On track for a super year
Super Best Friends are in line for a big 2013.
Music fans certainly love a good list. No sooner have we dashed off our end-of-year lists than we're scrambling to compile our predictions for the year to come. Canberra locals have it easier than most, though, as 2013 promises enough local musical fare to fill a top 10 several times over.
Perhaps the most feverishly anticipated release is the debut from one-man-band TV Colours. His LP has achieved almost mythical status: the album, right down to the tracklisting and the cover art, has existed as a concept for years, during which time it has been recorded and re-recorded again in a quest for sonic perfection. The end is in sight, though, as a final mixing and mastering session has been booked in for later this month. This is grand news for TV Colours fans everywhere, who have had to subsist on a mere two songs from a split 7'' with Dream Damage labelmates Assassins 88.
Super Best Friends, who gained some real traction with their Handshake EP, are looking to build on last year's success, which saw the local power trio added to rotation on Triple J, embark on their first national headlining tour and pick up a series of plum support slots and festival billings. It all culminated at the inaugural MusicACT Annual Music Awards (MAMAs) last month, where the band scooped the pool, taking out both the Artist of the Year and Best Live Act gongs.
Kasha returns as Golden Blonde. Photo: By Luke McClean Stephenson
Though they are coming up on eight years in the game, Super Best Friends have followed the ''slow and steady'' maxim and are only now approaching their first long player. The band has honed their sound over the course of three EPs. From their quirky, riff-heavy, hard-rock beginnings, the band has pared things back to a lean punk sound.
Super Best Friends offshoot Crash the Curb - which sees drummer Adam Bridges swapping his sticks for a guitar, keyboards and an armoury of effects pedals - are also gearing up for a big year ahead.
With little fanfare, Bridges and drummer Grace Smith released their second EP, Coin Operated Death, a few weeks ago. While the band's trademark two-minute pop thrashers remain, tracks such as Broken Teeth and Kicks to the Face point to a more eclectic path ahead, with frantic time changes and electronic bleeps and bloops.
Another release that snuck out at the tail end of 2012 but will come into play this year is Pacific, the second full-length album from local musician Lachlan Thomas under the Danger Beach handle. It follows 2010's Milky Way, a charmingly homespun take on old-style pop and doo-wop that yielded a certified internet hit in the galloping Apache that, in another time, could have soundtracked an old spaghetti western.
While there are still snatches of the sun-dappled sounds of yore, Pacific is an altogether darker affair. Tracks such as Neon and Dark Blue would feel more than comfortable set to panning shots of skylines at twilight in any gritty police procedural.
Another highlight will be the emergence of the long-awaited debut from Biscuits, a group that occasionally includes Danger Beach mastermind Thomas moonlighting on bass. Featuring two-thirds of defunct post-punk group Teddy Trouble - whose sole release, The Great Indoors, remains something of a lost Canberra classic - Biscuits tread similarly jangly guitar-pop territory, though take a more classicist approach to their songwriting.
The band have only played a handful of shows over the past 18 months, but these brief glimpses of the material they have in their arsenal bodes very well for the eventual album.
Canberra expats Kasha enter 2013 reborn as Golden Blonde, with their first full-length in the wings. While previous releases focused on capturing the energy of the band playing live, the recording sessions for forthcoming album Gwen saw the members adopting a cut-and-paste aesthetic inspired by hip-hop producers such as MF Doom and Madlib. In collaboration with Sydney engineer Tim Carr, the band recreated their self-produced song sketches in the studio, sampling, warping and twisting their own playing, with the electronic and percussive elements coming to the fore. Over the course of writing and recording the album, most of the band's membership gradually drifted up the road to Sydney, though they still keep a foot in Canberra via keys player Austin Buckett.
In terms of stylistic detours, Spartak promise a radical shift with third album I Fought the Style. For years the duo, influenced by the more experimental reaches of jazz and electronic music, took a strictly improvised approach to their music, crafting ambient soundscapes on the fly, both live and in the studio.
Last year the band added a third member and turned their attention to crafting ''proper'' songs with verses and choruses. The result is a beat-heavy brand of electronica with flashes of krautrock and trip-hop.
Of course all this is but a smidgeon of what the Canberra scene has to offer in 2013.
Sample some for yourself at your closest live music venue.