Tuesday, February 8, 2011


So the immortal chorus from one David Bowie should make things clear, there's gonna be a few tweaks and differences around here. Since Al's Music Rant is the production of just the one man, the titular Al, time is not always of the essence when it comes to consistent and lively blog posting.
While I've always tried my very best to present articles, reviews, lists and the like with the most passionate, informative and entertaining content possible - it often leads to just one big article a month with lots of dead air between. The simple result, and solution, is the introduciton of two shimmering new regular segments to the Al's Music Rant armoury. The intention is to not skimp on the quality of the bigger posts that you've all come to know and love, they'll still be happening. Hopefully though, these new segments will mean I can deliver more consistent, contemporary and relevant content.

Q: The bottom line?
A: More Ranty goodness in yr internetz. Capiche?

'So what are these new segments?' I hear you say quizzically, but with arched brow. Well, dear music lover, the first new segment is a news section. Which does exactly what it says on the tin, it's a music news report. Now I know that there are more resourceful, bigger and better news sites out there - but the aim is just to provide a music news round-up. Just to keep you informed of the more interesting goings on. Or maybe just some links to interesting things that have caught my ears and eyes around the web.
That, and who can resist a Beatles reference.
It'll go a little something like this:

I Heard The News Today, Oh Boy 
News. Cool. Facts. Information. 'But what is the second brand new section?' I hear you croon. Well, it's a similar round-up, only this time it's a quick look at what Al's Music Rant has been digging latley, what's been tickling the ear drums so to speak. It won't amount to fully-fledged album reviews, but quicker sketches or portraits of some great music. hink of it as a virtual flick through the large stack of CDs that inevitably pile up next to my listening station (re: computer). Please ignore the horrible title, more on that later but it'll be a little something like this:

What I Have Been Listening To Lately

Ghoul - Dunks
The second EP/mini-album from Sydney four-piece Ghoul is the very picture of fresh, exciting music. Triple J's Dom Alessio already nailed it when he called it "like Antony Hegarty meets Radiohead." Particularly on a track like Dreambeat which channels Hail To The Theif-era. Then there's the dark dub atmosphere of 3Mark. Elsewhere The Slip balances experimentalism and engagement with its captivating refrain of "after an honest break". It's all so well-constructed too. Cannot wait to here more from this bunch.

Alpine - Zürich EP
The Melbourne-based group clearly have a fascination with Switzerland, but since the band changed their name from Swiss, they've been scaling even greater heights (see what I did there?). The six-piece, led by twin chanteuses Lou and Phoebe, have delivered a collection of five incredibly well-honed songs. Mining atmosphere and chilling pop economy as much as their savvy production and guitar arrangements. If they can come up with equally dashing material for an entire album, they'll be laughing.

British Sea Power - Valhalla Dancehall
One of those bands I've always intended to check out, but didn't get around to doing so. Partially due to inexplicably confusing them with Ocean Colour Scene (don't ask...), but their latest album piked my interest proper. Not least due to that evocative title, the resultant contents of which - much like its namesake - is a record of contrasts. For the most part it's a straight-up rock record, with an eye to stadium-filling boasters in the 'Alternative' vein. In other areas though it's a full-blown Pulp revival, particualrly on Luna and Living Is So Easy which feature a similar Jarvis Cocker-esque delivery. Between them is nestled the lilting, atmospheric Baby and penultimate track Once More Now is eleven plus minutes of wafting loveliness.

James Blake - James Blake
Although he's been associated with an electronica and dubstep background, what drew me to Blake was that his weightless, auto-tuned voice - crystalline and haunting over warbled bass and fragmented keys - is that it took the template of Bon Iver's Woods and ran with it. His debut album is filled with equally mantric repetition, it's spare minimalism is addictive in a strange way. Tracks like Unluck, Wilhelms Scream and soulful Limit To Your Love build and sway with a cathartic hypnosis rare of someone so young. Trust me, you're going to be hearing a lot more of James Blake in 2011.

The Hidden Venture - Live At St. Andrews
"Inspired in equal parts by the stoner riffs of Californian desert rock, the guitar wizardry of Hendrix and also every soul singer who had a story to tell" so goes the Bio for the local four-piece. Emerging from the dissolution of the genre-bending A Planet In Space (previously featured on the rant), they've emerged into a much leaner, tougher beast. Channeling Faith No More's lothario-rock on Certified Diamond and Josh Homme histrionics on Worlds Collide. This live EP is available for free from their website for the meagre price of an email, it's such an energetic set you can almost feel the sweat splashing about as the group lash their instruments into submission.

so there you have it "Things I've Been Listening To Lately" a rather crap title wouldn't you agree? And not one I'm going to stick with, which brings me to my final and most exciting point. For the first time ever on this humble blog we have....

You read that right, but first, what you could win. Well aside from the bragging rights of having a section on this very blog named for your talents and wit, I have two of 2010's best Australian EPs up for grabs. Namely, Big Scary's excellent At The Mercy Of The Elements (which you can read up a bit on here) and  The Jezabels' Dark Storm (winner of the coveted Best EP award as part of the 2010 The Good, The Bad & The James Blunt).
To the victors, the spoils
All you have to do to win this wonderful prize is come up with a title for my new segment. That's right just think of a better title than "What I Have Been Listening To Lately" and the accolades as well as those CDs above are all yours. Ideally, the title should be a musical reference, maybe a song title or lyric - get creative! 
All entries must be emailed to me at alister.newstead@gmail.com. All entries close on Sunday 20th Feb. Please include your name, mailing address and of course, your awesome suggestion. Tell your family, tell your friends, this is an honest-to-goodness comp.


  1. Hey Al, if you like James Blake (who I think is a bit dull) then you'll like another UK band called Nedry. Their album is called Condors. Do check it out... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5enXiqCUFKU&feature=related

  2. and if you like Nedry's condors... grab it on vinyl at Thornbury Records :) Thanks for the shout out!

  3. Haha! How's that for cross promotion. I love it!

  4. cool, thanks for the recommendation ms. lucyfoxx. Bit of a heavy Björk vibe in there too, what with her phrasing and articultion and what not. No bad thing by any means.
    And no probs for the shout out Thornbury records - digging the dinosaur launch posters about town. Anyone who splays T. Rexes about the place is a friend of me and my blog