Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Eddy Current Suppression Ring

photo by Goldfoot

Melbourne's black-gloved punkrockers EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING are about to release their highly anticipated sophomore effort Primary Colours. Mess and Noise have posted the full tracklisting ahead of the launch in their hometown at The Corner Hotel on May 31st.

Regarded by many (ie. not just me) as one of the best live bands in Australia, the 4 piece will also be doing an instore at Missing Link on Bourke Street this Friday. Its the perfect setting for their raw, pure garage-rock and some lusty crowd participation (see video below). I'm betting this new album will top as many end-of year 'best of' lists as the last. Even their 7" singles sell for $50 on Ebay.

You can stream one of the new tracks from Primary Colours on Mess and Noise, and check out the rest of their Australian album launch dates, or myspace for more tunes.

Here is some live footage of 'Insufficient Funds' from their debut album, filmed for the Super 8 Diaries fundraiser last year. I was at this show, but i think i left just before they came on. Stupid me!

And their video for 'Get Up Morning' too. So good!

Saturday, 26 April 2008

ATP rule my world

The Drones, photo by Dennis Stempher.

All Tomorrow's Parties get busy stateside over the next couple of months, presenting their "Don't Look Back" shows in Chicago (Mission of Burma and Public Enemy) for the Pitchfork Festival before teaming with My Bloody Valentine in September for ATP in New York.

Details for the NYC gig (at a holiday park in the Catskills!) already look promising with Low, Mogwai, Shellac, Edan, The Drones (pictured above), Polvo, My Bloody Valentine and Thurston Moore all confirmed. Plus two of my favourite bands of the late 90s will be performing two of my favourite records of the 90s... Built to Spill do Perfect From Now On... and Tortoise do Millions Now Living Will Never Die.

So awesome. Wish i could go! The Chicago show also looks amazing with some of my fave new bands - The Dodos, Fleet Foxes, Ruby Suns and Jay Reatard... plus ol' faithfuls like Jarvis Cocker and Dinosaur Jr.

Speaking of Jay Mascis and co. they turn up at the forthcoming Explosions in the Sky curated ATP next month alongside The Constantines, Broken Social Scene, Iron and Wine and on and so rad and amazing and rad and on and on on...!!!

I have back-to back weekends of this awesome-ness because i also have tickets for the Pitchfork ATP at Camber Sands the week before. Sorry, my keyboard is moist with drool and feel like i'm gloating. In the lead up to these sensational set of festivals i'll be posting some details on the bands appearing, so stay tuned.

Thursday, 24 April 2008


Sydney group PIVOT are in London this week to play some shows supporting their upcoming Warp Records single and new album. They're the first antipodeans that I know to hook up with the esteemed UK electronic label, but their signing will come as no surprise to anyone who heard their mesmerising '05 release Make Me Love You. Drowned in Sound say they are "reminiscent of Battles in their combination of electronic and organic elements to create an outstanding groove." So, believe it.

Pivot play tomorrow (April 24th) at On The Up , Bar Academy and then on Friday at Bardens Bourdoir and then kick around the UK and Europe until the end of May. Their latest single 'In The Blood' is up on their myspace and their official site has tour dates and a free MP3 too.

Who The Bloody Hell also have info on their forthcoming release.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008


Wata from Boris. Photo by Nariposa.

A friend at work has been talking up Japanese doom-rock outift BORIS for ages now, so i've decided to check them out tonight at ULU in London. I filled my teenage ears with this sort of music - Sabbath influenced hard-rock and metal from the likes of Kyuss, Tumbleweed, Monster Magnet and Fu Manchu. Boris tread a similar path but with a more abrasive, experimental drone/noise edge. And from all accounts they are LOUD. Bring it on!

You can hear them on myspace, where Rainbow is my fave track. Their latest record is out next week through Southerd Lord, although apparently its already leaked online (surprised?). Its called Smile and features guest musicians Michio Kurihara of Ghost and Stephen O'Malley of Sunn O)))

Death, death and more death

Death, the new album by bearded aussie troubador GRAND SALVO has been the perfect chilly spring soundtrack to my thoughts about the potentially terminal changes happening in the music industry. I've blogged recently about the death of the apparent record store, so I'm taking this article from Drowned In Sound about the troubles in the UK music press with a similar sized grain of salt. They stop short of putting the nails in the coffin, and no titles have gone under recently but they suggest that the music press is struggling to compete for dwindling advertising streams and readers, and that the rise of music blogs is having a direct impact upon their future prospects.

NME has lost 12.3 per cent of its readership on a year-on-year scale according to the latest ABC figures, published recently in trade magazine Music Week; Kerrang!, meanwhile, lost 9.9 per cent of its readership over the same period. Have these thousands of music fans come clicking this way for their critical fixes?

They then go on to suggest that what is actually happening is that music fans are bypassing music-criticism altogether, preferring instead to go straight to the source, - laying their hands on the music immediately through artists myspace pages and recommedations via online friends and MP3 blogs. New music is very easy to get hold of now, much more so than when I was a rabid music-consuming teen who would read about some shithot indie band in Select, Juice or Rolling Stone but was unable to instantly hear what they actually sounded like. Instead they became mythologised in my mind via the music press - the reviews, interviews, articles and pictures stoking my fires of enthusiasm before my ears had a chance to judge.

The Drowned In Sound article ends with a call to discuss the future of printed music press...

Is print dead, or merely twitching a bit funny right now? Do certain publications have a future due to their maverick streaks, or are these facets ultimately likely to prove their commercial downfalls?

The usual to-and-fro ensues. Worth a read. For my money I think smart publications are expanding online and across other mediums. NME, Q and Kerrang are classic examples of this, and their future lies in building on the current strength of their brands, and engaging with the more savvy, instant-gratification nature of their current and potential readers/audience.

In the discussion Starsign suggests:

With the internet, it's far easier to scroll and skim read and get the gist, which you can't do as quickly with a printed magazine. People (me included, to some extent) just can't be bothered anymore. Internet = immediacy. You can click on links and be taken straight to the music, whereas with a mag, takes more effort.

Be interested to hear your thoughts, especially on the state of music press outside the UK.

Business Week also write about Pitchfork's rise and their new foray into online-tv, estimating that the site pulls in around US$5 million a year.

Sticking with dead-stuff I've also been intrigued by the buzz around DIY-electropunkers THE DEATHSET, who played in London recently to launch the brand new and regular Vice party night in Camden. The duo hail from Sydney/Gold Coast but now call Baltimore home... on like the one day they aren't trapped in a tour van by looking at their current schedule. They got recent props on Who The Bloody Hell Are They? blog and the couple of songs i've heard online seem promising, if a little 'anger-for-anger sake'.

In non-death related news i held a 5 week old baby this week and got completely freaked out - its been years since I was that close to such fresh life. It was quite scary and amazing. The little guy was also named after my fave outsider artist and devil-fearin' pop-savant Daniel Johnston. Crazy!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Grey Saturday Mixtape

I just finished uploading some tunes on muxtape to soundtrack my dreary wet Saturday on the couch. Some of it is upbeat to get me motivated to not be a slacker and waste the weekend, but some just wallows in the doldrums bigtime.

Listen here:

And some from my friends:

Saturday, 19 April 2008

The Dodos

I discovered, and got a mad crush on THE DODOS from San Fransisco through the fab Sydney blog Oceans Never Listen who have done a thorough review of their latest record called Visiter. Its the duo's second album and at times they plough a similar field to Animal Collective, sharing their freewheeling, spirited approach to pop music. Or you could even favourably compare their sound to Split Enz, The Shins, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or even Beirut, but without the Baltic flavours and with the bare-bones intensity that sometimes only a duo can muster.

You can hear some tunes including lead single "Fools" at Hype Machine and find out more about The Dodos and the new album at their website.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Singalong with Pavement

I stumbled across this cool app for iPhones called Tunewiki that lets you sing along with the songs you are playing by downloading and scrolling through the lyrics.

The best bit? They have Range Life by Pavement as their example image:

Details on Lifehacker. Oh, but it still hasn't convinced me to get an iPhone or iPodtouch, i think i'll wait til the hype (and price) dies down and they increase the measly capacity.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Podcast - Episode 4

The weekly podcast idea always seemed destined to fail, but fear not! ...for i think i'm hitting a new burst of energy, so you may discover another brand new podcast here next week. Lets all cross those fingers and toes, fingers and toes...

In the meantime, here's episode 4:



Parades - Shut Up and Be Young
Mystery Jets - Young Love
Bon Iver - For Emma
Sun Kil Moon - Like The River (alt. version)
Constantines - Hard Feelings
The Foals - Balloon
Retribution Gospel Choir - They Knew You Well

As usual if you enjoy the tunes in the podcast please visit the artists sites and find out how to support them by buying their records. They'll appreciate it and so will I.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

My brain did a backflip

...when i saw this. So awesome and beyond weird. As found on Daily Swarm.

M83 and the Camden Crawl

I'm a newcomer to French musican Anthony Gonzalez and his project M83. Friends have been talking up his last couple of records - but they were a little bleak, static, alienating or cold to really draw me in, even perhaps a little geeky. And if its too geeky for me, then that's saying something. And even though the shoegazer influence was apparent and appealing before it seems to have become more central to the aesthetic on his new release Saturdays=Youth. He's got himself a band and created almost the ultimate 80s teenage summer party synth/guitar-album for lonely kids with no friends. The record came out this week with a glowing review on Pitchfork and the tunes are on myspace and hype machine.

M83 is in London this weekend for the Camden Crawl, the annual "new music" showcase event that takes place in various venues in, funnily enough, Camden: a place seen by some as the spritual home for rock and roll in London. A two day pass will cost just under 50 quid and can be bought from the official site, where there is also more details about the bands playing etc. I don't think i'll be going but if you're after some tips i'd say look out for Ida Mariah, Crystal Castles, M83, Ladyhawke, Noah and the Whale and Fanfarlo.

Oh, and did you know that an M83 is an assault rifle? No? Here's a photo.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Top of the jukebox

Two records are sitting on top of the pile this week, getting all my doting attention. The first is from CONSTANTINES, my favourite Canadian band, who are just about to release their new album Kensington Heights.

Constantines photo by 5500

I've blogged about the Constantines before so i'll just briefly mention that the new album is a more focused, but ragged effort than their previous one Tournament Of Hearts. It doesn't quake with the built up tension and youthful anger of their first two records but songs like the anthemic opener Hard Feelings are impossible to find fault with. I can't wait to see them play the upcoming ATP festival in the UK which is being curated by Explosions In The Sky in May.

If you've never heard them they have a good selection of older and newer material on their myspace to whet your appetite, but other people have described them as a cross between Fugazi, The Clash and early Springsteen. Kensington Heights is released on April 15 in Canada and April 29 in the USA through Arts and Crafts. Constantine tour dates are also online.

Mark Kozelek photo by St Murse

Also helping me through the rainy days since i returned from New York has been the new album from SUN KIL MOON (aka ex Red House Painter Mark Kozelek and co.) their first set of original material since the sensational Ghosts of A Lost Highway from 2003. Again I have previously waxed lyrical in anticipation of this new album and it doesn't disappoint. Its out now (i got the one with the bonus disc) and there's more about April online or you can hear some samples on the Sun Kil Moon myspace.

Friday, 11 April 2008

The Apparent Death of the Record Store

In summer last year i was visiting the new, spacious, quite lovely (in a nerdy way) Rough Trade East store on Bricklane. Its pretty swank, but I haven't really been back since then... I'm buying records online now or getting my fix through blogs and the like... anyway as i was flipping through the CDs i was surprised to find Chris Crouch from Melbourne's Polyester Records lurking in the aisle over. He was in town on holiday, and was excited about this new store and told me he was also set to open his second Polyester store in Melbourne. I was a little dumbfounded at his logic, especially with the drop in physical CD sales worldwide and the growth in downloads etc, but sure enough it is now open (at 288 Flinders Lane Melbourne) and is hopefully doing a roaring trade, in spite of my skepticism.

So anyway, I remembered all this as i was reading NPR's Monitor Mix blog written by ex-Sleater Kinny guitar-slinger Carrie Brownstein. She's always onto something awesome, and this recent post was talking up Record Store Day which takes place on April 19th in the US. She then goes on to lament the loss of a couple of her fave stores which brought up my own memories of the long lost Au Go Go Records which strangely enough still has an online presence. Its where i first bought records by Spiderbait, Dirty Three, Tortoise, Mogwai, The Dirtbombs and more. Plus fanzines like Spunk (which is now one of Australia's biggest indie labels) and rare 7" records from Kyuss and Pavement. Damn, i'm getting sentimental! So check out her post, and leave your own comment if you're on a "lets remember the good ol' days" trip too.

Mister Lonely

In spite of patchy reviews and warnings from friends to steer clear, i'm still super keen to check our Harmony Korine's new film MISTER LONELY. Although it seems i'm a little late to the game having just found out its no longer playing in UK cinemas! Curses.

Anyway, the trailer is what got me all excited, especially this one with the japanese subtitles. I'd love it if the actual film had these!

If, eventually, I'm disappointed with it, i can assure you my love for Gummo from 1997 will remain strong and true. Its just amazing, probably one of my top five films ever, and if you have never seen it, stop reading blogs and rent it out... oh, wait, go here first to hear some of the Mister Lonely sountrack featuring J Spaceman (Spiritualized) and Sun City Girls.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

No Time?

Can't spare an hour and a half? Somehow I could and i used it watching an excellent lecture by computer science professor Randy Pausch who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September 2006 and at the time his doctors only gave him three to six months to live. His amazing, empowering and quite often very funny lecture is on Time Management.

Its fair to say I am rubbish at properly managing my time. I do all the classic blunders that make Randy tut-tut... I don't make 'to do' lists, don't keep a diary or calender, don't sort my emails, fail to prioritise tasks, procrastinate alot and do things at the last minute, can't say no when asked to do something for someone, don't delegate well, fail to setup my technology to make me more efficient... the list goes on. Luckily there's tonnes of great tips and amusing anecdotes in the lecture, so its worth some of your valuable time to check it out, especially if you work in a stressful, busy office!

My favourite bit of advice on getting more time? Kill your television. Oh, but you have to get right to end of Randy's lecture to find that nugget.

I found this video on lifehacker in case you got this far without clicking on 'lecture' and working that out... and Randy a has brand new book too called "The Last Lecture". More details on Amazon and you can keep up with his daily struggles to fight his cancer and manage the time he has left on his blog.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

That blog is better than that blog

I've spent the last couple of days trying hard to get back into my pre-holiday blogging routine. Trawling my usual feeds, fave destinations, reconnecting with music-world happenings and the like. Its not that easy to be honest. Being back at work, tired from timezone switching and airline travel, feeling druggy from taking my travel-hat off. But I'm starting slow, and leaving myself open to some new influences, hence spending the last couple of hours flicking through the winners of the first annual TIME blog index.

Some of my faves turn up - Freakonomics, Boing Boing, engadget - plus a few new discoveries for me. Blogs like Lifehacker and RADOSH. The latter is written by Daniel Radosh, editor of The Week. He also contributes to the New Yorker and has written a book about American Christian popular culture called "Rapture Ready" which looks like a piss-funny, enlightening read. The blog itself is worth a visit, if only to take part in his ongoing cartoon caption competition.

The TIME poll reminded me of a similar one done by The Guardian and Observer in March which listed the 50 most influential blogs in the world. It featured many of those from the TIME list, but for my money provided better analysis of the blogs and a wider scope in terms of content and style. Interesting to note though that in both lists American blogs dominate, with a small amount of attention paid to non-USA let along non-english speaking blogs (although Beppe Grillo does rate a mention in both).

Looking at my own 'blogroll' on the right I'm struck by how many US blogs there are too, especially compared to say NZ, UK or Canadian ones. And also how USA-centric the Amercian blogs I read can tend to be, even when they focused around universal topics - marketting, internet advocacy, free speech, pop music, writing, art, design etc. I guess that's the attraction for their local readers, in the same way that a local radio station or newspaper is successful by tapping into the interests and opinions that matter to those in their coverage area. So what are the rest of us in the rest of the world getting from reading these blogs that seldom even pay lip service to other countries? Or that talk about issues in a universal way and yet when you dig deeper find that its completely US-centric? Or is it the case that actually the only good blogs are written by Americans?

Ok, I really don't have a cynical, anti-USA agenda here... And perhaps the answer to my questions above is that I read these blogs because they speak to me. They rock. They are cool. I'm in tune with their messages, or enjoy their discourses... if thats a word?... And whether they are written in Paraguay or Thailand I probably would still read them. With the amount of US/Western originated culture I've absorbed in my life I'm in sync with the kind of things these blogs are throwing up, and thats all there is to it... i wonder...

Even after 14 years

In other Pitchfork related talk i'm getting slightly creamy about the upcoming ATP vs Pitchfork festival in the UK in early May. Sebadoh, Born Ruffians, Girls Against Boys, Caribou, Hot Chip, Bon Iver, Jens Lekman, Yeasayer, Les Savvy Fav, Hold Steady and more. Damn!

Also coming along for the ride and representing for the antipodeans is those dirty uncles of power-pop EVEN. They've been doing their well-respected thang for 14 years, and Ash and the lads have got a new self titled album (reviewed here) which they launch in Melbourne at The East Brunswick Club on the 24th of April. They then zip around Australia before jetting to UK to play ATP in early May. While in London they'll also support Sebadoh at Koko on the 6th of May and do their own shows on the 12th at Old Blue Last and the 15th at the Brixton Windmill.

New tracks from the self titled album up on their myspace and full details and oz dates are on Mess and Noise.

I Want My PTV

PITCHFORK unveiled their spankin' new online TV channel (well, the BETA version) this week with an exclusive radiohead performance, some 'usual-suspect' music vids and access to the Pixies doco - loudQUIETloud - for next few days. Oh, and some funny behind the scenes action.

I'm yet to dig into it properly, and on my connection the buffering required is beyond annoying, which might just be a problem my end. It'll be interesting to see how they get on, and whether they can go beyond a NYC/USA content bias (ie. although Cut Copy's latest vid is up there can expect to see any other OZ/NZ content popping up?)

Judge for yrself...

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Blitzen Trapper and Fleet Foxes in DC

Fleet Foxes - photo by Svetlana80.

I've been off the blog lately because of my current holiday in the USA - currently i'm typing on a norwegian keyboarded ibook in a B&B in the East Village, NYC. We spent Easter here, then winged it to Washington DC and caught up with Blitzen Trapper and Fleet Foxes at The Black Cat - a snazzy venue suited to an intimate evening with my two fave american bands of the moment.

Fleet Foxes kicked off with their CSNY harmonies and Shinsy pop-smarts - they were the real highlight of the evening for me, and in spite of Robin's headcold they sounded incredible. I've raved about them before, so i'll just say lookout for their new album dropping mid year on Sub Pop (US) and Bella Union (UK), with a vinyl version on 12" and a bonus 10" too. Woot!

Blitzen Trapper put in a solid, inspiring set of newer songs as well as faves from Wild Mountain Nation - and after the show i picked up their 6 song tour EP with freshly recorded brand-spankers... perfect for our drive through Amish country on the way to Philly. Expect to hear something from the EP on my next podcast when i return to the UK.

More dates (including details of Canadian shows this week) are on their myspace.

Oh, and there is a great Flickr photo set from the gig too, which is where these snaps came from. In fact, we were standing right behind the photographer, so its just as we saw it - sorry no audio though, you'll have to use your imagination.

Blitzen Trapper - photo by Svetlana80.

In follow up to my last post we did make it to the Sons and Daughters gig at the Bowery, but missed the Brunettes because we'd been gas-bagging with friends over garlic snails and beers. However, I fell madly in love with Bodies of Water who came over like an awesomely weird cross between The Salteens and Arcade Fire. Seriously, take a listen! No more gigs are planned here in New York, although Australian living legend PAUL KELLY is in town playing tonight and tomorrow at Joe's Pub, and we'd love to see Stephen Malkmus but his gigs are sold out.