wally meanie - The I-94 Bar
Matthew, Ash and Wally are Even. Emma-Jane Johnson photo.
Ask any Australian fan of hooky powerpop who they rate and the answer will almost inevitably include Even, the Melbourne institution that’s been a fixture on the Oz scene since forming in 1994. Fronted by singer-songwriter-guitarist, Ashley Naylor, with Matthew Cotter on drums and Wally Kempton (aka Wally Meanie) on bass and backing vocals, they have just released their eighth album, “Down The Shops”, and it's reviewed here.
“Down The Shops” is a beautifully presented, vinyl collection of covers Even has released down the years. Ever since working up a rocking version of Badfinger’s “No Matter What” in their early mid-‘90s days playing the pubs around Fitzroy and St Kilda, Even have usually had a cover or two on the go. And they weren’t adverse to working up a load of them; they did "Even Jukebox" performances every year at Melbourne’s Cherry Bar.
The Meanies. Nick Ramage photo.
Cull - The Band
Thursday, 14 April 2022
You can't fault this sort of gig. First, it was one of those where folks you'd not seen in ages (I hadn't seen Nick in something like 25 years, for example0 and it was the eve of the first day where we can mostly ditch masks, QR codes and “social” distancing.Needless to say, most of us ain't 22 anymore so a lot of us were increasingly (and occasionally entertainingly - like the chap who tried to set up his own circular mosh pit) quite successfully drunk.
On the stage were three bands which instantly grab your attention, hold it despite your need to go for a wee or get more Coopers Pale, and keep you hanging on till the end of their set.
Bad Bad Barrel of Monkeys - The Meanies b/w Goodbye Man - Glenn Richards + House of Bassinet - Snout (Fantastic Mess Records)
Just a stab in the dark here, but it’s likely that anything on a short-run seven-inch single by Melbourne institution, The Meanies, will sell out faster than toilet paper during a second wave of Coronavirus. So the parable at the outset is: Don’t snooze unless you want to lose.
This is the latest in a run of limited edition singles by The Meanies. The good news for fans is that it’s available today. The bad news is that it’s only one song, with the B side devoted to songs by related acts Glenn Richards (of Augie March) and Snout. Two guests on the flip is how the series runs so it shouldn't be a disappointment.
“Bad Bad Barrel of Monkeys” is catchier than the aforementioned Coronavirus with simple lyrics, a hooky refrain and a snaking guitar line. It’s instantly likeable. The B side plays at 33rpm and shudders into life with “Goodbye Man”, a steamy psych rocker preceded by a curious snatch of studio babbling. Glennn Richards plays everything. Snout’s “House of Bassinet” is swampy yet percussive pop and just as good, with subtle instrumentation and a rightfully credited whistling line. Buy it here.
A tense moment at a Meanies band meeting: Wally Kempton-Meanie (right) comes to the realisation that it's his shout and he left his wallet in Spain.
Wally Kempton is a busy man. Fresh from a Meaniestour of Spain (more on that later) last month, Kempton hopped off the plane in Melbourne and into the van for various tour managing duties.
In the coming days he’ll be rehearsing with Ash Naylor and Matt Cotter in preparation for next week’s annual Even Christmas shows, then regrouping with The Meanies for a gig at Hotel Westwood with Super American Eagle and Rocket Science. Then there’s the raft of current, imminent and potential signings to his Cheersquad Records label and associated promotional and general label managerial activities. “I just can’t stop!” Wally laughs.