half a cow - The I-94 Bar

John Dowler wants to have you in stitches

johndowler band

Australian cult power pop singer-songwriter John Dowler, best remembered for his groups Young Modern and the Zimmermen (and their classic 1985 single “Don’t Go to Sydney”), is returning with a new album, "12 Stiches".

It's the second long-player for John Dowler's Vanity Project. and comprises 10 new band originals, a Brian Wilson tune and an interpretation of Split Enz’s “Time for A Change”.  



Half A Cow is releasing "12 Stitches" digitally and on CD on May 1 and it's preceded by an EP, "A Certain Reputation". It features the first single “Billy’s Pizza” and three non-album tracks - new versions of Spare Change’s acerbic and artful “Let’s Get Rich Together” and the Zimmermen’s chiming “Ordinary Man”. Get it here.

Liquorice - The Ramalamas (Half a Cow)

licouriceThis is an intruiging and charmingly all-over-the-shop album on which this Sydney five-piece sheds its alt.country label and heads for a garage in a swamp. There's more variety in this Licourice than a pallet-load of Darrel Lea Allsorts. 

The Ramalamas have been around for a decade or so, led by Chris Nielsen (vocals-guitar) and subsisting in their city’s fragmented live circuit while putting out a string of albums, of which this is their fourth. Nielsen name-checks the usual ‘60s references (Kinks, Stones) with a nod to the US West Coast’s psychedelic folk-pop scene. 

As well as owning a serviceable pop voice and playing nifty guitar, Nielsen is an award-wininng illustrator and his work adorns the CD cover and inlay. 

Oz powerpop pioneer's return carries a hard edge

john dowler and bandJohn Dowler (second from he left) and his Vanity Project.

John Dowler concedes that the name of his solo project, John Dowler’s Vanity Project, is tainted with irony. But, Dowler adds, “a friend of mine did tell me that all bands are vanity projects in one way or another – certainly all of mine are. So I just owning up to it”.

On the basis of his longevity in the rock’n’roll caper, Dowler has cause for at least a modicum of be vanity. Add into the equation the fact Dowler was four bars ahead of the rock’n’roll curve when his contemporaries were still mimicking Beatles chords, and the guy should really have his name in lights somewhere.

Vale Hummingbirds vocalist-guitarist Simon Holmes

simon holmesSimon Holmes with the reformed Hummingbirds at their sold-out Sydney show in 2016. Murray Bennett photo

Simon Holmes, member of influential Sydney fuzz-pop band The Hummingbirds, has passed away suddenly. His son, Milo C. St Clare-Holmes, made the announcement on his father’s Facebook page yesterday.

His passing was marked by another brief message on The Hummingbirds’ Facebook page: “Simon Holmes, beloved father, friend to countless and our band mate, passed away last week. Our hearts are broken.” It prompted a massive outpouring of grief across social media.