New Music

Listen: Wonderfuls – Be Careful of What You’ve Become

wonderfuls7Following the limited vinyl release of Salty Town last year, Brisbane duo Wonderfuls will release their second 7 inch later this month in the form of Be Careful of What You’ve Become. Released through UK label No Magic Man Records, it’s a four track EP which, sonically at least, follows in the footsteps of last year’s LP (so if you’re hoping for a return to the rough-as-guts sound of their first 7 inch, you’re out of luck).

‘Evoke’ is the second track on the A-side, and it captures the blunt-yet-cryptic sadness that lay at the core of Robert Vagg’s lyrics, as well as the unashamedly beautiful guitar work of Danny McGirr. Speaking to McGirr over email, he said “like most things we release – it’s not about a single song. Play it through speakers if you can, [because] it hasn’t been recorded for the digital age. There are lots of little artifacts, but on wax those sounds fade into the crackle and room atmosphere.”

More words on this once I’ve let the whole record sink in. Those who loved Salty Town will want to get this immediately, and it’s available right now.


Where Does It End: Wonderfuls’ Salty Town Reviewed


The second song on Salty Town is a matter-of-fact recollection of returning home from a mental institution. Lost for anything else to do, vocalist Robert Vagg walks up and down a hallway repeatedly. The lyrics don’t need to impart that time has lost all meaning and that emotion has been tranquilised, because Wonderfuls need only draw breath in order to elicit this sensation. Salty Town is these sensations writ large.

Wonderfuls always sounds lost, and ‘Relapse’ is one of the most horrifyingly powerless songs I’ve ever heard. When Vagg closes the song with the refrain “I think they’re out there”, it’s not clear whether this is a fear, some kind of solace, or a vague offering of context for what has ensued. The second possibility seems the most remote.

Salty Town is tough. Not because it’s difficult to enjoy, but because it’s so easy to succumb to. Its listless sense of dreadful sadness never lets up, and it’s probably instinctual for us to be drawn to it. Released as a limited CD-R in 2012 and now finally issued on LP, I’m still worried I’ll write about it incorrectly. No single component in Wonderfuls’ music begs attention or deconstruction, because it’s unerringly passive and matter-of-fact. Its concerns are abundantly clear to anyone who listens once. Danny McGirr’s guitar playing is unambiguously crestfallen – chorus-laden, sentimental – and Robert Vagg’s vocals sound terminally ill. There are no shades, because Wonderfuls is just different iterations of misery that will probably sound the same to most people. When it’s not bleak, Wonderfuls is funny because it can only manage to be bleak. When you laugh, it’s because you’re nervous.

Salty Town winded me when I first heard it was because it’s totally unafraid. Vagg’s lyrics are sometimes cryptic but you needn’t deconstruct them, because these are instinctual and unfiltered responses. They’ve not been formulated to death. During ‘North’, Vagg recounts a small town and an afternoon spent there as a child, and the song is horrifying in its offhand melding of the nostalgic and the destitute. Clay tennis courts, primary school playgrounds, then gleefully murdered animals and drug addict mothers. It’s a dream turned suddenly sour and grotesque, and Vagg’s severe and straight-faced delivery seems to acknowledge that this horror has been waiting forever to take a bite.

He was the mother of an addict, born in the wrong ward of this place” – ‘North’

References to wards pop up a few times throughout Salty Town, as if to ridicule the notion that every broken way of life is a neat diagnosis away from being understood and thus maybe corrected. Vagg’s vocals often sound like weary disavowals of rationality: deadpan jibes at our habit of filing circumstances and feelings into scientific conditions. During ‘Where Does It End’, his singing that phrase is like a shrug of the shoulder: what are you going to do about it? This is it. In the world of Wonderfuls, the earth exudes unwelcoming and anxiety. Whenever Wonderfuls is vaguely funny, it’s always when it’s acknowledging how indelicate and artless it is. Similarly, whenever Wonderfuls is beautiful, such as during ‘Change’, it’s when it remembers life before everything went wrong. ‘Change’ stands in stark contrast because there’s a forlorn hope, but it’s retroactive: nothing in front could trigger it.

In some ways, Wonderfuls is a gruellingly masculine piece of work. Masculine because it’s about not being a man: it’s about not being strong, not being dependable and steadfast. It’s the horror of knowing that life has disallowed it. During ‘I Feel So Wrong’, Vagg is telling someone that he can’t explain why he cannot be all of this: he just can’t. If he did, the song would be titled more sensibly, more cleverly.


Wonderfuls’ Salty Town will be available on LP independently later this month. The band will launch it in Melbourne on August 3 with Love Chants.


Crawlspace Presents: Love Chants, Wonderfuls, Woollen Kits and Flat Fix in Melbourne

crawlspacepres1Crawlspace is very proud to announce its first Crawlspace Presents show at the Gasometer Hotel in Melbourne this August 3. We’ll be hosting the album launches for Love Chants’ 12 inch debut on Quemada Records (reviewed here) and the imminent LP reissue of Wonderfuls’ 2012 CD-R Salty Town (Wonderfuls interviewed here).

Joining Love Chants and Wonderfuls will be Melbourne’s finest pop group Woollen Kits, marking one of their first live appearances in yonks, as well as Flat Fix.

Say you’re going to the event on Facebook if you want.

Here’s the awkward press material. Read it very carefully:

Crawlspace Magazine will present four of Australia’s finest at Melbourne’s Gasometer Hotel on August 3, 2013.

LOVE CHANTS will launch their debut Quemada-issued 12 inch EP, marking the trio’s first performance in Melbourne. Consisting Michael Zulicki (Mad Nanna, Albert’s Basement), Anthony Guerra (Black Petal) and Matt Earle (Breakdance the Dawn, xNOBBQx), Love Chants “is two guitars, a drum kit and a spectral voice, dispensing the peripheral concerns of beauty and reaching for its simplest elements.”

Brisbane’s WONDERFULS released Salty Town in 2012, a collection of straightforward and bleakly impressionistic songs borne of small town addiction and mental illness. Salty Town is one of the most unrelentingly bleak, darkly funny and transfixing records of the modern age. The duo’s performance will celebrate the LP reissue with copies available at the show. Rare opportunity.

WOOLLEN KITS need no introduction: the Melbourne trio released two LPs via RIP Society in 2012. Songs about girls and other important issues. One of the best pop groups going around.

FLAT FIX is a duo featuring Nick Senger (Castings, Alzheimer Blanks) and Cooper Bowman (RSI, Altered States Tapes). Together they produce strange electronic music using analog hardware. No woosy Brian Eno cliches, no retro house. Strange and transporting.

New Music

Listen: Wonderfuls – Pilot Green

wonderfulsSince releasing one of the best albums of 2012 in the form of Salty Town, Wonderfuls have continued to upload the odd track to both Soundcloud and Bandcamp; tracks that continue the quieter trajectory they established with that release. I promised a review late last year after calling it my favourite record of 2012, but a wider release keeps getting promised (an LP, following a criminally short run of 50 CD-Rs) and I think that’d be a better time to dump my thoughts here – when others have the opportunity to let it sink in.

But whatever, the appeal of Wonderfuls is pretty immediate and obvious when you listen to ‘Pilot Green’, one of the highlights of the recent non-album tracks to go public. It’s not as violently bleak as some of the material on the album, opting instead for a more resigned and placid approach that is probably better absorbed on a sad weekday morning than at 4am after your fifteenth whiskey.

New Music

Listen: Danny McGirr – Sanguine Clock Obsolete

Danny McGirr is probably best known for being half of Wonderfuls, the Brisbane duo we interviewed last week that has just released an excellent new CD-R called Salty Town. McGirr is the guy that doesn’t appear on either of the Wonderfuls album covers. He’s responsible for most of the instrumentation in that duo to my knowledge, and under his own name he creates depressive instrumental music that will be immensely pleasing to anyone already fond of Salty Town.

McGirr has just released a limited edition CD-R called Sanguine Clock Obsolete, which compiles twenty tracks recorded between 2006 and 2009. If you’re unsure, there are four songs you can download for free on his Bandcamp page, and there’s an impressive amount of ground covered across those tracks: the quieter moments like ‘Fall Through Silence’ are punctured by dustier, more distorted numbers like ‘Entwine’ (embedded below). I implore you to check it out.