the smart folk - The I-94 Bar

A Sunny Afternoon At The Zoo - The Smart Folk (Studio 57 Recordings)

sunny afternoon at the zooThere’s no hiding the mod influence on this six-track CD from a bunch of Sydney veterans. It’s beat pop with a bright disposition that sometimes sounds like Paul Weller on happy pills.

TSF began life as a duo, playing acoustic covers under the name The Mayday Dreamers. By accident, design or both, they grew two more members over the next three years and took on their new moniker. This is their first release.

Like the band's story, the songs are relatively uncomplicated but well constructed. Folk traits are evident and pop harmonies abound. Peter Kowal’s pleasant vocal carries most of the songs, with fellow guitarist Chris Newton singing earthier lead on a couple. Keith Claringbold (bass) and Pete Iacono (drums) are much better than workmanlike, down there in the engine room.

A Sunny Afternoon looms with Sydney's The Smart Folk

 
Here's a preview of the new EP by Sydney's mod-inspired band The Smart Folk. They'll launch "A Sunny Afternoon At The Zoo" at Marrickville Bowling Club on Sunday, April 18 with special guesrts The OzSkas (ex-Allniters) and powerpopppers Ther Blue Rinse Set. You;; find the Facebook event here

Dark charms on display from Sydney veterans

yesterday repeatingYesterday Repeating - The Smart Folk (self released)

There’s a treasure trove of slightly backward-looking, beat and mod-based pop by veterans coming out of the UK on a coterie of labels like State Records and Damaged Goods right now. Aussie band The Smart Folk would be right at home on either of them. 

It doesn't have the explosive pop brashness of The Embrooks or the raw swagger of Graham Day or CTMF, but “Yesterday Repeating” displays its own slightly darker charm.

Born out of a mod revival duo in Sydney six years ago, these old codgers have become a staple on their hometown’s small but tenacious live scene. “Yesterday Repeating” is their debut full-length album and it’s reflective of the quartet’s stylistic starting point without being limited by it.

Thirty years later: The Conspirators return for one night only

conspirators 2017

If you remember the halcyon days of Sydney’s exploding live music scene in the 1980s, you need to make a beeline for Marrickville Bowling Club in the city's inner-west on Saturday night. 

The Conspirators were in the thick of it back then, an archetypal garage band formed by five then young Sydney music fans who were sick of paying to get into gigs. 

They became something of a fixture, growing a following and issuing a single and an EP before going on to other bands including The Sweet Ride, Psychotic Turnbuckles and Sheek the Shayk. 

With their last show 30 years ago, The Conspirators are reforming for one gig only. They’ll be joined by The Stukas - punk rock veterans - and rejuvenated mods, The Smart Folk. Special guest DJ will be Steven Danno, spinning his collection of prime ‘60s punk and ‘80s Detroit rock.

The Conspirators are doing a special re-issue CD of their back catalogue (plus a new song) for sale on the nightm and have had T-shirts printed for this auspicious occasion. Tickets available on the door or cheaper in advance here.

Three new albums and a re-issue walk into a bar...

venus fly trap  lucy cover
horse feathers yesterday repeating

Mars - The Venus Fly Trap (Glass Modern) 
It’s Not a Competition But I Win! – Lucy  (Lucy)
El Bendito Y El Maldito - Horse Feathers (Polar Bear Records)
Yesterday Repeating - The Smart Folk (Self-Released)

The Venus Fly Trap? Never heard of them.

On investigating a little on the Interwebs, it seems that not only have I heard of them, I’ve probably heard them, but forgotten them.

Well, it was about 30 years ago, back when the UK was still reeling in the bass-centric aftershock of bands like Killing Joke, the Fall and the Gang of Four, but more importantly, the Second Australian Wave (you know, The Birthday Party, the Moodists...).

Let’s not forget the impact of The Scientists either... Certainly the Jesus and Mary Chain were heavily influenced by the BP and Kim Salmon’s mob of hairy ruffians; the JMC emerged, screaming like babies with diaper rash, in 1983. Also, around 1986 Big Black were making an impact on the UK (which would lead to a short-lived “subgenre” the UK inkies dubbed “arsequake”; there was another daftly-termed subgenre as well but you get the idea).

Warm reception as The On and Ons welcome us aboard

look up thereThe On and Ons Glenn Morris and Jon Roberts with guest guitarist Murray Cook . Shona Ross photo

At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, this was a night of three contrasting but not dissimilar bands when The Smart Folk, Loose Pills and The On and Ons weaved their guitar pop web over Marrickville Bowling Club. It was also the album launch for The On and Ons' wonderful CD "Welcome Aboard".

These sorts of night are infrequent in Sydney these days. Ones where the bands on the bill complement each other and the venue doesn't turn people off, so they turn out in good numbers.

You’re here to read a live music review? Hang in there. There's a bit of preaching to go through, first...