Jan 29, 2011

Grinderman @ Enmore Theatre

"I woke up this morning, I thought what am I doing here? My brother he starts raging! Watch him rising see him howling! And he sucked and sucked her dry. And he bit at me and said goodbye up on the twenty-ninth floor." This is how you begin a show! Raging torrents of fire. Caterwauling, spluttering diamond clustered three eyed monsters. Chunks of plaster splattered on beards of gods. Crazy monks running wild eyed through ancient forests grabbing strangers and carrying them on their shoulders. Four men standing before the apocalypse and spitting in its face. Smiling, with a knowing wink that sometimes too much ferocity is never enough. Just ridiculous. Seriously ridiculous.

Words, words, words. Not sufficient enough to describe the enormity of a Grinderman show. Plus I have to get ready to get on a plane to New Zealand in a few hours. I can say this. They started at the speed of sound and took it up a few notches. Ferocious drumming. Threatening bass lines. Warren Ellis giving a fuck. Nick Cave owning us. We are his children.
He is our master.
I am spent.

Set List
Mickey Mouse And The Goodbye Man
Worm Tamer
Get It On
Heathen Child
When My Baby Comes
What I Know
Honey Bee (Let's Fly To Mars)
No Pussy Blues
Bellringer Blues

Palaces Of Montezuma
When My Love Comes Down
Man In The Moon
Love Bomb

Jan 28, 2011

Sufjan Stevens @ Sydney Opera House

As the balloons tumbled from the ceiling, we smiled with open hearts. We pondered, during the joyful refrain of "Chicago", the spectacle we had witnessed during the preceding two hours. We wondered if the outside world would be the same. If the outside world knew what was going on inside the Sydney Opera House. Did they know we weren't with them at this moment. We were on Planet Sufjan. We were on a cosmic journey through the stars, the planets, the entire galaxy. We felt the touch of Sufjan. It made our blood flow quicker, our hearts sing and all was well. Psychedelic mindtrip. Sufjan Stevens is not one of us.

Seven Swans, seven swans, seven swans. A reminder of older times. A thunderous beginning. Spectacular. Then Sufjan welcomed us and informed us that the night would be new tunes. New experiences. But would we like a night of 'Adz'? Would we pine to be 'Illinoised'? In a word. No. This night was a spectacular and sublime triumph. The man from Michigan and his ten piece band entranced us all. Liberated and freed us from our earthly concerns. There were guitars and horns and keyboards and all sorts of wondrous musical vessels. And dancers. Two girls that sung and danced at a relentless pace. There was incendiary lighting. There were stunning audio visuals, keeping each song company in a spectacular fashion. Sufjan entertained us too with his thoughts. His spiritual but also earthen thoughts. His expressions of love and place spoke directly to us. You see, he is not just supremely talented, but also hugely charismatic. He danced as well. Oh, he danced. To the glitch-pop of "Get Real Get Right" or the overflowing "Vesuvius". If I had to choose a standout though I think it would be "Age of Adz". This song was four thousand types of awesome. Amongst the ecstatic and dance laden he still found time for 'folk songs' as Sufjan called them. Amongst these "Heirloom" and "Futile Devices" were particularly enthralling and moving. If somehow the night couldn't get anymore surreal and spectacular we were given thirty minutes of "Impossible Soul" to close. To call it epic would be an understatement. It would be like saying the sun is kinda hot. It was a a journey through the musical universe, complete with more dancing and even autotune. It was hypnotic and completely original. Sufjan sang "Boy, we can do much more together. It's not so impossible.". In the hands of this remarkable man I am inclined to believe him.

Set List
Seven Swans
Too Much
Age of Adz
I Walked
All For Myself
Futile Devices
Now That I'm Older
Get Real Get Right
Enchanting Ghost
Impossible Soul


Jan 27, 2011

Beach House @ Beck's Festival Bar

I can't take my eyes off her. I try to look away, but I just can't do it. Instinctively I again turn my eyes to her. Her movements draw me in. Her sensual flowing self. Victoria LeGrand doesn't say much. But she doesn't need to. Her voice, the way she moves is enough. Beach House on an incredibly humid and hot Australia Day was the perfect tonic for all involved. Their lush and moving arrangements floated over us, leaving us delighted and enthralled.

Without question "Teen Dream" was one of the stellar albums of 2010. A remarkable and intoxicating piece of art. Previously I had only been lukewarm to the charms of Alex and Victoria, but their latest album has made me a total convert. The night did begin however with an older tune, but a particular favourite, in "Gila" which set the tone nicely. Soon though we were flowing with "Teen Dream" goodness. "Walk in the Park" was especially mesmerising and "Norway" was all ecstatic melody. The show actually seemed to get better as it went along. "Used to Be" was received with open arms and hearts. Its ethereal melody making us hold our breath. I would say however that "Zebra" stole the show. It was at this point that Ms Legrand became a sight to behold. Early in the show she was a serene object. Standing straight, hovering over her keyboards, her hair covering her eyes. During "Zebra" and subsequent songs she became more animated. Hair was flying everywhere, hands were moving in time with the music. She was at one with the charging rhythms, a hypnotic capsule of sound. Oh yes and "Zebra" was greatness. It charged headlong, fairly galloping like the name of the song implies. Of course I loved the closer "Take Care". This song is already a classic in my mind. It is a sumptuous feast for the heart and mind. The trio of musicians had proved a tight unit on the night. Alex Scally carefully plied his trade on the guitar, whilst touring drummer Daniel Franz ably added all the right percussive elements to each and every song. But it is Victoria who is the centrepiece. Her deep voice resonates like few other singers. She is in complete control, allowing the music to flow through her and out into the captive audience. She has a wild look in her eye, giving me the feeling that things sit tightly on the edge, but will never fall into the abyss. A quiet but adoring crowd burst with applause after "Take Care" and we asked for more. We received the elegaic "Real Love" and the pulsating "10 Mile Stereo" for good measure. A pleasurable finale to be sure. A touch of magic came to Sydney last night and we all felt touched by it.

Set List
Better Times
Walk in the Park
Lover of Mine
Silver Soul
Master of None
Used to Be
Heart Of Chambers
Take Care

Real Love
10 Mile Stereo

To make the night even more special, support was provided by Sydney's Parades. I make this point most seriously. Not only are they this city's most promising young band, they are more then likely the best. Their sound is complex and multi layered. On a day when the Triple J Hottest 100 was a complete letdown, it was a good reminder that quality of this kind is within the reach of all of us. See this band!

Jan 25, 2011


Seagull - 'Tea' Music Video from Dylan Wiehahn on Vimeo.

Wonderful new video for "Tea" by Seagull.
Taken from my favourite Australian album of last year.

Jan 20, 2011

Owen Pallett @ Famous Spiegeltent

He's very charming. He's very talented. A supremely winning combination in anyone's book. Toronto's Owen Pallett took the stage in the Spiegeltent Thursday night in Sydney as part of the always popular Sydney Festival. The man who once performed as Final Fantasy is a fantastic live treat, a wonder to behold. I would even say that he is better live then on record and he is pretty good on record, btw.

He had a set list before him, but he seemed willing to change it up and take requests. Which he did. Opening with a track from his first album it wasn't long before he launched into material from his latest release in "Heartland". We had heard some of these tracks on his last visit two years ago, but now we were hearing them after we had the opportunity to digest the album. An early highlight was "Midnight Directives", which was followed by one of my absolute favourite Pallett numbers in "This Lamb Sells Condos". I think it's the line about 'massive genitals' that does something to me. No long after he played "A Man With No Ankles", which he stated should have appeared on "Heartland". I would have to agree with him as it is a great song. It did later turn up on the digital EP "A Swedish Love Story" however. Soon after he was asked if could he play a cover. He hesitated, jokingly saying that he started playing covers in 2004 and now it had become his 'thing' and he was a little tired of it all. Then straight away he launched into "This Modern Love", which in mind turned out to be the highlight of the night for me, its delightful melody accentuated by the delicate plucking of Mr Pallett. "The Great Elsewhere" would also prove to be a star of the night with its romping rhythms. The night finished on a high with a short but very sweet encore. "Oh Heartland, Up Yours!" is nearly sombre, but somehow uplifting. This preceded the raucous and irresistible "Many Lives", which pleased me no end. A great end to a great night. Owen Pallett is a spectacular talent. Armed with just a violin and keyboard, he manages to conjure all sorts of sounds from his instruments. Plucking, slapping and knocking are all involved, plus constant looping to create a cavalcade of sound. He is very precise too, enabling himself to create a wild eyed beauty out of a somewhat basic setup. He is also charming too with a deadpan wit. He did I think manage to perhaps offend redheads and Germans on the night however. All in good humour though.

Set List
Took You Two Years To Win My Heart
Flare Gun
Midnight Directives
This Lamb Sells Condos
This Is The Dream Of Win & Regine
A Man With No Ankles
Lewis Takes Action
Scandal At The Parkade
This Modern Love (Bloc Party cover)
That's When The Audience Died
The Great Elsewhere
Song Song Song
Lewis Takes Off His Shirt

Oh Heartland, Up Yours!
Many Lives > 49 MP

Jan 18, 2011

Live:An Intimate Video Study of the Art of Performing

As part of the Sydney Festival we were lucky enough to witness Live on the weekend. Running until January 23, this unique installation is based in the basement of the Sydney Town Hall. It works this way. There are four large Black and White Screens with 20 artists performing on continuous loop directly to the camera, directly to you. Each audience member has a set of headphones, so you can decide which artist you wish to watch. For me I kept coming back to the singular and spectacular Warren Ellis. But there is plenty else to keep you entertained. Here are my highlights. I recommend it highly.

Warren Ellis (the man is possessed by demons and angels)
Feist (delightfully performs "Intuition" on acoustic)
Martha Wainwright (great voice!)
Yim Yames (the MMJ frontman serenades us with "Look At You")
Gareth Liddiard (stark rendition of "I Don't Ever Want To Change")
Laura Jean (beautiful Melbourne songstress)

Jan 13, 2011

2011 Must Be A Good Year; Okkervil River Will Be Giving Us A New Album

If you caught Jimmy Fallon this week you would have seen Okkervil River premiere a new song, "Wake And Be Fine", that we learnt will be included on a brand spanking new album to be released on Jagjaguwar on May 10. "I Am Very Far" contains 11 songs and was produced by frontman Will Sheff in Austin, Connecticut and New York. The album uses string and horn sections with many musicians taking part in the process. "The goal was to push my brain to places it didn't want to go" explains Sheff. Excited!!!

Jan 12, 2011


GROUPLOVE 'Colours' from Studio1290 on Vimeo.

Great new video for one of the best songs of 2010!

Jan 11, 2011

The Dodos Get Together With Neko Case!

This is pretty exciting news! Not only do The Dodos have a new album coming out in March, but they are getting a helping hand from none other then Neko Case! "No Color" will be released on Frenchkiss Records on March 15 and was produced by John Askew, who produced their first two albums. The great Ms Case will be singing on about half of the album. In other news related to the band Keaton Snyder has now left the trio who are now a duo again.

No Color Track Listing
1 Black Night
2 Going Under
3 Good
4 Sleep
5 Don't Try and Hide It
6 When Will You Go
7 Hunting Season
8 Companions
9 Don't Stop

Jan 7, 2011

The National @ Enmore Theatre

In a word. Magnificent. In two words. Majestically magnificent. Yes, The National are a magnificent band. In every sense of the word. In this age of the quick fix, the dire state of popular music, it is quite refreshing to see a band sell out twice over the Enmore Theatre. A band without pyrotechnics, a band that is quite dark, sometime even sombre. More power to them. This band from Ohio via Brooklyn are truly one of the greats. Their songs exclaim power and intellect. They move you emotionally and give you so many shining moments. Friday night in Sydney I was carried in a swarm of bees.

I could actually just fast forward to an encore for the ages, but I guess I should fill you on the proceedings beforehand. A little after 9pm the band sauntered on stage to a hero's welcome. They launched their guitars and stoically gave us "Runaway". We melted and readied ourselves for more. "Mistaken For Strangers" was super charged, as was "Squalor Victoria", but it was the luminescent "Bloodbuzz Ohio" that lifted the night to a higher level. What a mighty song this is. A mighty oak tree, towering over the horizon. The band had us in the palm of their hands. We were their devoted acolytes. So much so that there was almost reverential quiet between songs. Which led to some uneasy banter that I think even made the band a little uncomfortable. But they are certainly in their element when the music flows. The Dessner brothers serenade us with their euphoric electrics, whilst one Devendorf sows the solid bass lines. The other Devendorf, Bryan, pounds the drums with uncommon strength. Then there is Matt Berninger. This tall specimen of a man takes centre stage with his voice commanding and also gentle. Kind and ecstatic. Truly one of a kind. We were also lucky last night to receive a horn section for most of the set. "Apartment Story" was the other stellar highlight of the night. This song is actually 'our song' and it makes the heart soar when we hear it live. My only slight quibble of the night would be an aching yearning for some more material from "Alligator". I would have gladly taken an "All The Wine" for a "Lemonworld" for example. But this is a minor quibble. So to the encore. As good as it gets. "Mr November" tore us apart as was to be expected. Then "Terrible Love" raised the bar just a little higher. During the climax of this song Berninger climbed into the audience and managed to go halfway up the theatre where the crowd lifted him onto the barrier. All the while he never lost a beat, belting the song out with utmost fervour before rejoining the stage. Then somehow it got even better. The band went unplugged and moved to the front of the stage for an acoustic singalong of "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks". Amazingly the crowd went word for word as the band serenaded the audience and vice versa. Truly an unforgettable moment on an unforgettable night. They left us then. We went home.
Memories to stay in our heart.

Set List
Mistaken For Strangers
Anyone's Ghost
Slow Show
Squalor Victoria
Afraid of Everyone
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Lit Up
Conversation 16
Apartment Story
Green Gloves
Fake Empire

Mr November
Terrible Love
Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks (unplugged)

Jan 5, 2011


Yuck - Rubber from Yuck on Vimeo.

But yes, this band is good. Hailing from London, this four piece will release their self titled debut album on Fat Possum on February 15. This song, "Rubber", is huge, which augurs well for the entire album.
Below is another track for preview.

Holing Out by Yuck