Kyle Minogue Nails Christmas Duet With That Guy Who Comes On After Colbert

12 November 2015 | 5:22 pm | Ross Clelland

James Corden is either ‘that guy from Gavin & Stacey’, ‘that guy who was really annoying in a couple of Dr Who episodes’, or ‘that guy who comes on after Stephen Colbert’.

As Australia heads into a year’s end summer, there are certain predictable scourges. A grizzled lifesaver will appear on your local news service, announcing he’s “…never seen so many sharks this close to shore this early in the season”. A grizzled country firey will soon follow, an urgent claim he’s “…never seen the bush so dry so early in the season”. Then, of course, there’s the blowflies. And the mosquitos. And another irritating whine as Michael Buble’s Christmas album makes another seemingly inexorable rise back up the charts. For godsake people, surely you bought a copy for your mum last year – why on earth are you buying it again? The Christmas album remains an odd seasonal beast – particularly here, as most of them centre around snow hanging heavy on pine branches, and families huddled around the fireplace. Rolf Harris trotted out a couple of Aussie themed yuletide tunes way back, but we tend not to let Jake The Peg too close to the kids of late. However, this year we have a new kinda local contender in the market. ‘Our’ Kylie is taking the sleigh out for a run, but previews it with a remake more about the distance and absence than chestnuts roasting, as she sparkles up Yazoo’s ‘80s soppy synth-pop gem Only You (Warner). Knowledge of the other voice present may depend on your viewing habits: James Corden is either ‘that guy from Gavin & Stacey’, ‘that guy who was really annoying in a couple of Dr Who episodes’, or ‘that guy who comes on after Stephen Colbert’. Kylie’s Xmas box will feature some other two-handers, including duets with Frank Sinatra (still dead), and Iggy Pop (not dead).

But while the above lands somewhere between London, LA, and Erinsborough others are more deliberately looking for a spirit of place. Hinds quite deliberately eschew their native Madrid and place themselves in San Diego (Pod/Inertia) with a charming scruffiness, as they yell at you phonetically with their slightly cockeyed take on pop which lands somewhere between punk and what The Go-Betweens may have sounded like if they let the women sing more. Not without its charms, but if too forced could be a like that girl pushing past you to get to the good stuff hidden on the racks down the back of the local St Vinnies op-shop, who then wears it out of the store. 

The Pain Of Being Pure At Heart put their location as New York, but Kip Berman’s formative years were spent in Portland, so the accepting pensive sadness of the eternal emo outsider that hides a fairly uncomplicated emotional and sexual frustration of that city still colours a lot of what the band present. Hell (Painbow) complains a bit, dances awkwardly, then leaves the party without saying thanks to the host. But you kind of don’t expect anything else. I mean, their record label is call ‘Painbow’. Pain. Bow. Sigh. Life is so hard. 

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Fascinator is now also nominally of New York, but the Melbourne boy in Johnny Mackay is still present, even when clad in knight’s armour. Through its electronic tinkles and subtle beats, The Traveller (Spinning Top) is kinda funky and a little psychedelic all at once, which is manages to make sound as acceptable as a guy carrying a sword while wearing oversize sunglasses under his 16th century helmet on the subway from Brooklyn. Collaborators and supporters include Darren Seltmann – I’m not even going to say he’s from The Avalanches anymore, because that’s just become silly – along with Kirin Callinan, who performed with our Johnny when he opened for Tame Impala in NYC a few weeks back. 

With its continental accents, and cheekily confident flirting to which you can’t possibly take offence even as they order the most expensive cocktail on the menu, it can be a surprise to find Baby Et Lulu aren’t actually from Paris. The only left bank anywhere nearby is far side of the Tempe Bridge just out of Sydney’s Newtown. Quand Je Pense (Independent) waltzes by with the necessary Gallic sway, and you actually don’t have to know the language to be charmed. Title translates as ‘When I Think’, if you really need to know. 

From letting those bubbles tickle your nose, you then get sat back in your chair with a tinnie of VB by The Bennies. Punky, with a side order of suck more piss, Party Machine (Poison City) jumps down off the stage to let any number of audience members the opportunity to shout ‘Motherfucker!’ into the mic. It’s a refrain that will set many rooms good-naturedly bouncing without fearing the fall of western democracy. Eminently suited to support spots for label-mates The Smith Street Band and similar, raising a glass as the chorus kicks in would just about be obligatory. 

Possibly one of the defining words for the sound of the coming summer - pop music-wise at least – might be ‘shimmer’, as the synths and guitars get big, but somehow leave spaces. That space gives Cascades (Spunk) a distinctly Australian feeling, although Sydney’s High Highs apparently found the sweeping vistas of this while driving around the mountain range of the title that runs down west coast of Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the USA. So maybe the locale is all in your mind, or just in the chips of your vintage Japanese keyboards.

And thus, music ends up international. As maybe it should. Or not. Elizabeth Rose is ‘ours’ – well, certainly more than Kylie probably now is – but makes a sleek and sinuous line in smart R’n’B which could easily come from Birmingham, Boston, or Berlin. Shoulda Coulda Woulda (Midnight Feature/Inertia) slinks in, curls like smoke around you, and just boils down to being a fine model of 21st century pop music. As such, it should be appreciated, and played on high rotation in lots of places.