Thursday, 28 February 2008

The Genesis of Laura Jean


photo on LJ's Flickr


One of my absolute favourite singer-songwriters LAURA JEAN is about to reveal her brand new album. Its called Eden Land and follows on from her lush, well regarded, but at times frustrating, debut Our Swan Song. For me the slight twinge of disappointment last time was due to my own expectations about what that record might be, and what i hoped it might come to mean to me. Expectations that only partly delivered. It was beautiful, haunting, touching and even challenging... but perhaps familiarity with Laura's live set over the years leading up to it and my fondness for her after we became friends had coloured my experience. I know it went on to mean a lot to the people that heard it, including the guys from Snow Patrol, just one of the international acts she toured with last year.

Now with the imminent UK release of the follow-up her label here, Co-Operative/V2, are repackaging a cut down EP version of Our Swan Song. Worth hunting down if you are looking for your new fave female artist.

The new one Eden Land is a concept record; exploring ideas of self-discovery, sexual awakening and loss of innocence through a suite of nine interconnected songs. Laura says...

"On one level it’s a breakup album, on another level it’s about leaving a safe situation to experience life. And on another level this album is about becoming aware of my sexuality. And that all ties in with the concept of Eden, someone leaving an idyllic place, kind of pre-awareness, to experience life, which is bound by physicality.”

I can't wait to hear the full record, and wonder if her time playing with the Kes Band will have some kind of affect on the sound or tone of the album. The first song from it - "Anniversary" - can be heard on Laura Jean's Myspace.

Eden Land is being launched in Melbourne AUS, on March 2nd at the Corner Hotel with Sly Hats, Luluc and Biddy Connor.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Music Is Not In Trouble

But the music business IS in trouble.

"More people are listening to more music now, than at any time in the history of the world" says Seth Godin, and yet he thinks the music business has to face some stark realities about its future.

"Every single industry changes and, eventually, fades. Just because you made money doing something a certain way yesterday, there’s no reason to believe you’ll succeed at it tomorrow."

I've been reading and loving Seth's Blog for ages now. Its one of the most popular business and marketing related blogs on the web and he often throws around ideas about the future of the music biz too. He recently gave a lecture about this to music execs and you can read it in this PDF.

Seth's not the only person talking about this, but his ideas are funny, fascinating and refreshing, and you can participate in the debate here: http://www.squidoo.com/canthemusicbusinessbesaved

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Do You Own 3,000,000 Records?

Want to?


Music nut and record collector Paul Mawhinny (pictured) is selling his entire collection of 3 million records and 3 hundred thousand CDs of 6 million individual songs. He's been buying records for sixty years and is also the publisher of Music Master a guide to buying and selling, used by record collectors all over the world. I'm not going to speculate on how much he wants for the whole shebang, but there's more information here: http://www.thegreatestmusiccollection.com/ and a great article here. Although if you were to buy it all you might need something like Paul's own 16,000 square foot climate-controlled warehouse to store it in...


Daily Swarm has details on the ongoing saga of its sale.

I Can Only Blame Paris

I've been out of the loop this weekend, my eyes were off the ball, my ears are now hungry! I'll be putting together a new podcast this week (i promise!) but would welcome some suggestions for where i should aim my antenna... heard anything amazing this week, anything essential? Drop me a comment below.



I spent the weekend in Paris with the squeeze, staying in an apartment on Il Saint-Louis and adventuring to Sacre Couer, Chateau Versailles (part of which is pictured above) and a few newly discovered museums and galleries. The Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature was a particular highlight with its amazing collection of taxidermified animals and hunting regalia (see picture below). We also loved the Art Deco furniture on display at the Musee d'Orsay but were a little disappointed with the collection (and overwhelming crowds) at Chateau Versailles. I'd recommend going there midweek or early in the day to avoid the hour-long lines and I'm also sure the gardens are better in summer or spring.



Food highlights were the delicious crepes at Breizh Cafe in the Marais, and a great vegetarian dinner on our last night at La Victoire Suprême du Coeur... plus the somewhat extravagent "first class" Eurostar journey back to London with free champagne, wine, cheeses, leek tarts, chocolates and succulent beef (me) and poached fish (her). We didn't venture out to any live venues - to be honest it was hard finding a decent Paris gig guide (please suggest one if you know one) and we satisfied our booze-cravings in a few small but unremarkable bars around the Latin Quarter, Marais, the Oberkamf and St Germain.

The soundtrack to our weekend? Was there ever any other choice!!!


"Paris" - Friendly Fires

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Seattle is the new Seattle


Two fab bands crossed my path today, both from grunge-incubator ground zero - Seattle. First up THROW ME THE STATUE (pictured above) and their chirpy GBV-vs-NeutralMilkHotel-esque indie charms. Lead track Lolita from their album Moonbeams (out on Secretly Canadian) is a standout, but i'm also going gaga for About To Walk - its got that freewheelin' Shins vibe that always hooks me in. You can hear them both on their myspace and, of course, they're playing at SXSW! Curses!

Also coming straightouta the home of Starbucks and flannel shirts is the mighty GRAND ARCHIVES featuring ex-Band of Horses guitar slinger Mat Brookes. I put them on my bands to watch list for SXSW and they're generating buzzage all over the music blogs. Their debut rekkid drops this week through quintessential Seattle label Sub Pop. Ironically its only fair to predict that these humans could be the Band of Horses of 2008... Agree? Disagree? Don't give a shit? Bobby at Kitsune Noir has an MP3 you can download, or check the tunes on their myspace because i'm off to PARIS yo.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

More SXSW Fever and Hot Tips

I'm getting emails now from friends back home (down under) heading to Austin for SXSW in less than 3 weeks, looking for my hot tips on who to check out. So having compiled said list for them, it seems fit to share it here. As per my post a few days ago, i'm actually not going to what Paste Magazine is describing as the "election season of the music industry" although I might pickup the tail of some of the post-sxsw touring when i slip into New York in late March. Paste have however written a fab little article breaking down stats on participating artists into regions, the percentage of bands named after animals, colours and rude words. You might be interested to know that bands with the word fuck in their name now account for 0.19% of all the artists at the festival, a drop on last year of 0.4%. The whole article is here.

So, onto my own roughly compiled list of artists i'd see if i were heading to Austin...

Constantines - web
Fleet Foxes - web
Mom - web
Fuck Buttons - web
Laura Marling - web
Hong Kong Blood Opera - web
Ida Maria - web
I Was A Cub Scout - web
White Rabbits - web
Earlimart - web
White Denim - web
The Ting Tings - web
The Spinto Band - web
Grand Archives - web
These New Puritans - web
Jo Lean and The Jing Jang Jong - web
Tall Firs - web
Cryptacize - web
Asobi Seksu - web
Times New Viking - web
Care Bears On Fire - web
Do The Undo - web
Awesome Cool Dudes - web
Phosphorescent - web
Dr Dog - web
Noah And The Whale - web
Black Mountain - web
Yeasayer - web
Old Time Relijun - web
My Morning Jacket - web
Born Ruffians - web
Port O'Brien - web

Or just basically go to the Gorilla Vs Booze party.

A full list with weblinks for SXSW 2008 is at Austin 360. And please leave comments or suggestions below on either my own choices or yours!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Sleeping States


photo by welcomepics

I've been very slack lately when it comes to seeing gigs featuring London bands - especially midweek shows. I just can get my motivations on after finishing work etc. And i see gigs listed in Timeout, NME, Le Cool etc. but never write them down in a calender or anything... thinking my brain will just pop sticky note behind my eyes to help me remember... so, yeah, here's to turning over a new leaf for 2008, and i'll start next Tuesday with FANFARLO's single launch at the Luminaire in Kilburn which features SLEEPING STATES in support. They are basically a one man band type thing, the dude in question being called Markland, and his myspace has a smattering of their fab indie pop tunes. Here's a video for my favourite song "Rivers" to whet your interest:



This song is my pick of the week! Beyond Rad!

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Death with Grand Salvo


GRAND SALVO (aka Paddy Mann) will be finally releasing his album Death, the animal concept record he's been working on for years, on March 15th through rad Australian labelsSpunk and Preservation.

Last time I spoke to him about it he said it was cursed and that it would never be released, and put its recording on hold to make The Temporal Wheel.

Death will feature Zoe from Luluc and hopefully include the song about the little bear who falls through the ice on a frozen river and his animal friends wait for him on the other side until the spring and their bones are all thats left. SADNESS!

Anyway, Paddy describes it thus:

"Death is a fable of rich proportions. A bird, a rabbit, a rat, a bear and a man all tell their own tale, coming together to weave a beautiful fairytale that will resonate with anyone of any age."

There's a great interview with Grand Salvo on Mess and Noise and check out more of him on his myspace and a video here.

SXSW Fever



I took this picture at SXSW in 2004, as i stumbled down a backroad drunk from seeing Big Star perform. I dream of returning to Austin, if not for the now overbloated and over-hyped music conference, then just to get stuck into the excellent tex-mex food, cool Lonestar beer (i wonder if it was named after that guy from Spaceballs) and wonderful southern hospitality.

Keep Austin Weird. That's their slogan, and an appreciation for great live music is in their marrow. I can't make it over in March for this years SXSW, but already hype is building in the blogiverse about who the hotshit acts will be, and the good folk at Gorilla Vs Bear have been kind enough to post up some MP3s of their tips for 2008... and you can also find bios, MP3s and the like over at the official site.

I'll wade through the list and post some tips over the weekend, hopefully with a new podcast as well!

Friday, 15 February 2008

Cut Copy vs London


Good news for CUT COPY fans in the UK is they're hitting our shores in a couple of days, playing in London on the 18th for one of NME's Awards Shows with Hadouken! before slipping out of the big smoke to do Brighton, Sheffield and Newcastle then back at Fabric on the 22nd. They last played here in 2006, so hopefully they get a warm return welcome... in fact, they've already sold out their March show in New York. Backslaps all round!

I haven't had a chance to check out their latest album In Ghost Colours but i did download their pre-release "So Cosmic" mix a few weeks ago, and I'm getting excited about the record. They're one of the best festival bands in Australia, able to turn a non-committal audience over to their electro/indie dark side.

More details of dates over at NME or check them on myspace.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Born Ruffians



Zan at Triple J tipped me off to these cats from Toronto who are in London next week for some shows... alas, i miss all the gigs because i'm in Paris! Boo! Anyway, BORN RUFFIANS have a fab couple of songs up on their myspace and all their tour dates, including appearances at SXSW.

Port O'Brien and The Tigers


photo by Daniel Arnold

I've spent the afternoon listening to Californian group Port O'Brien which I found through the excellent alt-country lovin' blog Hear Ya. They're one of many bands heading for SXSW this March, and their album of 2007 The Wind And The Swell might have to move up to the top of my 'must buy' list. They mix up sweet acoustic ditties like Five and Dime with campfire sea-shanties like I Woke Up Today. In fact the latter had me thinking they sound like a cross between Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and the DIY-choir aesthetic found on the late-career records from Disaster Plan. The well respected Melbourne group plied their trade in the late 90s/early 2000s, but are sadly no more, with Richard and Mick having hung up their guitars not long after the group's 7th album 'Reality Correctors One Through Twelve' came out through the fab indie label Sensory Projects.


THE TIGERS... photo by Piano Trackiofakis

Speaking of Sensory Projects, they've recently released the new record for The Tigers, a perth outfit who've been fairly quiet since their sublime 2002 release Christmas Album. The latest is called Beautiful Forest and is available in shops or via iTunes through Intertia Distribution. I might try to include something from it in my upcoming podcast.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Its My Disco, Now You Do The Math.


photo by dreadfuldan

Good news on Mess and Noise today with MY DISCO announcing the release of their new record Paradise and an Oz tour in March. Alongside Eddie Current Suppression Ring, they're probably still the most compelling live band in Melbourne, and scrubbed up quite well on their 2006 debut Cancer, which contained songs written while Liam was battling Hodgkins Disease. The new album was recorded and mixed by knob-twiddlin' god and self-confessed poker nut Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago and is out on Feb 25th on CD and vinyl.

2008 Tour dates are now online, and of course swing over to their myspace for the new tunes.

MY DISCO also materialize in an ace DVD called The Super 8 Diaries... a no-budget DIY film featuring a swag of artists from the independent Ausrock community. Here's a taster of My Disco's set:

Sunday, 10 February 2008

New Buffalo


Looking over the shoulder of my squeeze tonight I noticed Perez Hilton giving massive props to New Buffalo, aka Melbourne songwriter Sally Seltmann. Nice to see that at last people are catching onto the undervalued charms of this incredible talent. Sally's got two wonderful records and an EP under her belt, and in case you didn't know she wrote Feist's 1234 which has become a bit of a hit courtesy of its use in a recent iTunes campaign, and is nominated for a Grammy! We'll be crossing our fingers for her and Feist tomorrow... And here's a link to the video for 1234 which i couldn't embed: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=d3vIv1EwO5A

On writing 1234 Sally told Songfacts...

"I had been listening to Feist's album Let It Die. I thought my little song about lost love, and the hope to recapture what you once had, sounded too much like a Feist song for me to use for New Buffalo, so I shelved it. Then, in late 2005 I did a tour across Canada supporting Feist, and Broken Social Scene. After meeting Feist, I started to wonder whether she might like to do a cover of "1234," but I was too shy to tell her about it. At the last Broken Social Scene show, I plucked up the courage to tell her that I had written a song which I thought she might like to use. We went onto the tour bus, and I recorded a simple version of the song into her laptop, with guitar and vocals. To my surprise, she loved the song, and started playing it live."

Check out more from NEW BUFFALO online or at myspace.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

New YACHT ROCK!

Holy moly, the week ends on a very SMOOTH HIGH!


yacht rock episode 11*: footloose (2008)

* with guest star appearance by Jason Lee!

Dream Job: A&R

Well, actually, no. I've always been slightly repulsed by the idea of being an A&R dude. It checks out very well on paper, and some of my good friends work in A&R, but i just couldn't cope with the psuedo-parental elements of the job - pandering to juvenile, untalented wannabe-rockstars and endless evenings out vacuously wheeling and dealing, boozing and schmoozing to sign naive no-hopers or for favours and leg-ups. I guess maybe i have a distorted view, having never tried it myself, but one of the great things about being a radio DJ for so many years is you still get to go to all the gigs, hear all the latest music and meet the same talented, interesting people who share your passion, but without having to be anyone's drug dealer or nurse.

Drowned in Sound though have a great little ten point guide to making it in A&R if my rant hasn't been too off-putting.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Sea Scouts

Just found a link on mess and noise to this incredible super8 footage of the Sea Scouts taken from their last ever show at The Corner Hotel on Feb 18th, 2000.



The Sea Scouts were one of my favourite bands in the late 90s and put out two excellent records - the abrasive Pattern Recognition (which they released twice after re-recording with their original drummer) and their masterpiece Beacon of Hope. Tim from the group went on to form The Bird Blobs, while Monika plays with Baseball and Love of Diagrams.

A wiki bio is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Scouts_(band)

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Afro Indie



I just read this very interesting article in The Age online written by Melbourne writer, label-boss and muso Guy Blackman entitled "Cutlural Copyright". In it he talks about the new (but naff) tag Afro Indie which is being used to describe the music of bands like Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer and Ruby Suns (pictured above and featured on my latest podcast). Guy acknowledges that musical appropriation "is intrinsic to modern life", and that tapping into the influence of African music is nothing new but still asks the pertinent question:

"when you appropriate this music, do you owe a debt to its originators?"

He goes on to argue that yes, you kinda do, but that some elements of the self proclaimed 'afro-indie' scene don't go out of their way to pay a debt or acknowledge the political nature of the music they are referencing. In contrast to previous generations of musicians (Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, some of the white English bluesman in the 60s) who took up not only the sound of marginalised musicians from the US, Africa and the Caribbean but also championed their political causes. Of the Ruby Suns he says:

"Then there's the nominally American Ryan McPhun, who has spent much of this decade in New Zealand, but whose band the Ruby Suns head into African territory on second album Sea Lion, to be released by US indie giant Sub Pop in March. For McPhun, the connection is personal - he wrote tracks including Ole Rinka and the cheesily named Kenya Dig It? while visiting his father and Zimbabwe-born stepmother at their Kenyan home in 2006."

More of the article here.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Free

Anyone working or interested in PR, economics, marketing and general online trends in music or any content should subscribe to Seth Godin's blog. He always has something interesting to say, or some great article or snippit of wisdom to share. Today he's pointing to an excellent post by Kevin Kelly about free. Seth sums up Kevin's article thus:

"when there are infinite copies of something, charging for one is almost impossible."

And as Kevin says in his own post:

"The internet is a copy machine. Every bit of data ever produced on any computer is copied somewhere. The digital economy is thus run on a river of copies. Unlike the mass-produced reproductions of the machine age, these copies are not just cheap, they are free."

Why pay for something that is free? In my post yesterday I urged you, if you enjoyed the music within the podcast, to get out and support the artist with some of your hard-earned. But why would you? Well, one reason could be that of 'patronage'. Kevin describes this as one of eight "generatives" that are better than free.

"A generative value is a quality or attribute that must be generated, grown, cultivated, nurtured. A generative thing can not be copied, cloned, faked, replicated, counterfeited, or reproduced. It is generated uniquely, in place, over time. In the digital arena, generative qualities add value to free copies, and therefore are something that can be sold."

The full article is here and worth a read.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Podcast - Episode 2

As promised, here's the link for the latest podcast:

everythingatonce_ep002.mp3

And contained herein are these treats:

FLEET FOXES - English House
CLEAR TIGERS - Igloo
RUBY SUNS - Kenya, Dig It?
HOLY FUCK - Lovely Allen
ADAM FRANKLIN - Throat of Winter
THE VIRGINS - Rich Girl
LULUC - Little Suitcase

You can find all of these songs and more through the links above. As usual the MP3 quality on the podcast isn't super-hifi, so if you want a richer experience, then reach into your pocket and support the artists with coin!

Saturday, 2 February 2008

I Heart Foxes 4 Eva

I'm in love with the dreamy soundz of Fleet Foxes, a supremely lovely band from Washington releasing through Sub Pop/Bella Union. Fans of My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses, Crosy Stills Nash and other reverb soaked late 60s/early 70s types should get right into them... They've released an 11 song self titled album and a 5 song EP called Sun Giant. "English House" is the standout from the aforementioned EP, and you can listen to it on their myspace page. I mentioned them in an earlier post, and i might try to include a tune in my upcoming podcast.

They're also on tour with Blitzen Trapper and playing around New York when i'm there in April! Double Rad.

disclaimer: I think part of my new obsession is a general love for all things foxy... in fact my own acoustic project is called Fox and Siren.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Swervedriver

Although details are sketchy I'm getting quite excited about the possibility of a Swervedriver reunion tour. I cut my indie teeth on the band in the mid 90s when i played guitar in a group with two certifiable Swervedriver loons. I caught a couple of their Melbourne shows at the time, although I'm still spewing that I never saw them play Triple R's rooftop venue in Fitzroy. I'm told they never quite had the notoriety in their homeland that they did in places like Australia and I get the feeling they were one of those bands that axe-toting, serious shoegazin' young-dudes got into... and everyone else just shrugged their shoulders at. Much like Built To Spill at the time, whose Perfect From Now On has to be a critically overlooked indie-guitar masterpiece.

Anyway, I'm off to see Adam Franklin from Swervedriver play a solo set tomorrow night at the Luminaire. Details of his Australian tour in Feb are also online.

Crap clip, but awesome song: