Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Super! Furry Animals!

I've just spent the past three weeks touring around Victoria with my folks. It was my dad's first time in Australia after years of refusal, so I was quite keen to show him that it is a nice place after all and not just somewhere that steals your children.

I was aided in my quest by the native flora and fauna who decided to come out to play at the right time. Buds flowered, cockatoos squawked and - after ten years of trying - I finally saw a penguin in the wild (see below). The picture isn't great but when you've traipsed fruitlessly around the Australian coastline and done two trips to New Zealand without seeing so much as some fresh penguin poo next to some flipper shaped footprints then you can understand my joy.

However I did start to entertain the possibility that my dad is secretly Ace Ventura three days later whilst driving around Cape Otway where we turned a corner to be treated to the sight of not one but an entire treeful of wild koalas. They were even sitting in the handy low down photo-friendly branches. Now even I've seen a few stoned koalas in Dubbo Zoo but I have to admit there is something quite special about seeing an entire brood happily going about their business in their own backyard.

Anyway, a big thanks to the Australian animal population for putting on a great show for my parents; they very much appreciated it. They'll be back in two or three years so if you can let the kangaroos and platypus know for next time that would be great.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Mint Custard's Australian Top 40 Countdown: 4

So here we are, the toppermost of the poppermost of the Mint Custard Australian Music Top 40 countdown. I'm sure many of you will have tutted away in despair over the past 10 days. Maybe you'll finally find something to smile about in the list below - I know I do.

10. The Court of King Caractacus - Rolf Harris (1964) - much beloved in Britain, Rolf Harris has long been the man who put the cringe in cultural cringe for many Australians. In all my time here I've only met two or three people who can tolerate him in any way, much less like him. Rolf is one of this countries tallest poppies and yet he has done more to share the wonders of Australia to the world than any other entertainer. Pre-Neighbours, Rolf was the first contact most British kids had with Australia. He painted bush landscapes and cockatoos, played the didge and music sticks. He sang about kangaroos and Darwin and Jindabyne and the Six White Boomers that pull Father Christmas around down here. Eye-opening stuff when you're six. For me, Rolf is a formidable entertainer. He may be an embarrassing older uncle to some Australians, but to others he's a tour de force - an 80 year old tornado that never stops moving and giving his all. He's been on TV for almost 50 years bringing music and art (and a few sick kittens) to the masses. I got his autograph once, back in the UK, but more importantly I finally got to see him play last year at the Sydney Opera House. It was a beautiful summer's evening and he played everything that I wanted to hear - including a snippet of the Court of King Caractacus - and as I looked at the stage I couldn't help but wonder if perhaps this was the guy who started me out on the path to this country in the first place.

9. Demon Days – Robert Forster (2008) - from wonder to heartbreak with a devastatingly beautiful song for a fallen comrade. Demon Days is taken from The Evangelist, Robert Forster's first solo album after the unexpected death of his fellow Go-Between Grant McLennan in 2006 aged just 49. Some of the songs on the Evangelist (including this one) were written by Forster and McLennan for what should have been the Go-Betweens' next album, so whilst Grant doesn't appear in person his spirit is all over Robert's finest solo album. The song Demon Days is affecting enough without the eerie foretelling in the lyrics that 'something's not right, something's gone wrong' or that 'fingers of fate, stretch out and take'. Forster has stated that it's the more jaunty It Ain't Easy which was written explicitly as a tribute to his late partner but the whole of the Evangelist, and especially Demon Days, is a beautiful last stand bugle call for a wonderful man.

8. Come to My Senses – M. Craft (2004) or Martin as his mum calls him... and probably Jarvis Cocker whose band Mr Craft seems to have become a member of since moving to England from his native Canberra. As nice as that must be, personally I'm keen to hear some new music from Martin himself, who briefly threatened to become Australia's answer to Elliott Smith with the 2004 EP I Can See It All Tonight and 2006 full length Silver and Fire. Come to My Senses is a gently-rollicking, shuffling, slightly funky number with layers of vocals and a guitar which echoes Edwin Collins' A Girl Like You - and I've probably still sold it short. You'll have to seek out the I Can See It All Tonight EP to hear it, but for a nice M.Craft taster why not watch the clip for Sweets featuring another lovely Australian export, Rose Byrne.

7. Stop Go – The Tranquilizers (2004) or the self proclaimed laziest band in Melbourne. I saw this scuzzy Australian / New Zealand combo supporting somebody I've long forgotten in Sydney and was taken enough to buy their self titled EP on which Stop Go appears. Their detached, organ-driven sound isn't wholly original, but if you want your rock infused with the ghosts of the Velvet Underground, Clinic, the Charlatans, Spiritualized and drenched in the cool of the Jesus and Mary Chain then this is your song. I played my Dad it yesterday and even he liked it - so keep an eye out for it in second hand shops.

6. Sleep Foreverthe redsunband (2004) – yes, another song from 2004; I was surprised myself. For much of that period the Sydney band scene seemed to be about which bunch of pretty boys with guitars would make it first. Much glee then in the fact that the decade's best guitar tune came from the redsunband, a girl-boy-girl dream-pop trio fronted by Sarah Kelly - the diminutive indie sauce-pot that Natalie Imbruglia wants to be. Sleep Forever is a dreamy, sexy, spiky two minute gem without an ounce of fat in its skinny jeans. It has nods to Cat Power and Elastica and yet manages to be more discrete in it's pilfering than Justine Frischmann's former band. When they visited our radio show they came on matching red bicycles which was a nice touch. More power to bands on bikes, I say.

5. The E.L.F – Cockroaches (2008) - when I said that I would only allow one song per artist in this Top 40, I hope I was clear that I didn't include solo careers of people in bands. No? Bugger... well anyway... consider this my first cheat and be warned that it won't be the last... but it's worth it because The E.L.F (aka Gerling's Darren Cross) is worth his place for this hugely catchy indie-dance number about insect infestation, breakfast and genocide. Musically influenced by the lo-fi aesthetic of Cornershop's 1997 album When I was Born for the 7th Time, the beauty of Cockroaches lies in Darren's genial acceptance of his lot amongst his insect invaders. Meanwhile, the video is another piece of lo-fi gold. It allegedly cost $12 which - considering its 250,000 hits on You Tube - must make Kanye's record company weep. Mind you, Kanye still hasn't recorded anything this good either...

4. Know Your Product – The Saints (1978) I'm conscious as I run out of places on this list that there are some Australian bands that I know I will like when I get to hear more of them. David McCombs' The Triffids are one, Radio Birdman another. Ten years is not enough to absorb everything one country has to offer and I'm sure if I repeat this process in a decade this list will look a bit different. And yet some bands leap out of jukeboxes and off the pages of rock encyclopedias in a way that makes you sit up and take notice, even 35 years on. Brisbane's The Saints are one of those bands, one of Australia's holy of holies whose influence is so big that they have a rightful claim to have developed the sound which the Clash and the Sex Pistols took to the masses as punk. I'm Stranded remains their most famous song, but it's Know Your Product - the lead track from their sophomore album - that gets me dancing. With its huge brass riff married to Stooges guitars, Know Your Product leaves behind the punk sound to foreshadow Dexy's Midnight Runners' Searching for the Young Soul Rebels worldview. Vocalist Chris Bailey's delivery also sounds like it made an impression on a young Mark E Smith as he was putting together the Fall's first long player. Maybe the Saints will never be recognised outside of these shores, but those who know know something very special indeed. Do the Professor!

3. Run DNA – the Avalanches - (1997) Ah, the Avalanches, a band whose last album was so glorious that they haven’t felt the need to release even a hint of a follow up for over eight years - a work rate that makes the Stone Roses and Elastica look like sweat shop employees. 2000’s sampladelic Since I Left You, its title track and UK top ten single Frontier Psychiatrist marked the end of a remarkable period for Melbourne’s premier genre-destroying party band during which they went from indie-hopefuls to Madonna-sampling remixers to the stars. In this time they almost single-handedly invented the mash-up, redefined live hip-hop shows and gave Australian dance music a much needed kick up the arse. But it all started with 1997’s El Producto - the sound of Odelay-era Beck, Hello Nasty Beastie Boys and the Lo-Fidelity Allstars emerging triumphant from the carnage of a three-truck pile up, standing on the roofs of their flaming, twisted vehicles, plugging in their instruments and playing an impromptu party to passers-by whilst they wait for the rescue crews. Run DNA (or the ‘it’s in my backpack’ song) is just one piece of sheer brilliance El Producto has to offer, but it’s also my favourite. If you get time have a look at their performance on the ABC’s Recovery and understand why, at least in this corner of the world, we’re holding our breath for their return.

2. Surfing Magazines – the Go-Betweens (2000) A dear friend of mine who is an artist once told me she loves watching people age or (as she put it) 'growing into their faces'. She thinks that some people only blossom when time starts etching lines onto their youthful features. As vain as I am I do think there is some truth in this. Youth usually wins the PR battle, but there are little things worth shouting about as you get older.

For example, it seems like no matter where you start, the playing field has a way of levelling out. High achievers and those with better things to do eventually meet somewhere on common ground where school grades and university degrees don’t matter anymore. Similarly, those of us wracked with adolescent angst for our pimpled faces and dimpled bottoms find ways to survive until we meet other beautiful dimply, pimply types and realise that life isn’t so bad after all. Over time things that are good and important become clearer and, with practice, the horrid and the trivial can be put in their place. They don’t really explain these things at school.

I pontificate thus, because when I think of the Go-Betweens – and specifically founder members Robert Forster and Grant McLennan – they remind me (and forgive the Hallmark sentimentality here) that great art and beauty are ageless.

My introduction to the Go-Betweens was via their first post-reformation album, The Friends of Rachel Worth. For me this meant I had no expectations for them to live up to. When I saw them live I wasn’t hankering for Spring Rain or Cattle and Cane. I was quietly pleased that they played most of the new album because I loved it to death. Most of all I remember Robert – an imposing figure at the best of times; equal parts toreador, dandy and RAF pilot – running around the drum riser for at least five laps at the end of the gig with an energy that belied both his age and gentlemanly demeanour.

The decision to get back together as the Go-Betweens after a ten year hiatus cannot have been easy. Few reformed bands ever make music worthy of their history – even the commercially successful ones. Ageing musicians assure us that they have become more technically accomplished these days and that their next release is their finest work. Yet all too often we end up with a highly polished turd and turn back to their older records that we grew up with.

The Friends of Rachel Worth is the antidote to ageing rocker syndrome. Musically it’s deliciously light and spacious; lyrically as deep as the ocean and as funny as Peter Cook. Without knowing, it would be hard to guess it was the work of a band who disbanded after 12 frustrating years without a bona fide hit, despite being one of the greatest bands - perhaps the greatest - that Australia has produced. Surfing Magazines is Forster's nostalgic paean to innocent youthful kicks and Australia’s best surfing beaches. The topic, delivery and sing-a-long da dah da dah refrain would be wrong from any other band, but in the hands of two men with this much warmth, talent and a point to prove it can't help but feel just right.

We got the Go-Betweens for another six years during which they recorded two more wonderful albums, and with 2005's Ocean's Apart, finally received some of the recognition they deserved. Their decision to go one more time around the block vindicated, it's a relaxed Grant and Robert that feature on their Striped Sunlight Sound DVD playing back through their catalogue on acoustic guitars in McLennan's house and telling the stories of the songs. Much like Johnny Cash's disintegrating voice added gravitas to his American Recordings, so the dry humour, Australian imagery, nostalgia and poetry that infuses their work seemed more appropriate delivered by the middle aged Go-Betweens, as if this was the age they were always meant to be.

With McLennan's death we were all robbed, none more so than Forster who seemed to be finding a new stride. Still, I'm thankful for having seen them at all and even more grateful to them for proving that if you wait long enough, everyone gets their moment in the (striped) sun.

1. There She Goes, My Beautiful World - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (2004)

And so we come to the end, but what a glorious way to finish. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds may seem a rather obvious choice – even if they don’t actually live in Australia - but this was a surprise to me. If I’m honest I truly thought that the Go-Betweens were a shoe-in for the top spot when I first started. I have a few Bad Seeds albums, but I’m no obsessive. Yet this list is about songs and when push comes to shove There She Goes, My Beautiful World inhabits a special place in my head.

Taken from their 2004 (that year again) magnum opus
Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, TSGMBW has more angles than an Escher painting. It is simultaneously a treaty on the relationship between artist and muse, a plea to the heavens for inspiration, a call to arms for underachievers, a doffing of the cap to famous writers in history and a love song to life itself.

Cave’s lyrics are perfection. He’s both egotistical (
I will ask for nothing but everlasting life), reverential (John Wilmot penned his poetry riddled with the pox, Johnny Thunders was half alive when he wrote Chinese Rocks) and playful (you weren't much of a muse, but then I weren't much of a poet). Elsewhere there are more references to trials and tribulations that faced other writers (Karl Marx squeezed his carbuncles while writing Das Kapital, And Gauguin, he buggered off, man, and went all tropical) and even a cute slap down of the town where I was born (Philip Larkin stuck it out in a library in Hull) which leaves me more honoured for the mention than offended.

Ultimately Cave is dissecting his writers block (
me, I'm lying here, for what seems years, I'm just lying on my bed with nothing in my head) and with that knowledge even the title seems to take on new meaning and increased desperation with every repeat: wonderment (there she goes, my beautiful world!), frustration (there she goes, my beautiful world), and finally anguish (there she goes!) Cave urges others to not to succumb to his fate (if you got a trumpet, get on your feet, brother, and blow it!) and, anxious to capture something – anything - he can before it’s too late, begs for help from some higher being (send that stuff on down to me!)

Musically, it is breathless stuff; rollicking, thunderous, highly emotional. Cave’s voice rises and falls across every chapter and sub-chapter, occasionally turning words into howls. You can almost sense his total physical collapse by the end. He’s backed by a celestial sounding choir and the Bad Seeds at full pelt, urging him on with a cacophony designed to wake the Gods. In short, it is ace. Watch this video of the Cave-ster live on Later. You’ll be glad you did.

So there you go. Ten years, forty songs. Hardly representative of a country but representative of the time I’ve spent here. Thanks for reading through and feel free to suggest any of your favourites that you think I might like. Might I suggest that you don’t bother with any Hilltop Hoods or AC/DC though – there should be enough clues above – but I do love a good recommendation if you’ve got one.

Right, that's that. I’m off for a cheese and vegemite sandwich. TTFN.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Mint Custard's Australian Top 40 Countdown: 3

And so into the teens with the Mint Custard Australian Music Top 40, and the point where Silverchair fans might start twitching angrily. Sorry about that. It's also where my heart starts to rule my head even more which is always dangerous during list-making activities such as these. Anyway, onwards and upwards...

20. Dream it Down – Underground Lovers (1994) - Although they have plenty of stand out singles, Melbourne's Underground Lovers are a band I've only ever listened to through their albums, so choosing one track is like asking someone to pick out their favourite colour in a painting. Dream it Down is in my head today, but it could just as easily have been 20 others. Underground Lovers sound like a broadcast from a dream where My Bloody Valentine, the Smashing Pumpkins, the Chemical Brothers, Doves and New Order have come together and agreed not to play anything that might wake the neighbours. And yet their sound is recognisably and uniquely theirs. Founder members Vince Giarrusso and Glenn Bennie are two more invisible icons of Australian alternative music and if I'd realised when I saw them in 2000 that I wouldn't see them again I'd have cheered harder for an encore. It's just been announced that the orginal line up will play the 2009 Homebake Festival, so here's hoping for some smaller shows really soon. Believe the hype.

19. Just a Song About Ping PongOperator Please (2007) teenage pop genius from a bunch of Gold Coast school kids which probably resulted in as many people hating them as loving them. This insanely catchy song about, well, ping pong, catapulted them cartoon-style around the world as the UK music press embraced their unashamed day-glow approach to pop. Singer Amandah Wilkinson has a delivery which belies her tender years, whilst their album Yes Yes Vindictive has depths that show they can be more than one-hit wonders. Just a Song about Ping Pong makes me feel simultaneously old and young again, which is all you can ask of any pop song.

18. The Heavy Metal Temptress – the Crustaceans (2004) history likes to deride the Monkees as the joke Beatles, but this denies the pleasures to be had listening to Peter, Michael, Davey and Mickey do their thing. Similarly, the Crustaceans may sound like the Lucksmiths' cheeky little brothers but their talents and charms are to be ignored at your peril. They guested on a community radio show that I used to be involved in and were very excited to be there, which is rather sweet considering that singer Vijay Khurana is now a JJJ radio presenter. The Heavy Metal Temptress itself is a lo-fi tale of trying to secure love despite musical differences featuring jangly guitars, vocal harmonies, a saxophone and an apocryphal lyrical hook ('it never rains in Sydney'). It echoes the Go-Betweens' Too Much of One Thing whilst proudly displaying their love of the Candle Records sound. Speaking of which...

17. Smokers in Love – the Lucksmiths (1999) like Michael Stipe and his lost religion it's possible that I've said too much, or I haven't said enough about the Lucksmiths of late, so I'll just pick out three lines from Smokers in Love as examples of what I'll miss them for most:

  • You spent Thursday on your backside whistling 'Friday On My Mind'
  • Happy and hungover on the first day of October
    Struggling to remember the last night of September
  • Amidst a sea of empty bottles, crockery and coffee cups
    Using anything for ashtrays, drinking drinks you can’t afford
    And you’re still bored
Let me know if you think you can do better. But I bet you can't.

16. The Management Hates Us – Gaslight Radio (2002) - 2 mins and 4 seconds of eery lo-fi delight excavated from the middle of 2002 EP called Chapter 6: The Hard Luck Knights. Distant police sirens and a lone acoustic guitar accompany a voice which sounds like it's being broadcast from downtown New York in 1920. His message isn't clear but there great pleasures in lines like 'christian surfers are meaner than snakes' and 'if you want someone to please, go and please yourself.' The whole EP is wonderful, with echoes of the Flaming Lips, but it's never more touching than this song.

15. Unguarded Moment – the Church (1981) it's not often that karaoke makes you say 'ooh, I like that song' but so it was with Unguarded Moment, which first came to my attention when being hollered out by Mrs Custard and her sister one New Year. Unguarded Moment (occasionally prefixed with 'The') was the Church's second single, their first hit, and - for many - the only Church song that people know, which is a shame because none of their other singles sound like this. As you might guess from the karaoke intro, Unguarded Moment is a singalong classic, replete der der der guitar and keyboards and a middle eight that slows to a trot before building to a resounding finale. For some reason it also gets me a bit teary, but then I'm always a bit soppy at New Year...

14. Strung Along and DumpedGrand Salvo (2000) It might be because I've just moved to his hometown, but it does seem that Melbourne's Paddy Mann is starting to get the acclaim he rightly deserves. He's just put out his fifth album of real quality, and in many ways he reminds me of the Daniel Kitson, such is his aversion to interviews and press and his preference to let his craft do the talking. This was his first song that really spoke to me, and I love it from its no-nonsense title to the broken but gentle way he sings about it. It's taken from his first album 1642-1727 and is available as a free download from the Grand Salvo page of the Pharmacy Records site. You can go now if you like, I don't mind.

13. Hard BiscuitPnau (1999) - a hypnotic, slowly escalating sexy monster of a song built around a muffled bass loop and someone repeating (what sounds like) 'you'll probably find you don't love me' which, even when it peaks only clobbers you gently over the head - with a silk pillow. Hard Biscuit's parent album, Sambanova is full of similarly relaxed, loungey and slightly saucy tunes and was released four times such was the feeling that it deserved a wider audience than the cafes and bars of Sydney where it was unavoidable around the millennium. It was nice to see the Pnau boys finally getting some acclaim with 2007's PNAU, especially because it resulted in a stage show featuring people dressed as dancing fruit.

= 11. Anatomically Correct – Custard (1997) and Purple Sneakers – You Am I (1995) - two Australian indie monsters inextricably linked together in my head so it's fitting that Brisbane's Custard and Sydney's You Am I jointly occupy the last spot outside the top ten. The other reason is that Anatomically Correct rules my feet but Purple Sneakers rules my heart, and I don't want one to prevail over the other so they'll just have to share. Key to the success of both groups were their respective frontmen. Dave McCormack (Custard) and Tim Rogers (You Am I) represented a new form of Aussie rock larrikin; roguishly charming, talented, intelligent and very real.

McCormack once sportingly appeared on our radio show to play a silly game we did late at night. He was already amiably drunk and sporting fresh cuts on his arm after falling off a sea wall and landing on barnacles. Willing but confused, he marked out his progress in the game on his good arm using permanent black marker, before staggering off a winner into the night. I sometimes wonder what the hell he thought he'd been up to when he woke up the next morning. Anyway, Anatomically Correct is one of my favourite driving-with-the-windows-down-singing-loudly songs and we all need one of those.

Purple Sneakers meanwhile is probably destined for greater things. Much beloved of Sydney dwellers for its references to the Glebe Point Bridge, Purple Sneakers already has a popular indie night named after it and dance floors still go off with a mixture of air guitar and lighters in the air when it comes on. The song's big question - do you need somebody to feel somebody? - is as important in the indie disco as Stephen Patrick Morrissey's observation about going to clubs (and leaving them etc) on your own. One for the best of all time lists... which is why it's here too.

Mint Custard's Australian Top 40 Countdown: 2

So, continuing the top 40 countdown of Australian music that makes Mint Custard smile, we enter the roaring twenties. Powderfinger fans prepare yourselves for disappointment...

30. Q.Kumbers – Resin Dogs (1999) a highly danceable, hook-laden big beat number cut from the same cloth as the Wiseguys' Ooh La La and notably featuring the 'my fucking dog is stuck inside the piano' sample used by Skint alumnus Indian Ropeman. For me this single is forever wedded in time to I Love You But... by Friendly, a similarly messed up Aussie big beat song which starts of quite innocently and turns into a rave run by homicidal robots from space with klaxons for mouths. Both songs are worth five minutes of your funk time.

29. Being Followed – Rocket Science (2003) I discovered Melbourne's Rocket Science by beautiful accident whilst dancing at Sounds of Seduction - Sydney's then premiere night out. Hosted by the incomparable Jay Katz and Miss Death, Sounds was/is a sexy melange of trash culture, funk, go-go dancers, sixties psychedelia, rare groove, sci-fi, rockabilly, TV themes and fancy dress with DJs and live bands. Rocket Science arrived on stage one night in the middle of all the chaos as if they had been beamed from another planet - one where people dress like pilots from 1970s commercial airliners which they control by using theramins and howling like the devil. The track Burn in Hell captures them in all their primal urgency but it's this hammond organ-driven paranoid anthem from their second album that shows they're why they deserve more success.

28. Circle High and Wide – Snout (1998) - My first Snout gig was one of their very last as sadly they split up in 2002 with singer Ross McLennan going on to do great things on his own. I wasn't around for the good bits, but have always loved Circle High and Wide - a wedding of sixties vocal harmonies and crashing guitar choruses which reminds me of Supergrass at their very best.

27. No Birds Fly - The Model School (2006) - I'll declare my friendship with Brendan and the various pupils of his Model School upfront to avoid accusations of deceit, but I'll also be honest and say that if I didn't like the music I wouldn't keep going back for more. I've seen the Model School more times than any other band during their five year history and it's been interesting watching them mutate and still come up with the goods. Brendan's musical style has elicited favourable comparisons with Beck and the Eels over time, but songs like No Birds Fly - which both soars and soothes - reveal something more epic, whilst a cover of Prince's Controversy on their current EP shows a knack for digging out the heart of a song and holding it up in a new light. Their sophomore album, Memory Walls, is due later this year.

26. Some Kind of Bliss – Kylie Minogue (1997) - it may not score me many cool points but it would be a lie to deny Kylie's place in my life since she appeared on British screens in 1987. She shared equal teenage wall space with Debbie Gibson, but whilst Debbie expressed her burgeoning adulthood by becoming 'Deborah' and wearing hats, Kylie put on feather boas, hot pants and Bardot-style eyeliner, shagged Michael Hutchence and became what Wayne and Garth would have called la renard. I would eventually turn my attention to more 'worthy' music, but I never abandoned pop and especially not our Kylie, even when hits like What Do I Have To Do and Shocked dried up. It seems hard to credit now, but the mid-90s was a pretty fallow period for Ms Minogue as she struggled for a grown up musical identity post Stock, Aitken and Waterman. Perhaps a sign of her desperation was Some Kind of Bliss, an unlikely pairing with the Manic Street Preachers in the middle of their post-Design for Life imperial phase. And yet SKOB is a perfect string-laden Spectoresque summer pop song with not a hint of the irony or tongue-in-cheek sauciness that went on to dominate her career post 'comeback' hit Spinning Around. There is always art in pop - you just need the right ingredients - and Kylie is still the perfect cherry for the top of any cake.

25. Bower of Bliss – Clouds (1993) a song that provides the missing link between America's Vercua Salt and England's Elastica, and makes you wonder why Sydney's Jodi Phillis and Trish Young didn't receive similar worldwide acclaim. Bower of Bliss is as cool and detached as Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon performance in Kool Thing, and as hook-laden as anything Justine Frischmann ever magpied from Wire. Ace.

24. Just Keep Walking (1980) and Don’t Change (1982) – INXS - a notable sign of my Ozification is my changed attitude towards INXS. In a curious reversal from my spotty youth, my love for pre-international fame INXS has grown whilst I now find anything from Kick onwards pretty hard to listen to. Need You Tonight and Devil Inside may still be mainstays of Aussie FM radio, but generally people here prefer to remember Hutchence and co before they handed them over to the world. Watching old repeats of Countdown (Australia's now defunct Top of the Pops-style chart show) it's easy to see why. The Hutchence of old - lithe, bright-eyed, bristling with sexuality and literally towering over the other wannabes - was a far cry from the crap-Jim Morrison he became. His was a real talent, the loss of which his bandmates have never recovered from. Given his difficulty to find a place in the musical landscape in the Nineties, his avoidable death seems more tragic in light of this decade's love of all things Eighties. One can't help but feeling that in more ways than one, he went too early. Oh, and why two INXS songs? Because they're both ace and I can't decide which I like more. Which is why things like this happen...

23a. Spray Water on the Stereo – Turnstyle (1998) and 23b. Do the Whirlwind - Architecture in Helsinki (2005) Perth's Turnstyle provide a great shouty-chorused singalong with catchy keyboard hook that stays the right side of novelty song - but only just. Melbourne's Architecture in Helsinki walk a similar novelty line with the hugely catchy Do the Whirlwind which is like Bananarama singing along to a computer game backing track, so much so that they made a video to match. Don't let this description put you off though, it's still class.

22. Torn – Natalie Imbruglia (1997) according to the statistics Ms Imbruglia is one of the biggest selling female Australian artists of all time, having sold over 7 million albums. This is all the more amazing because other than the pop colossus that is Torn, most people would struggle to name any of her hits. This is not to detract from the love-it-or-hate-it power of her 1997 debut single - a cover of a single by US band Ednaswap. Torn is very much a sign of what was to come in the 2000s, MOR anthemic pop pitched perfectly as something alternative in a way that Robbie Williams, Coldplay, Keane and Snow Patrol have been mining ever since. The accompanying video of a tomboyish-haired, hoodied and naturally beautiful Imbruglia pouring her wounded heart out and singing about being naked on the floor was part indie wet dream, part excuse to give her a bit of a cuddle. We either felt like her or we wanted to help her - either way we lapped it up in our millions.

21. Enter, Space Capsule (Space Disko Remix) – Gerling (1998) - plucked from their debut album Children of the Telepathic Experience and remixed within an inch of its life, Enter Space Capsule is a dreamy, happy indie-electronica crossover that makes everyone in the room feel happy. It's not totally representative of Gerling's oeuvre which oscillates between straight ahead power pop and full on dance beats, but it shows the warmth and cutesiness that make you want them to be huge worldwide. This might have happened through their second album - a fantastically diverse set of dancefloor fillers (including the dual coup of turns from Kylie and Kool Keith) had they not called it When Young Terrorists Chase the Sun and released it in September 2001. Gah.

Right. I'm off for a nice cup of tea. See you tomorrow for numbers 20 to 11. Unless you're an AC-DC fan, in which case I wouldn't bother.