I first encountered Melbourne, Austrlia’s Sugargliders sometime in the 1990’s on a Sarah Records compilation called Engine Common that I bought from Go! records in Arlington, Virgina. It wasn’t love at first listen though. I remember thinking Fruitloopin’ was just a little too twee for me but interesting and catchy. Letter from a Lifeboat was also on that compilatin and had this weird lo-fi sampled beat and mildly funky guitar that I kinda liked. Those two songs stood out on that compilation and I made a mental note to look out for this mysterious Australian band.
Time passed. Living in the U.S. in the 90’s you had to actually seek this stuff out, which I neglected to do. More time passed. 1994 came and went and brothers Joel and Josh Meadows who were the Sugargliders decided to quit being the Sugargliders and start being the Steinbecks. Another year went buy and Sarah Records closed up shop.
Then one sunny southern California afternoon in the late 90’s I dusted off that old Sarah compilation that I bought back in Arlington and rediscovered the Sugargliders. All of a sudden their earnest and wistful acoustic songs sung in a heavy Australian accent connected with me. I went on a Sugargliders binge, scouring record shops, ebay and email lists for their, by that time, out of print catalog. I found enough to satiate myself. The Trumpet Play EP with it’s lite funk, Blueboy-esque guitar and smile inducing faux trumpet solo was procured. Then I lucked out at some dusty store in L.A. that I forget the name of and found the Ahprahran, Top 40 Sculpture and Will We Ever Learn? EP’s. I ended up stealing some of their songs that came out on Summershine singles (before they signed to Sarah) from Audiogalaxy because they were impossible to find. I put everything I had onto a CD that kept in my car for a few years until it started to fade and decay they way CD-r’s do in a hot car. I miss that CD.
Now thanks to Matinee records, a scavenger hunt and a home-made CD-r is no longer necessary to get a Sugargliders fix. The Santa Barbara label has just released a Sugargliders compilation entitled A Nest With a View that plucks the best songs from both their Summershine and Sarah releases. It’s not everything, but it’s the best with one or two missing gems that if you get bitten will have you on the internet ordering records from far off places. Happy hunting!
Further Reading: There is a good recent interview with Josh Meadows on the Brilldream blog.