In March, “Tolmie Wild Thymes”, a new 10″ mini-album by Bart & Friends, is released on Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten, a small but wonderful label based in Augsburg, Germany.
Bart & Friends is a collaborative songwriting project from Melbourne, Australia led by Bart Cummings. Bart is a well-known figure in the indie-pop underground scene—he’s been active since the ’90s in bands such as The Shapiros, Girl Of The World, Pencil Tin, Hydroplane, The Cat’s Miaow, and many other bands.
Bart & Friends have already released an album and several singles and EPs in the past with labels such as Lost & Lonesome, Matinée, Cloudberry, Drive-In and Shelflife. They create wonderful, song-oriented jangle/indie pop with help from other musical luminaries such as Scott Stevens (Summer Cats, Tangible Excitement!, The Earthmen) Jeremy Cole (The Zebras) Mark Monnone (The Lucksmiths, Monnone Alone), Louis Richter (The Lucksmiths), Pam Berry from the legendary Black Tambourine, Glo-Worm, Veronica Lake, and Gary Olson, who recently released his first solo album on Tapete Records and a fantastic 7″ for our KUS two years ago (Gary is also known as a producer and musician/singer in The Ladybug Transistor).
What Bart Says: Based in Melbourne Australia, this version of Bart & Friends began in 2010 and has recorded 5 mini albums during that time. Despite it being a part time band with most of the members having commitments with other bands, we have played shows in New York, London and Berlin. Our new 10’ “Tolmie Wild Thymes”, features the following line-up, Bart Cummings (Cat’s Miaow), Scott Steven (The Earthmen) Mark Monnone (The Lucksmiths), Louis Richter (The Lucksmiths), Jeremy Cole (The Zebras), Pam Berry (Black Tambourine) and Gary Olson (Ladybug Transistor).
I find it hard to talk objectively about what we do. Our songs are often described as “short” but i prefer to think of them as concise.
We made the video in Ronnie’s (Pinkau, the label manager) flat on one afternoon as we hand stamped and drawn the front cover, each artwork is unique and is housed in a hand stamped and numbered white paperbag. The video was filmed and edited also by Frederik Jehle (who also did the artwork).
2nd Grade – Velodrome
I stumbled across 2nd grade recently and don’t know a lot about them, but they tick so many boxes of what I love in music, both as a musician and as a fan. Their songs are concise (not short) and get straight to the point, overflowing with melody, harmony and clever lyrics. Their sound is quite timeless with layered guitars and vocals, it wouldn’t sound out of place in 1993, 1986 or 1974. I’m sure their record collection is similar to mine.
Monnone Alone – Feel it disappearing
It’s always good to have a new single by Monnone alone and this week sees the release of their new single Feel it disappearing, a joint release on Lost And Lonesome / Emotional Response / Meritorio / Royal Mint. Their previous single “Cut Knuckle” is also well worth checking out. Mark Monnone also plays bass in Bart & Friends
The Earthmen – Coloured in
In the mid 90’s the Earthmen recorded an album’s worth of material that finally got a public release last year. I’ve frequently been writing a song only to realise I’m re-writing Coloured in and had to throw it out. I eventually came to the realisation, that as the Earthmen’s singer was also a member of Bart & Friend we could just include Coloured in our live set. And so it came to be.
Veronica Lake – Threnody
I can’t think of a band I’ve used as a sonic blueprint more than Veronica Lake, as well as acting as my gateway drug to kosmische musik. They were a big influence on Cat’s Miaow and my love of using phased guitar can be traced directly back to this song. We have covered one of Tim Sendra’s pre Veronica Lake songs, “The Best That I Can”, on our new mini album. Threnody also features Pam Berry who is a member of Bart & Friends.
New Order – Be a rebel
The last band I saw play live was New Order, March 14 2020, just before Melbourne went into lockdown and I couldn’t think of a better band if it turned out they are the last band I see. Come to think of it, I think second last band I saw was Peter Hook and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra playing Joy Division. I’ve been a huge fan of both bands for 40 years. Stephen Morris’ new book Fast forward, is on the table waiting to be read. I am obsessed.
What I’ve listened to most over the past 12 months is the Soundgas Instagram account. They repair and sell vintage synths, drum machines and effects. So if you want to see an analogue drum machine distorting thru a space echo and a Mutron bi-phase, this is for you. Or in this case, an EMS Synth. It’s a rabbit hole you may go down for days, be warned.