Apr 30, 2008

Language City Don't Mean A Thing To Me...

Mount Zoomer. The studio it was recorded it in. "At Mount Zoomer". The name of the album. Wolf Parade. The band. The music. The legend. The leak. Happened today. My world. Turned upside down. My thoughts. Grinning from ear to ear. Oh, rapture. Sweet rapture.

What follows are initial impressions of THE album.

Soldier's Grin
The trademark synth floats in, almost cute and boyish. Then the guitars come and Dan starts wailing, in sync with rhythmic drumming. This song is melody plus anguish, lots of beautiful keyboard flourishes. Truly gorgeous.

Call It A Ritual
The one everyone has heard. Spencer surges with full force. Short and sweet, it features that vibrating keyboard that sounds a little like Spoon. The vocals are soaked in reverb, giving it a haunting tone. Powerful. Vocals at 2.00 stun.

Language City
Dan Boeckner's masterpiece. Sublime jangling guitars give way to an emotional highway of broken hearts and jaded minds. Again keyboards work well here, chiming back and forth with cascading guitars.

Bang Your Drum
Spencer's turn. This one sounds most like a Sunset Rubdown song. Operatic and grand it takes a while to warm up, but the second half is truly exciting. The vocals are crystal clear. I just wish it was longer. Take a dive...

California Dreamer
Oh, the chorus. The chorus. A live anthem in the making, methinks. A song that comes at you in waves. Waves of drums and that indescribable Wolf Parade keyboard sound. A sad song about your lover leaving you. Ah, Spencer.

The Grey Estates
A fairly straight forward song for Dan. Probably the least memorable song on the album. I mean it is good and all, but for this band it seems rather routine. Still catchy and poppy and I can listen to Dan all day, so there's that.

Fine Young Cannibals
An almost bluesy riff slinks on to the stage. Dan really reaches for it vocally here and absolutely nails it. Haunting and full of great power, this song is more guitar dominant. Builds and builds with great intensity before exploding.

An Animal In Your Care
Spencer returns with his trademark haunting beauty. His vocals echo with a menacing quietness. The piano here is heart stopping. The song builds before overflowing with an outpouring of emotion and heart. Sublime.

Kissing The Beehive
This ten minute epic is destined to become the WP statement. It's great to hear Spencer and Dan going back and forth in an orgy of vocals and sounds. Elaborate, intense, fuelled by the muse of greatness. So much to digest.

So, there you have it. I could go into greater detail, but I just wanted to give you my initial thoughts. Naturally I love it. This band is just so talented I can't ever see a day when they will strike out. The obvious question. How does it compare to "Apologies to the Queen Mary"? It's hard to compare, because these two records were made in two totally different stages of the band. The first album was incubated over a period of time, redoing their EP numbers before knocking it all into a sublime concoction of astounding music. Those songs are dear to my heart and will always remain so. But now in 2008, you can hear the development of Krug and Boeckner as song writers. Their work with Handsome Furs and Sunset Rubdown has seen them grow in stature as writers and musicians. Listening to this album you can hear a different Wolf Parade beast. I mean it still sounds like a WP album. You know, melodies from another universe, keyboards carved from the golden caves of greatness, lyrics of import, vocals that never let you down. That sort of thing. But this album is grander and more epic. More elaborate. There are tiny little flourishes everywhere. Odd and unusual sounds that reveal themselves to you after every listening. The keyboards and drums are definitely front and centre on this album, beautifully crisp and clear. Arlen Thompson has done a great job. In short, I would say that this is a far more ambitious album then their first. It strives to be a magnificent beast and it succeeds. Absolutely. While there is probably no song as perfect as "I'll Believe in Anything", there are plenty of perfect moments. A shock to this Spencerite is that my two favourite songs so far are "Soldier's Grin" and "Language City". So, life is full of surprises.

Is this the album of 2008? Oh, yes, yes, yes.
I just love how music can make me feel like this. Pure joy.

PS. Listen to this on headphones. It is even better.

Apr 29, 2008

A Tale of Genius; In Three Easy Parts

Animal Collective played Coachella last weekend. Here is "Bearhug", a new unrecorded song. I will never tire of the harmonies created by Avey and Panda. You might also note the absence of Deakin, who is on hiatus from the band. Hopefully he will rejoin them in the future. Don't forgot, AC release a four song EP "Water Curses" in early May on Domino Records.

MP3: Water Curses-Animal Collective

Wolf Parade have made it official. The new album is to be called "At Mount Zoomer". After many false starts and fake information the new album (2008's best btw, just you wait and see) is named after the Montreal studio run by Arlen Thompson, who recorded and engineered the album due out on Sub Pop on June 17. In this day and age of 'leaks', this album has yet to surface on the inter webs. It can't be far way, the suspense is killing me.

MP3: Call It A Ritual-Wolf Parade

To complete the troika of artistic genius, I was absolutely delighted to learn that Bonnie Prince Billy will have a new album out on May 19 on Domino Records. This man is music from another world. He really can do no wrong, so I am very excited. The album will be called "Lie Down in the Light" and contains twelve tracks.

Track Listing
1 Easy Does It
2 You Remind Me of Something (The Glory Goes)
3 So Everyone
4 For Every Field There's a Mole
5 (Keep Eye On) Other's Gain
6 You Want That Picture
7 Missing One
8 What's Missing Is
9 Where's the Puzzle?
10 Lie Down in the Light
11 Willow Trees Bend
12 I'll Be Glad

MP3: So Everyone (demo)

Apr 28, 2008

Eels @ Enmore Theatre

A night of highly original entertainment. A night of bleeding humanity. A night of biting humour. A night where heart collided headlong into pain. And WE were the winners. E, Mr E, Mark Everett or more commonly Eels entranced, bewitched and stupified the Enmore Theatre Sunday night. Delightfully named "An Evening with Eels", it was a night to place in your heart for future references. For future references when or if your world turns to shit and you need a little reminder that burning embers of genius are alight on this sometimes mundane planet. I had seen Eels a few years ago at the same venue, but it was an odd and somewhat unsatisfactory show. The Rock was turned up to 11 that night, so I was hoping that this show would allow the words and music of Mr Everett to soar and dazzle with greater clarity . Thankfully, we were placed on the gossamer wings of a dove and flown to a land where words matter and sounds flow like rushing water.

Before the main event we witnessed an hour long BBC documentary about E's family history. Unfortunately I missed the start. But what I saw was truly moving and profound. If you don't know, Mark Everett's father was Hugh Everett, a world famous quantum physicist. He died at the age of 52. Tragedy struck again, when his sister and mother both died in the late '90s. A just released book, "Things the Grandchildren Should Know" covers this sad history. The film was a unique and revealing portrait of the artist we were about to see. And what an artist. E (I shall call him this from now on) entered the stage and sat down to play electric guitar. "A Magic World" opened and it was apt. For this night was full of magic and wonder. But the magic is real, if that makes sense. Well, put it this way. I believe the greatest art comes from creating something extraordinary from the ordinary. Like stuffing your real life experiences with a beauty and a spirit that can touch you in truly special way. This was best shown on the second song. E went to the piano and played "It's A Motherfucker". The keys trembled and so did our hearts. Pain and anguish can be just so damn uplifting sometimes, you know. Basically E moved from guitar to piano through out the night. He was joined on stage by "The Chet", who was a stunning musician. E claimed he played fourteen instruments. I don't doubt it. My favourite was the Saw! There were a truck load of highlights. "Packing Blankets" was a symphony of joy. "Souljacker, Part I" was a throbbing mess of blues, whilst "Elizabeth on the Bathroom Floor" was simply heartbreaking. "Jeannie's Diary" was blissful on piano and "Novocaine for the Soul" was ramped up and hard as nails with E taking the drums on this one. I think though the two show stoppers were a thunderous "Flyswatter" where E and The Chet swapped drums and piano three times as the song assumed epic proportions before it dissolved into "Bus Stop Boxer" and the closer "Souljacker, Part II". This soulful wreck of a song delivers a deliberate and absolute emotional punch. Its words are delivered with stark honesty.

"Souljacker can't get my soul
Ate my carcass in a black manhole
Souljacker can't get my soul
He can shoot me up full of bullet holes
But the souljacker can't get my soul"

This show was just a total experience. Not only great music and vocals, E's voice is raspy and gravelly, his heart echoes from his throat. But there were hilarious "readings" of fan letters and gig reviews by E and revealing excerpts of his book were read by The Chet. E's humour is sharp and acerbic. After describing his father, very famous in his own world, he described himself as "the Julian Lennon of Quantum Physics". He also urged the audience, at one point, to "soft rock" out. Hilarious. The audience was actually excellent, attentive and respectful. Except for someone who was determined to clap along to various songs. Rule one number one. Eels songs are not hand clapping material. If I could have changed one thing I would have suggested that E place his piano around the other way. As he had his back turned to me and the audience all the time he was positioned at the piano. But luckily for us, his heart and his mind and his soul were situated firmly and forcefully in the centre of our hearts. Surely, a night to remember.

Set List
From Which I Came/A Magic World
It's A Motherfucker
Strawberry Blonde
Packing Blankets
After The Operation
Souljacker, Part I
Elizabeth On The Bathroom Floor
Climbing To The Moon
My Beloved Monster
I Like Birds
-fan mail and book reading-
Jeannie's Diary
In The Yard, Behind The Church
-book reading-
Last Stop: This Town
I Want To Protect You
Bus Stop Boxer
Novocaine For The Soul
Good Times, Bad Times (Led Zeppelin cover)
Somebody Loves You
Souljacker, Part II

I'm Going To Stop Pretending That I Didn't Break Your Heart

Blinking Lights (For Me)

Apr 27, 2008

Gone Baby Gone

Gone Baby Gone is a film of classic proportions. Drama in the truest sense, it will have you enthralled, devastated and truly enriched by its broad and beautifully painted canvas. Full of pain and anguish and real life experiences, the characters feel and act as real as any movie I have seen in a very long time. Ben Affleck, after a string of questionable acting choices, has succeeded wildly in his debut directing performance. Affleck co-wrote the script with Aaron Stockard (based on a Dennis Lehane novel) and after some deliberation his choice to direct has proven a wise one. His direction is seamless, skilfully building tension and drama in each scene, pointing to a dramatic finish. The cast is superb, especially so the performance of Casey Affleck, whose character is the moral centre of the film.

Gone Baby Gone is set in modern day Boston. But not the Boston of Back Bay and Beacon Hill. But on the rough edges, in the seedy bars and neighbourhoods. A young girl has been abducted and her mother Helene (Amy Ryan) is surrounded by police and media searching for answers. Helene is a coke addict and is not exactly a role model mother. Her brother Lionel and her sister-in-law Beatrice (Amy Madigan) decide to employ private detectives to enhance the search for young Amanda. Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and his partner Angie (Michelle Monaghan), after some persuasion, decide the take up the task of searching for the missing girl. They have the consent of Police Chief Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman), who allows them to join in the investigation headed by detectives Remy Bressant (Ed Harris) and Nick Poole (John Ashton). But what ensues is more then just the standard thriller. More then the story of who committed the crime. Although in these two aspects the film does a fine job. But Gone Baby Gone is a film full of real characters with questionable intentions and also honourable motives. It is multi layered and never conventional. Taking many detours and twists as we build to a tension filled climax. It is also a moral tale as the question of caring and raising children is asked many times over. But it never provides easy answers. Instead it offers ideas and insight, which the best dramas do. Not only giving you suspense and a compelling story, but also plenty of food for thought. This film is full of many dark and disturbing characters. From drug addicts to drug dealers. Pedophiles to murderers. But is also full of people with good hearts and intentions. This is never more evident then in the character of Kenzie. Affleck is superb in portraying a man of stoic nature and a quiet inner strength. The rest of the cast are superb as well, especially the always sterling Ed Harris and the eternally serene Morgan Freeman. Gone Baby Gone is a hark back to days when films were full of richly drawn characters and strongly written plot. Full of light and shade and subtle nuances, I recommend this film highly.

Apr 26, 2008

M. Ward & Jim James-Austin, Texas

During SXSW M. Ward and Jim James played at St Davids Church in Austin, Texas. Two great talents, two great voices. Found this via Everybody Cares.

Apr 23, 2008

Heads Roll Off-Frightened Rabbit

I am assuming that most of us bloggers have full time jobs. Jobs that pay the bills and the rent/mortgage. Sometimes these jobs involve long and weary days. So, even though I love nothing better then to come home and sit in front of the computer and listen to music and then perhaps be inspired to write, sometimes it is hard. Sometimes it is just easier to relax and let your mind wander. Try to not think. Just be. At the moment I feel like this. Work is long. Weekends are involved and I feel my free time and my mind shrinking. Slowly.

Therefore, even though I have been meaning to review the latest releases from The Raconteurs, The Black Keys, Plants and Animals, Tapes 'n Tapes, A Silver Mt Zion, etc. for a while. They will just have to wait. So, in their place I can tell you that this I was absolutely delighted to receive the new album from Scotland's Frightened Rabbit this week. After a few initial listens I can say that I am totally in love with "The Midnight Organ Fight". The combination of jangling guitars and those Glaswegian vocals are purely irresistible. Here is the video for the excellent song "Heads Roll Off". Superb.

MP3: The Modern Leper-Frightened Rabbit

Apr 22, 2008

Hard Feelings-Constantines

Here is the brand new video from Constantines. "Hard Feelings", from their upcoming first release on the always great Arts and Crafts label. "Kensington Heights" is the name of the album and is sure to be great, considering the band's already storied output.

Apr 21, 2008

Street Horsssing-Fuck Buttons

Fuck Buttons are the sound of things falling apart. Breaking down. Crashing, disintegrating, imploding. All with some sort of beautiful grace. Some sort of compelling, hypnotic grace. This music is disturbing, but completely addictive. "Street Horsssing" is the debut album from Fuck Buttons, who are two men from Bristol, England. Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power, to be exact. They meld experimental noise with beautiful melody to create sounds that are quite exciting and original. An album of disturbed intelligence.

Six songs make up this piece of music. Most, bar one, coming in at around nine minutes. Essentially instrumental, they all build with creeping intensity, before descending into swirling, momentous rackets. The opening track, "Sweet Love for Planet Earth" begins with a delicate piano, before a monotone vibrates with hypnotic effect. Vocals join in. If you can call them vocals. More apt to say they are distorted screams with inaudible lyrics. Strangely, they prove hypnotic. The combination of vocal an instrumentation is like a bad accident. You don't want to look, but you do. You don't want to listen, but you do. It just draws you in. The second track, "Ribs Out" is a short, sharp cacophony of noise. Featuring yelps and yawls and heavy drumming, it is probably the only track that has skip over quality. "Okay, Let's Talk About Magic" returns us the world of drone and distortion, before it bursts into a state of hypnotic percussion about four minutes in. Keys are held for long periods, static buzzes in your ears, drums chug in uneven time. It is disconcerting, yet utterly irresistible. "Race You to the Bedroom" and "Colours Move" continue in this vein. An overload of distortion and iridescent synths produce sounds of worlds collapsing and realities bending. The only song that employs a more traditional dance sound is "Bright Tomorrow", which actually then becomes a less essential track. Whilst enjoyable, we have heard this sort of thing before. "Street Horsssing" will not be for everyone. It will be, however, a trip of pleasure for those who want to have their ears stretched just a little bit.

MP3: Sweet Love For Planet Earth-Fuck Buttons

Apr 20, 2008

Evil Urges-My Morning Jacket

My Morning Jacket release their new album "Evil Urges" on June 10. I am an unabashed admirer of this wonderful band. Jim James is the perfect voice and their songs are full of heart and passion. The band has just made available (for a short time), the title track off the new album. I have to say however, after initial listenings, I am not digging this song. Jim James is singing in a very high falsetto and although he hits all the notes perfectly, I just am not feeling it. His voice is so pure, I just need and want him to sing through the song. With all his might. The music is great. The guitars chime in nicely, but the vocals are not doing it for me. I might grow to like it. I hope I do. I am sure I will love the new album. I really want to. I just hope he has decided to not sing every song like this.

You can download the song here.

Speaking of new albums, I have absolutely no doubt the new Wolf Parade will OWN 2008. Having heard the eerily brilliant "Call It A Ritual", and I loved it, I have now heard "California Dreamer" from the yet to be titled album. Although it wasn't a high quality, high definition copy, the song is amazing. Five minutes of pure bliss. Wolf Parade are back. To rule the world.

Apr 17, 2008

Lars And The Real Girl

Lars And The Real Girl is a hugely enjoyable experience. Wry and humorous and ultimately quite moving, it works for one reason above all others. Ryan Gosling. This remarkable young actor IS Lars. He makes this character work in a way few actors can. He lives and breathes the awkward and socially inept Lars to such a degree that sometimes you can forget that he is merely playing a part. The success of this film is due to him, but the rest of the cast is superb as well. The writing is succinct and observant, direction strong and assured, making for a distinctly rewarding cinema experience.

Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling) lives in a small, rural snowbound North American town. He works in a nondescript office, with other workers who could be described as nondescript also. Lars is critically shy, to the point of shunning all human interaction. He lives in a garage behind the house of his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and his wife Karin (Emily Mortimer). They are a solid couple, expecting their first child. They, especially the very kind Karin, try to involve Lars in their life. But he prefers to keep to himself. Alone and seemingly without prospects. Well, Margo (Kelli Garner) is interested in him, but he ignores her completely. However Lars decides to order a 'love doll' on the internet. 'Bianca' arrives and Lars introduces her to Gus and Karin as his newly arrived, from Brazil, girlfriend. They are naturally stunned. Gus believes Lars to be basically "nuts". They subtly refer him to a therapist, Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson), who advises them that Lars is suffering from a delusion and the best course of action is to believe in his delusional behaviour. So, we set out on a course of the whole town slowly going along with the plan of pretending 'Bianca' is real. 'She' accompanies Lars everywhere and the town involves her in all manner of activities. Now if this sounds quite a ridiculous premise, you might be right. But in the hands of director Craig Gillespie and a giving cast the film actually evolves into a tender and touching portrayal of a young man with special needs and the community that bonds around him. Crucial to the film's success are the relationships between Lars and Gus, as well as Lars and Dagmar. Gus and Lars reveal more about their relationship then is first evident, giving major clues to Lars' problems. Whilst Patricia Clarkson is once again exemplary in her role as the intelligent and understanding therapist. The scenes between Gosling and Clarkson are wonderfully performed and truly touching. In hindsight the story line is somewhat predictable. But this film is more about the journey then the end result. The great performances of the cast give this film a certain measure of weight, leaving you laughing in delight one minute and reaching for a tissue the next. This is done with a delicate touch, the film never dipping into cliche. Filmed entirely in Ontario, Canada Lars And The Real Girl is a true gem of a movie. One to give strong and purposeful entertainment.

Apr 16, 2008

Visiter-The Dodos

Never judge a book by its cover. Or so the old story goes. Well, this unobtrusive little cover is hiding the most vital, exciting music I have heard this year. To think, I hadn't even heard of this band until about two months ago. The Dodos are Meric Long and Logan Kroeber, two young men from San Francisco. Making thrilling, quite remarkable music. After listening to "Visiter", their recently released second album, I tracked down their debut album, "Beware of the Maniacs". I found out the debut is wonderful too, but right now I am talking about "Visiter". Quite honestly, this piece of music is nearly faultless. There is not a weak moment on it, each song feeling original and different. Exciting and thrilling. Essential.

This band and this music has been described as psych-folk or freak-folk or one of those other ghastly terms. In some quarters they have been compared to Animal Collective. I can see that comparison in some way. They certainly share that amazing quartet's spirit of life and the percussion in some songs is quite reminiscent of the AC. But, like any truly great music, The Dodos stand on their two feet. Shouting their brand of beautiful music to the sky. For all the world to hear. The songs on display here swing from soft and gentle numbers to tunes of great force and power. Some are epic in nature. Some are brief and mere interludes. All are great. All are full of life and hope and joy. It's amazing what you can do with an acoustic guitar and a drum kit. For that is all that is at play here. But it's not what instruments you possess, but what you do with them that is of vital importance. Logan Kroeber's drumming is simply amazing. You can hear every single hit of the kit. Whether it is delivered with pulsating rhythm or just a subtle nuance. This is never better illustrated then on "Fools", which attacks and reverberates with unlimited energy. So, whilst the drumming is the backbone of the music, Meric Long is the life force. Strumming his acoustic to great effect, he takes each and every song to another level. His voice is deceptively powerful too, relaying the necessary feeling to convince.

There are many highlights to enjoy on this album. "The Season" is an obvious standout. Its quiet start will eventually lead to a cacophony of sound that is impossible to resist. "Jodi" is six minutes of pure exaltation, its melody remaining quite memorable. "Joe's Waltz" is pure gold too. Another song with a slow build up, its ending of syncopated drumming proving irresistible. There are quieter moments too. "Ashley" is a like a gentle breeze in the middle of a hurricane, whilst the closing song "God?" finishes the album perfectly. A gorgeous song of great strength. Just like all of "Visiter" really. Strength of purpose, brimful of life. Eternally beautiful. The dodo might be an extinct species, but The Dodos are living and breathing life.

MP3: Fools-The Dodos
MP3: Ashley-The Dodos
You can purchase Visiter from here.

Apr 15, 2008

Water Curses-Animal Collective

I was planning to write more tonight. But I feel tired, so this will have to do. Those boys from Animal Collective are at it again. After last year's amazing "Strawberry Jam", they return with a 4 song EP on May 5. This is the title track, "Water Curses". Don't adjust your screen, the video is intended to be all pixellated and what not. But the music is crystal clear and naturally stunning.
Call It A Ritual-Wolf Parade

Little post. Huge band. Expect many, many more Wolf related posts. Stereogum and Pitchfork today have the first full track released from the June 17 new Wolf Parade album. "Call It A Ritual" is the song. Originally written as "Billy J" on set lists, this is a much better title. Clocking in at a brief 2.45, this is a Spencer Krug tune, featuring lovely piano, some wicked guitar and a generally haunting tone. It's great. What else did you expect?

MP3: Call It A Ritual-Wolf Parade

Apr 13, 2008

California Dreamer-Wolf Parade

And then it happened. At an important time in our musical history. A band from Montreal came to show us the way. Out of the woods, through the streets, eating chocolate and sipping whiskey. Stumbling through cathedrals and lurking in alleyways, they progressed to caverns of decadence. Reflecting our humanity, piercing our hearts, tending to our souls. Welding hot emotion with soaring sounds, they guided us into the land of wonderment and mystery. Forever with a smile on our face and an uncontrollable kick in our leg. Arlen delivered the beat, Hadji brought the groove, Dante was Dante and Dan shook with the force of thunderstorms. And well, well, Spencer was the life force. Enabling us to cry and laugh at the same time, till we wondered how it could POSSIBLY GET ANY BETTER.

Sorry to ramble. But tonight I have been listening, for the umpteenth time, to recordings of a show Wolf Parade performed in Montreal last August. In said show, they performed 7 songs that are going to appear on the new album due in June. The song formerly known as "Stevie" is now to be called "California Dreamer". Please watch this video and I assure you, you will be shouting this chorus until your lungs explode. Life, itself.

California dreamer
Tell me where did you go
I carve your ever dying figure a hundred times
Into the ever dying snow

If Ladyhawk's debut self-titled album was full of potential, then their second release "Shots" fulfills the promise, delivers it. In full effect. "Shots" is a gritty, resolute, soulful, passionate affair. The sort of album Kings of Leon used to make, before they got all slick, you know. This Vancouver four piece rocks with fury and frenzy. Delicious melodies wash over you, all heightened by the glorious, ragged voice of Duffy Driediger.

"Shots" explodes out of the gate with the swaggering "I Don't Always Know What You're Saying", a perfect opener. It encapsulates all the best elements of Ladyhawk. Tight rhythm section, ferocious riffs, heavenly melody and Duffy's voice. No doubt in my mind, the beastly vocal of Driediger elevates this band. Without him, they would still be a rocking, fun band. With him, they evoke all those memories of albums your parents used to own. For his voice is smoky and sensual, raucous and salacious. Like he just stumbled out of a beer tavern. With a shot of whiskey in one hand and a devilish glint in his eye. He manages to make fairly lyrically straight forward material sound as if it is essential. The mark of a great singer. No more evident then on "Corpse Paint", which stalks like a panther, before ascending to a epic, rocking close. However this band also can do soft. Take "(I'll Be Your) Ashtray', a plaintive, slow burning plea for love. It aches with intensity. "Faces of Death" also proves that this sophomore effort has a somewhat darker tone then the first release. These boys are definitely not just good time rock 'n' roll. They have heart and a penchant for despair and anguish. There is also a definite rawness at work here. Although the production quality is good, it was recorded in a farmhouse near Kelowna, British Columbia, the songs feel natural and intuitive. Earthy and spontaneous. This is classic rock, but without a capital C or R. The music does not state its intention, it just knows its place. That place is in your heart and down your spine. How all good music should be. The design is natural, not enforced. The short and sweet "You Ran" shows you what I mean. Brief and to the point, I dare you not to shout this song to the rooftop. Then to show off their chops one more time, Ladyhawk close with the ten minute epic "Ghost Blues", a portentious, scowling number that leaves you a little spent, but also a feeling of wanting more of the same. That brand of Canadian rock. Good songs delivered with zest and zeal. Music of 2008, but suitable for any era.

MP3: I Don't Always Know What You're Saying

Apr 12, 2008

The Season-The Dodos

I will admit it. I am obsessed by The Dodos. The band with the silly name makes purely beautiful music. Music of spirit, excitement, joy. Their new album "Visiter" is just remarkable. I love it. How do two men, well three in this clip, make such stirring, wonderful music. I love so many "Visiter" songs but I think "The Season" might be my favourite. This recording was made on April 8, at Divan Orange, Montreal. Go to Trendwhore for a recording of this show.

Apr 10, 2008

New Wolf Parade Album (LP2)

Well, the new Wolf Parade album is, wait for it, untitled. Well, it will have a title, but it won't be called "Kissing The Beehive". But the last track on the new album is called "Kissing The Beehive". As of now the band is still deciding on a title. For now, let's just call it SP720, the Sub Pop catalogue number. The album was recorded and engineered by Arlen Thompson in the Montreal church owned by Arcade Fire in the middle of last year. To quote Dan Boeckner “After Apologies… we wrote about four or five new songs, but we decided to throw them out because they sounded too much like what we’d already done. We could have easily made another Apologies… but what would have been the point?” As noted before there are nine songs, with two of them never heard in public before. Spencer Krug said of the recording process “It’s hard enough to get us all in the same room at the same time, so when we do get to write songs there isn’t really time for our egos to get in the way.” So, expect something a little different, a lot grand and a huge amount of greatness. Album of the year. No doubt. How can these boys fail? Sub Pop release the genius on June 17.

Track Listing
  1. Soldier's Grin
  2. Call It a Ritual
  3. Language City
  4. Bang Your Drum
  5. California Dreamer
  6. The Grey Estates
  7. Fine Young Cannibals
  8. An Animal in Your Care
  9. Kissing the Beehive

Apr 8, 2008

The Shot...Mario Chalmers

You want drama? This is drama. College Basketball! It doesn't get any better then this. I don't write about sports here. Maybe I should. I watch enough. If you are interested, this is what I am interested in.
Australian Football
NBA and College Basketball
NFL and College Football
Baseball (the perfect game)
That is all...normal service will be resumed tomorrow.
A Skin, A Night

Here is the trailer for "A Skin, A Night", a new documentary by Vincent Moon, the man behind the fabulous Take Away Shows. This DVD will be released on May 20 and documents the making of one 2007's best releases. The National's "Boxer". The DVD will also come with a 12 track bonus CD which includes Demos, B Sides and a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Mansion on the Hill". If you love The National, who doesn't, make sure you purchase this one.

Apr 7, 2008

Bon Iver-Live In San Francisco

From the always wonderful La Blogotheque Series, here is Bon Iver performing "Skinny Love" live in San Francisco. This song is just pure greatness and right here you can feel the emotion seeping out of the camera. Truly glorious.

If you didn't make "For Emma, Forever Ago" one of your albums of 2007, then you can make it one of your albums of 2008. Thanks to Jagjaguwar, Bon Iver's debut album has received a re release and hopefully a much wider audience. The praise heaped on this piece of music is well deserved. It crackles with warmth and tenderness. It overflows with spirit and emotion. Basically the work of one man, Justin Vernon, you will find this album both endearing and essential. Stand out tracks include the remorseful "For Emma" which features some glorious horns, the trembling "Flume" and the quietly serene "The Wolves". A unique and original artist to be reckoned with.

MP3: Skinny Love-Bon Iver

Apr 6, 2008

The Kid

The Kid is a thrilling and exhilarating piece of theatre. A wild ride, a bold and daring work, substantial and revealing. Please see it, if you love good theatre. Words crackle and burn, actors ache with intensity and desire. For two hours I was entranced and delighted by the words of the great Michael Gow. The Kid was Gow's first play. Written in 1983, it is now receiving a revival performance at the Griffin Theatre Company's SBW Stables Theatre.

The play tells the story of two brothers and a sister who escape small country town inertia to chase a dream in Sydney. We begin with Donald, a shy and retiring type, sitting in a cafe. He is an opera buff and works in a book store. However, his quiet world is interrupted by the rambunctious group of Dean, Snake and Aspro. They shatter his peace and encourage him to take the trip to Sydney. The four characters are a disparate crew. Dean (Akos Armont) is suave and menacing, dangerous yet strangely seductive. Especially for the impressionable Donald (Eamon Farren). Snake (Emma Palmer) is trashy and coarse, loud and vivacious, whilst Aspro (Andrew Ryan) is simple and somewhat grotesque. We learn that Aspro has had an accident and the plan is to travel to Sydney and collect his compensation. At this point the play would seem to be maybe no more then a enjoyable and entertaining road trip story. However the arrival in Sydney sees many encounters with desperate and dangerous characters. We meet a father and daughter under the dangerous control of a religious cult, proclaiming the end of the earth. We also meet a hyper estate agent, a distressed and shattered lonely woman and a couple on the cusp of destruction. All the while, we see the change and metamorphosis of the four young people, who were hoping to escape the dead end nature of country Australia, but unfortunately encounter only pain and despair. Aspro's health worsens, whilst Snake becomes more responsible as their world starts to disintegrate. But it is the relationship between Dean and Donald that is the eye of this cyclonic play. Dean attracts people like bees to honey. His danger is alluring and Donald is desperate to please him. The byplay between the two characters is riveting and essential. And although every member of the cast is excellent, it is Armont and Farren who truly excel. Armont is perfect as the charismatic Dean, his movement and facial expressions ably capturing the spirit of the character, whilst Farren subtly portrays the seething vulnerability of his part. The words of Gow offer a drama of many layers, many levels. He has an innate knack for capturing conversation. Full of wit and sparkle, his words are real and convincing. He also has a remarkable gift for relaying the essence of place. Quintessentially Australian, without ever descending into cliche, you can just about smell the world he has written about. The Kid is exciting, fun, funny. But also moving, threatening, revealing and thoroughly engrossing. See it, now. While it lasts.

Apr 4, 2008

Modest Mouse @ Big Top, Luna Park

By my reckoning it would seem most people who attend Modest Mouse concerts these days only own their latest two albums. This was fairly evident at their show at Luna Park's Big Top last night. The loudest cheers were definitely for their most recent tunes. But I am OK with this. Bands change, their demographics change, times change. And isn't it better that a band as great as Modest Mouse is gaining more fans and playing to larger audiences? The good news, despite my reservations about the night, is that Modest Mouse are still a powerful, awe inspiring live act. Thanks to one man. The man. Our man. Isaac Brock. He is a singular figure. Combustible and tempestuous. Intense and swaggering. Touched by greatness. A chronicler of our times. If you doubt me, then just delve into the back catalogue. Then you will testify. Testify.

Modest Mouse are important to me. Important to me because they matter. They matter because their songs convey the grit and determination of life. The pulse and the heart. And seriously, their songs are just so damn catchy. Last year they played at the Enmore Theatre, on their first ever trip to Australia. I did enjoy that night, but for some reason it never soared. I think it was because they played a lot of material that was yet to be released. Songs that would appear on their 2007 release "We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank". Honestly, those new songs weren't grabbing me at the time. Plus, I was secretly hoping for a slew of older material. Which never arrived. So, this time around, I was more realistic. I would be happy with whatever was presented before me. I was determined to have a good time. Which I did. To my surprise, the songs off their latest release sounded better this time around. I really liked "Education" and "Fly Trapped In A Jar" and I even enjoyed "Dashboard", which I have never grown to love. But there was so much more to this show last night. "Bury Me With It" opened and I was immediately on an euphoric high. Then five songs in they played "Doin' The Cockroach". I nearly went into shock. I had heard that this classic song was an addition to recent shows, but I still didn't expect to hear a track from my favourite Modest Mouse album "The Lonesome Crowded West". The powerful middle section of this song is just intoxicating. But then, there was more. I loved "Satin In A Coffin", one of a couple of songs where Isaac sported the banjo. "Float On" was obviously a massive crowd pleaser. My enjoyment though was ruined by a pack of large idiots who decided it was time to crash the crowd and stand right on top of me. Going into the night I was actually a little worried about the venue and the crowd. Surprisingly, I quite liked the venue. The sight lines were good and the sound and lighting very good. On the whole the audience was quite good too. Respectful of each other's space and generally enjoying the show. But in a large crowd, there are always a few who spoil things for the many, having zero idea of personal space. But then a blistering, incendiary performance of "Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes" made me refocus on the music. Probably the highlight of the night. Well, until the encore, which I think I might have scripted. "Black Cadillacs" was a nice starter, but I was nearly apoplectic when the band played "Broke". My favorite Modest Mouse song, ever. Totally unexpected. Totally perfect. Then "Spitting Venom" closed. All ten minutes or so of fury and power. Bliss.

A night that began with reservations became a night of unreserved joy. A night of smiling and dancing. A night of power and passion. The band were tight and totally in form. I am still not sure why they need two drummers and I know Johnny Marr is reaching legendary status, but I still believe that Isaac Brock could handle all the guitar by himself. And maybe, just maybe, a return to a stripped back three piece would give the songs a little more breathing space. But it was a night to remember. Thanks to Isaac Brock. The man is intense. Barely saying a word, he is all business. Nowadays fully bearded, he seemed less angry then at last year's show. Although he still sometimes had a manic stare, he seemed dynamic and edgy, rather then just plain angry. An hour and a half of fun. Of believing again. Of knowing the live experience sometimes just can not be beaten. Ever.

Set List
Bury Me With It
Paper Thin Walls
King Rat
Doin' The Cockroach
Here It Comes
Fire It Up
We've Got Everything
Satin In A Coffin
Float On
Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes
Fly Trapped In A Jar
The View

Black Cadillacs
Spitting Venom

I have some photos at my Flickr.

Apr 2, 2008

The Black Keys Tour Australia

The Black Keys are returning to Australia in June. After seeing them in concert last year, I can testify that this American two piece are a blistering live act. I have been listening to their new album "Attack & Release" this week and I can vouch that is very good. In fact, as good as any of their previous work. The Akron duo will be playing their Sydney show at the Manning Bar (does everyone play there these days?). Also, they are playing two shows at that venue, in the one day. A 3.30 and a 9.00 show. This is a new one to me. I don't recall this ever happening before. I am not sure if the first one is All Ages or Dan and Patrick are just being super generous.

Tour Dates
June 17-The Tivoli, Brisbane
June 19-Palace Theatre, Melbourne
June 21-Manning Bar, Sydney (Two Shows)
June 22-Metropolis, Fremantle

All ticket information is available at Love Police.

Apr 1, 2008

Kissing The Beehive?

According to Pitchfork, the new Wolf Parade album is to be named "Kissing The Beehive". Apparently Sub Pop will release the album on June 17. The album title, assuming it's not an April Fool's joke, is taken from the novel pictured above, which was published in 1997. Hopefully a press release from Sub Pop is not too far away with all the full details. Then we can start anticipating THE release of 2008. Let the countdown begin.