Jan 31, 2007

Neko Case @ The Annandale Hotel

Neko Case at the Annandale Hotel on Tuesday Night. Well words won't really do justice to the magnificence of this performance. Suffice to say please come back again soon Neko and if you like, stay here and provide us with your incredible voice on a regular basis. I will admit that I came to Neko Case's music through her involvement with Canadian pop masters The New Pornographers but I am so glad they opened the doorway to what I truly believe is the greatest voice in music today. As you are probably aware Neko has been producing her unique style of country music for a few years now and last year's "Fox Confessor Brings The Flood" was I believe her finest work yet. It was from that album that most of her set was filled with a liberal sprinkling of her older work. The show kicked into high gear upon playing "Favorite" (wow, what a song) as her second tune of the night. Thereafter there was highlight after highlight. The middle section was just stunning, "The Tigers Have Spoken", "Maybe Sparrow", "Margaret Vs. Pauline" in succession. I was just lapping up her pure voice that pierced the venue which listened in awe. It was even better when the music came to a halt and Neko's voice floated across the Annandale in respectful silence (thanks audience for being quiet). Having said that, her band was truly excellent. A group of insightful and masterful musicians. Tom V. Ray on upright bass provided a back-bone, Kelly Hogan added superb vocals and Jon Rauhouse was out of this world with his pedal steel (amazing), banjo and guitar. Neko herself, after a few hiccups with her mic stand and amp, brought and ably played 3 guitars to the mix. Ah, what else, she played Dylan's "Buckets of Rain" and a live staple in Freakwater's "Hex", a show stopper if there ever was. Neko and the band did 2 encores including "John Saw That Number", I was hoping for "Wayfaring Stranger", but I couldn't complain too much. The other impressive aspect is that Neko, for all her magnificent talents, is as unpretentious and down to earth as any performer you would see. She created a real rapport with the audience, chatting way between songs and just making it feel like you had just stumbled into her living room and she was playing for a bunch of friends. The last month in Sydney has been truly special and makes me realise even more why music has a grip on my heart and mind.

Set List
A Widow's Toast
If You Knew
Set Out Running
Star Witness
Dirty Knife
I Wish I Was The Moon
The Tigers Have Spoken
Maybe Sparrow
Margaret Vs. Pauline - MP3
Buckets Of Rain
Deep Red Bells
That Teenage Feeling
Furnace Room Lullaby
Hold On, Hold On

Look For Me (I'll Be Around)
John Saw That Number
Knock Loud

Soulful Shade Of Blue

Here are two more excellent reviews from appreciative fans.
I have more photos of the night at Flickr.
The Arcade Fire, Wake Up, Live outside St John's. 29/01/07

Its only 29 seconds, but how awesome is this!

Neko Case I Love You

Too tired to do a full review, will do one later- for now, Neko you are MY favourite.

oh, lie
I thought you were golden
I thought you were wise
caught you returning
to the house you caught fire
but I know that I was your favorite
and I said amen

wise, found favorin' heaven
and I at your side
but I never felt sorry
for those shimmering lies
when I laid down and cried
I was faking
and I said amen

last night I dreamt
that I hit a deer with my car
blood from his heart
spilled out onto my dress and was warm
he begged me to follow
but legions of sorrow defied me

oh, lie
I thought you were golden
I thought you were wise
when I caught you returning
to the house you caught fire
but I know that I'm your favorite
and I said amen
oh, favorite
and I said amen

Jan 29, 2007

Some Loud Thunder-Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Ahh, the difficult second album. Very hard to get right sometimes, do you push your boundaries, do you play safe and just reproduce the first one? Especially hard if the first one made a splash with the fans and critics. It seems to me that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are the obvious band that people are hoping to see fail. Pitchfork loved their self released debut and by the time of their just released second album people are waiting to poke holes in it in this seemingly cynical age. Fair enough if you don't dig this band for your own reasons. But "Some Loud Thunder" is really impressing me and I think if you give it a chance you might be impressed too. Now I loved their eponymous debut, its blend of danceable grooves, indie guitar lines, cryptic lyrics and Alec Ounsworth's unique voice were things I cherished. Some people seem to have a problem with Mr Ounsworth's voice, not me, for me it is a significant factor in my liking this record. It has been well written about that uber producer Dave Fridmann took the controls for "Some Loud Thunder" and that could have been a major misstep. For the opening title track is buried underneath a wall of static that will unfortunately put a lot of people off. I have heard the original and it is an irresistable pop gem. Which is more the pity. Even the second track "Emily Jean Stock", a fine song, has some fuzz on it. But then the next song "Mama, Won't You Keep Those Castles In The Air & Burning?" lifts the record into important territory. I have no idea what Alec is singing about, but God i love this song, it is epic. Thereafter the record doesn't have any major flaws, except for the dirge like "Love Song No. 7", that it is one I'm not getting much out of. If you liked the debut for its sunny pop and danceable tunes then you might find "Some Loud Thunder" a bit of a slog, the only 'pop' song is really "Underwater (You & Me)". But the band has shown quite a deal of growth, "Goodbye To The Mother & The Cove" and "Yankee Go Home" are very impressive songs with great power and range. And the closer "Five Easy Pieces" is a nice way to finish with its gentle swaying mood. Plus the live staple "Satan Said Dance" is included and this song just kills live. So in summing up, despite the difficult opening, I believe the band has really tried to serve up something significant and on the whole delivers. I would give it a very solid 8 out of ten and I believe I will be playing this heavily in 2007.

Update: Pitchfork just gave it a respectable 7.2. The review is actually very well written and makes a lot of good points.
Buy at Insound.
MP3: Some Loud Thunder (live, as it could have sounded)
MP3: Underwater (You & Me)

Jan 28, 2007

Andrew Bird @ The Basement

I am now firmly of the opinion that Chicago's Andrew Bird is truly a musical genius. His show at The Basement on Saturday night was one to behold. The last couple of months in Sydney has seen a string of great live shows. With The Mountain Goats being a 10 out of 10, I would give Mr Bird a strong 9. As you might know by now he performs a one man show whilst somehow juggling 3 instruments at once, not including his remarkable whistling. He began with a long instrumental number which dissolved into "Sovay", followed by "A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left" and "Measuring Cups", the same opening from Friday night. The thing I found with his live performance is that the songs are all stretched out, mainly to include his looping of violin, which gives his music extra depth and space thereby giving each song a new twist. His violin playing is simply superb and his voice can go from a hushed whisper to a soulful, powerful instrument within seconds. I also find his lyrics to be little vignettes of life with a certain amount of irony and cryptic clues thrown in. He covered a fair amount of his catalogue with a few older tunes plus 4 songs from his forthcoming "Armchair Apocrypha". Judging by what I heard this could be his finest work yet. "Cataracts" and "Dark Matter" were in fact my favourites of the night. Simply stunning, moving songs with amazing depth. Andrew Bird also revealed himself to be a charming performer with a very dry wit. I wish he had played "Fake Palindromes" and "MX Missiles" but I'm being greedy now. Also I'm still not a huge fan of the venue, but with music like this, who cares.

Set List (I don't claim to be an Andrew Bird expert so I stand to be corrected on this-also he plays quite a few instrumental interludes which could be songs in themselves)
A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left
Measuring Cups
Glass Figurine
Dear Dirty
Cataracts - MP3
Scythian Empire
Skin Is, My
Dark Matter

Andrew Bird - Live at Bonnaroo 2006

A taste of the genius that is Andrew Bird. See review above of his Sydney show

Jan 27, 2007

New Spoon, Andrew Bird, etc.

Without doubt Spoon are one of the finest bands on the planet. Their songwriting is so consistently great they should be bigger then they are. "Sister Jack" from their last release "Gimme Fiction" should have been a worldwide hit, considering its effortless groove. However, we can't do much about that, the good news is their new record should be released some time before the middle of 2007. Details are scant, its rumoured to be named "Stroke Your Brains" but who knows if that will be the eventual title. Thanks to You Ain't No Picasso I have a new live track that sounds sensational. Plenty to look forward to in 2007, but Spoon tops my list.
MP3: Rhythm and Soul (live)

Andrew Bird was close to genius last night in Sydney, in support to the amazing Joanna Newsom. He only played a short set so I am looking forward to seeing him playing tonight at The Basement. My hand was forced as I was unable to secure tickets for Joanna Newsom's show at the Spiegeltent. It is however a wonderful "consolation" as I have fallen in love with his last album "The Mysterious Production of Eggs". His new release "Armchair Apocrypha" is due on Fat Possum Records in March. Here is a track from that album.
MP3: Heretics

I have been listening to the new Clap Your Hands Say Yeah constantly since buying it a couple of days ago. "Some Loud Thunder" is I believe a major accomplishment for the band. It has produced a fuller, deeper sound then their debut I believe. I plan to do a full review shortly.
MP3: Underwater (You And Me)
MP3: Yankee Go Home
Joanna Newsom/Bill Callahan/Andrew Bird @ NIDA

Spunk Records are to be congratulated for producing an exquisite and unique night of music at the Parade Theatre at NIDA in Kensington on Friday night. Celebrating their 200th release the night began at 7.30 and before you knew it was 11.50 and I think everyone felt they had witnessed something special. Plus everyone went home with a free sampler CD and poster.

Joanna Newsom was the headliner and she provided a sublime set of music. She opened with "Bridges and Balloons" before hitting my favourite "Emily" from her towering achievement "Ys". The amazing harpist then proceeded to generallly switch back and forth with material from her 2 albums. Highlights were stunning versions of "Sawdust & Diamonds" and "Only Skin" and then to finish with "Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie" was truly satisfying. Ms Newsom's harp playing really has to be witnessed live. Her dexterity and fingerwork creates a sound that transports the mind and heart to another world. Incredibly moving, the only thing that betters it is her beautiful voice. I find that not only has her song writing matured on "Ys" but that her voice has too, it has blossomed into something to treasure. Also I thought that perhaps she would be accompanied by a string section of some sort, like her recorded work, but it actually was great to hear her songs in a less ornate style, just superb. I love Joanna.

Set List
Bridges and Balloons
This Side of the Blue
The Book of Right-On
Sawdust & Diamonds
Only Skin
Ca’ the Yowes to the Knowes
Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie

Bill Callahan, or Andrew Bird for that matter, was no second fiddle. Only playing a short time Bill played a stripped back set on acoustic guitar. Sitting down throughout, his deep, powerful voice resonated throughout the theatre. He opened with an old classic in "Bathysphere" before playing a moving "Our Anniversary". He played a couple of new tunes from his forthcoming album "Woke On A Whaleheart" named "Diamond Dancer" and "Sycamore". This will be his first release as Bill Callahan rather then under his usual moniker "Smog". I particularly liked Sycamore. He closed with 3 songs from his most recent release "A River Ain't Too Much To Love" in "In the Pines", "Let Me See the Colts" (he was joined on violin by Andrew Bird, incredible stuff) and a very moving "Rock Bottom Riser". Callahan is very unassuming but his guitar playing and voice surely packs quite an emotional punch.

Andrew Bird, well what can one say, he is some kind of genius. The man is a flurry of nervous energy. Switching effortlessly from violin to guitar to xylophone to whistling he truly astounds. A short set was filled with more originality and musicianship then you will see from most artists in a life time. He normally opens with violin, which he loops to be reproduced during each song before going to his guitar. He started with a thunderous instrumental before going into "Sovay", "A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left" and "Measuring Cups". A taste of his new album "Armchair Apocrypha" was delivered with "Plasticities", I can't wait for that record. Andrew Bird has a very soulful voice and his violin playing is sublime, a great talent indeed.

Sydney's Holly Throsby was a surprise guest and she opened with a set of lovely, intimate songs. A nice surprise was to see Sarah Blasko join her on stage for a cover of Brian Eno's "By This River". A very enjoyable start to the evening.

Jan 26, 2007


Thanks to Songs:Illinois I have a new band, to me that is, that I am quite excited by. Revival hail from Washington DC and their debut record "Horses of War", what a great title, is due for release in February. Their blend of country, folk and indie rock really suits my listening ears. If you like Jay Farrar or Neil Young, I think their music sits comfortably somewhere in between. Gypsy Eyes Records are the label that calls them home. Here are a couple of tracks for your listening pleasure.
MP3: Fog Rolling In
MP3: Dizzy
Ryan Stively + Poison Band-The Rapture

Tecolote Records is based in San Francisco and is home to a band I love in Port O'Brien. This video is by another label mate in Ryan Stively. This song is very upbeat and all warm and sunny. If you go to his Myspace you can hear some other tracks that are more downbeat but have a wonderful warmth to them. His recorded ouput is pretty hard to find. A good place to shop is Aquarius Records, anyway when I have his latest CD "Sugar Thunder" in my hands I will do a fuller review.

Jan 23, 2007

Coachella 2007 plus Wayne's Dream Festival

The Lineup for Coachella 2007 was announced today. This is a festival I have always wanted to attend but work commitments have made it next to impossible. Anyway the headliners do next to nothing for me, Bjork (I'd rather stick needles in my eyes), Red Hot Chili Peppers (ugh) and Rage Against the Machine (liked them years ago but generally speaking reformations don't excite me). However some of the other acts are truly exciting. Interpol, Silversun Pickups, Gillian Welch, Arcade Fire, Decemberists, New Pornographers, Andrew Bird, Explosions in the Sky, Grizzly Bear get the huge thumbs up for me.
Anyway I started thinking of what a dream festival lineup would look like for me. I thought I could have it in Sydney (saves airfares), in Spring (summer is too hot for me) and somehow keep the numbers limited to 10,000 (big crowds are off putting, hello BDO). I thought 12 bands a day would be a nice number. Of course these are currently working artists and no reformations. Hey its a silly idea, but a man can dream.

  • Gillian Welch (nice gentle way to start)
  • Midlake
  • Architecture in Helsinki (would get everyone up and dancing)
  • Cat Power
  • Destroyer (brings the greatness)
  • The Thermals
  • Wolf Parade
  • Sufjan Stevens
  • Voxtrot
  • Mogwai (the mellow sections ends here)
  • The Wrens (live shows are formidable or so I've heard)
  • Broken Social Scene (perfect closer, just incredible live)
  • Band of Horses (open with Great Salt Lake)
  • Akron/Family
  • Aloha (the day starts to get really sweet)
  • Annuals
  • Catfish Haven (crowd should be pumped now)
  • Bright Eyes
  • The Dears
  • Okkervil River (passion overload at this point)
  • Animal Collective (time to groove now)
  • Radiohead (no harm in slotting in a legend here)
  • Built to Spill (only they could manage to fill this gap)
  • The Arcade Fire (oh joy, oh joy)
  • Neko Case (her voice will get people ready)
  • M. Ward (Neko could stay and do a duet)
  • Dirty Three
  • The Decemberists
  • Sunset Rubdown (had to give Spencer a day off)
  • Spoon
  • Explosions in the Sky (time to lie down and hear perfection)
  • The Constantines (time to get up again)
  • The Mountain Goats
  • TV on the Radio
  • Wilco
  • My Morning Jacket (they can play until the end of time-if you want evidence go here.
Sometimes I think I have too much time on my hands.

Jan 22, 2007

Oxford Collapse, or how 2006 is still a voyage of discovery for me; 2007, excitement levels are rising very quickly

This CD cover just shouts fun doesn't it? Well trust me, if you buy Remember the Night Parties I can assure you, you will have fun. It represents the third album from Brooklyn three-piece Oxford Collapse and shows the band maturing into quite a force. Released late in 2006, I only recently discovered it and it is assuredly on high rotation at the moment. A lot of people have compared the bands' sound to Superchunk and I think that is apt. There is supreme energy on this disc from the power charged standout "Please Visit Your National Parks" to the highly infectious "Lady Lawyers" and "Molasses". Michael Pace sings with a real fervour over a raucous combination of bass and drums. Its not all power pop though, the moody opener "He'll Paint While We Play" is a gentle introduction and the eight minute epic "Return of the Bruno" has a touch of Built to Spill guitar heroics.
You can buy at Subpop or Insound.
MP3: Please Visit Your National Parks
MP3: Lady Lawyers

2007- So much to look forward to and here is just a taste, some of this has been floating around for a while, but it's so good I had to share again.

MP3: Yankee Go Home-Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.
Due any day now, what I have heard so far just sounds extra special to me and even better then the first album. I love Alec Ounsworth's voice and I'm not afraid to admit It.

MP3: The Universe-Do Make Say Think
Bold, beautiful and intoxicating. February is just around the corner for this Canadian group to take centre stage. You, You're a History in Rust should be special.

MP3: Black Wave/Bad Vibrations- The Arcade Fire
Greatness becomes legend.

MP3: My Sword Hand's Anger- Apostle of Hustle
Broken Social Scene member Andrew Whiteman's project shows his talents are prodigious.

Jan 21, 2007

Arcade Fire: Intervention (Live at Canterbury High, Ottawa)

The Arcade Fire played a special show at a Canadian High School on Friday Night. Doesn't this just make you even more excited for Neon Bible? and a tour (PLEASE). via Pitchfork.

Jan 20, 2007

Wincing The Night Away- The Shins

Wincing The Night Away, the third release from The Shins, is without doubt the first major release in 2007. Now I would say that most of us fell in love with "Oh, Inverted World" and "Chutes too Narrow". I think that The Shins' perfect blend of melody and melancholy is impossible to resist. Arriving with this new album, it seems we will have to share them with a much bigger audience. But I am happy to say that they have not disappointed us and have delivered an effortlessly beautiful album. I would have to say that though "Wincing..." doesn't contain the veritable smorgasboard of pop gems from their first 2 records, they have shown a slightly darker sound and more languid side that shows the band growing whilst still retaining that distinctive Shins sound. The highlight for me is the opener "Sleeping Lessons", a sublime song that builds and then bursts into pop perfection. Other delights are the single "Phantom Limb", "Australia", "Turn On Me"(featuring Anita Robinson of Viva Voce) and the closer "A Comet Appears". Perhaps the most interesting track is "Black Wave", a slow introspective song which is quite eerie. I think the best way to get the most out of this record is to listen to it repeatedly and I think eventually you will fall in love with it. It won't give you the instant buzz of "Chutes too Narrow", but it will reward you. You can tell that the band has put a lot of time and effort into it, their melodies are still perfect and James Mercer's voice has never sounded better.

Some lyrics from "Sleeping Lessons"-
Go without till the need seeps in,
You low animal,
Collect your novel petals for the stem,
And glow, glow, Melt and flow,
Eviscerate your fragile frame,
And spill it out in the ragged floor,
A thousand different versions of yourself

Here is an informed review from Passion of the Weiss.
MP3: Phantom Limb.
Jeff Tweedy

You may have heard of Jeff Tweedy. He plays in a little band called Wilco, who happen to be touring here in April. Did everyone get tickets?, or did the $80 price put you off. I suppose many of us are used to paying no more then $50 for our favourite bands. But when you consider most shows at the Entertainment Centre or these monstrous Stadium shows go for over $100, I think it will be worth it. Looks like you can still purchase standing room tickets too. Anyway, I digress, Jeff Tweedy is currently doing a solo tour of the USA. I came across this excellent piece on Nashville Scene, which has a snapshot of his set list. Apparently Jeff makes a list of songs in his repertoire and then crosses off the ones he doesn't want to play. Anyway it makes for fascinating reading for a Wilco/Tweedy fan. Here is another Wilco live track-

MP3: Maybe the Sun Will Shine Today (live)

Jan 19, 2007

Laura Veirs @ The Basement

Thursday Night represented two firsts for me. The first time I had seen Laura Veirs and the first time I had seen a show at The Basement. Firstly Portland, Oregon's Laura Veirs provided a gentle night of sweetly sung songs. She was on guitar for the whole night, with Tucker Martine providing drums on about half of the songs. Now I only own Ms Veirs' latest work "Year of Meteors" so I wasn't overly familiar with everything she played, plus she previewed quite a few songs from "Saltbreakers" her upcoming album due in March. Despite this I quite enjoyed the night without it reaching any great heights. Of the songs I knew I was happy to hear "Parisian Dream" and "Rialto". She also used quite imaginative pedal looping and it seemed that the audience was satisfied with the night. Plus she was incredibly friendly. Now I would have to say my first Basement show would probably be my last for a few reasons. Mainly because most of the acts that play there aren't really my style of music. Also i find the whole supper club feeling in front of the stage not my way of watching music. Plus I found the venue cramped and hot with not a lot of good vantage points. Anyway here is an old Laura Veirs song to enjoy-
MP3: Green Cowgirl

Jan 17, 2007

My Morning Jacket - the way that he sings

This is from ACL Festival 2004. I only posted this because I just love this band and I need to see them again sometime soon. They are performing a wonderful song from "At Dawn".

Jan 16, 2007

Wilco, New Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and other various stuff

Wilco fever hits on Friday when tickets go on sale for their April show at the Enmore Theatre. Is everyone as excited as I am for this one? These guys are just seriously great. They have a new record due to drop in May. I recently found a link that compiles all the new stuff they have been playing live in the last year. Go here for a preview of what we can expect. This is my fav song-
MP3: What Light (live)

"Some Loud Thunder", the second release from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is due in the next week. I am very excited to hear this one. I love their blend of jangly guitars and left of centre vocals. The first 2 tracks released off the album were good I thought. Here is another track to try out. This is very, very good, a different sound, I can hear a little Sunset Rubdown actually.
MP3: Goodbye to the Mother and the Cover

A nice news site is We Eat Music. They have a new feature called The Shelfproject where they ask artists what books and records are living on their shelf. First up is Chris Eaton from excellent Canadian band Rock Plaza Central. Worth checking out.

Thanks to my good friend Heather I have been made aware recently of the greatness and unique sound of Minnesota band Cloud Cult. Led by Craig Minowa their beautiful sounds have floated under the radar for many years. Strictly adhering to a D-I-Y approach their new record "The Meaning of 8" is due in April. You can actually buy it direct from their site in February.
Here is a track from their upcoming album.
MP3: Pretty Voice

Finally two songs from 2 very exciting bands-
I raved about Frightened Rabbit the other day. Here is another song that appears only on their Myspace at the moment. It is, again, very catchy.
MP3: Modern Leper
Ra Ra Riot hail from Syracuse, New York. Only in existence for a year, they haven't recorded anything yet. But they have a joyous sound with great vocals and delicious use of strings, I can hear a little Broken Social Scene in there.
MP3: The New Flesh (demo)

Jan 14, 2007

Frightened Rabbit

There seems to be so much new music now, its extremely hard to sought the good from the bad. Definitely in the good pile is Frightened Rabbit. They haven't garnered much publicity till now, but seem to picking up a higher profile recently and deservedly so. Catbird Seat was where I first heard of them and then just recently Polaroids of Androids gave them a big thumbs up. But I thought I would throw in my two cents worth as I can't get enough of them at the moment. Frightened Rabbit are basically brothers Scott and Grant Hutchison, they hail from Glasgow and "Sing the Greys" is their debut album. Their music is quite simple, but packs a big punch, with their frenetic drumming and catchy guitar. The Scottish accent in the vocals is another reason to fall in love with the songs. Stand out tracks are "Square 9", the longest one by far, "Yawns", a beautiful plaintive song and "Go Go Girls", which would make anyone dance. In the last few years I have found the British music scene lacking for inspiration. Radiohead and Mogwai are icons of the scene and of the new bands I like Bloc Party, but the whole Snow Patrol, Kasabian, Razorlight conveyor belt leaves me cold. Frightened Rabbit, I hope can change that perception, they have a big future I believe.

You can befriend them at their Myspace.
To buy Sing the Greys go to Hits the Fan.
Here are two tracks courtesy of Self Starter Foundation
MP3: The Greys
MP3: Go Go Girls

Jan 13, 2007

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette has been a film I wanted to review for a while but only now did the time present itself. I was big fan of Sofia Coppola's first two films particularly "Lost in Translation", a funny and very moving tale of friendship and lost feelings. When I saw the trailer many months ago featuring New Order's "Age of Consent", I was naturally excited. Unfortunately I found the film a bit of a disappointment. It starts with Marie (Kirsten Dunst), leaving Austria to become the arranged bride of Louis Auguste, the Dauphin of France. The story mainly focuses on her struggle to bear a child with her new husband, her battles to fit in with the rituals of the stuffy French Court and her excessive spending when she becomes Queen. From what I understand of her history the film is quite accurate in portraying her daily rituals and her relationship with her husband and her demanding mother. The film never intends to be a historical document, only lightly touching on French politics at the time and some critics have had trouble with the rock soundtrack and American accents. That didn't bother me, I think my main problem with the film is at heart the subject matter. Being a staunch Republican, I find all Monarchies irrelevant and basically abhorrent. Now where a film like "Elizabeth" at least served as a powerful historical document, "Marie Antoinette" felt very shallow with its displays of decadence and ridiculous rituals. Now that is probably what the film maker intended but it only gave me a feeling of disconnection. Now the film did have some moments of sheer beauty and the director had full use of Versailles so there is plenty for the eye to feast on. The cast is excellent, Kirsten Dunst is charming in the lead role and Judy Davis, Steve Coogan, Shirley Henderson and Rip Torn are all great. Our own Rose Byrne is simply radiant as the vivacious Duchesse de Polignac. The soundtrack is quite good also, although not amazing, I did like hearing New Order's "Ceremony" at the Queen's birthday. For me the master of combining images and music is Wes Anderson. Anyway here is the best song and perhaps one that could have found its way onto the soundtrack in honour of the lead actress.

MP3: Ceremony
MP4: Kirsten Dunst (Pivot)

Jan 11, 2007

Port O'Brien

Continuing the theme from my last post, I would like to write about another band that mines that rich vein of authentic, organic sounds with a folk, country feel. Port O'Brien hails from California, initially the solo project of Van Pierszalowski, it bloomed into a full band in 2005, where upon they released their debut album "When the Rain Comes". Now they have an EP, "Nowhere to Run" released in late 2006. It only contains 6 songs but it has quickly found its way inside my heart. The best way I can describe the band's music is like this, it feels like it grew from the ground into the band members, then flowed out of their hearts. If a comparison could be found I would liken them to Akron/Family with a folk twist. As an added bonus the last track on the EP is a cover of Nirvana's "Something in the Way".

Anyway here are a couple of tracks to listen to-
MP3: I Woke Up Today
MP3: Tree Bones

If you go here you can purchase either of their releases or visit their Myspace.
  • Also bassist Caleb Nichols has a project of his own named the Bloody Heads. Their music is quite different, a definite rock sound but worth checking out here.

Jan 9, 2007

Dead Letter Chorus

A Sydney band that I was introduced to recently and is definitely worth checking out is Dead Letter Chorus. If you are a little jaded by Nu-wave pretenders or Wolfmother type revisionists then this 6 piece band will put you in touch with genuine, authentic sounds. They haven't been on the scene for a long time, but they look to be heading into the recording studio sometime this year. The music that I have heard seems to place them in that blend of rock, country and folk that when done right produces a beautiful sound. They list their influences as Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Bright Eyes, Martha Wainwright, The Shins, The Frames, so you can perhaps get a feel for their music from that list. I have a couple of live tracks here that will give you a further idea, they feature the voices of Gabrielle Huber and Cameron Potts on lead vocals.

MP3: Don't Get Shiela (live)
MP3: Winter Solace (live)

You can listen to some demos on their My Space for a further taste.
Also they have a few live dates coming up including one at the Annandale on the 17th.

Jan 8, 2007

M. Ward @ the Famous Spiegeltent

I honestly don't know how 2007 will live up musically to what i have seen in the last 4 days. After seeing a great M. Ward show on Friday night and a nearly inspirational Mountain Goats on Saturday I ventured to the Famous Spiegeltent on Monday night to see the great M. Ward again. What a night. Presented as part of the Sydney Festival, this was his third show in as many nights and it displayed all his remarkable talents in full effect. With Mike Coykendall in acoustic support for the first half, M. started on electric guitar before switching to piano and back to acoustic guitar and harmonica at the end. His guitar playing is simply breathtaking and we all know how great his raspy, husky voice is. So many highlights, where to start. Firstly the setting was truly special, a fabulous tent with mirrors and glass in the green surroundings of Hyde Park. He pulled out a Carter Family cover and in a real twist covered Joanna Newsom's "Sadie", nailing it too on an acoustic guitar. He played a few oldies including an amazing "Carolina" on piano and then to top it off he finished with "Rollercoaster" with an audience member pulled out to accompany him on piano. M. Ward doesn't say much, and I now realise he places photo bans at his shows, but his music does all the talking for him. And it says plenty.

Set List
Lullaby + Exile
Oh Take Me Back (Carter Family cover)
John Fahey cover
Outta My Head
Cosmopolitan Pop
Magic Trick
Fool Says
One Life Away
Chinese Translation - MP3
Transfiguration # 2
Poor Boy, Minor Key
Duet For Guitars # 3
Sadie (Joanna Newsom cover)

O'Brien/O'Brien's Nocturne
Let's Dance

Jan 7, 2007

The Mountain Goats @ Metro Theatre

Please count me now and forever as a Mountain Goats fan. I had owned "We All Shall Be Healed" for a while, but it wasn't something I played on a regular basis. Then in 2006 I caught up to the "The Sunset Tree" and it blew me away. Since then I have been busy catching up on their back catalogue, it's vast so I know it's a huge task. To see them live for the first time on Saturday night was an experience I will never forget. It felt like a revival meeting with John Darnielle communicating from the heart with an audience hanging on every word and Peter Hughes underpinning the performance with his superb bass playing. John Darnielle is a mesmeric performer, living every song like he was singing it for the first time, his enunciation of every lyric is superb, so much so that for most of the songs a rapturous crowd was singing along with every word. Their show was a mainly a combination of their last three records, with a few older classics thrown in for good measure. The highlights for me were stunning versions of "Up the Wolves", "Broom People", "New Year" and my personal favourite "Palmcorder Yajna". The second encore produced "No Children" which produced a huge singalong and I'm sure sent everyone home with huge smiles on their faces. I think M. Ward and the Mountain Goats are OUR folk music, their songs are modern yet timeless, incorporating classic song structures with modern themes. My first time seeing The Mountain Goats won't be the last.

Set List
Wild Sage
You Or Your Memory
Dance Music
Up The Wolves
Maybe Sprout Wings
Game Shows Touch Our Lives
In the Hidden Places
Broom People
Song For Dennis Brown
Get Lonely
New Monster Avenue (with John Vanderslice)
Half Dead (with John Vanderslice)
See America Right (with John Vanderslice)
This Year (with John Vanderslice)

Houseguest (Nothing Painted Blue cover)
The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton
Palmcorder Yajna

No Children (with John Vanderslice)
California Song

San Francisco based John Vanderslice provided excellent support. His records are hard to buy here, I only own his last one"Pixel Revolt", so I wasn't familiar with all his songs. But his acoustic set was well played and I think I will try to find more of his recordings. It was just a pity that some of the audience couldn't have the decency to be quiet during his set.

Jan 6, 2007

M. Ward and Band @ Metro Theatre

Effortless, raging beauty, that's the best way i can describe the music of M. Ward. Back in Australia, after releasing one of 2006's best in "Post-War", he now plays with a band in support and he put on a wonderful show at the Metro Theatre on Friday night. Early on he played a few songs from his latest release including a favourite of mine in "Poison Cup", before digging out some oldies including a superb "Undertaker". He played a stunning "Chinese Translation" before covering a John Fahey song, quickly followed by "Get Rhythm", the Johnny Cash classic. The last song was a storming "Flaming Heart" and then the band left to rapturous applause. I sneaked a peek at the set list and saw "To Go Home" was in the encore and my heart started to pound, but they switched things round and went with "Helicopter" and "Big Boat" before Matt returned to play a solo version of "Sad, Sad Song" which was stunning in its beauty. I felt during the night that this is where my musical heart lies now, an intoxicating blend of folk, country and rock that delivers purely from the heart. The band was great, Mike Coykendall, Rachel Blumberg, Jordan Hudson and Adam Selzer, were no mere backdrop, their expert musicianship was a fine partner to M. Ward's stylish guitar picking and gorgeous, husky voice. My only quibble, I wish they could have played longer. Also i have no photos of the event as security informed us not to take photos or our cameras would be confiscated. This seems ridiculous to me, what's wrong with taking a few photos, Metro. Oh yeah, Holly Throsby was a fine support act, her gentle beautiful songs were a fine entree.

Set List (this is 99% accurate but i stand to be corrected-have updated this now-thanks to Will)
Four Hours In Washington
Right In The Head
Poison Cup
Magic Trick
Outta My Head
Cosmopolitan Pop
Poor Boy, Minor Key
Chinese Translation
John Fahey cover/Get Rhythm - Johnny Cash cover
Vincent O'Brien
Flaming Heart

Regeneration No. 1
Big Boat

Sad, Sad Song

Jan 4, 2007

Modest Mouse @ Enmore Theatre

After many years of waiting I finally had the chance to witness live one of my all time favourites, Modest Mouse. At last they visited our shores and it was well worth the wait. The band entered the stage to a very warm welcome, but it was Isaac Brock who engineered the loudest cheer. Isaac has a manic stare when on stage as he seems to live and breathe every moment. They launched straight away into "Ocean Breathes Salty" and "Black Cadillacs" from "Good News..." before playing an older number "Paper Thin Walls" which I was very happy to hear. By my count they played 6 new songs from their long awaited forthcoming album and whilst I'm sure in time they will grow on me, they didn't grab me live in concert. I know it's a cliche to say "I like the old ones better", but honestly I do, I wish they had played something off "Lonesome Crowded West", but I do understand a band has to grow and play new material. I would say the best new song was "Invisible In Your Car". The definite highlight was the middle of the show when they played an incendiary "Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes", followed by "The View" and The World at Large". I also loved the 2 early classics "Breakthrough and "Dramamine". The sound was excellent and the band (now numbering six) was very tight although I'm still not sure if Johnny Marr adds an awful lot to the band as I think Isaac easily handles all the guitar licks himself. All in all a very enjoyable night to finally see Modest Mouse live, just wish they had played "Truckers Atlas".

Set List
Ocean Breathes Salty
Black Cadillacs
Paper Thin Walls
We've Got Everything
Float On
Fire It Up
Missed the Boat
Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes
The View
The World At Large
People We Know

Bury Me With It
Dramamine > Life Like Weeds
Invisible In Your Car

Sydney's finest Dappled Cities Fly were an excellent support act. Once again they were great live, ripping through a few tunes from their excellent "Granddance" before closing with "The Birds" and "Peach". I hope the audience will seek out their latest release.

More photos of the night are available here.

Jan 2, 2007

M. Ward on The Late Show With David Letterman

For those going to M. Ward this weekend, a preview for what we might expect.

Jan 1, 2007

Live Wish List, or Please Tour Here Soon

Two days from now I will have the opportunity to finally see one of my favourite bands Modest Mouse after many years of waiting. By all reports their recent live shows have been a blend of new songs and ones from their previous breakthrough album, with a few oldies thrown in. I would be happy if they just played "Lonesome Crowded West" start to finish, but of course its only natural they will concentrate on the present. Anyway it got me to thinking of other artists that I haven't had the opportunity to see live. 2006 was great in that I saw a few that had been on my wish list, Broken Social Scene, TV on the Radio, Animal Collective and The New Pornographers being the highlights. I have made a list of acts I would love to see live, some have been around for a while, some are fresh on the scene. I have excluded God Speed! You Black Emperor as it seems the Montreal legends perhaps are on indefinite hiatus.

Explosions in the Sky
Every time I read a report of this Austin quartet's live shows, the words sublime, earth shattering, life changing seem to be used. Their superb instrumental work has had me enthralled for years. They have a new record due in February so maybe a tour could be on the horizon. Lets hope so, they are definitely number one on my wish list.

This unique Brooklyn band's blend of folk, psychedelica and harmonies would translate well to the live setting I believe. Reports of their shows are encouraging as well.

The Wrens
Veterans now, this New Jersey band made one of my favourites of all time, "Meadowlands" and by all reports their live shows match their recorded output.

Sunset Rubdown
2007 might be a good time for Spencer Krug to have a nice lie down, but it looks like Wolf Parade will be very busy so I'm not sure what Sunset Rubdown will be up too. But after watching many of their live clips on YouTube I truly believe a live show would be stunning.

Sufjan Stevens
Another artist who shows no sign of slowing down, he seems to have raised the bar in 2006 with reports of his spectacular live shows, complete with orchestras and angels wings.

The Hold Steady
I missed them at the Laneway Festival, i couldn't get back into the Basement, but as Geoff reports it was one hell of a show.

It's Dan Bejar!

This band could be really special, every one just seems to have fallen in love with their sweet tunes, I have too. I imagine a live show would be joyous.

The Constantines
Their live shows have entered legendary status, I love their music but I can only imagine the heights that a live setting would take their songs. Sean's report only wants me to see them more.

Do Make Say Think
To say that I'm excited by their upcoming February release would be a massive understatement. They have been touring lately with Broken Social Scene and by all reports they haven't suffered in comparison. Here is a taste from "You, You're a History in Rust."
MP3: The Universe!