Melbourne! The sky, the trees, the birds, the river, the japanese restaurants, the gravel, the gardens, the sewers, the shops, the books, the dreams, the machinery. And the MUSIC! Huon is a tight Melbourne-based concommittancy producing very popular music available at present in two artefacts stamped in vinyl and three CDs stamped in perspex or whatever CDs are made of. First came a single called 'Fluoro', available on Library records and an album called Epic carrying the 555 imprint. Later came two more albums, this time in the form of compact discs. One goes by the name of Songs for Lord Tortoise and comes to you under the banner of the Florida record label Animal World. Another makes its presence felt as part of the 555 hit parade. It shall henceforth be known as Hung Up Over Night. Purchase these immediately alongside the fat new album Answers to Lucky which is also on the Animal World label, and co-released by the illustrious Dutch Courage Record label, featuring FREE! cover and more songs than you should expect for the price. Don't forget the compilation tracks. 'Natural' (version) on the 555 compilation 'These are Testing Times'. 'Complex (Remix)' on the Trolleybus comp. 'Parachute Jumper' on the 'You Gotta Get More Alive' comp on 555. 'Let's Go' on the Animal World comp. 'Crucifixion' on the Library East Timor comp. 'Early 80s Cars (Remix)' on the 'Chocolate Art Returns' CD and 'Getrappel' on the Hayfever free 7". And perhaps even more things we don't remember.
Andrew, Mia, David and Ellen
Fluoro 7" (Library) shhh 5 Australia 1998
2.Fortune / Bad friend
Tragedy 7" (555 Recordings) 55526 UK 2000
2.Get washed / Town ride / Love in
Full Length Releases
Epic LP (555 Recordings) 555LP7 UK 1998
Not in Room
Songs For Lord Tortoise CD (Animal world) USA 1999
Just Not True
I Got to Keep My Tips
Hung Up Over Night CD (555 Recordings) 555CD15 UK 1999
Hung Up Over Night
Innocent It's Not
Click and Drag
Pressing Too Hard
Disco Square 10" LP (555 Recordings) 555LP18 UK 2000
Hit the Jackpot
Going on Really Good
You Wrote a Song
Getrappel (Disco version)
Answers to Lucky CD (Animal world/Dutch Courage)DCR012/AWR011 USA 2001
You need a gimmick
Pulled out of the air
Child pop fans
These are testing times CD (555 Recordings) 555LP04 UK 1998
You gotta get more alive CD (555 Recordings) 555CD12 UK 1999
Indie Aid Abroad-A Little Help for East Timor CD (Drive-in/Library)
Drive 42/Shhh 10 USA/Australia 2000
Trolley Bus Music Tour CD (Trolley Bus) TB-001 Japan 2000
Populogical Synth-Plop CD (Isonauta) Lad 01 France 2000
Captain Circus CD (Chocolat Art Returns) CAR-001 Japan 2000
Early Eighties Cars (remix)
Groovi-hell 7" (Hayfever) EP No 7 Germany 2000
Five band compilation single packaged with the Hayfever magazine.
Knowing We Was Right From Da Start CD (555 Recordings) 555CD27 USA 2001
Soft Love: A Tribute to Soft Cell CD (555 Recordings) 555CD34 USA 2001
The Wedding LP (555 Recordings/Red Square) 555LP35/RSQ010 UK/USA 2001
Australian Festival Compilation CD (555 Recordings/Red Square) 555CD44/RSQ016 Australia/USA 2002
555CD55 fiftyfive band compilation (555 Recordings of Flagstaff Arizona) 555CD55 USA 2003
33 and a third compilation (Jacana Records) JAC006 USA 2006
Couldn't I just tell you
Library Records has a surefire winner with this effortlessly gorgeous single.
'Fluoro' has a hazy, faraway feel akin to sitting in a field of long grass and
hearing the The Cat's Miaow playing one of Galaxie 500's gentler songs wafting
on the breeze. Mia Shoen has an exceptionally cute voice that, although it is
even more childlike than Laura Autocollant's, never grates. The 2 songs on the
B-side are equally pretty. 'Fortune' benefits from David Nichols' endearingly
flat vocals and again recalls The Cat's Miaow at their sleepiest. 'Bad Friend',
however, is decidedly perkier with the drums rattling faster and the guitar
twinkling like a star on uppers. This time, Mia's singing echoes Sheggi from
The Fat Tulips and even has some of the vocal twists of Claire Grogan from
Altered Images which is definitely no bad thing ! A 7", therefore, that doesn't
shout for attention but begs to be loved.
David- Boa Fanzine
Members of the Cannanes, Cat's Miaow, Clag, and a dozen more Australian
bands not all of which begin with 'c', making what might as well be the new
Cannanes record - very fast quiet strumming, stuttering boxy drums,
wandering distant saz, non-cliched words sprawling all over the boundaries
between one part of a song and the next, parlor-rock sound, and exciting
pop hooks. Except that Mia Schoen's voice sounds a good deal more
conventionally airy and uncertain, less scrappy and experienced, than
Fran's; and that Huon have a knowing way of using samples for rhythm
tracks, which those c-bands mostly don't do. Then there's this ultra-quiet
song, 'The Star', written by someone named 'J. Young' (who doesn't play on
it), with a very sweet click track taken from dance-era Scritti Politti and
laid carefully under what would otherwise be a Television Personalities
song in feel, in tune, in sentiments, even in vocal style. And then there's
handfuls of acoustic piano dissonance sampled from Alternative TV's
masterwork 'Facing Up to the Facts' and scattered about a cloud chamber of
a dejected half-song called 'Not in Room', and leading into an
organ-driven, good-for-driving whole song that could have come out on
Drive-In, which is when I remembered that David Nichols is also a rock
critic... it's not a Cannanes record after all, but it's close, and it's
quite good. When do I get to visit Australia?
Steve B-Popwatch #10:
Featuring a cast from the criminally neglected Australian underground,
"Epic" contains chiming guitar and loads of atmos.
Songs For Lord Tortoise CD
Dave Nichols, formerly of winningly amateurish Australian popsters
the Cannanes, has landed work in Huon, which possesses all the loose-change charm
of his previous band. The new outfit, however, operates according to its own peculiar
logic, which sounds as if it were conceived in a dank Commonwealth basement, sometime
during the late '80s. Huon's sloppy drumming, warbling keyboards, found sounds,
sleepy vocals and lazy, Velvets-y, occasionally jangling, guitars somehow turn a
potentially dull and daunting 19 tracks into an insidious, bittersweet suite.
Imagine a wobbly-kneed Go-Betweens, just back from an acid trip, or picture a
woolly take on Yo La Tengo's intimate slivers of feedback. Lord Tortoise
may not break any new ground, but the record is full of surprising, small-scale
Carlene Bauer- CMJ New Music Report, Issue: 647 - Dec 20, 1999
Okay, I'm not even going to try to get into the genealogy of Huon.
Suffice it to say that the people in Huon have been and are in about
3 mozillion other bands, most of which I've never heard of before.
But that's my problem, and judging by the 19 (count 'em!) tunes on
Songs for Lord Tortoise, they're probably pretty good bands! Huon
plays mellow, atmospheric, mostly guitar-based rock, with boy/girl
vocals switching off each song. "Guitar-based" isn't really fair
though, because there are all sorts of little surprises that keep
popping up, like strange accordion riffs, banging pipes, samples from
old records, and so on. Almost every song reminds me of Galaxie 500 in
one way or another, so I guess I should say that they sound a lot like
Galaxie 500...except that they don't, really. It's more the mood that
their music evokes - the sort of sad, sort of drifting, sort of reverby
thing that Galaxie 500 does so well. "Merri Creek" is a full-on Jesus
and Mary Chain 3-chord reverbfest, albeit a mellow one. "Crusty" is a
weird polka-like thing in a broken elevator. "Money" is a spooky, sort
of primitive, acoustic techno sounding number... The more I listen to
this CD, the stranger and more surprising it gets. That's pretty exciting.
I think I'll go listen to it again. (Songs for Lord Tortoise also contains
a multimedia component, which includes photos, lyrics, comics, etc.)
Irving Bellemeade- Splendid e-zine
One of the greatest regrets I have of those listed in the Bands Promised
But Not Written About For The Bands Not In The Trouser Press Guide Guide is
when somebody promised to do a writeup of all the Cannanes spin-offs. As one
of the greatest Australian pop bands, who have maintained an ingenius simplicity
in their music over a long period of years, the group has had a number of people
participate, all of whom seem to have worked on other projects as well.
David Nichols, who played drums for most of the group's career, is possibly the
largest offender. Here, he joins up with Andrew Withycombe, who played in notable
tweesters The Cat's Miaow, and Mia Schoen, who has a group called Sleepy Township.
The album is chock full at 19 tracks, and maintains a soothing, charming appeal as
it dashes about the map. Vocals receive a heavy reverb treatment, as the Galaxie 500
influence appears to continue making a mark, while the home-recorded limitations are
treated respectfully by never overcrowding a song with instruments. Nichols and Schoen
trade off singing, the former having a thick and rich deep voice, the latter having a
amicable self-conscious softness resembling Pam Berry. Yes, things are highly impish here,
but it's not like a group of teenagers scared of their instruments. Instead, that quality
comes from seasoned musicians seeking a subtlety of form and a beauty in melodicism.
Huon features members of Cannanes (namely David Nichols), Cat's Miaow, Hydroplane,
Pip Proud Group and some others. You guessed it, they're from Australia. While I'm
not at all knowledgeable about the Cannanes, I can guess that they practice a good
bit of atonalism, especially vocally, but Huon can be surprisingly and pleasantly
tuneful. The catchiness they evidenced on their debut, the Epic LP on 555 Recordings,
is in full-force for songs like "Look Away" and "Uplifting." If likable lo-fi pop isn't
your racket, then try the dark jazziness of "Canberra" or the art absurdity of "Crusty"
or the electronic-y drone of "Champ." The female vocals remind me of Amy (Aislers Set, Henry's Dress)
Linton's in a way and offer a nice change from David's somewhat nasal monotone
(I don't dislike his voice and I think it works quite well on many of the songs, but I think having
to listen to it on all the tracks would've gotten tiresome). Strings, reeds, flute, keyboard, samples
of ethnic music and cheesy dialogue are mixed in with the light guitar, dulcet bass and sparse drums.
This album is by no means perfect, but the ways in which it is wonderful defy exact description.
Don't let the title fool you into thinking this might be another effort to
duplicate the innovations of a certain Chicago post-rock band. It
actually comes from Huon leader David Nichols misunderstanding the title
of the Cramps' Songs the Lord Taught Us as a teenager. Nichols, a long
time member of the Cannanes who now plays in Driving Past, leads Huon
through an hour of dour, minor key post indie rock. "Just Not True," a
cover of a long lost single from Australian one-man band EST, is one of
the more forceful numbers here, with a surging melody to match the
falling-forward lyric. With Andrew Withycombe (Driving Past, Hydroplane)
and Mia Schoen (Driving Past, Sleepy Township) in the lineup, Huon seems
comfortable in almost any instrumental combination. "Crusty," for
instance, is led by an accordion and abetted by electronic whirls and
gurgles. The show-stopping folkie "Complex" gets remixed at the end of
the LP by Greg Wadley, who makes the hypnotic tune even more entrancing
with a big beat. Huon doesn't just fill its kitchen sink with a bunch of
neat sounds, though. "I got to keep my tips" ends appropriately with
restaurant atmospherics and scratchy surface noise works well on
"Sandpaper." Though much of the production here is mired in a mid-'80s
lo-fi haze, Lord Tortoise succeeds on its own understated merits,
especially with glorious pop songs such as the Schoen showcase "Domestic"
keeping things clear.
Tom Roe-Magnet Magazine #44
Hung Up Over Night CD
With members of Driving Past and Sleepy Township involved, this is predictably lo fi
luddite take on pop music. But here there's a twist that takes this far from the dark, whispered art
guitar pop and blundering 'na´ve' style of those projects, as they bring in the keyboard clunks and
luddite loops that suggest an interest in Stereolab's indie sound and a twisted take on trip-hop and
eclectic electronica. All well and winsome thanks to the throwaway deadpan tunelessness of melodies
like those on the title track. But once again, anything this sweetly understated is not for everyone.
Simon Wooldridge- Juice Magazine 3/2000
The end of a decade inspires reflection about what one did with it, and one thing I certainly did was
spend a huge amount of time mulling over rickety sounding indie-pop records from all over the world.
For a while there was a sense that this stuff would somehow transforms the worlds of its fans and participants
(and really, the two were always the same, that's partly what made the scene feel so great for a while) by
giving them a fanzine-and-seven-inch furnished alternative to the big bad real world. Where did the International
Pop Underground go? I theorize that its participants got advanced degrees, jobs, computers, first or second or
third visits to rehab, kids, marriages, divorces; all the things that happen when you put your foot into that
real world. Most of the IPU's participants put their youthful hobbies aside, and the one who hung onto music at
all have either gone through Japanoise and into electronic music and free jazz or just wait every year for a
new Stereolab record.
But there are survivors, people who soldier on and make music. Why?
Some of them are doubtless too clueless to quit, but others make it BECAUSE THEY CARE ABOUT MUSIC. Imagine that. Huon is one such band. It's the latest endeavor of David Nichols (drummer and singer, ex-Cannanes, Crabstick, Blairmailer, ATV member for a day, currently of Driving Past, and sometimes contributor of silly drawings to MOE), and it's more completely dominated by his inclusive pop aesthetic than any of his previous bands. He co-writes most of the material, although multi-instrumentalists Mia Schoen (Sleepy Township, Long Weekend, Driving Past - she also sings about half the songs) and Andrew Withycombe appear on both of these records. So do lots of other people, but that's not what this review is about. I come to praise Huon because they bring the best of the IPU without being bogged down by any baggage; they love music, love to make it, love to play it, and aren't willing to limit themselves to any particular way of doing it, or any particular sound. "Hung Up Over Night" could be subtitled "Hung Up On Lene Lovich," since it's punctuated by charmingly awkward keyboard instrumentals that sound like Lovich's old b-sides. But there's also "Hung Up," a trip-hop duet made out of languid loops that's populated with lyrics that sift the minutia of daily life for meaning and finds an epiphany in a muddy spill. And "basement," another loop song adorned by woozily orbiting brass and balalaika samples. Other songs on this and the equally brilliant and more generously sized "Songs for Lord Tortoise" (the name stems from some goombah's garbling of an old Cramps album's title - if you know which one you've won the oppportunity to to get in line to buy me a cranberry juice) draw on the vocabulary of Nichol's old projects; bass lines nicked from Fall records, crisply strummed guitars, wobbly drumming, conversational singing. I'm not sure whether I get more pleasure from those familiar ingredients or from Huon's willingness to employ any means available to write an indelible and affecting tune, but I can say that in a house full of records that get played three times and then get shelved, these get played over and over again.
Seek 'em both out.
Bill Meyer- MOE Volume 11, Number 1