Mar 1, 2024

Wednesday @ Factory Theatre

Wednesday released my favourite album of 2023. Easily. Rat Saw God was a phenomenon. Ten tracks of perfect rock, with some country thrown in. In a short space of time I have become a huge fan. So I was super excited to seem them Thursday night on their first Australian tour. For a little over an hour they played a blistering set, with eight songs from their great album of 2023, plus a few old ones thrown in. They also played two new songs which were both great. The band were really great, playing seemlessly together. The lap steel of Xandy Chelmis was a particular highlight. But most focus was on wonderful front woman Karly Hartzman, who was both charming and ferocious. Many highlights of the set but one song soared above all. 'Bath County' was just a monster live. But 'Quarry', 'Chosen to Deserve' were not far behind. The crowd were really enthusiastic and the the fervour kept building until the blockbuster closer in 'Bull Believer'. Wednesday are truly a great and hugely talented band. I can't wait to see what they do next.

Set List
Ghost of a Dog
Hot Rotten Grass Smell
Wound Up Here
Toothache
Formula One
Chosen to Deserve
Elder Berry
Bath County
Billboard
Turkey Vultures
Quarry
Gary's
Got Shocked
Fate Is...
Bull Believer 

The support act was no ordinary one, that is for sure. MJ Lenderman is an incredibly talented performer. He actually plays guitar in Wednesday, but now has his own successful solo career. His album in 'Boat Songs' was one of my favourites of 2022. He played an hour long set that was both euphoric and beautiful. His band, The Wind, also included two members of Wednesday, so naturally they were great too. HE has touches of Neil Young and Bruce Sprinsteen, with a North Carolina flavour. The set was mostly made of 'Boat Songs' tracks, but he also had time to play three new songs as well. It was especially great as well to hear so many of the crowd singing along to many of his songs. What a double bill this was. A fantastic night of music indeed. 

Feb 22, 2024

Dinosaur Jr. @ Enmore Theatre

Dinosaur Jr. are true survivors in the Indie Rock world. Not just surviving but thriving. This is evidenced by the fact that they are not just going throught the motions. All of their albums have been excellent since their hiatus. But this latest Australian tour, first since 2017, was a celebration of an album released 30 years ago in 'Where You Been'. So this latest tour has been focused on that excellent album. They play the album in full before meoving onto a few classics to finish off the night. A sold out Enmore Theatre received all of the songs with enthusiam. The band are men of few words but they let their songs do all the talking. J Masic shreds like most can't and his effortless vocals float across the huge riffs and melodies. Lou Barlow plays a mean bass, full of vim and vigour, whilst drummer Murph is a strong and reliable drummer. Many great songs were played, but I especially enjoyed 'Little Fury Things' and also 'Feel the Pain'. They saved probably their most well liked songs for the encore. The incomparable 'Freak Scene' and the great Cure cover 'Just Like Heaven' finished off a great night.  

Set List
Out There
Start Choppin
What Else Is New
On the Way
Not the Same
Get Me
Drawerings
Hide
Goin' Home
I Ain't Sayin'
Garden
I Met the Stones
Been There All The Time
Little Fury Things
Feel the Pain
Gargoyle 

Freak Scene
Just Like Heaven

Jan 22, 2024

Best Songs of 2023

 
Alley Light by Squirrel Flower was my favourite song of 2023. From the first that I heard it, it sunk deep into my memory. I loved Squirrel Flower's album and there were many great songs but Alley Light was my absolute favourite. Just a great combination of vocals, guitar and melody. It felt classic and yet modern. Destined to be timeless. But there were many great songs released in 2023. And to be honest, the very best were released by women or women fronted bands. This of course includes the great Wednesday who had many great candidates for this list. Lana Del Rey released one song which was absolutely stunning, whilst Mitski had an album full of wonderful songs. Ratboys, Slow Pulp and Palehound were others to give us great music. All in all I thought it was a pretty great year.

1. Alley Light-Squirrel Flower
2. Quarry-Wednesday
3. A&W-Lana Del Rey
4. Star-Mitski
5. Black Earth, WI-Ratboys
6. The Clutch-Palehound
7. My Blood Runs Through This Land-Black Belt Eagle Scout
8. Baby-Purling Hiss
9. Broadview-Slow Pulp
10. Yes! Yes! A Thousand Times Yes!-Home Is Where
11. Anyway I Find You-The Men
12. Borrow Trouble-Feist
13. Bath County-Wednesday
14. The Sling-Youth Lagoon
15. Floral Organs-Home Is Where 
16. Driving Through Heaven-Cory Hanson 
17. Ten Billion People-Explosions in the Sky
18. Haunted Mountain-Buck Meek
19. Vampire Empire-Big Thief
20. I'm Your Man-Mitski
21. Chosen to Deserve-Wednesday
22. Defeat-Animal Collective
23. Sinker,Sinking-Will Johnson
24. Will Anybody Ever love Me?-Sufjan Stevens
25. Highway 72-Jolie Holland
26. U R The Reason-Current Joys
27. Full Time Job-Squirrel Flower
28. Independence Day-Palehound
29. State Line to Eagleville-Labrador
30. Hard Livin'-The Men
31. Prizefighter-Youth Lagoon
32. Sideways Skull-The Hold Steady
33. Doubt-Slow Pulp
34. Modern Mind-Bry Webb 
35. Smalltown Stardust-King Tuff
36. Meant To Be-Wilco
37. Fallout-Yo La Tengo
38. The Musical-Avey Tare
39. Between The Past-Woods
40. Moving On-Explosions in the Sky
41. Stride Rite-Animal Collective
42. So You Are Tired-Sufjan Stevens
43. Salmon Stinta-Black Belt Eagle Scout
44. Bug Like An Angel-Mitski
45. Satanist-Boygenius
46. Angelcover-The New Pornographers
47. Cigarettes-Current Joys
48. Sinatra Drive Breakdown-Yo La Tengo
49. In Lightning-Feist
50. Haunted Mountain-Jolie Holland
51. Wasteland Companions-Mutual Benefit 
52. Morning Zoo-Ratboys
53. Wings-Cory Hanson
54. Tropic Morning News-The National
55. Chaos Heart-Osees
56. Dare Me-Beach Fossils
57. Bananas-Bonnie Prince Billy
58. Suffer Debt-Truth Club
59. Along The Runner (No Ordinary Crown)-Will Johnson
60. The Habsburg Jaw-Califone
61. The Store-The Lost Days
62. Tantor-Danny Brown
63. Skin Meadow-Home Is Where
64. Cry All Day-Spencer Krug
65. Alarm-Lifeguard
66. Freak-Feeble Little Horse
67. Cyclades-Buck Meek
68. Shit Talk-Sufjan Stevens
69. Gold-Sigur Ros
70. Life's A Joke-Islands
71. Evicted-Wilco
72. Fight Clean-Roadside Graves
73. Easier-Jonathan Rado
74. Weep-Woods
75. Elevators-Kevin Drew
76. When A Plant Is Dying-Squirrel Flower
77. Desert Snow-Local Natives
78. Wear It Like A Badge-Labrador
79. If The Wheels Are Coming Off, The Wheels Are Coming Off-Ulrika Spacek
80. God Is a Circle-Yves Tumor
81. Lwonesome Tonight-PJ Harvey
82. Bull Believer-Wednesday
83. Sixers-The Hold Steady
84. Steamroller-Feeble Little Horse
85. Goon-Osees
86. Sawgrass-Josh Ritter
87. Psychos-Jenny Lewis
88. Salad-Blondshell
89. Maria-Greg Mendez
90. Queens of Sorrow-Bonnie Prince Billy
91. Aselestine-Yo La Tengo
92. 14-Water From Your Eyes
93. Anti-Curse-Boygenius
94. Centurion-Sluice 
95. Elohim-Tommy Prine
96. Summer Windows-Slaughter Beach,Dog
97. Carolina-The Natvral
98. Lowland Trail-Margo Cilker
99. The Stuff-Allah-Las
100. A Ghost-Shana Cleveland

Jan 16, 2024

Best Albums of 2023

I find every year to be an exciting discovery in music. I try to listen to each new album released weekly, within reason. And I buy each album I really like. For mainly the reason of supporting artists I love, streaming just doesn’t give enough to artists. Anyway I found plenty to love in 2023. Some by new acts, some by veterans. But one artist stood head and shoulders above the rest. North Carolina band Wednesday made a record full of spark and beauty. It leant on rock, country and folk and I loved every song. They had been on my radar before but this new album really was a breakthrough. And in great news they are touring Australia next month!
It was great to see several Indie stalwarts make great albums in 2023. Mitski and Sufjan Stevens both made unbelievably beautiful music, whilst Explosions in the Sky, Wilco, Yo La Tengo and Animal Collective proved that being veterans is no barrier to making great music. Lots of young artists made great music too. Even if they weren’t new I felt their new albums were their best yet, such as Squirrel Flower, Slow Pulp, Palehound and Ratboys.
1. Rat Saw God-Wednesday
2. The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We-Mitski
3. Javelin-Sufjan Stevens
4. Tomorrow’s Fire-Squirrel Flower
5. The Land,The Water,The Sky-Black Belt Eagle Scout
6. End-Explosions in the Sky
7. This Stupid World-Yo La Tengo
8. Heaven Is a Junkyard-Youth Lagoon
9. Isn’t It Now?-Animal Collective
10. Yard-Slow Pulp
11. No Ordinary Crown-Will Johnson
12. Cousin-Wilco
13. Perennial-Woods
14. The Whaler-Home is Where
15. The Price of Progress-The Hold Steady
16. Villagers-Califone
17. New York City-The Men
18. Western Cum-Cory Hanson
19. Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You-Bonnie Prince Billy
20. Hold the Door for Strangers-Labrador
21. 7s-Avey Tare
22. Haunted Mountain-Buck Meek
23. The Window-Ratboys
24. The Record-Boygenius
25. Multitudes-Feist
26. Eye on the Bat-Palehound
27. Haunted Mountain-Jolie Holland
28. Aging-Kevin Drew
29. Drag on Girard-Purling Hiss
30. First Two Pages of Frankenstein-The National
31. Girl With Fish-Feeble Little Horse
32. Growing at the Edges-Mutual Benefit
33. Bunny-Beach Fossils
34. Quaranta-Danny Brown
35. I Just Drew This Knife-Spencer Krug
36. I Won’t Cry Alone-Roadside Graves
37. For Who the Bell Tolls For-Jonathan Rado
38. Love + Pop-Current Joys
39. Time Will Wait For No One-Local Natives
40. Less-Deathcrash
41. Running From the Chase-Truth Club
42. In the Store-The Lost Days
43. Spectral Lines-Josh Ritter
44. The Rise & The Fall-The Rural Alberta Advantage
45. Run With Me-Bry Webb
46. I Inside the Old Year Dying-PJ Harvey
47. Valley of Heart's Delight-Margo Cilker
48. Continue As a Guest-The New Pornographers
49. Intercepted Message-Osees
50. Atta-Sigur Ros  

Jan 12, 2024

Favourite Films of 2023

Two films dominated 2023 and they opened on the same day. Barbie and Oppenheimer were true phenomenons when they hit cinemas in July. Both were incredible successes and they seem to feed off each other even though they really had nothing in common. I loved Barbie and it was a lot of fun. But from the moment I saw Opppenheimer I knew it would be my favourite film of the year. An immaculate three hour journey helmed by the master in Christopher Nolan. Just a near perfect film. It also looks set to dominate the upcoming Academy Awards. I think it deserves to get as many awards as possible. 2023 was also a year for great masters. Scorsese gave us the great Killers of the Flower Moon, whilst David Fincher gave us the very enjoyable The Killer. We also received new films from Ridley Scott, Michael Mann and Wes Anderson.

The year began with Everything Everywhere All At Once dominating the Oscars. I really enjoyed this film but thought there were better. Such as the incredible Babylon, which didn't do well with critics but I absolutely loved. Tar and Women Talking were other films I loved that I saw early in 2023. Still can't figure out how Cate Blanchett didn't win for Tar, a real mystery. Some exciting films coming up soon too at the cinema such as The Holdovers, The Iron Claw, All of Us Strangers, Anatomy of a Fall, The Zone of Interest amonst others. I think they should all be in the Oscar race, but as said Oppenheimer is set to dominate. 

1. Oppenheimer
2. Babylon
3. Tar
4. Killers of the Flower Moon
5. Women Talking  
6. Close
7. Aftersun
8. Past Lives
9. Poor Things
10. Asteroid City

Jan 9, 2024

Best Live Shows of 2023

If 2022 was a return to normal in the live music scene, post pandemic, than 2023 was a welcome extension of that. Live music was in full overdrive, with plenty of shows to experience through out the year. In 2022 I ventured to Los Angeles to see the iconic Pavement, little realising that they would actually tour Australia in early 2023. I managed to see them twice, at a small theatre in Thirroul and also at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney. Both shows were great but it was the Enmore show that would be my favourite show of 2023. The joy and energy in that room was something I will never forget. The year began brilliantly too with my hero Ty Segall finally returning to our shores after seven long years. I actually flew to Melbourne to see him, as well as going to his Sydney show. Both were great. Lots of other wonderful live music in 2023 too. It was a pleasure to see the icon Paul McCartney late in the year, as well as the incredible double act of The War On Drugs and Spoon at the Sydney Opera House Forecourt. That was my last show of 2023 and it was definitely a great way to send the year. 

1. Pavement @ Enmore Theatre
2. Ty Segall @ Metro Theatre
3. Pavement @ Anita's Theatre
4. Paul McCartney @ Allianz Stadium
5. The War on Drugs & Spoon @ Sydney Opera House Forecourt
6. Built to Spill @ Manning Bar
7. Ty Segall @ Forum, Melbourne
8. Osees @ Metro Theatre
9. Interpol @ Hordern Pavilion
10. Mount Eerie & Black Belt Eagle Scout @ Volume Festival   

Dec 5, 2023

The War On Drugs & Spoon @ Sydney Opera House Forecourt

Monday night in front of the Sydney Opera House was just a spectacular night of music. In front of an iconic building, two incredible American bands gave us close to three hours of truly superlative music. The War on Drugs were the headliner but when Spoon is your support I guess it's close to being a co headliner given the stature of both bands. It was the first time since 2018 that The War on Drugs have been to Australia and it was a great reminder that they are truly one of the finest bands on the planet. For a band that has no discernible singles and a lot of jammy songs that extend to eight minutes, they have truly connected somehow. Their sound is hard to pin down but it's really magical. They are extraordinary musicians and the guitar riffs and tones just overwhelm and envelop you. From the opening strains of 'An Ocean in Between the Waves' they had an enthusiastic crowd spellbound. Song after song of pure magic. 'Red Eyes' and 'Under the Pressure' were probably the highlights of an extraordinary set.

Set List
An Ocean in Between the Waves
Pain
Arms Like Boulders
I Don't Wanna Wait
Strangest Thing
Harmonia's Dream
Old Skin
Red Eyes
Slow Ghost
Under the Pressure
I Don't Live Here Anymore
Occasional Rain

Then Spoon were the support. Pretty great to have perhaps the finest band of the last 20 years or so as a support. Spoon can do no wrong in my eyes and even though it was a truncated 50 minute set I loved every minute. For Spoon this was their first visit to Australia since 2017. They played a solid set list that covered a good spread of their stellar career. Britt Daniel is just the ultimate frontman and he and the band seemed to having a great time. 'I Summon You' and an incredible John Lennon cover were perhaps the highlights of a wonderful set. 

Set List
Wild
My Mathematical Mind
The Way We Get By
Don't You Evah
The Underdog
I Summon You
Got Nuffin'
Isolation (John Lennon cover)
The Hardest Cut
Inside Out
I Turn My Camera On
Rent I Pay