Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Big Apples

The Brunettes photo by sidmuchrock

Won't be blogging much for a couple of weeks, I'm heading to New York for a holiday! Hopefully we can catch Sons and Daughters playing with the Brunettes (pictured) and Bodies of Water on Saturday night at The Bowery. Fingers crossed it doesn't sell out on us...
And then we have Blitzen Trapper and Fleet Foxes to look forward to in Washington on the 25th at Black Cat. Wizard!
If you're in New York or Washington over the next two weeks and can recommend something to see, or a good gig guide then please leave a comment. Orevwah!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Its a Mystery To Me

I hit a little bit of writers block meets flatchat this weekend, and where there should have appeared a brand spanking podcast instead there is sweet F.A. I'm winging it to NYC on Wednesday so my mind is elsewhere, but i have been reading a lot of SXSW stuff over the weekend - you know, all that 'wrapping' up kinda junk. Gorilla Vs Bear put on the raddest party there, and have posted a tonne of polaroids frm Austin. Hear Ya blogggers have posted some cool and downright odd photos from their time there. Keep your browser peeled for more from both of them, and i've been enjoying Zan Rowe's Triple J SXSW blog (she tipped me off on Bon Iver who i now love) and also the BBC SXSW blog too, which i have posted about previously.

The Beeb are also gearing up for some heavy-duty RADIOHEAD action on April Foolsday. The band are playing two gigs live to air - a matinee and an evening performance - and doing a series of interviews. More details on the official BBC site.

So now to my favourite video at the moment for those cheeky chaps in Mystery Jets and their spunky cohort Ms Laura Marling...

Laura Marling also gets a bit of a post-sxsw write up in the NME. She's starting to get all buzzy, and i reckon she could go massive in 2008.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Live at SXSW: My Morning Jacket

photo by allsongs

Doing songs from their forthcoming Evil Urges album, as recorded by NPR. Check it out.


Not the American sport, the Australian band. If you are waking up in Melbourne right now, or just stumbling home from Pony, I hope you managed to catch BASEBALL launching their much anticipated "official" debut album at the Northcote Social Club.

I say official because bandleader 'Thick Passage', aka Cameron Potts (ex-ninety nine) released a fab solo album many years ago while playing in Sandro. It came out through Warm Cola records under the name Baseball and it was a collection of mainly strange piano ballads and lullabies, with whispery falsetto vocals conjuring images from travels through Egypt. Baseball then put out a largely forgotten record, Gods and Stars, Priests and Kings which attempted, at times successfully, to meld hiphop and punk aesthetics with Cam's middle eastern influenced vocals and violin playing... and then they did a Tokyo tour EP a couple of years ago which cemented the current lineup of Ben Butcher (rock photographer and ex Jihad Against America), Monika Fikerle (ex Sea Scouts, Love of Diagrams) and Evelyn Morris (Pikelet, True Radical Miracle).

Tunes from the new album Animal Kingdom are up on myspace, and its on sale at the usual places through Stomp. The official Baseball site is here and they are on tour at the moment taking in Adelaide, Fremantle, Perth and finally Sydney on the 4th of April.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

The Best Band in New Zealand

photo by johnny leather

Is THE PHOENIX FOUNDATION. They have a new album out through revered label Flying Nun. It is called Happy Endings. You can listen to some of it here. They even have a song called Gandalf. Awesome. I can recommend their previous two albums as well. They totally kick-arse.

Anyway, this is the rad video for their new single Bright Grey...

Thanks to Who The Bloody Hell Are They for the tip off.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Ida Maria

I put some pasta on last night (4 cheese ravioli with a light but spicy napoli sauce) and really needed to hear Drive Away My Heart by IDA MARIA over and over and over and over again. Its up there with the new ones from Envelopes and Mystery Jets as my fave tune for this particular 24 hours...

Here's the video, featuring a giant bankrobbing heart-dude:

Ida (pron. Eedah) is from Norway but now based in Stockholm, Sweden, and was here in London with her band last night supporting Guillemots (which i missed), and will be playing SXSW this week before returning to the UK for two dates at the Barfly...

Thursday, March 13 12:45 a.m. Latitude 30
Friday, March 14 1:30 p.m. SESAC Day Stage Cafe Austin Convention Center

Tuesday, March 18, XFM Exposure, Barfly London
Wednesday, March 19, XFM Exposure, Barfly Cardiff

I think I'm turning into a massive fan. Her voice and approach reminds me at times of a punkier version of Bertie Blackman from Sydney and her track Oh My God is already been getting lots of play here in the UK, and the newest single Stella has just hit stores.

You can check out more Ida Maria below or here, and dates and tunes on her myspace.

Brand Band

This interesting article on Advertising Age yesterday talks about the way bands are being used by (and using) corporate brands. Its a slippery fine line as Band of Horses found out, and fans tend to be quick with their squawks of "sell out!" But songs by Jet and Feist have been used in iPod ads, further boosting their burgeoning careers and doing little (well in Feist's case anyway) to hurt their appeal to longtime fans. In the article The Walkmen talk about how they sold their music to a car commercial to pay the bills...

"The Walkmen's Peter Bauer said his band did not expect a Saturn Ion commercial featuring their song "We've Been Had" a few years ago would further their career. Like many emerging artists on small, independent labels, the decision was made out of financial necessity. "We needed to take the money," the organ and bass player said. "If you don't need the money, why do it?"

But i start to get a funny stomach when i hear people, like the new CEO of EMI Guy Hands talking about funding artists records by corporate sponsorship.

Rolling Stone: "he plans to increasingly use corporate sponsors to defray the costs of producing and distributing music — Nordstrom, Victoria's Secret and the New York Daily News have all paid for the right to put their brand on music from EMI artists, including Joss Stone and the Spice Girls."

You can read the full article, and more on the EMI artists and their managers response. I'm not shedding a tear for the Spice Girls' lost integrity or anything that rash, but it presents an interesting (and predictable) example of the way the music biz is trying to deal with their current problems and flailing profits.

Ad Age also run an entire blog - Songs for Soap - dedicated to music branding and licensing issues. They're currently talking about ad agencies decending on SXSW, Ciara getting in bed with McDonalds and Keith Richards modelling for Louis Vuitton (with pictures by Annie Leibowitz).

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Yeasayer - Final UK show

yeasayer in Manchester, photo by Rick and Mandy

Went to the YEASAYER show last night at the ICA. It was really, really good... ha, sorry, can't think of what else to write at the moment, other than to say if you haven't heard them I can recommend their excellent debut album All Hour Cymbals. Check out the tunes on myspace.

Yeasayer do a final UK show tomorrow (Wednesday) at ULU. Tickets here.

Saturday, 8 March 2008


I've totally fallen for this Newcastle group - FIREKITES - who I'm told are about to release their debut through Spunk Records. It will be called The Bowery after the iconic abandoned coffee shop and arts space where the album was recorded.

Members of Firekites have spent time playing in or with Josh Pyke, Tucker Bs, Purplene, The Instant and The Herd. They've just supported Sea And Cake for the Sydney show of their tour and are also set to support Iron and Wine on the 11th at the Manning Bar, then hook up with some other Spunk types - Grand Salvo, Machine Translations and Holly Throsby - for a mini tour in April. I wish i could be there!

Official site here and myspace for the tunes and gig dates. There is also this little interview with the group.


Daily Swarm pointed me to a great article/q&a with Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber.

"Hot on the heels of big dual announcements – the long-rumored launch of and the company’s first foray into commercial music licensing (selecting part of the soundtrack for Take-Two Interactive’s Major League Baseball 2K8 video game) – and with the lineup announcement for this July’s Pitchfork Music Festival imminent, Schreiber sat for a lengthy interview with the Chicago Sun-Times’ Jim DeRogatis and spoke about the company’s past, present, and future."

Read the full interview here.

Shakey - The Washup

So, we went to the Hammersmith/London Apollo last night for NEIL YOUNG, playing a greatest hits collection over two sets - one delivered solo and acoustic, the other electrified with his band, featuring his wife Peggie and Ralph Molina (Crazy Horse). The sound at the venue was amazing, and Neil (pictured) was in fine voice, but the song choices for the electric set weren't quite as i had hoped. No Cortez The Killer, or Winterlong, or Southern Man, or Like A Hurricane, or Tonights The Night, or Cinnamon Girl or even Cowgirl in The Sand. And lastly, to both Sarah's and my disappointment no Revolution Blues! hmm. Perhaps he'll play them all tonight...

There was also a painter on stage, working away on large canvases, taking inspiration from the music, and Neil would occasionally walk over and check out what he was doing. In the second half the artist brought out paintings with song titles and their themes reflected - No Hidden Path, Down By The River, Hey Hey My My - among others. He's no Rembrant, but it provided an interesting visual distraction from Neil ridiculous sneakers. Still, it was pretty naff.

No videos have surfaced from the last two London shows (a guy comes over the PA at the start saying no phones/cameras are allowed to photo or film the concert) but you can get some idea from this Berlin footage...

ii tunes

photo by sushipop

Alex and Jon from Melbourne ambi-bleepers (i just made that term up, it sounds better said aloud) ii have been sending me tracks for years now - lush abstract patterns of static, drones, improv-guitars and whispery beats being their speciality. Its good then to at last see them getting immortalised properly for their debut release Landlakes, which they launched this week at the Toff In Town.

The album is out through through the very decent folk at Feral Media and some ii-tunes (hehe, geddit?) can be heard on their myspace... with more info on their website and a video below.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Being Stephen Malkmus(ovich)

photo from suburbancowboy

Lean indie-dad Stephen Malkmus has gathered his Jicks and released a new album - Real Emotional Trash - which i've had swimming inside my Mp3 player for a while now. Its the first to feature ex Sleater Kinny skinsmith Janet Weiss who also pops up on backing vocals. The Jicks themselves provide more muscle than ever behind Stephen's slippery voice.

To my ears this new album blends the pop immediacy of Malkmus' debut with the robust rhythms and prog-rock dalliance of Face The Truth... and Stephen seems to have at last found his groove in a post-Pavement world. However, i think i need a few more listens to get 'emotional' about the album, and i'm not sure he's bettered the first solo outing, which contained so many downright fab, catchy and well-crafted tunes.

Matador have some free downloads of Malkmus output including the fab tune "Baltimore" from the new CD and some videos too.

As if the stars are aligned i now hear that Stephen Malkus and the Jicks will be playing the Bowery Ballroom in New York while i'm there, so fingers crossed it hasn't sold out, otherwise they'll be impressing Londoners at the She-Bu Empire on June here. More general dates etc on his main homepage.

Oh, yes and in reference to the title of this post, i would love to be inside Stephen Malmus' head for a day, even now with him toting a moustache... or perhaps back in the late 90s playing that 2 hour show at the Forum in Melbourne. Check the setlists...Bliss!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

School of Language

I've spent the morning discovering SCHOOL OF LANGUAGE from Sunderland, UK - the solo project for Field Music's David Brewis. The debut release Sea From Shore came out exactly a month ago through Memphis Industries here, and through the most logical aesthetic home in the rest of the world, Thrill Jockey. On "Rockist Pt 1" Brewis comes across all Sam Prekop-ish over cutup vowel loops, and elsewhere he brings on the angular-muscle rock, even featuring some Futurehead types on the dark and thumpy "Disappointment 99". Its altogether less electro-pop than Field Music, but just as engaging and just experimental enough.

As usual, check out myspace for tunes and details of the current US tour... Drowned in Sound have a review of Sea and Shore... and the Rockist video is below...

Poor Musicians of the World, Unite!

And take Heart! Kevin Kelly has some tips for how you can make a decent living from your art by cultivating 1000 True Fans.

"A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can't wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans. "

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

SXSW - Get There Early!

One of the reasons music nuts across the world are so obsessed by SXSW is that it throws up opportunities to see some of their favourite acts in a compressed time period. So you can head to just the parties like Gorilla Vs Booze and see White Denim, Ghosthustler, Bodies of Water, Cut Copy DJs and Holy Fuck. You often get free booze, in a small venue, with excellent bands that wouldn't otherwise play on the same bill. So this year you can see Yo La Tengo and My Morning Jacket at the one gig - the IFC Crossroads party at The Parish on March 11th, the day before the whole shebang kicks off on the 12th. Only 400 tickets will be available, but they are free from Waterloo records on the 10th. So... Get There Early!

And if you're heading there and want to check out some Australian music then the Aussie BBQ is worth trying to get into. Featured acts this year include Paul Kelly, The Panics, The Stems, Old Man River, Something With Numbers, Whitley and Ash Grunwald. Not quite the kickass lineup of previous years (see the photo above for the '06 Aussie Assault), but they serve free Coopers Beer!

Some more official SXSW parties are on the main site, and the BBC have their SXSW blog up and running too which is following some of the UK acts and British music events (the Clash Magazine party sounds pretty awesome). I'm damn impressed with the UK presence across the event and the British Embassy's music site is beyond fancy - I guess you get what you pay for!

If you are going to SXSW and need a way to keep on top of the daunting amount of must-see bands and obscure but essential parties, then try out Sched.

Dirtbombs vs INXS

THE DIRTBOMBS are slaughtering unsuspecting crowds across Australia at the moment and playing the sensational Golden Plains festival this weekend. I found the incredible video above of them covering 'Need You Tonight' by INXS and almost wept that I wouldn't be back home seeing them. Boo! They also have a new album "We Have You Surrounded" which I'm yet to hear, but the songs online sound promising.

Tour dates are up on The Dirtbombs myspace.

Countdown to Shakey

photo by silversmile from Neil Young's recent Vienna show.

I get to see one of my music heroes on Thursday night when Neil Young plays at the Hammersmith Apollo here in London. He'll be supported by his wife Peggie and he'll do two sets, one of acoustic numbers, then a full rock set. Having seen the recent setlists from this tour up on Sugar Mountain i can only cross my entire body that he whips out Cortez The Killer and Like A Hurricane my fave tracks... or Revolution Blues! imagine that! i will squeel and fill my dacks. I last saw Neil in Melbourne playing his Greendale set in the Myer Music Bowl in the rain, so this gig should go someway to make up for my disappointment at that show which was a half baked load of twaddle.

Ongoing coverage of the tour can be found on this great little blog.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Sun Kil Moon

Pitchfork report that Mark Kozelek will be releasing the new SUN KIL MOON album "April" on, wait for it, April 1st. And Will Oldham will guest on a couple of the tunes! I saw Mark play some of his new work a few months ago and I'm pretty excited about the release, his first since the collection of Modest Mouse covers Tiny Cities... and the first album of original music since 2003's exceptional Ghosts of The Great Highway which was re-released last year with bonus tracks. Mark has also been producing the new album for Alan Sparhawk's Retribution Gospel Choir. I've loved the distortion drenched shift in LOW's music over their last two albums. And the tunes on their myspace take the logical step into tough Crazy Horse territory. Just amazing.

You can stream 'Moorestown' from the new Sun Kil Moon album at Caldo Verde.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Podcast - Episode 3

I've been procrastinating again, but have finally finished episode three for your downloading pleasure:


It features some of the artists i've been blogging about recently, a mix of internationals and Australians...

SINGLE TWIN - Splinters and Seeds
PORT O'BRIEN - Tree Bones
BORN RUFFIANS - Kurt Vonnegut
THE TIGERS - Beautiful Forest
LAURA JEAN - Anniversary

Enjoy. Comments welcome!