Thursday, November 23, 2006

Songs To Learn And Sing #23

If we're honest, we're not sure picking a track you've worked on yourself isn't bending the unwritten rules slightly, but we'd never heard it before and he's got very good reasons so we'll let him off. He for today being producer of many fine works Gareth Parton:

Mid-State Orange - Best Intentions

It’s sad, but this piece has turned from being a celebration into an obituary after some disappointing news I received last week. I’m going to cheat a bit and rather than tell you about my secret personal track or ground-breaking piece of music, I’m going to tell you about a whole record label. Candle Records, in fact.

I spent 2002 living in Melbourne, Australia. For anyone who hasn’t been, I can’t recommend it more highly. Besides great lifestyle, great weather and great-people it boasts a really exciting underground indie-music scene, a million miles from the Crocodile Hunter image of the Aussie fed to us here by shit beer ads.

At the forefront of this is the tiny Candle Records. Based out of the back of the coolest record shop in town (Polyester) and run since 1994 by a handful of loyalists, they released their 100th record earlier this year. They concentrate on local bands, with a leaning towards observational lyrics, often twee acoustic and folky, as exemplified by their most successful export, The Lucksmiths (released in the UK on the label Fortuna Pop).

Though parochial lyrics about the Great Dividing Range or the superiority of living North of the Yarra may not mean much to your average Brit, if you’re into Belle And Sebastian or The Smiths you’ll dig this. It’s a gloriously incestuous scene where everyone plays on everyone else's records, a DIY ethic with no budget and no egos. Other artists on their roster you should check out are Mid-State Orange, Anthony Atkinson, Darren Hanlon, Tim Oxley and The Mabels. The easiest route to checking them out is via one of their numerous compilations.

I was lucky enough to be involved with Candle’s 101st release, producing three tracks for Mid-State Orange's debut album (one of which I’ve included here as my download). Led by singer/guitarist Louis Richter they mix Stereolab with Pavement with the occasional Krautrock wig-out. I love it.

Now here’s the sad bit... It was announced last week that, as of next April, Candle Records will cease trading. Chris ‘Crouchy’ Crouch, the label owner, has decided he has to call it a day. It’s totally understandable but the really infuriating thing is, it’s not just his label that is suffering. It’s a global phenomena. It’s not hard to do the sums. You can’t make much money selling records these days. Most of our best-loved labels will drop off the radar within a few years. The few that survive will be vanity projects funded by those who don’t need the income to keep it afloat or the ones who get swallowed up the majors.

But enough of the pessimism - let’s celebrate the life of Candle. Delve in to their back catalogue, discover the obscurities, and if you like what you download, maybe visit their mail-order website and take some old stock off their hands...


Anonymous said...

Hey I know it's cheating but it's a track no-one's heard that should be.

Gareth xx

Simon said...

Oh, we know, just being puckish. Actually, we must investigate further on some of Candle's stock as this is great and, as we mentioned the other week, the Lucksmiths' Warmer Corners is one of our favourite discoveries of the year that didn't come out this year. Oh, and thanks for doing this.

Anonymous said...

Darren Hanlon is great, I have a lot of time for him.

Btw it's pretty funny that you describe Melbourne as having "great weather", because it probably has the worst reputation for weather in Australia - "four seasons in one day" as we say. But if you're from the UK then you probably would feel that way.

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