Sunday, October 30, 2011

Neighbourhood Watch - The Mavis's

Long before The Mavis's became known for indie ballad 'Cry' (Triple J Hottest 100 in 1998), they were scaring the locals in the regional Victorian township of Ballarat. The band of outsiders were banging out post-goth, psych-punk ten years before they released their Venus Returning album in 1996. With glam siblings Matt and Beki Thomas leading the charge, early Mavis sounds were influenced by art punk grrrls X-Ray Spex (the cover of their Pink Pills album was a homage to Spex' Germ Free Adolescents album cover), The B-52's, The Raincoats and The Slits. But little of that early material made it to the recorded state. The track 'Stepping' surfaced on underground band comp Screaming At The Mirror in 1989 (alongside other fondly remembered, by a few, alt.acts like Clowns Smiling Backwards, Scarecrow Tiggy and Pray TV). The band broke up in 2000 and there has long since been talk of reformations and reissues (although Matt Thomas now has the projects Video Video and The Blow Waves on the go while sister Beki has her band Beki And The Bullets). But finally a compilation of early tracks has been pulled together and released through iTunes - Kids In The Basement Vol 1 features ten cuts of chaotic DIY noise but with the striking voices, and harmonies, of the Thomas kids already finding shape. Some tracks are from when the band were still school kids in their mid-teens. Listen to the wonky post-punk, Flying Nunesque 'Productivity None' (which the liner notes explains is about "the unexpected") and the wiry new wave 'Stepping' (about "walking the streets of Ballarat at night"). And, from 1998 (not on the Basement set), the later shinier Mavis's of 'Naughty Boy' where they still wore their Ballarat-pariah status proudly.

The Mavis's - Stepping by The Music
The Mavis's - Productivity None by The Music

1 comment:

Ingrid said...

Thanks for giving an update on what a couple of the members are up to. I never got to see them live - I was 15 living in regional Victoria when I was mad about them.
I'm determined to meet Matt one day!