Over the past handful of months, I’ve written a bit about the rising and critically applauded Fremantle, Australia-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, Peter Bibby. Bibby’s music career started in earnest when he turned 19: he quit the unfulfilling job he was working at the time to busk, eventually landing a few paying gigs. Sometime later, the Fremantle-based singer/songwriter and guitarist landed a high paying job that he wound he losing because he would show up hungover from the gigs he’d play the night before. So, he played even more gigs with a series of different backing bands including Frozen Ocean, Fucking Teeth and Bottles of Confidence developing a rough and tumble sound and approach, a sound and approach that a critic described as being like Shane McGowan screaming at bleeding laudanum and typhoid hallucinations while his guitar playing has been described as being like a dog drunk on rum.
With the release of his first two albums 2014’s Butcher/Hairstylist/Beautician and 2018’s Grand Champion, Bibby proudly championed — and has been championed for — being a working class and wholeheartedly independent artist, which was documented in greater detail in the 2018 film Chasing Palm Springs, which followed Bibby on a cross-country trip from Perth to Melbourne in a temperamental van. Since then, the Fremantle-based artist has begun to build a growing profile and reputation as a must see act, as a result of a rowdy and raucous live set — and through headlining shows and international festival circuit stops at Laneway, Falls and SXSW.
Bibby’s highly anticipated, third album Marge sees it official released today through Spinning Top Records/Caroline Records Australia. The album, which features Bibby’s latest backing band Dog Act — Pete “Strawberry Pete” Gower (bass) and Dave “Dirty Dave” Taylor (drums) derives its name from Dave Taylor’s grandmother Marge. The titular Marge is prominently featured on the album’s cover art, smoking a cigarette on a beach in Darwin, Australia, seemingly watching her corner of the world go by. “I felt there was no better image than a smoking nanna to be the face of this album,” Bibby says. Sonically, the album is splintered and volatile and written as a sort of soundtrack to a surf movie from hell, where there’s blood in the water, a dirt road leading to a dead end — and everything is covered in diesel fumes and dust. “The Dog Act and I recorded this album in a week off in Perth between two Australian tours. We were match fit and full of beans,” Bibby says of the album. “It features a selection of songs, some fun, some completely bloody miserable. It was made better by the involvement of the fourth Dog, Mitch McDonald, who engineered the record and offered endless energy and ideas. I love this record.”
So far I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles: the disorderly, wobbly and boozy “Oceans,” a track full of spittle, fury and howled invective centered around fuzzy and lurching power chords, thunderous drumming and drunken shout along worthy choruses reminiscent of Johnny Thunders‘ “Born to Lose,”and John Cale‘s “Pablo Picasso” — and “Whyalla,” a love letter and condemnation of rural Australia that viciously points out the hopelessness, small-minded thinking and boredom of that world with the sort of lived-in hate, despair and deeply abiding love you’d feel for a dysfunctional and fucked-up family member.
Marge‘s third and latest single “Calcium” is a slow-burning track that’s one part sarcastic yet scientific study and one part late night, shitfaced blues, centered around shimmering guitars, BIbby’s earnestly howled vocals, twinkling piano and shout along friendly hook. The song features a narrator, who’s deeply concerned about his calcium intake — mainly because he’s concerned about his teeth becoming jacked up. See, vanity, they name is male!
“I wrote this song on the back porch of a mate’s place in Mt Lawley. I remember having read a lot of mumbo jumbo about the dairy industry at the time. The lyrics felt silly but the tune felt so nice to sing. Engineer Mitch pulled a real shifty on me and put my guitar solo in reverse, resulting in me being a happy boy,” Bibby says of the new single.
Co-directed by Bibby and Billy Bowen, the recently released video for “Calcium” follows Bibby on a typical night at his regular bar: Bibby having preternatural restraint and control as friends and regulars offer him booze, cigarettes and alcohol, which he steadfastly refuses. Throughout the video we see Bibby drink milk, lose terribly at pool and hunt for vitamins like a fiend. It’s hilarious and absurd — but at the end, Bibby can say that his grill looks good.