When Al Matcott sings, he sounds every bit as comfortable as you’d expect from someone who’s been on the stage for years. After spending the first half of the 2010s playing in a handful of very different bands (from Buried Feather to Honey Badgers), Matcott decided to focus on the twanging, narrative-driven material that continually surfaced during the songwriting process.
Matcott’s winding path to debuting as a solo artist took him outside of his native Australia for a year: first going to South America to teach English and then relocating to New Zealand with his Canadian partner. There he bought a guitar and began work on the songs that we’re starting to hear now. He would bring them back home with him soon after, recording them at his mother’s house in Castlemaine in regional Victoria.
His debut single, ‘Mediocre’, is everything you’d want in a calling card: rootsy, expansive, and true. His natural drawl feels lived-in and relaxed, even when Matcott dispenses withering lyrics and layered wordplay. A pointed takedown of people who don’t bother holding themselves to account, the song follows glistening guitar licks and his deceptively casual delivery to a dryly stinging kicker of a chorus: “You could be anyone / Why would you choose to be / such a mediocre person?”
“The lyrics have always been something I’ve spent a lot of time paying attention to. I hope they’re memorable,” says Matcott. “‘Mediocre’ was about the [2010s music] scene and people around me – and myself, to a certain degree. A lot of people were able to be pretty shitty versions of themselves and get away with it.”
His other songs strike a similar tonal balance between light and dark, melody and noise. ‘The Truthseeker’ opens with a great blurted alt-country riff, while the distortion-caked ‘Justine’ evokes Pedro the Lion as much as The Middle East. Feeling almost Biblical in tone, ‘Sophia’ is a worthy heir to the rolling, unadorned ballads of Leonard Cohen.
Once he’d returned to Australia, Matcott secured a warm-sounding, in-demand backing band: bassist Brendan West (Goldminds), who recorded the songs, guitarist Steve McLennan (Buried Feather), and drummer Miranda Holt (Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice). Other guests pop by to contribute steel guitar or violin, deepening the country and folk influences on display.
Though Matcott says his solo work is most often compared to Pavement – see the way the guitars curl and ring with knowing nonchalance – that’s not actually a band he’s ever listened to much. Wilco or Bright Eyes might be closer to the mark, while the full-band depth of sound has seen Matcott support everyone from Flyying Colours (at a sold-out album launch at The Corner) to Hayley Mary to Grace Turner.
Like the rest of us, Matcott is itching to return to full capacity following the past year’s worldwide upheavals. “Once lockdown hit, I picked up the guitar and started writing,” he recalls. Now preparing a debut EP mixed by New York producer and solo artist Sam Evian and sporting a video for ‘Mediocre’ shot in wide-open Gippsland with filmmaker Jamieson Moore, Matcott is finally ready to make his name as a songwriter.
Romanie is the project of Belgian born, Melbourne based singer-songwriter Romanie Assez. Think of a dreamy and fragile sound, but one with soaring vocals and interesting melodies that stick with you long after you've listened to her songs.
Mining her personal life for inspiration is something Romanie never shies away from in her songs. Her evocative writing reveals an honesty that the listener can’t help but to be compelled to love.
Inspired by musical muses such as Alvvays, Big Thief, Middle Kids and Phoebe Bridgers - Romanie always aims to be direct and personal through songwriting, exploring topics such as anxiety, self development, hope and friendship. Romanie is taking the Australian music scene by storm through captivating live performances with her band.
Ruby Soho will be playing a rare live show as part of this line-up. Ruby Koomenb aka known as the red witch from Bitch Diesel has been crafting her own toe-tapping songs for over the last decade, and in 2020 released her acclaimed album, 'Confessions from the Loony Bin'
'Confessions from the Loony Bin' was recorded by Phil Gionfriddo (Jackie Winter), mixed by Phil Gionfriddo and Julian McKenzie (Money For Rope) and mastered by Mikey Young. Ruby's songwriting is mesmerising and catchy, despite the confronting topics, it still will have listeners foot-tapping and singing along while getting immersed into the guitar licks and the crafted melodies. Ruby Soho is a Mental Health Advocatee.