*Shameless self-promotion – Chris Familton of DS is the bassist in the Finalists.
It’s Sydney in the year 2020 and for the last two years The Finalists have been honing their sound beneath a Waterloo tin roof, in a Petersham attic, and down long, polished corridors leading to a Marrickville practice room. The results are the musical amalgamation of singer/guitarist and songwriter Mark Tobin (Scarlet, Panic Syndrome, The Black Halo), guitarist Robert Young (The Wednesday Night, Semi Lemon Kola), bassist Chris Familton(Charlie Horse, Thorazine Shuffle) and drummer Matt Brown (Charlie Horse).
The band’s debut single, ‘Ignore All The Hate (On Your Telephone)‘, on Half A Cow Records, is an understated slice of melodic melancholia, draped in acoustic and electric guitars that sparkle and gently jangle over rolling bass and Velvet Underground meets The Ronettes drums, while Tobin sings of the darker side of social media and modern technology. “It can be a bruising experience for someone in the sights of a social media hit squad, that ruthlessly cuts down those who don’t conform to their perceived correct set of values and beliefs,” says Tobin.
“Some enjoy antagonising this mob and can cope with the resultant social media pile-on, but for others it can mess with their mind so much they decide to stay silent in the future. This song is about how to avoid the negative effects on your frame of mind if you find yourself at the centre of an awful online onslaught,” he says, offering some strong advice that, “if you have something important to say you should never pull your punches out of fear of a backlash.”
With a sound that draws on the band’s collective music history playing in a number of bands in Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand, they’ve concocted a blend of jangly guitar-based indie rock, with elements of psych-rock, shoegaze and post-punk threading through the music. You can hear the ghosts of Factory and Flying Nun Records, the evocative strains of The Go-Betweens and The Smiths and other Antipodean contemporaries such as Underground Lovers, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and RVG. On their debut album, the twin totems of melody and melancholy course through the sparkling and shimmering guitar lines. Elsewhere the group take flight in Sonic Youth-inspired six-string explorations.
The songs of The Finalists are predominately written by Tobin, with Young and Familton adding colour, shape, rhythm and texture. Tobin’s lyrics capture and reflect on the contemporary human experience with astute and measured poeticism – whether it’s the chronicling of fractured relationships, navigating the modern world or writing about a catastrophist who starts smoking again because he believes the world will end before he gets cancer.