May 29, 2012

Planetarium (Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, Sufjan Stevens) @ Sydney Opera House

                                                      Photo by Daniel Boud

Sydney comes alive during VIVID. The Circular Quay area is awash in light and design with various buildings illuminated in dazzling light. The crowds are flocking to this winter wonderland. On the music side Fergus Linehan has curated an eclectic linup featuring the popular and the avantgarde. Last night we went to our first event and it was spectacular. A meeting of three of New York's finest musical talents put on a show that was unique.

Firstly we were entertained by the Australian Orava String Quartet. They played a selection of music by the Plantarium composers. They started with "Diacritical Marks", by Nico Muhly. This piece was in eight movements and was the nearest to being of a classical nature. It was stirring and reflective. Then followed "Run Rabbit Run", by Sufjan Stevens. His music came in three sections. "Year of the Boar", "Year of the Horse" and "Year of our Lord". These pieces ranged from the mournful to the playful. It reeked of Sufjan and was quite magical. Last up was "Aheym", by Bryce Dessner. Dessner's music was chaotic, robust and powerful. A great start to the night.

After a short interval we came to the main event. "Planetarium" is a piece commissioned by the Muziekgebouw of Eindhoven, the Barbican of London and our own Sydney Opera House. The stage welcomed again the Orava String Quartet and introduced the wonderful Trombone Collective, which featured 7, yes 7, trombones. They were a powerful force. A drummer, James McAlister, was also employed. But three men were front and centre. Three unique talents. Classical composer Nico Muhly on piano and keyboards. The National's Bryce Dessner on electric guitar. Celestial genius Sufjan Stevens on vocals and various electronic augmentation. Apparently Muhly and Dessner wrote the music with Stevens providing the lyrics. We received a song for each planet, plus one for the sun and the moon. They ranged from the serene to the dramatic, pulling together all elements of the musical sphere. There were quiet moments and monumental ones as well. "Jupiter" was epic and grand, whilst "Mars" was the most chaotic. I really loved "Saturn" which was easily the most rock like with Dessner giving his guitar a real shredding. "Pluto" was a small delight, but the best was saved for last. "Earth" was huge, warm and expansive and the closing "Mercury" was wondrous, delightful and simply beautiful. All the elements of the night pulled together nicely underneath an orb illuminated in dazzling style. Even the vocoder treated vocals of Sufjan worked well in context, even though I would prefer his 'natural' voice. It's always challenging going to a show where we are virgins to the music. We are so used to knowing the music put before us. But this worked. It was challenging, brave and rewarding.
A great experience.

May 25, 2012

Langhorne Slim is Back and He's Brought The Law

That man of great talent and excitement, Langhorne Slim, is back with a new album. "The Way We Move" will be released on June 5 under the new name of Langhorne Slim and the Law.
Get ready!

The Way We Move Track Listing
1 The Way We Move
2 Bad Luck
3 Fire
4 Salvation
5 On the Attack
6 Someday
7 Great Divide
8 Just a Dream
9 Song for Sid
10 Found My Heart
11 Wild Soul
12 Two Crooked Hearts
13 Coffee Cups
14 Past Lives

May 23, 2012

So, Britt Daniel and Dan Boeckner Formed A Band

This just in! Britt Daniel (Spoon), Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs) and Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks) have formed a band. They are called Divine Fits. Their debut album, produced by Nick Launay, will be released later this year on Merge Records. More details will follow.
One door closes, another one opens...  

May 21, 2012

Handsome Furs Are No More

I'm sure many of you are aware of this by now. Last Friday the sad news came out that Handsome Furs are no more. Finished. Over. This statement appeared on their website.

"With a heavy heart the time has come to let all of you know that Handsome Furs are no more.
The most important thing that needs to be said right now is how extremely grateful we are to all the fans all over the world that showered us with love and support over the years. Thank you for everything! It's been an incredible 6 years and we owe it all to you."

Of course there will be much speculation as to the whys and hows. Was it health issues, personal issues. Who really knows and I think it's best to respect their privacy. But, in the end, I just feel really sad. Coming on the top of the hiatus status of Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown this is a mega blow. And it seems permanent. Finito. Kaputt. They produced 3 wonderful albums and countless memorable live shows. But above that they radiated love and a special kind of energy. I felt lucky enough to see them the one time they visited Australia. We saw them in Melbourne. They were so much fun. So much love bounded off the stage. Then after the show I met Dan. What a guy. So genuine and warm and down to earth. A real gentleman. I didn't meet Alexei, but I'm sure she is just as lovely. Anyway, end result is I am going to miss you guys. With all my heart. Much love and respect.

MP3: Repatriated-Handsome Furs

May 14, 2012

Get Me In A Room-Hallelujah The Hills

Another day, another video!
This brand newie from Hallelujah The Hills from their forthcoming album.

May 13, 2012

Postcard From 1952-Explosions In The Sky

In the history of greatness this ranks somewhere near the top.

May 12, 2012

We Can't Be Beat-The Walkmen

How good is this?
Just sensational. With help from Robin Pecknold!

May 8, 2012

Woods Played Storm King Art Center

Love this!
One of my favourite bands.
We went here on our honeymoon!

May 7, 2012

The Mountain Goats @ Metro Theatre

A little over five years ago I saw my first Mountain Goats show. It was, to be honest, a blindingly great show. Full of spirit and heart and utter excitement. It was also, in a convoluted way, the beginnings of how I met the girl. Fast forward to last night and the earnest troubadours returned to the same venue of 2007. With the girl in hand, now my wife, we ventured out ready for another goat tastic experience. In between these two shows the band had toured Australia twice, they are very busy, with two shows at the Manning Bar. Now both of these shows were good. But for a variety of reasons they never quite reached the epic heights of yore. Of course material chosen is a crucial reason for a show's potential greatness. And from my view recent albums have been slightly lacklustre. So the key, it would seem, is to chose the set list wisely. Last night was well chosen. Old and new. Hidden delights.

I could go through the show song by song, a dissection if you will. But that can get rather boring. I might like to give some impressions though. John Darnielle, that wizardly man, was sporting longer hair. In his words, "a hair style". He has also lost none of his joy and considerable vigour. Prancing around the stage like a caged snake. He reacts with an audience like few performers. So warm and engaging. Charismatic and an intelligence that fairly drips off his brow. He discussed his history, love and death. Portland, Oregon and how much he loved the Sydney audience. Something I would concur with in this case. Sydney, take a bow. Peter Hughes was his usual sartorial self, whilst Jon Wurster gave impeccable timing and thrust on the drums. Especially on what I thought turned out to be highlight of the night. "Hast Thou Considered The Tetrapod" was a bulwark of impenetrable greatness. Strength in numbers. Of the newish tunes "Damn These Vampires" worked best. Of the absolute newest, "The Diaz Brothers" proved best, a new approach to Darnielle songwriting. Unfortunately "In Memory Of Satan" failed to fly. A trip back to "Tallahassee" proved triumphant. "Game Shows Touch Our Lives" was a holy cow moment. Then the encore was a crowd pleasing hit parade. HAIL SATAN!!!!! Oh yes, once again, a trip to the land of the Goats was an incredibly satisfying one. Linger here.   

Set List
For Charles Bronson
Old College Try
You Or Your Memory
Damn These Vampires
Birth Of Serpents
Hast Thou Considered The Tetrapod
Woke Up New (John Solo)
You Were Cool (John Solo)
Love Cuts The Strings (John Solo)
In Memory Of Satan
The Diaz Brothers
White Cedar
Dance Music
Love Love Love
Psalms 40:2
International Small Arms Traffic Blues
Game Shows Touch Our Lives
Southwood Plantation Road

This Year
No Children
The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton

May 1, 2012

Dark Parts-Perfume Genius

Quite simply, one of the best songs of 2012.