16 August 2011

Bart & Friends - stories with the endings changed (2011, Lost and lonesome)

New Bart & Friends album, one year after the coming-back ep "make you blush" of this Australian band, which was a good surprise after a long break, and I'm even more pleased now to see Bart Cummings back in full action on a more developed release.

If "Make you blush" was based on short twee indie pop songs, he is instead writing here longer indie pop songs - in an almost classical Go-Betweens way - with a full band behind him. 

His "friends" here are Louis Richter and Mark Monnone (who is also behind the label), on guitar and bass (The Lucksmiths, Mid-State Orange), Jeremy Cole (The Zebras) on drums, Scott Stevens (Summer Cats, Earthmen) doing vocals on five tracks, and Irene Drossinos (Summer Cats) on organ and backing vocals.

I probably regret the absence of Kerrie Bolton (now a professional opera singer) or of Pam Berry (living in England), because there is nothing better than the right female vocals to make his songs sparkle but Scott Stevens isn't doing a bad job.

The opening song "Who Am I to Say No" is efficient even if somewhat average, it just makes me feel nostalgic of the whole indie pop era without really concerning me presently. But on the next track, the vocals of Scott Stevens are directly more sensitive, "When I've Got No Choice" is like a more upbeat Soadstream in full pop mode.

It's with "There's No Place I'd Rather Be" that the record starts to slip off the road and explores less obvious territory, the realm of Australian indie pop, a playful and stirring melody with as counterpoint desperate vocals. The bittersweet "Rule the day" is an highlight, hesitating between the last days of summer and the first signs of autumn. "Now I Think There's Something You Can Do For Me" reminds me of the upbeat poignancy of certain songs written by Grant McLennan (Go-Betweens) or Randall Lee (Nice, Ashtray Boy).

As if we were opening the second side of the record, Bart Cummings is back at the microphone singing on the last four tracks and we are directly back in the old Bart & Friends / Cat's Miaow days with their typical lo-fi type of songs: pleasant but not spectacular with "Calling Out My Name", "Cast of Half Forgotten Names" and "Tomorrow Will Be Better Than Today " are more intriguing with some Cat's Miaow accents, and "Sound of the bells" even got a Go-Betweens touch.

"Stories with the endings changed" is not an extraordinary record, but fulfills nicely all minimal expectations and for the nostalgic ones it is a wonderful madeleine de Proust, to savor again and again.


Bart & Friends - Now I Think There's Something You Can Do For Me by Lost And Lonesome

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