12 March, 2006

what is this six-string├ęd instrument but an adolescent loom?

Those of you who know me have probably rolled your eyes many a time when you have heard the words "Augie March" escape mine lips, as you know this means some kind of glassy-eyed, awe-filled worship speech is on the cards. Well prepare yourselves again, because after three long, barren, years...

AUGIE MARCH HAVE RELEASED THEIR NEW ALBUM! The title is Moo, You Bloody Choir which - to be frank - I'm still not sure how I feel about. It seems a bit too irreverant and bizarre, not really fitting for the beauty and poignancy that this band has to offer. But anyhoo, I'd already heard about a third of the tracks from the album (in various demos, live-recordings, etc) over the last few months, and needless to say (despite the suspect title) munkey was a tad excited.

Yesterday I braved the veritable hoards of Commonwealth Games volunteers clogging fair Melbourne Town, to trundle into the big new(ish) JB Hi-Fi on Bourke St. The lads were to be doing an instore performance and signing copies of the record. So I purchased my copy of Moo... and found a place peering over the Classics DVD shelf, within mere feet of the makeshift stage where Augie were to perform. A good sized crowd of a couple of hundred fans soon filled the store around me - a nice alternative-looking bunch, and surprisingly young. No-one over about 35, and even quite a few teenagers, which I found surprising, as Augie aren't exactly competing with Eminem or Greenday for chart space. I had a brief chat with a nonchalant but clearly excited fan, who gestured towards the CDs in both our hands and commented, "Been a long time between drinks, eh." Too right. Note to Glenn and the boys: DON'T MAKE US WAIT THREE YEARS NEXT TIME!

At last, The March took the stage to perform a stripped-back set of six songs - Glenn and Adam only had an acoustic guitar each, whereas they usually have banks of a few different types of guitar. Despite the crass commercial surroundings, it was shivers-down-the-spine territory. Glenn's voice was in amazing form, and the band were remarkably tight. They've obviously been putting in a lot of rehearsal time for the upcoming tour. They were also in very jovial humour, which is good as it's always a roll-of-the-dice as to whether Glenn will be in smirky-mode or surly-mode. Even when a dodgy JB-staff announcement split the air in the middle of his stark solo performance of Bottle Baby, he just grinned and muttered "That's so beautiful!" Later when doing the obligatory plug for the new record, Dave (the drummer) pointed to the giant poster behind the stage and said "It looks like that," and Glenn quipped, "Bring a ute."

After the short but brilliant show, we were all herded (somewhat appropriately, like cattle) along a table at the front of the stage to have our CDs signed in pretty silver pens (although gold would have been more appropriate, given the cover-design, but oh well). As Glenn signed mine, he noted that there was a small hair sitting on the cover of my CD. "You've got a pube there," he remarked drily, "That'll be one of Dave's; he's molting." I responded, just as drily, "I'll treasure it always," which he seemed to find amusing.

So that was my adventure with Augie March. Like all their records, Moo... is taking a bit of settling into. Standout tracks One Crowded Hour, The Cold Acre and Bottle Baby are without question among the best the boys have ever offered. Others seem decidedly UN-Augie, which is actually quite a good thing - nice to be still surprised by a group you know inside-out. Overall, by virtue of the production and mixing, it feels a lot "slicker" than their previous albums. But the genius is still well and truly intact, and they still make me feel proud to be Austrayan.

I'm well aware that the only people still reading this twaddle are Mr Afe, and possibly a select few others. (Hope you're enjoying the new record, Afe.) Thanks guys, and hey - we can't help it if the rest of the world just doesn't understand, can we.

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Blogger Afe said...

This was a delicious post. Especially the part about the pube. Good comeback. I'd have just giggled and dribbled.

March 13, 2006 1:42 pm  

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