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The New Melbourne Jangle

Jangly guitars are popping up all over Australia, but nowhere so much as in Melbourne – just don’t call it a scene, writes DOUG WALLEN.

Like any genre summation boiled down to a single word, “jangle” can cut both ways. But it needn’t be a device for pigeonholing; it’s more like a shared bit of DNA. And while every corner of the world has yielded jangly pop bands, Melbourne in particular has proved a prime breeding ground for that DNA. While the city can’t claim The Go-Betweens or The Cannanes, it can The Sugargliders, The Cat’s Miaow and The Lucksmiths. Within the past decade, many more kindred spirits have arrived in the form of The Crayon Fields, The Ancients, The Motifs, Woollen Kits and Scott & Charlene’s Wedding. And as Dick Diver and Twerps continue to gain traction at home and abroad, newer bands are chiming in with their own take on guitar-driven pop and classic underground nonchalance. It’s tempting to picture all of the below high-fiving during communal sleepovers, but there isn’t a set Melbourne jangle scene. Still, looking at these nine bands – plus honourable mentions – there’s clearly something happening here.

Pop Singles

Last heard: All Gone (Vacant Valley, 2012)

Selling point: Album coming out on cassette via US label Night People.

In brief: Despite the mostly apt name, Pop Singles reveal a discursive streak on their debut album that’s more about chasing low-key whims than penning the perfect A-side. The Jack Farley-recorded All Gone is a solid step up in both songwriting and recording from their earlier work, while still sounding like musty classics unearthed from an aging pop fan’s attic. Fans of The Go-Betweens should especially take note. Check out bassist Peter Bramley’s Vacant Valley label, albeit generally home to much more intense stuff.


The Ocean Party

Next heard: Social Clubs, due in October on Birds Love Fighting.

Selling point: Did a recent four-week residency in the Tote front bar.

In brief: The kind of fresh-faced young band that seemed to materialise fully formed out of nowhere, complete with splinter factions (see below). Their subsequent single ‘In the Knot’ gives a better indication of just how good these guys are than even their very likable first album. Just as winning are their likeminded offshoots Velcro, Turvey Park and The Removalists.


Milk Teddy

Next heard: Debut album coming later this year on Knock Yr Socks Off/Lost & Lonesome.

Selling point: Just shared a split live cassette with US indie pop legends Saturday Looks Good to Me

In brief: The band’s been around longer than most of these, and their much-delayed album can’t come soon enough. It’s been ages since the ‘Going to Sri Lanka’ 7”, after all. When it does finally surface later this year, it should capture that signature mix of breathy pop purity and total ramshackle sprawl that’d be right at home on Flying Nun.


Cat Cat

Last heard: Uralba (Dream Damage, 2011)

Selling point: Part of the Canberra-to-Melbourne diaspora.

In brief: Like many bands associated with the great Dream Damage label, the charmingly spindly yet disciplined Cat Cat formed in Canberra. But they’ve since set up shop in Melbourne and recently wrapped a winter tour from that base. They’ve released two EPs and the addictive self-recorded album Uralba so far. The latter has been out for a year, which makes it high time for the new material promised by that tour.


The Stevens

Last heard: The Stevens EP (Independent, 2012)

Selling point: On a new four-way split 7” with Full Ugly (see below), released by the Sub Pop-signed UK band Male Bonding on their Paradise Vendors Inc. label .

In brief: Super strummy and yet scuffed in all the right places, The Stevens are a rare underground pop band that dodge the twee vibe and could appeal as much to punk and garage fans. Their song on that split may only be 78 seconds, but it’s a valuable UK introduction to one of Melbourne’s most promising bands.


Full Ugly

Last heard: That four-way split 7” with The Stevens (see above).

Selling point: Opened for Twerps recently in Melbourne.

In brief: Started as humble jams between Love Connection bandmates Nathan Burgess and Michael Caterer, Full Ugly became a more proper band a couple years ago. With Caterer newly relocated to the US, Burgess (also of Great Outdoors) has brought in guitarist Nathan McFarlane (brother to Twerps’ Julia McFarlane) as a replacement. They did record three new songs just before Caterer departed, and there’s a killer album’s worth of unreleased tunes on Full Ugly’s Soundcloud. In fact, that’s how Male Bonding stumbled onto the band.


Bitch Prefect

Last heard: Big Time (Bedroom Suck, 2012)

Selling point: Releases on dependable labels Bedroom Suck and R.I.P. Society.

In brief: As with Cat Cat, this trio formed elsewhere (Adelaide) but are now based in Melbourne. Last year’s ‘Marilyn Monroe’/‘Holiday in America’ 7” confirmed a brazen catchiness, and their album is even better. On it, Bitch Prefect pen wobbly, smart-alecky, slacker guitar gems that are true to life and down to earth in a way that evokes the everyman ramble of Scott & Charlene’s Wedding. It doesn’t hurt that these guys also have ties to Old Mate, True Radical Miracle, Hit the Jackpot, Peak Twins, Lindsey Low Hand and, um, Silly Joel and the Candymen.


Monnone Alone

Last heard: 'Pink Earrings' 7” (Lost & Lonesome, 2011)

Selling point: Mark Monnone was bassist for the late Lucksmiths.

In brief: A longtime solo outlet for its namesake founder – also of Last Leaves and the global roster of Still Flyin’ – Monnone Alone has finally recorded a debut LP, Together At Last due early next year on Monnone’s Lost & Lonesome label. Apart from collaborations with friends all over the world, the band’s live version includes Connal Parsley (Francis Plagne) and Gus Franklin (Architecture in Helsinki, The Smallgoods). As for the music, it’s classic indie pop with groggy vocals worthy of Stephen Pastel.


Francolin

Last heard: Won’t Let You Down (Independent, 2012)

Selling point: Album produced by the prolific Nick Huggins.

In brief: Won’t Let You Down is a crash course in breezy guitar-pop, with stops at Orange Juice and Sarah Records before (arguably) nodding to Vampire Weekend. Longer-running than other bands here, Francolin are a welcome addition to that continuum and a pleasantly self-aware one: ‘On Overseas Exchanges’ sees Swedish-born Staffan Guinane drop pop-culture references with a knowing wink.


Honourable Mentions

The Clits
Bored Nothing
Wizard Oz
Autoportraits
Grand Prismatic
Big Tobacco
Zombie Psychologist
Dane Certificate


  -   Published on Tuesday, September 18 2012 by Doug Wallen.
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Your Comments

Ash-showoff  said about 1 year ago:

chillmate


seahunt  said about 1 year ago:

Are Bitch Prefect not from Adelaide?


electricsound  said about 1 year ago:

i picked the wrong time to switch from jangle to crappy synthpop


Mess+Noise  said about 1 year ago:

Are Bitch Prefect not from Adelaide?

In brief: As with Cat Cat, this trio formed elsewhere (Adelaide) but are now based in Melbourne.


memphis  said about 1 year ago:

what about boomgates? i reckon their there as well


seahunt  said about 1 year ago:

Caught out not reading the content, obviously :-D


seahunt  said about 1 year ago:

Pity The Zebras moved from Brisbane to Melbourne and then promptly disappeared. I really liked their jangle.


JunkiePhil  said about 1 year ago:

The Stevens are IMO the best band going in Melbourne.
They don't fall into the 'Melbourne Jangle' for me at all.


djbollocks  said about 1 year ago:

I love the Melbourne jangle.


electricsound  said about 1 year ago:

zebras are still around. making a new record iirc


Mess+Noise  said about 1 year ago:

Good call on Boomgates. Who else did we miss?


black wasp!  said about 1 year ago:

When it does finally surface later this year, it should capture that signature mix of breathy pop purity and total ramshackle sprawl that’d be right at home on Flying Nun.

Don't forget a shit tonne of ridiculous flanging!


electricsound  said about 1 year ago:

also the pop singles album is coming out on night-people not underwater peoples


seahunt  said about 1 year ago:

New Estate?


electricsound  said about 1 year ago:

new estate are rock monsters


memphis  said about 1 year ago:

is a label from brisbane leading the charge in melbourne jangle?


Sunnyboyz  said about 1 year ago:

I feel like 'jangling' is something your testicles do when you decide to go without undies while wearing a baggy pair of track pants.


Sunnyboyz  said about 1 year ago:

My balls are jangling.


Mess+Noise  said about 1 year ago:

also the pop singles album is coming out on night-people not underwater peoples

fixed


rawr  said about 1 year ago:

nice to hear that milk teddy is still a thing. high quality band.

i picked the wrong time to switch from jangle to crappy synthpop

:(


specialaward  said about 1 year ago:

Milk Teddy = best band of 09


voidster  said about 1 year ago:

hmm...i have only briefly listened to the clips above but not much sounds like what I would call jangle pop.


Bowie  said about 1 year ago:

12 string rick...please.


tigers  said about 1 year ago:

JunkiePhil said 53 minutes ago:
The Stevens are IMO the best band going in Melbourne.
They don't fall into the 'Melbourne Jangle' for me at all.

I at least partially agree with both these statements. Top band.


timscottt  said about 1 year ago:

Chook Race have been known to get the jangle on.


three month sunset  said about 1 year ago:

The Zebras still play sporadically.
Jeremy's in the midst of recording a new album which is sounding amazing!


specialaward  said about 1 year ago:

Jenga


nomad  said about 1 year ago:

The Anthony Rochesters doing similar things in Hobart. Much more Sarah than Flying Nun, but guitar pop all the same.


DavidNichols  said about 1 year ago:

'While the city can’t claim The Go-Betweens or The Cannanes'

The city can claim Send Me A Lullabye era Go-Betweens
Bendigo can claim the Cannanes, for many it's a dormitory suburb for Melbourne

QED


Jerm  said about 1 year ago:

Melbourne shuffle > Melbourne jangle


seahunt  said about 1 year ago:

Melbourne shuffle > Melbourne jangle

Melbourne reggaeton > Melbourne shuffle > Melbourne jangle


black wasp!  said about 1 year ago:

janglist massive


dnzr  said about 1 year ago:

chillmate

under appreciated post.


zombo  said about 1 year ago:

didn't realise Male Bonding were such advocates of Melbourne music. that's nice.


anok  said about 1 year ago:

nice one doug.


birdslovefighting  said about 1 year ago:

The Ocean Party and Grand Prismatic are playing this Saturday (22 Sept) at Yah Yah's - and to tie it into the Canberra theme - From The South (containing members of Cat Cat and Meanwhile) are also on the bill.

Should be a great gig.


josejones  said about 1 year ago:

chillmate

chillmate is distinctly different and not city-specific. it's the next instalment in this series.


unvisible  said about 1 year ago:


unvisible  said about 1 year ago:


unvisible  said about 1 year ago:



djbollocks  said about 1 year ago:

Get on board kiddies, the janglebus is coming!


black wasp!  said about 1 year ago:


Urquhart Bluff  said about 1 year ago:

electricsound  said 1 day ago:
i picked the wrong time to switch from jangle to crappy synthpop

Haha. Me too. Thankfully I've still got a Rickenbacker buried somewhere under my synths and drum machines.


lolsmith  said about 1 year ago:

~~~~JANGLE WILL NEVA DIE 2012~~~~


Urquhart Bluff  said about 1 year ago:

SK8 IN 88


Bowie  said about 1 year ago:

I want to
Believe


doubtfulsounds  said about 1 year ago:

Growing up on the Flying Nun sound in NZ makes all these bands sound both refreshing and nostalgic. I've been digging Twerps, Dick Diver, Lower Plenty, Scott & Charlene's Wedding, Boomgates, Bad Dreems (Adelaide), Bushwalking (mixed origins) etc so it's great to get a heads up on some of the other similar bands coming up on the Melbourne scene. The Bats sound like defining pioneers in most cases.


bill, (not ted)  said about 1 year ago:

I wonder how conscious the Flying Nun influences actually are for these bands...I've heard plenty of stories about similar bands starting up to sound like the Clean or whatever, but some of these guys are really referencing a whole bunch of bands and I'm not certain that they're really intimately familiar with the Clean AND the bats, chills, verlaines, etc etc... I'm sure a lot of it is these bands being influenced by their contemporaries...

Makes no difference to me, cos I fuckin love this shit.


doubtfulsounds  said about 1 year ago:

Yeah I'm sure they've been just as influenced by Pavement, The Velvet Underground, The Smiths, The Go-Betweens and an endless list of other acts. There is just that organic, simple sound with unassuming vocals that feels like (for me) such a strong link to some of the FN bands.


foxhawk  said about 1 year ago:

By the way, where's the Boomgates album review? It's unreal.


Mess+Noise  said about 1 year ago:

By the way, where's the Boomgates album review? It's unreal.

Sooooon


mule  said about 1 year ago:

If by jangle you mean pop then I agree


ASaltySalute  said about 1 year ago:

Velcro's life at sea is the best tape ive heard this year.


unvisible  said about 1 year ago:


unvisible  said about 1 year ago:

stupid markup

ahead of its time


seahunt  said about 1 year ago:

Oh, that Things of Stone and Wood song - so so bad.


Northside  said about 1 year ago:

The soundtrack for vinyl collecting office workers in steady relationships


devilwillride  said about 1 year ago:

One of the best parts of that clip, unvisible, is that it reminded me of Glengarry Glenn Ridge.


soula  said about 1 year ago:

hahaha!


elbowlickingood  said about 1 year ago:

The soundtrack for vinyl collecting office workers in steady relationships

haha


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