As underground indiepop icons go, Bart Cummings is certainly one of Australia’s most enduring and best kept secrets. From humble beginnings in the early-nineties as bassist in Girl Of the World to founding member of The Cat's Miaow (and later of Hydroplane, Pencil Tin and The Shapiros) Bart has spent two decades warming the hearts of wistful bedsitters the world over. Intimate and conversational in style, Bart’s songs are something of a cross between Yo La Tengo, the Go-Betweens and Felt. And with his inclination for brevity and knack for spinning the most ordinary of situations into something to hold dear, he may also be the pop world’s closest link to Raymond Carver. Over the years, Bart has stayed true his formula and today is showing no discernible deviation from the music he was making in the mid-90s: dreamy, jangly and sublime.
Bart & Friends originally sprouted in 1998 with the release of '10 Songs About Cars And Girls' (which actually contained twelve songs plus an astounding 21 hidden tracks). Featuring multiple vocalists, Bart & Friends phase-one was something of a role call of the Cat's Miaow and Hydroplane extended family. The band began to evolve in 2001 when drummer Mark Monnone (The Lucksmiths) entered the fold, joining Bart and bassist Andrew Withycomb to play a handful of shows and record the mini-album 'I Was Lonely 'Til I Found You' which appeared on Bart's own Library Records label. However, owing to a lack of creative momentum (and Bart's real-life work commitments as a librarian) an extended hiatus was to follow for Bart & Friends.
In 2010 Bart re-emerged with renewed vigor, a batch of fresh songs and a new group of Friends. Mark Monnone was reinstated on bass while guitarist Louis Richter and drummer Stanley Paulzen (of The Lucksmiths and Fred Astereo respectively) were added for the James Dean-produced mini-album 'Make You Blush'. Featuring the unparalleled vocals of Pam Berry (Black Tambourine, The Pines et al) on half the songs, 'Make You Blush' was handsomely received by critics and old-school fans alike, with plenty of attention also being shown by younger indiepop fans (and their indiepop blogs). Enthused by the experience, Bart soon had songs written for a follow-up album — 2011's 'Stories With the Endings Changed'. Working with James Dean again in his Melbourne home studio, Bart was joined once more by Monnone and Richter, while The Zebras' Jeremy Cole was called in to replace Stanley Paulzen on drums. This time around Bart shared vocal duties with Scott Stevens (of Summer Cats and Earthmen) to dizzying effect. Both 'Blush' and 'Stories' were released by bassist Monnone on his Lost And Lonesome imprint.
A new Bart & Friends EP is planned for release in early-2012.
Click here to read a great Bart Cummings interview on Mess+Noise.
Download MP3: 03 These Words Are Too Small mp3.mp3