We’re back for another round of ladling praise all over ISOL-AID, the stay-at-home music festival that takes viewers right into the intimate self-isolation locations of a veritable shedload of musicians. Here is the take on Volume Three, during which we were particularly impressed by these five legends.
OK, so we really want that bright pink cowboy hat that Charlie Collins is sporting like the absolute boss that she is! We were already smitten by Collins (hello, her Insta bio reads “I’ll be the Johnny to your June”!), but the millisecond she starts playing harmonica/guitar and singing – with a little help from her guitarist/BV buddy, Mitch Sexty – we’re absolute goners!
They sit beside one another on a couch and Collins adjusts her smartphone to capture them both in horizontal mode. Tilting her head to one side, Collins reads one of the comments out loud: “You guys make me believe in love” – naww, too right! We’re then treated to some songs from Collins’ forthcoming album and now we simply cannot wait until release date! Mitch is sent off to top up her wine glass (we actually hear the pour) and then Collins performs a couple more songs solo.
We’re told Collins wrote Damage Control while she was on tour with Gang Of Youths last year, got her period and was feeling fragile. At set’s close, Collins turns around while telling us she wants to show us the back of her white pants, we legit worry for a second but then breathe a sigh of relief as we notice her snazzy custom strides are decorated with bright pink, embroidered, broken-heart patches – cuteness overload!
Those in the know already know that GUM equals the solo project of Jay Watson (Tame Impala/POND). Watson appears, barefoot, sitting down while singing into a mic and playing electric guitar or synth, which is positioned stage left – he often plays one-handed. There’s also a drum machine somewhere behind him, which he tweaks and adjusts sporadically throughout.
Watson performs a glorious rendition of It’s My Life (the Talk Talk Talk song, which was covered by No Doubt, not the one by Bon Jovi of the same name), closing it out with some choice boom-boom-boom vocal percussion. Songs flow from one to the next without banter or introductions and Ophelia‘s melancholy synth melody sets us adrift on memory bliss.
Comments reveal that many international isolators are tuning in, and we clock Chicago, Gothenburg, Québec, Mexico and Brazil as places of origin. “If you ever feel glum, listen to GUM,” one viewer posts and we couldn’t agree more! GUM is a freakishly talented multi-instrumentalist wizard.
“Hello, how odd!” Jack Ladder (birth name: Tim Rogers) observes, peering into his smartphone and watching the amount of viewers escalate before his very eyes. From his studio, a candlelit Ladder performs Giving Up The Giving Up one-handed on piano, while holding a microphone in his other hand, and that deep baritone timbre is as delicious as ever. Her Hands from his excellent Playmates record follows. After Ladder tells us of the cancelled gigs he missed out on playing last week, Hurtsville seems an apt inclusion. “This train terminates at Hurtsville,” one commenter wittily posts and Ladder clearly enjoys reading the comments as they scroll up in real time, giggling in response to some.
“This song’s called White Flag, not to be confused with the Dido song“, Ladder intros. He’s gone overtime, but we couldn’t possibly drag ourselves away from those dulcet tones. Dappled Cities post a heart-eyes emoji! Wonder what that ace Sydney band has been up to of late?
After triggering a love heart filter for her ISOL-AID set, Meg Mac introduces her sister Hannah (cue: exquisite sibling harmonies!) and Tim (who is out of shot, but could be playing keys?) and then launches into Give Me My Name Back. They’re coming to us live from Mac’s bedroom in Sydney, and Grace Gold – her song about a fictitious perfect chick – makes us swoon.
Paying tribute to Bill Withers (who sadly passed last week), Mac then sings a cover of his song Grandma’s Hands – a long-time live favourite that can be found on her debut self-titled EP. We learn that Tim is sporting a Meg Mac T-shirt (shameless merch plug, but we’ll allow it) before Mac and co. perform another song from her own catalogue: Roll Up Your Sleeves. While introducing this one, Mac tells us that people have been tagging her and sending messages to alert her to the fact that this song is being used during news broadcasts documenting this strange new world we’re negotiating right now. And we can immediately see why, since Mac’s repeated lyrical reassurance – “Everything is gonna be alright!” – makes for a comforting iso mantra.
Before Sally Seltmann commences, she introduces us to her daughter Judy who is proudly holding up their adorable pup Teddy Boy. Seltmann then gives her daughter a kiss before Judy disappears up the stairs carrying the pooch.
Sitting at a piano, Seltmann opens with a New Buffalo song called Cheer Me Up Thank You and reads our minds via lyrical content: “You’re cheering me up and I’m thanking you.” Seed Of Doubt – a song Seltmann tells us she wrote when she felt like she was falling out of love with music – follows and we’re in awe as she effortlessly intersperses chords with fingersnaps and thighs slaps. Seltmann’s breathy vocal style also steals hearts.
“Thank you to anyone who might be clapping,” Seltmann acknowledges, post-song, before playing Dancing In The Darkness, a track she and her husband Darren wrote for the ABC TV comedy series, The Letdown (the pair composed this entire soundtrack). Fluttering piano sounds showcase Seltmann’s virtuosity and then enter glorious lyricism: “Don’t stop dancing in the darkness/ You should be proud of your own kind of madness, you’re the one who found it…” – what a magnificent sentiment!
We’re then told that Seltmann purchased her piano from “this guy whose daughter was the bass player in the Pixies” (WTF? Kim Deal!?) in Echo Park, LA before shipping it back home to Australia. Browsing the comments, we’re stoked to note that Zan Rowe, Sarah Blasko and Courtney Barnett are also enjoying Seltmann’s stream. What a gift! We’ll be revisiting this one multiple times before it disappears from Seltmann’s Insta story.