May 30, 2008

Conor Oberst To Release Album In August

August 5 will see a new album released by Conor Oberst. The release is a solo effort and not a Bright Eyes release. It is also being released on Merge Records and not Saddle Creek. The album, self titled, was recorded in Tepoztlan, Mexico in January, February of this year. Conor produced the record with help from Andy LeMaster. Also helping in the studio was The Mystic Valley Band, who will be supporting Conor on a summer tour of the United States. Considering the last Bright Eyes effort was a shade disappointing, it will be interesting to see if this release is met with acclaim or disdain.

Conor Oberst Track Listing
1 Cape Canaveral
2 Sausalito
3 Get-Well-Cards
4 Lenders In The Temple
5 Danny Callahan
6 I Don't Want To Die (In The Hospital)
7 Eagle On A Pole
8 Moab
9 NYC- Gone, Gone
10 Valle Mistico (Ruben's Song)
11 Souled Out !!!
12 Milk Thistle

May 29, 2008

Lie Down In The Light-Bonnie "Prince" Billy

There are singers. There are song writers. Some are bad, some better. Some that are great. In both disciplines. Then there is Will Oldham. Well, he occupies another territory. That of legend. That of teacher and leader. Of a greatness that few attain. For the last decade he has been recording under the name of Bonnie "Prince" Billy, making astounding music with consummate ease. Before that he delivered us many more moments of musical candour under various "Palace" monikers. Now he returns, with little fanfare, with "Lie Down In The Light" and I am happy to acknowledge that it fits safely into Oldham's ever burgeoning canon of work. Whilst it doesn't reach the heights of a masterpiece like "I See A Darkness", it is most certainly a beautifully put together collection of songs. Songs that reach your heart, dig a hole and then bury themselves deep inside your pulsating veins.

The most noticeable thing to me about this album is its lack of angst, its lack of sadness. It seems an almost happy piece of music. Sure there is an element of sadness on display, but ultimately it feels optimistic. There is an air of sunniness, sometimes missing in Oldham's previous work. Although for me, his dark shades of melancholy were a major attraction to his music. However Oldham's mastery of a simple melody and phrase means that this album still delivers plenty of rewarding listening. The opening track "Easy Does It" reflects the optimistic mood. It's a jaunty, hummable tune featuring gentle acoustic strumming and that trademark Oldham violin. This song also highlights another feature of the album. Oldham's singing style, always unique, has evolved into a more forthright delivery. He really pushes through each lyric. Don't worry there is still that typical vulnerability and quavering that made him so great, but there is definitely a greater effort to produce a more rounded vocal. A highlight of the album comes early in the shape of "You Remind Of Something (The Glory Goes)", an absolutely delicious slice of Oldham folk. A strong ode to the power of love, it resonates long after its finish. "Where smiles break free and surprise is your friend/ And dancing goes on in the kitchen until dawn/ To my favorite song that has no end." Glorious. Eternally consistent, there is nary a weak track here. Also to be mentioned is the strong band Oldham has employed, which includes his brother Paul and the splendid vocals of Ashley Webber. Webber duets with Oldham with great results on "So Everyone". She also joins him on the wistful "You Want That Picture", one of the darker tunes on the album, but one that leaves a powerful impression. For gentle beauty and grace then look no further then "Missing One", which also has a dysphoric edge. The title track is simply gorgeous, a gloriously rustic country ballad, whilst "Willow Trees Bend" is a stark and eloquent statement of undying devotion. To round things off nicely is a glorious cover. "I'll Be Glad" is a composition by Seattle based singer Shannon Stephens. Its gentle and easy melody is quite irresistible.

I have a theory that most creative people only have a finite amount of inspiration inside them. Especially in the music world. At some point, the creative drive seems to dissipate. Making it hard to continually go to the well of greatness. Actually some never even reach that well, although that doesn't stop them having commercial success, merely producing the barely passable. However there are some musicians that seem eternally gifted. Whether by pure luck, or gift, or hard work, they continue to inspire us. Will Oldham is one such creature. The man is touched by something that few of us are. This latest work of his is a prime example. It is a superb rendering of his art. His art of touching the heart and expressing the joy of life and the love that exists in life. For that, I am particularly grateful.

You Remind Me Of Something-Bonnie "Prince" Billy
Sunset Rubdown Black Cab Sessions (Full Video)

Here is the session in its full glory.

May 28, 2008

Spencer Krug In A Cab; Life Is Sweet

The Black Cab Sessions are a truly wonderful idea. Get a highly talented musician and place him or her in the back of a Black London Cab and you will get gorgeous results. Well, is there any more talented musician then Sunset Rubdown's Spencer Krug? Not likely. Just recently Spencer, Camilla and Jordan jumped in the back of a cab and recorded a song. But not just any song, but a new one that the band have been road testing on their European tour. Tentatively it is called "You Go On Ahead" (although I am sure this will change). It is kinda a sequel to Random Spirit Lover's "Trumpet, Trumpet, Toot! Toot!" and it is truly a heartbreaking, breathtaking song. Just Spencer on acoustic, with some keyboards and rustic drumming as backing. This song is a direct and passionate emotional statement and further proof that Spencer Krug is one of a kind. A supreme songwriter.

Sunset Rubdown/Black Cab Sessions.

May 27, 2008

Death Cab For Cutie Australian Tour

Death Cab For Cutie are returning to Australia in August. Last here in 2006, they are touring on the back of their latest album "Narrow Stairs". The album that follows the huge success "Plans" seems to be getting mixed reviews. Which seems fair enough. It is certainly a harder sounding album then "Plans", but it is not a hugely exciting one. In fact, at first listen I was concerned that the sound was quite dull. However, after several more listens, I am liking it more and more. Not loving it, but certainly appreciating it as a solid collection of songs with staying power. Anyway, I will catching the show in Sydney and hoping they play a cross section of songs to please old and new fans alike.

Tour Dates
17 August The Palace, Melbourne
18 August Enmore Theatre, Sydney
20 August Metropolis, Fremantle
22 August The Tivoli, Brisbane

Tickets are on sale this Friday.

May 26, 2008

End To End-Woods Family Creeps

A rare gem of 2007 was "At Rear House" by Woods. This band out of New York was a duo, but are now a trio. Accordingly they have renamed themselves Woods Family Creeps. This might also have to do with avoiding confusion with Florida band The Woods. Anyway, they have a new release, a self titled effort. Available from Time Lag Records, it is intimate, warm, fuzzy music. Sometimes strange, often beautiful. Well worth tracking down. Here is "End to End", the first track off the album.

May 25, 2008

The Arts That Feed Us

This week was a reminder to me of the importance of the arts in out life. Arts of all sorts. Film, painting, literature, music, etc. It is not a distraction, a frivolous time waster. It is not elitist, it is at the very centre of our existence. Last Tuesday, this argument was put together beautifully at the Opening Address of the Sydney Writers' Festival. Delivering the address was esteemed British author Jeanette Winterson. In a speech lasting nearly an hour she eloquently put forth the argument that life is not about having the biggest car or the biggest house. It is about seeking beauty in life and where better then to find that in the arts. Whether you create that beauty yourself or just enjoy the creation of it. The speech has stayed with me since, certainly reinforcing my own thoughts on life and giving them a fresh, new boost. And she also talked about the importance of digging deeper into things to find their importance. Not settling for the easiest option. Not settling for American Idol, but looking for American Beauty. Digging deeper then the latest TV fad or bad pop song. It's just so much more rewarding.

Then yesterday a trip was made to Canberra to view the Turner to Monet exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. Seeing works by Turner, Constable, Streeton, Roberts, Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Sisley and Seurat in the one room was certainly a rewarding experience. The painting above is "Boulevard Montmartre" by Camille Pissarro. This was my favourite piece, among many, at the exhibition.

Today was another Sydney Writers' Festival event. At the Sydney Theatre, Don Watson spoke about his latest book, "American Journeys". Watson, formerly speech writer for Paul Keating, was measured, erudite, witty and absorbing. His book was written after a long period of crossing the United States by rail and then trying to give his impression of that vast and powerful nation. He described the nation as being like your cousin. Somewhat alike, but a little strange and different. And the more you looked the more you become alternately repulsed and fascinated. I feel the same way. For every religious zealot from South Carolina, there is a learned scholar at Columbia University. For every Big Brother there is a Weeds. For every My Chemical Romance there is an Okkervil River. For every Bill O'Reilly (gratefully there is only one) there is an Al Franken. The same country that produced Thomas Jefferson, also gave us George Bush. A country of endless possibilities and excitement, yet also full of weaknesses and excesses.

May 23, 2008

New Sunset Rubdown Song

Sunset Rubdown have just started a European tour. They played in London last night. Here is a brand new song, played for the first time live in Manchester on May 19. Despite the poor lighting, you can hear the awesomeness shining through. And Spencer on electric guitar!

May 22, 2008

Langhorne Slim-Langhorne Slim

For all the experiences in music that can take you on a different trajectory, a different tangent, sometimes the best experience can be the simplest. A simple tune, full of heart and soul and that all important ingredient, joy. For Langhorne Slim brings joy. In bucket loads, without reservation or hesitation. There is no, repeat no, artifice or shallowness and definitely no cynicism. These songs of Mr Slim are purely small tales of life. Of love. Of hope. Sometimes, that can be good for the soul and the mind. To fill it with a true feeling of love and optimism. This latest effort from Langhorne Slim, self titled, is another chapter in the book of Langhorne guts and glory. That's not to say that all his songs are about sunshine and puppies, some have sad topics, but all his songs are imbued with a melody and rhythm that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

This album is brisk and to the point. With only one song clocking in at over four minutes, there is no fat on this platter. It's just a romp through a palate of country, folk and blues concocted and brewed by Langhorne Slim in his New York habitat. The opening song is "Spinning Compass", where the tone is set for the album, swinging horns, jaunty acoustic and a gentle melody. Second up is the oft played "Rebel Side of Heaven", which is playful and a pure joy. It really swings, with a devilish glint in its eye. A clear expression of Langhorne Slim's writing, relatively simple but always bursting with life and its misfortunes and also good fortunes. Each song on this album has a similar feel, but each is tweaked and tuned slightly different to keep the ear satisfied. Other tracks to delight are the openly hopeful "Restless", the eternally optimistic "Sometimes", and the foot stomping "She's Gone". My absolute standout though is "Colette", a slow and purposeful song that reeks of true love and heart. "We stepped into the light and took pictures of each other...". It is a consistent album though, to be sure, with barely any filler. "Hello Sunshine" continues the trend of the singer's brand of howling country, whilst "Diamonds and Gold" is a life lesson in keeping a certain degree of optimism in your life. And in this age of cynicism, pessimism and needless destruction, isn't it nice to acknowledge the joy in this existence of ours. Langhorne Slim sees the pain in life, but then gives it a right upper cut. Placing a smile on all our faces. Truth.

MP3: Rebel Side of Heaven-Langhorne Slim
This album can be purchased from Kemado Records.

May 21, 2008

Australian Supergroups?, Well, Why not...

The Curse of Company are not a supergroup, but they are doing a fine job of impersonating one. The Curse of Company are a very talented group, that is for sure. Comprising Dave Rennick (Dappled Cities Fly), Sarah Kelly (the redsunband), Tim Rogers (Jack Ladder), Danny Heifetz (Mr Bungle) and Burke Reid (Gerling), they have a debut album in the works. "Leo Magnets Joins A Gang" is due for release later this year here and in the USA (Dangerbird).

If you go to The Curse of Company website right now, you can download the new single "All The Mines" for free for the next month. A clue, to find it, just click and drag for a while.

As an added bonus the band are playing a show next Tuesday night at the Hopetoun Hotel. That's the 27th May, for $8. Bargain, I would say.
Their Myspace also has a couple of more songs to listen to.

Now, here is a group comprising a fair amount of talent. Wellyn. They hail from Melbourne and have been around the scene for a while now, with different lineups. At the moment they comprise Dan Kelly, Ollie Brown (Art of Fighting), Andrew Coates (Black Cab), Danny Griffith (SubAudible Hum), Ned Collette and Chris Altmann (The Vandas). This lineup certainly shines through on the single "The White House". It is quite an aural, orgasmic extravaganza. Vocals are front and centre and really combine well, with a slowly building backdrop. Very impressive. Wellyn are set to release their debut album "An Intimate Universe" in early June and are playing two shows in Melbourne, before coming to Sydney. They are playing at Filth @ The Supper Club on June 12. One to mark in the diary, I would say.

MP3: The White House-Wellyn

May 19, 2008

Rebel Side Of Heaven-Langhorne Slim

Guaranteed to put a smile on your face. From the new self titled Langhorne Slim album. I love it, full of true heart and beauty and joy. Review of the album coming very soon.

Speaking of heart. If this doesn't affect your heart, then perhaps you don't own one. Simply gorgeous. Scott Avett performing "November Blue".

May 18, 2008

I Will Possess Your Heart-Death Cab For Cutie

Here is the video for "I Will Possess Your Heart" from the new Death Cab For Cutie album, "Narrow Stairs". What do you think of the new album? Better then "Plans"? A return to form or more of the same? After my first listen to the new album I was feeling that it sounded a bit dull and lifeless. Subsequent listens have made me like it a bit more, although still undecided on its overall quality. I doubt it will endear itself to me like "The Photo Album" or Transatlanticism" did, but I am not giving in it yet.

May 17, 2008

Whitley @ Annandale Hotel

A bigger audience is not always a better audience. Sometimes more people, just means more noise. This seemed to be the case Friday night at the Annandale Hotel. I don't listen to the radio, so I have really no idea what is popular these days, Triple J wise or the more horrid commercial alternatives. But having seen Whitley's debut album "The Submarine" in basically every record store I visit these days, I am assuming he is getting quite a name for himself these days. So it proved by selling out the Annandale Friday night. Although that could have had something to do with the support act. But more about that in a moment. Having seen Whitley perform last year at various venues to small but enthusiastic audiences I was particularly keen to see them live for the first time in months, especially as "The Submarine" was my favourite Australian album of 2007. But I wasn't prepared for a packed venue, full of avid fans. Well, I assume they were avid. Hard to tell, when many seemed more interested in talking (loudly), getting to the bar and texting their friends. People, it's quite simple. Go to a show and LISTEN.

Anyway, despite this nearly ruining the night, the music was great. The band has recently been touring the US and they seemed tighter and more forceful then ever before. In fact there was serious rocking out during some numbers, such as in "Lost in Time". And although this was impressive, I think I actually enjoy these songs sung in a more softer, gentler method. Thankfully half through the set the band left the stage and Lawrence played 3 beautiful numbers solo. "Cheap Clothes", "More Than Life" and the Bjork cover "Hyper Ballad". All beautifully rendered, despite the incessant chatter. The band returned and the show flowed again, including a delightful "I Remember". After an extremely short break, Lawrence returned for a superb rendering of "The Life I Keep", his voice echoing through the old pub. That is a great feature of this band, his voice. Ranging from full throated roar to husky whispers, it shows enormous range. Believe me, this is a seriously talented band with a great future. But I believe the dilemma going forward will be two fold. To cope and please a burgeoning fan base and to attempt to straddle the line between being a rock band and delivering acoustic folk. Hopefully they can succeed in both areas. I think they certainly will.

Now, the support act was Howie Day. All the way from the US. Honestly I had never heard of him before Friday night. Apparently he has had a good deal of commercial success and there was a quite a fan base ready to see him perform. I will say this. His voice is impressive, in a strong forceful way, and he can play the guitar. But his songs were MOR moderate. Thin and transparent with flimsy lyrics and dull melodies. I guess this is what passes for music these days on commercial radio.

Before I go I need to say this. Seagull could be my favourite new Australian band. All I knew, before Friday, is that they were from Melbourne. Unfortunately I only saw the last two songs of their set. This I regret, for they were excellent. A masterful blend of driving melodies, robust rhythms and earnest and heartfelt vocals made for a shot of musical wonderment. They created an magical atmosphere in a short time, that augurs well for their future. I bought their debut album "Goodbye Weather" after the show and I love it. The two songs I heard were "Baby" and "Spear", but there are many more gems on the album. This is a band I need to see again.

May 16, 2008

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

A giant left us this week. I was saddened to hear the news that Robert Rauschenberg passed away at his home in Florida on Monday from heart failure. He was 82. Rauchenberg was famous and quite revolutionary for his work in the field of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. Born in Texas, he moved to New York in the 1950s where his fame spread in the art world. He also worked with photography, printmaking and papermaking. He was famous for creating art from trash found on the streets of New York. To quote the artist " I wanted something other than what I could make myself and I wanted to use the surprise and the collectiveness and the generosity of finding surprises. And if it wasn't a surprise at first, by the time I got through with it, it was. So the object itself was changed by its context and therefore it became a new things". He might have left us, but his art will endure forever.

May 15, 2008

Kensington Heights-Constantines

Constantines make music to live life by. It is hard, uncompromising, substantial. Yet it is also tender and vulnerable. It is music to shout to, laugh to, cry to, salute to. Above all, it is human and true. "Kensington Heights", their latest and first on Arts and Crafts, continues the Toronto band's tradition of direct and succinct rock. While never breaking the bank of originality, they have made a enormous deposit into the bank of heart and soul.

One day I will have the pleasure of seeing this band live, for I believe that their greatest strength is their fierce desire to play with true power and real emotion. Also, although I have been a fan of all their recorded output, there are always a couple of flat spots on each record. I believe even those that appear on "Kensington Heights" would translate perfectly into the live arena. Having said that, the opening of this album contains no flat spots. The single, "Hard Feelings" welcomes us to the Constantines world. A world of pulsating guitars and driving drums and best of all, that voice. Bryan Webb's voice is earth grown and passionate to the extreme. It has a husky, smoky quality that delivers with extreme effect. Second track "Million Star Hotel" continues the theme of anthemic guitar and heartfelt vocals. When Bry sings "Where's my black water? Where's my loving cup?", you feel required to give him a proper answer. The opening is completed by the driving bass line that welcomes the darkly shaded "Trans Canada", a song to be reckoned with. If "Shower of Stones" is one of those afore mentioned flat spots, then it doesn't last long. For the next two songs represent the heart of this fiery beast. "Our Age" opens with a delicious guitar line before giving away to a glorious ode to lost youth. Thematically the Constantines always seems to touch on the subject of love and life, death and regret. Earnest themes, but ones that resonate strongly. There is even a song called "Life or Death" to exemplify this. If "Our Age" was great, then "Time Can Be Overcome" turns up the flame a further notch. A slow burning song, it features ringing guitar and stark drumming as Mr Webb assures that everything will be all right.

If the first half of "Kensington Heights" is nearly flawless, then the second half just wavers a little bit. Not to say it doesn't contain quality, but there is nothing quite as memorable as that which preceded it. "Brother Run Them Down" and "Credit River" are perhaps a little to simplistic to totally convince, but "New King" is truly beautiful. As close as this band is ever likely to get to a ballad, with its soft and delicate touches. Then "Do What You Can Do" closes things nicely as Bry murmurs "I wish you twelve lanes of peace and quiet" in that way that only he can. "Kensington Heights" has that innate ability to make you feel good about music. It's perfect to play loud, but still has the ability to sparkle if you choose to listen to it at night on headphones. It contains the fire and spark of life and for me that is more then enough.

Available for purchase from Arts and Crafts.
MP3: Hard Feelings-Constantines

May 14, 2008

Synecdoche New York

I might be getting ahead of myself, but what can you do. The Cannes Film Festival starts today and one of the highlights will be the directorial debut from Charlie Kaufman. "Synecdoche New York", which he also wrote. Kaufman was the genius behind those wonderful and amazing films "Being John Malkovich", "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Adaptation" and this new film is the first he has wrote AND directed. It stars the sublime Philip Seymour Hoffman as New York theatre director Caden Cotard, who attempts to put on a play by creating a life-size replica of New York in a warehouse. While this happens, his personal life is collapsing around him to add to the drama. Hoffman is supported by a quite incredible female cast. How about Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton, Emily Watson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hope Davis and Catherine Keener. Pretty nice, hey? We will probably have to wait a while for this film though. I would imagine it would get a US release towards the end of 2008, timed to generate Oscar buzz. So hopefully an Australian release will occur shortly after.

Here are some stills, courtesy of Cannes.

May 13, 2008

Okkervil River Live On WOXY

A little while ago Okkervil River (insert gaudy superlatives here) appeared on WOXY. They played 4 songs including a new one, "Lost Coastlines". It is truly excellent as you would expect with this band. Apparently this song will appear on an appendix to "The Stage Names" that should be out before the year is over. Happy days. New Okkervil River.

Okkervil River live on WOXY (including new song!)

Some "Lost Coastlines" lyrics to marvel at. Oh, Will Sheff.

We sing "is that marionette real enough yet

to step off of that set and decide what a dance might be to it?"
Ruining the play too and in the ensuing melee escape
We packed up all of our bags
And the ship's deck now sags
From the weight of our tracks
As we pace beneath flags
Black and battered
Rattling our swords
In service of some faded foreign lord

Here is a very early performance of the song from the band in Chicago in 2006. With Jonathan Meiburg performing alongside Will Sheff.

May 12, 2008

A Sneak Peek At Arm's Way

Small slices from "Arm's Way." The new album from Islands, out next week on Anti. It is also a local release on the always good Spunk Records.
Here is "In the Rushes".

"The Arm"


May 11, 2008

The Midnight Organ Fight-Frightened Rabbit

Blood and sweat. Love and regret. So goes a Frightened Rabbit album. So goes this album, "The Midnight Organ Fight". Their second, after their excellent debut "...Sing The Greys", is full of glorious melodies, delectable hooks and poignant and direct lyrics. This album has a glowing heart and just oozes personality, intelligence and charm.

The strength and muscle of a good song is something I believe will last forever. Sure, there is room for all elements of sound, all designs of experimentation. But a good song, or preferably a great one, is one that we will always return to. We return for that feeling of a soaring heart and an enriched mind. Of feeling a connection. Frightened Rabbit connect. Connect with a direct strike to the heart. Their strength is writing deep and sustained rhythms with gorgeous melodies. Songs that feature some of the best jangling guitar and fierce drumming this side of Glasgow. This is never more evident then on the stirring opener "The Modern Leper", which is a definitive statement of pop greatness. But pop with a strong purpose and a melancholy air. For this song, like many Frightened Rabbit tunes, deals with pain and despair, a feeling of things lost. Which when sung in that thick Scottish brogue of Scott Hutchison carries a enormous load of import. It's not just the dialect which helps though, although that is a big part, but the longing his voice carries is just superb. Listen to "Good Arms vs. Bad Arms" to hear what I mean. This wonderful song also employs more muscular drumming and subtle guitar strumming. It's a potent mix. It reaches its peak on "Fast Blood" and "The Twist". "Fast Blood" is one of the most direct expositions written in pop form about the sexual act that I have ever heard. It's about losing all feeling in the arms of a loved one, written with a supreme tenderness and a stark emotional power. "The Twist" is a cry for love of such gorgeous texture it will surely sink your heart. The cry of "I need human heat" is a hard one to remain cold to. Although the themes on this album are not new, the lyrics are written with such feeling and raw power that they truly struck a chord with me. "Heads Roll Off" continues the strong feelings, a superb song of irresistible melody and strong conviction. My other favourite on the album would have to be "My Backwards Walk", an iridescent piece of music set to a story of ultimate sadness. "The Midnight Organ Fight" (think about it, its meaning will become evident) is a glorious concoction of melody and form. A blend of heart and anguish. It is sure to be one of my favourite albums of the year 2008.

Available for purchase from Fat Cat Records.
MP3: The Modern Leper-Frightened Rabbit

May 10, 2008

Plastic Palace Alice @ Hopetoun Hotel

Plastic Palace Alice are a work in progress. I mean, that is probably expected. They have just released their debut album "The Great Depression" and Friday night at the always cozy Hopetoun Hotel served as its launch. The album was and is a bit like their show, good in parts, slow in others. But generally promising and boding well for their future. I had seen this young Melbourne six piece as support for Stars back in February. Now, they were excellent that night, the tiny Spectrum venue seemingly fueling their energy. Friday night saw them headline, and as they have been on a long national tour promoting the album they seemed to lack that same amount of energy. They seemed a bit tired. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable show. Their sound is bold and melodic, featuring crisp guitars and strident drumming. Keyboards add a nice touch and the interchanging vocals of Rob and Lise McDowell add variety to their shows. Naturally the show was made up of a lot of material from the album. Highlights were the well known "Empire Falls", the atmospheric "Kareoking/Antiphon" and the stirring "The Girl Who Cried Wolf". Surprisingly they played a couple of new songs including one I liked in particular. "Zeitgeist Blues". They also played a cover. Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody To Love", which went down well. So, a good and enjoyable show. Though one that lacked energy and had some slow moments. Also, the venue wasn't sold out and seemed to contain quite a few patrons who had drunken far too much for their good. Not that anyone was particularly obknoxious, but there seemed to be a number of people that weren't really paying attention to the show.

Set List
The Molly Club
Empire Falls
Zeitgeist Blues
Harvest Song
Red Comedian
The Girl Who Cried Wolf
Somebody To Love
No Shame

I missed The Dawn Collective as a support, but I did catch Bird Automatic. They were quite good. This young Sydney five piece have a good, clean sound. Tight and possessing a good rhythm section, their songs were melodic and full of drive. Although lacking any absolute killer songs, they showed enough promise to suggest they have some inside of them.

May 8, 2008

(The) Britt Daniel Covers Wolf Parade

Things in this world that could make me happy. Very happy.
The Boston Celtics winning the NBA Championship.
Owning a terrace house in Newtown.
Owning an original Chagall.
Wolf Parade touring Australia.
Britt Daniel covering Wolf Parade. What, it happened!

Yes, last Saturday night at the Belly Up Tavern in San Diego. An acoustic set by the one and only Mr Daniel saw him cover "Modern World" by the one and only Wolf Parade. Great choice, I do believe. And I can hear the vocal similarities between Daniel and Boeckner too.

Here is the original video for "Modern World".
God, I love Wolf Parade.

May 7, 2008

Ruben Guthrie

Ruben Guthrie continues the fine tradition of exciting Australian theatre that entertains on a consistent basis at the Belvoir Theatre. Showing, although for not much longer, in the intimate downstairs theatre as part of the B Sharp season, this play is sharp and perceptive, funny and compassionate. A thorough success for acclaimed actor Brendan Cowell, who was commissioned to write this play after winning the Philip Parsons Young Playwright's Award in 2005. He has certainly done a fine job with this Wayne Blair directed play, making us laugh and think in an assured and direct way.

Ruben Guthrie (Toby Schmitz) is a hot shot creative at a big time advertising agency. His life seems to one long parade of women, parties, booze and drugs. His grip on reality is under siege as he lives life in an alcoholic haze. He receives a dual wake up call, when he breaks his arm during a frequent bender, which is followed by his Czech girlfriend Zoya (Samantha Reed) leaving him to return home. She is sick of his destructive lifestyle and wants to put their relationship into the distant past. Ruben decides to then go to AA meetings to kick his destructive habit. Unfortunately he finds it hard to lead a life of sobriety as he is surrounded by friends and family that make it difficult for him. His boss Ray (Christopher Stollery) feels a sober life will dim his creative edge. His best mate Damian (Torquil Neilson) returns from New York and lives life through a bottle. Damian finds it hard to comprehend Ruben's new found lifestyle. Ruben's father, an excellent Lex Marinos, is a life long drinker who also seems dismayed with Ruben's choice. Then there is Virginia (Megan Drury), a strange and vivacious creature who is a recovering drug addict. She is also Ruben's sponsor, but she falls for Ruben creating a complicated situtation. Their relationship is pivotal to the play's success. They depend on each other for comfort and love, but the dependencies they have for their vices also crushes their relationship. There are some beautiful moments between the two of them. Moments of joy and pain.

This play is a success on two important levels. As a piece of entertainment it is expertly performed and written. Schmitz is a revelation. He is on stage for the duration, his character and charm overflowing into the audience. Cowell's script is funny and sharp, with many pop culture references and humorous moments. But "Ruben Guthrie" also serves as a commentary on modern society. As Ruben's mother (Tracy Mann) says "It's the drink, it's the drink". Even though Ruben's occupation is laced with alcohol and drugs, there are references through out to the seeming need of Australian society to constantly enjoy life through the bottom of a glass. As if it is impossible to live life without having to depend on or lean upon something artificial for assistance. I often wonder about the destructive nature of alcohol and drugs and why people go down that path as their sole enjoyment in life. This wonderful piece of theatre manages to encapsulate those ideas in a thoroughly entertaining and humorous way.

May 6, 2008

Brendan Canning Album Out In July

Now it's Brendan's turn. Last year Kevin Drew released his first album under the Broken Social Scene Presents... banner. I loved it. Now, fellow BSS core member Brendan Canning will release "Something For All Of Us..." on the always excellent Arts and Crafts label on July 22. Produced by Canning with Ryan Condrat and John LaMagna, it features Scene regulars Kevin Drew, Justin Peroff, Andrew Whiteman and Ohad Benchetrit as well as Stars' Amy Millan, Metric's James Shaw, Jason Collett, the Stills' Liam O'Neil, and Land of Talk's Liz Powell. I would have to say that I always prefer the vocals of Kevin Drew to Brendan Canning, but the first track available for release sounds promising.

MP3: Hit the Wall-Brendan Canning

Something For All Of Us... Track Listing
1 Something for All of Us
2 Chameleon
3 Hit the Wall
4 Snowballs & Icicles
5 Churches Under the Stairs
6 Love Is New
7 Antique Bull
8 All the Best Wooden Toys Are Made in Germany
9 Been at It So Long
10 Possible Grenade
11 Take Care, Look Up

May 4, 2008

Tessellate-Tokyo Police Club

Taken from Tokyo Police Club's brand new debut album "Elephant Shell". Out now locally on Dew Process. What I have heard so far, in between 4,888,661 listens to the new Wolf Parade, is impressive. Smart, catchy, intelligent pop from Canada.

May 2, 2008

Kaki King @ Oxford Art Factory

This will be the shortest concert review I have ever written. For some, that might be a good thing. Last night at the Oxford Art Factory saw Kaki King bring her unique guitar stylings back to Sydney. This performer is one who I have heard about for quite a while, but I have never dived fully into her music. I recently bought her latest album, but I haven't had much of a chance to give it a full listen. So last night's show was one I ventured to with open ears and an open mind. Her first song was a short instrumental, played on an acoustic. Her unique style was evident straight away as Kaki doesn't strum the guitar, but pick and bang at the strings in a totally one-off way. Her second tune was vocally led, in a sort of bluesy way. She alternated between her acoustic and electric for each song. I was totally impressed with her skill as a guitarist, but somehow the songs were not connecting with me totally. Apart from a stunning long instrumental, the songs didn't seem to have any special qualities. I think the heavy guitar rhythms are probably not my total cup of tea.

However, I only stayed for half the show, so you can perhaps take my review pretty lightly. You see, the love of my life, who is my constant partner at all these music experiences, was feeling very unwell. Despite her wishing to stay and somehow take in the show, it was a real struggle for her to stay and enjoy the show in anyway. One thing I know, her health and wellbeing is more important then anything else in my life. Well, maybe a Wolf Parade show, that WOULD be a hard call. Just kidding. We left halfway, knowing this was the right thing to do. So, Kaki King will have to wait until her next visit to Australia. I look forward to a better experience next time.