Les Vovos, Winter McQuinn and other indie artists we love this fortnight

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By Tom Walters

Hello and welcome to our new bimonthly column on Freelance Artists, which advocates only for emerging and underrepresented Victorian artists.

Every fortnight, we bring together the best Victorian independent bands and artists who are making waves online, underground and on the air.

For those looking to keep a listening ear with top emerging artists, this column will cover you every two weeks with Victoria’s best.

Find the latest musical interviews, news and reviews here.

The Vovo

“This song is a silly rant about the strangeness and small size of our capital,” said The Vovos, five musicians from Melbourne, of ‘Compromise’ – a song that is more of an ode to love-hate in Canberra, “a big little townAs the chorus says.

The Vovos are everything you want a lo-fi indie rock band to be: sharp, witty, sporty hooks. “Compromise” will make you scream from its first chorus: “Canberra/You make everyone frown/Canberra/Nobody loves youThey sing, as if graffiti and dart-riddled posters of the capital of our country adorned the walls of their rooms.

Like Vivian Girls or Dum Dum Girls before them, the Vovos share the charm of the lo-fi indie rock scene of the mid-2000s without ever falling into pastiche or nostalgia: “Compromise” sounds fresh and exciting, even if its message is as old as the city itself.

‘Compromise’ is now available via Roolette Records. Catch The Vovos at Max Watts on Friday April 16. Tix here.

Winter McQuinn

Autumn is in full swing, but Winter McQuinn is delivering the goods for Melbourne’s unusually warm weather with the first taste of his new album, A swarm of bees.

McQuinn – who also stars in psych-pop group Sunfruits – describes the songs on A swarm of bees as inspired by “Syd Barrett, Rainbow Babe, Pond and a little acidic country burnout,” which, while the lead single “Agent Apple Orange” is anything to say, isn’t too far off the mark.

Like Cool Sounds ‘recent album, “Agent Apple Orange” is a quintessentially Melbournois take on the classic alternative country sound, channeling McQuinn’s psych-pop experience through a hazy filter of’ 60s garage rock and weird pop from early Mac DeMarco.

The fact that there is also a track on the album called “George Harrison’s Crystal Ball” tells you everything you need to know – that McQuinn is channeling the classics of the 60s and 70s; be on the nose with his references while putting a new touch of tie-dye psychedelia on the whole.

‘Agent Apple Orange’ is now available. A Bee Rabble falls on Friday April 30 via Third Eye Stimulus Recordings.

Spiritual mafia

Many of us may resonate with the need to get back to basics after COVID, after prioritizing and enjoying the little things in our day-to-day lives. Outside, the first punk album Spiritual Mafia, does just that and goes back to the basics of raw and unpretentious punk.

The group has gone relatively unnoticed, having only played a handful of concerts a few years ago. But with the big one Outside – which comes courtesy of Melbourne’s excellent Anti Fade Records – they’re coming back rejuvenated and sounding like one of Australia’s best punk bands for ages.

It’s the centerpiece of the album – the sprawling nine-minute “Hybrid Dog” – that really cements that. With a single hypnotic riff on loop; a primitive but distinctly post-punk voice and glorious lo-fi sparkle, the song moves forward at its own pace, never wavering on its journey to the abyss.

Outside is a zen meditation for the outcasts – a seedy, stomping record that sounds like a hidden post-punk gem re-released from the 80s.

Alfresco is now available via Anti-fading records.


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