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Ah, Blairmailer. Strummy, tuneful Aussie greats who emerged out of the ashes of Crabstick, a band who single-handedly soundtracked my sloppy drunken late teenage years. Crabstick only released one album in their lifetime (although another two posthumously) but it was a good ‘un. ‘Stud or Houseboy?’ veered between drunken sea shanties and mournful laments but always had something of that striped sunlit sound that seems to affect all Antipodean outfits, most notably The Go Betweens.
Blairmailer consisted of brothers Michael and David Nichols (the latter also of Canannes) along with a handful of close friends. David plays drums like no-one before or since, a scattershot, lolloping style that meshed perfectly with Michael’s barely tuned guitar strums and sardonic vocals. This collection consists of most of their released work plus a load of rarities and comes with an accompanying laugh-out-loud-funny booklet which is worth the admission price alone. What the brothers lacked in technical expertise they made up for in an ability to conjure melancholic pastoral pop out of pretty much nothing. The songs twist and turn hither and thither, are intelligently wordy with a turn of phrase that could rival the best Silver Jews couplets or the naive innocence of Daniel Johnston with a subtle humour rarely seen in the generally po faced pop world.
They had plenty of sure fire classics in their armoury but nothing beats ‘Fax’ as a place to start. It’s a delicious strum and drum that veers between pathos and farce in a single lyrical couplet and amidst some more experimental vignettes comes ‘Summer Dancin’ Lady’, a typically tongue-in-cheek title masks a glorious heartfelt lament of undeniable shambling prowess.
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