Mar 31, 2012

The Walkmen Give Us Heaven

Do you love good music? Then love this!
The Walkmen will release their new album on June 5.
"Heaven", coming to you on Fat Possum.
Featuring Robin Pecknold!
In a press release, frontman Hamilton Leithauser says, "The detachment you can feel throughout our younger records is gone. We felt like it was time to make a bigger, more generous statement."

Mar 27, 2012

Jonathan Boulet (Or If The Music Is As Good As The Album Cover We Will All Be Very Happy)

People. Pay attention! Jonathan Boulet is about to release album number two. Album number one was a vibrant, ecstatic maelstrom of great sounds. So really looking forward to album number two. The cover is pretty special and so is the title. "We Keep The Beat, Found The Sound, See The Need, Start The Heart" will be released on June 8 on Modular. Excited!

We Keep The Beat, Found The Sound, See The Need, Start The Heart Track Listing
1 You're A Animal
2 This Song Is Called Ragged
4 Hallowed Hag
5 Dread Is This Place
6 Mangle Trang
7 Boneyard Home
8 Trounce
9 Black Smokehat
10 Keep Away You Feral Son Of A Bitch
11 Piao Voca Slung
12 Cent Voix

Mar 22, 2012

Dirty Three @ Sydney Opera House

At some point in my life I didn't need/use/ Dirty Three to sustain me. Many years ago I had seen them as a support act in Melbourne. I was astounded by their music. A violin player as a lead man for crying out loud. And not just any lead man. A manic blunderbuss of energy. So "Horse Stories"came and went. They were greatness personified if there was any doubt at all. But I lost touch. Not intentionally. It just happened. Life moves on. But I knew one day I would need them back in my life. To sustain me again. To fill me up. A couple of years the circle turned in full when the legendary three piece returned to Sydney to play "Ocean Songs" in full. Grown men cried. I shook with revelation. I knew my place in life and Dirty Three were always going to be part of the ongoing tapestry.

Fast forward to 2012 and they return with a new album (first in seven years) and a first time playing at the Sydney Opera House. Or 'The Pub' as Warren Ellis put it. A full house was ready to bathe in electric charges, in sound and fury. For two hours we were given a lesson in music. A lesson in why I can quite confidently say this now. Dirty Three are the greatest musical act this country has ever produced. Or likely ever too. Their music is combative, inspiring, tender, ferocious and inclusive. Mick Turner stands quietly, watching. Carefully making sure each of his guitar plucks are in tune with the other two. Jim White is like no other drummer. Always moving, always searching for that perfect rhythm. Each stick like an artist's brush. Warren Ellis is like that crazy guy in your town or suburb who lives alone and no one really knows. Yet he is friend to all of us. He lives in France. Looks elegant in his grey suit. Sounds like he could be from Padstow or Moonee Ponds. He tells us tales of Gina Rinehart and Bono. Justin Bieber and amphetamines. He plays us Boz Scaggs before the show. He tells of dying and loving. Fucking and getting fucked. He shreds his violin with ferocity and passion that is rarely seen. He talks to the audience as if they just bought him a beer. He howls and cries. He tells us that 'you are never alone with the Dirty Three'. He tells us 'Everything is Fucked'. Yes it probably is Warren. But we don't care. Because we have you. 

Set List
Rain Song
You Greet Her Ghost
Sometimes I Forget You've Gone
The Pier
Rising Below
Moon On The Land
Some Summers They Drop Like Flies
The Restless Waves
The Zither Player
Everything's Fucked
Ashen Snow/Ends Of The Earth

Sue's Last Ride

Mar 20, 2012

Goodbye The Books; Hello Zammuto

Without doubt The Books were one of the most inventive and creative bands of the last decade. Their music was unique, bewildering and ecstatic. However they are no more. "It seems the air has gone out of The Books for the last time," wrote Zammuto in an email. "It's been an extraordinarily painful year coming to the realization that there was no way forward for the band. I love The Books and all that it became, and it still feels strange to me that such an odd little project moved people like it did."

Thankfully though, Nick Zammuto, one half of the act, will be releasing his debut album on April 3 on Temporary Residence with his new band Zammuto. The self titled album contains 11 tracks.

Zammuto Track Listing
1 Yay
2 Groan Man, Don't Cry
3 Idiom Wind
4 Crabbing
5 F U C-3PO
6 Too Late To Topologize
7 Zebra Butt
8 Weird Ceiling
9 Harlequin
10 The Shape Of Things To Come
11 Full Fading

MP3: Too Late To Topologize

Mar 14, 2012

Bon Iver @ Sydney Opera House

He's come a long way Justin Vernon. From log cabins to small venues. The Grammys (Go Bonny Bear!) to the Sydney Opera House. Three sold out nights in fact. Tuesday night was night number three. And what a night it was. Spectacular. Amazing. Sublime.

It takes a lot of talent to write great songs. It takes even more talent to have those songs explode to life on stage. With grace, excitement and extreme joy. Bon Iver did that with ease. A band that now comprises nine members, their sound is explosive, expansive and sometimes extraordinary. There is however still room for subtlety and grace. Bon Iver have grown from small semi acoustic numbers to an all encompassing sound. The stage was awash with instruments. Violin, guitars, horns and two drummers! They were all great but special mention should go to master saxophonist Colin Stetson. The Montreal native is a massive talent and he is a special addition to the band. As mentioned, they managed to swing from bombastic to delicate with ease. It was certainly bombastic with the opening number. "Perth" assaulted the senses and was accompanied by a stellar light show. In fact the lighting and the sound was great through out the night, enabling the band to show off the intricate arrangements that they have surely practised for quite a while. Basically every song was a stand out on a night as good as this, but here are a few of the extra special moments. "Holocene" was breath takingly good, one of those moments when you just wish time would stand still. "Baby Breath" was a welcome addition to the set, a quiet beauty of a song. The opening piano line of "Wash." was just sublime, whilst "Blood Bank" was ferocious and wondrous, a moment where the band rocked out with full and total effect. We also lapped up the moment when the band departed the stage and left Justin to serenade us on acoustic with "Re: Stacks". His voice carries so much drama and pure soul. Of course "Calgary" was great and "Skinny Love" received a huge cheer when it closed the set. After a huge standing ovation we were treated to a possibly predicted encore "The Wolves" and "For Emma". Both great in their own right and a special way to finish the night. The music of Bon Iver has obviously connected with audiences world wide in a big way. The music is grandiose and yet still personal. It contains sweeping statements and grand gestures. On a night like last night it's very hard not to get caught up in it.    

Set List
Minnesota, WI
Beach Baby
Hinnom, TX
Blood Bank
Creature Fear
Re: Stacks
Lisbon, OH
Skinny Love

The Wolves (Act I And II)
For Emma

Mar 13, 2012

New Album From Ramona Falls

About this time last year we learnt the news that Brent Knopf was leaving Menomena to concentrate fully on his own music, Ramona Falls. This was sad, but at least we knew more great would arrive. And that time is now. Or May 1 to be more precise. On that date Barsuk Records will be releasing "Prophet", album number 2 for Ramona Falls. Judging by the first track previewed it will be an exciting listen.

Prophet Track Listing
1 Bodies Of Water
2 The Space Between Lightning And Thunder
3 Spore
4 Divide By Zero
5 Archimedes Plutonium
6 Sqworm
7 Fingerhold
8 If I Equals U
9 Brevony
10 Proof
11 Helium

MP3: Spore

Mar 10, 2012

Real Estate @ The Standard

Heads bobbing gently, swaying to the music. Let the melodies wash over you, with elan and grace. This is a Real Estate show and I must say it's a pretty enjoyable experience. Friday night at The Standard was the New Jersey band's first ever show in Australia. For that matter it was my first ever visit to this newish venue. And I really liked it. Plus we must be very grateful in these times for any new places with live music. It's two levels above Kinselas near Taylor Square. The room has exposed brick and high ceilings with a good bar at the back of the room. A place I look forward to going back to in the future.

But to the music. I first remember hearing "Fake Blues" three years ago and falling in love with its majestic melody. Soon we had a debut album and it was great. Last year the band signed with Domino and released their second in "Days" which hence received a much wider audience. I liked it a lot but really believed their debut achieved better results in its melodies and urgency. I was glad that last night we were treated to an even spread form both records, although the "Days" tracks certainly received the bigger cheers. Such as "It's Real" which created a mass singalong. My two favourite tracks from album two came in the middle of the set in "Municipality" and "Out Of Tune", which both beautifully highlight the strength of the band. It's the wonderful guitar interplay between Matthew Mondanile and Martin Courtney. Graceful arpeggios ring out, washing us in blissful melodies. There are no histrionics and showmanship, just harmony and melody. This came to light in the extended jam of "All The Same" and in the last song of the night. "Beach Comber" wrapped around us effortlessly, cascading through our hearts. Sending us home smiling. 

Set List
Suburban Dogs
All The Same
Green Aisles
Fake Blues
Wonder Years
It's Real
Out Of Tune
In My Car
Kinder Blumen
Younger Than Yesterday
Green River
Suburban Beverage

Atlantic City
Beach Comber

Mar 6, 2012

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy @ Sydney Opera House

It's like that crazy uncle, the one with the raggedy hair and a strange walk, wandered on stage and starting playing. It would be like that if your uncle could sing like a bird and write songs like Dylan. Will Oldham is that man. A man of untouchable greatness when it comes to song writing. Forgive me here because I am about to gush. With good reason though. Oldham, or Bonnie 'Prince' Billy as he goes is a unique and stellar performer. A man who has been writing songs for many years that are emotionally complex and driven. Songs that make your heart ache and sing. Monday night at the Sydney Opera House, becoming a common venue, was special in so many ways. But above all it was about the music. Oh gracious music.

It turned out to be a night of many eras and times, surprise songs and great songs. They opened, for he played with The Cairo Gang, with a lesser known song in "Champion", which was immensely powerful and direct. We heard some old Palace numbers like "Pushkin" (pushed along in tempo) and "No Gold Digger". Nothing from "I See A Darkness" (sad face), but great songs like "Wolf Among Wolves" (also affected by tempo change). Of the recent songs I really loved the tunes from 2010's "The Wonder Show of the World", especially the thoroughly engaging "The Sounds Are Always Begging" and the starkly beautiful "Teach Me to Bear You". "Closing with "Go Folks, Go" was an inspired choice too as Oldham abandoned his acoustic and gave us extravagant hand gestures coupled with his interpretive dancing. Greatness was also achieved in the doom laden "New Whaling" and the wondrously melodic "Quail And Dumplings". This song was one of many that allowed Angel Olsen to show off her impressive pipes. Her voice is deep and resonant, a perfect counter to Oldham's higher registers. The other two band members were great too. Emmett Kelly was a concise hand on guitar and Van Campbell plied the drums with genuine subtlety. Oldham of course is the centrepiece. His voice is quavering, high pitched and vulnerable. But it can also be powerful and wide and deep. His presence on stage is a quiet power. As far as encores go this was nigh on unbeatable. It started with the modern day classic in "New Partner", followed by "Ohio River Boat Song" (it was great but I think I prefer the slower version). Then the band closed with a number that will stay with me forever. They went unplugged with only Kelly plying an instrument. Their voices then entangled with magnificent beauty as Oldham wandered about the stage serenading us with the traditional song "I Never Thought My Love Would Leave Me". A moment I will never forget.
Much like the two hours that preceded it.

Set List
A Beast For Thee
With Cornstalks or Among Them
Out Of Mind
No Gold Digger
No Match
Love Comes To Me
New Whaling
Wolf Among Wolves
Troublesome Houses
The Sounds Are Always Begging
Teach Me to Bear You
Night Noises
Quail And Dumplings
Go Folks, Go

New Partner
Ohio River Boat Song
So Everyone
I Never Thought My Love Would Leave Me (trad.)

Mar 4, 2012

Mount Eerie To Release Two New Albums

That man of untouchable genius, Phil Elverum, is set to release two albums this year under his current guise of Mount Eerie. Paint me excited now! The first, "Clear Moon" will be released on May 22. The second, "Ocean Roar" will be released later in 2012.
These albums are his first since 2009.

Clear Moon Track Listing
1 Through the Trees pt. 2
2 the Place Lives
3 the Place I Live
4 (something)
5 Lone Bell
6 House Shape
7 Over Dark Water
8 (something)
9 Clear Moon
10 Yawning Sky
11 (synthesizer)