Feb 21, 2019

Oh Sees @ Factory Theatre

If you have never seen Oh Sees live you need to fix that as soon as you possibly can. They are more than a band on stage. They are a singular experience. Transforming and transcendent. So much energy it would power a small planet. The now veteran Californian band have been sending crowds into live frenzies for years and it's not about to stop anytime soon. They have been through various lineups over the years and in their current format they number five on stage. Keyboards, bass and yes two drummers. The drumming is propulsive and wildly intoxicating. It's the heartbeat of the band. Standing at the head is John Dwyer. The leader. The man. With his signature see through guitar strapped high on his chest he is all and everything on stage. Swerving, convulsing, moving constantly to the sounds he and his band are creating.

Tuesday night at The Factory was an hour and forty minutes of sweaty, thriving rock and roll. The energy coming off stage is palpable and furious. They belt through numbers with fervour and passion. 'Plastic Plant' sets it all off and it doesn't let up for a second. Whether it's the funky roll of 'Tidal Wave' or the pure heaviness of 'Animated Violence' we eat it up and want for more. Songs are laid out and attacked with relish. 'Toe Cutter / Thumb Buster' is just pure greatness. The bounce in that song sets everyone off. Some songs are extended into long jams such as 'Encrypted Bounce' and even the closing song in 'C'. Then it all comes to an end. We are totally satisfied. John thanks us and the band departs. No encore but safe in the knowledge they gave their all and more.

Set List
Plastic Plant
Tidal Wave
Nite Expo
The Dream
Toe Cutter / Thumb Buster
Withered Hand
Animated Violence
Ticklish Warrior
Encrypted Bounce
I Come From The Mountain
Sentient Oona
The Static God

Feb 16, 2019

No Age @ Oxford Art Factory

Two men. One on guitar. One on drums. An hour of melodic noise. Ferocious. Impulsive. Transcendent. That was No Age at the Oxford Art Factory Thursday night. The Los Angeles two piece came and conquered. One hour. No encore. Just flat out music. Dean Spunt pounds the drums with dexterity and rhythm. He also handles the majority of the vocals. Randy Randall wields his guitar, driving the melody. With the aid of a huge array of pedals and effects it creates a wall of sound. But the noise is always in step with melody. It creates an intoxicating mix. 'Teen Creeps' tops off a night of pure and great music.

Set List
Cruise Control
Stuck in the Changer
Sleeper Hold
Secret Swamp
Snares Like a Haircut
(new song)
Fever Dreaming
Soft Collar Fad
C'mon Stimmung
(new song)
Send Me
Air Bud
Teen Creeps

Feb 6, 2019

Mitski @ Oxford Art Factory

Monday night at the Oxford Art Factory was more than a night of music. It was a night of wonder. Of magic and joy. Mitski came to Sydney and stunned us all. An artist at the absolute top of their game is a sight to behold. Mitski was in town off the back of 2018's massively acclaimed 'Be The Cowboy', an album of unique qualities. She opened with a song off that record in 'Remember My Name' and we were off and running. And it never let up. A great selection of songs from her previous three records and even a couple of older deep cuts for good measure.

Mitski is truly a special performer. With the aid of a great band she is now free to go instrument free on stage. And she owns the stage. Strutting, dancing, posing. It's both intense and mesmeric. She is a feast visually and sonically too. She lives and breathes each word sung. And her voice is a weapon too. Powerful and direct to the heart. I could rattle on about all the great songs played but in reality they were all great. If I had to mention two though it would be the powerful 'A Pearl' and the true greatness of 'Your Best American Girl'. But as said it was all superb. There was a strong bond between performer and audience. We sung along to everything and pushed our love to Mitski. I can't wait until she graces our shores again.

Set List
Remember My Name
I Don't Smoke
First Love/Late Spring
Francis Forever
Me and My Husband
Dan the Dancer
Once More to See You
A Pearl
Thursday Girl
I Will
I Bet On Losing Dogs
I Want You
Your Best American Girl
Come Into the Water
Drunk Walk Home
A Burning Hill (solo)

Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart

Feb 4, 2019

Sydney Laneway Festival 2019

Sydney's version of the Laneway Festival was again a great day out. A beautiful sunny Sunday meant for a day of great music and good times. It's such a relaxed and enjoyable festival with a nice vibe and good attitude. Good food options and plenty of outlets make for a stress free day. And most importantly the music was great. Camp Cope was our first act for the day and their brand of passionate, fiery rock was a great start to the day. As an added bonus Courtney Barnett joined them for the closing song in the now nearly iconic 'The Opener'. The Smith Street Band were a late addition to the festival two weeks ago and of course they smashed it as expected. They even played a new song for us. Late in the afternoon I saw Parquet Courts for the first time and even though I'm not a huge fan of the band they were a lot of fun. My day ended with Sydney's own Gang of Youths, who put on a great show. They are true masters of the large setting now.   

But the absolute highlight of the day was definitely Mitski. This New York based artist was spectacular and unique. She has now abandoned the guitar on stage. Her band ably handles all of those duties. This allows her to own the stage and owned it she certainly did. It was almost performance art. Carefully choreographed she strutted and danced, each act a meticulous statement. It was hypnotic to watch. And her music was more than a match. She played a good selection from her previous three albums including last year's highly acclaimed 'Be the Cowboy'. But my favourites were older tunes such as 'Townie'  and 'I Will' and of course the totally spectacular 'Your Best American Girl'. Wow!

Set List
Francis Forever
Me and My Husband
Dan the Dancer
Thursday Girl
I Will
I Bet on Losing Dogs
Your Best American Girl
Why Didn't You Stop Me?
Drunk Walk Home

Jan 29, 2019

Best Albums of 2018

2018 didn't feel to me to be a landmark year in music. Of course there was plenty of great stuff and discoveries aplenty but it felt a little short on masterpieces. There were two albums though that stood above the rest for me. Both released early in the year. Ty Segall, the most prolific artist working today?, gave us his magnum opus in January. A huge sprawling epic album that showed off his unique ability to rock out and also deliver a killer melody. Speaking of epic Car Seat Headrest went back to their 2011 album Twin Fantasy and totally re recorded and reworked the entire album. An emotional epic journey that I probably listened to more than album of 2018. There were notable releases by almost veterans in Beach House, Mount Eerie and Neko Case that totally satisfied. But there were also great discoveries in artists on their first or second or even third record. Such as Hop Along, Lucy Dacus, Vundabar or Lala Lala. Also a great year for women in music. So many talented artists out there. 7 of my top 20 were by female acts or fronted bands.

1. Freedom's Goblin-Ty Segall
2. Twin Fantasy (Face to Face)-Car Seat Headrest
3. 7-Beach House
4. God's Favorite Customer-Father John Misty
5. This One's For The Dancer and This One's For The Dancer's Bouquet-Moonface
6. Now Only-Mount Eerie
7. Bark Your Head Off, Dog-Hop Along
8. Some Rap Songs-Earl Sweatshirt
9. Hell-On-Neko Case
10. Be the Cowboy-Mitski
11. A Love Sleeps Deep-The Moondoggies
12. Historian-Lucy Dacus
13. Bottle It In-Kurt Vile
14. Kill the Lights-Tony Molina
15. The Whole Thing Is Just There-Young Jesus
16. Wanderer-Cat Power
17. Smell Smoke-Vundabar
18. I'll Sing-Shannen Moser
19. Skylight-Pinegrove
20. C'est La Vie-Phosphorescent
21. Smote Reverser-Oh Sees
22. Sparkle Hard-Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
23. Pissing Stars-Efrim Manuel Menuck
24. Popular Fiction-Gold Connections
25. Hope Downs-Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
26. The Lamb-Lala Lala
27. FM!-Vince Staples
28. WARM-Jeff Tweedy
29. A Productive Cough-Titus Andronicus
30. Snares Like A Haircut-No Age
31. Rebound-Eleanor Friedberger
32. I Need to Start a Garden-Haley Heynderickx
33. Joy-Ty Segall & White Fence
34. Marauder-Interpol
35. Sweet Unknown-Erika Wennerstrom
36. I'm Bad Now-Nap Eyes
37. How to Socialise and Make Friends-Camp Cope
38. The Diet-Cullen Omori
39. Lush-Snail Mail
40. Double Negative-Low
41. Ye-Kanye West
42. Lamp Lit Prose-Dirty Projectors
43. Vide Noir-Lord Huron
44. Goat Girl-Goat Girl
45. Dance Music-Mastersystem
46. A Poem Unlimited-U.S. Girls
47. Thunder Follows The Light-Mutual Benefit
48. In The Break-Night Shop
49. Abysskiss-Adrianne Lenker
50. In the Rainbow Rain-Okkervil River

Jan 28, 2019

Best Songs of 2018

My favourite song of 2018 wasn't actually written in 2018. It was written and released in 2011. Car Seat Headrest recorded an album in 'Twin Fantasy' back in 2011. It was a very lo-fi effort that he was never totally happy with. So he decided to go back into the studio and re write and re record everything. The results were immaculate. And one song in particular grabbed me like no other song did in 2018. Famous Prophets (Stars) is an epic journey of beauty and discovery. A sixteen minute trek deep into his heart and soul. Truly magnificent. There is no official video for this song, but I did find a live version recorded at the iconic Cat's Cradle in North Carolina. A worthy number one for me. In a very strong field. Here are my favourite 100 songs of 2018. 

1. Famous Prophets (Stars)-Car Seat Headrest
2. Alta-Ty Segall
3. Not Abel-Hop Along
4. Black Car-Beach House
5. Distortion-Mount Eerie
6. Curse of the I-5 Corridor-Neko Case
7. Ghost Town-Kanye West
8. Night Shift-Lucy Dacus
9. Washing Machine Heart-Mitski
10. Just Dumb Enough to Try-Father John Misty
11. Beach Life--In-Death-Car Seat Headrest
12. Now Only-Mount Eerie
13. How Simple-Hop Along
14. Harvest-Vundabar
15. Bodys-Car Seat Headrest
16. Lemon Glow-Beach House
17. My Lady's on Fire-Ty Segall
18. Zombie Conqueror-Dirty Projectors
19. My Friend-Ty Segall and White Fence
20. Two Slow Dancers-Mitski
21. The Echo of the World-Cloud Nothings
22. Dreamsong-Moonface
23. Gulf-Young Jesus
24. Easy Coming-The Moondoggies
25. Woman-Cat Power
26. Good to Be Alone-Erika Wennerstrom
27. You Left Me With An Ocean-Waxahatchee
28. December 24-Earl Sweatshirt
29. God's Favorite Customer-Father John Misty
30. One Trick Ponies-Kurt Vile
31. Minotaur Forgiving Knossos-Moonface
32. Earth-Mount Eerie
33. Rusalka, Rusalka/Wild Rushes-The Decemberists
34. I'm Bad-Nap Eyes
35. FUN!-Vince Staples
36. Bite the Hand-Boygenius 
37. Good Boy-Ty Segall and White Fence
38. Flies Bump Against the Glass-Oh Sees
39. Dancing and Blood-Low
40. Jasper's Theme-Tony Molina
41. The Games We Play-Pusha T
42. A Pearl-Mitski
43. The Bends-Earl Sweatshirt
44. Isabel-Gold Connections
45. Shiggy-Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
46. 5 Ft. Tall-Ty Segall
47. Match-The Moondoggies
48. How Hard Is It For a Desert to Die-Jeff Tweedy 
49. Talking Straight-Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
50. Hell-On-Neko Case
51. Me & My Dog-Boygenius
52. Tidal-No Age
53. Last Peace-Oh Sees
54. This Is America-Childish Gambino
55. Incidental Boogie-U.S. Girls
56. The Opener-Camp Cope
57. Relay-Vince Staples
58. Timefighter-Lucy Dacus
59. Jo-Haley Heynderickx
60. Bottle It In-Kurt Vile
61. Bell-Young Jesus
62. Look of Love-Hop Along
63. Pristine-Snail Mail
64. Mr Tillman-Father John Misty
65. Dissolution-Cloud Nothings
66. Joanna-Shannen Moser
67. Destroyer-Lala Lala
68. If You Really Love Nothing-Interpol
69. $$$-Vundabar
70. On a Finely Sewn Sleeve-Frog Eyes
71. You Are Here-Yo La Tengo
72. Crass Tattoo-Titus Andronicus
73. Nothing I Can Say-Tony Molina
74. Break-Thru-Dirty Projectors
75. Ancient Names (Part 1)-Lord Huron
76. Make Me a Song-Eleanor Friedberger
77. Icarus-Gold Connections
78. Drunk in LA-Beach House
79. Nowhere2go-Earl Sweatshirt
80. Oracle of the Maritimes-Neko Case
81. The Dream and the Light-Okkervil River
82. Wait by the River-Lord Huron
83. Burn the Stake-Goat Girl
84. No People to Person-Vundabar
85. Idea Man-Frog Eyes
86. Kite-Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
87. Deep Sea-Snail Mail
88. The Red Brick-Jeff Tweedy
89. C-Oh Sees
90. Break Da Law-21 Savage
91. Disarray-Preoccupations
92. The Rover-Interpol
93. A Lamb in the Land of Payday Loans-Efrim Manuel Menuck
94. Rings-Pinegrove
95. The Shell-Lucy Dacus
96. Stay-Cat Power
97. Fly-Low
98. Apeshit-The Carters
99. Middle America-Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
100. Garbage Bin-Tiny Little Houses

Jan 19, 2019

Favourite Films of 2018

The year in film was book ended for me by two Mexican masters. Near the beginning of 2018 we saw the masterful The Shape of Water, directed by Guillermo del Toro. It was a superb exercise in magical realism. I thought it deservedly won Best Picture. In that same crop of films were two other magnificent films in Lady Bird, a wonderful directorial debut for Greta Gerwig and Phantom Thread, yet another cinematic masterpiece from the great Paul Thomas Anderson. Through the rest of the year my favourites were generally smaller films that saw very limited release. Such as the extremely moving Leave No Trace and the sparse and beautiful Lean on Pete. My favourite big budget film was definitely First Man, a truly masterful film that I believe deserved a much wider audience than it got. The other big story was the rise of Netflix. The Coen Brothers got into the act with the superb The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Private Life was another small gem. But it was Alfonso Cuaron who delivered the best I believe. His deeply personal and stunning Roma was taken up by Netflix and it was a triumph in every sense of the word. I was lucky enough to see it on the big screen but thankfully it's also available in homes around the world. It might even be the first foreign language film to win Best Picture. We will soon found out.

1. Roma
2. The Shape of Water
3. Phantom Thread
4. Lady Bird
5. Call Me By Your Name
6. Leave No Trace
7. First Man
8. Lean on Pete
9. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
10. Isle of Dogs