One night, the 2nd of May 2019 to be exact, The Phosphenes were graciously invited to perform in the St Hotel, St Kilda. No Saints were present during this gig. It was the second time we’d played there, but the first time on the ground floor.
Phaedra and Dave from The Winterfriends recorded it for us. Jason slaved over a hot MacBook on and off during Victoria’s winter lockdown, particularly during September 2020, revisiting and remixing the gig repeatedly like Phil in Groundhog Day until the performance was ready to reveal.
Two songs “Taste Like Wine” and “Right Place, Wrong Time” are available as audio-only for the first time on this album. (Previously released on YouTube.)
If you buy the whole album you will get ten bonus tracks – the same ten songs completely uncut. If you play them together with no gaps, you get the entire audio of the gig from the late start of the recording after the first song's intro had already started, to the final thank you, with our witty banter, false starts and awkward silences in between.
The Phosphenes made a number of recordings in the early 2000s – first as Separation Street, then as Chapter 11 – with a constantly shifting lineup. None were ever quite finished. But by 2004 the lineup had consolidated in Dean Lombard (guitar, vocals), Jason Cutler (bass, vocals), Damaris Baker (guitar, vocals), John Watson (drums), and Joe Saitta (sax); and they enlisted the services of Allan Neuendorf to record these six songs at Baker St Studios over four winter days in 2005.
These songs were staples of the band’s live set, and exemplify the diversity of genres – indie rock, ballads, groove rock, post-punk, classic rock, guitar pop – encompassed by their repertoire. Band members Jason and Dean designed the album packaging using drummer John’s photographs for the cover and studio shots by Dean’s brother Gavin for the interior. The band home-printed and hand-assembled 40 or 50 CDs, and they were sold at gigs and online, with some distributed to local radio stations. By 2018, they were all gone.
Ignoring the advice of mastering engineers the world over, band members Jason and Dean remastered it themselves in 2019, releasing the new version in January 2020. The EP is available right now on Bandcamp, as ewll as all the other other online stores and streaming sites. This is the first time these songs have been available on streaming and download services. A limited number of hand-assembled CDs will be issued in due course.
Finally, a friendly shore is an evolution of the band’s sound, with a wider stylistic range and more nuanced arrangements. Taking the listener down dead-end streets, across the Pacific and back, through medical research facilities and across sticky kitchen floors to island prisons and secret bathtubs, it’s an explosion of different genres and diverse instrumentation that nevertheless has a distinct coherence and thematic consistency.
Reviewer Paul Cowling admires its eclecticism, declaring it “an album that sounds like an impeccably curated anthology… a set of smart, wry, brilliant songs.” (Read the full review.)
Recorded in late 2016 and early 2017 at Soundpark in Northcote, produced by the band and Idge, and mastered by Adam Dempsey, Finally, a friendly shore is available to purchase or stream on Bandcamp, iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, and wherever else good music can be found.
The first single from the new album, a double-A-side of No Through Road and America, is now available. It’s the perfect opener for Finally, a friendly shore and a great introduction to The Phosphenes’ sound. Listen to or buy it right here, or check it out on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, or wherever else you get music.
Or, you know, just check out the music video we made for No Through Road:
(Cameras: John Watson, Stefanie Robinson, Kath Potter. Editor: Tom Mackie.)
Halflight (2013) is a journey from the watershed to the sunshine via holey pockets, television, an interstellar void and the Flying Wallendas. Along the way the guitary pop of this reticent quartet was delicately sprinkled with keys and reeds to emerge exuberantly from the gloomy winters of the last few years. Channeling four songwriters and astride a decade of history, Halflight lives!