Friday, 31 October 2008

All Songs Considered

I posted about Lykke Li the other day (see below) and then who should i hear opening the latest podcast from NPR's All Songs Considered, but the Swedish songstress herself. Great minds catch up at the same time methinks!

Anyway, it reminded me that I've been downloading All Song Considered for a few weeks now and its becoming one of my favourite music podcasts. Quite often I might have only a passing interest in the songs on offer, but Bob's presentation is so genuine and he displays such affection for the artists and their craft that its really compulsive listening. Let your inner music nerd be seduced by subscribing, or at the very least get onto their great concert and live performance archives at NPR. They currently have the recent Elephant 6 Orchestra live concert online. Bless them.

Have a great weekend x

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

FF vs LL

Lykke Li photo by Luderbrus.

I've been constantly listening to the self-titled Friendly Fires album this week on the ol' ipod. I featured "Paris" on my first Everything At Once podcast earlier this year, so its great to have it within the wider context of a whole set if songs. It really is one of favourite records of '09. Tracks like "Jump In The Pool" and "In The Hospital" that open the record are bona-fide indie/electro classics, perfect for spazzing out to on random bits of gym equipment or just after too many red wines in the living room with the squeeze.

But I'm yet to really get my head around swedish poppette Lykke Li. I can't even work out how to pronounce her name. And in spite of numerous recommendations from chums and respected music blogs alike, I haven't heard an ounce of her acclaimed album Little Bit. Perhaps the lads from Friendly Fires can help!

See, Gorilla vs Bear (surely one of the best blogs ever) have just posted a great cover by Friendly Fires of Lykke Li's "I'm Good I'm Gone" plus some remixes of her other tunes. Its a sweet treat from those Fiery gents, super-catchy, housey-pianoed, double track vocalasized. Yay. Check it out.

So now I'm plowing the net for more Lykke Li, and keen to catch her shows here in Summer. She's playing the Prince Bandroom in Melbourne on January 4th and then the Oxford Arts Factory in Sydney on January 5th. Details here. Oh, and check this video of her getting silly with the sublime Bon Iver...

Lykke Li & Bon Iver doing 'Dance Dance Dance' in L.A from Lykke Li on Vimeo.

Amaya Laucirica

I've had a little thing for Amaya Laucirica for a while now. Its not a crush, but a purely platonic love for her voice and her music. At times she reminds me of excellent Melbourne alt-country duo Royal Chord. Some might also hear bits of Mazzy Star, Neko Case or Lucinda Williams in her quiter moments. The songs are thoughful, yearning yarns of loss, love and heartbreak - wrapped in the colours of the lonesome, crowded wild west. But its not strictly 'country' music, its more a kind of slow-burning inner-city blues, for want of a better word.

"Lost and Found" from Amaya's debut Sugar Lights is a perfect example of this - straight up country-pop balladry, played with conviction and purpose, all draped in Amaya's sweet and laconic voice. Overall its not a record full of surprises, but its presented with passion and infused with talent. It has a more mature sound than on her EP from a couple of years back too, which bodes well for her next few releases. Check out some of Amaya Laucirica's tunes yourself on her website, and see her play live, with band, launching the album, this Thursday October 30th at the Northcote Social Club.

Monday, 27 October 2008

I Love Love

Pitchfork TV have a great documentary about influential American band Love online now, free for one week only.

"Love Story offers a detailed retrospective of the influential band Love. Directed by Chris Hall & Mike Kerry, the documentary features extensive interviews with Arthur Lee and other original band members. Available at Start Productions."

Thanks to Zan for the tipoff.

Love's Forever Changes, is of course dissected and discussed. If you don't already have it in your collection, its an absolute must-own...

"One of rock's most overlooked masterpieces, this third album by the L.A. folk-rock outfit led by inscrutable singer-songwriter Arthur Lee sounds as fresh and innovative today as it did upon its original release in 1968. With David Angel's atmospheric string and horn arrangements giving the work a conceptual underpinning, Lee explores mainstream America's penchant for paranoia ("The Red Telephone") and violence ("A House Is Not a Motel") with songs that are as sonically subtle and lilting as they are lyrically blunt and harrowing." -Amazon

Well, I Neverever...

Klaxons photo by NRK P3

Modular celebrates its 10th birthday this year with their big, 4 date, cross-state festival Nevereverland. The event last year focused around Daft Punk's Australian tour, and the linup for this years' festival, which takes place in December, has just been announced.

Its an exciting mix of mainly electro/indie types including Klaxons, Hercules and Love Affair, Presets, Ladyhawke, Cut Copy, Tame Impala and Whitest Boy Alive. Controversially it takes place in Melbourne on the same weekend as the now sold out Meredith Music Festival. More details about Nevereverland are on The Vine. Tickets on sale November 7th.

J Tillman

Lucky punters seeing any of the Fleet Foxes UK shows over the next month will have the chance to check out folky bluesman J. Tillman in the support slot.

Joshua Tillman is not only the drummer with Fleet Foxes, but an accomplished singer-songwriter in his own right, ploughing a field similar to Iron and Wine, Nick Drake, Sun Kil Moon and Damien Jurado (who he has also toured with as a drummer). Its sparse, sometimes haunting, at times meloncholy, at others uplifting. There's an authenticity to his approach, a craftsman's ear at work in the production.

Autumn Tone Records are releasing his three albums, which were previously only limited runs, but you'll still have to dig around Australian record stores to find them.

Hear more J Tillman on his myspace page and download some tunes from "Cancer and Delirium" at Yer Bird Records who sell his albums online. His new album "Vacilando Territory Blues" is out in January but available online in a couple of weeks time.

Oh, and tickets for the Fleet Foxes' Melbourne show in January have now sold out, but are still available for the other two gigs in Sydney and Brisbane. Details at Handsome Tours. Fingers crossed we can get J Tillman to do a little sideshow or something while he's down under!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Kill yr Myspace

Local electro-wizz Muscles has had it up to here with The Man and is deleting his Myspace page. He's posted his reasons on his blog. Its deleted tomorrow (Monday 27th of October) so get there quick while you can!

Myspace Music has recently inked a deal with US independent digital distributor IODA, but has been slammed by many for ignoring artists not on aligned with the "big four" major labels. Recent changes to their music player has made it harder for artists to allow people to download, rather than stream, their music too, pissing off artists and fans alike. CNN has the details.

Monday, 20 October 2008

ARIA washup

Dancefloor-maestros The Presets (above) and popmoppet Gabriella Cilmi were the big winners at the 22nd annual ARIA Awards last night in Sydney. The Presets haul of three awards (including Best Group and Album of the Year) adds to the two already garnered for production and artwork on Apocalypso.

The results for Australia's two-bit version of the Grammys held little surprises overall, with Cilmi and The Presets being hotly tipped to dominate. In fact we ran a tipping contest at our place last night over a couple of bottles of red, and I think there was only two awards where the four of us* didn't pick a winner. There was disappointment though that Eddie Current Suppression Ring didn't get a gong for Best Rock album, but frankly they never stood a chance against the other nominees, with the award going to The Living End.

Cut Copy and Midnight Juggernauts also missed out, and we thought Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu would pick up more than just the one award for Best Independent Release. It is interesting to note though that most nominees and winners, especially those for the big awards, either now live overseas or have had significant success outside Australia.

All the news and results are up on the ARIA Awards news site.

* disclaimer: one of the people in the room had actually voted in the awards, so, a good tipping result may have been assured!

Tom Cooney

Brisbane singer-songwriter Tom Clooney brings his tear-jerker (aka acoustic guitar) down to Melbourne town this week as part of the launch tour for his debut album “Presque Vu”. His sensitive, restrained folk ballads have drawn apt comparisons with Iron and Wine, Bonnie Prince Billy and M. Ward. The album is beautiful but meloncholy, full of unexpected textures and understated grandeur. I reckon he'll fit well between Jen Cloher and Laura Jean on their upcoming November dates.

In the meantime, catch Tom Clooney on Wednesday at The East Brunswick Club in Melbourne with George Byrne and McKisko (who also features on his CD)... and check out some of Tom's songs online at myspace or on Mess and Noise.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Department of Eagles

I am really, really into this record right now.

Listen to a sample below or hear more Department of Eagles on their own website.

Smudge and The Zebras

Melbourne fans of classic Australian jangle/power-pop should get down to The Empress on Friday October 17th for this ace double-header: Smudge and The Zebras!

Smudge (pictured above) formed in Sydney in the very early '90s, and played around fairly consistently until around 2000. They put out a tonne of singles and EPS, plus four albums, but in spite of this strong output frontman Tom Morgan gained more fame as a songwriting collaborator with Evan Dando (The Lemonheads). Smudge's first two albums Manilo and You, Me, Carpark, Now are both excellent, although probably sound somewhat dated now. You can hear some tracks on their myspace page. Smudge also do Saturday at The Empress, and then play again towards the end of the year in Sydney at The Annandale. Rumours is they're playing some new songs too.

Originally hailing from Brisbane, The Zebras (pictured above) now call Melbourne home and have just completed a successful tour of Europe. They're also toting a brand new 5 track EP - New Ways of Risking Our Lives - and have added Lachlan Franklin (frontman for The Smallgoods) to the lineup.

Buy the new EP at Lost And Lonesome and check out some of The Zebra's sunshine-drenched indie-pop on myspace.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Flaming Lips go to Mars

At long last, Wayne Coyne's and 'the Lips surreal sci-fi film is being released into theatres, if only in the US at the moment. Here's the trailer for Christmas On Mars:

"It’s Christmastime, and the colonization of Mars is underway. However, when an oxygen generator and a gravity control pod malfunction, Major Syrtis (the Lips’ Steven Drozd) and his team (including the Lips’ Michael Ivins) fear the worst. Syrtis also hallucinates about the birth of a baby, and many other strange things. Meanwhile, a compassionate alien superbeing (Coyne) arrives, inspiring and helping the isolated astronauts."

Ok. More details here, although I can't find any theatre info for Australia...

Steal some AC/DC

I just read a very interesting, if slightly ranty, blog post from Bob Lefsetz, author of The Lefsetz Letter. In it he points out that if you want to buy the new album by AC/DC called "Black Ice"...

You don’t have to wait until October 20th. You don’t even have to drive to Wal-Mart! Why waste all that gas and time when you can fire up your browser and download AC/DC’s "Black Ice" RIGHT NOW! In superior 320 kbps quality! With no DRM!

Yes, the album has been leaked, of course, and is racking up the downloads on torrent sites around the globe. Bob has little sympathy, but he is an advocate for the artist in these situations, make no mistake. He just has little time for artists and their labels who live in denial about changes in technology, and the music industry. AC/DC will be selling it's new album, out on October 20th, exclusively through Walmart in the US. Reuters reports the lead singer Brian Johnson as saying:

"Maybe I'm just being old-fashioned, but this iTunes, God bless 'em, it's going to kill music if they're not careful... Wal-Mart were the only big store to stock all of our albums, every single one of them, and they've never deviated. And they sold AC/DC shirts and pajamas for kids, which we thought was really cool."

But Bob Lefsetz has little time for this decision:

So what has AC/DC accomplished here? The Internet kept their fame alive and they’ve decided to deny it. They got in bed with the oppressor, the retailer who censors records. Meanwhile, their fan base will just download the damn album for free. The hypocrisy is stunning. They don’t care about their fans, they just care about money. Their handlers should have drilled into them that their album should be sold on iTunes... The day the CD is dead is not far off. 548,052 of Coldplay’s 1,773,932 albums have been sold digitally. And they own the second biggest album of the year. I’d say that’s a true indicator. That soon people will only want the file."

His full post is here.

From what little I have heard from the album its not unlike their last couple of studio records (make of that what you wish), but old-school AC/DC fans like myself can get excited about the upcoming tour, their first since 2001 which is set to arrive in Australia early next year. In the meantime here's the utterly rubbish video for lead single "Rock and Roll Train"...

Monday, 13 October 2008

Laneways Erupt

Many years ago, as I stood on tip-toe, craning my neck to see Broken Social Scene, trying block out the overpowering smell of piss and drunk bogans, I swore I'd never attend another Melbourne Laneway Festival.

However, the 2009 linup for the now annual event has just been announced, and I gotta admit, I'm very, very tempted to give it a second chance. The festival has expanded from Caledonia Lane into Lonsdale Street (see the photo above) and also into Lt Lonsdale Street alongside the QV building. So maybe it will be easier to get around, as well as see bands and avoid the stinky pissy laneway. One can only hope.

Anyway, here's the lineup, I'm VERY excited by Born Ruffians, Port O'Brien, Stereolab and No Age:


The Laneway Festival also goes to Perth for the first time (as well as Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide), and the Melbourne leg takes place on February 1st. Tickets go on sale October 27th.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Cloud Control

Potential contender for local song of the year... this is "Death Cloud" by Cloud Control from the Blue Mountains in NSW. They play tonight in their home town, and come to Melbourne next Saturday for a show at the Northcote Social Club. Tour details on their myspace.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Megan Washington

As I sit at home, in my PJs, writing this blog, the Melbourne International Arts Festival is kicking off. I rarely make it out to see any events, but I'm often drawn to the Famous Spiegeltent, set up in front of the Arts Centre, which usually offers an eclectic program of live music and performance. This year's selection though doesn't seem quite as compelling as previous years, except maybe for the two gigs this coming Saturday and Sunday.

Melbourne singer-songwriter and 'chanteuse' Megan Washington is performing on both nights, away from usual collaborator Paul Grabowsky and debuting as a fully fledged solo artist. Buzz is building around this young singer, so get down early to check her out. Details and tickets here.

Checkout some of Megan's music at the Washington myspace page. I think the sweet pop tune "Someone Else In Mind" is my fave. Her incredibly sexy voice, and even hotter 50s librarian glasses, are featured on the latest single from Melbourne funk/soul crew The Bamboos. The video is below:

I own a Mick Turner

But no, its not that one.

A couple of years ago i stumbled into Mario's Cafe on Brunswick Street for a coffee and landed head first in an exhibition by the Dirty Three's guitarist Mick Turner. Mick has been painting the beautiful cover art for their albums for many years, and I was a massive fan of their music, and also Mick's solo albums. For years I tried to emulate his lucid, flowing guitar playing, and often put their records on at night, as i drifted off to sleep.

Anyway, among the newer pieces on show in the cafe that day was a little painting, not yet sold, of a boat on a restless sea, with a wooden handmade frame. It was in the back corner of the room, and it immediately caught my eye. Where had i seen it before? I thought as called over the waiter and told him I'd like to buy it. Most of the others had already been sold. He took my details and put a little red sticker under the painting. I drank my coffee and left happy.

A few weeks later I got a call from Mick and we arranged a time for me to come and pick it up. When I turned up at his place there was another guy there to get his painting too. We waited for Mick in the kitchen. He'd given us beers. Soon he came back in with the other guy's painting. It was slightly bigger than mine, but not nearly as nice. Money changed hands, and then he fetched mine. The other guy sat looking at his painting, admiring it, until Mick came back with my little picture of the boat. "I recognise this" said Mick, "i think this was in one of the albums".

He left the room quickly and came back with a CD copy of Ocean Songs, my absolute favourite Dirty Three records. He took the sleeve out and opened it. Inside was my little boat painting, on its restless waves. "Hmm" said Mick, "didn't realise I'd put this out for sale! Nevermind, here you go" and he passed me the painting. The other guy just stared at us and finished his beer. I paid Mick, who then kept looking at the picture in the CD sleeve. Then, after a little banter about his upcoming solo shows, Mick showed us out and i drove home, with my original Mick Turner painting, for which i paid about 250 bucks, on the front seat.

If you're as mad a Dirty Three or Mick Turner fan as I am then get yourself down to his latest exhibition - Nudes, Beasts, Angels, Flowers, a Birth, a Death and Trips to the Ocean - happening in Sydney, from the 17th to 19th of October at Blank Space gallery in Surrey Hills. If you have a spare $2000 the painting above - "Great Ocean Road" - is still available.

He's also playing solo gigs that weekend, and full details of the shows are on the Drag City Mick Turner website, or on Remote Control's blog.

Checkout the full ABCTV Studio 22 live performance, filmed in 1998, of tracks from Ocean Songs. Incredible stuff.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

A tall touring troubadour

photo by Karl Gunnarsson

Its just dawned on me that Sweden's Tallest Man On Earth visits our Great Brown Land this week, playing in Sydney tonight, Canberra on Thursday and then my hometown on Saturday night at The Toff. I must remember to get a ticket...!

I've been consistently listening to and loving Kristian Matsson's beautiful debut album Shallow Grave for weeks now. The Dylan references are beyond obvious but apt, and as Pitchfork's glowing review of the album points out, he seems to have "mined the American south for inspiration, and his frantic strumming and front-porch poetry recall everyone from the Carter Family to Lead Belly to, most noticeably, country bluesman Mississippi John Hurt." It's mesmerising, compelling and, dare i say it, authentic folk music.

Full Australian dates and some tunes on Tallest Man On Earth's myspace or check out the amazing tune "Pistol Dreams" below...

Capgras Family

Fans of the now defunct, but much loved, Melbourne band Lavto Ovo can rejoice. Jono, Jim and Angela have got themselves a new band called Capgras Family *. The cerebral-pop leanings and off-centre melodies return, but with a fraction more maturity, meloncholy and downtempo ambience. The band themselves point to Yo La Tengo, Broadcast and Broken Social Scene as possible sonic-touchstones.

Caprgras Family have been busy doing smaller shows around town (they play October 17th at The Curtin in Carlton) and recording with with Neil Thomason. There's of course some tunes and gig dates on the Capgras Family myspace.

* Oh, that isn't a picture of the band above, but according to wikipedia: "The Capgras delusion (or Capgras syndrome) is a rare disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that an acquaintance, usually a spouse or other close family member, has been replaced by an identical-looking impostor." Funny.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Thalia Zedek

This is Boston-based singer-songwriter Thalia Zedek playing live for The Deepend on ABC Radio National in mid-2005. It was filmed for DIG TV i think, and if you look quickly between 1:11 and 1:15 you see the back of my head as i reach for the reverb send on the mixing console. I'd reckon i must be turning the reverb down, since she's drowning in it! haha. Thanks to Rob for sending me this, I'd forgotten this was ever filmed.

Thalia Zedek
is on tour in the UK and Europe, full details on myspace. Her latest album is Liars and Prayers and its out now on the ever excellent Thrill Jockey.

Thalia played in an incredible band in the 90s called Come. If you dig the song above but want something a bit more energetic check out their '94 release Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Monday, 6 October 2008

St Helens

Formed almost two years ago from the volcanic ashes of Melbourne band New Season is Jarrod "Lost Animal" Quarrell's latest project St Helens. Its a less scuzzy affair this time round, with more lean-and-mean swagger and grit for your buck. Royal Trux comparisons abound, and the lineup is refered to in some circles as a 'supergroup'. Joining Jarred is Ian Wadley (Minimum Chips, Bird Blobs), Lewis Boyes (Alpha Males), skinsman Damian Clarkson (Sun of Clark) and sharing vocal duties is Hannah Brooks from Spider Vomit.

St Helens are doing the Wednesday night residency in October at The Birmingham in Fitzroy. The recently refurbed venue is hosting some great shows, and coupled with Ya Ya's down the road it seems Smith Street is cementing its dirty reputation as the go-to zone for compelling live music and heavy late-night boozin' in Melbourne.

Check out some of St Helen's rough mixes on myspace from the forthcoming album, out next year through Remote Control's Dot Dash label.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

ATP Mt Buller Australia - Lineup

The first lineup announcement and details are in for All Tomorrow's Parties in Australia. Here's the guff for the Mt Buller event:

In Victoria, All Tomorrow's Parties is to be held over two days - January 9th & 10th - in the remote yet easily accessible location of Mt. Buller Ski Resort, some 3 hours drive from Melbourne City. Punters will have the option to either stay on the mountain in a selection of ski-chalets, lodges or hotels, or down the mountain in nearby Mansfield. Both on-site and off-site fans alike will have the opportunity to enjoy all that Buller offers: a fully serviced township complete with bars, cafes, restaurants, walking trails, bike trails, ski-lifts and a gymnasium plus ATP's trademark rock 'n' roll trivia, cinema and 30+ bands performing over 3 stages.

The Lineup for Mt. Buller so far includes:

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
The Saints
Robert Forster
Fuck Buttons
James Blood Ulmer
Laughing Clowns
M Gira
Primitive Calculators
Rowland S. Howard
Silver Apples
The Necks
The Stabs

First release tickets for All Tomorrow's Parties, Mt.Buller will be sold as an accommodation/ticket package and are exclusive to those wanting to stay on the mountain. These tickets will guarantee acommodation for each ticket holder and are onsale immediately from only. Tickets ar AU$199 plus booking fee and DO NOT include cost of accomodation.

I'm thinking that the one day Sydney event might be better value and it could be more fun to spend a weekend in the Harbour City.

Blitzen Trapper

Amazing new album, Furr, out now. Got it yesterday. It rules. Check out more work on flickr from the guy who designed the cover art... *update* as per comment below the artwork was designed by one of the band members and the rad laser etching was done by Kurt.

New Zealand Robot Band

For real. Literally a garage band made from stuff in the garage. The Trons on myspace.