May 29, 2010

Richmond Fontaine @ Notes Newtown

Checked shirt, jeans, an acoustic. He sung American. Sung the stories of highways, the down and out, the bad luck, the grit and sinew. Willy Vlautin is a story teller. His songs speak volumes for the American experience and Friday night he brought a slice of his world to the inner west of Sydney. Willy Vlautin was in Sydney as part of the Sydney Writers' Festival. In fact I was lucky enough to meet him last Saturday and what a pleasure it was. A genuinely nice man, humble and gracious. An author of three novels he is probably better known as the lead singer in the veteran Portland band Richmond Fontaine. At Notes we got half of that venerable band. Willy on the vocals and acoustic and Dan Eccles on lead guitar. Eccles is a purely wonderful player, ringing all sorts of magnificent sounds from his axe. But it was Willy who took the most attention.

Vlautin has a voice of enormous character, full of life experience and containing a smoky flavour. The flavour of motels and casinos in Reno. Of warehouses and freeways. Racetracks and laundromats. Fortunately for long term fans he delivered us a great spread of his band's material and I was happy that he played every song that I was very keen to hear. This included the storming "43" and the world weary "Welhorn Yards". Then we had the greatness that is "The Boyfriends" (Dan managed to substitute quite ably his guitar for the horn section) and the emotion packed "Lost In This World". But the pinnacle was definitely the intense and hard driving "I Fell Into Painting Houses In Phoenix, Arizona". This also featured Eccles bringing down the house on harmonica. I also loved that Willy included the three 'Postcard' snippets that brought further character to an already great night. A night that little America came to big Sydney. A wonderful and rewarding experience.

Set List
Welhorn Yards
Always On The Ride
Out Of State
The Boyfriends
(Postcard From California)
Casino Lights
(Postcard Written With A Broken Hand)
Barely Losing
The Longer You Wait
The Warehouse Life
$87 and a Guilty Conscience That Gets Worse The Longer I Go
Lost In This World
I Fell Into Painting Houses In Phoenix, Arizona
Moving Back Home #1
The Kid From Belmont Street

Post To Wire
(Postcard Postmarked Phoenix, AZ)
Western Skyline

May 27, 2010

Arcade Fire To Release The Suburbs

The interwebs were set alight today with news (and sounds) of new Arcade Fire. June 1 will see the release of a limited edition Double A Side 12" single in the shape of "The Suburbs/Month Of May". I really like "The Suburbs". It's a little different, even country flavoured, but still contains that famous Arcade Fire sound. Now comes the news that a new album will be released August 2 on Spunk Records. Titled "The Suburbs", this album was produced by the band and Markus Dravs. It was written and arranged in both Montreal and New York. Full album details will be released soon.

MP3: The Suburbs-Arcade Fire
MP3: Month Of May-Arcade Fire

May 26, 2010

Secret Cities

I would like to tell you about Secret Cities. They are from Fargo, North Dakota and July 27 will see the release of their debut album in "Pink Graffiti". Well, a debut of sorts because the band has been around for quite a while now. MJ Parker and Charlie Gokey have been making music for quite a few years. In fact in 2005 they released an album, "Zurich" under the name of The White Foliage. Shortly after they added drummer Alex Abnos to the fold and proceeded to reconstruct their sound and emerge on Western Vinyl in 2010 for their upcoming album. Their music is an alluring blend of pop and invented sounds. Check out the tunes below and I am sure your appetite for this record will be whetted.

Pink Graffiti Track Listing
1 Pink City
2 Boyfriends
3 Slacker
4 Pink Graffiti pt. 2
5 Wander
6 Color
7 Aw Rats
8 Pink Graffiti pt. 1
9 Vamos A La Playa
10 The End

MP3: Pink Graffiti pt. 1
MP3: Boyfriends

May 24, 2010

I’ve Got A Sand Castle Heart, Made Out Of Fine Black Sand...

So, I was sitting here minding my own business, not up to much at all. Then it happened. "Expo 86" 'leaked'. The new Wolf Parade album was available to the masses. We were excited and delighted. To be sure we would buy the album when it is released at the end of June, but it was impossible to not listen NOW. Again and again. So much that I thought I would share my initial thoughts on the music at hand. Now as you may know my love for all things Wolf runs very deep, so I wondered if it was possible to judge without bias. To provide an objective view. Which is very hard because the one thing that makes music such an enticing medium is the connection it provides. The hot wire to the heart. It makes us go fuzzy inside and out. It is not meant for cold and cool calcualtion. It is meant to inspire and ignite us. So I listened to "Expo 86" with ears wide open and did my best to be a critic. And my verdict. It is great. I do love it and I am not afraid to admit it. Wolf Parade has once again stoked my fire.

If you begin your career with an album as seismic as "Apologies To The Queen Mary", then there is a great chance you will forever be living in its shadow. It is inevitable. But I find each subsequent comparison to be redundant. Let's live in the moment and enjoy the music for what's its worth. For the record though, their debut album is my favourite record of all time. Their second album "At Mount Zoomer" I thought was an immense achievement too. In some ways a more complex album, if not a better one. "Expo 86" I think sits proudly somewhere in between. As has been noted this album, except for vocals, was basically recorded live to tape. Giving it an immediacy that is downright explosive. It also gives weight to this band's two greatest strengths. Euphoria and freshness. Wolf Parade's music is totally and utterly euphoric. It thrives on moments that explode from the speaker. Each part of the musical fabric is expored and then torn apart, leading to second after second where the impulse is to jump off your chair and move those hips. Trust me, I do it. The other aspect is freshness. They are not going through the motions, you can feel the band trying their utmost to invent new sounds and experiences. Songs that just keep on giving and giving. This album also feels like a united band experience. Each of the foursome have their hands over each and every tune. But of course there are two distinct lead singers and each of their songs have their stamp fully on it as well. For what its worth the 'Dan' moments might even be better than the 'Spencer' moments and that is saying something, considering my devotion to the Krugian world. "Pobody's Nerfect" is my definite highlight. This song absolutely rocks. HARD. As does most of the album. It creates and deflates momentum with reckless ease before ascending to a euphoric climax. It also features fearless drumming from Arlen Thompson, which is also a great part of this album. Thompson's drumming is often ferocious and definitely essential to the overall sound. I also love the rhythmical cycle of the infectious "Palm Road" and the yearning nature of "Yulia". Those three songs are clear favourites at the moment. Next up is the emotional power house of "In The Direction of the Moon". 'You are the most gracious thing I know, touched by crooking flowers touched by snow'. Enough said. "What Did My Lover Say" is also huge fun, containing that famous thumping Wolf Parade sound. "Little Golden Age" is as single ready as this band might ever become and "Ghost Pressure" is sure to become a live favourite. Right now the only song that is not doing much for me is "Two Men in New Tuxedos". For a master of melody Krug has written something that is quite plodding and mechanical. So it's not perfect, but it's not far off it. It is a reminder that this band still makes special music. It is music to dance to. To invest in. To celebrate of. To feel and to be excited by. They still have it.

MP3: What Did My Lover Say (It Always Had To Go This Way)-Wolf Parade

May 22, 2010

Tighten Up-The Black Keys

Great new video for "Tighten Up", from the wonderful new album from The Black Keys.

May 21, 2010

Here We Go Magic (New Album + Australian Tour)

Here We Go Magic have a new album due out in June. As an added bonus they are visiting our shores next month for a brief two city tour. "Pigeons" is the first release for the New York five piece on Secretly Canadian. This follows up on their excellent self titled debut album that was released last year on Western Vinyl. Led by singer and songwriter Luke Temple the band make music that is melodic and full of charm and delight. Make sure you catch them when they visit Australia next month.

Pigeons Track Listing
1 Hibernation
2 Collector
3 Casual
4 Surprise
5 Bottom Feeder
6 Moon
7 Old World United
8 F.F.A.P.
9 Land of Feeling
10 Vegetable or Native
11 Herbie I Love You, Now I Know

MP3: Collector

Australian Tour Dates
June 17 Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
June 18 East Brunswick Club, Melbourne

May 20, 2010

More From Menomena

Recently I wrote about the new Menomena album, due out 27th July on Barsuk Records. Now we have more details. A cover (see above) and a track listing (see below).

Also the band have made a song available for download.
"Five Little Rooms" can be downloaded right here, right now.

Mines Track Listing
1 Queen Black Acid
2 Taos
3 Killemall
4 Dirty Cartoons
5 Tithe
6 Bote
7 Lunchmeat
8 Oh Pretty Boy, You're Such A Big Boy
9 Five Little Rooms
10 Sleeping Beauty
11 Intil

May 18, 2010

Cabins Sign to Ivy League

Sydney band of four Cabins have signed to Ivy League and will be releasing a mini debut album on June 11. Containing 8 tracks, "Bright Victory" will hopefully build on the promise displayed on their single released earlier in the year in the shape of "Catcher in the Rye". This album was produced by Woody Annison and is sure to be gratefully received by lovers of dark, melodic and intense rock music. Cabins will also be touring nationally in June in support of Children Collide. Please check their MySpace for details.

Bright Victory Track Listing
1 Hounds
2 Oceanic Blues
3 Catcher In The Rye
4 Mary
5 The Moon
6 Foes & Thieves
7 Father Ripper
8 Calling You Home

May 17, 2010

Afraid Of Everyone-The National

More goodness from The National. With Sufjan!

May 13, 2010

Bloodbuzz Ohio-The National

For your aural and visual pleasure.

May 12, 2010

Mountain Man

Conversely Mountain Man or neither masculine nor singular. They are in fact three young women from Vermont who met at Bennington College. Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Randall Meath make music that finds its roots deep in the heart of American Folk. Original and quite unique. July 20 will see the release of their debut album on Partisan Records. "Made The Harbor" will contain 13 tracks and judging by the song below it will definitely be worth looking forward to.

MP3: Soft Skin-Mountain Man

May 11, 2010

Albatross-The Besnard Lakes

One of my favourite songs of this year!

May 8, 2010

Spoon @ The Forum

It's the way he holds his guitar. It's the way he delivers his vocals. It's the way he wears his shirt. It's the way he smiles slyly. Knowing one thing. Britt Daniel is the coolest man in Rock and Roll. Spoon returned to Sydney on Friday night and we were grateful. Smiling wildly and longingly into the night. For Spoon are just a great band. Period. Efficient and proficient. Loose AND tight. Soulful and melodic. Playful and meaningful. Wonderful.

It began quietly and subtly. Just Britt on acoustic and Eric Harvey on keyboards. Playing a stripped back version of "The Mystery Zone". Sublime. Then we were handed a good chunk from the new album, including a fiery version of "Written In Reverse". Another great early highlight was a storming rendition of "Don't Make Me A Target". Or how about the atmospheric "The Ghost Of You Lingers". Pretty great, huh? Then it happened. IT occurred. The moment. A cover of Wolf Parade's "Modern World". Done superbly, I could have walked away here. Totally satisfied. But, I stayed. For next was "The Beast And Dragon, Adored". This song just absolutely kills live. Barnstorming. Another feature of the night were the massive guitar shredding jams. Especially on "They Never Got You" and "My Mathematical Mind". These showed off the band perfectly. Daniel is not only a great and distinctive singer, but an expert axeman. Harvey adds the required keyboard notes and Jim Eno keeps rhythm perfectly. But special mention should also go to bass player Rob Pope. His bass really underpins a lot of the band's songs. Thumping and driving all the way. "The Underdog" was naturally a joy, although no horns this time and the acoustic appeared again on the sublime closer "Black Like Me". A encore was to follow and I was overjoyed to hear my favourite new track in "I Saw The Light". A great way to end a great night.
Spoon have IT, in spades. Greatness never sounded so good.

Set List
The Mystery Zone
Written In Reverse
Got Nuffin
Don't Make Me A Target
The Ghost Of You Lingers
Is Love Forever?
Love Song (The Damned cover)
Small Stakes
Modern World (Wolf Parade cover)
The Beast And Dragon, Adored
Anything You Want
Don't You Evah
They Never Got You
I Summon You
I Turn My Camera On
My Mathematical Mind
The Underdog
Nobody Gets Me But You
Black Like Me

I Saw The Light
Rhthm & Soul
You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb

May 5, 2010

New Album From Deer Tick

June 8 will see the release of a new album from New York's Deer Tick. "The Black Dirt Sessions" was recorded late last year in upstate New York and contains 11 tracks in total. Partisan Records will be releasing this one. Looking forward to it.

The Black Dirt Sessions Track Listing
1 Choir Of Angels
2 Twenty Miles
3 Goodbye, Dear Friend
4 Piece By Piece and Frame By Frame
5 The Sad Sun
6 Mange
7 When She Comes Home
8 Hand In My Hand
9 I Will Not Be Myself
10 Blood Moon
11 Christ Jesus (Reprise)

MP3: Twenty Miles-Deer Tick

May 4, 2010

New Wolf Parade Songs!!!

Today is a great day. A happy, bright bouncing day. Joy to the world. We have music. Plus, more details. Excited? So you should be. "Ghost Pressure" is sung by Dan and was known as "Beyonce" on setlists. It's a synth driven powerhouse. The band have stated they want people to dance to this new album and they aren't kidding. They are not MGMT yet though. "What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had To Go This Way)" is sent from Spencer with much love. It was known as "Fast Ballad". The guitars and drums on this alone are enough to make us collectively salivate over our keyboards.

MP3: Ghost Pressure

MP3: What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had To Go This Way)

Expo 86 Track Listing
1 Cloud Shadow on the Mountain
2 Palm Road
3 What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Go This Way)
4 Little Golden Age
5 In the Direction of the Moon
6 Ghost Pressure
7 Pobody's Nerfect
8 Two Men in New Tuxedos
9 Oh You, Old Thing
10 Yulia
11 Cave-o-Sapien

Expo 86 is out June 29 on Sub Pop

May 3, 2010

Wilco @ The Factory

So, stop me if you have heard this one before. I saw Wilco for the second night in a row last night and it was FANTASTIC! The only way to see this incredible band play an intimate show at The Factory was to buy tickets to their State Theatre show as well. So, despite burning a hole in the pocket, we did so gladly and gleefully. For an opportunity like this doesn't come around very often. That is, to see a band as great and wonderful as Wilco in a small venue like this should always be taken up. Immediately.

To start I have no photos. It would seem that Wilco make it very clear that no photography is allowed at all. They encourage taping, but not photography. I assume it is stop each show becoming a sea of cameras and mobile phones. If that is why, I can see their view. It's 100 per cent about the music, the glorious music. For this was a special night. A night of good humour, much fun and supreme musicianship. It was also not a repeat performance. I think I counted only a repeat of 6 songs from Saturday night's show and we received some songs that are not regularly played. Was it special? Yes it was. For starters we were given "Ashes Of American Flags", a great, great song that featured the first pyrotechnics of the unique Nels Cline. Of course Cline dazzled us on "Impossible Germany", but truly he dazzled us all night long. I was also pleased to hear other cuts from "Wilco (the album)", such as "I'll Fight" and "Country Disappeared". Both were gorgeous to hear live. "At Least That's What You Said" was full of awesomeness as was "Less Than You Think", but special mention goes to "Sunken Treasure". This is my favourite Wilco song and my heart skipped a beat or two when they played this for us. Of course "A Shot In The Arm" was roared with delight and "Jesus, Etc." was again part of a mass singalong. Both truly great moments.

This set also well and truly rocked. Hard. The last twenty minutes or so was ferocious and infinitely fun. Especially "Monday" and the infrequently played "Kicking Television". Special mention here also should go to the multi talented and rockingly cool Pat Sansone. Man, he looks like he was born to be in Rock band. The band departed to overwhelming acclaim and then returned for a short encore, both of which were covers. "Thank You Friends" paid good tribute to the recently departed Alex Chilton and then John and Pat took lead vocals on "In The Street", which I realised later was used as the theme song for "That 70s Show". A great way to end a great night. For this sort of night I think I would have paid double the ticket price. Without doubt. Thank you Wilco!

Set List
Ashes Of American Flags
Bull Black Nova
I'll Fight
Company In My Back
Sonny Feeling
War On War
At Least That's What You Said
Country Disappeared
Handshake Drugs
Impossible Germany
Sunken Treasure
Less Than You Think
Not For The Season
You And I
Box Full Of Letters
Nothing'severgonnastandinmyway (Again)
A Shot In The Arm
Jesus, Etc.
I'm The Man Who Loves You
Forget The Flowers
California Stars (with Liam Finn)
Red-Eyed And Blue>I Got You (At The End Of The Century)
Outtasite (Outta Mind)
Hoodoo Voodoo
Kicking Television

Thank You Friends (Big Star cover)
In The Street (Cheap Trick cover)

May 2, 2010

Wilco @ State Theatre

If you have been to the venerable State Theatre before you would know there are several rules. One is no photography. Which seems reasonable. Another is no standing or dancing. Again, at the right show this also seems pretty fair. But, Wilco are a ROCK band. Maybe singing and dancing is more appropriate. In hindsight we could have danced all night, but I think the audience was frightened too on Saturday night. That is until a furious rendition of "Spiders (Kidsmoke) got people moving. And once one stood, we all stood and there was no going back. But it was still a great show up to then, just different. More subdued, sedated even. Our leader Jeff Tweedy even made note of just how polite we were. So it was a night of greatness in the end. But what else would or could you expect at a Wilco show. It is Wilco after all.

This is my sixth time seeing the great Wilco, but I think I could see them 60 times if I had to. They are just that good. So what did we receive on this night. Well, it was about 2 and a quarter hours of music. I think they could have played a little longer, but I imagine the venue wouldn't have allowed it. They gave us a widespread of material from all of their albums, including five from the latest one. Three of those came at the top of the set, with the ferocious "Bull Black Nova" being a particular standout. Of course "A Shot In The Arm" went down a treat. I don't think we will ever tire of this live staple. On their website I had requested "Radio Cure" and they played it! Hopefully it might have been for me. "Impossible Germany" was another great opportunity for Nels Cline to show off his amazing guitar virtuosity, but it was "Poor Places" that sent the gig into the stratosphere. This trailblazing song segued into "Spiders (Kidsmoke)", which as stated was where the audience came to their feet, with plenty of people making their way to the front of the stage. Now we were truly at a rock show. Soon we were all taking the lead vocal on "Jesus, Etc." and shaking our hips to "Heavy Metal Drummer". "I'm The Man Who Loves You" was the perfect closer, with every one smiling broad and wide. A couple of short encores followed, including the landmark "Misunderstood". We got 34 'nothings'. I know. I counted them all. So, another Wilco experience. Another great night. A band that just gets it right on every single night. Every single night.

Set List
Wilco (the song)
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
One Wing
Bull Black Nova
You Are My Face
Muzzle Of Bees
A Shot In The Arm
Radio Cure
Deeper Down
Handshake Drugs
Passenger Side
Impossible Germany
Via Chicago
Poor Places>Spiders (Kidsmoke)
Jesus, Etc.
Can't Stand It
You Never Know
Heavy Metal Drummer
Hate It Here
I'm The Man Who Loves You


The Late Greats
I'm A Wheel