Sunday, 26 May 2013

Sunday Sessions: The Mavis's

There are many bands that evoke certain memories of a certain time of my life gone by. Those bands would be tied to their era, corresponding with my stage of development during that period.

Today's band to be honoured with a Sunday session I discovered during their peak. They, like many other great local and overseas bands of the time, were the soundtrack to a very confusing and unique period of my life: early adulthood. Their music reminds me of tertiary study, moving out of home, first steps into the metropolitan Sydney rental market, first jobs with multinational IT companies, buying new cars off the showroom floor and securing finance on credit, and much, much more.

Today we give a rousing introduction to The Mavis's.

I didn't like them at first, however (rural Victoria) Ballarat's finest (and most probably, only) pop stars wormed their way into my consciousness, and they have never left. At first I couldn't work out just what the hell I was seeing and listening to, but as the music becomes almost permanent earworms, I just had to give in to its charm. Listening back to their music now elicits powerful emotions of happiness, joy, sadness and bittersweet melancholy, all at once. It is amazingly evocative music by a group of unlikely misfits from disparate musical and cultural influences, but somehow they made it all work.

If one was to try and identify their influences (and even that would only uncover a very haphazard selection), you could pinpoint Fleetwood Mac, Husker Du, The Beach Boys, The Velvet Underground, the B52s - an unusual texture from an unusual group. They had heavy guitars, pounding drums, sweet vocal harmonies and lusciously rich melodies all colliding together into a kaleidoscopic whole, performed by a be-dreadlocked guitarist, an icy, indie-cool bass player, a female drummer who alternated between shades of delicacy and full throttle belting, an openly gay male lead singer and his moon-pixie sister, also on vocals.

They were of their time and simultaneously from somewhere else. They were at once contradictory and yet the perfect combination of divergent ideas. They didn't look like any of their other peers at the time, but then in the mid-1990s, Aussie bands didn't look like each other. And trust me, one look at the videos below and "cookie-cutter" is one term that definitely does not apply to The Mavis's. Behold the 80s style synths and soaring vocal lines in "Cry", Eastern influenced melodies and hardcore punk guitar riffing in "Naughty Boy", clever harmonies set against heavy metal riffing in "Box" and more.

Here's six of the best from many, many greats from their catalog. Enjoy.

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