Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Mint Custard's Australian Top 40 Countdown: 1

It's ten years this week since I first came to Australia and what better way to mark the occasion than a nice list. I can't say that I've spent the ten years reading Australian literature or supporting the impressive Australian film industry, and the least said about television here the better. However I have spent many, many happy hours listening to some wonderful music from these here shores, the majority of which sadly never seems to make it elsewhere.

Whilst I'm not going to pretend that I've done any more than scrape the surface of Aussie music history in ten years, I'd like to get all Molly Meldrum for a while and - top 40 countdown stylee - share some of the music that has made me smile for a decade. In the interests of parity and to avoid this being 40 songs by the Go-Betweens I have limited myself to one song per artist - although the keen eyed will note I have also cheated on several occasions.

Australian readers will no doubt be aghast at omissions as much as inclusions, whilst I hope that any non-Australian readers will do themselves a favour and give some of the artists a try using the links. Anyway, here goes...

40. As Time Goes By – Kamahl - Malaysian-born, Sri Lankan heritage Australian icon of cheesecore and easy listening turns in a beautiful rendition of the Casablanca classic to melt the hearts of young and old. OK... mostly old.

39. Summer of Love - Black Cab (2004) the opening track from Altamount (a concept album about the infamous 1969 Rolling Stones gig) is a slow building atmospheric little number with hints of Beta Band crossed with Jesus and Mary Chain. Just released new album Call Signs.

38. Surfaced EuphoricGlide (1998) not to be confused with Will Sergeant's Bunnymen side-project, Sydney's Glide pre-empted the 2000's obsession for all things Jeff Buckley with this gorgeous and emotional piece about taking the plunge - any plunge - and things turning out nice. At least that's what I like to think it's about. Singer/songwriter William Arthur sadly died aged just 34 in 1999 but this is quite something to leave behind.

37. Mistaken Baby Blue – Prol Tung (2003) like a pre-tabloid Cerys Matthews of Catatonia, Prol Tung's Sande Marinovoch has a powerful and cutely distinctive voice which makes you stop and listen in awe but stays the right side of bombast on this sweet little pop number.

36. Winning Days – the Vines (2004) the second single from the Vines sophomore album eschews the Nirvana-lite directness of their earlier releases for a more British sound with mixed results. At least half of this song is like a Shed Seven b-side but then something magic happens halfway through via a slow rebuild, huge choruses and choirs of harmonies.

35. Montecore - Pivot (2005) - it's unfair to single out any track from Pivot's Make Me Love You as it's one of those albums that cocks a snook to the idea that people these days only listen to songs on shuffle. However, forced as I am by my own rules to pick a track from this percussively brilliant mix of Tortoise-echoing electronica and sprawling rock, it would be Montecore because it boils down everything that makes Pivot so ace into 4 minutes and 40 odd seconds.

34. I Sucked a Lot of Cock to Get Where I Am - Regurgitator (1996) - when I first arrived in Australia, Brisbane's Regurgitator were an ARIA-award winning indie-bohemoth, seemingly spearheading the charge of intelligent, urgent, spiky and funny Aussie pop music into the mainstream, with Quan Yeomans as a quite brilliant frontman. Sadly it's been all downhill since, at least in terms of mainstream success, but for the uninitiated ISALOCTGWIA is as good an example of their first LP Tu-Plang as you'll need.

33. (Methods of Getting Rid of) HiccupsDarren Hanlon (2002) - ah, Darren. Poor Darren. Rarely can an artist so intelligent, creative, musically adept, inclusive and generally just nice be so undeservedly ignored by the general public. As an erstwhile Simpleton and one of Candle Records flagship artists he flirted with JJJ success but has never been truly acknowledged by the broader public as the national treasure that he is. Maybe that's good for us Darren-watchers but it would be sad to see him go the way of his recently departed stable-mates, the Lucksmiths. Watch the linked clip of Hiccups live to see a truly lovely man doing his stuff.

32. Throw Your Arms Around Me - Hunters and Collectors (1985) - this song seems so embedded into the Australian consciousness that I have no idea if I knew it before I moved here. I like it though. Just one of those big anthems that is simultaneously public and personal and makes everyone a bit soppy - at least on the inside.

31. Vampire Racecourse – The Sleepy Jackson (2003) - being of the enigma that is Luke Steele. His current much-hyped Empire of the Sun project is so cloyingly, dispiritingly soulless that it's easy to forget that Steele brought much George Harrison-inspired beauty into our lives as the Sleepy Jackson at the start of the decade. Clearly he's happy being an aloof artiste - and fair play to him - but it's songs like Vampire Racecourse that I'd rather remember him for.

So, there you go. Hopefully I haven't upset anyone yet. Don't worry - give me time. Tune in tomorrow (or so) for numbers 21-30...

No comments: