Words: Doug Wallen
Prized indie labels Our Golden Friend and Poison City take over Split Singles Club, sealing the first 7” with fun linked videos from Moody Beaches and Bench Press.
Split Singles Club emerged last year as a collaboration between Milk! Records and Bedroom Suck, two small but vital Melbourne labels whose tastes converged over a six-instalment series of monthly split 7” singles. The initiative did a terrific job of not just creating something special in a limited and collectable physical format, but of balancing bigger names like Courtney Barnett, Blank Realm and Cable Ties with smaller ones like Emlyn Johnson, Hachiku and Jade Imagine.
Now another pair of local labels have taken on the mantle of the series in its second year. In fact, both are more than just labels: Our Golden Friend is also a brilliant management collective handling acts like Totally Mild and RVG, while Poison City Records doubles as a skate/record store and organiser of Melbourne’s annual Weekender Fest. Their turn at the Split Singles series is already shaping up to be a doozy, with the promise of songs from a dozen rising artists – including Stella Donnelly, Way Dynamic, MOD CON, Michael Beach, RVG, Bitch Diesel, 808s & Greatest Hits and Elizabeth Mitchell from Totally Mild.
The first entry in the second series pairs two Melbourne bands blurring the lines between punk and post-punk: Moody Beaches, a quite new trio featuring Anna Lienhop and Julia Watt from surf-garage champs La Bastard, and Bench Press, a quartet who released a self-titled debut LP via Poison City last year. Moody Beaches’ ‘Guns’ is a driving, shout-along anthem roughened with gnashing distortion and squealing feedback, with Lienhop turning her famous soul-style singing chops to a leaner and more immediate approach. On the flipside, Bench Press’s ‘Baby Steps’ is all flinty muscle, armed with a great skittering hook and a cathartic bark recalling Ian MacKaye’s Fugazi-era growl.
Even better are the songs’ two linked DIY videos, which come courtesy of Deferoproductions a.k.a. Chris Matthews, who has previously made clips for Gold Class, The Drones, Palm Springs and Cosmic Psychos, among others. Made at the same time and in the same style, both videos feature band members and friends dancing, stalking and singing in front of green-screen-ish backdrops. Watch closely to spot members of Camp Cope, Batpiss and countless other Melbourne bands, plus fleeting cameos by band shirts, beer and … Twisties. The videos are unabashedly daggy and celebratory, right down to the Brady Bunch-style boxes employed at one stage.
Recorded and mixed by Matt Chow, with an original cover collage by Steve Tierney, the Moody Beaches/Bench Press 7” is being shipped to subscribers this week. Next in the series is a split from Harmony and Mere Women. You can still subscribe to the 2018 series here (https://www.splitsingles.club), which includes each single in vinyl and digital formats plus a limited Split Singles Club shirt. You can also opt to pick up the records at the Poison City shop in Melbourne to save on postage, or even simply buy the records digitally. Subscriptions are limited, so get in while you can. You’ll be glad you did.
As for these two bands, you can catch Bench Press at the Old Bar in Melbourne this Friday before its New Zealand tour next month, and Moody Beaches celebrate their first anniversary on Friday the 13th next month at Melbourne’s Cactus Bar.
Banner image: Scott Cherry (Moody Beaches)/ Yunis (Bench Press) / / Steve Tierney (cover/poster)