Sunday, July 4, 2010


Monday, September 01, 2008
Public Bar

Perhaps it is the history of the place - it’s long-standing punk credentials and shamelessly grimy interior - that make the bands stand out a little more than they might have were they playing elsewhere. More likely it was the sheer energy and unique takes on the pop music that lift each act into the truly memorable territory and again gives reason to be grateful for living in Melbourne.

Mark Monnone, though considering his erroneously-titled Monnone Alone gig a side-project of little significance, could make this a full-time job should he want to such is his charisma, smart lyricism and if the warm reception he receives. His hilarious rap/folk song Business World is a highlight as is the new Lucksmiths song Undersea that he premières. It’s his effortlessness on stage and total unpretentiousness that allow you so close to his writing and playing which is an endlessly rewarding experience.

Having known very little about The Harpoons, the audience take about five seconds to be totally won over by the raw soul and pop of this brand new young band, replete with intricate three-part harmonies, driving rock songwriting nous and easygoing charisma. It’s almost like another band is channelled while they play; between songs it’s all bashful smiles and brief explanations but as soon as they count in it’s a powerhouse of clean guitar chops, trebly melodic bass and Hal Blaine drum stomping. It’s impossible to deny the appeal and soon-to-be upward mobility of this band; songs Faith, Tonight, Tonight and Hey Girl seem almost impossibly good. Triple J will be slavering like dogs at an abattoir with the release of their first recordings. See them before they get too slick from overplaying.

‘I really do think we’ve trademarked shabby,’ intones Summer Cats singer Scott Stevens, partway into their set, ‘a good shabby’. And they have. Despite the odd stuff-up and endearing mistake, there is no missing the message with the Summer Cats. Each song sizzles and highlights come thick and fast. The charging lead guitar on the barely-a-minute new single Let’s Go! and other seven-inch release Lonely Planet that tonight’s gig celebrates burns brightly. What really dazzles though, is the songwriting skill, the innate sense of melody and the intimacy they generate. It’s thrilling stuff, particularly when in the form of their newer songs that possibly even exceed the appeal of tracks form their Scratching Post EP, Paperweight in particularly is a dazzler. Tellingly, as with many great Australian bands, it’s overseas that is cottoning on to Summer Cats first with all three of tonight’s releases being on European or American labels. Don’t let their unprepossessing demeanour dissuade you; this is fantastic stuff.

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