Common Cult is a local Melbourne label “for struggling artists who refuse to struggle anymore”. With the likes of Anti-Violet, Forever Renter, High Side and Meander on board, along with a range of zines and incredibly talented writers, they are killing the independent label game. We talked to label manager Hayley Francis about 13 songs on the labels office playlist.
Hayley: I imagine most office playlists are supposed to be quite happy and lively. Mine isn’t, but then again my office is my bedroom and my only workmate is my black cat Theodore so you can’t really expect me to stick to convention.
Tropical Fuck Storm – ‘You Let My Tyres Down’
Not only one of the best band names in Australian music, this song and in fact the whole album is incredible. Huge, loud and sometimes quiet, brash and beautiful, with yearning harmonies and detailed lyrics that reference Australian coke and Highpoint Shopping Centre. All the finer things our country has to offer. If I have this song play in the background at some point during the day it will be stuck in my head for the rest of it.
Twerps – ‘Dreamin’
‘Dreamin’ is one of those simple but perfect songs that you might hear and enjoy a hundred times and then one day it will come on and you’ll have to stop working because you’ve just realised that in all its humble beauty it’s actually you’re favourite song. Maybe ever. And now you can never make a playlist without it.
ORB – ‘O.R.B.’
When I catch myself procrastinating (i.e. all the time) I put this song on and have exactly one minute and eighteen seconds to fluff around until I have to drop everything and mime the greatest drum fill since Phil Collins. Then I kick myself into gear and work super hard for the next seven minutes while these gigantic waves of fuzzed out guitars carry me on a groove-laden power trip. It’s a dirty, gritty, get out of ya rut song.
Stella Donnelly – ‘Mechanical Bull’
Sometimes you have to be alone to get shit done. This song always gets stuck in my head when I’ve got stuff to do because I’m thinking “I need to be alone”. It’s a bit of an anthem for independence from anything I think. Even if I’m not paying attention I’ll end up singing along by the end of the song, and I don’t exactly have Stella Donnelly’s phenomenal voice so it’s probably better for everyone if I’m alone anyway.
These New South Whales – ‘Anaphylaxis’
These New South Whales are my favourite live band at the moment and this one-minute punch in the guts of a song is the perfect example of their raw power and only half joking lyrics. With lists of allergies and constant tempo changes, ‘Anaphylaxis’ always acts like a shot of adrenaline when you’re feeling low on energy.
The Church – ‘Reptile’
This is obviously a classic and every cool office should be playing it. It’s moody, groovy and catchy but not going to distract you from your spreadsheets in the same way that ‘Under The Milky Way’ might beckon you away from your desk and to the nearest karaoke bar. Plus the restart in the middle of the song is a good reminder to restart your computer every now and then before it gets completely fried and you lose all of your work because you forget to save regularly (or is that just me?)
RVG – ‘IBM’
Speaking of computers, recently I realised that I’ve had my laptop for over five years and that it probably won’t last forever and I’ll never survive without it. I depend on my laptop for work, when I’m sad I’ll watch movies on it, sometimes I’ll fall asleep and when I wake up my laptop is still lying there next to me… ‘IBM’ is a genius love song to a computer that’s dangerously relatable.
Moaning Lisa – ‘Carrie (I Want A Girl)’
Crank this bit of girl power to 11! A (mostly) girl band ripping out noisy guitars and singing their guts out about a bunch of amazing women. This is probably the most inspiring and affirming piece of feminist grunge we’re going to hear this year, but then again we’re yet to hear an album from these grrrls.
City Calm Down – ‘Joan, I’m Disappearing’
This is my favourite song of the year. I’ve cried to it a lot so maybe it’s not so good for the office. But I do find it hugely inspiring from a songwriting perspective. It melts so seamlessly through gliding synth pads and gentle guitars to moody bass and aching vocals. And the fact that it came from the little Melbourne band that could just makes me so proud.
Batpiss – ‘N.U.M.N.’
I remember in high school my teachers encouraged us to listen to classical music while we worked, but I always found my mind wandering when I did. Now I’ve discovered that the louder and sludgier the music is, the easier it is for me to focus. I’m naturally very sleepy but the intensity of this speaker-breaking tune is as good as a coffee when it comes to keeping me on the job. Added bonus that it’s an absolute banger.
Scott & Charlene’s Wedding – ‘Bush’
I just love some authentic Australian imagery in my tuneage and there’s plenty in this sprawling gem of messy indie rock. I started Common Cult when a few of my friends were thinking they’d have to move overseas to take music seriously and I thought it was such a waste. There’s infinite talent in Australia but the mainstream media is still oversaturated with international content so the local goodies get overlooked. We need bands like Scott & Charlene’s Wedding who are fearlessly Australian (even after living elsewhere) to remind people where the goods are at.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – ‘Talking Straight’
Every time I listen to this song I can’t decide if it’s happy or sad and I think this in-between feeling is exactly why I can’t stop listening to it. It’s upbeat and makes you feel alive, but at the same time it’s reflective and maybe a little bit sad. I don’t think that’s exactly how you’re supposed to feel when you’re working but if you’re too happy you just want to go out and party anyway.
The Peep Tempel – ‘Carol’
Is this the best, least-known Australian song ever? Do I play this song literally every day? Is my cat sick of it yet? The answer to all of those questions is a big, resounding MOST LIKELY. But honestly, if you haven’t done yourself the favour of listening to this rough, oddball, pleading, punk song get yourself down to the Common Cult office and I’ll find a spot on my bed between all the paper and cups of tea for you to sit and listen to exactly why Australian music is so great.
Common Cult would like to bring attention to Sound School, programs that help Melbourne peeps learn music even if they’re disadvantaged in anyway.
Head along to the Common Cult 2nd B’Day Bash @ Evelyn Hotel, Thursday 26 July.
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