BigSound 2013 – Day Two, Thursday September 12
The Middle Names
All the way from Tasmania they come, five of them, away from the cold into the heat, Alhambra Lounge a sweat box early in the evening which suits The Middle Names just fine. They play hard-edged pop ‘n’ roll, and they play it well, pogoing when the need arises, hard riffs too, because sometimes you need that, dedicated to their craft, you can tell they mean it. Ali Probin, on the end, seems to spend more time tuning her guitar than she does playing it, which detracts from the overall unit-ness of the situation, but you can’t win ‘em all. Decent and tight, good at what’s happening, but not blowing minds – the road’s a long one.
Psychedelic spaghetti western. Flying sweat and moustaches so bad they’re good, checkered shirts and cowboy boots, but with a healthy dose of Rove Live to tone it down and make it real, appeal to the people, but fuck the people, those people don’t know what’s going on. If they did, then Twin Beasts (formerly the Toot Toot Toots), would be bigger than fucking Jesus in this country, or whomever you care to worship, and so it should be – this is music with stories, tales set to tune as rambunctious as your Grandma after a few sherries, you know it, Twin Beasts know it, and so you should get the hell on board. This is real.
I’ve been approached by this folky, bluegrassy duo (as they were at the time) before, filed the disc away, dug on the ethos they displayed, but was underwhelmed by what they wrought from same. Tonight, with an upright bass player / acoustic guitarist, and a drummer, this banjo / fiddle combo didn’t quite hit the mark. They’re aiming for the realm in which Gillian Welch inhabits (to their credit, they’re not just ripping it off), but they don’t quite get there. Their vocal harmonies are sugar-sweet, but there’s an experience, a knowledge, a wisdom that Mr. Cassidy don’t yet have. I hope they find it.
I’m in the process of reviewing Sydney-siders’ Lime Cordiale’s debut EP for another publication, and so am quite familiar with the tunes, and yet I expect the worst. It’s late on the final night of BigSound, I’ve been drinking. Haven’t we all…? And yet I climb the stairs, grab a drink and am immediately, and somewhat surprisingly, taken by these tunes. It’s pop-laced, those catchy hooks, melodies etc, but there’s a hardness in there that you wouldn’t normally associate with such goings on. I find myself really getting into what they’re pedaling, I find myself tapping my worn out feet, I find myself becoming engrossed… I find myself being surprised that I like this so much. One of the finds of the week I’d say, as nice a surprise as one can get at the dreg-end of a happening like this. Keep your eyes peeled, this is good stuff.
Samuel J. Fell