I first saw Max Quinn perform his music around this time last year at a poetry night in Glebe. Though I wouldn’t go as far as to classify my distaste for the movement as prejudice, I’ve definitely got an active apathy towards the ‘dude with a guitar’ genre as a whole. Can you blame me? It’s a grossly over-saturated market! But Max Quinn isn’t just a dude with a guitar, I thought to myself that particular Winter evening; his wry, sardonic lyrics hit me first, his high register pop-punk vocals second, and a sturdy no-bullshit guitar backing third, by the fourth thing I was thinking as highly of Max’s music as I was of the delicious alcoholic fruit punch that helped to lubricate these thoughts that aforementioned Winter evening.
Max released a full album of these tunes back in November in last year, filling out these singer-songwriter pieces with drum machines, wailing electric guitars and MIDI xylophones to make for a hearty bedroom music debut that sounded leagues ahead of his garageband contemporaries.
Now it’s May: the leaves are turning brown, EOFYS is almost upon us, I alternate between sweatshirt and singlet more than a character on Housos, and Max has released another track to keep us at bay. Quinn’s lyrics are front and centre on Groceries and Rent, weaving the grievances of mid-20s financial mismanagement with a deft charm, dropping sleeper gems such as ‘I am Ernie in the body of Bert: a snickering dick in a plaid overshirt’. Max’s voice (which has developed quite a bit since his November release) sits steadily over a DIY power pop backing that wears a hint of mid-2000s indie rock influence, with restrained guitar solos and flashes of glockenspiel during the choruses taking me back to when the popularity of a song was measured by whether it was or wasn’t on one of those silhouetted iPod ads.
While it may not boast the sleek production of his 2014 debut album, Max Quinn’s Onomatopenis’ track Groceries and Rent is two minutes of concentrated power pop cleverness from an artist you’d do very well to keep an ear out for on the Sydney circuit.