Nov 30, 2006

Arcade Fire-Vancouver 2005

I was reminiscing the other day and i wanted to share with you my experience of one of the greatest shows i ever witnessed. Don't get too excited, i don't have any recordings, my testimony is purely verbal. Just over a year ago, late September 2005, to be exact, i attended the Austin City Limits Music Festival, which was enormous fun, topped off by seeing on the sunday afternoon, The Arcade Fire, The Decemberists and Wilco in succession, bliss indeed. Then about 2 weeks later i was in Vancouver and was lucky enough to see The Arcade Fire headline a show on a friday night at the PNE Forum, which holds about 4000 people and i believe is an old hockey rink. The show was sold out and was one of the band's last shows of a huge 2005. To say the supports were great is an understatement, Belle Orchestre, opened and set the scene with their beautiful orchestral music, i even had the pleasure of saying hello to Richard Parry at the t-shirt stand after the show. Then Wolf Parade were next, after a slow start, they tore the place apart. When they played "I'll Believe In Anything", first time i had heard it, i knew i was witnessing something special. Then Arcade Fire, took the stage, and they were stupendous, they played with enormous passion and the crowd just lapped it up. They covered Springsteen's "Highway Patrolman" along the way and returned to play "Wake Up" as the encore. That is when all 3 bands joined each other on stage for the finale, as you can see in my photo, excuse the quality, i was in a heaving mass of humanity. To top things off the makers of Funeral then picked up all instruments acoustic and started to play "Age of Consent" by New Order, whilst walking deep into the audience, settling at the back of the crowd and then took on "Kiss Off" by the Violent Femmes. It was certainly a night that will live long in my memory.
Half Nelson Trailer

I don't know when this film will get a release in Australia, but it gets many ticks for me, including two fine young actors in Ryan Gosling and Anthony Mackie. But best of all it features the music of Broken Social Scene, including one of my favourites in Shampoo Suicide. The reviews so far have been outstanding, so its one to keep an eye out for.

Nov 27, 2006

Rock Plaza Central, O'death

If your tastes drift towards traditional, organic sounds evoking a past time i can highly recommend the following 2 releases.
Are We Not Horses- Rock Plaza Central is another Canadian release which promises greatness, evoking Neutral Milk Hotel with its use of brass and chris eaton's off-kilter voice, the band swells to produce a unique concoction.
Head Home-O'death. I came to this release via the excellent Perm & the Skullet, this band hails from New York, but you would guess it was recorded on a mountain somewhere in West Virginia, with its bluegrass feel of banjos, slide guitar, fiddle and as described on the cd, junk. This record ranges from foot stomping caterwauls to sad dark songs which are sung with great emotion. I think of late my tastes have leaned to authentic, honest music played with heart and zero pretension and both these releases fit the bill.
You can buy the O'death release at the excellent CD Baby, a great source of independent and unique music.
The Rock Plaza Central is self released and available here.
MP3: Busted Old Church-O'death.
MP3: Only Daughter-O'death.
MP3: My Children Be Joyful-Rock Plaza Central.

Nov 26, 2006

The Road to Guantanamo

The Road to Guantanamo is a must see movie for any one concerned with the direction our world is taking. Directed by the amazingly versatile British director Michael Winterbottom (Wonderland, The Claim, 24 Hour Party People, Tristram Shandy) it tells the true story of the "Tipton 3", Asif Iqbal, Shafiq Rasul and Ruhal Ahmed. Living in England they go to Pakistan for a holiday and perhaps for Asif to find a wife, whilst there they travel to Afghanistan a little after 9/11. Unfortunately they get caught up in the arrest of Taliban fighters and are taken as Taliban themselves. They are then sent to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where they undergo torture and interrogation for 2 years despite having no evidence against them. Filmed as a docu-drama and interspersed with interviews with the real life three, this film will leave you angry, confused and shaken with how anyone can be stripped of their humanity and how the military can use their "intelligence" to such devastating affect. The telling quote i found in the film came from a military officer who says at one point "Our God is winning", which i think shows how people can use religion to set up divisions in this world and thus cause alot of the insecurities that people feel at the moment. Also apparently the torture scenes were even softened for the benefit of the actors and this promotion poster was rejected because of the depiction of torture.
You can view a trailer here.
This is essential viewing for everyone.

Nov 25, 2006


New York band Akron/Family defy description, the tag freak-folk has been used, but i find that term fairly gross. Let me just say that they combine a lot of different styles to brew up an intoxicating blend of music. Their third release Meek Warrior sees the four-piece consolidate their position as one of the most innovative bands working today. Signed to Michael Gira's Young God Records, the band open up with a nine minute sonic assault "Blessing Force", a song that has many different directions, maybe too many to be honest, then what unfolds are a blend of songs, that range from folk to sheer noise, but all giving you an exciting listen. The second song "Gone Beyond", i think demonstrates Akron/Family's biggest strength as a band, their amazing vocal harmonies, which if you are familiar with their past work, you already know about.
MP3: Meek Warrior.
MP3: Gone Beyond.

Nov 23, 2006

Viva Voce, Swan Lake, etc.

I only just came to Viva Voce, boy it can be hard keeping up with everything musical, but i'm glad i did. They have just released their third record Get Yr Blood Sucked Out on Barsuk Records and an excellent one it is. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, originally from Alabama, the husband-wife team of Kevin and Anita Robinson have created a mix of garage rock, pop, folk, blues that will have you smiling indeed. Whilst Kevin keeps the drumming super solid, i think Anita is the star with her dazzling fretwork and dreamy vocals. I think they will surprise you with their ingenuity, no song sounds the same, these 2 tracks are very fine indeed.
MP3: When Planets Collide.
MP3: We Do Not Fuck Around.

  • Go to Radio Free Canuckistan for some illuminating interviews with Dan Bejar, Spencer Krug and Carey Mercer, that is Swan Lake. Beast Moans is released this week, hope to get my hands on it very shortly, Pitchfork gave it an 8.1 today.
  • A blog i read everyday with enjoyment is An Aquarium Drunkard, i guess i share similar tastes, anyway he recently released his list of best American Bands working today in response to recent polling of Bloggers. I think its a great list, especially if your tastes lean toward classic Americana, although that is a hard label to define. The only glaring omission for me was Spoon. You can read the list here.

Nov 22, 2006

The Wrens - Everyone Choose Sides

I have posted before on the greatness of the Wrens, i think this only consolidates it. Courtesy of Camp Jinx

Nov 21, 2006

Oh Joy! New Explosions in the Sky

As i reported in a earlier post Texas sonic masters Explosions in the Sky will release their long awaited new record in February 2007.
Now thanks to More Cowbell it can revealed that “All of a Sudden, I Miss Everyone” will contain 6 tracks and as you can see some great artwork. Here is the tracklisting-
1. The Birth and Death of the Day
2. Welcome, Ghosts
3. It’s Natural To Be Afraid
4. What Do You Go Home To?
5. Catastrophe and the Cure
6. So Long, Lonesome

This i believe and hope will be one of the cornerstone records of 2007.
MP3: Welcome, Ghosts

Nov 20, 2006

Oakley Hall

A band really filling my ears at the moment is Brooklyn sextet Oakley Hall, whose third album was released recently on Brah Records, it is also now available locally on Spunk. Formed in 2002 by Patrick Sullivan, formerly of Oneida, this band is a unique blend of distorted rock, folk and country. Gypsum Strings opening track "Confidence Man" will assault your ears with its Hendrix like opening, but then the record will unfold and give you many different sounds and styles. Standout track "Lazy Susan" contains some of the best guitar heroics this side of Doug Martsch, whilst the drumming of Greg Anderson will have you hypnotised. Other songs like "Living in Sin in the USA" and "Nite Lights, Dark Days" feature the angelic singing of Rachel Cox and are pure American folk moments. Their music has been described as psychedelic roots music, a rather cumbersome title, but labels are never truly satisfactory, trust me you should check them out. Merge Records are obviously impressed, they have just signed them.

MP3: Lazy Susan
MP3: Living in Sin in the USA

Nov 18, 2006

Lists, lists, lists, etc.

Why do i have a photo of The Arcade Fire here, well i was recently looking at the results of surveys taken of Canadian, Australian and Americans blogs of what were considered the hottest bands/artists in 2006. Obviously the Montreal greats have been quiet in 2006, hopefully set to take us again by storm in 2007 with their hotly anticipated second album. The makers of "Funeral" still managed to finish 26th in the Canadian poll, before they take their rightful place at number one in 2007. Who won in Canada? It was Final Fantasy, just ahead of Destroyer and Sunset Rubdown. I have no arguments there as those 3 artists have produced, i think 3 of the finest records released this year. You can read the full results at I Heart Music.
I think the Canadian list was reflective of the amazing talent coming from that country at the moment, including a few new bands i like, including Tokyo Police Club, The Lovely Feathers and Land of Talk. The only glaring omission i thought was Ohbijou.

Obviously A Reminder recently published the Aussie list and i was glad to see my favs Dappled Cities Fly come out on top. To be honest i think the reason for the lads coming first is because they feel exciting and original, i still think artists here are fairly safe in what they are doing and there is not alot of jawdropping acts out there at the moment, in my opinion.

The US list was published this week at Information Leafblower and i think it proved that no country can produce a more talented and diverse pool of talent, although how My Chemical Romance got on is beyond me. TV on the Radio were worthy of finishing first as i think they are true originals. I was also glad to see new bands like Silversun Pickups, Beirut and Voxtrot find spots, although i was surprised Cold War Kids, Band of Horses, Annuals and Bound Stems failed to make the cut. Also this list excludes Spoon, Modest Mouse, Animal Collective and Interpol, all bands i love who didnt release any new stuff in 2006.
If you have time, its worth reading some of the ridiculous comments that people have posted, the most absurd comment being that bloggers discard bands after a few weeks of hype, this argument seems silly to me, as i for one would find it strange to continually write about
the same artist rather then trying to find new topics each day.

A Song from Annuals, who i love, that is really making me smile: Bleary Eyed.

Nov 17, 2006

Joanna Newsom

Ys deserves every inch of acclaim it has received since its release this week. Joanna Newsom's second album after 2004's "The Milk Eyed Mender" is a staggering triumph of ambition and beauty. Her debut was but only a hint of the masterpiece she has created here. Clocking in at just under an hour, the 5 songs will unfold and deliver surprises that make your heart and mind ache. As has been covered extensively she employed the talents of Van Dyke Parks, such beautiful string arrangements, and master producer Steve Albini to augment her unique harp playing. Some people are put off by her childlike voice, please don't be, this is an album that shoots for the stars and delivers in full force. "Emily" is my favourite track but each song has its own special charms, "Only Skin" staggers belief in its complexity.

We've seen those mountains kneeling, felten and grey
We thought our very hearts would up and melt away
From that snow in the night time
Just going
And going
And the stirring of wind chimes
In the morning
In the morning
Helps me find my way back in
From the place where I have been

And, Emily - I saw you last night by the river
I dreamed you were skipping little stones across the surface of the water
Frowning at the angle where they were lost, and slipped under forever,
In a mud-cloud, mica-spangled, like the sky'd been breathing on a mirror

Nov 16, 2006

Jason Molina @ Hopetoun Hotel

One man and his guitar, and an enthalled audience, made for a special evening at the Hopetoun Hotel on Wednesday night. Jason Molina of Songs:Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. fame played a solo acoustic set to a very appreciative crowd. After a few hiccups with his guitar tuning and pickup problems Jason launched into Hammer Down and away his went. He played mainly stuff off his most recent records, including Leave the City, Montgomery, Memphis Moon, Hard to Love a Man and What Comes after the Blues before playing a selection of only recently written tunes. His voice just powered out of his small frame, whilst his guitar playing was stirring and at times very soulful. Mr Molina also revealed a good sense of humor towards the end of his set.
On my way home i couldnt help thinking its a pity a man of this talent plays to such a small crowd, but then i realised we would be deprived of the opportunity to see him in such an intimate setting if he were to play larger venues.

My favourite song of his: Leave the City.

Nov 14, 2006

Sunken Treasure - Jeff Tweedy Live

Sunken Treasure Jeff Tweedy live in the Pacific Northwest is not only a must for fans of Wilco but for any lovers of great music. Recorded in February 2006 by Brendan Canty (Fugazi), the dvd covers shows in Seattle, Portland, Eugene, Arcata and San Francisco. Predominately acoustic with some backing by Glenn Kotchke, Nels Cline and Scott McCaughey, Tweedy plays mainly Wilco songs with some Uncle Tupelo and Loose Fur thrown in. The highlight, musically, for me is a stunning rendition of my favourite Wilco song Sunken Treasure. Also included are Tweedy's musings about the live experience, in one great scene, he berates a punter for talking during a show. Tweedy basically says, why come to a show when you are going to talk all the way through it. It spoils it for everyone trying to take in the show. I couldnt agree more with Tweedy, if i could have one thing changed at shows, it would be to remove excessive talkers, i can not understand why people need to continually talk through out a show, its extremely selfish, you wouldnt do it during a movie or play, why pay good money and then not listen to the performer. Phew, i was glad to get that off my chest, but i guess its my forum here.
Anyway you can watch a trailer here at Wilcoworld.

Nov 13, 2006

Best of Australia, reviews, etc.

A big thanks to sean at a reminder for his work in compiling the list of the best of 2006.

For what its worth here is my contribution-

1. Dappled Cities Fly
The most exciting band in the country and always entertaining live.

2. Dirty Three
Perhaps Australia's greatest ever and still making interesting music.

3. Architecture in Helsinki
Highly original, an oasis in a land of retro rock.

4. theredsunband
sarah nails it everytime with her voice.

5. Youth Group
6. The Grates
7. The Crayon Fields
8. The Avalanches
9. Art of Fighting
10. Screamfeeder
11. The Tucker B's
12. Mountains in the Sky

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin's re-released debut record Broom is a delightful collection of sweet pop gems. Despite a few weaker tracks, the band, from smalltown Missouri will have you humming and tapping your feet to these well crafted tunes. They have been compared to The Shins and although they lack James Mercer's lyrical dexterity it is none the less a fine debut
MP3: House Fire.

In a totally different vein Portland, Oregon's The Thermals have shown that committed, blistering and intelligent punk rock is still achievable in 2006. When i say punk rock, i mean 3 chord rock that still contains vicious hooks and memorable melodies but delivers a coherent message about the state of the world. The Body, the blood, the machine covers themes of isolation, desolation, christianity in the new USA and generally just "where the hell are we going". Hutch Harris' voice will have you wanting to just pump your fist in the air. I imagine this 3 piece would just kill live.
Watch here- A Pillar of Salt.

One More Thing- Just bought Joanna Newsom's newie Ys. All i can say at the moment is breathtaking. I will review in full shortly. I am so disappointed to learn her 2 sydney festival dates have sold out, i didn't act quickly enough.

Nov 11, 2006

Dappled Cities Fly at Red Eye Records

A great afternoon today at Red Eye Records as local heroes Dappled Cities Fly performed a free instore which delighted their growing legion of fans. The boys have just returned from the USA, and despite claiming they were suffering from jetlag, they tore through their set with great gusto. Playing mainly tracks from their new album Granddance they played for nearly an hour before generously signing autographs afterwards.
They played their classic "Cream", but it was great to hear all their new tracks in a live setting, stands out being "Holy Chord", "Colour Coding" and my fav "Within Hours". By the way the new record is excellent. Recorded in Los Angeles and mixed in Nasnville, the band has really matured whilst still keeping their unique charm.
You can listen to some new tracks at their Myspace.
You can check out more photos at my Flickr.

Nov 10, 2006

Catfish Haven

This 3 piece from Chicago makes music that has a timeless value to it. George Hunter's voice sprawls across every track, with his husky soulful voice crooning above simple instrumentation. However i think the trick to Catfish Haven's appeal is their no frills approach that sucks you into every song but by the end you just want to hear it again. Originally from Missouri but now calling Chicago home, the band recently released Tell Me on Secretly Canadian Records. This record to me just feels American, with its bluesy, down home feeling that sounds like it should be belted out of pool halls and all night bars. Highly recommended.
MP3: Crazy For Leaving.

Nov 8, 2006

Destroyer/Golden Plains

Basically i am of the opinion that Destroyer can do no wrong. So i was especially excited to hear that his first and out of print record We'll Build Them a Golden Bridge has been re-released on Scratch Records. First issued in 1996 it has new artwork and includes 2 songs which would later appear on New Pornographers releases.
I truly believe Dan Bejar to be a genius songwriter and i plan to expand on this opinion in the future.
MP3: Breakin' the Law

More exciting news is that the people behind the Meredith Music Festival are planning another festival at the same venue in March 2007, to be called Golden Plains.
Some of the bands invited include Comets on Fire, Yo La Tengo, !!!, The Bellrays, Gotye, Mountains in the Sky. Promising so far with more to be announced.

Nov 7, 2006

The Lovely Sparrows

Recently received in the mail, was the debut EP for Austin, Texas band The Lovely Sparrows.
Consisting of 5 tracks Pulling Up Floors, Pouring on (New) Paint is quite a delight. The band only formed in 2005 and judging by this release they look to have a bright future indeed.
Using quite a few instruments including banjo, mandolin and flute they have blended a unique piece of pop that has many layers. The vocals from Shawn Jones and Lauryn Steinburg are warm and laidback making for a extremely pleasant listening.
MP3: Chemicals Change. You can buy here.

Have also been listening to new records from The Thermals, Someone Stills Love You Boris Yeltsin and Catfish Haven which i intend to review shortly.

Nov 6, 2006

Meadowlands-The Wrens

I recently noticed that The Wrens 2003 masterpiece Meadowlands is now readily available in Australia with 2 extra tracks from the original sessions. For those who don't have this incredible record i can only suggest run, don't walk to your nearest store and make it part of your collection. Many of you would know by now how this New Jersey oufit went almost 7 years before releasing this album after many battles with their previous label, but it was worth the wait. This record simply soars, with every song having many layers, full of emotion and intelligently crafted pop rock. There are so many hooks in these songs you will never tire of them. I would honestly say it is one of my all time favourites, which i intend to include in my list of loved cds that i will post about in the future to give you an indication of my musical taste.

BOYS YOU WON'T- listen here. watch below.
Boys you won't remember

From the minute
You wanted into the room
Every letter started broken hearted
And ended way too soon
Lived through underrated
Getting jaded
To wind up with no one
Hiding in new places
Singing "I guess we're done"
I don't want you to wonder why
It won't do any good
You don't know what you got into
Unitil you know when it's all gone wrong
And I don't feel the need to try and explain

The Wrens - Boys, You Won't (Live)

This is from the Haldern Pop festival in Germany in August this year. Amazing crowd involvement it sends shivers down my spine.

Nov 5, 2006

Animal Collective @newtown

WOW. Animal Collective at @newtown last night were simply awesome. The band members arrived a little after 10.30 in various states of dress, Avey Tare was wearing pyjamas, Geologist was sporting nice glow-in-the-dark bones, Deakin seemed to be wearing a sunflower headmask, whilst Panda Bear was happy to just have a Daft Punk t-shirt. They began with a great rendition of the moving Daffy Duck, before moving onto Fireworks and then blistered through Purple Bottle which sent the crowd into a frenzy. Other standouts were the popular Grass and my favourite Banshee Beat which was simply stunning. After an hour of half of high energy and unique music they closed with a boisterous version of We Tigers which had the crowd begging for more. They returned to play Kids On Holidays, leaving everyone very satisfied. Only down note, no Winters Love.
You can see more photos of the night, plus support act Tucker B's here.

Nov 4, 2006

Animal Collective - Winter's Love

i'm so looking forward to seeing them tonight, i love this song so much.

Nov 2, 2006


This is a band that definitely should have a much bigger audience. I only came to them recently and i most assuredly wish i had heard them earlier. Aloha have been together since 1997 when forming in Ohio, now based all over the US eastern seaboard they released what i believe is their 4th full length album Some Echoes earlier this year to universal acclaim. Even though the band operates under the basic 4 piece rock group setup, their music is at once melodic, uplifting and passionate. There is a singular beauty to their music that i'm sure you will find hard to resist. I think this quote from Punchline that i read sums it up best "Aloha do for the pop format what most bands can’t--adopt it, ingest it, and spit it out as a living breathing progeny....beautiful."

If you would like investigate further i can recommend visiting the good folk at Polyvinyl Records.

This is my favourite track from Some Echoes: Weekend.
Another good one. Your Eyes.

Nov 1, 2006

Sunset Rubdown Live in Chicago

This a recent recording of one of my favourite songs from my favourite record this year. Spencer you can do no wrong.