Dec 29, 2014

Best Live Shows Of 2014

Many great live experiences in 2014. But one show in the end stood above all of the others. It was a band at the peak of their powers at an iconic venue. The National are now a band of true greatness. Their sombre and faultlessly beautiful music has struck a chord with quite an audience and to see them on the steps of the world famous Sydney Opera House earlier this year was a unique and unforgettable experience. I was also lucky to see live shows in Austin and Los Angeles and the Sydney Festival, Vivid and Laneway all brought their charms as well. But that one in February was impossible to top.

1. The National @ Sydney Opera House Forecourt
2. Phosphorescent @ Oxford Art Factory
3. Neko Case @ Sydney Opera House
4. Arcade Fire @ Qantas Credit Union Arena
5. Vampire Weekend @ Hordern Pavilion
6. Neutral Milk Hotel @ Hollywood Bowl
7. The War on Drugs @ Metro Theatre
8. Nick Cave @ State Theatre
9. Okkervil River @ Oxford Art Factory
10. The Avett Brothers @ Shrine Auditorium
11. Frightened Rabbit @ Metro Theatre
12. Ty Segall @ Oxford Art Factory
13. Kurt Vile @ Circus Ronaldo Tent
14. Yo La Tengo @ Sydney Opera House
15. Ty Segall @ The Mohawk
16. Cloud Nothings @ Oxford Art Factory
17. Danny Brown @ Enmore Theatre
18. Cat Power @ Circus Ronaldo Tent
19. Kurt Vile @ Paradiso Sydney Town Hall
20. Liars @ Sydney Carriageworks

Dec 26, 2014

Best Songs Of 2014

Songs. They make our heart grow, expand our minds. Sometimes they make us dance. Cry. Feel.
One song this year made me feel all of the above and more.
Kevin Morby I love you!
Note: There are no songs on this list by Taylor Swift, FKA Twigs or St Vincent.
And a limit of 3 songs per artist.

1. Parade-Kevin Morby
2. Feel-Ty Segall
3. Daughter of a Dove-Moonface
4. Your Love is Killing Me-Sharon Van Etten
5. With Light and With Love-Woods
6. Cosmic Vibrations-Foxygen
7. What We Loved Was Not Enough-Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra
8. How Can You Really-Foxygen
9. Terrified-The Rural Alberta Advantage
10. Dark Waltz-The Men
11. Leaves Like Glass-Woods
12. JM-Strand of Oaks
13. We Are What We Say We Are-Hallelujah The Hills
14. Psychic Trauma-Cloud Nothings
15. Throw Me in the River-The Smith Street Band
16. Eyes to the Wind-The War On Drugs
17. The Singer-Ty Segall
18. You Know Me Well-Sharon Van Etten
19. Diamond Light Pt. 1-Tweedy
20. They Want My Soul-Spoon
21. 45/33-The Rural Alberta Advantage
22. Under the Pressure-The War On Drugs
23. Pearly Gates-The Men
24. City Wrecker-Moonface
25. I Love You But I'm Lost-Sharon Van Etten
26. Queen-Perfume Genius
27. Talking Backwards-Real Estate
28. Red Eyes-The War On Drugs
29. Born With a Sound-The New Pornographers
30. The Riverbed-Owen Pallett
31. Los Angeles, Be Kind-Owl John
32. Metallic Cloud-Damien Jurado
33. Self Pity-Hamilton Leithauser
34. New Light-Woods
35. Do You-Spoon
36. Fuck Off Get Free (For The Island of Montreal)-Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra
37. How Might I Live-Real Estate
38. All of My Life-Kevin Morby
39. A Domestic Zone-Hallelujah The Hills  
40. All That's Passed-Axxa/Abraxas   
41. Fool-Perfume Genius
42. Habit-Ought
43. Pro Anti Anti-Liars
44. Manipulator-Ty Segall
45. Nobody Dies Anymore-Tweedy
46. Carissa-Sun Kil Moon
47. Rainy Taxi-Spoon
48. Had to Hear-Real Estate
49. Amen-Kevin Morby
50. Lila-Chad VanGaalen
51. War on the East Coast-The New Pornographers
52. My Desire-Interpol 
53. Coulda Been My Love-Foxygen
54. Mr Noah-Panda Bear
55. Flawless-Beyonce
56. The Sea-Gambles
57. Positive People-Bry Webb
58. Little Fang-Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks
59. Director-The Antlers
60. Oxygen Tank-Avi Buffalo
61. Take Shelter-Delta Spirit
62. Anywhere-Interpol
63. Going Forth-Axxa/Abraxas
64. Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)-Run the Jewels65. Woke Up to the Light-Strand of Oaks
66. Surrender-The Smith Street Band
67. Owen-Frankie Cosmos
68. Meadow of a Dream-The Felice Brothers
69. Velvet Antlers-Death Vessel
70. Dreaming Solo-Nap Eyes
71. Shut In-Strand of Oaks
72. Different Days-The Men
73. Can't Hear Well-Liars
74. 11 O'Clock Friday Night-Hamilton Leithauser
75. Songs About Roses-Owl John
76. Forgiveness-Ought
77. Book of Love-Operators
78. A Good Reason to Grow Old-Owl John
79. Grid-Perfume Genius
80. Blockbuster Night, Pt. 1-Run the Jewels
81. Tolling Bells-Water Liars
82. J Smoov-Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
83. Featureless Interior-Liam Betson 84. Shine-Guided By Voices
85. Dawn in Luxor-Shabazz Palaces
86. Forgiven/Forgotten-Angel Olsen
87. Good Sex-Kevin Drew
88. Lonely Richard-Amen Dunes
89. Little Moments-Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
90. Leaning On Bells-Chad VanGaalen
91. Partition-Beyonce
92. So What-Avi Buffalo
93. Hotel-The Antlers
94. White Fire-Angel Olsen
95. Artifact-Allah-Las
96. Encrypted Bounce-Thee Oh Sees
97. Gotta Get Down-The Orwells
98. Silver Joy-Damien Jurado
99. Pattern Walks-Cloud Nothings
100. Exit Plan-Cold Specks

Dec 18, 2014

Ty Segall @ Oxford Art Factory

Ty Segall is a Rock and Roll spirit animal. The spirit lives inside him, bursting to get out.  Busting and burning. He embodies everything I love about music. Energy. Passion. Heart. Intelligence. Did I mention energy? Basically Ty makes me feel better. In an extreme way. Just a brilliant illumination of life. I love him. You should too.

His show Wednesday night was just full on from the opening chord of the monumental "Finger" to the closing beauty of "Caesar". This was greatness through out. Exemplified by the epic "Feel", a monster song in each and every way. Ty Segall I give you my heart. I know you will protect it.

Set List
You're The Doctor
Would You Be My Love
Tall Man, Skinny Lady
Hand Glams
Rich Man, Poor Man (The Groundhogs cover)
Imaginary Person
Susie Thumb
Who's Producing You?
The Faker
The Crawler
The Feels
Back to Back
Wave Goodbye

TNT (AC/DC cover)

Dec 15, 2014

Phosphorescent @ Oxford Art Factory

Few artists can reach the emotional perfection of Phosphorescent. Matthew Houck, the man behind the band, is as good as any talent working in the world today. His music connects on so many levels. Humanity runs strong through out, establishing a strong connection to the heart, mind and soul. We were lucky enough to see Phosphorescent in New York last December and it was a show that will live long in the memory. So this show last night had a lot to live up to and believe it or not it did. Every minute was pure joy and excitement.

It's a blend of country, rock and folk. It's a potent mix. Inspired and stunningly beautiful. Each song unfolding sublimely with heartbreaking tenderness and a stunning honesty. The set naturally drew from the masterful 2013 album "Muchacho", with "The Quotidian Beasts" and "Dead Heart" being especially stunning and epic. Epic was the word as the full band of six worked hard to draw every nuance out of each song, jamming out with great effort and alacrity. Of course the genius that is "Song For Zula" was stunning in every way. That song is permanently etched in my heart. I also applaud the crowd, they were so into each and every song and by the time the set closed there was a joyous rapture permeating the room. For the encore it even went up a notch. Mr Houck returned solo and serenaded us with the innate beauty of "Wolves", such a heartbreaker of a song. He then pulled out a real oldie in "When We Fall" (not on the set list) before inviting the band back to blast us off into the night with the greatness of "Los Angeles". Oh yes, this was a night of nights. There will be few shows witnessed in 2014.

Set List
A New Anhedonia
Terror in the Canyons
The Quotidian Beasts
A Picture of Our Torn Up Praise
Tell Me Baby (Have You Had Enough)
Dead Heart
Nothing Was Stolen (Love Me Foolishly)
Song For Zula
Ride On/Right On

Wolves (solo)
When We Fall (solo)
Los Angeles

Dec 14, 2014

The War On Drugs @ Metro Theatre

The War on Drugs are here and now. The first time I saw them a couple of years ago they played to a smallish, but enthusiastic, crowd at the Oxford Art Factory. Fast forward a couple of years and 2014 belongs to them. Early in the year they released the magnificent beast that is "Lost in the Dream", an album that is proving to be many people's favourite album of the year. Myself included. It is a beast of a record, epic and rapturous. So Saturday night the Philadelphia band was in Sydney to play the first of two sold out shows at the Metro Theatre. You could call it a victory lap. You could call it 'their time'. It was definitely epic and supreme.

They have a sound. It's not unique but it is stamped with greatness. Walls of guitar weave intricately back and forth. Wave after wave flow and subside. Push and pull. Thrust and thrust again. Songs build with epic beauty, fade and grow again. Melodies are pushed along by the guitar and drums. There are keyboards floating in between creating a wall of sound that is huge and simply beautiful. Most of the set was from the 2014 already classic album. Of those the enormous "An Ocean in Between the Waves" and the mighty "Eyes to the Wind" stood out. I also loved the dynamic "Red Eyes" and the serene "In Reverse" that appeared in the encore. But I was also especially ecstatic to hear two older songs that I have much love for. "Arms Like Boulders" and a stripped back "Buenos Aires Beach". This was a glorious night. To be here, in the now, was simply magnificent.

Set List
Arms Like Boulders
Under The Pressure
An Ocean in Between the Waves
Come to the City
Buenos Aires Beach
Eyes to the Wind
Red Eyes

In Reverse
Baby Missiles
Comin' Through
Lost in the Dream

Dec 13, 2014

Nick Cave @ State Theatre

There is no one like Nick Cave. I repeat. No one. The man's persona is huge. He is not one of us. I feel the man is larger than the music. And the music is huge by the way. But the way he strides the stage like a caged animal is awe inspiring and just a little intimidating. You feel like you would melt if you ever had the chance to meet him. He is electric and stupendous. He connects with the acolytes down front but you feel it is just part of the act. He is there to put on a show and what a show it is. Nick Cave is a must see anytime he plays live. If you haven't had the chance yet, then I totally recommend getting that fixed quick smart.

These run of shows in Australia were billed as Nick Cave solo, but he ended up with 4 Bad Seeds joining him on stage. Which is no bad thing. We had the unique Warren Ellis playing just about everything. Martyn Casey on bass. Thomas Wydler on drums and Barry Adamson on keyboards. Of course they were all mighty and great. And essentially it was a more stripped back performance with Nick performing several songs on piano and quite a few being just him. Such as the show stopping "The Ship Song". This magnificent song was worth the price of admission alone. But there was more a whole lot more. A stripped back "The Mercy Seat" was tear inducing. "From Her to Eternity" tore a hole in the roof and "Jubilee Street" is and was flat out greatness. You get the picture. St Nick sang "God is in the House", but truly it was Nick in the house last night.

Set List
We Real Cool
The Weeping Song
Red Right Hand
Nobody's Baby Now
Higgs Boson Blues
The Ship Song
From Her to Eternity
God Is in the House
Love Letter
Water's Edge
Black Hair
Lay Me Low
Into My Arms
The Mercy Seat
Jubilee Street

Wide Lovely Eyes
Up Jumped the Devil
Jack the Ripper
Push the Sky Away

Dec 11, 2014

Cloud Nothings @ Oxford Art Factory

"Hi, we're Cloud Nothings". That was it, that was all we needed. As the kids say, no filler, all killer. For an hour the Ohio band pummelled and poleaxed us with a ferocious assault of giant sized rock. Fast and furious. Angry and smart. Strong and emotional. The threesome are a machine live. No let up, in sync through out. Dylan Baldi harangues his guitar and sings with a strong urgency. Bassist TJ Duke supplies the rhythm and drummer Jayson Gerycz never lets up and is a ball of sweat at the end of the set. So was most of a very enthusiastic crowd that lapped up every drum beat and every power chord. The set drew entirely from the band's previous two excellent albums and it was much appreciated. My particular favourites were the awesome "Psychic Trauma" and the emotional sledgehammer that is "No Future/No Past". By the time epic closer "Wasted Days" came around we were indeed wasted. But it was oh so worth it.

Set List
Stay Useless
Psychic Trauma
Now Hear In
Quieter Today
Fall In
Pattern Walks
Giving Into Seeing
Cut You
No Future/No Past
No Thoughts
I'm Not Part Of Me
Wasted Days