Thursday, 16 June 2011

Best Records of 2011 (so far)

Inspired by NPR All Songs Considered doing their midway wrap of the year's best, here is my own list. With videos of the standout track from each. There is a big list here to help you compile your own.

1. Destroyer - Kaputt

2. Toro Y Moi - Underneath the Pine

3. Cass McCombs - Wit's End

4. Bon Iver - Bon Iver

5. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

6. Bill Callahan - Apocalypse

7. Smith Westerns - Dye it Blonde

8. Panda Bear - Tomboy

9. Low - C'Mon

10. Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes

Thursday, 26 May 2011

The best song longer than ten minutes. What is it?

A new, random blog post, my first in ages, and I don't know where it came from but here it goes...

My favourite songs, in my own collection, that crack the magical ten minutes in duration.

10. Cowgirl in the Sand - Neil Young (10:03)

Down by the River? Yeah, almost. Had I chose it I could have posted this amazing video of CSNY playing it by a pool in Big Sur. It was a close call. Both appear on Neil's first really great album - Everybody Knows This is Nowhere. And to my mind "Cowgirl" is the stronger song. I love the uplifting jolt into the chorus. I love the "old enough now" bit and the scatter-gun, gritty guitar solos. And the lyrics are so rich and evocative. "Hello Ruby in the dust", "Purple words on a grey background". What does it even mean? Who cares. Neil was running a fever when he wrote it. I dig that. The song stretches out to over 16 minutes in the "Live at the Fillmore East" recording, but only 3:59 in acoustic mode for the Four Way Street live record with CSNY. Neil does what he wants, dig it?

09. Pass the hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind - Yo La Tengo

You can't not put Yo La Tengo in a list like this. No one can stretch out like New Jersey's finest. And you have to take your hat off to a band that spits out something this heavy, funky, nasty and noisy... and has the guts to put it as the opening cut on their record. In your face!

08. Bros - Panda Bear (12:30)

If I ever get the urge to take acid and you are hanging out with me, holding my hand, waiting for the dragons to appear, please don't play this song. I reckon my brain might do a kick-flip in my skull, shoot out my ears and go dancing down the street to escape. It's just tooooo much. Don't show me this video either. It's too intense. I can hear someone crying in it.

07. Sister Ray - The Velvet Underground (17:27)

I'm going to let this guy do all the talking: "This is rock'n'roll, I don't know anything else. Get a turntable, get the vinyl, get some JBL's, get a rotten sofa, some bottles of red wine, one of whiskey, long cold whiskey, maybe some amphetamines, a dark room except for the fucking red light, I mean: fuck. I'll have all of this RIGHT NOW." - MrHitmewithaflower (Youtube)

06. Spaceship Landing - Kyuss (34:04)

You know how everyone these days uses the word "epic"? Well, they are fakers. There is only one thing in the world that is truly, honestly EPIC - the first 30 seconds of this song. And, no, this isn't cheating by including it in this list. Yes, there is a giant slab of silence in this track, but it easily cracks the ten minute mark before hitting it.

05. Diamond Sea - Sonic Youth

Yeah, so the extended version drags on a bit. But it is the standout track on Washing Machine and the band stretch out into some wonderful, lovely, dark, gentle, playful places. Watching them perform an even longer version of this at the Summersault Festival in 1995 turned me back onto the band and led me deeper into their back catalog. All my friends hated it.

04. Indian Love Song - Dirty Three (10:12)

There were too many extended jams from the Dirty Three to choose from. Ocean Songs (my favorite of their records) has a couple of classics that flicker past ten minutes. Nothing compares to this. It is just so iconic, so brutally honest. It has a compelling, ragged intensity that sustains across it's entire duration. Plus, it's a live favorite that can sustain well beyond its recorded length: building, crashing, ebbing, flowing. Bluesy, angry, urgent. Just, almost perfect.

03. Sad Eye Lady of the Lowlands - Bob Dylan (10:44)

It was so hard to avoid choosing Desolation Row. In so many ways it is more potent, powerful, and "important" than "Sad eye". It is so much more worthy. But this song, for me, is heavier. I feel it. There is that wonderful point, where it inches beyond five minutes, and you cannot imagine it will end... where it's ebb and flow seems to have an unstoppable momentum. Will it ever end? Maybe not, lets keep listening... And don't get grossed out too much but the loping, fast and slow rhythm has almost a sexual tension-and-release vibe. Sexy yes? What is the song about? I always imagine Joan Baez as the the Lady. She has eyes like smoke. She also does a sweet cover of it too (see above). But she doesn't crack ten minutes. Boo! Wake up Joan.

02. I Dream a Highway - Gillian Welch (14:40)

Just kill me now. I still can't listen to this without breaking inside. It is so very, very heavy. Whatever you do, don't dump someone, then realise you love them, then have them reject you when you come back crawling, then listen to this song all day. Don't do it. Put on some Sabbath or ESG. You idiot.

01. Marquee Moon - Television (10:40)

Is it the intricate, spidery guitar parts in this magnificent song that makes me love it so much? So clean, and raw. The rhythm so loose but tight. The vague, mysterious lyrics hint at something mystical and nocturnal. Something unsafe but profound. Do I love it because it is one of those rare songs that make me wonder about the enormity of the universe and my place in it, across every brilliant moment of its 640 seconds? I'll keep wondering this forever, as I reach for the repeat, for one more go around. Brilliant stuff.

What's your favourite LONG song...?

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Favourite Albums of 2010

It has taken me until the first day of January 2011 to finally get around to posting this list. Most people had theirs published by the first week of December. But a lot can change in a month, and it felt only fair to allow these albums time to order themselves properly in my head (and to a certain extent, on my profile).

So, here it is, my favourite albums released in 2010... with videos for the top ten!

** Update - realised that the Girls album came out in '09. Added Surf City from NZ **

1. Avi Buffalo - Avi Buffalo

When I first heard this record I realised there was no way another record could eclipse it in 2010. And it contained my fave song of the year too, check it out below and find out more about Avi Buffalo on their subpop page.

2. Tallest man on Earth – The Wild Hunt

3. Wild Nothing – Gemini

4. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

5. Damien Jurado – Saint Bartlett

6. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

7. Sally Seltmann – Heart That’s Pounding

8. Local Natives - Gorilla Manor

9. The Ancients – The Ancients 2

10. Tame Impala - Innerspeaker

11. Sun Kil Moon – Admiral Fel Promises
12. The Morning Benders - Big Echo
13. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffitti – Before Today
14. Surfer Blood – Astro Coast
15. The Black Keys – Brothers
16. Lower Dens - Twin Hand Movement
17. Magic Kids - Memphis
18. Woods - At Echo Lake
19. Parades - Foreign Tapes
20. Surf City - Kudos

For a glimpse at what others are putting into their lists check out this aggregated top 20 from the NME.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Wilco - a roadtrip CD

I'm driving to Wagga Wagga, in regional NSW, on Friday with the wife and my parents. Well, my dad will drive and we'll enjoy the ride. It takes six hours. It's not the most enjoyable journey. You need distractions, and good driving tunes. Which is usually what I take care of. So tonight I'm pulling together some CDs for the trip.

It's hard to pick stuff that isn't obvious, already overplayed or polarizing. The Beatles, Traveling Wilburys, Neil Young and Crowded House usually get a heavy work out. But I like to sometimes slip in something the folks have never heard, something treasured by me, new to them.

If there was one band I think my parents should and could love as much as me is WILCO. So I've pulled together a playlist for an 80 minute CD we can listen to in the car, a bit of a "best of Wilco" ...but with my baby boomer parents in mind. Its an almost equal mix from all their records (with the exception of AM, which I don't own). See what you think, comments welcome...

Can't Stand it
You and I
War on War
Sky Blue Sky
Hell is Chrome
Outtaside (Outta Mind)
She's a Jar
I'll Fight
Impossible Germany
Far, Far Away
A Shot In The Arm
One Wing
Jesus, etc
Red-Eyed and Blue
How To Fight Loneliness
On and On and On
Sunken Treasure

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Playlist: Kinky Afro, 3RRR August 26

Wrapped up my last of three Kinky Afro shows tonight... the list of songs I played is below. Woody (ex-Wig Wam Bam) fills on the program from next week. Tune in for real. Big thanks to everyone who called and subscribed during radiothon last week. It went smashingly well! You can still subscribe to Triple R until September 22 to be in the running for the prizes on offer. How good is that!

Kinky Afro, 4-7pm August 26 2010

Oh Mercy - keith st
Yellow Fever - psychedelic
Black Mountain - rollercoaster
Scout Niblett - the calcination of scout niblett
Evan Voytas - i took a trip on a plane
Mice Parade - tokyo late night
Secret Cities - pink city
Maps and Altlases - israeli caves
Miniature Tigers - gold skull
Best Coast - the end
Menomena - TAOS
Wavves - when will you come
Wild Nothing - o lilac
Panda Bear - tomboy
Here We Go Magic - bottom feeder
Gerling - g for sadness
Low - everybody's song
Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - come undone
The Budos Band - golden dunes
Twin Sister - lady daydream
Long Long Long - cuba gooding jr
The New Pornographers - hey snow white
Wilco - outta mind (outta site)
Land of Talk - cloak and cipher
Owl Eyes - 1+1
Peter Wolf Crier - down down down
Woods - blood dries darker
Freelance Whales - starring
Avi Buffalo - jessica
Tunng - october
Sun Kil Moon - you are my sun
Klaxons - future memories
Deerhunter - revival
The Black Keys - howlin' for you
The Dirtbombs - kung fu
Archers - a1 brussels truffles
Kes Trio - thieves beat

Friday, 13 August 2010

Playlist: Kinky Afro, 3RRR August 12

I filled in for Karen Leng last night on Triple R's Kinky Afro program. Below is the playlist for anyone playing at home. Be aware too that the Radiothon is on at the moment, its the perfect time to show your support for the station and the good work it does across the year. Plus you can win prizes too. Yay! Join me from 4pm next week for a radiothon special of Kinky Afro... meanwhile, the playlist:

Kinky Afro, 4-7pm August 12 2010

The Black Keys - the only one
Beach Fossils - daydream
Deerhunter - revival
Jim O'Rourke - Ghost Ship in a Storm
Damien Jurado - Cloudy Shoes
Menomena - TAOS
Fang Island - treeton
ceo - white magic
Long long long - cuba gooding jr
JEFF the brotherhood - heavy krishna
Mystery Jets - the girl is gone
Yo La Tengo - Centre of gravity
Ratatat - drugs
tunng - don't look down or back
Sun Kil Moon - admiral fell promises
Dan Kelly - cool water
Avi Buffalo - whats in it for?
Arcade Fire - deep blue
Blitzen Trapper - the tree
Suckers - a mind I knew
The Books - all you need is a wall
No Age - glitter
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - bright lit blue skies
National Trust - see no evil
Beat Connection - in the water
Super Melody - champagne glass
PVT - window
((PVT interview))
PVT - and radiation
!!! - jamie my intentions are bass
Wild Nothing - the witching hour
The Ancients - street funk
The Solomons - ways of escape
Gold Tango - just an experiment
Panda Bear - tomboy
Twin Sister - all around and away we go
Happy Birthday - subliminal message
Envelopes - party
Archers of Loaf - harnessed in slums
Dr Dog - unbearable why
Spoon - i summon you

More here:

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Avi Buffalo... song of the year?

I've been telling everyone I know and no-one who really cares how much I am in love with this amazing song by Avi Buffalo. I can't help it. It disarms me. It jangles and croons and pops its way into my heart, into a new pocket of my brain everytime. I therefor present two versions... the full band, as-heard-on-record one, with sweet film-clip... and the bedroom solo version... "What's In If For" by AVI BUFFALO from the self titled album of this year.

FYI according to Sub Pop, their label... "Avi Buffalo is the adopted name of Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg, an 18 year-old singer/songwriter and guitarist from Long Beach, California. Avi Buffalo is also the name of the band he formed…"

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Pavement on Kinky Afro

I presented the Kinky Afro program on Triple R again tonight. And my special guests were Bob Nastanovich and Mark Ibold from the newly reformed PAVEMENT. As is not immediately evident from the photo above I was FRICKING NERVOUS and excited to be interviewing them. I even got all indie-fanboy and not only got a photo but had them sign by Dancing With The Elders and Father To A Sister of Thought 7" singles. I will try to attach the interview soon, but for now here is the tracklist from the program:

Pocahaunted - save yourself (its nice)
Otouto - twelve ten
Modest Mouse - novocaine stain
Harlem - gay human bones
Guided By Voices - underwater explosions
Pavement - in the mouth a desert
** Pavement Interview with Bob Nastanovich and Mark Ibold **
Pavement - at&t
Pavement - date with ikea
Pavement - silent kit
Here We Go Magic - collector
MGMT - flash delirium
Holly Miranda - no one just is
Calexico with Iron and Wine - history of lovers
Smith Westerns - girl in love
Besnard Lakes - and this is what we call progress
Dum Dum Girls - heart of stone
Spoon - trouble come running
Neon Indian - sleep paralysist
Freelance Whales - generator 2nd floor
Bell Weather Department - hole in the sky
Joanna Newsom - soft as chalk
The Morning Benders - promises
Ruby Suns - cranberry
Sparklehorse - saturday
Sparklehorse - someday i will treat you good
Sparklehorse - hundreds of sparrows
Sparklehorse - gold day
Sparklehorse - sick of goodbyes
Sparklehorse + Danger Mouse - just war (with Gruff Rhys)
Sparklehorse - its a sad and beautiful world
Real Estate - Fake Blues
Surfer Blood - swim
Predrag Delibasich - serpent bites the young lion
Caribou - odessa
Tame Impala - 41 mosquitos (Canyons remix)

You'll notice that I played a bunch of tracks from SPARKLEHORSE. In case you were not aware Mark Linkous, the 47 year old singer-songwriter behind the name, died on March 6th. He committed suicide, and had been battling depression for many years. It's incredibly sad news. Robin Hilton pays tribute here on the All Songs Considered blog.

Here's just one of his beautiful songs:

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Pavement Radio Special - Tonight

UPDATE: the audio, now in the RRR archive, can be streamed here. Tracklist below:

Silent Kit (live version)
Box Elder
Summer Babe
Two States
Here (alternate mix)
Shoot The Singer
Range Life (demo version, with Gary Young)
Cut Your Hair
Dancing with The Elders / We Dance (alternate version)
Grounded (alternate version)
Serpentine Pad
Date w/ Ikea (BBC Peel Session version)
Starlings in Slipstream
Major Leagues
Spit on a Stranger (live from their final gig in 1999)

Tune into Triple R tonight, Thursday 4th March, from 7pm AEDT for a special one hour program celebrating the music of American indie pioneers PAVEMENT. The best band ever invented. Hugely influential, mythically slack, sadly defunct until right this very second.

This special Max Headroom will feature key tunes from their early EPs like Slay Tracks and Perfect Sound Forever... the breakthrough albums Slanted and Enchanted and Crooked Rain Crooked Rain... dipping into the fan favourite Wowee Zowee... and finally their critically acclaimed Brighten the Corners and the swan-song Terror Twilight. Plus a smattering of rarities, live cuts and essential non-album tracks from their 10 years together, 1989-1999. Somehow we'll fit it all into an hour radio show!

Rediscover the brilliance of Pavement on the night of their first Australian show in Sydney, and the beginning of their world tour. Pavement also play Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and best of all Golden Plains this coming weekend.

Max Headroom - PAVEMENT SPECIAL - hosted by Ryan Egan (that's me!)

Thursday 4th March 2010. 7pm Melbourne time (8am UT) on Triple R 102.7


The new, and first ever Pavement "best of" - Quarantine the Past - is released this week as well, full details and tracklisting here:

Tour details: and check out Spiral Stair's blog about the current reunion tour:

Friday, 5 February 2010

RRR Kinky Afro playlist - Feb 4th 2010

I presented Karen Leng's KINKY AFRO program on Triple R in Melbourne this week.

Here's what beamed out from beneath my fingers...

Kinky Afro - Thursday February 4th 2010

Pavement - killing Moon
The Ancients - the rambler
Wild Beasts - the devil's crayon
Emma and Alec - civilization

Magnetic Fields - you must be out of your mind
The Album Leaf - stand still
Ruby Suns - cranberry
The Magic Kids - hey boy

My Disco - young
Guineafowl - botanist
Yo La Tengo - shadows
Pajo - where eagles dare

ECSR - i can be a jerk
Scout Niblett - the calcination of scout niblett
Surfer Blood - take it easy
Bullion - crazy for you
Crumbs - dribble

Fourtet - sing (album of the week)

Man/Miracle - pushing and shoving
Ned Collette and Wirewalker - come clean
Telekenisis - coast of carolina
Adam Green - give them a token

Midlake - bring down
Love Connection - i know you're real
Frida Hyvonen - djuna!

Smith Westerns - girl in love
Beach House - silver soul
Daniel Johnston - some things last a long time
Joanna Newsom - good intentions paving company

Spoon - who makes you money
Caribou - odessa

Black Lips - drugs
** Black Lips interview **
Black Lips - again and again

Besnard Lakes - albatross
Calexico - not even stevie nicks
Local Natives - world news

The Mothers of Invention - trouble everyday