Album Review: ‘Dave Graney & Clare Moore in a mistLY’ reverberates with a delightful, playful sense of a drunken fin de siecle wake.


Feature Photograph: Barry C Douglas

The Breakdown

'Dave Graney & Clare Moore in a mistLY' is a lounge room besuited and arch delight - theatrical, fey and imbued with a faded sense of innocent delight and debauched excess. It reverberates with a delightful, playful sense of a fin de siecle wake, soaked in Absinthe and filled with a resigned joy as the ship goes down.
cockaigne records 8.7

There is a clattering, chaotic stately grace about the songs created by the legendary duo Dave Graney and Clare Moore: born in a rock’n’roll cradle of unadorned guitars and pattering percussion with a louche, fey, self-deprecating delivery. They create the most glowing and comforting aura as Graney states with a come hither tone that he’s still got that old swagger (even in a nursing home): and you can’t argue with that.

‘Dave Graney & Clare Moore in a mistLY’ is essentially themed around change and mutability, the puzzling contemporary world that can leave later generations a little bemused and out of step. It is delivered with panache and wit, with just a touch of nostalgia. Graney says of the album:

This is the album we meant to do before Everything Was Funny. Restrictions on movement around Melbourne delayed it, but we kept the songs back that we wanted to play with the mistLY. 

Graney’s strength has always been that theatrical sense of putting on a show with an arched brow and a knowing look: hints of musical debauchery and excess contained within three minute vignettes that have no peer. Yes – there is a Robert Forster (The Go-Betweens) worn out observational style (‘Silver Bullets’) and a Nick Cave lyrical pirouette (‘That Old Swagger’) – but ultimately Graney and Moore have carved their own distinctive velvet smoking jacketed style and panache.

‘TANG’ provides pattering pianos and slightly discordant guitars bed the track with a spritely pace, with Graney providing the loquacious vocals – dry, laconic and urbane. His self-deprecating style is insouciant and cool as he excoriates the on-screen self-obsessions of society – the mouth all stilted up! Closed! This is a wry and witty observation on the ephemeral nature of the tik-tok generation – short sharp tastes that are fleeting and inconsequential.

A silky saxophone breathes us into the hilarious ‘How Can I Be Old’ where Graney throws some Las Vegas moves in the spotlight and takes us through a vicissitudes of life and mutability as the temporal nature of life becomes an obsession. There is a sleazy, sibilant snaky tone to Graney’s delivery, an Ian Dury arch wit and funky delivery as he regails us with the painful imagery of having seats on train offered up to him. Life may be short, but the rewards of ditties like this assuage the pain.

How can I be old?
I got to work on a strategy
got to work on a style
a mans got to know his time

This becomes a theme threading throughout the album – Graney’s quizzical observation of a world changing around him – ‘What Used To Be There’ looks at the physical changes to the world around him as life passes by.

Hey! what used to be there?
yesterday
where’s the ground?
where’s the sky?
where’d the alleyways go?
where’d the streets go?
where do we go?
what used to be there?

‘Velvets MC’ with its atmospheric percussion and unadorned guitars supporting Graney’s wry vocals is a sparse lament with a jazzy thrum. ‘We Get Life’ picks up the pace with its cowbell drive and Graney’s vocals smooth and velvet with a thrilling and rich wobble. ‘Thanks To The Women For Dancing’ is another highlight with the breathing erotic saxophone blush and the circular moving rhythms: jazzy and smooth.

The album’s finale ‘You Are The World’ is a late night seventies jazz piece, framed by horns and atmospheric, anthemic melodies and dusted with a sense of bacchanalian excess, laid back and louche.

‘Dave Graney & Clare Moore in a mistLY’ is a lounge room besuited and arch delight – theatrical, fey and imbued with a faded sense of innocent delight and debauched excess. It reverberates with a delightful, playful sense of a fin de siecle wake, soaked in Absinthe and filled with a resigned joy as the ship goes down.

You can catch the due doing a live stream this Wednesday, 16 November – details here.

Dave Graney and Clare Moore between them are golden threads that have glittered through the fabric of the antipodean indie music scene since the eighties: a constant presence in a sea of mutability and change that has delivered the most innovative and entertaining fare for aeons and helped shape and influence musical attire throughout. The dapper dress, the erudite and witty charm of Graney has always presented as one of the most enigmatic frontman in rock history, delivering his poetry with a glint in the eye and a studied style and panache, while multi instrumentalist Moore has always delivered a sold gold lustre on drums, keyboards and whatever else comes to hand.

Over the years they have formed the legendary The Moodists, the White Buffaloes, Coral Snakes, Royal Dave Graney Show, Lurid Yellow Mist and most recently the mistLY – solid decades of undying creativity that have accompanied the panoply of prestigious antipodean music acts alongside fellow magicians The Apartments, The Go-Betweens, Nick Cave, The Chills and The Bats.

Feature Photograph: Barry C Douglas

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