Mar 30, 2009

Lakeside-Blk Jks

I only heard of this group a week or so ago and I was intrigued. Firstly, their name. Blk Jks, which is short for Black Jacks. That wasn't too hard I guess. Then their sound, it's experimental guitar music. But with a huge beat and gushing rhythms and piercing vocals. Then I discovered they are from South Africa and after years of struggle and fine tuning they were recently signed to Secretly Canadian. Now they have a 4 song EP called "Mystery". It's raw and multifaceted and original. A unique sound.

MP3: Lakeside-Blk Jks

Mar 29, 2009

Quiet Little Voices-We Were Promised Jetpacks

This is new. And exciting. The first single from this Scottish band's debut album. The band is called We Were Promised Jetpacks. Such a great name. The single is called "Quiet Little Voices". The album, to be released in June, is called "These Four Walls". The band is young and numbers four. Like Frightened Rabbit, they are from Scotland and also on the label Fat Cat. But this band is a little harder edged, a little more frenetic. Anyway, this first song for listening is pretty damn good and a lot of fun. Hope you enjoy it.

MP3: Quiet Little Voices-We Were Promised Jetpacks

Mar 28, 2009

Darren Hanlon @ Petersham Town Hall

It's close to impossible not to enjoy a Darren Hanlon show. Even for someone like me who is nowhere near an expert on his music. But he is such a likeable, charming and intelligent host. Witty, yet humble. True and honest. Great value, without doubt. His music, to me, is not earth shattering. He writes a nice melody and he has a soft lilting voice. Plus, he writes heartfelt and sometimes comic lyrics. But it's the package as a whole that makes him so pleasurable. Plus, the very Australianess of him. But it's a good Australianess. Not the image of Pauline Hanson or Malcolm Turnbull or Lawrie Lawrence. Not the ugly Australian. Not the cliche, but rather the truth. The heart.

It starts with the venue. He chose the Town Hall in the suburb in which he lives. Not your typical venue. We sat on plastic chairs in a hall probably used for school choirs or bingo nights. We made gold coin donations for warm soft drink and sausage sandwiches. He extolled the virtues of the neighbourhood. The Lord of the Rings pinball machine at the Newington Inn and so forth. It's in his songs, such as "2480" about the town of Lismore. He is quite a raconteur too. Telling us quaint and charming stories of his recent past. Such as playing in a strip club in Tasmania. He revels in the small things (like Darren Hanlon teaspoons), the things that make our culture unique to us. Not the big things. Hanlon paints with small strokes, not broad ones. This is reflected in his music. Whether it is ukelele led "Hold On", a beautiful opener. Or the banjo led "Falling Aeroplanes", his one 'hit' as he describes it. Then there's the comical songs like "Electric Skeleton", which is fun but I definitely prefer the quieter more ballad like numbers. A definite highlight was the closer "The Perfect Day", a cover of the Fischer Z song which appears on his latest release "Pointing Rayguns At Pagans", a collection of covers and B-sides from his career. As said, it was a thoroughly enjoyable night. A night that felt like your best friend just dropped by to play a few charming and amiable songs.

Set List
Hold On
Heart Made Of Stone
And The Days Were Just Packed
The Ostracism Of Vinny Lalor
Electric Skeleton
Service Station
Lee Remick
Eli Wallach
I Wish That I Was Beautiful For You
Butterfly Bones
Video Party Sleepover
The Perfect Day

Yes, There Is A Slight Chance He Might Actually Fail
Falling Aeroplanes
Pinball Millionaire
Notes On Leaving

Support act was Brooklyn anti-folk artist Jeffrey Lewis. He was great, full of charm and great wit. Although not a great singer, he carried the audience easily. Singing about Will Oldham and Leonard Cohen, his songs were dark and epic and at times extremely funny. His 'paper films' were great. Especially the one entitled "The History of Communism: Russia". Priceless.

Mar 27, 2009

Sunset Rubdown Reveals Dragonslayer

Well, this is THE pinnacle in 2009. On June 23 Sunset Rubdown will release their newest and latest album. "Dragonslayer" is the name and it contains 8 songs, most of which have been floating around as bootlegs after their latest tour. Yes, I am excited.

Dragonslayer Track Listing
1 Silver Moons
2 Idiot Heart
3 Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Anna Oh!
4 Black Swan
5 Paper Lace
6 You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)
7 Nightingale/December Song
8 Dragon's Lair

Mar 26, 2009

The Flaming Lips Tour Australia

Now you probably already know about this, but what can I say. THE FLAMING LIPS ARE TOURING AUSTRALIA. You bet I am excited. I have never seen these Oklahoma wonders live before, so their visit is definitely one to look forward to. They have one show in Sydney and one show in Melbourne on their agenda, so if you live in those cities mark these dates in your calendar.
Don't miss them!

The Flaming Lips Tour Dates
July 28 Sydney-Hordern Pavilion
July 29 Melbourne-Festival Hall

Tickets go on sale April 2

Mar 24, 2009

Face Control-Handsome Furs

Firstly, this is a damn enjoyable album. Secondly, it's not as good as "Plague Park". Thirdly, I will play this album a lot this year. The first release from Handsome Furs was stellar and sublime. Full of heart and fire, meaning and substance. "Plague Park" was one of THE releases of 2007. Dan Boeckner welded his heart stopping guitar to the metronomic beats of Alexei Perry, with a purpose and a meaning. The album was concerned with isolation and desolation, a sign of our times. The couple return with "Face Control", inspired by another journey into Eastern Europe. For those not in the know 'Face Control' is the practice of denying entry into Russian nightclubs. That is, if you are not attractive enough you don't get in. This practice informs this album, the feeling that certain areas of society are closed to the select few, the privileged. Dan and Alexei are concerned with the cracks in between, the areas of society where life is a struggle and human connection is hard to achieve. This makes the subject dark, but conversely the music is hyperactive, upbeat and exciting. If musically it lacks the gravitas of "Plague Park", this album is still one hell of a fun ride.

This album doesn't really have any weak points, it's so full of energy and life that each song has something to offer. "Legal Tender" starts things off nicely. It's that steady and unrelenting beat, before the synth overflows that gets you in. Boeckner's vocals come in perfectly, giving us a perfect rush. "Evangeline" is an early highlight, a great example of the maturation of Dan's vocals. They are vulnerable, yet powerful. Earthbound and totally authentic. Also, the guitar work is totally exemplary, thrusting and parrying back and forth with the drum machine. The album continues on, whether it's the pulsating "Talking Hotel Arbat Blues" or the New Order influenced "All We Want, Baby, Is Everything", it's all pretty vital and exciting. Only "I'm Confused" comes across as too simplistic, too easy to enjoy properly. Where the album really soars though are on two stand out tracks. "Nyet Spasiba" is stark and yearning. It aches, especially on the section of Joy Division-like guitars. Then "Radio Kaliningrad" closes, leaving the best to last. This song is dynamic and powerful, a reminder of the synergy and energy that these two artists can create. And there is a real synergy between Boeckner and Perry. Their bond informs their music and emits like a beacon shining to their captive audience. "Face Control" is a worthy successor to their amzing debut. Yes, it's not quite as good, nor maybe as profound. But it is undeniably great listening. This won't be the best album released in 2009, but it will demand heavy and often rotation.

Mar 23, 2009

Bill Callahan Set To Release New Album

Bill Callahan will release his new album on April 14 on Drag City. "Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle" is the second release under the Callahan name since the singer dropped the Smog moniker. After seeing Bill play here in January and be thoroughly entranced I am looking forward to the new material. The first song available for public download is excellent and is hopefully a sign of things to come.

Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle Track Listing
1 Jim Cain
2 Eid Ma Clack Shaw
3 The Wind and The Dove
4 Rococo Zephyr
5 Too Many Birds
6 My Friend
7 All Thoughts Are Prey To Some Beast
8 Invocation of Ratiocination
9 Faith/Void

MP3: Eid Ma Clack Shaw

Mar 22, 2009

Explosions In The Sky @ SXSW

The incomparable Explosions In The Sky playing March 21 at SXSW. "Catastrophe and the Cure". If you have seen this band live before you will appreciate just how great they are.

Mar 21, 2009

People Got A Lotta Nerve-Neko Case

Yeah, it's perfect. Neko Case!

Mar 19, 2009


Parades are young. They are from Sydney. They are also quite good. Emerging on the scene in 2008, they delivered a 5 song EP. Joe wrote about them a little while ago, highlighting their ability to write concise, melodic rock. Their music is intelligent and also fun. The band now have a new song which I am sharing with you here. "Dead Nationale" is quite simply very good. Full of melody and sparkle it builds to a frenetic climax, before fading out quite beautifully. This single will be part of a new EP to be released later this year. Stay tuned.

MP3: Dead Nationale-Parades

Mar 17, 2009

New Song From Voxtrot

After a lengthy absence, Voxtrot are back. The band from Austin, Texas made waves in 2006 with 3 excellent EPS. Boldly, on a wave of acclaim, they presented us with a fresh batch of tunes in 2007 on their self titled debut album. I actually thought it was pretty good, but the critical opinion was generally fairly lukewarm. The band took a step back and now are returning with a new song, recorded by Jim Eno. I like the sound of "Trepanation Party" and hopefully there could be an album delivered before the end of 2009.

MP3: Trepanation Party-Voxtrot

Mar 16, 2009

Apostle Of Hustle; New Album in May

More Canadian goodness is on the way. On May 19 Arts and Crafts will release the new album from Apostle Of Hustle, the band that belongs to Andrew Whiteman, he of Broken Social Scene fame. This is the band's third release, following on from two very strong albums. The album is called "Eats Darkness" and contains 13 tracks.

To quote the man-"Eats Darkness is a serial poem about some struggles people go through. Battles, from the macro to the micro. Songs about tactics and attitudes needed in 'life during wartime'. Each track is like tapas at the banquet of conflict. A small contribution to the articulation of a fucked and beautiful world."– Andrew Whiteman.

Eats Darkness Track Listing
1 Snakes
2 Eazy Speaks
3 Soul Unwind
4 Sign
5 Perfect Fit
6 Xerses
7 What Are You Talking About?
8 Whistle In The Fog
9 Eats Darkness
10 Return To Sender
11 How To Defeat A More Powerful Enemy
12 Nobody Bought It
13 Blackberry

MP3: Perfect Fit

Mar 13, 2009

Middle Cyclone-Neko Case

This album glows. It is warm and rich and delicious and beautiful. It burns with the strength of a million fireflies. It nourishes and replenishes. It offers solace and comfort. It is a complete joy. Put simply, "Middle Cyclone" has put its hand up for Album of the Year. Oh, Neko you have me and everyone else who falls under your spell at your mercy.

This is quite possibly Neko Case's finest work to date. It is a rich and rewarding piece of music, mature and subtle. Warm and engaging. It's a unique blend of country, rock and pop. Featuring the finest voice that this or any other generation is ever likely to hear. Of course, the pipes are magnificent, but this recording features lush melodies and poignant lyrics as well. It's a hymn to love and to mother earth, an ode to all things natural and beautiful. "This Tornado Loves You" starts things off beautifully. It's a melodious, flowing tune full of humour and hubris. It also features a collective backing group, which includes Joey Burns on cellos and Carl Newman on vocals. It is certainly a feature of the album that Neko uses so many talented people. Not only the aforementioned but also M. Ward, Kelly Hogan, Garth Hudson and Howie Gelb, amongst many others. "The Next Time You Say Forever" follows with lush results, before we hit "People Got A Lotta Nerve", which is catchy as hell and will stay trapped in your memory for days after hearing it. So, you can gather by this that this album has a lot of highs. But two songs stand out in particular. First, the sultry and seductive "Polar Nettles" which is quite outstanding. Then the title track, surely one of THE songs of 2009. Immensely beautiful and deeply moving, the phrasing is near perfect and it stretches a wonderful melody to end point. Feauring a delightful music box, it amply displays the glorious vessel that is the voice of Neko. In the days of auto-tune and people who truly can't sing, it is galvanising to hear a voice so soaring, so majestic, so natural. So transcendent.

But this album is not just a vehicle of voice. As said, there are many songs that contain effortless melody and harmony. Songs about the love of life, the life of nature, the texture of living. All couched in a manner designed to please. The mixture is quite good too. For every wondrous ballad like "Vengeance Is Sleeping" we have a up tempo song like "I'm An Animal". This is exquisite music. It is true and honest. It is shorn of all artifice. It is considered and timely. It is produced with care and attention. It is for you.

Mar 11, 2009

New Song From Akron/Family

File this under good. "Everyone Is Guilty" is the first taste from the upcoming new album from Akron/Family. "Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free" is the first album from the band since Ryan Vanderhoof left in 2008. So, they are now a trio and their new album will be their first release on Dead Oceans. It is due for release on May 5 and is sure to be the same free wheeling, chaotic, harmonic maelstrom as their previous releases.

MP3: Everyone Is Guilty

Mar 9, 2009

I'm Confused-Handsome Furs

Mar 8, 2009

I Am Goodbye-Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

March 17 will see the latest release from the incomparable Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. "Beware" is a fuller, bigger sounding release from the American master. Here is a video for "I Am Goodbye", a rattling good number. Will Oldham walking the streets, sporting the Turkish flag.

Mar 6, 2009

Black Mountain @ Annandale Hotel

This wasn't the greatest show I have ever been to. But I have no doubt that Black Mountain have been touched by the hand of greatness. There is an undefinable air of something special that you feel at a Black Mountain show. It's the music. The dirty fingernails, the voluminous hair, the grit of decaying sounds. The soul, the fury. The buzz. It's fury delivered with an effortless grace and ease. It's the feeling that you are at a ROCK show. The Annandale Hotel was the setting on Thursday night and it was a mighty experience.

The Vancouver five were playing the second night of a two night stand, which meant a less then full venue. This was actually a good thing, as it left space to sway gently to the riffs and drum fills. But I wasn't swaying to the opener. "Tyrants" lifted me to the ceiling with its amplified and supersonic guitar blast. This song packs quite a wallop and was a well chosen opener. "Angels" then gave us a breather and gave us a peek into the other side of the band. Its psychedelic nature. The keyboards of Jeremy Schmidt were a great feature of many songs, as they winded and twisted their way through the gaps in the guitars. The rhythm section of Joshua Wells and Matt Camirand were great as well, superbly tight and giving the band a real backbone. But I guess the spotlight falls mainly on Stephen McBean, and with good reason. The lead vocalist on most of the material, he has a gritty, earthy vessel of a voice and he is quite the phenomenal guitarist. Which was greatly exemplified on "Druganaut", a song that was extended and stretched into a mini epic. "Heart Of Snow" was pulled and stretched as well and although I love this song on record, it didn't quite come off as well as it could have in the live setting. If there was a weakness on the night, it was probably that a few of the songs descended into jams that were a little too long. Meandering a little too much for their own good it seemed to me.

But there wasn't too much to complain about. Although this venue's sound is often patchy, the sound wasn't too bad on this night. Which was a good thing, as songs like "Evil Ways" and "Stormy High" were mean and nasty and very powerful. The other feature of the band is Amber Webber. She of the angelic voice. Her vocals were great, but I thought that they could have been amplified a little more. They sometimes struggled to rise above the guitars. Plus, I think she needs something more to do on stage. Often she was seen standing and staring, seeming to be at a loss as to what she should be doing. But back to the band. After a solid hour and a bit of awesome riffage, they returned for a superb encore. "No Hits" worked splendidly in its extended version. A huge beast of a song, it sounded just superb on stage. Then "Don't Run Our Hearts Around" closed the night with shredding guitars and calamitous noise. A great way to end a great night with Black Mountain, out of Vancouver, with purpose, drive and an air of greatness.

Set List
Queens Will Play
Heart Of Snow
Thirteen Walls
Evil Ways
Stormy High

No Hits
Don't Run Our Hearts Around

Note: Updated Set List Thanks To Sean

Mar 5, 2009

Mogwai @ Enmore Theatre

What Mogwai do, they do extremely well. They don't have a huge amount of tricks up their sleeves, but their skill in playing muscular, haunting, LOUD instrumental rock is rarely surpassed. Their show Wednesday night at the Enmore Theatre was another example of the band that always gives value for money, always offering a memorable night out in the company of guitars. Guitars that trembled, wailed and exploded with a full and mighty force. It was soft, it was loud, it was spellbinding. Ultimately, it was great.

I missed the Scottish lads on their last visit in 2006, so a few years had passed since I had seen them last. Another solid album under their belt would mean that they had a huge repertoire of songs in which to delve into and so it proved. They gave us a slew of songs off "The Hawk Is Howling", with bits and pieces off their other releases. The show started with a new one in "I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead", one of many songs to incorporate the stylish piano work of Barry Burns. Burns' piano was there on most tracks, only taking the guitar on about four songs. The opening section of the show was a display of the quiet beauty of Mogwai. "Friend Of The Night" was beautifully rendered, whilst the distorted vocals on "Hunted By A Freak" were eerie and engaging. We even received "Cody", one of the band's few songs with full and clear vocals through out. Stuart Braithwaite did a lovely job here. If an oldie in "Summer" showed that things were about to get loud, then a newer one in "I Love You, I'm Going To Blow Up Your School" completed the job. My inner makings started to shake at this point, as the band displayed their trademark soft/loud dynamic that continues to work so well. This dynamic song was one of six that they played from "The Hawk Is Howling", but it was surprising to only hear one song from "Happy Songs For Happy People" and not one at all from "Rock Action". Never mind, it was all pretty great. This was confirmed when they played the epic "Ex-Cowboy", a slice from my favourite album "Come On Die Young". This song is impossibly powerful and beautiful. I was entranced by its majesty.

The band finished us off with a sonic blast. Yes, "Like Herod" is as loud as ever. The point where it goes from whisper death quiet to jet engine loud still shocks the senses. My ear drums are now located somewhere on Enmore Road. Please return if you find them. "Batcat" followed immediately. Perhaps the heaviest song that Mogwai have ever recorded to date, its thumping bass line shook my insides to the core. They left with rapturous applause, but there was more. A two song encore completed by their epic classic in "Mogwai Fear Satan". This song is purely and completely great. A song for the ages. My only complaint was that the beautiful opening section was drowned in feedback. Sometimes noise can be too much noise. But we still received the serene moment where the song comes to a beautiful quietness, before exploding into another sonic universe. I was not only impressed by the band's power and skill, but by the crowds' respect and devotion. A pin could literally be heard dropping. The ending of the song was left to John Cummings and Stuart Braithwaite to close in a wall of duelling guitars, the sounds continuing long after the two men had left the stage. Mogwai are a functioning, well oiled machine. They play with barely no flicker of interest in each other and yet their music is intrinsically and totally intertwined, leaving a sound that is beautifully judged and formed. On this night, ear drums were tested, we were drowned in sound and we were truly thankful to five men. Scotland delivered.

Set List
I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead
Friend Of The Night
Scotland's Shame
Hunted By A Freak
I Love You, I'm Going To Blow Up Your School
The Precipice
Thank You Space Expert
Like Herod

Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home
Mogwai Fear Satan

Mar 4, 2009

Eels To Release New Album In June

June 2 is the release date for the new album from Eels. "Hombre Lobo" will be released by Vagrant Records and contains 12 songs. It is the first album from Eels in four years and is sure to be one to be reckoned with.

Mar 3, 2009

iTunes Meme

This idea I took from Amanda. I thought it seemed like a good idea.
So here goes nothing.

In iTunes
Number Of Songs: 14020
Number Of Albums:1273
Most Recently Played Song: Jimmy Joe Roche-Dan Deacon
Most Played Song: Call It A Ritual-Wolf Parade
Most Recently Added Album: 200 Million Thousand-Black Lips
First Song Alphabetically: 'A' Bomb in Wardour Street-The Jam
Last Song Alphabetically: Zurich Is Stained-Pavement
Smallest Song Numerically: 1% Of One-Stephen Malkmus
Largest Song Numerically: 1,000,000 Died To Make This Sound-A Silver Mt Zion
Shortest Song: Outro-Rilo Kiley (0:04)
Longest Song: Behind Your Trouble-Eluvium (33:19)
First Album Alphabetically: A.M.-Wilco
Last Album Alphabetically: Zopilote Machine-The Mountain Goats
First Band Alphabetically: Akron/Family
Last Band Alphabetically: Zookeeper

First Ten Songs That Pop Up On Shuffle
Alanson, Crooked River-Sufjan Stevens
Notorious Lightning-Destroyer
Vision Bell-Dappled Cities Fly
Tears Are Cool-Teenage Fanclub
Whispered Words-Dan Auerbach
Lord-Langhorne Slim
Blistered Heart-Badly Drawn Boy
Hold Hands And Fight-The Rosebuds
Stetson Kennedy-Billy Bragg & Wilco

If you feel like copying this exercise, by all means please do.

Mar 2, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are (Test Footage)

Here is a test scene from the upcoming Spike Jonze film. "Where The Wild Things Are" is based on the classic childrens book by Maurice Sendak. The film features Forest Whitaker, Paul Dano, Catherine Keener and James Gandolfini and is due for release in December.