Articles

  • I'll be your dixie chicken if you'll be my Tennessee lamb

    8 mars 2008, 11h05m

    Ah, my poor neglected last.fm account. How I miss you. I still log in every monday in the hope that stats will magically have generated for me but it is not to be. Technical restraints mean that I just can't keep music on my computer anymore. Which is a real pity. I've been listening to a whole bunch of different stuff lately that the geek in me really wants to track. But the geek in me wants a lot of things that she can't have.

    Anyway, as part of the mourning process for weekly chart updates, I feel the need to gush about some things that are fantastically awesome. In no particular order:

    Little Feat are fantastic. I don't know who conspired to hide them from me for so long, but they're blowing my mind. Ok, no one conspired. I had Dixie Chicken sitting around for months without bothering to listen to anything beyond Fat Man In the Bathtub. Which is possibly the greatest song ever written about a fat man in the bathtub with the bluuuuuuuuuues. Ahem. Anyway, this stuff is smooth, and I a total sucker for a good harmony. So these great harmonies are amazing. Roll me easy, indeed. And did I mention that they wrote a song about a fat man in the bathtub? With the bluuuuuuuuues.

    Jamie Hutchingsis also a large sub-category of things that are fantastically awesome. There are some really great lyrical narrators out there, but I don't think I've ever come across anyone who can draw you right in to the story the way JH does. He could be singing a song about the trials of being a unicorn and about halfway through the song you'd start to wonder how they got a unicorn to record an album. Ok, that was a silly thing to say, but he draws you in. His voice is so distinctive and he uses its power so well. Find a copy of Come Across and you'll hear what I mean. Or just listen to Cross Purpose, the best song ever written about whatever it's about. Oh, and he rocks pretty damn hard. And he is a testament to the fact that Sydney has produced some pretty good things, despite the fact that the universe still revolves around Melbourne. Always has, always will.

    Okkervil River are gods. The sublime way in which Will Sheff's voice cuts through the unworthy air still astounds me. The sounds they use are fantastic, not just the instruments, but the words, the way they use language. A million bonus points for use of the word oubliette in a song. Who the hell writes songs about oubliettes? Will Sheff, that's who.

    If Giacomo Puccini had been making albums in the 1960s he'd be selling out stadiums today in triple record time. I'm aware that that's a pretty big if, but still. No one has ever written a conversation like he did. His use of harmony to tell a story, or several stories at once ... the Byrds would have been cranking out albums of Puccini covers. And it would have been awesome.

    Well, I think that's sufficient gushing for now. I shall return to my day job of bitching about my neighbours to anyone and everyon who will listen. That's my physical neighbours. My last.fm neighbours are, of course, a bunch of groovy cats with great taste in music and a appreciation of the value of a good night's sleep.

    This gushing was brought to you by the combined powers of sleep deprivation and more sleep deprivation.
  • Music of 2006 (mini reviews and whinging)

    29 déc. 2006, 7h30m

    Well, I'm in bed with a cold. Again. Stupid immune system. So while I lie here and bemoan my fate and cry out pathetically for sympathy whenever anyone passes my bedroom door, I'll do the typical "best of 2006" things. You can't criticise me for lack of originality, I'm sick, and demand sympathy.


    In chronological(ish) order:


    Please Come Back - (EP) - 24/01/2006

    Oh how I love this EP. Discovered nestled in the second hand shelves, I took this fledgling disc under my wing, took it home, and listened to its merry music all day long. Ok, there's a chance that I'm just rambling deleriously. And I'm sure that word isn't spelled right. Not to worry, I'll push forward.
    Please Come Back features some very wonderful music. Bluesy unrestrained rock type stuff. Singer/songwriter (and I think guitarist, but I can't remember, and am too lazy to find out) George Hunter really puts everything into the vocals, it's hoarse and intense and I just adore it. The lyrics may not be Shakespeare (It's a crying shame/crying shame/no wonder you're crying), but who cares, we already have a Shakespeare.


    Moo, You Bloody Choir - 13/03/2006

    While the way in which I came to own this album, or indeed how I got into Augie March in the first place, are shrouded in mystery so mysterious it couldn't even be simulated by an automatic mystery simulating machine ... I've lost track of this sentence, I'll start again. Great music. As an album it feels a little long and disconnected. Not in the sense of there being lots of filler and pointless stuff. Just insofar as by the time I'm listening to the end of the album I've forgotten the start - it doesn't quite seem to gel. In general, I believe the ideal album length is 43:07, and this clocks in at over an hour. I think it was someone from the Okkervil River camp who said "If your album goes over 50 minutes you really need to think about whether you want to make a double album". But that's beside the point. There is some great music on this album. A very distinct sound from their two earlier albums, perhaps best described as having a different "character". But the same complex lyrical genius and unique, vaguely folky, musical textures. Rocks a fair bit, in places, too. And sounds great live. Plus there's radio friendliness there. One Crowded Hour has kinda lost it's magic for me, which is probably a good thing, 'cos it's not the cheeriest thing to have on constant repeat, but it's still a good song.


    One Crowded Hour - (single) - 1/04/2006

    Wheee, B-sides! Acoustic versions of earlier favourites (There Is No Such Place, Asleep In Perfection and Clockwork) which are nice, and a new song Passed Out In Clarkefield, which is fun.


    Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground - 24/04/2006

    To be honest, I've only listened to this once. There were a handful of songs I really liked and a handful of stuff I didn't care for at all. I think I'm over Bright Eyes. I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning is still a brilliant album, and I intend to keep it in fairly high rotation, but I am entirely sated by it, I need no more Conor Oberst songs in my life. Which is kind of a pity, but I think I have enough mournful raw voiced singer songwriters to dote on for now.


    Yours, etc. - Pitching Woo - (EP) - 8/05/2006

    I was surfing around the AMO (Australian Music Online) website one day and saw their jukebox had a song by these guys and I thought it was the coolest band name I'd ever heard. I'm old fashioned that way. Anyway, I delved a little more and discovered that they were locals, which is always good. This EP is really good. I haven't listened to it for a while (maybe I'll get a chance now) but how can anything which features the words "bubble and squeak" in the lyrics not be excellent? I can no longer remember the context, but, really, who needs context? Maybe sundials, and sundial installers. But no one else.
    Hmmm, lost the plot there. Sorry. Electronic/guitar music. Good.


    Palo Santo - 9/05/2006

    Another album I need to listen to more (so much music, so few hours in the day). Some of it (but I can't remember which bits) is breathtaking in its beauty. Some of it just reminds me too much of Jethro Tull for some reason, possibly some insane reason, but there you have it. Not that there's anything wrong with sounding like Jethro Tull (minus the flute) but it's something I've never really got into - constant exposure (my dad's a big fan) has built up some kind of natural resistance. But since the comparison is possibly based on insane reasons, I won't dwell on it. At any rate I need to listen to this more, and perhaps the bits that I don't currently find breathtaking will grow on me. They probably will. I'm sure I was foolish enough to expect Okkervil River Mark 2 and just got a little disappointed.


    Broken Boy Soldiers - 16/05/2006

    Wow, am I only up to May? My attention span is not that long.
    I was very excited about buying this album. It was a supergroup and there was hype. I'm usually not paying enough attention to get caught up in hype, so there was a whole novelty thing going on. Not that I'd ever heard a White Stripes song in my life, but I knew a bit of Brendan Benson, and I liked that. Plus, I'm a total sucker for supergroups and side projects. Cream, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Manassas, Golden Smog. I even maintain romantic notions about The Souther, Hillman, Furay Band, despite the transparent commercialism of the grouping and the fact that I've never heard a note of music by them and probably never will.
    Anyway, back to Broken Boy Soldiers. I love it. It's solidly ear candy, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. My definition of ear candy is anything that sounds really good, with reasonably sleek production values. Shiny vocals and harmonies and that kind of stuff. No distortion or yelling or what I ambiguously like to term "grit". I live for ambiguously termed grit. But everyone needs ear candy from time to time, and this fits the bill very nicely.


    The Believer - 25/05/2006

    It isn't Rhett Miller's job to make albums that I like, but I can't help but be a little disappointed by this album. I love the alt-country-rock-thang of the Old 97's, and Rhett's earlier solo project The Instigator is my favourite bit of ear candy - pure, sweet pop music start to finish. The Believer just doesn't work for me. Some token good songs - Fireflies leaps to mind. But at the end of the day, I just can't get excited about it. I don't know what's wrong with it, but it just doesn't sound good. Even the rendition of the Old 97's song Question lacks a certain "je ne sais quoi".
    All in all I was very happy when a little bird told me that there was movement in the Old 97's camp, and possibly a new album in the pipework, although that may have just been a wonderful, wonderful dream.


    Bluebottle Kiss - Doubt Seeds - 12/06/2006

    Unambiguous brilliance. Seriously. A really, really good album. A finely crafted double album, drawing on just about every western music influence there is. Rock, jazz, folk, all that good stuff. And boy does it rock. Their live show is amazing too. There's really not much that I can say about this. It's a sound thing. I hear Doubt Seeds and I think "There's a band that understands music." They are masters of their craft. In past times they would have been regarded as the wise men of their village, and consulted before the purchasing of white goods and other large appliances.


    Desert Lights
    Desert Lights, Something For Kate , 1/07/2006

    I really like this album. I've heard it described as being "closer to their live sound" possibly by the band themselves. I'm not sure that I necessarily agree with that, so I don't know why I brought it up. Anyway, it's really good. It's my ideal 43 minutes long, and sits together really well as a cohesive collection of songs. It's up to SFK's usual standard of probing lyricism, and perhaps a little heavier than usual on catchy riffs. Plus Washed Out To Sea is a lovely, lovely song, slow and lilting with lots of whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh's, which always reminds me of Tomorrow.


    Gulag Orkestar - 10/07/2006

    I don't know what I was expecting from this, but it wasn't quite what I got. Interesting, but I'm not really "into it" yet. Needs more time.


    Another Fine Day - 18/07/2006

    This album is pretty much exactly what you'd expect from a post-Jayhawks, Gary Louris and Jeff Tweedy colaboration. It's good, it's just not surprisingly good. It sounds an awful lot like a late Jayhawks album interspersed with Tweedy songs, plus a few other influences. Not that any of that is a bad thing, but we've heard it before. And I think the songs on Down By the Old Mainstream were better.


    Pete Yorn - Nightcrawler - 25/08/2006

    I have a lot of time for Pete Yorn, but I have to be in the right mood. I haven't listened to this much yet. But it's Pete Yorn. Gotta be good, right?


    Oh Kamikaze - (single) - 1/09/2006

    Wheee, more B-sides! Which is actually why I bought this. Of all the songs on Desert Lights, Oh Kamikaze is probably my least favourite. But they played The Amazing Machine That Does Not Work live, and I thought it was wonderful. And it is. One of the other B-sides, a cover called Close to Me, is fantastic. I'm too tired to think of descriptive words or identify genres properly, but it's very upbeat and cool. Something For Kate do great covers. I heard them do Everybody Knows live a while back, it blew my mind. Not that it takes much to make Cohen songs sound good, but anyway.


    Overboard and Down - (Tour EP) - 4/09/2006

    Apparently the songs for this came out of a session of recording a pile of songs "just for fun". With or without that in mind, these guys are just dripping with talent. They must spread it on their toast in the morning. The songs are fantastic, The President's Dead and Love To A Monster particularly. Clever, fast, wordy and abundantly "gritty", with Will Sheff's earnest "gritty" voice driving it all along. Oh, and catchy as hell.


    Tell Me - 12/09/2006

    After the EP I had such rediculously high expectations of this album that I was bound to be disappointed. And I, like a fool, never saw it coming. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this album. But there's a whole soul-groove-thang they've got going on which I was not expecting and while I should be pleasantly surprised by the bands musical diversity, I'm just disappointed that it's so unlike the bluesy music of the EP, which I prefer. The songs are good, the music's good, but I was expecting something realy spectacular ... like a fool. It may grow on me. You never know. But my favourite Catfish Haven song remains Paper Thin, from I don't remember when and where. I think it's still on their website somewhere. That's what I wanted the band to sound like. I don't know that they explored that sound fully enough for my liking. Oh well.


    Fading Trails - 18/09/2006

    I listened to this once and thoroughly disliked it. I do intend to listen to it again, once I get over my bitterness at missing Jason Molina live 'cos I had exams. I don't know how long that might take.


    Lapalco - 2/10/2006

    It's ok. I wanted Alternative to Love but I couldn't find it, so I bought this instead. Some good indie-pop type songs. Needs more listening.


    Deloris - Ten Lives - 30/10/2006

    Ah, Deloris. I love this album. It's 43 minutes long, and it's wonderful. Clever, wordy, poignant, catchy, upbeat, filler adjective, fun. All of those things. I'm clearly running out of steam, and I've reviewed this before and I have a dr's appointment now so I'll simply say Ten Lives - yay!


    9 - 3/11/2006

    I was very excited by the concept of a new Damien Rice album. I was starting to think he wasn't a real musician, just some side project of Ryan Adams to try out some new songs and a fake Irish accent. What I mean to say, of course, is that O was taking on a life of its own. So new material was going to be welcome, whatever it is. And it's good. The songs are great, an extension of the whole "folk singer songwriter" thing. It's intelligent stuff. And I finally worked out why Damien Rice gets compared to Ryan Adams. It isn't the depressing songs, or the sensitive singer/songwriter idiom, or a similarity in vocal timbre. It's that gravelly half-singing-half-talking they both do. Glad I got that one figured out.


    Dappled Cities Fly - Granddance - 11/11/2006

    These guys are so wonderfully weird. Anyone who writes lyrics like "You're not a fire so I will not dance in you" is great in my book. My enthusiasm was cooled a little by not enjoying their last Melbourne gig at all, although that may have been more owing to my mood than their performance. In fact it was probably mostly attributable to the fact that England were 3 for 266 at the end of day 1 in the Adelaide test. I still thought we'd win, and did much gleeful "I told you so"ing five days later, but I nonetheless had not enjoyed the first day's play. But enough of that. Granddance is eccentrically lovely.


    All I Said - 1/3/2006

    I forgot to put this in chronologically because it wasn't sitting on my CD shelf, and now I'm too tired to do it justice. You could just go here and listen for yourself. It's well, well worth it. It's warm and rich and, to use today's catchphrase "kinda folky". And I hear tell there's another album in the making. Eager anticipation goes without saying.


    Well, that about does it for 2006. There are notable absences, like Post-War, which I haven't got around to buying yet, but I'm sure 2007 will provide.

    Happy New Year to all
  • I guess I wanted to play too

    14 nov. 2006, 12h14m

    Gush.

    I'm having such a Ryan Adams week. I was a little worried for a while that he was going to be displaced by Augie March as my top artist (I had such an Augie March week last week). That seems like an odd thing to worry about really. I should probably be worried about the threat of terrorism, or global warming, or the selection of the team for the first ashes test. But there's so much change and uncertainty in my life at the moment that I like knowing that Ryan Adams will always be at the top of my charts. He was there when I signed up, and I like to think that he'll be there on last.fm v87.9 in fifty years time when I'm trying to tell my grandchildren about real music, before it was ruined by the telepathic quantum guitar, or whatever I choose to blame for the state of music at the time. It's a comforting point of stability in the universe. It's meaningless, but it's nice.

    Anyway, the point is that when I saw Ryan Adams supremacy challenged it inspired me to pull some music off the shelf and listen to it. I chose 29, 'cos it's so beautiful. So very beautiful. That took me a while to realise. When it was first released I gave it a cursory listen through and then forgot about it for months. Which is odd. If nothing else, the egotism of hearing him sing my name (Carolina Rain) should have ensured some instant compulsion, but for some reason it didn't click until recently. But now I can't get enough of it. It's sort of quiet, with gorgeous build ups throughout. The lyrics are stunning, even by Ryan Adams' incredibly high standards.

    Have you ever slept it off to the bones
    Having woken up at night my love
    And dreamt that you called them all
    Every person you could never love

    It's a blow out
    On a birthday cake
    And I'm a birthday candle
    Floating on the lake

    Where are you its getting late
    Its midnight at the starlite diner
    You said meet me 'bout a quarter to twelve
    And I'm standing in the corner
    Oh there you are


    And his singing is brilliant. Not just in an oh-my-god-he's-got-such-a-wonderful-voice way, but the whole thing is really well sung.

    Gush.

    And of course that started me off on a whole Ryan Adams spree. I can't stop. And I don't particularly want to.

    Gush.

    Joy.

    Ryan Adams
  • Bah!

    2 nov. 2006, 6h43m

    Why can't I be in a good mood? I'm going out tonight. For music. Tomorrow too. I'm listening to Gram Parsons. Gram. I should be happy, or excited or quietly contented. But I'm not. They're knocking down the house opposite me, or moving it slightly to the left, or something that is noisy. In what may or may not be a connected issue they are also deconstructing a large truck on the street beneath my window. Why? Who knows. I'm supposed to be studying but I've lost all ability to use words. I've made at least 10 typing mistakes in this journal so far. And not hitting the wrong key mistakes - although there have been a few of them. Completely typing the wrong thing mistakes. I'll type a word, and half the word inexplicably comes out as something completely different. Not useful when trying to type out a summary of a semester's worth of transport engineering notes. It's driving me insane. Stress levels rising, rising.

    I do love Gram Parsons. A lot. He had so much talent. But he's trying to compete with noise and clamour and stress and I don't think he's winning.

    Ah, they seem to have cut whatever it was that was pumping out noise. I immediately feel better. I love this song "Return of the Grievous Angel". Cosmic. Those harmonies are just breathtaking.

    And they're starting with the noise again. I'm reminded of a story:

    Once upon a time, there was a rich European Count, who may or may not have been a vampire, but was certainly named Clive, for no other reason than that there are far too many motors operating in my near vicinity. One day a rascally villain arrived at the Count's castle, and, sharp pointy implement to his jugular, demanded to know where the Count had his vast wealth secreted - bank accounts and investment portfolios not existing for the purpose of the joke. Now the Count loved his vast wealth. He loved the way it glittered and shone. He loved the way it made him feel powerful. He particularly loved the way it enabled him to buy the three disc Gram Parsons Reprise Sessions Box Set, when others didn't really think they could justify the expense, especially when what said others really wanted was a good set of earplugs. So the Count called his assailant's bluff, and refused to divulge the location of his hidded treasure. The ruffian insisted, but the Count was stubbornly determined. Finally the ruffian, not one to welch on a promise, bet or insinuation, took his mighty hatchet and swung it at the count. The Count finally realised the gravity of the situation and yelled "alright, I'll tell you everyth..." but it was too late.

    The moral of the story is, of course, that you should never hatchet your counts before they chicken.


    I adore $1000 Wedding. It's one of the most beautiful songs ever written. It gives me goosebumps, even in the midst of terminally ill trucks.

    And why ain't there one lonely horn
    With one sad note to play
    It's supposed to be a funeral
    It's been a bad, bad day.


    With Gram and Emmylou Harris. You just don't make a more perfect song than that.
  • Yipee! New Deloris Album!

    26 oct. 2006, 12h12m

    I'm listening to the new Deloris album (officially out on monday 30/10, but it's already trickled into JB where it was dutifully snapped up by me). I can't even wait for the end of the album to gush about its wonderfulness. It's blowing my mind. I was preparing myself to be a little disappointed because I didn't think it could live up to Fake Our Deaths, 'cos that was a seriously good album. But Ten Lives is really different, and equally wonderful in a whole host of different ways. Fake Our Deaths was very stripped back and subtle. As is the solo stuff that Marcus Teague is producing at the moment. The new Deloris album, however, is upbeat, full of life and noise and great great music. It's a a very fresh, new sound for the band, and that's very exciting. It's short, sharp, no-nonsense, no filler stuff. 12 tracks clocking in at just over 40 mins - ie, the ideal album length. It feels like the right length. If I have one criticism of Fake Our Deaths it's that it is a tad too long - with the whole mellow thing it does tend to drag out a bit and I often listen to it in chunks, rather than the whole album at once. The new album, being an excellent specimen of albumhood, has of course variety, and the song I just listened to Country Funeral was a softer Fake Our Deathsish reminicent tune. But it's back to the quick punchy spirit for the closing tune Whoa Oh.

    Wow, that was rambley. I apologise for my sudden burst of enthusiasm. I will attempt to return to my usual phlegmatic demeanour.


    Listening post:

    Deloris' MySpace page - 4 tracks off the new album, including one for download

    Their website - a big pile of free mp3's to get hooked on, including some gorgeousness from Fake Our Deaths. I've said it before and I'll say it again, O You're Gone is a beautiful song.

    MySpace page for singer/songwriter Marcus Teague's solo project, Single Twin, with more musical treats.

    Mess + Noise - An Australian music magazine that's streaming 4 tracks from the album (different ones from the band's myspace). They also have reviews and streaming tracks for a whole heap of Australian (I think they just do Australian) releases, and general musical stuff. Worth wandering through in its own right.
  • Random ramblings: Single Twin

    18 oct. 2006, 2h35m

    I hate my throat sometimes. I particularly hate its tendancy to get infections and cause me pain. So instead of trying to do anything productive with my down time, I'm going to lie here on the couch with my computer on my lap and write last.fm journals until I feel better, or until it's time to go to the doctor. My apologies to the world and the people who inhabit it, but I'm about to pour torrents of randomness into the internet. Am am, in short, going to behave like a normal 21 year old with nothing better to do.

    First topic of ramblousness, Single Twin.

    Given that I fell asleep, slept and woke up in steadily increasing amounts of pain, today hasn't been all bad news. After struggling home with a shopping trolly full of tissues, frozen vegetarian goods and pills and potions of all decriptions, I opend my letterbox to find a neat little cd mailer there from Marcus Teague aka Single Twin aka the lead singer/songwriter of Deloris. Via his myspace he's selling a cdr of songs that didn't get to be part of his new, released next year album. I'm listening to it now. It's lovely. Considering that the songs are "unmixed, unmastered and mostly unfinished" it's really fantastic. Beautiful, beautiful music. Stripped back acoustic stuff, just the way I like it. Wonderful lyrics. Seriously, if you're within a carrier pigeon's flight of North Carlton, you should go order yourself a copy. Definitely a good tide over til the album comes out. Hmm, that reminds me, new Deloris album coming out soon. 1st of November? That sounds about right. I know the album launch is on the 24th of November, which is great, 'cos that's the end of the exam period. Of course I may have to battle against the will of friends who finish exams then and want to celebrate in a manner that doesn't involve a band they've never heard of, but we'll see how we go.


    Hmmm, I think that's all I have to say about that, so I'll move on to some Something for Kate related grumbles.

    I watched SFK "Live at the Chapel" last night. From home. On my computer. Because I missed out on tikcets to actually go. The logical part of my brian points out that tickets were in high demand, and a lot of people missed out, but I choose to attribute it to some kind of curse. I seem to be good at missing free Something for Kate events. A while back Paul Dempsey did an instore in the city for the new (and brilliant) album Desert Lights, but I couldn't go, 'cos my parents were visiting and had just got in, so I had to spend quality time with them. A few weeks later they did a video hits thing at Federation Square, with Augie March, Augie March! But by then my parents were just about to leave, and it was more quality time. Admittedly that probably wasn't worth going to - standing around amongst screaming video hits fans waiting for the bands to come out and play "the single", but still, for Augie March and SFK, I would have gone. Not to be, never mind.

    A few weeks ago they did a free concert at Fed Square. I was a couple of blocks away, at work.

    And last night they played Live at the Chapel, and I couldn't get tickets.

    Mind you, I should look at the chances that go my way. I was supposedly going to be away for work for the Melbourne leg of their Desert Lights Tour, but that didn't happen, and instead of getting to go to no shows I got to go to two. So glass half full, really, if not closer to three quaters.

    And I think that's all I have to say for now, time to go and mope for a while. But I'll be back.

    Oh, btw, Augie March has a shiny new website layout, with all sorts of exciting new things. At least I assume they're exciting and new, but I can't remember the old site - it was more than two days ago and not high priority information. But anyway, it is shiny and new.
  • In search of indie India

    4 oct. 2006, 12h15m

    Excuse me while I freak out a little.

    In about 8 months time - assuming all goes well - I graduate with a shiny engineering degree to nail to my wall. Which means that in the not too distant future I'm going to start applying for my dream job. Of course, my dream job happens to be humanitarian work in a yet to be far away country. I don't sleep too well.
    And now that the time is drawing near, and one of my friends was foolish enough to point out that it might actually happen, I'm starting to freak out. Because it doesn't just mean hard work. It doesn't just mean leaving my friends and family and sallying forth to parts unknown. It means leaving the Melbourne live scene. And I just realised how good it is! I don't want to go.

    But lifelong ambition will have its way. So my second, more constructive, reaction is to try and find a subsitute. It's not easy to replace local bands like Augie March, Something for Kate, Deloris and The Daze. To remove myself from the national tours of bands like Bluebottle Kiss. To leave a stop-off place for international touring bands like, in the past year or so, Ryan Adams, The Shins, Okkervil River, and soon to be coming Jason Molina and Band of Horses. But it's a big wide world out there.

    I have no idea when, when or what I'll end up doing, or what my life may be like. But two things I figure are more or less true. Every counrty has cities and every city has weekends. So I'm on a crusade to uncover the indie scene of, well, wherever.

    My default location is India, for the simple reason that my parents live there. And I figure that if a place the size of Shepparton can produce an Augie March, a place the size of India should produce about 10 million of them. Or one really big one. Either way, there's gotta be some really good music out there.

    Problem is I know very little of Indian music artists beyond Ravi Shankar and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (sitar players get all the attention) and some dude called Lucky Ali, who I saw at a Tsunami Benefit dance concert. So I betook myself to Last.fm. To myspace. To google. To wiki. Looking for something, anything, Indian that would fit in with my genre tastes. Anything vaguely indie-folk-alterna-country-rock-ish-esque. Found plenty of classical/trad folk. Which I respect. Which I like. But it's not friday night music and it's not going to get me through Melbourne Music Withdrawal (MMW). Found plenty of Bollywood type stuff. Which again, I have some time for, but it's a sometimes genre. Found a surprisingly large amount of hard rock and metal. Which, no, not this little black duck.

    The only band I actually managed to find that sounded like they could have been plenty comfy at a local venue. Was the oddly named Menwhopause. They're quite good. They can be checked out here. The mp3s are a little low quality, but not too much, and you get the idea. So out of 1.1 billion people in India, I've found half a dozen who play the sort of music I like. It's a start. I'm hoping it's the tip of a sizeable iceburg.

    But if there's more iceburg out there, I can't find it on the internet. So I appeal to the last.fm community. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. They don't have to be Indian. Any non "Western" music, from a country that an ngo might want to send an eager young engineer to, that would fit snugly in the charts of a Melbourne indie snob, would be super. And I'm not asking for a western band clone, devoid of all local flavour. It can have all 32 local flavours. Language is not a problem. They can sing in sanskrit for all it matters to me. Just something that's going to be reasonably accessable to me. This isn't about broadening my horizons, this is about convincing myself that leaving Melbourne isn't the same as going deaf. That I can go and hear music somewhere like India without having to chose between filmi and death metal.

    Any suggestions would be hugely welcome. Bands. Artists. Record labels. Music venues (I'm planning to spend some time in India over the summer to visit my parents). Musty little indie record stores that sell second hand Indian prog-rock LPs. Anything, really.

    TIA.



    PS - I really shouldn't be listening to Desert Lights while I write something like this. But it's so, so good. Damn tempting local bands. They've got my number.
  • And the rest is silence...

    9 sept. 2006, 1h42m

    Gah, long long week. I'm exhausted. And it's not over - I have to slog all weekend to finish a major assignment. Bah.

    But there was fun stuff. On Monday I saw Okkervil River. They were seriously good. Highlight? Six words:

    Will. Sheff. A. Stone. Solo. Acoustic.

    Nuff Said.

    It really was wonderful. And I still can't stop listening to Black Sheep Boy. I wish I could, cos I don't want to make myself sick of it, but it's all my ears want at the moment. Fortunately OR have a solid back catalogue to move on to if I do grow weary of it.

    Supporting was Lawrence Arabia - some cool singer-songwritery stuff - and C.W. Stoneking who was very Delta Bluesy which was nice for something a bit different. Tuba, clarinet and banjo? Bring it on.

    Up bright and early the next day for a 9am start. The exhaustion begins. Tuesday lunchtime chilled at uni to the tones of Tim Freedman of Whitlams fame. I'm not a huge fan, but my friend is, so we skipped a lecture and mosied along. I really wish I could get into the Whitlams, the songs are good enough, they're just not very sonically satisfying for my ears. They're too sleek. Needs more grit for my taste. Oh well.

    Tuesday night, to keep the juggernaut rolling I went to see Ken Brannagh's Hamlet. I love that film. I hadn't seen it in ages, and I'd never seen it on the big screen. 4 hours and 11 minutes of Shakespearean gold. And another night out after 12. The eyelids begin to droop.

    Wednesday I just worked on the assignment all day (and a fair portion of the night), no rest for the wicked.

    Thursday I went and saw The Daze. My friend and part of my brain tried to convince me to go home and sleep, but I battled the rain and cold and wind and 20 minute tram waits. Which made me late - stupid trams. I caught about 30 seconds of The Lonely Spacemen. It sounded like a good 30 seconds. I've heard some of their music, they're pretty good. Kinda dreamy, guitar drenched type stuff, see here for downloads. Then there was one sixth of The Spoils. Another sixth was home sick, but I don't know where the remaining two thirds were. Some goodish songs, but the other musicians probably would have been handy to have around, more instruments would have been good. I was quite relieved when the Daze came out with more guitars than people to play them - including a lap steel (yay!). They were suitably wonderful - well worth the cold, wet and sleep deprivation. They rocked solidly. Very dark, dazy stuff.

    Last night I was contemplating going to see The Sleepy Jackson out of sheer curiosity more than anything, I don't know their music that well. But a friend suggested coming over for dinner so I did that instead. It still kept me up late, and I'm still exhausted. And have to get back to work. Bah.

    I'd do it all again though - in a heartbeat.
  • Good News on a Bad Day

    29 août 2006, 10h21m

    Yay! Pete Yorn is doing a side gig in Melbourne! I was worried that he wouldn't. Sometimes it pays to be a pessimist, you get so pleasantly surprised. And now, the joy. And the listening to musicforthemorningafter. And then a little more joy.

    Ain't nothing like good news on a bad day.
  • My modest attempt at world domination

    26 août 2006, 7h21m

    aka Bands and Artists who should have more listeners

    I raved about a relatively obscure Melbourne band, The Daze, the other day, and the number of listeners went up by two. Not statistcally significant, I know, but if you ignore the fact that I probably had nothing to do with it, it was an awesome power rush. So I figure it's time to ramble on about some other underrated bands and artists (I'm thinking an arbitrary threshhold of less than 1000 listeners) and see if I can change the world, just that tiny little bit, for the better. Plus, I'll be spreadin' the music, and that's what it's all about. For the purposes of my power rush, all these bands have freely downloadable music on their websites/myspace so you can have them on your charts within a few minutes. We do, indeed, live in a golden age.

    First up - the locals:

    Deloris
    181 listeners, downloads here and here
    Great band. They're connected to Augie March in some way, I can't remember how. You can certainly hear an indefineable Augie Marchish quality to their music, but their sound is all their own. Dense and lovely sound textures, great lyrics. They have no trouble rocking out, but equally have the ability to be heart-breakingly tragic (listen to O You're Gone, seriously).

    Single Twin
    6 listeners, downloads here
    Alter-ego of Deloris singer/songwriter Marcus Teague, Single Twin also bears the same distinctive sound. Certainly worth the time for anyone who likes the Deloris stuff.

    Pitching Woo
    19 listeners, downloads here
    In keeping with the Deloris related stuff, there's Pitching Woo, who I believe have just finished touring with them. I didn't see them - their Melbourne gig conflicted with Augie March, and Augie March gives way to no one, but otherwise it would have been worth going to. Pitching Woo are kind of ambient/electronic - much more so than my usual alt-country riddled listening fare - but it's built on a good solid rock music base, so it's all good. Good songs, and at the end of the day, that's what counts.

    clinkerfield
    23 listeners, downloads here
    Aussie pub band type band, good dose of country and rock. But of course, there's more to it than that, or I wouldn't mention them. They write some really great, tragic, melancholy little tunes. I can't currently remember which ones they are (useful, I know). Of the songs on their website a few are of this beautifully heartbreaking nature, a few are good rolicking slightly countrish songs, and the remaining few are unexpected rough and ready rock songs. Diversity is good, right?

    The Daze
    320 listeners (formally 318!), downloads here
    I think these guys are worth another mention, just 'cos I like them so much. I don't really have anything new or intelligent to say about them, just to beam with pride that Melbourne sports such a great alt-country band. Beam, beam, beam I go.

    Nick Connoly
    3 listeners, downloads from the Daze site (Don't Fret on the sounds page) here
    Similar to the Daze stuff, but purely instrumental, which large chunks of most Daze songs are anyway. Really good. I didn't really listen much instrumental music before I stumbled across this, but I appreciate it much more now.

    The Beautiful Few
    422 listeners, downloads here
    Ok, to be perfectly honest, I don't love this band. I like some of their older stuff, for instance Sleeping in the Afternoons is a great song. Really. But their new stuff does nothing for me. Oh well. They are highly lauded by a fair few creditable not-me people, so I think they're worth mentioning, if for nothing else then for their excessively long album titles (like Something To Do, Someone To Love, Something To Look Forward To). They're also obliquely connected to Augie March in a way I also don't remember, and again, you can hear it. I think they're mostly loved for their lyrics, and I don't chose to dispute any claims to poetic brilliance. Just be warned that a handful of tracks available from their site are old demos and of corresponding old demo quality. Decent songs though. I do like the old stuff.


    I think that about does it for underappreciated Melbourne bands that I can think of right now. Time to go national:

    Bluebottle Kiss
    820 listeners, downloads here
    Brilliant. Ok, my impressions of BBK may be a little skewed right now by the fact that I saw them live last night and still have their wonderful, wonderful sound in my ears. But seriously, they're great. I don't understand why their listener count doesn't have one or two extra zeros on it. They played through their last album Doubt Seeds in it's stunning two disc entirety. As frontman Jamie Hutchings observed "We're nearly at the end of the first disc, and you're still on your feet. Who says double albums aren't a good thing?" And they are, when they're this good. There's a few quiet moment, a lot of loud ones, some brass, some jazz, some everything. It's the sort of music where it doesn't matter what sort of music it is - what you hear is that it's good. Was that enthusiastic enough? Has it caught on? I put all my immense power of recommendation behind this.

    (In a slightly tangential rant, I had to leave a few songs before the end, so I could get back into the city in time for the last train. It was so hard to tear myself away, I nearly said "hang the taxi fare, I'm staying" but I reasoned that a taxi fare saved is a taxi fare spent on more music. But whose stupid idea was it to have gigs finish later than trains? I accept that if it's impractical to run them all night, it's impractical - I work for a transport engineering company, I can cope with the logic - but I don't understand why they can't at least run to one or two. Who goes home at midnight? Who? It's fine if I'm in the city, but if I have to get back into the city and then get home, I need more time. Damn transport authorities. I gotta learn me to drive.)

    Jason Ferris
    209 listeners, debut album All I Said here
    Singer/songwriters are great. They'd be like breadmaker/toasters, if such things existed. They create something wonderful, and then serve it with margerine and vegemite. Ok, that similie was lousy. But Jason's music isn't! (smooth segue, huh?) Sorry, I'm running out of music adjectives. Anyways, Jason Ferris makes very good music. His album is warm and acoustic, the songs are great. His lyrics are amazing. I don't usually notice lyrics, I tend to see the voice as an instrument, and if you don't get your point across aurally, then the words aren't going to get you anywhere. So when I actually notice lyrics early on, it usually means they're pretty damn good, or else they describe exactly what I'm feeling at that point in time. I think when I stared listening to this stuff it was a fair bit of both. Anyways, highly recommended.

    Nathan Scott
    3 listeners (woot! although I suspect only one of them is actually listening to the guy I'm referring to), downloads here
    I'm just putting this in 'cos he taught me dynamics back in Perth. Great guy. He and another dynamics lecturer designed this really cool web based learning system...you don't care, it really isn't interesting. But the music's pretty cool. Check out Touch it all from Captain Expendable, nifty little song that.

    The Telltales
    1 listener (and it's me!), downloads here
    Ok, someone's gotta keep me company here. Admittedly, their music isn't uniformly great. Some of it is. Some of their songs are wonderfully lush, folksy little tunes. One or two are rediculously trite, both musically and lyrically. But don't let my honesty get in the way of hearing this band. The folksy stuff is seriously good.

    Pivot
    676 listeners, downloads here
    These guys opened for BBK last night - they were impressive. Very energetic, semi-electronic, guitar heavy instrumental band. I'm not sure what their studio stuff is like, but they're certainly a great live band.


    And around the globe:

    Catfish Haven
    1,492 listeners (ok, I know I'm cheating, but I love CH, so I don't care), downloads here and here
    Loud, heartfelt and a little bluesy. I'm counting on these guys to get rediculously famous, so that I can say "I listened to them when...". I'm shallow that way. But they deserve it. Great band. I recommend Paper Thin, but it's all good.

    The Cash Brothers
    423 listeners, downloads here
    The dusty attic part of my mind that holds this information is telling me that these guys are longtime staples of the Canadian folk scene, but it could be thinking of someone else. They are Canadian. And they are folksy. Very mellow, vocal harmony type stuff. Kinda like latter day Jayhawks, only more folk, less country. Very good at what they do, even if that's all they do. If you liked Rainy Day Music you'll probably like this.

    The English System
    31 listeners, downloads here
    Good band. Really distinctive vocals, and good songs. Just a really interesting sound. I really should stop this now, my descriptive powers are at breaking point. So I'll close on...

    Griffin House
    1,005 listeners (again, cheating, but only just), downloads here
    Another singer/songwriter. Really nice, slightly folky. Great vocals. Kind of like Collective Soul, but folk. That description makes no sense whatsoever. I think I just think that because Just a Dream reminds me of The World I Know. This similarity may only exist inside my head. Meh - they're both great songs.


    Well, that's all I can be bothered with. If you're still reading, kudos. Let's rock those charts ;)