It is with that unmistakeable, gut wrenching scream of Rob Younger and its clarion call exhorting us all to play some Stooges that Radio Birdman signals the start of another Wide Open Road, playing the things that connect and link the vast catalogue of Australian independent and alternative rock and pop.

Wide Open Road is the vinyl beat in the heart of the digital jungle and It is with the twang of guitars, the smash crash of dusty grooves and the slow flashback of memory that we revisit what many consider a forgotten (rightly and/or wrongly) era of independent and alternative music – the nineties. This is the third show in the series revisiting the era of music where venues were closing, pokies ruled the roost and major labels decided that having bands that were edgy or alt or simply sounded like a vaguely cool Nirvana was the most important pathway to profit since the Beatles invented sliced bread. On the second show we listened to disparaged Front and the glories of Club Hoy, the chart topping Ed Kuepper and the sounds from across the Nullabour. We start this show with a dive into the post rock canon that came about because of the explosion of bands like Mogwai and Sigur Ros, the rediscovery of Slint and the popularisation of trip hop through Portishead amongst others, and we start with Melbourne’s Seaville, a supergroup no less (this could take some time).

My Little Eyes – Seaville
Drive (Mogwai mix) – The Paradise Motel
Panel Beater – Sealifepark
Waiting – Art of Fighting

Despite all the evidence to the contrary in these three shows, I fell out of love with indie music in the mid 90s. I changed jobs, found and lost and then found girls, including the one I was to spend the last twenty years with. I got into radio comedy and people laugh with poo, bum, fart and John Howard jokes. I discovered there was a world outside Sydney and with that I found my other major musical loves, post-rock and french chanson. You can see the connection, can’t you? But it was that love for post-rock that brought me back to Aussie music big time in the mid to late nineties. So, let’s feature four post-rock and/or slow core inspired tunes. We start with Seaville. A bit of a supergroup featuring Adalita and Dean from Magic Dirt and the wonderful vocal talents of Merida Sussex from the soon to be played Paradise Motel, this little EP called Swansong snuck out in 1998. We follow this up with the Paradise Motel, from Tasmania. They are dark storytellers of the Aussie condition, post gothic and creakingly delightful. OK, a bit of a cheat because I wanted to get in a tribute one of my favourite songwriters, the late great Rik Ocasek of the Cars. This late period classic was originally released on the Flight Paths album and was remixed by Mogwai (my all-time fave post rock band) for the Reworkings LP in 1999. Next up, the debut LP from Sealifepark and a track called Panel Beater from the 1999 self titled EP released on Quietly Suburban Recordings ‎. And finally, we have Waiting from the second EP by Melbourne’s Art of Fighting (called Empty Nights and released in 1999 on the Half a Cow label). This song deploys quiet/loud to great effect within an epic coda at the end of the track, laced with mourning trumpet. Superlative.

Degenerate Boy – Mark of Cain
Recognise – Underground Lovers
The Boys – The Necks

Soundtracks were all the rage in the nineties. Australian movies aggregated a ton of bands that the director liked and put them together on a soundtrack that lit the story up from the inside. We are featuring three soundtracks here to tell that story for you. Let’s start with the film Idiot Box, directed by David Cesar in 1997, and had its incidental music done by Tim Rogers of You Am I. So, let’s play the Mark of Cain doing an affectionate tribute to photo punk legends X and Degenerate Boy. Next up, from a film that I absolutely adore Love and other Catastrophes released in 1996. This was a cool film about being friends, lovers and more at University of Melbourne. It was a keening reminder of the youth we we all giving away. Its hard to pick a song from this but I went with Underground Lovers and their brilliant track Recognise/ Next up from the the amazing necks, an avant jazz band from Melbourne featuring Chris Abrahams (he of Laughing Clowns, Blenders and a great series of records with Melanie Oxley), Tony Buck and Lloyd Swanton. This track comes from their soundtrack to one the darkest Australian films of the era, The Boys, which starred David Wenham and Toni Collette. The film, loosely based on the murder of Anita Cobby is a exploration of the underbelly of the human psyche and the soundtrack by the Necks cuts to the nerve endings of the plot perfectly.

Can you imagine? – Bill
What I see – Lodestar

We finish with two relatively obscure tracks that were released on CD only. I can’t recall why I bought this song by Bill, a band from the northern suburbs of Sydney. They put out two EPs and I used to hammer this track on my radio when I could. I love the violin and weird American style vocals of the responding singer. If you were in the band or know them, drop me a line, I would love to add to their online biography. And then we play Lodestar, a Britpop style band from Sydney who put out this one EP. One of those artefacts of Oz music that you might find in an op shop or in a random pile of CDs and not realise how fucking good it is. Find it. Now. And if you want, tell me about those one off singles that you have hiding at the bottom of the CD drawer, the ones with that one song you just loved, when that band was the third support on a Wednesday night at your local. Share those stories and tracks here and in 2020 we will do a whole show about them.