New Centre Of The Universe Vol. 1
18 Track, Compilation (2012, Anti Fade)
Related: Mikey Young, Geelong, Anti Fade.
You can get this on CD or digitally, but really it’s best on cassette. Not just because the compilation splits in half between Melbourne and Geelong bands, but because of the songs’ warped, salvaged-sounding quality. It’s a garage comp, after all, though it doesn’t say that anywhere and Dick Diver’s Al Montfort-penned heartbreaker ‘Too Hard Basket’ embraces the kind of quietude that destroys us with a mere tambourine.
That lovely anomaly aside, these songs can lean towards the interchangeable. Mastered by Mikey Young, they’re short, blurted and possessed of a vintage rawness. And yeah, garage is the touchstone here, but there’s room for very specific approaches within that realm. For all the Troggs riffing of Ross De Chene Hurricanes, there’s the narcoleptic twang of Facetime’s ‘Channel Love’ and The Galaxy Folk’s unexpectedly sweet pop edge. Even The UV Race sound more thoughtful and experimental on opener ‘Back on the Shelf’ than the caveman brashness they’re easily capable of, and we get not ’60s pop homage from The Frowning Clouds but a surf instrumental that’s very ‘Rumble’-endebted.
In true garage spirit, the best tracks do a lot with not very much at all. Killer entries by Heirophants and The Clits are made more so for being coolly pared back, while Mesa Cosa manage the catchiest song here – and one of the most punk – sheerly by barking the title of ‘Shop Lifter’ repeatedly. Likewise, Ausmuteants’ 'Artificial Insemination’ gets so much roguish charm out of the simple rhyme “It’s so easy to complain/when you only use 10% of your brain.” And even by these shambling, no-budget standards, The Malibooz’s drowsy closer ‘Pier Pressure’ sounds like it’s literally going to fall apart at any second.
Eighteen tunes, and not a bum track. Not just that, but a document of a new breeding ground for bands that glance fondly to the past without embalming themselves in the process. Geelong is only 75 km from Melbourne, and the two have been feeding off each other’s energy lately. Many of these bands might just have ties to both places – like The Bonniwells, who are also Kiwis originally.
By the same token, Geelong label Anti Fade has singles coming up from Sydney’s Straight Arrows and Nashville’s Useless Eaters. That’s what New Centre Of The Universe is about: pulling all these kindred spirits out of the woodwork and putting them together in one place to make you realise how lucky we are. And this is only volume one.
by Doug Wallen