Paddington Workers Club
Cousin Thomas frequently attempts an 'Ozzie' accent. An inconsistently elongated drawl, mimicking the enthusiastic tone of a "bloody bastard" child of Steve Urwin and Lindy Chamberlain — with marginal success. Understandable though. He's British, from that Scottish Border Town where the passion reserved for differentiating between football tribes dominates hours that should be spent educating one's self of global cultures. He's visited our girted land on several occasions, each time leaving with an extra patch of our national identity stitched into his memory quilt (dooner). But they're just small snippets. A lifetime spent glueing all those bits together hardly equates to a complete picture.
Zip up this album. Hastily start an upload in the direction of Kim Dot Com's latest file-sharing venture before the NSA Anti-Copyright Club have time to fill out the necessary legal paperwork*. This nation's pathetic political puppets are currently wrestling over the details of stagnantly upgrading us from a fourth-world to a third-world internet service, granting me plenty of time to pen the accompanying email.
Hey Tom, long time mate. I know you struggle trying to understand the Australian 'culture' and 'identity'. I put that in quotations just because, from your perspective, it's probably a laughable concept in itself — this prisoner colony being held together by anything more substantial than a bunch of comical stereotypes. You know, all that shit about riding kangaroos over to our nearest Neighbour 'twenty clicks north' to borrow some damper. Oh, it's just a type of bread, you bury it in the desert to cook it, or some shit.
As I've said before, it's really nothing like that. Sure, there's an element of truth to that whole "no worries" thing, but increasingly, it seems as though that's being replaced by a vacuum of negativity as national politics becomes a more depressing landscape. That said, the average Robbo in the suburbs, where most of us dwell, is still rarely concerned by that. He's just looking to get by. An endless yearning for simplicity that dominates our lives. An unburdened and uncomplicated existence. This walks hand-in-hand with the ongoing concern that, individually, we're overstating our worth. The result being that our words and actions are often dominated by a distracting element of humility. To be considered sincere, genuine, a "top bloke" upon first meeting is still considered one of the most valuable commodities of our nation. Other than all those bloody minerals in the ground, of course.
Anyway, here's a link to download an album by a Brisbane band called Dollar Bar. They took about ten years to make this record, although I doubt they worked on it continuously during that time. Inadvertently (I assume) they've done a fairly successful job summarising our national identity. All that stuff above, neatly re-formed into hooks and guitar riffs.
The actual lyrics aren't specifically about any of this, instead they mostly just analyse those within arms reach — hipsters, loved ones, pricks who live in the city, those dickheads that moved to Melbourne just to pash-on with people from the old neighbourhood. But the tone encapsulates everything that I consider to be truly "Australian". They're tired, burnt (source: sun and relationships), frustrated, yet completely composed about the situations. I think that stems from some sort of "what can you do?" attitude we, as a nation, seem to have moulded from our "she'll be right" constitutional creed. A strange acceptance, but also an approach entrenched in logic. An unwasteful sense of clarity. Let's not bother worrying about what we can't change, let's just fight through.
To soften the blow, there's also a fair bit of larakin silliness thrown in — "fleas having dog", little wordplay games, some guy introduces a guitar solo by yelling "solo" from a distance, nothing rhymes with the word "orange" etc. Seems to have always been our way — to shoot cheeky jokes in the general direction of pain. I concede, the pleasures found in those little details aren't for everyone, but they're wrapped up in such a wonderful sense of unambitious comfort it's hard to not simply smirk your way through, shoot the authors a wink from across the bar and offer to buy them a Reschs and/or rinse out the bar mat into their schooner glass.
Don't get me wrong, it's not as though these guys aren't trying, it's just that they're not really trying to impress you. Effortlessly catchy hooks, a completely understated presence and a slightly over-accented twang. It's all just perfectly unforced. I know you Brits see us as a lazy, half-pace colony, but just because we're not pushing each other out of the way to get to the next NME cover doesn't mean we don't have the necessary requirements to top your pops. I hope you see that. Or, more correctly, hear it. Because there's no overbearing 'image' here. Refreshing in comparison to your regular musical consumption, no doubt.
Anyway, give it a listen. Let me know what you think. Feel free to reply with your own British version. You know, the real stuff, not just the outside perception of what you're homeland is like. Don't fucking send me a new Kasabian record though mate. Even as a joke.
PS: Hope you and the family are well.
* hey Dollar Bar, sorry for file-sharing.