Nov 30, 2008

Lullaby for the Apocalypse-Charge Group

This is a really beautiful song. That is all.
I need to go to bed now, housewarmings can do that to you...

Nov 27, 2008

Missiles-The Dears

It begins with one note. Held, for a while. Before evolving into something majestic and serene. For this is the new Dears album. Majestic and serene, is perhaps the best way to describe it. This is also a new beginning for The Dears. A new label (Dangerbird Records) and a new band. Save for singer/writer Murray Lightburn and his wife Natalia Yanchak, all the band members are new. But intrinsically this still sounds like a Dears record, although a more contemplative and understated one. Then, perhaps, it might also be the best work this Montreal band have ever done.

"Disclaimer", the starter, is a dreamy number that collides synths and horns before jazzily moving its way along. "Dream Job" then allows Lightburn to bring that low burning voice of his. It's a glorious thing, you know. He croons lazily and menacingly to a background of careful keyboards, thudding bass and distinct drumming. "Money Babies" is a definite highlight. It rocks back and forth, crackling and snapping as the layers build and envelope the sound. Static sits next to snarly rhythms on this thumping song. Moments, you know, moments. Moments make the greatest songs and Dears songs always contain them. Parcels of passion perfect for shouting along to at gigs or rocking your head back and forth on the iPod. "Money Babies" has one at 3.00, when Lightburn goes falsetto. The biggest one on the album though sits on the glorious "Demons". This song is pretty special anyway, its pulsating rhythm driving the song with purpose. But at 2.57 it soars into the stratosphere, shattering ceilings along the way. Another cornerstone of this album is the mini-epic "Lights Off", which combines earthy vocals and guitar pyrotechnics with great surety. "Crisis 1 & 2" is another standout with Yanchak lending her ethereal vocals to this sultry song. I think the only false step on this album is probably the title track. But apart from that, "Missiles" is an intelligent, sophisticated piece of music. Forceful, yet understated. It is lush and expansive. Intriguing and very rewarding.

Nov 26, 2008

A Change Is Gonna Come-Bonnie "Prince" Billy

Anyone who happens to drop by this blog on a regular basis would know of the extreme respect that I hold for Will Oldham. Put simply, the man is a flat out genius. Well, last Saturday in Lexington at the Old Tarr Distillery he performed this Sam Cooke classic. He sang this song in honour of the election of Barack Obama. Win, win really.

In related news, Bonnie "Prince" Billy will be releasing a new album in March, 2009. "Beware" is the name and it contains 13 tracks. Happy days!

Nov 24, 2008

Queen Bitch-David Bowie

I have been going through a bit of a David Bowie fix lately. Naturally I have known his songs down through the years. But I have never really delved fully into his catalogue. Until now. Here is a performance of my favourite Bowie song, "Queen Bitch". This was performed on the BBC show The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1972. Classic!

Nov 23, 2008

Hospital Ships & Dreamend

A little while back I wrote about Hospital Ships, the work of Jordan Geiger, the man behind the beautiful music of Minus Story. His debut album "Oh, Ramona" was released in October and after a good dose of considerable listening I have reached this conclusion. The album is very good. Put it this way. If you like Minus Story you will surely like Hospital Ships. It's full of the same flavour of quietly beautiful, heartfelt, skewered pop. Geiger's voice is a real charmer. It's light and airy, mysterious and kinda hypnotic. The musical style is well displayed on the short and sweet opener "Bitter Radio Single". In fact, many of the songs are on the short side. Sweet little shots of off kilter pop. Although pop with a considerable amount of heart and soul and truth. Other highlights on this wondrous album are the gorgeous piano led "I Do Not Understand", the melodic "The Shots I Drank" and the fragile "Girls". This certain to be under rated album is now available from the Chicago based label Graveface Records.

Also out on Graveface is the new album from Dreamend, which is the main musical output of the owner of the record label. This album, "The Long Forgotten Friend", also mines a somewhat similar musical field, although it inhabits a dreamier world of ethereal vocals and chiming guitars. The epic second song "If Only For A Day" features some of that glistening, shimmering guitar work we normally associate with Broken Social Scene. "Are You Waking" is a gorgeous psychedelic journey, whilst "Your Kiss" is an eerie journey well worth taking. Dreamend have created an album of great quality, well worth investigating. You won't be disappointed.

MP3: Are You Waking-Dreamend
MP3: Bitter Radio Single-Hospital Ships

Nov 21, 2008

Caskets-Damien Jurado

An excellent and under rated album of this year is "Caught in the Trees" by Damien Jurado. Released in September on Secretly Canadian, it is a personal and human statement, full of truth and beauty. Here is a new video from the album. "Caskets".

MP3: Gillian Was A Horse-Damien Jurado

Nov 19, 2008


"Hunger" is a cinematic experience of the highest order. A must see film, a startling and stark presentation of the heart of man. The true story of the Maze Prison hunger strikes of the early 1980s is superb in every way. First class acting, exquisite photography and artful and caring direction are on full display. This film pulls no punches, but it is told with such heart and truth that it leaves an impression that lasts long in the memory.

Steve McQueen's directorial debut is a startling beginning. His approach is minimalist, yet expansive. He keeps the action to a minimum, with the majority of the film taking place inside the Maze Prison, with many scenes containing next to no dialogue. But the film is shot with such width and beauty, that you feel you are watching a very big film. It is certainly a film of enormous substance. It begins in 1981. "The Troubles" have been occurring in Northern Ireland for over 12 years, costing over 2,000 people their precious lives. We begin with prison guard Ray Lohan (Stuart Graham), who quietly prepares for work. His unpopular occupation leads him to check his car each day for any explosives. At his place of work, Maze Prison, IRA activist Davey Gillen (Brian Milligan) begins his six year prison sentence. At the time, all IRA prisoners were refusing to wear prison clothing and also bathe. They wanted to be recognised as political prisoners, which the British government refused to do. After many scenes of showing the prisoners undergoing degredation and punishment we move, ultimately, to the story of one man. Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender), heroic yet totally vulnerable.

Sands decides that a hunger strike is the most certain way for the IRA prisoners to be heard. We see a remarkable twenty minute scene with Father Moran (Liam Cunningham) where the two debate the merits of a hunger strike. This much lauded scene, shot in one take, crystalises the politics of the film. It provides arguments on both sides, giving a balanced and non polemic objectivity to the film. The scenes that follow, as the hunger strike goes on, are disturbing, saddening and very emotional. Ultimately this film's biggest success is in not just portraying the dire consequences of the time but providing a visceral human side to the turbulent politics of the era. Fassbender is quite remarkable as the stoic Sands. Not only in his enormous weight loss for the role, but in his inner strength and solidity he brings to the role. As stated, despite the harsh material, this is an almost poetic looking film. There are many shots of quietly understated beauty, filmed with assured skill. This astounding piece of cinema is required viewing.

Nov 18, 2008

The Antlers

Good music, peoples. Good music. I recently came to the music of The Antlers and it is very good. Very good. The Antlers are from Brooklyn and was originally the project of Peter Silberman, before expanding to a band of four. Their music could be described as ambient, eclectic, orchestral, lush and all together gorgeous. They have been around for a while, so I am late to the party. But in brief, they have self released 3 small EPS and an LP. In 2007 Fall Records released their latest LP "In the Attic of the Universe", which scored many favourable reviews. Their ethereal, yet melodic approach drew comparisons to Eluvium, My Bloody Valentine, Arcade Fire and Grizzly Bear. Now the band are getting close to releasing their new album. "Hospice" hopefully will see the light of day sometime in early 2009. The band have made available a song. "Two", which is just gorgeous. Fragile and hypnotic, it builds and builds before exploding into delight. Please enjoy and stay tuned.

MP3: Two-The Antlers

Nov 17, 2008

The Hold Steady Announce Laneway Sideshows

Now I got happy. With great certitude. Previously announced to play at the Laneway Festival, The Hold Steady have now announced sideshows for those truly dedicated fans. The band from Brooklyn with the anthems pouring from their hearts played the very first Laneway Festival. Well, the first Sydney one anyway. But, I missed them. Then I was supposed to see them play in Toronto last year. But an airport delay meant I missed them again. Not this time. This writer is about to Stay Positive.

The Hold Steady Sideshows
February 2, Melbourne-Corner Hotel
February 4, Sydney-Metro Theatre

Nov 15, 2008

Fleet Foxes on La Blogotheque

Fleet Foxes on La Blogotheque. Sublime!

Nov 13, 2008

Blackout Beach

Firstly. The name. Seriously great, of course. The man. Carey Mercer. The sunstroke genius of Frog Eyes and Swan Lake. But first, a story. My first introduction to Wolf Parade (GBOAT) was through the eyes of Carey Mercer. It was 2005 and I had just picked up the music issue of The Believer. Inside there was a great CD. Great artists covering other great artists. The last song was "Claxxon's Lament" by said Wolf like band. It was painful and beautiful, mangled and so human. I was listening to Spencer Krug for the first time. Soon I was tracking down this Montreal (by way of Vancouver) band. I found an EP, then another, then soon an album. The rest, as they say, is history. But I also tracked down Carey Mercer, who wrote "Claxxon's Lament". I was soon engulfed in the wondrous world of Frog Eyes. But, "Claxxon's Lament" was actually a Blackout Beach song.

So, to Blackout Beach. Essentially the solo work of Mercer, it is dark and complex. He released an album in 2004 named "Light Flows The Putrid Dawn", layered and intricate. Now he is about to release "Skin Of Evil". It will be available soon on Soft Abuse Records. The album contains ten tracks and was composed and recorded totally by Mercer. It won't be popping up any day soon at Sanity, but it is definitely a must for truly adventurous listener. To quote the great Dan Bejar, "I believe Skin of Evil is the best record I will hear this year, but let’s not get into that."

Skin Of Evil Track Listing
1. Cloud Of Evil
2. Biloxi, In a Grove, Cleans Out His Eyes
3. Three Men Drown in the River
4. William, the Crowd, It's William
5. The Roman
6. Woe to the Minds of Soft Men
7. The Whistle
8. Nineteen, One God, One Dull Star
9. Sophia, Donna, I Was Down the River Waiting
10. Astoria, Menthol Lite, Hilltop, Wave of Evil, 1982

MP3: Cloud Of Evil-Blackout Beach
MP3: The Stuttered XXX Breeze XXX-Blackout Beach
MP3: Claxxon's Lament-Blackout Beach

Nov 12, 2008

Handsome Furs To Release New Album In February

Music fans, mark this date on your calendar. February 3, 2009. This is the date that Handsome Furs will be releasing their second album on Sub Pop. Following on from 2007's outstanding debut "Plague Park" will be "Face Control". The album contains 12 tracks and was recorded and mixed by Arlen Thompson at Mount Zoomer. Exciting times!

If you go here, you can view videos of two of the new songs recorded in August.

Face Control Track Listing
1. Legal Tender
2. Evangeline
3. Talking Hotel Arbat Blues
4. (Passport Kontrol)
5. All We Want, Baby, Is Everything
6. I'm Confused
7. (White City)
8. Nyet Spasiba
9. Officer Of Hearts
10. (It's Not Me, It's You)
11. Thy Will Be Done
12. Radio Kalininbrad

Nov 10, 2008

Dear Science-TV On The Radio

If "Return To Cookie Mountain" was a near perfect statement of a band tearing modern music apart, then the much anticipated follow up is the sound of a band putting it back together. With nearly the same results. "Dear Science" is staunchly intelligent, firmly exciting, surely pulsating, if maybe not quite the avalanche of great songs that was RTCM. But it's close. It certainly is overwhelmingly great in the second half, its definite strong point. And it is also certain that TV On The Radio are one of the great bands on this planet. Pushing envelopes and shifting boundaries. With great clarity.

My first taste of "Dear Science" was "Golden Age". Frankly, I was underwhelmed. It was funky and catchy, but a little nondescript. Still is. My second taste was "Dancing Choose". Similarly I wasn't feeling it. It was fun and all, but where was the burning anger, the defining moments of soul and burning passion. Well, they are there, but you need to dig deeper. Or even start at the beginning. "Halfway Home" contains that trademark TVOTR blend of soul and funk for the modern age. Anger elegantly cloaked in blues and gospel. "The lazy way they turned your head into a rest stop for the dead. And did it all in gold and blue and grey". And political, yes? It also features the always superb vocals of Tunde Adebimpe. His voice ethereal and light, fractured and human. Reaching high and hitting the stars. The other song in the first half that strikes a chord is "Stork & Owl", a majestic song. Dark and delicious. But it's the second half where things get into full stride. "Love Dog" is deliberate and stark. It smoulders before burning. Whilst "Shout Me Out" is fun and funky, but still substantial. Then "DLZ" is short and sharp, a hammer to the head. Both these songs also feature amazing drumming. But the best is saved to last. "Lover's Day" is a siren. A call to arms. But a call to love, not a storm of anger. It's a vital statement of undying and powerful love. Erotic and exultant. It features peaks of musical beauty. Elastic drumming, sweeping horns and piercing horns. Triumphant, perfect. One of many perfect moments on an album that is not perfect. But brave, intelligent and bleeding with the spirit of life. Passion. Commitment. Love.

Nov 9, 2008

Lost Coastlines-Okkervil River

I meant to write more here. I have been very busy, or maybe lazy, lately. Anyway, here is a very clever video to enjoy. The great Okkervil River from their latest album. "Lost Coastlines". Please enjoy.

Nov 6, 2008

Hunger Trailer

I must see this movie. It opened today in Australia and the acclaim for this film is quite extraordinary. Hunger is the true story of IRA Hunger Striker Bobby Sands.

Nov 5, 2008

Yes We Can

"This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can."

Nov 4, 2008

Stephen Malkmus & Blitzen Trapper: Live! Together!

Currently on tour together, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks and Blitzen Trapper joined each other on stage in St Louis on November 1. They decided to cover The James Gang's "Funk 49" and the results are pretty wild and extreme fun. Good times indeed!

Nov 2, 2008

Dead Letter Chorus @ Annandale Hotel

I think Saturday night was perhaps the fifth time I have seen Dead Letter Chorus in the last year or so. Each time has been a fun and exciting experience and the best thing is, I do believe each show has been even better then the previous. This Sydney band has always had the enthusiasm and joy thing down pat, but there is no doubt that their songwriting has grown in strength and stature. Their new songs are more complex and profound, showing a talent to be reckoned with. The Annandale Hotel was the setting for the launch of their recently released debut album "The August Magnificent" and it was a great success.

Not only are the songs on the debut album more complex and structured, but they display more potentcy and power. Not that Dead Letter Chorus are turning into Metallica, but their sound is more encompassing of all genres. A touch of rock, a splash of folk, a dash of country. Sweet ballads sit comfortably next to hard rockers. The opening song of the night, also the album opener, was "The Peaceful Sleep Of Death" and this was hugely impressive. A song that built and built before exploding spectacularly, a great way to start the night. Other highlights were the always popular "Magnolia Farm", which is just so catchy, the gorgeous country like "Chasing Hearts" and the atmospheric "Fight The Morning". Which is one of a growing number of songs that features the beautiful vocals of Gabrielle Huber. She also sang the petite "Sally In Red", an older number still great to hear live. The other members of the band were just great too, playing with enormous amounts of passion and joy, plus a high level of skill and elan. Especially lead man Cameron Potts, whose voice seems to improve with time and experience. His voice is quite a weapon, never better exemplified then on the thunder born "11th Dream About Aeroplanes". I just love this song. My other favourite song of the night was the closer "Silly Little Man/Kill The King". This song just blew me away completely. The new album is worth it just for this song alone.

After a brief break, the band returned for their encore. Gabby took the lead again on the Springsteen classic "Dancing In The Dark". They really do this great song enormous justice. Then they finished the night off with, appropriately, the album closer "Fathers and Daughters". A powerhouse song, augmented by a mass singalong with the other support bands on the night. A great way to end a fun night. I recommend you go and buy "The August Magnificent", then go see this band live. You won't be disappointed.