Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Brotherly UN-Love

Firstly the good news, FasterLouder
published my review of Jenny Lewis' Acid Tongue, which i nearly included in last week's post, so i didn't double up. Check it out here Now the bad news....

Oh how my last post now seems very ironic (my own publisher).

For those of you who are regular readers, you may have noticed that my 'Brothers in Bands' playlist and post has disappeared. This was not I, oh no.
It seems, like many modern bloggers, i've been hit with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), which basically means artists and record companies have the right to challenge ISPs (like Blogger which this site belongs to) with 'takedown' notices - which gives the ISP a loophole to take down the infringing post before any legal action is needed.

Now i don't mind that artists don't want their music sampled, i TOTALLY understand this, which is why i have clearly stated in my bio (up in the top- right there) a little notice saying 'hey, if you don't like it, let me know and i'll get rid of it'. Simple.

The problem being that i got an e-mail about one of these 'takedowns' saying that the infringing post had been removed ALONG WITH THE GODDAMN DRAFT. So all my hours (I'm waging 4 or 5) of hard work are gone.
The post contained 22 links to songs, and i have no idea and no indication as to which is the upset party, but it doesn't matter - i can't repost with the offending links removed because the draft has been obliterated. In other words, they've infringed my writing in return by deleting it.

Not fair and very, very annoying.

So i'm going to just put up the playlist - sans links - so there is some semblance of my efforts, but it's simply not the same now is it? There's some controversy surrounding the use of the DMCA and how it relates to budding music writers like me, to find out more head to Who The Bloody Hell Are They? a great Aussie music post who had a similar experience.

Brothers In Bands Playlist (The Censored Version)
Here's the list without the original imagery and witty commentary
  1. Allman: Allman Brothers Band - Melissa
  2. Cester: Jet - Rollover DJ
  3. Curtis: Secret Machines - Sad And Lonely
  4. Everly: The Everly Brothers - All I Have To Do Is Dream
  5. Finn: Split Enz - Message To My Girl
  6. Finn: Crowded House - Weather With You
  7. Followill: Kings Of Leon - Only By The Night
  8. Gallagher: Oasis - The Masterplan
  9. Gibb: The Bee Gees - Spicks & Specks
  10. Gower: Cog - Resonate
  11. Greenwood: Radiohead - Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
  12. Hanson: Hanson - MMM Bop
  13. Hartnoll: Orbital - Illuminate (feat. Step-Brother David Gray)
  14. Hawkins: The Darkness - One Way Ticket...
  15. Hume: Evermore - It's Too Late
  16. Jarman: The Cribs - I've Tried Everything
  17. Johnston: Biffy Clyro - Living's A Problem Because Everything Dies
  18. Kirkwood: Meat Puppets - Plateau
  19. Pope: The Get Up Kids - Holiday
  20. Reid: The Jesus & Mary Chain - Just Like Honey
  21. White: The Electric Soft Parade - If That's The Case, Then I Don't Know
  22. Wilson: The Beach Boys - God Only Knows
  23. Young: AC/DC - Rock 'N' Roll Train
Was i victim of my own design? should the DMCA be refurbished?
If you have any thoughts on the matter, please leave a comment.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Own Publisher

Well as i've mentioned, i previously signed on to FasterLouder and started writing album reviews straight away, but either for them being busy - taking a long time to process or my work not being good enough.... so i'll let you decide.

Here's some stuff i submitted thus far, brand spankingly fresh album reviews:

Cold War Kids – Loyalty To Loyalty

Loyalty To Loyalty’s accompanying making-of DVD, uniquely, contains interviews with the band members’ parents – who mostly surmise that the group’s debut was an experimental album to find their footing, and that in so many words that this, their second, is their ‘make or break’ album.

Why the pressure? Well Cold War Kids managed to storm the blogosphere with their idiosyncratic songs about, well, Robbers & Cowards (their debut album) which along with a captivating and energetic live show catapulted them into the limelight. That their second album should be a strengthening of their position as a leading indie band is as much a point of pride as it is of purpose.

The opening of Against Privacy addresses these issues with a kind of call-to-arms manifesto “forget ex-girlfriends/we want little governments/we tell stories/we want to get you to join in.” It’s an excellent microcosm of Cold War Kids’ original appeal, slightly political attitudes bolstered to music that’s at times experimental, sparse and surprisingly cathartic. At the same time however, it highlights some of the problems of Loyalty To Loyalty, beginning with the fact that they’ve forgotten to “tell stories” sometimes.

The narrative drive of their first album, exemplified by Passing The Hat, We Used To Vacation and Hospital Beds has only survived to album two in the form of Golden Gate Jumpers: a wistful look at suicide jumpers against a jaunty ragtime piano. This isn’t to say that the album should follow the same formulas of Robbers & Cowards, their sharp lyrical sense remains – even if it’s not always story driven. Such as on Dreams Old Men Dream’s informed ruminations, “thought I was laying in my garden with my hands deep in soil/but I was there on an island shooting flares at your boat/thought I was soothing like a violin confessing new rain/but I was piping like a trumpet frantic for fame.”

Musically however these anthemic aspirations don’t add up, while sometimes the sparse, rhythmic backdrops offer an intriguing juxtaposition, more often that not they leave a jarring disparity between the music and lyrics as they do on Every Man I Fall For. Still, abandon was a characteristic of their first album too, featuring Nathan Willett’s bluesy howl, the four piece’s style of unhinged indie rock always sounded like a band flirting with the edges of control, but here it seems at times as if they’ve tipped the scales. Cuts such as Avalanche In B and On The Night My Love Broke Through seem to favour avant-garde free form, in the style of Tom Waits, without the musical reward, that instantly kill any momentum tighter tracks, such as Something Is Not Right With Me or I’ve Seen Enough, have built up.

Perhaps it’s a case of quality control, while Loyalty To Loyalty is merely a track more than their debut, it seems to lose pace towards the middle and could’ve really benefited from a lean, effective set list if it had sacrificed it’s more indulgent moments.

Or perhaps it’s just a demonstration for the speed at which bands are forced to evolve in today’s industry, demonstrating as much ambition in two years’ break as older bands had to demonstrate in a decade.

Make no mistake though, when Cold War Kids still hit it, they really hit it, and they still sound quite unlike their contemporaries, but it seems that by putting so much pressure on themselves, conscious or not, they’ve lost sight of some of what made the group so special in the first place.

mp3: Against Privacy
Something Is Not Right With Me
I've Seen Enough

Augie March – Watch Me Disappear.

Following after their most direct and successful effort thus far, 2006’s Moo, You Bloody Choir, comes album number four Watch Me Disappear. Recorded at Neil Finn’s Roundhead studios, it finds the Melbourne five-piece shouldering their popular acceptance comfortably and defying expectations precisely by not rebelling against them. Delivering a taut eleven track set, compared to the average fifteen track forebears, of similarly polished songs.

Their creeping towards mainstream acceptance was a major coup considering Augie March’s most obvious characteristic: Glenn Richards’ old-world poetry. Which had sometimes been a barrier to enjoying their rich musical joys for most and while ‘retro’ is too fashionable a term to describe it, there is something decidedly nostalgic in his literary technique, this isn’t to say however, that Augie March are trapped in the past.

The Dylanesque beauty of One Crowded Hour found Richards lamenting the loss of potential love against a backdrop of “nonsense bars with their nowhere music” armed with his tools of poetic cadence. A brilliant damaged anthem, and a nation agreed as the song captured the top spot in Triple J’s Hottest 100.

This lyrical style hasn’t dwindled a jot, who else but Augie March could turn “Out of the mouth of a black dog/out of the terrors of 3 am/out of the dark and whispering fen/I was blind then I could see/now I’m blind again” into a upbeat sing-a-long as they do on lead single Pennywhistle?

Elsewhere the album carries an undercurrent of sorrow, apathy and even murder balladry but winningly cloaked in beautifully crafted songs and crisp production. Adam Donovan’s guitars and Kiernan Box’s keyboards add a lush layer to the sound, while Edmondo Ammendola and David Williams are the perfectly balanced rhythm section to the lush harmonies and rich arrangements at work.

Highlights include the cool ambience of Dogsday, a raucous bash called The Glenorchy Bunyip (how very Australian) and a spiritual successor to Bottle Baby, recorded by Richards in an apartment in Hobart, The Slant. The only misstep can be pinned on City Of Rescue’s failed attempt to wed a driving rhythm with reverberating textures and a garbled chorus, and even then it’s an interesting experiment none the less.

As the cathartic epic The Devil In Me closes the album, the lasting impression has to be Richards’ words, returning to the mind with the excellent accompanying melodies and phrasing in tow, as rewarding as they are challenging.

While we might question, ‘what are these songs about?’ it doesn’t really matter. Augie March speak more to the ability of a dense map of words, along with music, to dazzle and mystify. It’s not about unravelling what the rustic imagery is meant to convey, but about the beauty of the object. Like the album title might suggest, disappearing behind the majesty of the words. The irony of course, is that Watch Me Disappear will only push Augie March ever higher into the ranks of the great Australian bands.

mp3: Watch Me Disappear

Myspace Album Sampler

Reminds me of the good ol' days of AMR's beginnings a bit of cutting-edge indie with some homegrown rock. By the way if you're a regular reader of these humble posts, feel free to give us a shout via the comments - if you've got some suggestions for future posts or merely want to rag on me - please do.

Until we meet again...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fourteen days of music

Well it's been nearly more than a week without a post, which got me thinking...

For your enjoyment: another themed playlist.written in the style of diary entries that hopefully match the musical mood, now if you're a personal friend, don't freak out - this is purely fictional (or is it?).


The Bangles - Manic Monday
Uggggh back to Uni today, not really looking foward to getting up at 7am for the first time in two weeks.
The Rolling Stones - Ruby Tuesday
A nice sunny day today, it seems spring is forecasting the summer with high temperatures and erratic coldness.
Eskimo Joe - Ruby Wednesday (Video)
Do some writing on the blog only to use a song, typically an Aussie band, that is IMPOSSIBLE to find an mp3 link for. Have to settle for crappy YouTube vid instead.

David Bowie - Thursday's Child
Another day at work, unusually quiet, feeling slightly melancholy but looking forward to the weekend.
The Darkness - Friday Night
Oh boy, time to rock, but so many options in my budding, narcissistic social life.
De La Soul - A Roller Skating Jam Named: Saturdays
Who doesn't love the weekend, should i play it cool with some close friends or try a night out on the town?
Bloc Party - Sunday
Hangoverville, population: me. Still, with a whole day to recover, things aren't all that bad (or maybe that's the post-weekend euphoria?)
New Order - Blue Monday
Uggggh, how come this dreadful day comes around so quickly? That weekend euphoria has been replaced with depressed, angry blues.
Counting Crows - On A Tuesday In Amsterdam Long Ago (Video)
So many things to do in order to grow up, feeling nostalgic again. Well the day is only as long as it feels.
Tori Amos - Wednesday
It takes good friends to make you realise that a lot of the time you're just caught up in your own thoughts, and really your troubles aren't that huge, perspective is humbling.
The Chameleons - Thursday's Child
Ahhh the creative juices are flowing again, another productive rehearsal, and the weekend around the corner.
The Cure - Friday, I'm In Love
Going shopping today, there's nothing better than listening to a great song in the car, driving down the freeway, with the windows down. Presents for that special someone.
The Blue Nile - Saturday Night
Occasionally life can catch you off guard, particularly when you though what was going to be a boring party turns out to be an awesome one. If only things were always these great.
Jimmy Eat World - On A Sunday
Not hungover, great, a spare day to make use of. I can either choose to waste it relaxing, or really get productive - ah the power. And so the cycle begins soon again.

There we have it, now okay, i know what you're thinking - in doing songs about days of the week I've missed out some obvious choices. Who knows, maybe I'll have time to cover the rest in the near future?

On a seperate note - i recently got accepted as a contributor to all things music website Faster,, so hopefully you'll start seeing some of my reviews and such up on there.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Past, Present and Future tense

Decided to give you all a bit of a history lesson through the use of a chronological listing of excellent tunes.

1492 - Counting Crows
  • A leap year
  • Christopher Columbus arrives in America
  • Adam Duritz writes song that opens Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings

1921 - The Who
  • Warren G. Harding is inaugrated as the 29th president of the USA.
  • The death penalty is abolished in Sweden
  • The united states officially declares the end of World War I
  • A composition from The Who's rock opera Tommy
1945 - Social Distortion
  • The beginning of the 'information age'
  • World War II ends but not before...
  • The atom bomb is dropped on Hiroshima
  • Social Distortion song about the same event

1963 - New Order
  • The Beatles release their debut album Please, Please Me
  • The Roman Catholic church accepts cremation as a funeral practice
  • JFK is assassinated
  • A track in which Bernard Sumner warns 'Jonny' about various weapons
1969 - Iggy Pop & The Stooges
  • Man lands on the moon
  • Woodstock is held in upstate New York
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus debuts on British television
  • Iggy Pop gets all 'rood' sentimental with the stooges

1972 - Josh Rouse
  • The Olympic Games are held in Munich, Germany
  • Gough Whitlam becomes Prime Minister
  • ATARI is established by Nolan Bushell
  • Singer-songwriter Josh Rouse is born and dedicates an album (and song) to his birthdate
1979 - Smashing Pumpkins
  • Jazz legend Charles Mingus dies
  • China registers 1 billion people as its population
  • The first British nudist beach opens
  • Billy Corgan penned look at nostalgia and teenage freedom
1980 - Estelle
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is released
  • Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes fame is born
  • CNN is officially launched
  • UK R&B starlet's song about her youth
1984 - David Bowie
Advanced Australia Fair becomes the new national anthem
Band Aid release the song Do They Know It's Christmas?
The year in which your humble writer was born
David Bowie's track inspired by the George Orwell book of the same name

1991 - Crystal Castles
  • Nirvana release classic album Nevermind
  • Start of the Gulf War
  • Collapse of the Soviet Union
  • fuzzy 8-bit electronica from hip duo Crystal Castles
1999 - Prince
  • Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese Zodiac
  • the debut of Napster
  • The millenium dome opens in London
  • The purple one's dizzying funk about the end of the world
2080 - Yeasayer
  • Beginning of the fourth world war
  • Google controls 70% of the Intergalactic Earth Colony's revenue
  • Albert Einstein is cloned for the second time
  • Yeasayer's whistful anthem about the vagaries of time
My we've come a long way haven't we?