Jan 26, 2021

Best Songs of 2020

Will Toledo writes great songs. Fact. His grasp of melody, his knowledge of building momentum and drama in a song is impressive and impeccable. His ability to write songs so personal and yet deeply universal are unmatched. This year his new Car Seat Headrest album was flawed but yet incredible. Full of songs that hit the right spot. One was my favourite song of 2020. One which had three different versions. (Hostiles) was my favourite version of Deadlines. It was uplifting, soaring, down right emotional. I still loved the (Thoughtful) version though with its impeccable groove. Either way Deadlines was the song I played the most in 2020. But there were many other great songs. Waxahatchee had a slew of them on her fantastic new album. Could have chosen many from that wonderful album. Kyoto by Phoebe Bridgers was a near perfect melody of joy. And Fox by Dogleg tore my head off just in the right way. And then we had the Run the Jewels album that provided many fiery and anthemic moments. I was just grateful in a pretty shitty year music still gave us plenty to smile about.

1. Deadlines-Car Seat Headrest
2. Magicians-Young Jesus
3. Kyoto-Phoebe Bridgers
4. Fox-Dogleg
5. Can't Do Much-Waxahatchee
6. Sublind-Fleet Foxes
7. Campfire-Kevin Morby
8. Julia Take Your Man Home-Wolf Parade
9. Foolssong-Destroyer
10. Amberjack-Stephen Malkmus
11. Stars & Rats-Hamilton Leithauser
12. Knuckleduster-Muzz
13. On the Floor-Perfume Genius
14. Yankee and the Brave (ep. 4)-Run the Jewels
15. Lark-Young Jesus
16. Lilacs-Waxahatchee
17. Wonder-Lomelda
18. Life Worth Missing-Car Seat Headrest
19. Went to LA-Frances Quinlan 
20. Zombie Girl-Adrianne Lenker
21. Pine Trees-Mary Lattimore
22. Reflecting Light-The Avalanches
23. Can I Believe You-Fleet Foxes
24. (Un)knowing-Young Jesus
25. My Rajneesh-Sufjan Stevens
26. Life in Color-Floral Tattoo
27. Sit So Close-Roadside Graves
28. A Bloody Morning-Owen Pallett
29. I Know The End-Phoebe Bridgers
30. Wasted-My Morning Jacket
31. Where Do You Go When You Dream-Woods
32. Valley-Kevin Morby
33. One More Second-Matt Berninger
34. Half-Asleep-Jeff Tweedy
35. Dressing America-Torres
36. Mark Zuckerberg-Nap Eyes
37. Cosmonauts-Fiona Apple
38. America-Sufjan Stevens
39. Fire-Waxahatchee
40. Isabella-Hamilton Leithauser
41. Kawasaki Backflip-Dogleg
42. Mustang-Bartees Strange
43. Sat By A Tree-Dan Deacon
44. Love is The King-Jeff Tweedy
45. There Must Be More Than Blood-Car Seat Headrest
46. Out of Control-Wolf Parade
47. Flashlight On-Told Slant
48. Time Collapse-Fuzz
49. Reach-Lomelda
50. Silver Ladders-Mary Lattimore
51. I'm Not My Season-Fleet Foxes
52. Ooh La La-Run the Jewels 
53. Rosalina-Tina
54. Flowers of Neptune 6-The Flaming Lips
55. Spartacus, Please-Soft Plastics
56. Red Study-Osees
57. Evergreen-Muzz
58. Describe-Perfume Genius
59. Sundowner-Kevin Morby
60. Die Happy-Sufjan Stevens
61. Anything-Adrianne Lenker
62. Phase-Pinegrove
63. Crimson Tide-Destroyer
64. Red Shoulder-Squirrel Flower
65. Lean-Frances Quinlan
66. Returning-Fuzz
67. Here They Come-Hamilton Leithauser
68. Serpentine Prison-Matt Berninger
69. Boomer-Bartees Strange
70. Strange to Explain-Woods
71. 4 American Dollars-U.S. Girls
72. Hannah Sun-Lomelda
73. Bullfrog Choirs-Told Slant
74. Say the Name-clipping.
75. Growing in Age-Tina
76. Cheap Regrets-The Districts
77. Garden Song-Phoebe Bridgers
78. Roll On Babe-Yo La Tengo
79. Whole New Mess-Angel Olsen 
80. The Sea Is Empty-Roadside Graves
81. Cannonball-Dogleg
82. Xian Man-Stephen Malkmus
83. Goonies vs E.T.-Run the Jewels
84. Pigeons-Bill Callahan
85. Hammond Song-Whitney
86. Sweet-Porridge Radio 
87. Kinda Dark-Destroyer
88. Heart of an Animal-The Dears
89. Wolves-e4444e
90. Petty Crime-Vundabar
91. Alexandra-Laura Marling
92. Weeping Birch-Dan Deacon
93. The Static Age-Wolf Parade
94. Sacrifice-Plants and Animals
95. An Olive Coast-The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick
96. Electric War-Osees
97. That Dream (Shitty Beach)-Magik Markers
98. Zeppelin 5-Wasted Shirt
99. Hair Sticks-Tenci
100. Cops-Other Lives

Jan 23, 2021

Best Albums of 2020

Today I will have a look back at my favourites in Music in 2020. If any element of the arts was hardest hit by the pandemic it was surely music. Live music ground to a halt and even though locally it's slowly getting back on its feet it will still be a while before international artists can tour again. Sadly with music today that's where many artists make their living so I implore anyone who loves music to please BUY music rather than just stream. It really supports these remarkable artists.

My favourite album of 2020 was one that divided critics. Car Seat Headrest's previous album was iconic and perfect and hard to follow. Making a Door Less Open had its flaws and could be messy at times but Will Toledo really went for it and the highs were very high. Anyway it was my favourite and I had to place it at number one. You could make a great case for Waxahatchee for number one though. I can not fault her album and there is not one song even remotely weak. Her partner Kevin Morby also gave us another beautiful album yet again. Some veteran artists showed that they are aging extremly well too. Destroyer and Wolf Parade did Canada proud and The Flaming Lips produced their best work in years. And Stephen Malkmus showed why he is an icon of music yet again. Younger artists that showed that music is in good hands were Dogleg, Lomelda, Tina, Told Slant and Bartees Strange. I loved all of their albums. And if I could just give one album to everyone it would be the one by Young Jesus. An album of breathtaking power of beauty I would love to reach a larger audience.

1. Making A Door Less Open-Car Seat Headrest
2. Saint Cloud-Waxahatchee
3. Have We Met-Destroyer
4. Thin Mind-Wolf Parade
5. Shore-Fleet Foxes
6. Sundowner-Kevin Morby
7. The Loves of Your Life-Hamilton Leithauser
8. Welcome to Conceptual Beach-Young Jesus
9. American Head-The Flaming Lips
10. Muzz-Muzz
11. Traditional Techniques-Stephen Malkmus
12. Melee-Dogleg
13. III-Fuzz
14. Hannah-Lomelda
15. RTJ4-Run the Jewels
16. The Microphones in 2020-The Microphones
17. Strange to Explain-Woods
18. Punisher-Phoebe Bridgers
19. Set My Heart on Fire Immediately-Perfume Genius
20. Mystic Familiar-Dan Deacon
21. We Will Always Love You-The Avalanches
22. Silver Ladders-Mary Lattimore
23. That's Why We're Running Away-Roadside Graves
24. Love is the King-Jeff Tweedy
25. Positive Mental Health Music-Tina
26. Protean Threat-Osees
27. The Ascension-Sufjan Stevens
28. Whole New Mess-Angel Olsen
29. Serpentine Prison-Matt Berninger
30. Likewise-Frances Quinlan
31. Songs-Adrianne Lenker
32. Point the Flashlight and Walk-Told Slant
33. Continuous Portrait-Inventions
34. Eight Gates-Jason Molina
35. Song For Our Daughter-Laura Marling
36. Island-Owen Pallett
37. Live Forever-Bartees Strange
38. 5 Dreams-Soft Plastics
39. Fetch the Bolt Cutters-Fiona Apple
40. Snapshot of a Beginner-Nap Eyes
41. Gold Record-Bill Callahan
42. Silver Tongue-Torres
43. Don't Waste Your Anger-The Smith Street Band
44. I Was Born Swimming-Squirrel Flower
45. What's New, Tomboy?-Damien Jurado
46. Candid-Whitney
47. Every Bad-Porride Radio
48. You Can Never Have a Long Enough Head Start-Floral Tattoo
49. Marigold-Pinegrove
50. Holy Smokes Future Jokes-Blitzen Trapper

Jan 17, 2021

Favourite Films Of 2020

Well film started out just great in 2020. First week of the year I saw 1917 and nothing bettered it for the year in my opinion. I thought it should have won Best Picture but I was still really happy to see Parasite win. It was a great film. Terrence Malick returned with the incredible A Hidden Life so that was a special pleasure too. Then cinemas closed in March and lots of films got pushed back into 2021. The two I missed the most were Dune and The French Dispatch. Missing out on Marvel films and the new Bond film not such a worry for me though. As cinemas reopened there was still plenty to see. Lots of smaller independent fare that really delivered. The best being the amazing Nomadland which looks like a major Oscar contender in 2021. Lots of films were sold to streaming services or were already headed there. Netflix gave us films from heavyweights Spike Lee, David Fincher, Charlie Kaufman and Aaron Sorkin and all were worth watching especially the latter three. Amazon Prime had many films to recommend too with the truly superb Sound of Metal becoming one of the best of 2020. So a fractured year but still plenty of good stuff. Here's hoping to 2021 being one of full cinemas and great films for everyone.

2. A Hidden Life
3. Nomadland
4. Mank
5. I'm Thinking of Ending Things
6. Sound Of Metal
7. Little Women
8. The Last Black Man in San Francisco
9. The Trial of the Chicago 7
10. Beanpole

Jan 16, 2021

Best Live Shows of 2020

Well this will will be a short post. Sadly live music ground to a halt in 2020 due to the global pandemic. The year started off brilliantly with the great Vampire Weekend finally returning to Australia and putting on a wonderful show. Sadly there weren't a lot more to go to in 2020. Bill Callahan at the State Theatre was the last one. The following week we were due to see Rhiannon Giddens but she had to cancel and fly home. The National was cancelled soon after too. We had bought tickets to see Patti Smith, Big Thief, The Hold Steady, Angel Olsen, Alex G and Bon Iver. All postponed and eventauuly cancelled. Hopefully 2021 will see some sort of return to normality. 

1. Vampire Weekend @ Enmore Theatre

2. The New Pornographers @ Metro Theatre

3. Allah Las @ Paddington RSL

4. William Tyler @ Seidler Penthouse

5. Bill Callahan @ State Theatre

6. Jay Som @ Oxford Art Factory

Mar 7, 2020

Bill Callahan @ State Theatre

Some artists, through a long body of exemplary work, achieve iconic status. Their work feels important and vital. I do believe Bill Callahan is one such artist. He is an artist that commands respect, quietly and with surety. Thursday night at the beautiful State Theatre we were fortunate enough to see him again. For the fourth time I believe. His baritone voice and plaintive songs with emotionally strong lyrics are pure greatness. What a pleasure it was.

Mr Callahan released another excellent album last year in the shape of  'Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest'. So naturally we received a very good slice of that album. My favourites being 'The Ballad of the Hulk', '747' and 'Angela'. He tried to give a good portion of his back catalogue too including such great songs as 'Drover' and an epic version of 'America!' But the best part was when he even reached back to his days recording as 'Smog' to play us the all time classic in 'Say Valley Maker'. What a superb song that is. And I must say his band of three were superb. A subtle drummer, a double bass player that was truly in sync and best of all a lead electric guitarist that played to the strength of all the songs in the best way possible. Thanks for coming again Mr Callahan.

Set List
Son of the Sea
Too Many Birds
Watch Me Get Married
Let's Move to the Country
Say Valley Maker (Smog cover)
The Ballad of the Hulk
One Fine Morning
So Long, Marianne

Riding for the Feeling

Feb 28, 2020

The New Pornographers @ Metro Theatre

The New Pornographers are fun with a capital F. But that could possibly undersell them as they are so much more than that. Their songs brim with pathos and humanity. They are exquisitely constructed with undeniable melodies. Wednesday night at the Metro was a great pleasure to see them once again. It had been a while. But they have lost none of their touch, that's for sure. Sadly the venue was not full. But I guess they aren't really a 'hip' band anymore. Which is a shame because they are stamped with greatness and seeing them live proved it once again.

Last year saw the band released their eighth album in the shape of 'In The Morse Code of Brake Lights' and I believed it was their best in a while. Happily they played quite a few off that album and the new songs sounded great live. Especially 'The Surprise Knock' and the plaintive 'Higher Beams'. Also happily we heard a great selection from their astounding catalogue with many classics being played. 'Use It' was the first of many to get an enthusiastic crowd going. But I also loved 'The Laws Have Changed'. 'Testament to Youth in Verse' and 'The Bleeding Heart Show'. Finishing the set with 'Mass Romantic' was just the cherry on top. The band still numbers seven but this was the first time I had seen Simi Stone play with them. Of course Neko Case is a stellar singer who sets every song alight. Then there is the main man Carl Newman holding everything togther. What a band.

Set List
Falling Down the Stairs of Your Smile
Use It
You'll Need a Backseat Driver
Dancehall Domine
Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk
The Surprise Knock
The Bones of an Idol
Whiteout Conditions
Colossus of Rhodes
The Laws Have Changed
Higher Beams
Testament to Youth in Verse
Dreamlike and on the Rush
Crash Years
All The Old Showstoppers
Adventures in Solitude
Champions of Red Wine
Play Money
The Bleeding Heart Show
Mass Romantic

Brill Bruisers
The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism

Feb 23, 2020

Jay Som @ Oxford Art Factory

Friday night was the first ever Jay Som show in Sydney, or Australia for that matter. The band had just flown in from New Zealand and Friday night at the Oxford Art Factory was the first of a small run of dates in this country. Sadly the show was not sold out but for those who were there it was a special night of beautiful music. Jay Som is primarily Melina Mae Duterte, born in California with Filipino heritage. She now plays within a band of four, and this show was off the back of last year's excellent album 'Anak Ko'.

Jay Som's music is dreamy pop but with a solid base. And last year's album I think was her most substantial yet and happily she played quite a bit off that excellent record. Highlights included the title track as well the super popluar 'Superbike'. The band was really solid and some beautiful guitar jams emanted from the stage. It was great to hear the delightful 'The Bus Song' too as well as the just released new single in 'A Thousand Words'. It was a short set, about an hour, with no encore. But it was a great pleasure to see Jay Som for the very first time. 

Set List
If You Want It
Turn Into
Nighttime Drive
Anak Ko
Peace Out
Get Well
The Bus Song
A Thousand Words
Lipstick Stains