THE MOODISTS ***
Two Fisted Art
W Minc WMINCD027
THE MOODISTS emerged from Adelaide in South Australia at the end of the
1970s, and headed via Melbourne to London. Here they joined fellow antipodeans
the Go-Betweens, the Scientists and Nick Cave in a living hell of bad
drugs, bad weather and bad cooking. At the end of the 1980s they went
home empty-handed, despite critical acclaim and a fearsome live presence.
Two Fisted Art, a Best Of supplemented by a superb bonus live CD, proves
the Moodists the equal of any of their post-punk peers in the unfettered
noise stakes, but maybe Dave Graney's elliptical, epic, witty, self-mythologising
lyrics and histrionic, golden wolverine growl made too many intellectual
demands on the indie-rock fans of the mid-1980s. If the Moodists are an
unknown quantity, you now have the enviable pleasure of discovering them
for the first time.
Stewart Lee , Sunday Times UK, May 2003
The Moodists rehearsl
Moodists, Sand Pebbles
The Tote, Friday 14/2/03
Getting an early start to this gig was competing with the jaw-dropping
Michael Jackson doco on the TV at home for many, but the crowd built up
steadily during the Sand Pebbles set. First song was a kind-of instrumental
punctuated by minimal vocals, followed by the e-bow guitar and dexterous
bass of their almost-hit cover of nutcase supreme Julian Copes Out
Of My Mind On Dope And Speed,but with the crazy Hawkwind-esque flange
production of the recorded version sadly absent. Other songs were carried
off with classy aplomb by the hard-to-pigeonhole sort-of-rock band thats
not trying to be just glamorous or flavour-of-the-month fashionable (although
if one were to compare their sound a little to Gomez or Coldplay it wouldnt
be the insult it may initially appear, with the la la la of the final
song touching on Morrison/Camilleri/De Ville territory), leaving some
punters looking bemused, others converted. (Have a listen to their Eastern
Terrace CD to be further confounded.)
(Momentary whinge- back in the day, high-hand held camcorders were the
thing of daydream not the view-blockers that plague almost every gig now.)
Moodists were here again after an extended break to launch the collection,
Two Fisted Art. Bassist Chris Walsh laid down a rock-solid rumble thudthudthud
grind-groove like a construction site in your chest during Frankies
Negative, Chads Car and Double Life (at one point pile-driving the
instrument into the floor), basis and grounding for the spiky sonic spider
crawling on a swampy grungy (in the old-school sense) to funky spaghetti
western guitar excursions of latter-day Dirty 3-er Mick Turner and the
very dapper besuited Handsome Steve Miller, with drummer Clare
Moore meshing these musical elements together (look out for her all-girl
supergroup, The Chico Molls). And the always-interesting Dave Graney.
What IS he wearing? Love him or hate him, there is no doubt his fashion
sense is second-to-none. Tonights sartorial offering was an astounding
leather ensemble enclosing a skin-tight black see-through bodyshirt. The
ostentatious flutter of jewellery, particularly the Dave knuckleduster
ring, deserves mention too. Then theres the surrealistic banter
(he encouraged people to buy a CD to play in their coffin while being
buried - its much funnier the way he told it) and amusing regaling
of band and audience between songs (the comedy festival starts in
two months, pal), and the skewed storytelling of the songs themselves
(spiritual father of The Fauves Coxy maybe?). Im gonna
play a song off our new album. We recorded it yesterday before the
bumpy careening Chevrolet Rise, Runaway and (my favourites) Six Dead Birds
and Gone Dead. If you only knew Graneys smoother solo
material, the sound alone would be an eye-opener: its not easy listening,
a bit challenging, very Melbourne early 80s even, but worth
thumbing down a ride in the mysterious sleek dark saloon with the slightly
odd-looking stranger driving. Who knows what world youll end up
in. Intriguing. Its the only show were doing for this
17 years, so
see you later.
Two Fisted Art (1980-1986)
W Minc Records
My first encounter with Dave Graney was in his Coral Snakes guise in around
1991 at the Hopetoun Hotel in Sydney. He was in lonesome prairie acoustic
mode, with a handle bar moustache and a zen-like stage demeanor. Lush
and laid-back, it sounded as though Graney had a whammy bar fixed permanently
to his voice and run through the PA. The pubs at this stage were being
bludgeoned mercilessly with 'all thrash-no chat'. It was a revelation
witnessing rambling narratives dropped among wistful songs about love
n' loss and Graney's continuing dialogue with show business. The 'Snakes
were wonderfully out of step with the impending wave of grunge breaking
over the scene and it's what endeared him to many during those meandering,
Rewind to the late seventies - from humble beginnings in Adelaide and
Melbourne The Moodists soon realised better things may have been on offer
overseas. Not wanting to remain humble they jetted off for London like
many of their contemporaries (Go-Betweens, Triffids, Birthday Party).
They spent most of their career in the UK trying to make a fist of it
and despite the notoriously fickle English press lumping them in with
other visiting Australians (because they all sound the same) and their
seemingly hand to mouth existence, managed a not insignificant output
in a relatively short period of time, cutting two albums and a handful
of mini albums and singles.
The first disc contains studio recordings and the second comprises live
material recorded at gigs in Australia and the UK from 1983-85. There's
a kind of beauty through repetition in their most impressive stuff, whether
it's the heated "Some Kinda Jones" or the knife-edge "Boss
Shitkicker" and the relentless rumble of "The Disciple's Know".
No matter how many times you revisit these tracks, they'll leave you with
the sensation they could fall apart at any moment, truly compelling listening.
The insistent muscle of the rhythm section over a scathing guitar, alongside
Graney's rich vocalising were all vital ingredients, not to mention the
intuitive power of Clare Moore's drumming. Also in the band was Mick Turner
(currently Dirty Three and Tren Brothers) and The Moodists' sound engineer
Victor Van Vugt (now residing in New York) whose credits include Beth
Orton, PJ Harvey and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.
The second disc captures The Moodists live in all their blistering menace.
"Enough Legs to Live On" is unrelenting, anchored by a huge
bass sound that'll have you wishing you could've been present to feel
it in the pit of your stomach. A true mess of dark stuff pervades "Bullet
Train", the perfect vehicle for Graney's impassioned vocals backed
by an ever-present brutal rhythm and a nasty layer of chicken-scratch
guitar. Although largely ignored in Australia during their existence,
The Moodists' influence can't be denied; this here punter can hear their
attack echoed in the moody urgency and lurching bass of nineties band
Crow and current Sydneysiders, the confronting Bluebottle Kiss.
Excellent liner notes penned by David Nicholls (responsible for the engrossing
Go Betweens book of 1997) accompany the release.
Nicholls recalls a humorous meeting with the band for the first issue
of his fanzine Distant Violins and a vivid account of witnessing the band's
live intensity on several occasions.
A great overview of a truly unique and influential band - the response
to the Two Fisted Art retrospective has been such that they've decided
to reform for a small run of shows in Australia, which will be essential
viewing for original fans. It will also be of particular interest to those
like myself who, though not old enough to have witnessed the band at the
time, have been both entertained and intrigued by this guy Graney and
his impressive output and performances following The Moodists.
Brian Stradbrook luna
This twin CD set reveals the earlier, unpolished
side of the only musician who ever successfully mergeed irony with cool-
Dave Graney. Fronting the Moodists, Graney is inswampland-all very 80's
and very Melbourne, but not even remotely dated. The Birthday Party meet
the Velvet Underground on Chevrolet Rise, while the Disciples Know twists
the standard Bo Diddley shuffle into something altogether darker and dirtier.
Elsewhere it feels a bit like Kim Salmon in a Surrealist mood. The first
disc comprises of 19 studio tracks- the second is live, beer soaked and
equally sublime. Revered in 80's London and pretty much ignored here,
the Moodists are essential listening to anyone vaguely interested in Australia's
Annette Basile , Juice , May 2003.
The Moodists /The morose /The sullen /The sulky
/ are still holding out/ to be reckoned with.
Time for rehabilitation/ rediscovery/ recognition . In the mid-1980s,
The Moodists were an obscure small rock band from Australia which made
as much noise as a drag-racing track. But they were understood by few.
After some years of disconsolate performances at pubs in Melbourne and
Sydney, they moved to London to make a rock career. Just as bad there.
For some years, they were certainly a part of a well-publicized mini-wave
of Australian underground rock (remember The Birthday
Party, Hunters & Collectors, The Triffids ?), but The Moodists were
even there, the most challenging and difficult to place. Nothing of what
they recorded has been available on cd. They were quietly forgotten. Up
until now, that is. For with the double cd, Two fisted art
an Australian company has collected their best on a cd and a disc with
live material. And, extraordinarily, this is still wearing well.
The Moodists play an existential big-city blues, smelling of (sweaty ?)
leather, with a rumbling bass at the centre. But it has nothing to do
with funk it
rather drives its way forward like a ploughshare through clay. At the
same time, Clare Moore follows a proud line of uncompromising female rock
drummers (back to Velvet Undergrounds Maureen Tucker). Dave Graney
sings with an intense, desperate voice of sleeplessness, burning cars
and snorting ajax. There is a feet-on-the-ground feeling in the chaos
which means that it never becomes affected or arty. This is only a gang
of Australian cowboys standing indifferent in the middle of the end of
The live cd adds nothing, really, but the track from the lp Thirstys
calling and the mini-album Double life are something
of the strongest recorded during the 1980s.
Magnus Säll (Dagens Nyheter , swedish daily paper. Translated
by Steve Millers uncle Vic)
Two Fisted Art. The Moodists
Tales From The Australian Underground
In the years after punk ifs possible that the only band that ever hit
you harder than the Moodists were soulmates and Melboume/London drinking
buddies, the Birthday Party. With the Moodists, distorted blues and mutated
rock plugged into a shockingly licentious bass and assaulted you constantly.
Guitars would forgo scraping across your eyeballs only to pick at you
until you gave in or ran out wearing the scars of a thousand cuts to your
These songs weren't easy; they weren't pleasant, but they reeked of immersion
in the Beefheart end of garage punk and the darker depths of country,
and the conventions of both forms can be discerned under the pounding.
Over it all, Dave Graney's voice could squeal and rail but it was at its
most lethal when low and growling, as if pitched to meld with Clare Moore's
Over the two discs of this historical record/compilation (one disc is
of studio recordings; the other is live recordings and some appropriately
oneeyed fan finer notes) you can see that apart from the Birthday Party
there were connections with arthouse groups such as The Fall and Laughing
Clowns. And in the obscure but grandly stated lyrics of Graney, there's
a literary style that would blossom in his solo work.
I have to admit never really getting past the visceral with the but they
left a serious mark on the '80s underground and outfits such as Thug and
All three of them, and more than 40 more, are captured in their sweaty,
short and direct glory on Tales From The Australian Underground.
Though suffering for coming after last year's double of underground reissues
(Do The Pop and Born Out Of Time) and sharing many of the same names,
Tales differs by concentrating on the singles, particularly the early
singles. This means there's a roughness here that is bracing and exciting.
There are the expected (Radio Birdman, X, the Eastern Dark), the unexpected
(Numbers, the wonderful Pel Mel and Makers Of The Dead Travel Fast) and
the lovely (Triffids, Lighthouse Keepers) to balance out the raucous.
Bernard Zuel, Sydney Morning Herald