A visit to a DVD store resulted in me returning home with a CD by a local act instead of a copy of the Steve Coogan movie I had planned to borrow. Trying to find a link between a film featuring the hilariously awful Alan Partridge and an alternative country folk duo is not possible, although Coogan does allow his character to have moments of melancholy.
The debut album by anchor & the butterfly, Nothing to Win Nothing to Lose, is so exquisitely sad that a few seconds into the first song I was filled with joy at what I was hearing from singer-songwriter Bridget Robertson and Lance Hillier (guitar, mandolin, bass etc.). Perhaps it takes a fan of performers like Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes to realise how glorious it can be to listen to poetic songs articulated by a distinctive voice and backed by a reflective musical accompaniment.
Unsurprisingly, the video for the first track, ‘A Lone Star’, employs the intriguing but not exactly upbeat services of Kain White. The local animator’s work has previously been seen in a clip by local hardcore metal act Abreact and his style seems suitable for any group that is not frivolous. While an album’s worth of tracks can result in instances of sameness, as it sporadically does here, at its best anchor & the butterfly’s release is an accomplished effort that proves being thoughtful still has a place in music. Of particular note in this strong collection is the catchy ‘Mexico City’, the sweet ‘Leaking Heart’ and the ominous ‘Low’.
Bendigo’s music scene is probably similar to scenes existing in other towns of a similar size. A number of venues present workaday cover bands, with the most popular the go if you are fond of Bryan Adams, bored husbands on the prowl and drinks with names that have probably been sexualised (e.g. Wet Pussy shots) to amuse teenagers. Fortunately, places like the Gold Dust Lounge put on lots of cover bands but attract a more sophisticated crowd, while bands such as Annie Smalls and the Mustache Ride offer versions of other people’s songs that are not ordinary at all.
It is oft-said there is only three – or perhaps currently two and a half – venues in town that stage original live music; however, this assertion does not acknowledge that artists performing their own folk, experimental or blues songs actually play music. Notable moments have occurred in the environs of the Goldmines Hotel and the Old Fire Station, including star-to-be Grim Fawkner appearing at the former venue and Deano Stanton and crew making all sorts of noises during a feast of improvisation at the latter.
Nevertheless, the most memorable gig I have been to since moving here nearly two years ago occurred at the end of last month at The Music Man Megastore. It was a showcase of original – AC/DC cover versions aside – hard rock/punk/rock/alt music from the likes of Rabid Zulu, Tequila Mockingbyrd, Necron 99, Neurotik Trendz and Brace for Whiplash.
Queens of Noize was a night dominated by loud and lippy females and an audience that played right along (e.g. dancing, singing, joining a conga line and getting up on stage). For the nostalgic it might have recalled the days when live music was less well behaved and more fun than staying at home watching a DVD.
Written by Darlene Taylor, Images Mick Griffin