Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review: V/A - Rock Of Ages Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

This review was originally syndicated with Tone Deaf, and reproduced here in its entirety. 
Various Artists - Rock of Ages Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Sony Music, 2012)

Guitar Hero 
and Glee have a lot to answer for, but perhaps we can start the inquiry with their bastard child – namely, the Rock Of Ages soundtrack.

Whether simulating a rock star with a plastic instrument in the comfort of your loungeroom, or selling a message that ‘anyone can be a pop singer’ - from the wheelchair-bound geek to the clean-cut preppy  - both forms of entertainment are essentially about mimicry. Like them, this soundtrack of the movie adaptation of the 80s MTV Generation musical is too.

The effect however, isn’t as heroic or cheesily rewarding when the people performing the same glorified karaoke are some of Hollywood’s biggest and richest stars.

Enter Tom Cruise…. Sorry, “Stacee Jaxxx”… singing Guns N Roses gold standard, “Paradise City”, the track that opens the compilation is pretty much a microcosm for the whole shameless experiment.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

"My hideous little baby" Interview: Jonathan Boulet

This interview was originally conducted for, and published by Tone Deaf. Reproduced in its entirety here because I can...
Upon release of his self-titled debut three years ago, Jonathan Boulet quickly found himself labelled as Sydney’s ‘skate rat’. Albeit an internationally recognised one, thanks to the street cred of hip label, Modular, but a ‘skate-rat’ nonetheless.

With his second release however, Boulet is ready to outgrow those previously constricting tags, starting with his new album’s tongue-garbling title. We Keep The Beat, Found The Sound, See The Need, Start The Heart is one of the lengthier titles in recent memory, it’s sing-song name bound to appear alongside Fiona Apple’s When The Pawn Hits The Conflicts He Thinks Like A King… (we’ll spare you the full title) in future music lists.

Monday, June 11, 2012

'have fun, find a girl' Interview: Devin

This interview was originally conducted for, and published by Tone Deaf. It is reproduced here in its entirety.
From the moment Devin’s debut album, Romancing, bursts to life with the brash garage rock and raucous riffs of ‘Masochist,’ the New Yorker sounds every bit the passionate upstart rocker he looks on the front cover.

A monochromatic photo of the bequiffed singer/guitarist slouched against a stairwell, dressed in  a tweed jacket and snappy open-breast shirt, his model-handsome face pulling his best vacant stare; it’s a look that, like its aural contents, is at once a balance of retro-chic and modern style.

Romancing’s twelve tracks are straight-up, no-nonsense rock n’ roll inspired by the classics. With his nasal twang that hovers somewhere between the sneer of a young Mick Jagger and the raw clarity of early Iggy Pop, Devin barrels through punk-infused chunks of Stooges-powered guitar delivered with a dash of Strokes-worthy cool.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Review: Storm Corrosion - Storm Corrosion

Storm Corrosion - Storm Corrosion (Roadrunner Records, 2012)
To say that Storm Corrosion was highly anticipated by the musical community for which it was intended, is a bit like saying the internet only mildly revolutionised modern technology. 

Steven Wilson
and Mikael Åkerfeldt are two men whose names have not only become synonyms for the most revered kind of distinctive, creative art in their field (progressive rock and metal music for those playing at home); but also two names that had been paired together in fevered anticipation ever since Wilson produced Opeth’s Blackwater Park in 2001.

Even with full disclosure from the pair that their much sough-after collaboration would deliberately fly in the face of the prog-metal supergroup tag they'd been saddled with; the results of their creative partnership are still a surprising listen.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Prince - The Official Thank You Australia Afterparty

So, the big question for everyone who missed out on the Prince afterparty is: what happened? What did the lucky 700+ in attendance get that couldn’t have been attained in your garden variety arena spectacular?
Did those who went in search of the big purple whale last night land a big catch?

Well, let’s put it this way. We got “Gett Off”, “Alphabet St.”, Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough” and, of course, “Kiss” – performed live you ask?

Oh dear, you better take a seat, it’s going to be a long night…

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: Shady Lane - Built Guilt

Another album review for Tone Deaf, reproduced here in its entirety

Shady Lane - Built Guilt (Rice Is Nice, 2012)
Shady Lane is the musical brainchild of Jordy Lane… at least it was. 
Built Guilt, finds the Sydney-sider expanding his solo moniker into a fully-fledged band, with the addition of Pete Avard (drums), Sarah Jullienne (synth) and most notably, Conrad Richters on bass; on loan from label-mates Richard In Your Mind.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

"like going to get a haircut but the hairdresser’s really rough.” Interview: The Chemist

This interview was originally published online over at Tone Deaf, and reproduced here in its entirety
With two eclectic EPs already under their belt, The Chemist are getting ready to take the plunge and release their debut album. With attention already building with the release of The Wolves Howls Shatter The Old Glass Moon and last year’s Lullabies, the quartet are also gaining buzz from their hometown of Perth with their strong live show.

Having supported the likes of Boy & Bear and fellow Perth natives Birds of Tokyo and Sugar Army, they’re set to continue to defy both expectations and genres as they embark on their second national headline tour, their first chance to showcase their new material.

The group’s press release features an eccentric description from frontman Ben Witt on the new recordings, “we blended electricity with the insides of a badly beaten blues & folk rock piñata to make a milkshake that is not dissimilar to cement or hair wax. You may not like it, but your dog will fucking love it.”

Friday, May 25, 2012

PVT - Live @ Phoenix Public House, May 24

For their first Melbourne show since last year’s Laneway Festival, electro-experimental trio PVT showcased material from their forthcoming album in an intimate setting; which also afforded the Sydney-siders a warm-up before taking to the grander environs of their hometown Opera House in a series of appearances at the VIVID Festival.

Offering a rare opportunity to hear the bulk of their new record, it also marked one of the last gigs to be held at Phoenix Public House before the Brunswick venue is tragically forced to close its doors.

With a rough but intriguing set from support act Forces done, and with a set of new toys gleaming under stagelights, brothers Richard and Laurence Pike and electronics-wrangler Dave Miller took to the stage to roaring applause.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"Things that aren’t complicated" Interview: Bahamas

This interview was originally conducted for, and published by Tone Deaf. It is reproduced here in its entirety.

Chances are you’ve heard Afie Jurvanen and you don’t even know it.

Though best known under his tropical non de plume Bahamas, Jurvanen is actually a musical stalwart of his native Toronto, having played with an impressive list of Canadian musicians that includes fellow troubadours Jason Collett and Kathleen Edwards. He was also a key part of Feist’s touring ensemble for the better part of three years.

“I know when you list off all the names like that it seems like I’m a hotshot, session guitar player but, the reality is, Toronto does have a relatively small and tight music community,” explains Jurvanen humbly.

Speaking down the line from a non-descript hotel during a day-long promo stint, he speaks with eloquence and humility, “I’m in a nice room, people are bringing me glasses of water, I’m sitting on a leather couch… I feel like Elton John!”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: The Temper Trap - The Temper Trap

This album review was originally published over at Tone Deaf, reproduced here in its entirety.

The Temper Trap - The Temper Trap (Liberation, 2012)

The Temper Trap's self-titled sophomore begins with a slow start and takes even longer to gain traction. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Review: Alt-J - An Awesome Wave

Following on from their entry in 'Introducing...', here's the Tone Deaf published album review of the artsy debut for UK purveyors of self-described ‘folk-step.’ 

Alt-J - An Awesome Wave (PIAS/Infectious, 2012)
If all you did was read about Leeds outfit Alt-J, you’d be forgiven for thinking they had long disappeared at the wrong end of pretentiousness. 

After all, their band-name is technically an unpronounceable symbol (∆), with a history involving hallucinogens, Fine Arts degrees and members named Gwilym. 

Work past the high-brow conceits (and their extraordinary origami packaging) however, and you’ll discover an act that isn’t too smart for their own good.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mutemath - Live @ The Corner, May 15

You can read an edit of the following review over at Tone Deaf, but for the purists (and in the spirit of Mutemath's extended live show) the following is a slightly longer version. Enjoy.

As the lights dimmed on a sold-out crowd, packed to the rafters for Mutemath’s virgin performance to not only Melbourne, but Australia; necks craned between the shoulder-to-shoulder masses to get a peep of the band emerging on stage.

Instead, they marched in from the back corner of the venue, where The Cairos had just finished their rocking support slot, under a parade of fairy lights and clattering percussion.

A special entrance that signposted the magic to come.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Prince - Live @ Rod Laver Arena, May 14

This review was originally written for the blog, but it's also been syndicated over at Tone Deaf. Check it out.

“Here we are folks/the dream we all dream of”

He may not have performed ‘U Got The Look’, but Prince’s 1987 sing-off with Sheena Easton best captures the euphoric mood for the 12,000 strong in attendance at the first of the Purple One’s two Melbourne dates. Whatever ‘the look’ is, Prince has still got it. In spades.

Through his own iconic myth-making, and as arguably the last great pop star of the ‘old skool,’ his stadium shows have taken on the status of grand-standing event. Not least in a city that’s been starved of his presence for some time.

Or as Prince kept goading coquettishly throughout his set, “How long has it been Melbourne?”

Eight years actually Mr.  P. Rogers Nelson, but who’s counting?

Whether planted in the cheap seats, or had put a small mortgage to be amongst the club-style tables that girt the stage  - Prince certainly gave good value in a two-and-a-half hour set that cherry-picked some twenty plus selections from his three-decade long catalogue.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Review: Beach House - Bloom

This album review was originally written for Beat magazine, and published in print and online, where it was featured as 'Album of the Week.' It is reproduced here in its entirety

Beach House - Bloom (Sub Pop, 2012)
There’s a brutally efficient way to summarise the Baltimore duo’s fourth LP, and while labelling it as Teen Dream 2 is perhaps not an unsurprising summary, it unfairly underlines a ‘if it ain’t broke’ mentality that betrays Beach House’s characteristically organic craftsmanship.

Naturally Bloom’s predecessor was the pair’s breakthrough album, critics and fans alike flocking to the most accessible evocation of their gently nostalgic dream pop yet, besotted by its beauty and brilliance. Fashioning a sequel that matches its slow-burn appeal, Bloom is more of a casual extension of Teen Dream’s successes than a daring artistic leap. But again, that takes nothing away from its haunting effect and unfussy vividness.

Introducing... Alt-J

Until 24 hours ago I wasn't even aware of Alt-J's existence, now, I'm convinced that the Leeds outfit's possess in their debut release, One Awesome Wave, one of this year's more interesting listens.

Packaged in an elaborate, origami-styled sleeve, their album grabbed my attention as soon as it arrived on my  desk. Emblazoned with photography contributed by a space program, and sleek minimalist liner notes, it telegraphed something interesting about the band even as it revealed little detail about them.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Review: Last Dinosaurs - In A Million Years

Last Dinosaurs - In A Million Years (Dew Process, 2012)
Much like Little Red and Hungry Kids of Hungary before them, Last Dinosaurs' debut confidently re-packages the hook-laden guitar pop of Phoenix and The Strokes for an Australian audience, relying heavily on slick production punch to compliment the group’s youthful enthusiasm.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Private Life - Live @ The Workers Club (Single Launch), May 11

How often can you say you get a CD with the price of entry? In an individual fabric pocket no less, handmade by the headline act's front woman

Exactly. But there was more to
Private Life's single launch than just a heartfelt trinket. Beginning with some solid support acts.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"We’re just acing what we do live" Interview: Mutemath

This interview was originally conducted for, and published by, Tone Deaf
The regional music festival Groovin’ The Moo has been growing steadily for over half-a-decade now, it’s line-up now swelling to regularly ensnare international acts. This year is no exception, bringing Mutemath to Australia for the first time. “This is it” chuffs Paul Meany, “this is our big excuse to come out,” the band’s keys man and de-facto leader, Meany is the face and soul-studded voice of the New Orleans fusion quartet. A band whose reputation is built on their exhilarating live show.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The A/V Room: May

It's been a while since the last edition of the A/V Room, and to be honest it's less to do with laziness and more to do with a lack of clips good enough to justify being collected together worthy in one post. Then, like karmic backlash, a whole spate of them arrive in one month! When it rains...

Lowlakes - Buffalo (Dir: Lacey Whelan)

Kicking us off is the latest from Melbourne-via-Alice Springs quartet Lowlakes. The recent AMR Introductees (yeah, that's a thing now) recently delivered not only a beautifully realised self-titled EP, but an excellent live show to launch it as well. Now, there's a clip to accompany EP highlight, 'Buffalo.' An animated fable that suits the song's mystique and haunting tone.
The moral of the tale? Don't throw apples.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Reviews: Mystery Jets - Radlands, Patrick Watson - Adventures In Your Own Backyard

The following album reviews originally appeared in print for triple j magazine's April Issue (no. 60), 
 Mystery Jets - Radlands (Rough Trade)
Radlands was recorded in Austin, TX and Mystery Jets want you to know it. From a song called 'Lonestar' (obviously) to the lilting blue-eyed country of 'Roses'; the sonic influence of Americana has rubbed off on their considerable knack for penning smart pop.
Broadening their approach and ambition, there’s choirs on 'Sister Everett', glam somp for 'Saviour' and the buzzing Britannia allusions of 'Greatest Hits'.
It may be their most inconsistent set to date, but it’s all the more interesting for it.
Mystery Jets - "Sister Everett" by forcefieldpr
Patrick Watson - Adventures In Your Own Backyard (Domino)
Little has progressed in the musical world of the Canadian singer/songwriter, but that’s no bad thing. Despite recording exclusively in his Montreal apartment, his third LP possesses his typically sweeping musical elegance.
His uniquely haunting falsetto populating intimate chamber hymnals (The Quiet Crowd) and lush arrangements alike (Lighthouse). There’s a cinematic quality too, from the Sufjan Stevens-meets-Ennio Morricone of the title track to the closing instrumental, 'Swimming Pools', sounding like a Donnie Darko migrant. In a word: beautifully evocative.
Patrick Watson - Into Giants by DominoRecordCo

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Introducing... Eliza Hull

Ms. Hull is ready for her proverbial close-up.

Though she's been toiling away at her craft for nearly three years now, the arrival of Eliza Hull's forthcoming EP
Dawn heralds her formal arrival on the music scene. First coming to my attention as a founding member of local music blog Large Noises, a music website that films original clips of local and international acts, Eliza Hull herself was later showcased on the site.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

"We didn't have to push anything really..." Interview: The Rubens

This interview was originally conducted for, and published by, Tone Deaf. It's reproduced here in its entirety.
‘It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll’ sang the legendary Bon Scott. Nobody, it seems, told The Rubens.

That or they’re harbouring the most well-kept shortcut to fever-pitch exposure in Australian music history. Their story is a PR man’s dream, the fabled rise of three brothers and their childhood friend raised in the isolated town of Menangle, NSW. They knock out a raw slice of bedroom soul which captures the attention and adulation of national youth radio, cue calls from internationally renowned producers, a label bidding frenzy and pending fame.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Big Scary - Live @ The Corner, April 24

Following a confidently rich set from the six-strong Mosman Adler, Big Scary’s other handpicked support act supplied his brand of synth-pop. The bespectacled man in question, Geoffrey O’Connor, along with his three piece band, settled for laconically swaying to the bona fide eighties vibe of his solo record Vanity Is Forever than excite the record. He may have sounded authentic, but seriously lacked in the energy stakes.

There was the familiar buzz of sawing synths, hopping basslines and even drum pads nicked straight from Phil Collins (or the intro to Art Attack). Whatever Leads Me To You mined a fine pulse in its New Order hooks, but soon succumbed to its cool affectation. Though the blue-light new wave of O’Connor’s album works well at home, on-stage, it translates as ‘music to pout by.’

A duet with his keyboardist skirting perilously close to a karaoke parody. Ironic or not, the sight of the two engaging in a mock embrace before standing mawkishly at front of stage was awkward. Overall, it was more Berlin’s Take My Breath Away than Depeche Mode’s Violator.

Though Melbourne duo Big Scary have graced the Corner’s hallowed stage countless times as a support act, tonight marks “the first time we’ve played last,” notes Tom Iansek, opening proceedings alone at the guitar with newly returned “studio beard,” his bronzed falsetto in fine form.

Rejuvenated from their American sojourn playing dates at SXSW, Canadian Music Week and their first international headline slot in New York; the pair of Iansek and Jo Syme (Melbourne’s Coolest Female DrummerTM) are nothing if not creatively restless. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review: Battles - Dross Glop

Another album review for Beat street press, originally available both in-print and also online. Reproduced here for the AMR'ers.
BattlesDross Glop (Inertia, 2012) 
The unique rumble of Brooklyn art-funk-fusion outfit Battles has always been begging to be remixed. Now, thanks to the sweeping success of their sophomore album, the un-spoonerised Gloss Drop, their music undergoes a full makeover. 

Review: Daniel Rossen - Silent Hour/Golden Mile

An album review for Beat magazine, originally published in-print and online. Reproduced here in its entirety
Daniel RossenSilent Hour/Golden Mile (Warp, 2012)
While the collective musical world awaits the follow-up to Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest with baited breath, their members have instead spent the downtime working on various other projects. The latest of which is this tidy little EP from guitarist/vocalist Daniel Rossen. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Al's Music Rant @ Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2012

So you may have noticed the drop in activity around here lately, that's for one very simple reason. It's Comedy Festival time, and once again, your titular host is taking to the stage to transform this seriously-minded critical music blog, into a hilarious hour of musical-based hilarity by borrowing the same name.

The result is Al's Music Rant: The Difficult 2nd Album and for those of you who follow this humble writer's extra-curricular activities, a lot of this wash might seem redundant. But as it stands, I'm heading into the second (and final) week of the show, and figure my faithful blog readers shouldn't miss out on the action. The key thing is, if you haven't already, 
you should pick a date, book some tix for the show and come on down and have a good old laugh. 

The remaining dates are:

Tues April 17th - Sun April 22nd. 
(No Mondays. 5.15pm Sundays)

6.15pm The Evatt Room, Trades Hall
Corner of Lygon St & Victoria St

Tickets available through: 
 or Ticketmaster online | Ph: 1300 660 013

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"We think of it as music trivia" Interview: Yacht Club DJs

This interview was originally conducted for, and published by Beat street press as well as online here. The following is the unedited 'direcor's cut' of the article.
Has it really been a full twelve months since we’ve heard or seen from Yacht Club DJs, Australia’s leading purveyors of mash-ups par excellence? Having spent nearly three solid years touring Australia, in both regional headline tours as well as a regular fixture of major festivals like Big Day Out, Splendour In The Grass, Parklife and Falls, the partners in crime – Gareth ‘Gaz’ Harrison and Guy Chapell-Lawrence – decided to take some time off from the party-crazed, vodka-swilling, sweaty madness they call their live show. “We were a little burnt out and were a bit sick of the sight of each other,” laughs Gaz, suitably suffering from a hangover. Speaking down the line he recalls, “we were just tired I think, we were acting up a bit because we were cranky kids, being naughty doing all the things we shouldn't do.”

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Review: Grimes - Visions, My Best Fiend - In Ghostlike Fading

The following album reviews originally appeared in print for triple j magazine's March Issue (no. 59), they are reproduced here in their entirety. Featuring previous 'Introducing...' inductee Grimes and Brooklyn's My Best Fiend.
Grimes - Visions (Inertia/4AD)
After two records that mix the unexplored with the atmospheric, performance artist/DIY muso Claire Boucher emerges from Montreal’s underground with her first release for 4AD. As informed by Enya as by Aphex Twin, the bizarre futurism of Oblivion and Vowels=space and time finds crystalline vocals gliding over a beatific underbelly, while the ninety seconds of Eight contains an album’s worth of ideas. Visions possesses more stimulating sounds than songs, but it’s bound to inspire cult fandom – if not hailed a sleeper hit
Grimes - Genesis

My Best Fiend - In Ghostlike Fading (Warp/Inertia)
The cloud-bursting sleeve and atmospheric title merely hint at what the contents confirms, a Brooklyn band revelling in a pre-MGMT mode of bluesy psychedelia. Cracking Eggs and the swooning Jesus Christ follow the blueprint laid out by Spiritualized’s narcotic excursions; slow-mo tempos and see-sawing chords that swell into crashing, gospel-abetted, seven-minute grandiosity. Their aloof simmer, and vocalist Fred Coldwell’s twang, can occasionally drive to distraction, but at their best – such as on the spacey Pink Floyd lilt of ODVIP – they’re a folkadelic trip.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Gareth Liddiard - Live @ The Regal Ballroom Northcote, Mar 23

This review was originally written for ToneDeaf, and was published on-line here. The following is reproduced in unedited format. 
After a thrilling set from Lost Animal, playing material from Ex-Tropical with calculated aloofness. The Drones frontman himself graces the stage for one of his rare acoustic performances.

For one typified by the knotted blues rock and brutal accounts of grizzly Australian history of his day job, the haughty trimmings of Northcotes’ Regal Ballroom seem a little out of character. The ticket price including optional dinner, the hall splayed with dining tables and silverware, with ornate chandeliers draped overhead. However Liddiard, flanked by gothic candelabras, commands the space. A tall, cavernous roof allowing him ample room to roar his hardest and strum his fiercest.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review: The Ocean Party - The Sun Rolled Off The Hills

A Beat magazine review, originally published in-print and on-line. Reproduced here in its entirety
The Ocean Party - The Sun Rolled Off The Hills (Independent, 2012)
It’s not every band that can put support for both the mannered indie of Oh Mercy as well as maverick lothario Dave Graney on their CV, or for that matter, get the seal of approval from the latter.

The Ocean Party
, five lads originally from Wagga Wagga now relocated to Northcote, have done just that, they must be chuffed with Graney likening them to "early Orange Juice." While we’re making comparisons, it’s worth mentioning peers like Twerps and Dick Diver. The Sun Rolled Off The Hills is yet another debut of lo-fi, melodious indie, filled with neat, clean guitars, gentle melodious hooks and some wry lyrics. You could vaguely lump them into the Flying Nun Records/Dunedin sound revival that’s happening, except that they’ve substituted the typically melancholic streak with that of a lazy, summery vibe and never shy of making a few local references (Northcote Station and Shepparton, take a bow).

Monday, March 19, 2012

Review: Deep Sea Arcade - Outlands

A Beat magazine review, originally published in-print and online, reproduced here in its entirety
Deep Sea Arcade - Outlands (Ivy League, 2012)
On the strength of Outlands, the debut for Deep Sea Arcade, it would be extremely tempting to label the Sydney five-piece a ‘beat combo,’ the lingering influence of the '60s on their sound almost deems the tag suitable.

Lead single Girls could easily soundtrack the summer of love, with its meaty chord changes, kaleidoscopic production and even some ‘sha la la las.’ By the group’s own admission it was originally conceived by "jamming on a guitar riff that was essentially Wild Thing backwards."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lowlakes - Live @ Northcote Uniting Church (EP Launch), Mar 17

It’s not often you go to church and see a drum riser splayed across the altar. For the launch of their self-titled EP, Lowlakes chose to commandeer Northcote’s uniting church, clearing the pews aside for a makeshift gig space with naught but a few spots and a vigil of candles to light the room. The natural acoustics were a bit boomy for your typical gig, but as a unique setting it would even give AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock video pause.

Friday, March 16, 2012

"Silence is easy/It just becomes me" Interview: James Walsh

This interview was originally for Melbourne street press Beat magazine and published online here. It is reproduced here in its entirety for AMR.
For Starsailor fans, it’s been a long time between drinks. Last gracing our shores nearly a decade ago, the wait for the UK four-piece to return has looked indefinite ever since the group went on ‘official hiatus’ a few years ago. Luckily, fans will get the next best thing this March when frontman James Walsh brings his solo show down-under. Still possessed of his genteel, vibrato-flecked voice that would thrill a choral master and his way around an acoustic guitar, Walsh has formed a career as both a solo artist and a freelance songwriter since the band’s sabbatical of 2009.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Introducing... Lowlakes

Until their press release popped up in my (rather crowded) inbox, I had no inkling who Lowlakes were. Of course, that's the whole point of the 'Introducing...' series, but still, there's usually some buzz, some ring of the bell at a group's name - a fact made all the more surprising when you listen to these lads. This is good stuff, and it deserves to be heard.

Originally hailing from Alice Springs, childhood friends Thomas Snowdon (vocals/guitar), Bill Guerin (bass) and Jack Talbot (drums) shook off the red dust and relocated to Melbourne where the inclusion of Brent Monaghan's atmospheric influence transformed a group formerly called The Moxie into Lowlakes. 

The aural result is a tasteful union between ambitious mood-setting and the more earthly approach of an indie guitar band. Inspired by the celestial atmospherics of Sigur Ros but with a more grounded approach to their arrangements, there's an ambience in their dreamy sounds as well as a darker rhythmic undertow.

St. Vincent - Live @ The HiFi Bar, Mar 14

This live review was origially written for, and published, by the folks at ToneDeaf, the edited version is available on-line here, while the following is a full 'director's cut' edit. Enjoy.
The crowd, beset by a field of summer frocks and skinny jeans, was already brimming by the time Melbourne’s own Minibikes opened the bill with some polished hooks. A five-piece playing straight-up indie pop, the vibrant likes of Kill To Feel touched with a soft spot for boy-girl harmonies between singer Marcel Borrack and keys lass Libby Chow. Their mood is sprightly if not distinctive, but there’s far worse things than being likable at this stage of a career.

Fire, Santa Rosa, Fire! soon grace the stage, and those familiar with the Adeladians’ previous work will notice that this is a group in transition. Though there’s room for the vicious hi-hat rolls and agitated hooks of Little Cowboys, Bad Hombres, their newer material instead shifts from the angular towards the atmospheric. Washing their restless pop hooks in spacious swirls with a new focus to vocalist Caitlin Duff’s enigmatic croon. Newer cuts, including a self-described ‘slow-burn’ and galvanising single Panther Shrine shows them playing to their inventive, and technical, side. Centered around hypnotic guitar loops and octave-hopping bass that spiral into cathartic grooves. After tonight’s showing, they’re sure to pick up a few followers on their own measured march towards their sophomore album.

Their left-field pop is fitting support to a lady who’s mastered the field, having famously earned her stripes with the likes of The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens, Annie Clark – the brains behind St. Vincent – possesses a live show fitting of her expansive albums.

Monday, March 12, 2012

'A spade's a spade' Interview: Gareth Liddiard

This interview was originally conducted for, and syndicated by ToneDeaf. Who originally published the article here, which in turn spawned this scoop, the article is re-produced here in its entirety for the AMR readership, enjoy, I think it's one of my best.
“With your songwriting, it’s very much storytelling – do you have your own favourite storytell-“

“Fuck. I just found a bullet.”

I am speaking down the line with Gareth Liddiard,
The Drones frontman himself – to some, his band is considered our nation’s most important rock act; in other circles his muddied tales of Australia, with their gothic poetry, are as revered as Paul Kelly’s or Nick Cave’s – and he’s just found a bullet.

“Just sitting in the middle of the bush – cause I get phone reception,” the ocker twang of his songs and his speaking voice one and the same, “and there’s an unused .22 bullet just lying here. Looks real old.”

It’s a surreal yet fitting moment. Who else but Liddiard would be able to spot, let alone identify and carbon-date such a projectile? In the foliage of Western Australia, no less. It’s wholly appropriate for a man whose own work looks past the tourism-friendly image of our country and its picturesque bush to pick out the true, gruesome details that lie beneath.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Review: Fanfarlo - Rooms Filled With Light

Fanfarlo - Rooms Filled With Light (Warner Music, 2012)
While Fanfarlo’s debut Reservoir showed promise as a contender in the indie-come-folk rock arena, it sounded slightly derivative, crowded by bigger albums that blended (or transcended) a brand of similar fusion. The UK quintet have clearly spent the last three years in the lead-up to a follow-up mapping out new sonic territory, the result is a set filled with unashamedly pop cuts that are ruthlessly economic and polished in their assembly, without denying their unique flair.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bon Iver - Live @ Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Mar 8

(EDIT: The lovely folks over at Everguide, took a liking to my rambling sycophancy  so they've published the review in full over at their website too.)
How do you write about music so good that it's difficult to articulate just what makes it so stirring? How do you describe an artist at a sheer peak of his creative powers without losing the balance to a wash of hyperbole?
This is the problem when discussing Bon Iver, particularly in the live setting. 

Well, the first step would be to establish the players, for Bon Iver is no longer solely Justin Vernon. Though the 'cabin-in-the-woods' mythos will forever be the origin of what would become
For Emma, Forever Ago, the current iteration of Vernon's musical compositions have been characterised by collaboration. It's what characterised the eponymous sophomore Bon Iver, Bon Iver, easing and enunciating into a lush expansive palette that is as much credited to the brilliant players Vernon has enlisted. Certainly, Vernon remains the catalyst and visionary to the sonic soundscapes that Bon Iver paint, but it is as much about the party of talented, spirited individuals who have as much passion and attention as their band leader that deserve the credit. A fact made all the clearer in the live arena. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Wrangling The Heard: February

Front up, Feb's playlist and bloggage was evenly dominated by The Dead Leaves and I, A Man, both of whom gave us terrific launch gigs (which you can read about here and here respectively). Then there was UK's Outfit who recently featured as the latest in AMR's Introducing... series, additionally there was new tunes from Sydney's Oliver Tank, Jonathan Boulet and the new Damon Albarn/Flea/Tony Allen supergroup Rocketjuice and the Moon to contend with. Finally, my recent interview with The Drones frontman Gareth Liddiard (which you can read over at ToneDeaf) meant his solo album Strange Tourist was also on heavy rotation; but the spotlight, dear readers, instead swivels in different directions...

British Theatre - British Theatre EP
When the almighty Oceansize regrettably called it a day, it was obvious that its five members were far too talented to rest on their creative laurels. Heck, they even explicitly said as much when they first broke the news and their twitter account has been a hot-bed of new musical happenings ever since. The most intriguing phoenix to rise from the band's ashes however, has been British Theatre
The fact that it features two fifths of the former line-up, including vocalist/guitarist Mike Vennart, means that of all the new musical projects, they sound like the most logical successor to Oceansize's dense musical heritage. Paired with keyboardist/sound guru Richard Ingram (formerly Oceansize's 'Gambler'), they've unleashed their first official release, a self-titled EP available over at bandcamp, after months of tinkering and teasing on their website.
The opening ID Parade On Ice features Vennart's familiarly enigmatic lyricism and visceral singing, but the heavy, guttural moments of their former group have been substituted for different means of achieving intensity. Namely, the tricky time signatures and rhythmic patterns are played out across processed drums and electronic beats while Ingram's sophisticated touch fills much of the wide audio stage with piano and keys as well as flecks of harp, analog synths and atmospheric sounds. It's a rich palette but there's a muscular undercurrent to the feathery piano and swelling washes of guitar.
Gold Bruise is an equally sonically articulate number, centred by textured drones and a clicking drum track, Vennart's vocals washed in a tinny filter that Oceansize fans will find warmly familiar. In fact, it clambers its way through some dark moods and claustrophobic textures before it reaches a straight(ish) drum pattern and a shimmering, blossoming organ pattern in a cathartic peak.
Along with closing instrumental Little Death #3, these three tracks form a deliciously promising taste of things to come. It's a natural evolution of parts of Oceansize, but more importantly, it's the organic meeting point and fresh approach of two great musical minds. More please!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Introducing... Outfit

Though they hail from the birthplace of The Beatles, you won't find Liverpudlian quintet Outfit mimicking much of their musical legacy, well... except for maybe channelling the surreal side of pop. Having met through a Merseyside mansion that housed a collective of outsider artists, the five members of Outfit have since debunked for the band buzz utopia of London, but the solidarity of their creative commune still lingers in their music.