vain, selfish & lazy has been friendly to artists who have australian backgrounds. happily, australia continues to hold our interest.
the grates - "19 20 20" (from the gravity won't get you high lp, import available for purchase here.)
yes, yes, in the long run, the yeah yeah yeahs > be your own pet, but in 2006, i'll put "adventure" up against anything karen o &c. released this year. given the choice, i think i know which side the grates would line up on. sure, they sound a little like both bands, but they're definitely not bigger than the sound nor do they scream "look at me, mom!" (and unlike the pet, their choice of band name seems to indicate that they're both in on the joke and also know how good they can be) and i've never heard either band use a horn section. instead, they sing, at a moderate level, "19 20 20, 19 20 20, 19 20 20." it doesn't sound like much and i don't know what it refers to--maybe to the ages of the three band members--but i can't get it out of my head. never underestimate the power of songs w/ numbers in the chorus, vide roxy music, toots & the maytals, the time, wilson pickett, et al.
howling bells - "the bell hit" (from the howling bells lp, import available for purchase here.)
late last year, i posted a howling bells track; now their album has been released in the uk and it's one of the most beguiling debuts of the year. like the grates, they've got their own influences to deal w/ : mbv, pj harvey, mazzy star--girls & guitars, basically. "the bell hit" is a wonderful way to start an album, for it combines everything that the band does well and in so doing dispels any easy (and lazy) comparisons.
the pj harvey thing might not be so far off, if only pj harvey, as the band is so called, actually was a functioning band, each player making equal contributions. the howling bells are a communal outfit, like a late 60's british folk aggregate, only w/ shorter hair and darker-hued clothing. "the bell hit" sees hands being held on the brink of the void, a meeting on the ledge, if you will; guitars ring, voices come together, and, my, do they sound good--look good, too, always the prettiest people on the block. which is another reason we love the australians.
oh! i've probably got some wolfmother lying around here somewhere.