and his recent collaborations include writing the track Kibonki on Bernie Hayes' Every Tuesday, Sometimes Sunday and co-writing and singing the title track from Sneeze's Lost The Spirit To Rock & Roll. Bender includes such future classics such as Twist My Nipples, Enough About You & Ya Can't Blame Me For Anything.
Whopping Big Naughty are: Stanley Claret: Vocals & Guitar / Andy Depressant: Drums & Vocals / Pickle Orahek: Bass / Catherine Brownhill: Violin.
"The evil genius is apparent in all the shambolic majesty of their obscene pop gems" - Drum Media, April 1999
"One of Australia's best bands" - Richard Moffat, Form Guide, Nov 1997
Like I say, BENDER'll sort you out! - Charlotte Manure, June 2001