Sep 29, 2009

Hopetoun Hotel To Shut Indefinitely

Sydney's iconic live music venue, the Hopetoun Hotel has closed its doors. Owner Evangelos Patakas stated "due to circumstances beyond the control of the Hopetoun Hotel we need to carry out significant works associated with Local Council requirements which necessitate the closing of our venue until further notice". "We regret to advise that we must therefore cancel all future shows booked to play at the Hopetoun as from today."

It would seem that noise and security problems, especially the need to hire security guards, have led to the venue's closure. Hopefully these issues can be sorted out and the venue can survive, but who knows at the moment. It is truly a landmark and popular venue in Sydney and has certainly provided me with many wonderful musical memories. Whether it was international acts like Okkervil River and Jason Molina, or locals like Charge Group and Dead Letter Chorus, there were many good times at the venue. Let's hope there can be a reopening.

The Vivian Girls show that was to be played on Sunday, October 4 has been moved to Hellen Rose-Schauersberger LabOratorium, Level 1, 17 Waterloo St, Surry Hills. Tickets already purchased for the Hopetoun show will remain valid. Tickets at the door will be $20, with doors opening at 7pm and Vivian Girls playing at 9pm.

Sep 28, 2009

I And Love And You-The Avett Brothers

The new album from the wonderful The Avett Brothers is out tomorrow. Here is the first video of the title track "I And Love And You".

Sep 24, 2009

Want To Buy Some Real Estate?

November 17 will see the release of the debut self titled album from Real Estate. Based in New Jersey, the band trade in hazy, shimmering pop music. They're led by former Titus Andronicus member Martin Courtney and guitarist Matt Mondanile, who also records as Ducktails. The album is being released on Woodsist and contains 10 tracks.

Real Estate Track Listing
1 Beach Comber
2 Pool Swimmers
3 Suburban Dogs
4 Black Lake
5 Atlantic City
6 Fake Blues
7 Green River
8 Suburban Beverage
9 Lets Rock the Beach
10 Snow Days

MP3: Beach Comber-Real Estate

Sep 23, 2009

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks @ Metro Theatre

Rule Number One at a Malkmus concert: Don't requests Pavement songs. Rule Number Two at a Malkmus concert: Don't stand next to idiots yelling out said requests. This happened Tuesday night at the Metro for Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks. Thankfully the band ignored the two fools in the audience and gave the attentive (although reasonably quiet) crowd a solid and totally enjoyable set of Malkmus creations.

If the band that started with P was pure gold, then Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks are solid silver. Their songs range from total guitar jams to small melodic moments and I had forgot that most of them are pretty damn good. Well after all he is Stephen Malkmus! The man has hardly aged at all and is still that shambolic concotion of disdain, sarcasm, good humour and huge streaks of genius. At times he seemed indifferent to what he was playing, but that his definitely his way. He surely cares about the music, but it is his want to seem slightly bemused by the goings on, often playing with a wry smile on his face. They played a good range of material from all four albums, opening with an oldie in "Jenny & The Ess-Dog" which was a good way to start. The melodic "Gardenia" was also a good entree to the evening. We also heard some new material (not sure about song titles, but have tried my best) and they seemed to go down a treat. I especially enjoyed the 'Senator' song. "Water And A Seat" was also a highlight with its crazy time signatures. It must be a difficult song to play live, but the band did OK despite a few small stumbles. Their last album "Real Emotional Trash" was clearly the record that was leant on the most. I loved "Cold Son" and "Baltimore" was definitely the highlight of the night, with its awesome guitar shredding giving us a reminder of how great a guitar player Malkmus is. He really attacks his instrument fiercely and his signature jangly sounds are still alive and kicking. His voice is still superior too. He has lost nothing in range or scope. He even chatted a bit towards the end of the set. He has a very dry sense of humour and I would have been keen to to hear him open up a bit more. The Jicks did their part too, ably giving robust support all through the night. After an hour of guitar heroics the band departed before returning for an half hour encore that was long and jammy (perhaps too long) and consisted of three more RET numbers. As I left the venue in the early hours of Wednesday morning I was surely pleased by the night's events. The man who shaped my 90s still has it in spades and it was a pleasure to enjoy his company once again. Now about that reunion...

Set List
Jenny & The Ess-Dog
Baby C'mon
Vanessa From Queens
Fading Fading Fast (Senator)
Pub Rock
Water And A Seat
Dark Wave
Cold Son
Bill Fay
Elmo Delmo
Pencil Rot

Hopscotch Willie
Out Of Reaches
Real Emotional Trash

Support act Bridezilla ably demonstrated yet again that they are a growing force to be reckoned with on the Australian scene. Armed with new material from their forthcoming debut album "The First Dance", they stormed through a wonderful 45 minute set, with the new songs going down a treat. All the new songs made an impression, with their sound certainly maturing and adding various new elements to the mix. Make sure you look out for the new album coming soon and if you see them advertised live anywhere, run to see them.

Sep 22, 2009

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson's Summer Of Fear

His debut album was one of the success stories of 2008. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson wrote songs of enormous character and unyielding heart. Now he returns with his second release. "Summer Of Fear" is his debut effort for Saddle Creek and will be released on October 20. Containing 12 tracks it was, like his debut, produced by Kyp Malone. This is one album that I am surely looking forward to.

Summer Of Fear Track Listing
1 Shake a Shot
2 Always an Anchor
3 The Sound
4 Hard Row
5 Trap Door
6 The 100th of March
7 Summer of Fear pt. 1
8 Death by Dust
9 Summer of Fear pt. 2
10 Losing 4 Winners
11 More than a Mess
12 Boat

Sep 20, 2009

Gather, Form & Fly-Megafaun

Inventive and original, "Gather, Form & Fly", the newest album from Megafaun is an absorbing and intriguing piece of music. The trio of Brad Cook, Joe Westerlund and Phil Cook call North Carolina home, but they truly exist in the world of musical possibilities and the land of free spirits. For on this album, their second, their music soars and floats, dazzling the listener with a cornucopia of sounds and a dedication to making the heart move.

The album begins with "Bella Marie", a short instrumental that features some lilting guitar. But it is track two that announces the import of this album. "Kaufman's Ballad" is the moving story of Phil, Gram Parsons' manager, who took his body to Joshua Tree and cremated it in gasoline as Parsons requested. The song is gentle and yet muscular, featuring a weeping violin and lush folk harmonies. Harmonies abound on this release, ably illustrated on the loping and melodic "The Fade", a song that feels like it could have been played out at Woodstock. Another great feature of the music is the variety. This is no one note album. "Impressions of the Past" begins as a jaunty, reclining ditty, that includes some inviting horns before breaking down into something that feels akin to the experimentation of Broken Social Scene. Yes, for this album is truly inventive. For every strummed guitar there is a discordant note, an oddly plucked chord, a thrusting piece of percussion. All to keep the ear inquisitive and aware, making you look forward to the next surprise around the corner. To mention a few other highlights, there is the genial "Worried Mind" or the thrusting and bold "The Process". Or how about the bluesy and rambling "Solid Ground". Not to mention the dusky sounds of "Darkest Hour", which is a literal rainstorm in your mind. Then there is the triumphant and stunning "The Longest Day", a translucent ballad that combines banjo (sigh) and truly sublime vocals. Just superb. Which this album is, in every way. The effortless and organic process of welding authentic country sounds to modern times has rarely been bettered.

MP3: The Fade-Megafaun

Sep 17, 2009

Pavement Reunion?

Greatest band of all time?
The Beatles-obvious choice
The Rolling Stones-ditto
Do I hear Radiohead or Animal Collective for recent times?
Obviously all things Wolf/Sunset related are massive for me at the moment.

But, but...
It's Pavement! (for me).
They wrote songs like nobody's business, angular melodies, cryptic lyrics and a cool that no marketing campaign can buy.

In their prime they visited Australia 3 times and I saw them all on each trip, the last time being in 1996. Oh happy memories. Now comes news from Pitchfork, that the band are reforming in 2010. At this stage they are playing Central Park SummerStage in September. Who knows after that? Coachella? ATP? Generally speaking I am against reunions. They always seem forced and motivated by money. Bands playing the same songs long after the thrill has gone. Pavement seemed to exist in a perfect bubble, quitting before they ever went into decline. Right now I am not sure if I like this reunion idea. Maybe they should maintain the mystique and not return. But it is PAVEMENT!!!!! So it could work...

Sep 16, 2009

Sufjan Stevens Gets On The BQE

October 20 sees the release of "The BQE" from Sufjan Stevens. Asthmatic Kitty are delivering the goods in the US, whilst Spunk Records will have the honours in Australia. "The BQE" was commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music and orginally performed in October 2007. Inspired by the infamous Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, this project comes in a double-disc format (CD/DVD) which includes the original 16mm film, the original soundtrack and a 40 page booklet. Sure to be an aural and visual delight.

The BQE Track Listing
1. Prelude on the Esplanade (2:56)
2. Introductory Fanfare for the Hooper Heroes (1:07)
3. Movement I—In the Countenance of Kings (5:19)
4. Movement II—Sleeping Invader (4:34)
5. Interlude I—Dream Sequence in Subi Circumnavigation (3:33)
6. Movement III—Linear Tableau with Intersecting Surprise (4:09)
7. Movement IV—Traffic Shock (3:24)
8. Movement V—Self-Organizing Emergent Patterns (3:45)
9. Interlude II—Subi Power Waltz (0:28)
10. Interlude III—Invisible Accidents (0:54)
11. Movement VI—Isorhythmic Night Dance with Interchanges (3:17)
12. Movement VII (Finale)—The Emperor of Centrifuge (3:51)
13. Postlude—Critical Mass (2:59)

MP3: Movement VI-Isorhythmic Night Dance with Interchanges

Sep 15, 2009

New Music From Langhorne Slim

September 29 sees the release of a new album from Langhorne Slim. Hooray! Kemado Records will be delivering the goods and if you like joyful, honest and authentic music then this could be for you. "Be Set Free" was produced by Chris Funk and should be full of melody, charm and a certain kind of spirituality. Can't wait for this one!

Be Set Free Track Listing
1 Back to the Wild
2 Say Yes
3 I Love You, But Goodbye
4 Land Of Dreams
5 Cinderella
6 Be Set Free
7 For A Little While
8 Sunday By The Sea
9 Leaving My Love
10 Yer Wrong
11 Blow Your Mind
12 So Glad That I'm Coming Home
13 Boots Boy

MP3: I Love You, But Goodbye-Langhorne Slim

Sep 13, 2009

Apple's Acre-Nurses

"Apple's Acre" is a delicious and delightful expression of melody. Inviting and entrancing, this is music to set you free and let you explore the vast template of sound. The cover will give you some idea. Its patchwork quilt indicates a rainbow of sound and the music backs up this idea. Nurses are two men, Aaron Chapman and John Bowers. Originally from Idaho, where some of the album was recorded, they are now based in Portland, Oregon, where it was completed. This is their second album and their first on Dead Oceans. It won't be the last!

"Apple's Acre" overflows with melody, featuring off kilter and high pitched vocals, there is something hypnotic about the music. Opening song "Technicolor" ably displays this. Sweet piano combines with some low bass and syncopated drumming to deliver some gorgeous pop goodness. "Mile After Mile" continues the theme with some delightful percussion, but it is the third track that truly elevates. "Caterpillar Playground" is a shining moment in music, a drop dead melodic gem. The opening percussion resembles whistling, that will bury itself deep in your head. The song also displays a certain sense of melancholy, always a good thing in my book. But there is more on offer. "Man At Arms" is all flowing rhythms with a chorus designed to kill. There is a definite sense of playfulness on this album, with many of the songs rolling with effortless grace. The title track is a fine example of this. Many of the songs jump and roll all over the place, giving extra satisfaction on every listen. This is music that is extremely catchy, but also gives the feeling of staying power. Second last track "Lita" being a prime example, an incessant drum beat and some lovely piano, plus a heavenly chorus are simply irresistible. Please find "Apple's Acre". It will give you countless hours of pleasure.

MP3: Caterpillar Playground-Nurses

Sep 11, 2009

Black Swan-Sunset Rubdown

I believe this is the first ever Sunset Rubdown video. I like it, but perhaps it could have been a little better. Amazing song though!

Sep 9, 2009

Sam Harris

Watched a recent episode of Bill Maher tonight and his opening guest was author Sam Harris. I implore you to listen to the wise words of Mr Harris. He speaks a lot of sense. He also informed me of The Reason Project. This site is definitely a must!

Sep 8, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds is a triumphant and exciting ride on the cinema express. In this superb film Quentin Tarantino once again displays his propensity for producing cinema that is entertaining, hilarious and downright thrilling. Heavy on dialogue and replete with eye shattering violence, this film is perfectly executed with some finely tuned performances.

Inglourious Basterds is set in World War II and is told in 5 captivating chapters. We follow the group of 'Basterds' led by Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt). All Jewish, they are dropped into Nazi-occupied France in 1941 with the mission to kill as many Nazis as possible. Competing against them is SS Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) who is busy hunting as many Jews as possible. The film switches to 1944 where we find a grand climax as Raine hatches a plan to kill the German High Command (including Hitler) at a film premiere. At the same time the young Jewish owner of the cinema, Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent) is plotting her own act of destruction. I dare not give anymore of the plot away, as it would certainly ruin the innate timing and tension of this remarakble piece. Suffice to say that this is a stunning demonstration of the strength of cinema. Long scenes of finely written dialogue will hold you in rapture, creating great periods of tension and drama. There is also that vital Tarantino humour that is well loved, as well as his customary splatter violence that could make you avert your eyes at certain times. Pitt is outstanding as the slightly deranged and completely charismatic Raine, but Waltz steals the limelight as the thorough and slightly repulsive Landa. There is also a great cameo by Mile Myers as an English general. Music is also a great strength, as expected, expertly added where it aids the action on screen. This film is an homage to the greats of yesteryear and will certainly create film makers in the future who will make their own tributes to the great Tarantino.

Sep 7, 2009

Rat VS Possum

We saw Rat VS Possum in Melbourne, as support to Handsome Furs. We didn't see their whole set, but what we witnessed was pretty damn special. They played this song, "Binti Jua", which was full of amazing energy. The band are playing Sydney in a couple of weeks. Please check them out as they are very exciting. Their debut album is coming out in November.

Sep 6, 2009

Bridezilla Reveal New Album Cover

Exciting (and young) Sydney band Bridezilla will be releasing their debut album on November 7 on Inertia. A while in the making, "The First Dance" was recorded in rural NSW earlier this year under the production eye of US producer Kramer. Containing 14 tracks it is certainly one of my most anticipated Australian albums of recent times. The band is currently playing a few shows in the USA, whilst they are there as part of ATP New York.

The First Dance Track Listing
1 Lunar Eclipse
2 Beaches
3 Queen Of Hearts
4 Speaking To Soft Toys
5 Tailback
6 Shipping Man
7 Heart You Hold
8 Soft Porn
9 Magnetic Arrest
10 Lottery Tickets
11 Western Front
12 Forth And Fine
13 White Feather
14 The Last Dance

Sep 4, 2009

Holidays, Melbourne, Adelaide, etc.

It's great to go away. It's great to be home. We have just returned from a wonderful 10 day trip away in South Australia and Victoria. We enjoyed many great experiences and enjoyed the company of many wonderful people. Here are a few of the things that were great.

Adelaide restaurants with good people.
McLaren Vale wine shopping.
Adelaide Hills (despite the rain).
Coonawarra Wine District. (despite torrential rain).
Great Ocean Road.
Salvador Dali at the NGV.
Handsome Furs at the Corner Hotel (see previous post).
Brunswick Street.
Great food at Ezard.
Seeing the mighty Bombers win at the MCG.
Bendigo with old friends.

Now, back into it...

Sep 2, 2009

Handsome Furs @ Corner Hotel

Yes, it was good. Amazing. Wonderful. Pure joy, plus, plus. The combination of the magic of Melbourne, my first gig at the Corner Hotel and the energy of Dan and Alexei meant last Thursday night will stay locked in my memory for a long, long time. Oh, and I met Dan Boeckner after the gig too. Just to complete the night of joy.

Well, firstly, the night was heavily 'Face Control'. Which is nothing to complain about as those songs are great and perfectly suited to the live arena. But I do love "Plague Park" and was hoping for more from that superb album. But there will be no complaining here, as the night was a huge success. In many ways. The crowd was great and Dan and Alexei certainly fed off that, often thanking the crowd for the great response they were continually getting. I think they were genuinely surprised by the reception they were receiving on their first ever show in Australia. By why wouldn't the response be so great. Handsome Furs are simply a dynamic live show from start to finish. Dan Boeckner is hot wired to his guitar, playing with an amazing level of passion and energy, whilst Alexei Perry is perpetual motion. She was thoroughly devoted to every song, shaking and moving to the rhythms she was creating and playing her instruments mostly standing on one leg. The two players have an amazing bond on stage, you can truly feel their love as as feed off of each other to fuel each and every song. Each song was great, but I especially loved "All We Want, Baby, Is Everything" and "Nyet Spasiba", both astounding. But the closing two songs raised the roof. "Handsome Furs Hate This City" was a symphony in organic joy, whilst "Radio Kaliningrad" thundered its way into everyone's hearts. Two new songs were also impressive. "White City" from "Face Control" was morphed into an extended version that bodes well if it makes its way onto a future album, whilst the encore song in the shape of "Agony" was a stunning display of the duo's talents. Talented they are and also extremely charismatic, conversing regularly, displaying sparkling wit and genuine warmth. Yes, this debut voyage down under has been a tremendous success. Sean thought the same of the Sydney show.

Set List
Legal Tender
Talking Hotel Arbat Blues
All We Want, Baby, Is Everything
I'm Confused
White City (extended)
Nyet Spasiba
Handsome Furs Hate This City
Radio Kaliningrad


As an added bonus, I met Dan after the show. Hanging around at the merch table, I was excited and shocked to see Dan arrive to talk to fans. What a gracious, warm and generous human being he is. He looked me directly in the eye and was genuinely thrilled to discover how much I enjoyed the show. He informed me of the new songs and then let me know that HF are going to return to Australia in early 2010. After I gasped at this news, he then let me know that there was also a good chance that WP would also be touring at some point in 2010. Yes, I literally floated out of the venue. A perfect night...