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Australia's Lucksmiths make amends for INXS and Midnight Oil

Wednesday, Jun 6 2001
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Want to know when the Australians really got fucked? 1987. That was the year INXS and Midnight Oil accidentally appointed themselves lifetime Aussie ambassadors to the U.S. via "Need You Tonight" and "Beds are Burning," respectively. Sporting dramatic hairstyles (Michael Hutchence's wild-man perm, Peter Garret's angry cue-ball) and a handful of hits, the bands soon epitomized Australian music in the minds of Americans.

Luckily, no one bothered to tell the Australians about this stereotype. Left to their own devices, groups like Smudge, Rat Cat, and Noise Addict brewed up charming power-pop potions in Sydney and Melbourne. Unfortunately, the concoctions from Down Under elicited little more than a few gasps of joy from stateside college DJs and Australian expats.

If the Lucksmiths have anything to do with it, this musical mental embargo will soon be lifted. First off, the Melbourne trio is damn cute, and if there's something Americans can get behind, it's cuteness. Secondly, the threesome writes the kind of literate, J.D. Salinger-as-read-by-Johnny Mercer ditties that sell tons of records for fellow non-Americans Belle and Sebastian. We're talking bedroom pop for cheap studio apartments, the kind where guitars are acoustic, drums are brushed, and every line finishes with a tasty bon mot.

You'd think that turning phrases like "If you arose by any other name/ You'd smell as sweet" would be tiring business, but the Lucksmiths have been nothing if not prolific. Since 1993 the band has released five CDs and toured relentlessly, building an ever-growing fan base here in the states with charismatic live shows. Along the way, they've even penned a few paeans to the American outback ("There are fences of wood in Wyoming/ That roll across praries so grand/ But they hold nothing out and they hold nothing in/ So their use I do not understand"), all of which should help make inroads into the finicky map of the American mind.

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Chris Baty

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