11 Track, LP (2012, Independent)
Related: Popolice, Lehmann B. Smith, Emma Russack, Justin K Fuller, Yuko Kono, Rohin Jones.
Captured over three nights at Melbourne’s Gasometer Hotel last December, Bananas is the latest idiosyncratic product from label/collective Why Don’t You Believe Me?. WDYBM hosted the residency and Bananas was later compiled by Alec Marshall, who plays guitar for Emma Russack. (He and Russack did the artwork here too.) Available as a CD-R or download, it sees a range of different voices and sounds coalesce into a snapshot of Australian music that’s glorious in the humblest way.
Whatever their would-be genre, the featured artists share a certain outsider vibe. Or at least, they seem to in this intimate, no-frills setting, where you can hear both the audience and the occasional flubs. Andre Vanderwert’s quartet Andre and Teeth & Tongue guitarist Marc Regueiro-McKelvie’s band Popolice each pursue noisy indie rock with a ’90s-wrought combination of breeziness and angst, but they represent just one corner of Bananas. Mia Schoen Group (credited as MSG) and Velcro likewise specialise in jangling indie pop sweetness, but even they don’t overlap too much.
Furthering the variety, Matthew Brown offers wispy drone with flecks of noise, while ZOND guitarist Justin K. Fuller’s opening ‘11/12/11 (excerpt)’ comprises skittering layers that feel like a moving distortion sculpture. And even if you classify Kes Band’s Lehmann B. Smith as a mere singer-songwriter, his fluctuating warble makes ‘You Mean There’s More That We’re Yet to Burn’ all too unearthly. Leading a full band, Emma Russack displays her customary lyrical finesse on the previously unreleased ‘You Shouldn’t’, while Sydney’s Quaoub inhabits bleak songwriter-isms.
In other words, even the songs limited to guitar and voice don’t sound like your usual pub fare. Yuko Kono from My Pal Foot Foot sings fluidly in Japanese and teases out twinging folk melodies on ‘Fragment’, and The Middle East’s Rohin Jones nears the stern phrasing of Bill Callahan on the closing ‘All My Friends at a Petrol Stop’. Like so much here, the latter seems tousled and unstudied, presented more for the benefit of the performer and his peers than for any mass audience.
by Doug Wallen