ITCHY BUGGER - DOUBLE BUGGER LP
I believe that you occasionally get a pure glimpse into the heart and soul of a genre or scene, whether it’s been around for six minutes or nine decades, which greatly expresses its essence and atmosphere and therefor stands the greatest chance of speaking its truth; whether it’s a classic example of of the genre’s defining sound or if it’s an interpretation of the sound, adhering to convention or not, spoken through whatever language and means necessary. What has (probably quite unfortunately) been labelled Dole Wave generally is marked by a few signposts and cornerstones: an expression of lower socio-economic class whether real, imagined or pretended; a quaintness of sound and feel, whether it’s song structure, recording quality, or (but almost certainly) lyrically; and a worn badge of some aspect of Australian identity whether it be attitude, humour or cultural & geographical references; and finally yet almost non-negotiably; our equally forsaken and beloved accent.
‘Double Bugger’ compiles the work of Australian-sometimes-abroad Josh Newton. “Well I made the first tape in Berlin as a parting gift to the mates I'd made in the decade I'd lived in Europe, only made 50 copies and gave them all away (some people might've got multiple copies ‘cuz I didn't have that many friends.) Then when I moved back to Sydney and realised I had no friends and I couldn't find a job I started recording that last tape, my little brother gave me an iPhone and I downloaded garage band and recorded half of the record just with the phone.
Among the tracks can be heard echoes of UK’s DIY scene built around similarly scrappy methods (Cleaners From Venus and The Fall-adjacent groups) as well the dusty and weary presentation of other, more bleak, down and out bedroom recording artists of the last fifteen or so years. Yet there is the familiar and unmistakable refrain of Australiana at work here. Hell, it’s called Itchy Bugger. There is a bit of a self-awareness to the whole thing yet it doesn’t fall into the grubby mitts of conceited rubbish in which so much Australian creativity is slip slop slapped around. See? But at some point when you’re looking toward the bottom of the barrel or up from the bottom of a few bottles you’ve probably got to come to terms with the fact that as an Australian you probably have a weird accent which doesn’t easily lend itself to singing nice songs nicely, and you’re just gonna have to go for it and write your damn catchy songs anyway.
The recordings collected on ‘Double Bugger’ are an example of something generally wrong done right. Dole Wave is basically a dirty word at this point but this record really is a little winner.
This was featured in our February 2020 newsletter. To read more from this newsletter, click here.
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