|What the papers have said about Two Fisted Art. In 2003.||
|From The Brisbane
By Noel Mengel The Moodists, Two Fisted Art (W. Minc) 2003
MOUNT GAMBIER may not at first glance appear to be the likeliest spot for the development of one of Australia's more interesting bands of the 1980s, but history shows that the isolation of small-town life is just as likely -- more so, possibly -- to nurture good rock music as hanging about in inner-city dives.
The band's founders, Dave Graney and Steve Miller, hail from the South Australian town, and met drummer Clare Moore when they formed a band called The Sputniks in Adelaide in the late '70s.
This coalesced into The Moodists in Melbourne in the early '80s, a band spoken of with great fondness by those who witnessed their live shows or picked up one of their releases at the time. But to most they remained a mystery, having relocated to London -- like fellow travellers The Birthday Party, The Go-Betweens and The Triffids -- to be read about at a distance in occasional stories in the British press rather than experienced at first hand.
The mystery has remained, helped by the fact that their music has been hard to find despite the later success of Graney and Moore with the Coral Snakes. But this two-disc retrospective confirms the buzz: as everyone was poring over two-month-old copies of the NME looking for the next saviour of rock, the genuine article had snuck out from under our noses.
The band frequently -- and not very accurately -- has been compared with The Birthday Party, possibly because of Nick Cave connections such as their guitarist for a time, Mick Harvey, later of the Bad Seeds and Dirty Three, and their sound engineer Victor Van Vugt, later a producer of Cave. But The Moodists, to these ears, were the better band, and one which sounded and played more like a traditional rock group.
These discs (one studio, one live) reveal a sound closer to bands like New York's Television and the music coming out of northern England from bands like The Fall and Echo and the Bunnymen: a raw, untamed thing driven along by nervy, rhythmic guitars and Graney's unironic -- there was a time -- rock voice.
Not a lot different from Ian McCulloch's, in fact.
But enough of the comparisons. What's clear from this retrospective is that the band quickly arrived at a very strong, distinctive sound: sometimes haunting and sometimes searingly intense, forged in an atmosphere divorced from record producers, commercial concerns and the other interventions which mess with young bands' minds.
It sounds totally unforced, sure of itself.
Because not that many people have heard the records there is a tendency to think of The Moodists as the band in which Graney and Moore served their apprenticeship.
But these are strong songs, not just sketches, and tunes as powerful as Pure Gold Flesh, Chevrolet Rise and I Want You show that The Moodists already had learnt more than most bands will ever know.
With no less an authority than the New York
Times recently proclaiming punk rock as the Next Big Thing, displacing
manufactured midriffs and boy bands, the time is ripe for the resurrection
of iconoclastic 80's cult band the Moodists.. Migrating
from South Australia to Melbourne in 1980., the Moodists lineup settled
with Clare moore on drums, David Graney on vocals, Steve Miller on guitar
and Chris Walsh on bass. Later they added Mick Turner (the Dirty Three)
on second guitar and the stage was truly set. It appears from listening
to the music on this compilation that the Moodists played to please themselves.
They succeed in broadcasting a "couldn't give a fuck" attitude,
but their studied detachment might just serve to conceal how wildly excited
they are to be a part of something this good. Early single Chads Car
reveals a blueprint fully formed from the start, and surprisingly is the
most sonically polished piece here. Typically, on favourites such as Six
Dead Birds, Chevrolet Rise, Bullet Train and Frankies Negative,
the players slice off into three separate forces:Walsh's mighty bass
always out front but totally buttressed by Moore's tremendous drumming:
Miller and Turner soaring into seemingly disconnected guitar mayhem: and
Graney, the first punk crooner, singing and moaning and chanting as if
he's alone in the room. It could be metal , it could be punk, yet it could
also be jazz. It is certainly confronting. The package includes a studio
disc of 19 tracks gathering most of the bands early singles, EP's amd
album cuts from 1980 to 1986, and also a live disc of 16 songs recorded
here and in London in the mid '80's. In terms of sound quality, there's
no great amount of difference between the two, demonstrating that this
was a band built for the road, with little concern (or money) for studio
veneer. The music was made 20 years ago but is every bit as vital and
challenging today. Amazing stuff.
|More reviews from 2003, live and disc related.|