Release date: 18th December, 2013
Limited edition of 350 copies
Vinyl LP, tip-on sleeve + download code
$32.00 Add to cart
Seemingly spontaneously, the tiny Hobart music scene underwent a radical upheaval in the late 1990s. Not content to slog it out on the local cover band circuit or to court the indie mainstream prevalent on the mainland, young bands like Sea Scouts, 50 Million Clowns, Little Ugly Girls, The Frustrations and The Nation Blue turned inward, channelling the experiences of growing up in an insular outpost of civilisation into an uncompromising din of noise rock that bore little or no resemblance to what was happening anywhere else in the world.
Foremost among this group of restless explorers were The Stickmen. Their sound was a dark blend of post-punk rhythms, mutated surf-rock guitar lines and tightly wound nervous energy. Out of nowhere, only a year after the band’s formation, their genius burst forth fully formed on their self-titled debut album in 1998. On songs like “Strangeworld”, “Night” and “Creep Inside”, Guitarist/singer Aldous Kelly conjures a foreboding atmosphere that perfectly reflects the damp, crepuscular ambience of cold winter nights in Hobart. Drummer Ianto Kelly and bassist Luke Osbourne lock into skittish grooves, while Matt Greeves’ innovative use of turntables acts both as a rhythmic device and source of unsettling atmospherics.
In typically uncompromising Tassie style, the band did not see out the end of 1999 though. Having made their point concisely and definitively, including the releases of the follow up album Man Made Stars, they disbanded to pursue other interests and musical ventures, Aldous eventually relocating to the even bleaker environs of Greymouth, on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island.
That should have been the end of The Stickmen. Unbeknownst to the band though, over the years their legend grew. Enthusiasm was fanned by ex-Hobartians who had achieved a degree of influence in the Australian music scene, such as Mike Noga, drummer of The Drones, and The Nation Blue’s Tom Lyngcoln, who released a Stickmen compilation CD, Who Said It Would Be Good?, on his label Solar/Sonar in 2008. The unhoped for occurred in February 2013, when the band reformed to play All Tomorrow’s Parties in Melbourne, at the behest of festival co-curators The Drones. It immediately transpired that The Stickmen had lost none of their chemistry or propulsive power, and they made a further surprise appearance at Hobart’s Dark MOFO festival in June, being rightly celebrated as local heroes.
It is extremely timely then that HOMELESS re-releases both The Stickmen’s classic albums. This also marks the first time these recordings, remastered by expert engineer Mikey Young, are available on vinyl.
Limited edition of 350 copies each, printed on old style “tip-on” sleeves on thick stock. Includes an inner sleeve with extensive liner notes plus a download code with a bonus previously unheard track from the debut album recording session.
Reviews of The Stickmen
“The Stickmen’s music is much more angular, more post-punk, especially on the first album, whose cover is inspired by The Walking Man, a bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti. In fact this album is similar to a big part of Flying Nun’s catalogue, of germs of New Zealand music, The Gordons, Straightjackets Fits, the unbridled, repetitive, noisy cavalcades and the innate sense of exotic, crotchety and sad melody.
But The Stickmen, even if they remind you of lots of other groups, are quite unique, just by looking at their structure which is made up of a dude on records, (Matt Geeves) and also the traditional guitar/singing, bass (Luke Osborne) drums (Ianto Kelly, Aldous’ cousin). Vinyl played live in gigs and which on record brings their own level of interference, noise and sonic support which is not always easy to identify from Kelly’s unleashed guitar. And this guitar is the lynchpin of the Stickmen. In a section which is rhythmic to the point of mechanical, Aldous Kelly runs the show playing in turns dry, frantic, noisy or psychedelic. The songs can as much seem like sharp arrows as improvisations, or heavy rock’n’roll blues digressions, as Aldous Kelly himself describes them, as seen in the songs “Wired Wrong”, “On the March” or the smoky ballads “Ashtray” and “Youthful”. And, above all, despite remastering, this is music is timeless and could have been written today. The best album of 2013 came out in 1998.”
Perte et Fracas