Tuesday, 12 December 2006

The world has changed, it's obvious...





It might have escaped your notice - I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere other than their own website and newsletter - that Australia's fine, fine indie label Candle Records is to close in March 2007. Hopefully there'll be a bit more of a fanfare when the end actually comes, but then doing things quietly has served the label well, building a loyal fanbase for its uniquely Aussie slant on indie-pop.

Such is the magic of Candle that it's managed to maintain the quality control over the decade or so it's been in existence, and that the bands mostly have a unifying je ne sais quoi about them without sounding same-y. Needless to say, if astute lyrics and jangly indie-pop are your bag, Candle will have the goods for you.

I'm a relative latecomer to the label and its charms, having only really got into the likes of Darren Hanlon and the Lucksmiths in the last 3 years or so, but even with my very limited knowledge of what the label and its artists have achieved in Australia and internationally, it's worth shedding a tear at the loss. I've had the pleasure of seeing Darren Hanlon in concert, playing with all the humour and grace you'd think it'd be hard to muster having travelled halfway round the world to play to about 30 people in the tiny upstairs room of a Leeds pub. The Lucksmiths too, playing another local pub with labelmate Anthony Atkinson, to even less of a crowd. Why do they do it? How do they fund it? Who knows, but that quiet determination to slowly spread the word seems as much a part of Candle's modus operandi as much as the reliance on a good tune and a well-told story.

Personal recommendations from the catalogue include The Lucksmiths' Warmer Corners, The Dearhunters' country-tinged Red, Blue And Wine (scroll down), and pretty much the entire Darren Hanlon canon (maybe start with 2004's Little Chills - the perfect blend of his funny-yet-touching lyrics and pop nous). Also do yourself a favour and seek out what is perhaps one of the most heinously overlooked albums in existence, The Guild League's 2004 collection Inner North. The Guild League are a collective who, in Inner North, put together a sumptuous package of acoustic guitars, cellos, and tunes to die for, all set off by Lucksmiths singer Tali White's ever-gorgeous vocals. Can't think of an easy comparison off the top of my head. Let's just call it classic pop music and be done with it.

Even though these great acts will very shortly no longer be gathered under the Candle umbrella, they'll always be united by that unique Candle vibe. We haven't seen the last of any of them.

MP3: Darren Hanlon - Old Dream (from Fingertips And Mountaintops, 2006)

MP3: The Guild League - Scientists (from Inner North, 2004)

MP3: The Dearhunters - Mr Katherine (from Red Wine & Blue, 2002)

Snap up a Candle classic while you can

1 comment:

Miss Euphie said...

It's an absolute travesty, and very wrong indeed! After hearing the news, I for one am greatly saddened and have stocked up on Darren Hanlon's entire back catalogue. I'm seeing him next week for his Christmas show too - will tell him to play in Leeds again for you!

Come to Australia for the farewell concerts, hey?