Monday, 25 May 2009


Former Wilco member Jay Bennett (above, second from right) died in his sleep overnight at the age of 45. Details are trickling in slowly but Pitchfork have more. Jay was with the band from 1994 to 2001 as a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, and was fired after a falling out during the making of their Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album. According to reports earlier this month Bennett had been suing Wilco for money owed from his work with the band. He also released several of his own albums after leaving Wilco. His Jay Bennett myspace page mentions his recent hip replacement and has links to his recently released album, but of course no mention yet of his death. RIP Jay.

In Jay's honour I've been listening to Summerteeth as I write this, which I reckon is the high-water mark of Wilco's Jay-era records. But I started the day listening to the new Wilco album. Yes I know, its not out until late June or early July, but I know people, OK!? I have contacts in the right places... ahem... Anyway, its called, somewhat cheekily Wilco (The Album) and the opening cut is "Wilco (The Song)". Jeff even sings the word "Wilco" in the chorus... weird. The rest of the tracks, on first listen, don't quite stack up against the set on Sky Blue Sky which has quickly become one of my favourite Wilco records. A lot of people just didn't dig it, but songs like "Impossible Germany" and "On and On and On" are as good as anything else they've ever done. So anyway, the new album doesn't quite soar as high, but is still a well crafted collection of intelligent adult-pop tunes.

I've also got my winter mittens on Ashes of American Flags, their new tour/live movie. Check the trailer:

And guess what!? You can also get a Wilco iPhone app! I'm going to download it now...

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Mum Smokes

I'm spending my Sunday with the incredible new double album from Melbourne indie quartet Mum Smokes. Easy/House Music is as close to perfect as anything else released this year, overflowing with brainy-pop and smooth jazzy-indie. Artist Mark Rodda also created the cover art and the band is Jonathan Michell from The Ancients, Karl Scullin of KES, Julian Patterson of Minimum Chips and Justin Fuller of ZOND are Mum Smokes and they launch their double CD in Melbourne on June 26 at The John Curtin Bandroom in Carlton with supports Fabulous Diamonds & White Woods. More dates and tunes on their myspace page and they release through Sensory Projects. Check out their video below which was also created by Mark Rodda.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Dark Night of the Soul

NPR are streaming tracks from the awesome"Dark Night of the Soul" collaboration between Sparklehorse and Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley and creator of the Grey Album). You can listen to the collaborations with Iggy Pop, Jason Lytle, James Mercer and DAVID LYNCH!!!! from NPR 'Exclusive First Listen'. The Guardian, among others, reports that the album was leaked to file sharing websites and has since been held up by Danger Mouse's label EMI so he plans to sell an accompanying book with a blank CD-R (so you can download illegally and burn to a physical format i presume)...

Unable to purchase the music, fans are encouraged to buy the project's accompanying book, with photographs by filmmaker David Lynch, which comes with a blank recordable CD-R. "All [CD-Rs] will be clearly labelled: 'For Legal Reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Link

Link to official site for Dark Night of the Soul.

Monday, 18 May 2009

The Wooden Birds

Fans of classic mellow Texan band American Analog Set can rejoice with a new project from lead chap Andrew Kenny. The Wooden Birds picks up where the sadly departed 'amanset' left off - familiar understated, slow-moving indie-pop for the lost in love - but with fresh new-folk muscle under AK's gentle boyish croon. I'm loving their album Magnolia and its really worth owning. Like really worth it. Listen on myspace or buy it straight from their label Barsuk.

Oh, and thanks to Leigh Tran for the tipoff. She knows I'm an American Analog Set tragic. And her radio program Tape Relay on 2SER in Sydney is amazing.

Grizzly Bear

It is no secret Grizzly Bear have a new album. But following up a slow burning treasure like Yellow House was always going to be a difficult task. Have the Brooklyn outfit succeeded? So far I'm not sure, but my guts say... maybe not. After 2-3 listens I am in love with its warm romantic swooning and chiming energy. It is just as mystical and evocative. I can't get beneath the lyrics yet, but then they usually sink in late for me anyway. And 'Tha Grizzlz' are about texture and tone, aren't they?

But the new album "Veckatimest" doesn't soar, on initial listens, quite as high... or beat with the same vigor as Yellow House. I'm hoping (and I'm sure) it will dig in under my skin soon and I can then stop being so passive aggressive. Its certainly one of the better releases of 2009 so far. Inertia are carrying "Veckatimest" (on Warp Records) in Australia. It is named after an island and comes out on the 23rd of May. Tunes and dates on Grizzly Bear's myspace page, and below is a performance of new track Two Weeks from the BBC's Later... with Jools Holland.

Dick Diver

I saw this band, Dick Diver, play a few weeks ago at the Curtin Bandroom in Carlton. The bassplayer danced around and wore a wifebeater and a cowboy hat. Steph, who shares Home and Hosed presenting duties on Triple J is their drummer. She used to drum for Screamfeeder and Children Collide. The two young dudes out front share vocals and trade slippery guitar lines. They are pretty much fantastic.

They describe their sound as Tropical German-Pop Soul. Are they being funny for their myspace page? No. Its true. I can imagine them playing behind the wall, with nice trousers and boatshoes, near a wading pool, with an ice-cream van nearby, and sunscreen on, in 1965, supporting The Beatles but kicking their ass. To be fair they actually owe a debt to The Go-Betweens from Brisbane and their peers more than anything. There's also little bits of Pavement and Crow in the mix too.

They are finishing a recording so the best I can offer you to hear is the ace music on Dick Diver's myspace and try to see them when they play with The Middle East and Grand Salvo at the Northcote Social Club on June 13th.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

High Highs

I'm going to Sydney next week for work, and then a weekend of play. One of the things we're doing is heading to the bi-annual Finders Keepers Market which is on Friday May 15th and Saturday May 16th at the Carriage Works. Playing on Saturday at around 6pm is a duo called High Highs. I've fallen for the gentle, otherworldly acoustic folk/pop tunes on their myspace page. They even try their hand at a cover of Dan Auerbach's "Trouble Weighs a Ton". There's no official release or label or any more details but the full list of artists appearing at the markets is here.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Custom Axes for The Beatles: Rock Band

Engadget posted these photos above of the custom guitars available for The Beatles: Rock Band game which is coming out this year. At a retail price of US$99 the Gretsch above is only $10 cheaper than the equivalent REAL guitar purchased by George Harrison in 1961. Which would you prefer? I had been thinking of getting a REAL Gretsch (yes, i can actually PLAY) but am having second thoughts now that it is associated with a GAME. Am i over-reacting, being over sensitive? Hmm.

Monday, 4 May 2009


Thanks to Zan at Triple J for the tipoff with the video below from Newcaste group Firekites:

Firekites AUTUMN STORY - chalk animation from Yanni Kronenberg on Vimeo.

Firekites full length debut album, The Bowery, is worth owning too and makes for perfect rainy Sunday listening.