Well, this month has been bereft of new releases, but some interesting Newcastle re-issues have emerged.
pel mel (lowercase, just like their 90s brothers silverchair!), who are well-regarded as Newcastle's first ‘punk’ band, have rescued their recordings from the Factory Records vault to re-issue a ‘Best Of’ CD. Beginning their life with a residency at the Grand Hotel near the old law courts, pel mel were more inspired by the art punk of New York rather than the street punk of the UK. They could fit in easily with Talking Heads, Television and the ‘No New York’ sound.
Signed to GAP Records, the Australian arm of Factory, they went on to be a huge part of the more art/underground punk new wave scene of Sydney, playing with M-Squared bands like Dead Travel Fast and gaining supports to the Birthday Party, Moodists and Laughing Clowns.
Listening today in 2016, their sound and songs are as fresh as 36 years ago. They could be a new JJJ Unearthed band if you closed your eyes, with 17 tracks of at times brilliant and adventurous ‘new’ sounds. Don’t let this pass you by – celebrate pel mel’s greatness and originality.
Phillip Brown from the Wash has released a two-track CD single of late Newcastle muso Dino Cesta. He was a member of Anaesthesia in 1989 and Shrine (The) in 1992. Again, this shows that Newcastle music is not all about cover bands and the Star Hotel. An obvious English new wave sound runs through both these recordings. Even the influence of the classic shoegaze sound is evident, 10 years after pel mel but still connected to the same piece of string. The flange guitar does date this a little, but bands these days have re-discovered that as well. Like a missing piece of the Newcastle music puzzle with the long-lost Hipslingers.
Now to a new release: we come full circle back to Jude McGee from pel mel. She has released a new CD with her band The Soft Touch. The Household Guide to Heartbreak is a wonderful statement of the D.I.Y. ideals that began her career: simple, fresh and with the laidback attitude that only age brings. Recorded with Dermot Browne, it has beats as base and not overpowering madness. Again this defies age and could have been made by any number of 20-somethings from today. Julia Jacklin comes to mind. Not overcrowded by too many ideas or producer inputs, it’s just great song after great song.