Everett True

Song of the day – 442: Clag (something wonderful from the 90s)

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More than many countries, it seems – or at least the U.K. – Australia has this hidden musical history.

Makes me sad sometimes, that music like this might only be recognised after it happened. There again, maybe this music was recognised as it happened. I’m not really in a place to say either way. This is great, though. Three-piece Clag* were as ramshackle and cute and tough as you could desire … and from Brisbane (during the 90s), which means – presumably – that I might be working alongside a former member right now! Oh wait. Did Alison Bolger help form Panel Of Judges and Beaches? Well, that’s a bonus and then some – two of my favourite Australian bands right there – but they’re down in Melbourne, right?

Respect to the lady Bolger, though. Three of my favourite Australian bands.

There’s a retrospective compilation entitled Pasted Youth on its way, via those lovely folk down at Chapter Music – the first time Clag have ever been available on CD. The songs remind me a little of Ed’s Redeeming Qualities (is that obscure enough for you, hipster townies?) or one of those warm, bubbly, idiosyncratic bands that seemed to be everywhere in the U.K. in March 1984. The brass section seems lovably intemperate. The songs are about everyday stuff, and are sung like we all love Dolly Mixture or Girls At Our Best! or Clive Pig, and concern security men, goldfish, chips, gravy, cult sci-fi film stars and brains that refuse to function the way they’re told they should. Some nice offbeat covers (Devo, Sonic Youth), too. Tamsin Chapman will LOVE this. Cute, but tough. You understand?

Twink! That’s who this reminds me of. A very little. That’ll be the kiddie-punk element.

With its impromptu gargling and glugging, ‘Goldfish’ is a classic of its kind.

As Chapter put it themselves:

Formed around high school friends Bek Moore, Rachael Cooke and Alison Bolger in the very early 90s, Clag played a kind of psychotic kiddie punk, full of one note Casio keyboard solos and lyrics about cows, goldfish and gravy-covered hot chips. Their apparent innocence, however, was merely a front, disguising examinations of the human psyche that grew darker as the band progressed.

Live, the band would face away from the audience and play with masks taped to the backs of their heads, or dress in hospital gowns and bedeck the stage with fluffy Mr Men toys. Musically they were equaly confusing, staking out a bizarre middle ground between the Shaggs, Bikini Kill and the Banana Splits, In short, Clag were one of the most head-scratchingly strange bands in the world, and those who came across them either recoiled immediately or developed a lifelong obsession.

*I say three-piece. There appear to be at least five members in that photo. Ah well. Misinformation rules!

Oh, go on. As you twisted my arm. I just found this on YouTube. From last year. I love this song so much.

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