Jan 30, 2009

Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova @ Sydney Opera House

Thursday night at the Sydney Opera House can be summed up in one word. Delightful. Lovely will do as well. It was a night for warm hugs and much hand clapping. A night with extremely warm and charming hosts. It was the night that the songs from Once were brought to life. That little film that could and did. When I saw the film I was struck by its charm and sincerity. Sure, the songs were nice, but they were a little light. Sweet but not hugely memorable. But considering that Glen Hansard is/was the singer from The Frames, I thought a night in his company would be at least very enjoyable. So it proved. A truly delightful night.

Glen opened solo with a Frames song. "Say It To Me Now". It was a great start, with Glen finding his voice and tearing up his guitar. Then he was joined by Marketa and The Frames and they gave us some tunes from the acclaimed movie. As said, I was enjoying these songs, but longed for something a little meatier. It came with another Frames song in "God Bless Mom", which dutily tore up the stage. In fact, many songs on the night rocked out, with the band not holding back in anyway at all. Of course "Falling Slowly" proved a big hit. Why not? It's a delicately beautiful song. It was when Glen went back to solo mode that the night soared to new heights though. Glen told us a story, one of many on the night, about his meeting 20 years earlier with Leonard Cohen. Then, he changed the setlist and gave us a Cohen number. "Famous Blue Raincoat" stopped me dead. It was achingly beautiful and mightily profound. He followed with a riproaring Van Morrison cover in "Astral Weeks". Superb stuff. By the end of the set, the audience was lapping up everything. The band were great and Glen was a great raconteur, telling us tales in his lilting Irish brogue. The man seemed truly humbled by the experience and he was charming to the nth degree.

The encore featured violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire give us a beautiful song of his own. The instrumental "The Court Of New Town" was performed solo, with Colm looping his violin. A very nice touch to the night. We also received an AC/DC cover in "Gimme A Bullet". I guess it was entertaining, but that band's songs all sound the same to me. One more song would finish the night. The whole group came to the front of the stage and performed the Dylan song "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere". The crowd became involved, clapping and singing along. It was a lovely way to finish a delightful and satisfying night.

Set List
Say It To Me Now
This Low
The Moon
When Your Mind's Made Up
God Bless Mom
If You Want Me? (new song)
Falling Slowly
Famous Blue Raincoat (Leonard Cohen cover)
Astral Weeks (Van Morrison cover)
Low Rising

If You Want Me
The Court Of New Town
Gimme A Bullet (AC/DC cover)

You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Bob Dylan cover)

Jan 28, 2009

Belle Orchestre To Release Second Album In March

More goodness from Canada. On March 10 Belle Orchestre will release their second album. "As Seen Through Windows" is being released by the always good Arts And Crafts label and contains 9 tracks in total. This sextet from Montreal plies in lush instrumentals and their debut album "A Tape The Colour Of Light" was a highlight of 2005. For those not in the know Belle Orchestre can count Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry and Sarah Neufeld among its members.

As Seen Through Windows Tracklisting
1 Stripes
2 Elephants
3 Icicles/Bicycles
4 Water/Light/Shifts
5 Bucephalus Bouncing Ball
6 As Seen Through Windows
7 The Gaze
8 Dark Lights
9 Air Lines/Land Lines

Jan 27, 2009

Black Hat Brigade

Canada, you have done it again. A very pleasant discovery of mine recently was Black Hat Brigade. Five young men from Toronto making very exciting music. Very exciting. They formed in 2007 and in December of that year they recorded their first EP in Toronto, under the watch of Ryan Mills. The EP was released in 2008 and is available from their Myspace. It is five songs of pounding rhythms, thrusting guitars and singalong choruses. The songs combine great drumming, stand up vocals and soaring keyboards for a delicious mix. The opening two tracks are very good, but it is "Limbo" that we get a feeling that we could be hearing something special. Its opening guitar line will stay in your memory for quite a while. Then the closing two tracks will knock you out. Completely. "Pictorial History" is an instrumental of epic beauty, which bleeds into the closer "Swords", a truly great song that builds and builds before exploding into the atmosphere. This band is definitely one to keep an eye on in 2009.

MP3: Swords-Black Hat Brigade

The band have very kindly given me two copies of the EP to give away to two lucky readers. Just answer this simple question to my email-oceansneverlisten@gmail.com.
What was the name of my favourite album of 2008?

UPDATE: I have two correct answers and two lucky winners.

Jan 25, 2009

TV On The Radio @ Metro Theatre

Huge. Mark down another great show in January. TV On The Radio came and conquered. Their maelstrom of noise and fury seized us from the very beginning and didn't let go until the scintillating encore. It was a unique blend of passion, soul and unrelenting rhythms that won us over Saturday night at the Metro Theatre. Undoubtedly exciting and undeniably fun.

I had seen them perform 3 years earlier at the Gaelic Theatre and that performance had me longing for a return. Thankfully, they didn't disappoint. To begin with, they gave us old tunes. What a start. "Young Liars" was all burning desire, ominous and menacing. A delight for older fans. The only concern was that the vocals were a bit low and muddied. But they soon improved and whilst never perfect I didn't think the sound hindered the performance. The first touchstone of the night was "Dreams". This floored me, the drumming was intense and powerful. If there were any lulls in the set it was probably a couple of the new songs. Especially "Golden Age" and "Dancing Choose". Although the crowd lapped them up, I do prefer my TVOTR to be dark and soulful rather then bouncy and poppy. So, "Wolf Like Me" set me straight. Ferocious and ecstatic, this song burst the walls and some lungs as well. "Stork & Owl" was great as well, a great showcase for the vocals of Kyp Malone. His singing was a definite surprise and highlight. Stoic to the nth degree, Kyp reeks cool. His vocals are a beautiful countenance to the full throated soar of Tunde Adebimpe. Can I say here that this man is a thunderstorm on stage. He feels every note and song line, throwing himself into the music with an animal intensity. I hate to think how much fluid he lost on the night. This was exemplified on the towering "DLZ", another standout on a great night. The set closed with "Satellite" and we were all feeling pretty content from the performance. But the encore, oh the encore. This raised the gig from very, very good to great. Despite the abscence of "A Method" ( I really wanted this) and "Lover's Day" (I REALLY WANTED THIS-and you had horns?), I couldn't complain. "Love Dog" was sultry and suave, then "Blues From Down Here" was near perfect in its rendering. "Let The Devil In" was another great example of some amazing percussion (How good was the drummer?), whilst "Staring at The Sun" was speeded up and amped up, with great results. It resonated long after the gig had ended. A band of great talent, at the top of their game gave us all a night to remember.

Set List
Young Liars
The Wrong Way
Golden Age
Wolf Like Me
Dirty Whirl
Stork & Owl
Shout Me Out
Dancing Choose
Red Dress

Love Dog
Blues From Down Here
Let The Devil In
Staring At The Sun

Jan 24, 2009

My Girls-Animal Collective

It's unearthly. That is all.

Jan 23, 2009

My Morning Jacket @ Metro Theatre

January=Hyperbole. That's just the way it is in Sydney this time of year. So, here we go again. My Morning Jacket. MMJ!!!! The Spirit of Rock And Roll was alive and well, living and breathing at the Metro Theatre last night. This band, this band swallowed us whole with a withering and devastating performance. Well, this band apparently does this every night, that is what they do. No wonder their reputation as THE live band is well and truly earned. Why, why was the venue not sold out? Well, your loss if you were not there.

So, I saw this long haired group of Kentuckians 5 years ago and have counted the days to see them again. In that time they released the genre breaking "Z" and then the hugely disappointing "Evil Urges". Yes, I said hugely disappointing, for I hold this band so highly that last year's new album did not do the job in my opinion. It felt laboured and forced, although the second half does have some better tunes. Having said that, when you play a set bordering on three wonderful hours your selection plate is bound to be full. So it was, we received a good cross section of their whole catalogue, including two off my favourite. The classic "The Tennessee Fire". They opened with an oldie too in the eerie "At Dawn". This song succinctly displays the wonder that is the voice of Jim James. The man can hold a note longer then a Senate hearing. All with perfect pitch. He appeared with a fancy cape too, ready to entrance us. I will get the clunkers out of the way first though. "Touch Me I'm Going To Scream" just plods along, whilst "Librarian" is fairly clunky. And yes, "Highly Suspicious" is really not very good.

But the highlights. The soaring peaks and the crushing blows. So many. "Off The Record" jumped down our throats. "The Way That He Sings" is a glowing wonder. "Lowdown" has never lost its true beauty, whilst "Golden" is apt in name. If we were in the midst of having our hearts stolen, then "Mahgeetah" just took all our organs and threw them to the four winds. Near orgasmic in delivery, it was one of many songs that was jammed into eternity. These boys sure know how to riff and wreck. They were all great, but I need to mention Patrick Hallahan especially. I think he mortally wounded the drum kit. What force and passion! He must have lost litres of fluid in the oppressive atmosphere too. That is, above all else, what makes this band so great. Besides their spectacular talent, they play like their hair is on fire. Like it is their last night on earth. Like, they will never see you again. Pretty neat, huh?

They pushed on, willing us to go with them. "Lay Low" was ferocious, "Gideon" exultant, then "Dondante" was pushed to the boundaries of sound. Built up and broken down several times, it ended with Carl Broemel delivering a sax solo. Sublime. The end of the first set closed with a surprise. "Cobra" was pulled out and slayed us, before it morphed into the middle section of "Run Thru". Holy cow, I was going off the deep end. Riffage from heaven (if such a place exists). After two hours we still wanted more. The encore gave it to us. I especially loved "Phone Went West", a monstrously good song. Then they finished us off with the double punch of "Anytime" and "One Big Holiday". The latter is quite possibly the ideal rock song to hear live. It just bursts with such energy and life. Life. I was jumping and hollering, like everyone around me. It is truly a wonder to hear live. They then departed, having gave us their all. Despite sometimes being a little too loud in the mix and the steamy conditions in the room, we had all witnessed a band of men who play the live arena like no one else. No one else...

Set List
At Dawn
It Beats For U
Evil Urges
Touch Me I'm Going To Scream
Off the Record
I'm Amazed
The Way That He Sings
Sec Walkin'
Thank You Too
Heartbreakin Man
Lay Low
Smokin' From Shootin'
Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Part 2
Cobra>Run Thru

Wordless Chorus
Highly Suspicious
Phone Went West
I Think I'm Going To Hell
One Big Holiday

Jan 21, 2009

Bon Iver @ City Recital Hall

Rewarding. A good place to start. Satisfying. That will do. Pleasurable. Yes. Definitely. All these and more were Bon Iver Wednesday night at the City Recital Hall. In the midst of 5 sold out shows, Bon Iver brought their beautiful music to Sydney as part of the Sydney Festival. You could say, a little old part of Wisconsin came to big old Sydney town.

Firstly, it took me a while to get used to watching a concert in a recital hall. I am so used to standing up in a crowded area that the comfort I received here felt a little foreign. To be sure, the comfort is, well comforting and the acoustics are great, but it still felt strange. But the music would do its job and by the time "The Wolves (Act 1 And 2) swallowed us whole I was won over. Justin Vernon, the esteemed writer and singer, asked the crowd to join in by singing the refrain of "What Might Have Been Lost". Without fail, we joined in and this epic song lifted the roof as the crowd kept pace with the enormous percussion on stage. Oh, did I say that Bon Iver now number four and create quite a beautiful din on stage. Of course "For Emma, Forever Ago" was a solitary creation, full of awe and beauty. But live, the songs have grown an extra leg. During "Skinny Love" we got three people playing drums. But it all worked, with the high pitched voice of Vernon combining well with the crashing drums and jangling guitars. This was displayed adroitly on the smash and grab of "Creature Fear", which descended into a pretty loud jam. The band also played three tunes off the just released EP, including my new favourite "Babys" which features a vey hypnotic piano line. The only song of the night that featured Vernon solo was the completely gorgeous "Re: Stacks". A highlight of the night. Closing with my old favourite was gratifying also. "For Emma" was pretty special, although Mike Noyce had to try to replicate the horn section on his guitar. It nearly worked. The band left to rapturous applause, before returning to play the rousing "Blood Bank". All through the night the band seemed very grateful and humbled by the support they were receiving. Many times Vernon expressed his sincere thanks. If only he knew, we were the ones that had all the reasons to be thankful.

Set List
Lump Sum
Beach Baby
The Wolves (Act 1 And 2)
Skinny Love
Creature Fear
Re: Stacks
I Believe In You (Talk Talk Cover)
For Emma

Blood Bank

Jan 18, 2009

ATP Festival Australia '09; Sydney

If you are going to curate a festival, then it is probably a good idea to be the star turn. Be the centre of attention. Well, Nick Cave was certainly that and more on Saturday. ATP came to Australia for the first time in 2009 and Saturday at Cockatoo Island was owned by Nick Cave. By far and away the highlight of the day. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds positively owned this day. I was completely and utterly blown away by their performance. It was that good.

I must admit I have never been a huge Cave fan. Sure, I love "The Ship Song" (who doesn't?), but I have found his brand of music sometimes a bit too melodramatic, his voice a bit too much baritone. But in the live setting. Holy hell. The songs are perfectly suited to this arena. They are muscular and fleshy. Meaty. Ecstatic. The Bad Seeds entered the stage, exuding confidence. I think they know their standing in the community. Then Cave enters. Immediately he owns the stage and the audience. We are in drama overdrive. "Night Of The Lotus Eaters" tears into the night air. It's hardly a Cave standard, but it was so good, I was in instant rapture. What will happen when the classics are presented. We didn't have to wait long. "Tupelo" was dark and menacing, swallowing us whole. "The Weeping Song" burned us, whilst "Red Right Hand" crushed us. "Love Letter" saw Cave take a breather as we delighted with a soft piano rendition. But we were soon back into it with an incendiary version of "The Mercy Seat". So much to digest. So much to enjoy. "Deanna" had us rocking and rolling, whilst "Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry" was the perfect closer. Well, we thought it was the end. The band returned to give us a beautiful rendition of "Straight To You" and then a cut throat version of "Stagger Lee". What a performance! The band were great. So talented, so in control. The percussion, two drummers, was unbelievably good and Warren Ellis is probably crazy. This icon, with long flowing beard, was a whirling dervish. But Cave rose above all of this. What a front man. He struts the stage as if he was born there. He never stands still, giving the audience everything. I think I might be a convert. A performance I won't forget in a hurry.

Set List
Night Of The Lotus Eaters
Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
The Weeping Song
Red Right Hand
Midnight Man
Love Letter
The Mercy Seat
We Call Upon The Author
Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry

Straight To You
Stagger Lee

Fuck Buttons was the intended highlight of the day. I love their debut album, so I was pretty excited to see them perform. I did enjoy them, although in a limited fashion. They opened with "Sweet Love For Planet Earth" and this amazing song floored me. But after that it became a little predictable. They threw in a new number that was more dance than industrial noise. "Bright Tomorrow was its pulsating self, but I think in the live setting often electronic acts can be feel a little stagnant. Something to be said for a clanging guitar and a barking voice, rather then laptops and wires. Still, I was glad I saw them and they brought down the curtain on my day quite nicely. So, how was my day? A success I would say.

First on the day was Bridezilla. They have been pretty quiet lately, so it was a good opportunity to see them again. I really believe they are one of the most talented bands on the local scene. They played a couple of new songs which sounded great, then they were joined on the last song by acting legend Jack Thompson. That was a surprise. We then caught a bit of Beaches. Not too impressed by them. The music was OK, but the vocals were pretty ordinary. Afrirampo were energetic, but that was about it. Not exactly my thing.

Dead Meadow was next and they were mightily impressive. The three piece from the USA generated an awful lot of power. Their droney style was quite hypnotic. They can really wield the axe and their extended jams were quite appreciated. I think their last song lasted for 20 minutes. Or so it seemed.

Caught a bit of Robert Forster, but was actually a little underwhelmed. He is a legend and "Head Full of Steam" was great, but most of the songs were a little dull. So, it was off to Spiritualized, a band I know only by reputation. I quite enjoyed their set, despite my lack of knowledge of their material. Some of the songs were a little repetitive and I don't find Jason Pierce's voice to have a lot of authority, but the band is obviously talented and it was a good introduction for me. Also caught The Necks and whilst I enjoyed their effort and musicianship, I think their act is a little lost on the festival setting.
So, that was about it.

Some final thoughts.
Forgot the sunscreen, so I got rather sunburnt.
Nick Cave was sensational.
The crowd was well behaved and full of good humour.
The festival was very well run.
Cockatoo Island is a great setting.
I will come back next year.

Jan 16, 2009

2009: Looking Forward; Or The Year of Animal Collective

The future. So exciting. Returning favourites. New discoveries. Disappointments. Surprises. Well, this next week will see the first big releases of 2009 hit the shelves. Seemingly all starting with A, with Animal Collective staring down from above. The four have become three, but their talent level is not going down. In fact, some pundits are suggesting this is their best work. I'm not sure about that, but I have no doubt that their new album is a spectacular success. So, here are a few things I am looking forward to in 2009.

Merriweather Post Pavilion-Animal Collective
Once again this excellent band of men have astounded us. I have been listening to this bliss constantly since the leak happened a couple of weeks ago. Today, I bought the CD. I love it. It's a kiss of sunshine, a shower of love. Their most pop like record is pretty damn great. I still think "Feels" is their epic work, but this will do. Muchly.

MP3: Brother Sport (live)

Noble Beast-Andrew Bird
This one leaked a while ago. I haven't had the chance to give it a big listen yet. But of what I have heard I can surmise this. It's very good. However, I need a lot more time to give it a proper evaluation.

MP3: Oh No

Blood Bank-Bon Iver
I am so excited to see this wonderful artist next week. As a special treat, we have a brand new 4 song EP being released next week. The songs sound superb. Hopefully we will have a new album sometime in the next 12 months.

MP3: Blood Bank

Get Guilty-A.C. Newman
I jumped all over this one when it leaked too. I love it. The first three songs are just killer. Beautiful melodies, great vocals. And the rest of the album is pretty good too. I recommend this release highly.

MP3: Submarines Of Stockholm

Skin Of Evil-Blackout Beach
Get this album. It is astounding. I ordered it from the label and received it a couple of weeks early. Stunning, heart wrenching. A powerhouse. So unique.

MP3: Cloud Of Evil

The Mountain-Heartless Bastards
I loved their last album. Robust, strong, meaty rock. With amazing vocals. The first song I have heard from the album sounds pretty good. So I look forward to getting the album upon its release in February.

MP3: The Mountain

Hold Time-M. Ward
I have listened to a few tracks of Mr Ward's new album. Out in February. No drastic changes here, just more Ward goodness. Soulful and direct.

MP3: Never Had Nobody Like You

To Willie-Phosphorescent
Willie Nelson covers? I actually find Willie Nelson's voice to be very annoying. However I go anywhere where Matthew Houck goes. So, I go.

MP3: Reasons To Quit

Middle Cyclone-Neko Case
I think I wrote about this. I think I love her. No, I know I love her.

MP3: People Got A Lotta Nerve

Face Control-Handsome Furs
The love affair continues. Dan, you got me. This is just brilliant. If you have a copy now, make sure you buy it when it is released in March. This album is just pure joy and excitement. "Plague Park" was a statement of truth. This is four more layers on top. Much more, danceable shall I say. The electronic patterns are heavier and Dan has never sung better. Alexei and Dan have created a piece of ecstasy for all the world to enjoy.

MP3: I'm Confused

S/T-Elvis Perkins In Dearland
I wrote about this a couple of days and now I have a song to post. If this is any indication of the quality of the album, then we are in for a treat.

MP3: Shampoo

Hospice-The Antlers
Well and truly on their bandwagon. I am very excited by the prospect of this self released album, due in March. The two songs given to the internet are just wonderful.

MP3: Two

Beware-Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
It's Will Oldham people. Will friggin' Oldham.

Enemy Mine-Swan Lake
It's Dan Bejar, Spencer Krug, Carey Mercer. Could I be any more excited?

The Hazards of Love-The Decemberists
Is this band about to jump the shark? "The Crane Wife" was great, but I wonder if bands can sustain greatness on a major label. Well, Pitchfork debuted the first slice from the new album today. Wow! It's truly great. I love it. Expectations are high again.

MP3: The Rake's Song

Now We Can See-The Thermals
Now on Kill Rock Stars and with a new drummer, let's hope for more fiery and passionate music from this Portland trio. April, we await.

Jan 15, 2009

People Got A Lotta Nerve-Neko Case

Never is there a bad time to write about Neko Case. So, here we go. I reported recently of her new upcoming album. "Middle Cyclone". It's out March 3 on Anti-. Now, we have the first song to be released. "People Got A Lotta Nerve". It's an upbeat, emimently catchy tune. Naturally, THE voice is there. Plus, by posting this song, the label will make a contribution to the Best Friends Animal Society. So, it's really win ,win.

MP3: People Got A Lotta Nerve

Jan 13, 2009

Elvis Perkins Set To Release New Album In March

Elvis Perkins first came to our attention in 2007 with the release of his wonderful debut album. "Ash Wednesday" was a heart wrenching, heart breaking release, full of pain and beauty. Now he returns. Well, it's Elvis Perkins in Dearland. Which is Elvis, Brigham Brough, Wyndham Boylan-Garnett and Nick Kinsey. The band will release their debut eponymous album in March. Currently there are three songs streaming on their website. They all sound pretty great. Especially the heartfelt "Send My Fond Regards To Lonelyville".

Jan 11, 2009

Bill Callahan @ Famous Spiegeltent

Ferocious. Powerful. Dramatic. Dark. Not normally the adjectives for a Bill Callahan show. But Sunday night at the Famous Spiegeltent they were surely appropriate. Bill is here for a slew of shows for the Sydney Festival and he was great. Just great. But different. Previously he has appeared as the stoic, quietly spoken soft man. Songs of quiet power. Well, he is still stoic. Bill is not a talker. But his music was direct and powerful, a statement. A strong statement. Delivered with the surety of a master.

He opened with a few older numbers. "River Guard" was long and languid, whilst Bathysphere was storming and loud. Then "Vessel In Vain" blew me away. It twisted and turned, it was layered and textured. Fantastic. Then he played a couple of 'Bill' songs including the toe tapping "Diamond Dancer". Then he gave us two unreleased songs (titles are guessed at). "I Did Not Let Go" was long and complex, dark and deliberate. Then "Gone Billie" was even better. Trust me, the new album is going to be good. These songs also highlighted the powers of his impressive players. Jim White, Mick Turner. Well, we know how could they are. White, in particular, is a marvel. Surely an icon amongst Australian drummers. I have never seen a better one. His drumming is taut, forceful and so very textured. Every drum roll and kick is perfectly delivered. Bill then moved into overdrive, with a slew of classics. The greatness of "Say Valley Maker" was only bettered by the epic closer in "Let Me See The Colts". It was not only Bill the great singer, but Bill the jam band man. Surely, a night to be reckoned with.

Set List
River Guard
Our Anniversary
Vessel In Vain
Diamond Dancer
I Did Not Let Go (new song)
Gone Billie (new song)
Say Valley Maker
In The Pines
Rock Bottom Riser
Let Me See The Colts

Jan 9, 2009

More Antlers

A little while ago I wrote of my excitement for The Antlers. Now I can reveal more. This Brooklyn band have a release date for their new album. "Hospice" will be self released by the band on March 3. Please enjoy "Bear", a new song from the album.

MP3: Bear-The Antlers
MP3: Two-The Antlers

Jan 8, 2009

Dr Dog @ Beach Road Hotel

Free show? Hard to knock back. For Dr Dog? Definitely. Especially as I missed the Philadelphia crew on their 2007 visit to Australia. Plus, this was their only headline show in Sydney. However, it was at the Beach Road Hotel in Bondi. I felt a little out of my inner west element. Lots of guys who looked like they had just stepped out of the surf and lots of girls with big tans and short skirts. The venue was huge and packed. Three floors of bars and restaurants and on the third level there was a small stage. It was not the ideal venue. The stage was too low, there was no air conditioning and the lighting was not exactly expert. But, but...

It was still a very enjoyable night. Why? Because Dr Dog are just very entertaining. Not in a change your life way, but just in a feel good way. Their songs are brimming with melody and joy, they have songs that are full of life and spirit. Naturally, they played a slew of tunes from their latest release "Fate". This included the opener "The Old Days", which was a perfect starter, with its rousing chorus and irrepressible charm. Also welcomed were the hummable "Hang On" and the very catchy "Army Of Ancients". The vocal duties were mainly handled by lead guitarist Scott McMicken and bass player Toby Leaman. Both did a fine job, but I think I preferred the meatier tunes of Leaman. This was best shown on the stirring "100 Years". The band also showed they could jam with the best, with many songs being belted out with great gusto. As in the great closer "The Rabbit, The Bat & The Reindeer". One thing for sure on the night was the effort the band put in. On a hectic schedule of dates around Australia, Dr Dog attacked the night with a big heart.

Set List
The Old Days
Hang On
The Way The Lazy Do
The Beach
Ain't It Strange
My Friend
Army Of Ancients
The Ark
The World May Never Know
Oh No
Worst Trip
The Girl
100 Years
The Breeze
The Rabbit, The Bat & The Reindeer

Jan 7, 2009


One of the hardest things to do in movie making is take a stage play and then translate that to the big screen. It's a testament to the makers of Frost/Nixon that they have wildly succeeded in doing such a thing with great results. Director Ron Howard has made his finest film in years. Thanks mainly to two things. A great script, by Peter Morgan, and superb performances. It is certainly my express wish that in the coming awards season that this fine film gets in the queue when they are handing out the acting and writing awards.

Frost/Nixon opens in 1974. Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) has just resigned the American presidency in utter disgrace following the Watergate scandal. Fortuitously, for himself, he was not prosecuted. But he was certainly hanged in the court of public opinion. Famous British talk show host David Frost (Michael Sheen) views the resignation on TV and begins the idea of having Nixon as an interview subject. Frost is regarded as somewhat of a lightweight and playboy and relishes the idea of getting Nixon to tell his story. So, begins the battle between two men, with different motives. One man seeking redemption, one man seeking credibility. It all culminates in a month long interview session in California in 1977. Frost not only stakes his reputation on the line but his wallet, paying an exorbitant amount for an interview that might not work. The battle between the two men is illuminating and revealing. A lucid script enables the actors to do their thing. Sheen is very good as the rattled and pressured Frost, but Langella is astounding as the multi faceted former president. He reveals a man who is many things. Arrogant, conceited, broken, eccentric and worn out by the experience. Also excellent are the two man doing the research for Frost. Oliver Platt and Sam Rockwell are like the chorus for the film, giving us commentary and humour at exactly the right times. This is a powerful film, showing us the frailties and failures of men at the precipice. Giving us all the elements of the foibles of men. Then to top it off by telling the story with such humour and pathos is a triumph in itself.

Jan 6, 2009

M. Ward (New Video)

Here is a brand new video from M. Ward. "Hold Time" is the name of the song, which is also the name of Mr Ward's new album, due for release on February 17. On Merge Records. I think this song is ethereal and dreamy and very beautiful. Hope you enjoy.

Jan 5, 2009

Playground Weekender 2009

Great music in a great setting. Who could ask for more. Well, that is Playground Weekender 2009. It's fast approaching, so if you still want tickets you better get moving. Six stages of music, an outdoor cinema, markets, food, drink, a swimming pool. Plus lots more. Did I mention the music? I think this lineup is perhaps the festival's best yet. Definitely something for everyone. It takes place at Del Rio Riverside Resort on 6, 7, 8 of February.

Artists Lineup
Primal Scream
The Streets
Jose Gonzalez
Cold War Kids
Crystal Castles
Crazy Penis
Lyrics Born
Blue King Brown
Salmonella Dub
Alice Russell
Grafton Primary
Nick Fanciulli
Ashley Beedle
Norman Jay
Yes King
Edu K
Ewan Pearson
Todd Terje
Tom Middleton
Mark De Clive Lowe and Sharlene Hector
Paper Scissors
King Unique
Russ Dewbury
The Ray Man Three
Mark Pritchard & Steve Spacek
Merenia Gillies
Alex Wolfenden
The Dolly Rocker Movement
City Riots

The promoters have kindly given me one (1) double pass to give away to a lucky reader. Just answer this simple question. Which artist on this lineup featured on my 50 best albums of 2008?

UPDATE: I have a winner for the competition. Sorry, Emily, but I had the answer emailed to me about 3 hours ago. If I gain another pass from the promoter I will try and get you one.

Jan 4, 2009

Fleet Foxes/The Dodos @ Metro Theatre

I don't love the music of Fleet Foxes. It loves me. Please let me explain. Their music doesn't demand your attention, it creeps under your skin. Somehow it manages it nestle its way into your heart, increasing its beauty with every listen. Every listen revealing another secret that you didn't know existed. Every listen revealing another layer. To the point where their songs become part of your life, part of your being. Part of you. No wonder their debut album is so well loved. So, their first visit to Australia was met with great expectations. I am happy to say that those expectations were blown apart with consummate ease. Put simply, Fleet Foxes were nothing short of amazing in Sydney on Saturday night. On the third day of 2009, I will be amazed if I see a better show this year. Yeah, it was that good.

The bearded fellows from Seattle opened with "Sun Giant" from the EP of the same name. The band was there but it was basically Robin singing alone, his pure voice piercing the night air. At this instant you knew magic was in the air. The avalanche of harmonies continued, with "English House" and "White Winter Hymnal" proving gorgeous. At this point we were enjoying a great night. But soon the night went from great to extraordinary. "Ragged Wood" was a sledgehammer. A cascade of melody and incredible beauty. Smiles were breaking out everywhere, throats were bellowing. It was bliss. Bliss then turned into amazement as the startling "Your Protector" enveloped us. I love this song and it was my highlight of the night. The quiet opening entranced us before the song burst into life halfway through. "You run with the devil" is now ensconced in my head. So, could it get better, you ask? Yes, it did. Robin Pecknold was left alone on stage, with his acoustic, and he played a cover. "Crayon Angels". So tender, so delicate. The only sound to be heard was that of hearts breaking. If somehow they weren't at this point, then Robin's version of "Oliver James" would complete the job. Sublime stuff.

If we needed any more evidence of how great the night was then a rousing version of "He Doesn't Why" sealed the deal. Confirmed the brilliance of the night. Completely. This is a band whose sum is greater then their parts. They combine so well together. Each section of music fitting in well with the next. I honestly don't remember any moment of individual musical brilliance, any particular drum roll or guitar part. I think all the music goes to support one thing. The melody and astounding harmonies. Those voices of gold, four men combining their vocals to create a special kind of magic. Truly, a great example of the power of voice. And one voice stood even above this. That of Robin Pecknold. His range is quite incredible. Soaring to heights of sheer beauty. This was laid down with full effect in the encore. Robin unplugged his guitar and stood at the front of the stage and gave us the traditional song "Katie Cruel". Truly, a gift to the audience. To top it off, he then also gave us "Tiger Mountain Song", before the band returned, with The Dodos, for a great send off in "Blue Ridge Mountains". The crowd bellowed for more, but we were denied a second encore, sadly. But it was very hard to complain in anyway. The other pleasure of the night was seeing how gracious and kind and genuine the band were. They were continually smiling and greeting the audience with great humour and humility. So, not only are they supremely talented, but also very gracious. A special night that will stay long in the memory.

Set List
Sun Giant
Sun It Rises
Drops In The River
English House
White Winter Hymnal
Ragged Wood
Your Protector
Crayon Angels (Judee Sill cover) (Robin Solo)
Oliver James (Robin Solo)
Quiet Houses
He Doesn't Know Why

Katie Cruel (Robin Solo)
Tiger Mountain Song (Robin Solo)
Blue Ridge Mountains

I am a huge fan of The Dodos. In fact their latest album "Visiter" was even more well liked by me this year then "Fleet Foxes". Which is saying something. So, I was just as excited to see this band as I was to see Fleet Foxes. They didn't disappoint. At all. This band is quite unique and special. Their percussion is phenomenal. Their musicianship quite astonishing. Meric Long brandished an ancient Gibson guitar and his finger picking was something to behold. Drummer Logan Kroeber was placed front of stage to show off his extraordinary talents. He has an array of drums and he beats them with great power and stunning rhythms. He also likes to play the rims of the drums to give his sound that distinct rapping resonance.

To hear the clarion call of "It's That Time Again" was a thrilling start and it was inevitable that "Paint The Rust" would soon follow, a song that fully displays the dynamics and sheer vitality of this talented band. Which is now augmented by the addition of Joe Haener, whose specialty is the glockenspiel, but he also has a knack for drumming sounds out of anything. For "Fools" Meric sported a trombone for the intro, adding a special touch. Then Logan's drumbeats signalled the start of this robust tune. "Joe's Waltz" was also great, building momentum before exploding into a dramatic and frenetic climax. "Jodi" was its own melodic magic, before they closed with the sublime "The Season" which was thunderous and ecstatic, a great showing of the band's dynamism and sheer strength. This set was only a prelude to a night of greatness.

Set List
It's That Time Again
Paint The Rust
Joe's Waltz
new song?
The Season

Jan 1, 2009

Frightened Rabbit @ Manning Bar (Purple Sneakers NYE)

To be truthful I am not really a NYE kind of guy. I mean I appreciate the goodness that is celebrating an old year passing and a new one beginning. One with hope and happiness implied. But I am over people getting stupidly drunk and fireworks and all of that. But what if a band you love is playing on NYE and that is the only chance you have to see them. Well, hopefully they will play somewhere where there is a good vibe and a healthy attitude.

That is what the Purple Sneakers NYE House Party at the Manning Bar turned out to be. It was a decent crowd of people having fun, three stages of bands and DJs and one band to be reckoned with. Frightened Rabbit. To be honest, they were the only reason we went. I mean, we caught a bit of Spod. He was on early, but the crowd was having a good time. He is obviously talented at what he does, just probably not my sort of thing. We watched most of Yves Klein Blue. They had the crowd going, but not me. But then enters the Rabbit.

I felt sorry for them. They had just played Pyramid Rock Festival and Peats Ridge Festival within the last two days and they were obviously tired. They had to soundcheck on stage. In a hurry. Then, the sound was muddy and mediocre at best. But despite all of this they were amazing. Their songs are just that damn good. It was 40 minutes of passion and joy and the spirit of life. The opening two songs were great, but it was "Old Old Fashioned" which truly hit the spot. The gentle push and pull of this song was perfect for a singalong. Then "Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms" was astounding. It kept building and building upon delightful waves of melody. Oh to have an ear for melody like which Scott Hutchison possesses. And to have his voice and passion and sheer brilliance. He made quite a impression. Naturally "The Modern Leper" was brilliant, but it was two old songs welded into one that ripped by jaw off. "The Greys" segued perfectly into "Square 9" with lashings of awesomeness. Then the Scottish saviour of British Rock closed with the jaw dropping "Keep Yourself Warm" You know that bit when the drums crash in? Yes? Well, it worked. Please rabbits, come back and play to us again.

Set List
I Feel Better
Fast Blood
Old Old Fashioned
Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms
The Modern Leper
Head Rolls Off
The Greys>Square 9
Keep Yourself Warm