Five Bands To Watch: Adelaide
Hard to believe, but a lot of great music happens beyond Melbourne and Sydney. As part of a new series, we asked local Adelaide legend MATT BANHAM to tell us his favourite bands from the City of Churches. He phoned a couple friends.
One of my favourite things about Adelaide has always been how quickly bands come and go. So many are started on drunken whims and quickly dismantled all too soon, but always with a bunch of new ones to take their place. I guess this could be said for a lot of cities but in Adelaide, if a band was around for more than a few years, they were either taking themselves too seriously or not seriously enough.
I’ve been living out of Adelaide for a year and in that time most of the bands I used to watch have either broken up or moved interstate and a million new ones I’ve never heard of have taken over. So to compile this list, I’ve enlisted the help of my friends Karl Melvin (musician, radio presenter and label owner) and Matthew Hayward (musician, booker and manager).
The first time I heard Stephanie Crase (aka Summer Flake) play music was in my mother’s lounge room after drunkenly asking her to play a few guitar bits on some of my songs for an upcoming gig. She kept telling me that she wasn’t that good and would ruin my songs but then pulled out a fancy looking Fender and proceeded to put amazing licks all over them. Over the next few years she played with my band No Through Road, then Birth Glow, Batrider, Hit The Jackpot, Fair Maiden and Avant Gardeners. Through Birth Glow we got to hear her incredible ode to the soft drink ‘Fanta’ (co-written by Ellen Carey and Nick Walton). Never before had I felt so many emotions about a non-alcoholic beverage, nor questioned who I could trust to take care of it when I went to the bathroom.
Birth Glow - Fanta by Mess+Noise
I knew that while she was playing in all these bands she was writing her own music, but she wasn’t letting anyone hear it. I knew it would be good but didn’t expect it to be quite so incredible. Summer Flake takes the best parts of The Lemonheads, Best Coast, Hole and Elliott Smith and smashes them together with some extra helpings of ’90s indie-rock melodic noodling, all of which comes pouring out of her first EP. She is going to tour the east-coast in a few months and I’m sure everyone will fall as much in love with her as I am. I’ve never been more proud to know a musician than I am to know Steph. More on Summer Flake here. – Matt Banham
Mondo Phase Band
The Mondo Phase Band line-up of guitar, synth and drums pound out some wonderful punk-psych space jams. Worshipping Kraturock, Neil Young’s much maligned LP Trans and San Francisco freaks Chrome, you might get a sense of where they’re coming from. But, you’d probably be wrong. Mondo Phase meet you at the front of the stage with a vast array of effects pedals, a behemoth of a bass amp supporting some ol’ timey synth, solid drumming and delay drenched vocals pushed through one of those pilot-head phone sets you’d expect to see Madonna wearing. Intricate guitar noodling over repetitive synth lines suck the listener into some kind of trancey vortex.
This lot are responsible for dragging reclusive American outfit Nothing People across the sea for last year’s double headed tour. A split 7” cemented the relationship, and this year we’ll see Mondo Phase release an LP recorded by Nothing People folk. More on Mondo Phase Band here. – Karl Melvin
The first time I saw Old Mate it was a one-man monotonal karaoke affair. The last time I saw them (two weeks ago), it was an eight piece sonic bulldozer. The vocals were still monotonal deliveries of tales of fucking up big time but then being able to stand straight back up, brush yourself off and get back on with being a gnarly dude. Intrinsically, Old Mate is Pat Telfer (one third of Bitch Prefect) with an assemblage of crew pulled from Adelaide’s current “band in pockets” scene. Take three members of local outfit friends, throw in wild sax for the skronk factor and a superfluous member on tambourine duties and backing vocals – that’s Old Mate. Musically, the band plays with a lazy, hungover sprawl. There’s no reliance on an over abundance of lyrics or complicated chord patterns. The songs are paeans to life’s downer moments and the celebration of glasses half full.
Five songs recently appeared on a cassette ‘Word is Bond’ and there is talk of a 7” in the coming months. More on Old Mate here. – Karl Melvin
Steering By Stars
Having previously been lumped into that nebulous genre void that is “post rock”, Steering by Stars have spent the better part of a year refining their sound into something more immediate and aggressive. The group – Lachlan Wilson, Rory O’Connor, Adrian Reveruzzi and Tom Smeets – have moved away considerably from the lazy yet oft-repeated comparisons to Decoder Ring and Explosions in the Sky, embracing a distinctive stylistic shift towards a more complex and claustrophobic sound. Think a blend between the goth romanticism of Bauhaus paired with the geographical isolation of Snowman and the electronic symphony of Vangelis. Having nabbed some strong supports recently supporting Jack Ladder and Leader Cheetah, they’re the next band to “break”, I guess you’d say in industry speak? At the very least, it’d be criminal if they didn’t have a bigger impact outside the City of Churches. More here. – Matthew Hayward
Gold Bloom landed a few plum supports early on before they’d fully developed into the band they are now: a marriage of the wistful pop sensibilities of Freya Adele and Naomi Keyte (ex-Soursop) and the progressive garage-y psychedelica of Juliet Hunter and drummer Tim Ryles. With both bands the American influences are easier to pick than the Australian ones, however Gold Bloom’s latest single ‘Stalactites’ holds up well against anything that’s been added to the triple j playlist this year. It’s sharp, catchy jangle pop that sounds like the best parts of Talking Heads. More on Gold Bloom here. – Matthew Hayward
COMING SOON: Julian Teakle's Hobart.