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Lesser Known 80s Australian New Wave Bands

New Wave/Punk music, culture, genres, memories. '80s revivalism and other relevant topics.

Lesser Known 80s Australian New Wave Bands

Postby new_waver234 » Thu Oct 28, 2021 6:54 am

There's quite a few Australian new wave bands that have strong followings among their fans, yet should be more regarded among the entire community. Live footage and certain b sides are harder to come by for these groups than your typical bands. There's bands like INXS and Icehouse who've reached international acclaim, and bands like Pseudo Echo and Kids In The Kitchen who are national treasures more or less. Here are some of my favorite bands that received less acclaim then they should have had.

- Beargarden.
Evolved directly from Melbourne post punk group, The Ears. They released one LP, All That Fall. Their second single "I Write The News" received some national airplay, but other than that they failed to reach a mainstream level of acclaim despite being well received by critics. Their sound takes elements of synth pop and indie rock.

-Geisha.
One of my absolute favorite bands of all time. They were quite popular in their native Melbourne and did well in the local charts, but not so much in other states. They released two albums, a self titled debut and "Midnight To Dawn", which was reissued by the now defunct Alcamantar label in the mid 2000's. Their early stuff is glam rock oriented.

- The Promise
Brisbane band formed in late 1982-1983. Known for their top 100 singles "Heart To Sell" and "Walking With A Weight". Although there's a vinyl rip of their only studio album "One In Every Colour", none of their work has been issued on CD. In order to listen to their b-sides, you'd have to buy a 7' single off discogs

- V-Capri
Their song "Haunting Me" was played in Kylie's last episode of "Neighbours", which allowed the song to chart in the UK. Besides that, this band was extremely popular in their native Perth, and their singles usually debut at no 1. locally. Yet, they weren't as popular nationally. Their album "In My World" was also reissued on Alacamantar.

-Venetians
Known best for their song "So Much For Love" which managed to hit #88 on the Billboard Hot 100. You can find their songs around the internet, but some b-sides are elusive. They released 3 albums, the most of all the bands I mentioned here.

I would like to continue the discussion about these lesser known Aussie new wave bands. If you have other favorites, mention them in the thread below. Would love to see what you think. In regards to the bands I outlined here, if anyone has footage from say countdown, rock arena, sounds unlimited, please let me know.
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Re: Lesser Known 80s Australian New Wave Bands

Postby LMP69 » Thu Oct 28, 2021 3:17 pm

The Expression. Released two LP's (both made it to CD release). They had some great songs, always thought they should have been more well known.
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Re: Lesser Known 80s Australian New Wave Bands

Postby new_waver234 » Thu Oct 28, 2021 3:22 pm

The Expression are also a great band! With Closed Eyes is a New Wave classic in my book. Present Communication and Total Eclipse are some of my top picks.
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Re: Lesser Known 80s Australian New Wave Bands

Postby Qbertqubes » Mon Nov 01, 2021 5:40 am

All Great bands (The Promise especially) & have most of their music but am looking for some rarer tracks form The Venetians: Fundamental Principals, Here Comes The Rain, Heartbeat, Another Amazing World, Suspect (from “Accident Compilation CD”)

Thanks
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Re: Lesser Known 80s Australian New Wave Bands

Postby new_waver234 » Mon Nov 01, 2021 10:04 am

Great to see another fan of the promise here! I believe Amazing World is somewhere up on youtube, the others I've been searching for myself for awhile. Never heard of "suspect" before...
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Re: Lesser Known 80s Australian New Wave Bands

Postby Qbertqubes » Tue Nov 02, 2021 5:58 am

https://www.discogs.com/master/761331-V ... Collection

However, I now come to realize this band from NZ is not the same Austrailian Band with the same name
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Re: Lesser Known 80s Australian New Wave Bands

Postby new_waver234 » Tue Nov 02, 2021 6:43 am

Ah yes, I remember there was a NZ band w/ the same name.

Really liking this discussion, would love to see what you think of the other bands I mentioned (Geisha, Beargarden, V Capri). I know all three of them are very different in sound, but both fell in the new wave category evidently.
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Re: Lesser Known 80s Australian New Wave Bands

Postby LMP69 » Tue Nov 02, 2021 6:48 pm

Beargarden is exceptionally good. Every track on their LP and even b-sides on their singles are excellent. Wish it would get a CD release.
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Re: Lesser Known 80s Australian New Wave Bands

Postby Qbertqubes » Wed Nov 03, 2021 5:49 am

Beargarden is great..I have all their music from Bandcamp. V Capri is awesome. It took me a long time to find their OOP CD w/ bonus tracks. Geisha is the one I am not too familiar with..I will have to check them out now. I remember hearing them & it was really good.
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Re: Lesser Known 80s Australian New Wave Bands

Postby Qbertqubes » Wed Nov 03, 2021 5:57 am

There is an Aussie band called :Rattling Sabres" which has only one single, All Fired Up. Fantastic song. Wish I heard more by this artist

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kV1ELKBGpu8
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Re: Lesser Known 80s Australian New Wave Bands

Postby new_waver234 » Wed Nov 03, 2021 7:34 am

Qbertqubes wrote:Beargarden is great..I have all their music from Bandcamp. V Capri is awesome. It took me a long time to find their OOP CD w/ bonus tracks. Geisha is the one I am not too familiar with..I will have to check them out now. I remember hearing them & it was really good.


I'm so glad that most of the Beargarden back cat. was released via Bandcamp, as well as The Ears (lead singer Sam Sejavka's band before Beargarden, if you are into Art Punk, they are a good listen. Leap For Lunch and Triple Treat are some great songs, takes me back to the time when I was obsessed with Joy Division in High School lol). Sadly, not much footage remains for either bands, definitely looking around for some Beargarden footage.

V Capri is an amazing new wave/power pop group. They were HUGE in their native Perth. Not many WA bands reached mainstream acclaim, the only other ones that come to mind are Eurogliders and The Boys.

Geisha is perhaps one of my favorite Aussie bands. Chris Doheny is a legend. I have their debut album on tape, vinyl, and the CD issued by Alcamatar in the mid 00s. Probably one of the albums I'll never tire of listening to. Definitely check them out :D
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Re: Lesser Known 80s Australian New Wave Bands

Postby new_waver234 » Wed Nov 03, 2021 7:38 am

Qbertqubes wrote:There is an Aussie band called :Rattling Sabres" which has only one single, All Fired Up. Fantastic song. Wish I heard more by this artist

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kV1ELKBGpu8


Unfortunately there are many bands that only end up releasing a sole single. Just had a listen to Rattling Sabres, quite decent late 80s rock oriented wave :)
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Re: Lesser Known 80s Australian New Wave Bands

Postby new_waver234 » Wed Nov 03, 2021 7:45 am

LMP69 wrote:Beargarden is exceptionally good. Every track on their LP and even b-sides on their singles are excellent. Wish it would get a CD release.


There was an unofficial CD Release, yet as someone who rather buy something to directly support an artist, I would rather purchase one issued by the band. I believe it was on the cards for awhile, but there doesn't seem to be much interest from the band to do such. Who knows, maybe if fans make enough fuss it will happen haha. All and all, Beargarden are probably one of the most appealing bands from the 1984-1985 period, many bands came out of nowhere at that time, to list them all would take ages. As you said, their tracks are excellent, I must say Sam Sejavka is one of my favorite front men, from his time in the ears to his time in beargarden. His voice is pretty calming to me, especially on tracks like A Minute In Black In White and All That Fall.
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Re: Lesser Known 80s Australian New Wave Bands

Postby Passing_Stranger » Sat Nov 06, 2021 4:28 pm

I have that unofficial CD of Beargarden album. Bought it on a whim having hardly heard their stuff - but now it's my firm favourite, a very good album with many catchy songs, some quite mellow others punchy and dynamic. Sad to hear they never achieved commercial success. Cannot say the same, however, about the Venetians - their early singles, "Sound on sound" and "Chinese I's", are perfect, but then they got too commercial and MOR for my tastes.

I like the Australian scene very much. I feel it was almost on par, just slightly behind the UK one, not worse than the US new wave at least. I'm quite picky about the bands but have quite a few in my collection:

Artificial Organs - their demo cassette has been reissued recently, it's a great early synthpop with minimalist bent. "While the city sleeps" is a clear hit, on par with the best of "minimal synth" from other regions of the world.

Informatics - fine synth/minimal/early industrial. One of the members was a guy from Russia (or at least from Russian family) so one of their songs, "Satellite to Russia", is in Russian (and a funny one it is) :D Their biggest hit is "Proximity switch", great bit of aggressive synthpop rarely made during the 1980s.

Another band by a Russian emigre was Koo De Tah, with their biggest hit being "Too young for promises". Dancey mid 1980s stuff, quite electronic and commercial, with female vocals. Highly recommended.

Little Heroes - I just love their second (and seemingly last) album "Watch the world" dome with the famed Rupert Hine. Some Roxy-ish stuff on it, very evocative sound and melancholic songs with plenty of synths. Solid LP that sadly seems to have gotten lost in the music explosion of the time.

Recently I rediscovered Machinations, namely their first album "Esteem". More on the funkier side, but not without a dark undercurrent.

In the same mould are early Models, especially their 1983 album "Pleasure of your company". Terrific synth sounds and arrangements on it, very inventive and distinctive, which sound great coupled with funkier rhythms and stern vocals. Much better than many acclaimed British bands of the time. Pity not more in this particular style has been done during the 1980s.

Lastly, I recently got a compilation by a guy called Peter Westheimer who did some synth-oriented stuff during the 1980s and early 1990s, both vocal and instrumental. Mightily impressed!

Speaking of The Expression, while I agree with the greatness of their sadly too short catalogue, weren't they from New Zealand? Speaking of that "small brave land" :D , from there comes one of my favourite albums of the 1980s, "Presentation & reality" by The Body Electric - head and shoulders above lots of synth stuff from UK/US, daring and inventive music, hugely memorable and, sadly, not too well-known. New Zealand also spawned Car Crash Set, often mistakenly labelled as "minimal synth" but actually more post-punk/alternative dance. Nice to listen to when the mood strikes.

Back to Australia, I'm in a process of re-evaluation of the merits of Real Life. Not an easy going, but I'm getting somewhere :D

That's my bit for now.
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Re: Lesser Known 80s Australian New Wave Bands

Postby new_waver234 » Sun Nov 07, 2021 7:06 am

Definitely get you about the Venetians! Their early stuff was very cult new wave/ new romantic. It seems that there was a huge change in the band's sound from their third single "Ooh La La" to their fourth single "Shine A Light". Don't get me wrong, I love the Venetians, but their sound became very commercial, songs were still catchy, but very top 40 sounding.

Beargarden didn't get the recognition they deserved considering the dysfunction within the band. Not to mention that, although most critics were okay with them, they were deemed as "another hairdresser band from Melbourne". Geisha went through the same issue. Pretty sure that was the biggest insult that you make about any band. Bands like Kids In The Kitchen, Pseudo Echo, Real Life, then Geisha and apparently Beargarden were put into that pretty boy category. Yet, many people didn't realize that these guys had more talent than people give them credit for (for instance, John Nyman, Chris, and Donoghue Doheny of Geisha were classically trained on piano). The guys from Beargarden were in numerous bands prior, so whatever kind of experience they had, they had it. I'm guessing the folks at Juke and Ram magazines couldn't admit that people 10-15 years their junior could manage to make music efficiently.

Oh... and Koo De Tah! Love their work as well. Tina Cross, the vocalist, was more into the Jazz and the adult contemporary stuff before Koo De Tah was formed, the whole dance pop was new to her, and she did amazing!

Other bands to check out are Do Re Mi and Deckchairs Overboard (bassist of the latter band Cathy McQuade was in post punk band, the Ears, with Beargarden lead singer Sam Sejavka, drummer Carl Manuell, and keyboardist Gus Till).

Wondering if anyone has footage of any of the bands I mentioned (The Promise, V Capri, Beargarden, Geisha, etc.) Not much on Youtube. Loving this discussion btw.
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