Music / Premieres
Quality Used Cars - Good Days/Bad Days
Words by Conor Lochrie
Friday 19th February, 2021
Today we’ve got the absolute pleasure of premiering Quality Used Cars' debut album Good Days/Bad Days - full to the brim with sunny garage-pop smarts matched with alt-country tenderness and scrappy sincerity, it’s an unassuming but radiant invitation into Francis Tait’s charming world.
Francis Tait is one of those well-known, well-worn faces that make up Melbourne’s music community. He’s tried his hand at everything from jazz, blues, psychedelia, and surf rock through the years. He might have found his true genre calling though; for the self-described “inconsequential member” of Squid Nebula, The Vacant Smiles and Millar Jukes is anything but inconsequential in his harmonica-wielding, country-twinged Quality Used Cars vehicle.

He leads the five-piece on their debut solo album Good Days/Bad Days, released via Spoilsport Records (another arrow in the label’s increasingly varied bow). It’s a modest collection of ten sunny and homespun slices of Australiana rock that radiate warmth and authenticity. The lyrics come from a deeply Australian performer, much like a band such as Floodlights or a singer such as Courtney Barnett. Yet listening to Tait perform is to be constantly reminded - sincerely - of Randy Newman: both possess an idiosyncratic, lightly wheezing voice that captures the attention from the first warbled note, distinctively delivering sharp and sardonic monologues. Tait nor Newman care not for what a listener really thinks of their singing style.

Most of all, this is a songwriter’s record. Tait is a rustic and charming storyteller, a good mate sitting on your porch watching the sun roll in, telling you about the events of the past weekend. On a song like ‘Ripoff Merchant’, the words come tumbling out of his mouth hastily and hurriedly, suffusing them with urgency belying his unassuming nature. Whether it be real or fiction, on the album he embodies a classic music character, the loveable down-on-his-luck country crooner. “Lately the thought of digging my own grave has been weighing on my mind,” he admits on the gentle ‘It’s Gonna Rain (Down On Me)’; he talks of looking for a comfortable place to rest his head on ‘(Living Out Of The) Rutheim Inn’; on the closing track ‘It’s Just Trouble Out There’, he sighs “I’ve been hanging out for blue skies but all I get is grey clouds hanging over me.”

Gentle acoustics fill the dusty breeze. A whirling guitar here, a laidback jangle there. Mostly Tait’s harmonica fills the songs (it wouldn’t be an alternative country record without the instrument), most prominently on the tender instrumental ‘Daydreamin’. Sweet harmonies know when to balance the rougher tendencies of his voice, dovetailing nicely on ‘The Wheels Are In Motion’ and ‘It’s Gonna Rain (Down On Me)’. Elsewhere he sings opposite Hannah McKittrick on the traditional and meandering ‘It’s A Cruel, Cruel World’.

Try finding Quality Used Cars on Google - with that ambiguous name, you know what’s going to immediately come up rather than Tait’s music. Yet, in a way, this suits it. It’s unexpected to hear such alternative country twang closer to the Sidney Myer Bowl than the Dust Bowl but it will remain a small gem for any listener who does come across it.

Good Days/Bad Days is out today through Spoilsport Records - head to to purchase the album on limited 12" vinyl.