Saturday, 29 December 2007

2007 - The Year That Was (Cam's Take)

Well, Christmas has come and gone, to be followed in a few days time by New Years. It seems like as good a time as any to take stock on... The Year That Was.

Initially I thought that I should do a 'Top 10 Brisbane Bands in 2007' list, or something along those lines. However, as I thought about it I realised that that particular idea really didn't appeal to me. For one thing, I felt like I was always forgetting someone who was deserving, or perhaps giving credit to someone else who I thought may be objectively deserving but that I had very little personal connection to. And anyway, what worth do my opinions have in these matters? It's one thing to write a subjective review of a show or release, where I'm presenting my opinions as purely that: my opinions. It's another thing to give something some sort of objective ranking and score, and I felt like I had no business doing so (you might notice that we don't give ratings in any reviews here - a blog by its very nature has an inflated opinion of its own worth without going to that extent).

Instead I thought I would come up with something a little less structured and a little more personal. The following are a selection of things that were important to me from throughout this year, or that were important to the groups of people who are, in turn, important to me in some way. What was important to you? Let us know. This isn't supposed to be some sort of be-all-and-end-all list, and these opinions are only valid to me, so please feel free to add in your own experiences and favourites from this year. Lord knows I've probably forgotten about a bunch of things.


Best New Venue: The Lofly Hangar. Hands down. It combines the best elements of 610 (DIY culture, interesting bands, casualness) and The Troubadour (great vibe, comfy chairs). Plus you can actually stay out the back and have a conversation with someone without being bothered by valley morons / crazy volume. If it wasn't for the difficulty in getting home at the end of the night it would be perfect. Then again, if it were more accessible then perhaps some of the magic would be lost.

Biggest Loss: Skinny's. Although I have to admit that I haven't shopped there as much in recent years (I could never seem to find what I was after), I still tried to buy tickets from there. It's always been a good place, especially with their regular instores. RIP.

Most Blissful Moment: Lying on the floor of The Globe, drifting in and out of consciousness as Bloon played a pretty amazing (and somewhat rare) set of 'ambient rock'.

Most Surprising Shows: I'm going to list a couple of sets here that I really enjoyed after not really having high expectations beforehand:
  • BigStrongBrute @ Ric's - What I was expecting from this set (keyboard driven pseudo-electro-clash) and what I got (noise inflected country-rock) were so completely different that it really surprised me. It was really great.
  • Rocketsmiths @ Ric's - It wasn't so much that I loved this show and this band, but more that I was expecting to not really like the band very much at all. The fact that I really enjoyed the show surprised me, so credit where credit is due.
  • Chris Perren & The Wicky Massive @ The Hangar - I had absolutely no idea what to expect from these guys. Some dude (I'll make an educated guess and say that it was Chris Perren) set himself up behind a laptop and synthy thing, alongside a guitarist and drummer. What followed was one of the more successful amalgamations of electronic and 'organic' music I've seen. And their drummer was very impressive.
Least Surprising Surprise: The Rational Academy didn't release their album. Shock! Although they did put out a lovely little 7", so they weren't completely lazy.

Most Exciting New Bands: Again, there are a few to mention here... so I'll mention them.
  • Do The Robot - could be the new I Heart Hiroshima, ie: the band that somehow manages to walk the line between widespread appeal and precious 'indie ideals'.
  • The John Steel Singers - that rare thing: an interesting 'serious' band. Slick but not lifeless. Poppy but not boring. They're becoming a pretty good live act, too.
  • Rialto Decibel Choir - unfortunately it seems that they're relocating to Melbourne in the early months of 2008, but for the meantime they're one of Brisbane's best new bands (if you can stomach the drama... personally I love drama).
  • Shiver Like Timber - I'm pretty sure that Ms Dircks appeared prior to 2007, but she's really gone up a few notches in terms of recognition this year. Certainly one of the more weighty presences on the Brisbane scene.
  • Rooftop Nightwatch - I wouldn't have mentioned these guys normally, considering how close I am to the band, but a lot of people seem to be talking about them.
  • Nova Scotia - carrying the torch for that particularly Brisbane brand of melodic-noise-rock that was so popular 5 or so years ago. A fine band that hopefully will stick around long enough for more people to notice them.
  • Shakes - 90s revival meets 00s emotional bombast. Nirvana meets Arcade Fire? That's a terrible description that does a disservice to the band, but I'm lazy.
  • Then there are the bands that aren't quite 'old', but aren't quite 'new'. Your Scul Hazzards, Butcher Birds, Violent Soho (can anyone say '90s revival'?), Del Toro. All worthy bands who enjoyed a successful year, most of whom have new releases coming out in the next year or so.
I Just Don't Get...: Yves Klein Blue. I'm sorry, I'm sure they're nice guys and all... I just don't get it. At all. To me their music seems calculated, noncohesive and, at times, boring. I can tell that they're relatively talented musicians... I just can't get into their music at all. But heaps of people seem to love them, and now that they're on Dew Process they're almost guaranteed to be successful, so good on them I guess.

Encouraging Sign: Continuing on from last year, it's been really cool to see a lot of young folk musicians appearing around the place, most significantly at all ages / DIY shows. Acts such as Let's Not But Say We Did (who were quite impressive in their guitar-and-string-section format - they've recently changed formats again, though), Shiver Like Timber and (prior to their transformation into a rock band) Rialto Decibel Choir head this 'scene', but it's been good to see so many other people picking up an acoustic and fingerpicking their way through a set.

Congratulations: ... go to Greg Charles, the winner of the first Grant McLennan Fellowship award. Let's hope New York treats him well.

Bands I Feel Bad About Ignoring: There are certain sections of the Brisbane scene that I think probably deserved more of my attention, either in this list or just in general. For example: Texas Tea, most of the Mere Noise / garage rock scene, Turnpike (still my favourite Brisbane band on their night), Night Crash, Little Lovers, To The North, and many of the more 'established' bands, plus plenty more that I've forgotten about. I'll be trying to rectify this.

Song Of The Year: Joel Saunder's 'Porch Song'. Yes, it's kind of rough. Yes, sometimes he struggles with the combination of electronic and acoustic elements when he plays live (although he's definitely improved a lot in this respect, and now has a 'proper' band anyway). But when he hits those last lines of the song and his voice strains and the reverb fills the recording... it's pretty fucking amazing. And that's not nothing.


As much as it can be bitchy and tiring and thankless and seemingly worthless to be involved in the Brisbane Music Scene (TM) at times, it can also be incredibly rewarding. Thank you to those who put in the effort to make it so. For that I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful break over the holidays (for those of you lucky enough to indeed have a break).

Love,
Cam

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Thursday, 27 December 2007

Weekly News - December 27th

I'm a day early on this one, not that it matters as there has been a distinct lack of happening things in Brisbane this week.

  • Common People are upping the ante for New Year's Eve and putting on their first night to feature bands. If you haven't got plans already then you do well to head to Rosie's and bring in the new year to the sounds of Nite School, Secret Birds, Influenza, and Tell All.
  • You may have noticed a lack of the ubiquitous 'best of the year' list on Before Hollywood. Fear not as Cam is brewing a 2007 roundup right now, but if you can't hold out until next week to get another dose of inane ranking than head over to Rose Quartz. The blog has collected top 10 lists from a number of Australian and New Zealand artists, including our own Shiver Like Timber, Joel Saunders, and BigStrongBrute, and is worth a look if you want to see albums from M.I.A., Radiohead, Beirut, Panda Bear, Animal Collective, LCD Soundsystem, and Deerhunter arranged in assorted ways.

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Sunday, 23 December 2007

Weekly News - December 23rd

Sorry about the tardiness on this one, I'm having trouble with the soul crushing weight of consumerism that rears its ugly head this time of year. There isn't much happening this week anyhow.

  • BigStrongBrute have completed their debut album and are set to release in early in January next year. For a sneak peek scheck out the three tracks online at their myspace.
  • Hendrik Olivier also has a trio of new songs on his myspace. His unique take on folk-rock blends the newer folk ramblings of artists like Devendra Banhart with a background of post-rock similar to Mogwai or Sigur Ros. Definitely worth a look in.

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Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Cam's Gig's of the Christmas / New Year Period

Well, this is the last of the gig guides for this year. There's a lot going on in the next two weeks, and since I'll be out of town next week I figured I might as well just write all of the upcoming gigs down in one go.

Thursday 20th:
Gentle Ben & His Sensitive Side @ Ric's Bar
Bonefinger Xmas Party: Glasshouse, Grand Atlantic, Idle Cranes @ The Troubadour - a free show, but email stew@bonefingerrecords.com to be on the list to gain entry.

Friday 21st:
Bloon, Rialto Decibel Choir, An Horse, Dollface, DJ sets for ReStream and Lowbitlove @ The Lofly Hangar - what a way to see out the working year. I think I'm going to end this night drunk, in tears and in love with everybody. You should too, wherever you may end up.
Scul Hazzards, Quiet Steps @ Ric's Bar - Maybe you'll end up here. You wouldn't be doing badly if that were the case.
Godnose, Dick Nasty, Plan of Attack @ Club Phoenix - Or maybe here?
The Horrortones, Digger & The Pussycats, The Band From Hong Kong, The Heels @ The Troubadour - SUPERBAND plays Christmas show.

Saturday 22nd:
The Gin Club, Texas Tea, The Rocketsmiths, At Sea @ The Zoo - this should be a really great Christmas party. The Gin Club will also be selling copies of their new rarities album, 'Hissy Fit'.
Intercooler, Iron On, Mary Trembles, An Horse @ Skinnys - say goodbye to a Brisbane institution with this special, final in-store on Saturday... and buy some cheap stuff while you're there.
Young Doctors, SixFtHick @ Ric's Bar
The Red Paintings @ The Tivolo - There's an All Ages show at 3pm, then a special Adults Only version at 7pm. Don't forget your Dr Seuss outfit.
Postcards For Abby, Sunflower, Hazards of Swimming Naked @ Valley Mall Rotunda - I'm not sure how the Hazards got this gig, but I say there needs to be more apocalyptic post-rock in the Valley Mall.

Sunday 23rd:
Bloon, Plutonic9 (USA), Uriema (USA), Chelsea Charlton @ Sub-Station #4 (Petrie Tce)

Wednesday 26th:
The Dave McCormack Supa Fun Happy Post Xmas Show @ Ric's Bar - Ric's really are putting in with the Christmas spirit this year, hey?

Thursday 27th:
Gentle Ben & His Sensitive Side @ Ric's Bar - again!

Saturday 29th:
Violent Soho, The Sips @ Ric's Bar - It seems like most of the other major venues are shut.

Wednesday 2nd:
Yeow Meow, Joel Saunders @ Ric's Bar - Still, you only need one good show a night, right?

Thursday 3rd:
Granite Lakes, Ben Salter & The Young Liberals @ Ric's Bar - Yep, Ric's again.

Friday 4th:
Rialto Decibel Choir (EP Launch), Split Sombre (Vic), Do The Robot, Dollface @ The Troubadour - Rialto launch their debut EP with some great bands.
Quiet Steps, Turnpike @ Ric's Bar - man, I'm going to be running between Ric's and the Troubadour all night.

Saturday 5th:
BigStrongBrute, All & Sundry, Greg Charles, Let's Not (But Say We Did) @ The Troubadour - should be a fine, fine show.
At Sea @ Ric's Bar (3pm)
Feathers, Secret Birds @ Ric's Bar (9pm)

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Saturday, 15 December 2007

Review: Iron On - The Verse EP

I imagine that the vast majority of readers of this blog would be at least passingly familiar with Iron On. You know, lots of distorted power chords and relatively simple lead guitar parts, boy/girl vocals, big drums and bigger bass, even bigger Superchunk/Sandpit fetish. Yep, Iron On. For this review I thought I'd go through Iron On's previous releases, to give a bit of context. So, without further ado:

The Understudy - Not a bad start at all. In fact the EP opens with a song that is still amongst the band's best (though as far as I'm aware they don't play it much anymore), in the form of the Kate Cooper sung 'Ruddy' (that vocal chant backed by distorted bass chords towards the end of the song is a particularly brilliant moment). I hadn't listened to this release for quite a while, and was surprised at how good it was when I recently returned to it. It's much rawer than the band's other releases, and probably features some of the most complex song structures in the band's discography (ie: it doesn't rely on the 'clean verse, distorted chorus' formula to as great an extent as their subsequent releases... in fact a lot of the songs don't even really have obvious choruses).

Everybody Calm Down - My personal favourite, it seems to get everything right. It's more polished than The Understudy but not as slick as Oh The Romance, it has the right balance of noise and pop, and features not a single dud track. It also finishes with my personal favourite Iron On song, 'I Had To Read It More Than Once'. I just think that this is one of the best releases to come out of Brisbane in recent years. Apparently the band doesn't think too much of it, though (?).

Oh The Romance - After two successful EPs, Iron On released their debut album. To be (somewhat brutally) honest, it would have made a much better EP. Although it features some of the band's best material ('Learn Today, Earn Tomorrow', 'Playing Hard To Want', 'More Than Tape'), it also contains some songs that could probably best be described as 'Iron On By Numbers', which cause the album to get a bit samey towards the end. Although thanks to the production services of one Magoo, even the lesser tracks sound pretty huge. Don't get me wrong, it's still a fine album, I just think that it needed a bit more variety to live up to the EPs.

Which brings us to the present, and The Verse. Personally, I find this EP to be something of a mixed bag, though in a different way from Oh The Romance. Where the band's debut album tended to consist of songs that either worked in their entirety or just never quite found that much needed spark, many of the songs on this EP find that spark for certain sections and then lose it in others.

The EP starts with 'One Man Band', which kind of approaches being one of those 'Iron-On-By-Numbers' songs. There's nothing wrong with it, in fact there's a lot right with it - it's a well written song with a good melody (I really like the 'ooo' backing vocals in the verses) and a good amount of energy, but it just never really leapt out at me. I find it somewhat strange that it's the radio single, not because it's not representative of the band and their sound (because it is representative, VERY representative) but more because they've written countless songs that are far better. In fact I'd probably say that it's the worst song on the EP - which I guess says something about the band's consistency, since as I mentioned before it's still a good song.

Ross Hope's 'Showing Signs' follows next, and on this track Iron On get most things pretty spot on - there's some interesting delayed guitar parts in the verses, and the choruses are quite frankly huge. Very satisfying. There's just one problem... Hope's damn American accent. It's a pet peeve of mine, so maybe other people don't even notice it, but his vocal affectations are starting to annoy me to the extent that they just about ruin songs that I otherwise love. He doesn't talk that way, so why sing like that? There's something about the accent that kind of makes me question the sincerity of the rest of the song. Still... great freaking chorus. Probably the best song on the EP, accent notwithstanding.

The next two songs ('Snow' and 'Can't Concentrate') explore some new ground for Iron On, being predominantly acoustic songs with some new (for Iron On) choices in instrumentation, namely some keys and drum machines. They're both quite good songs too, and show that the band are looking to expand their sound to an extent, which bodes well for their next full length.

The Verse finishes with 'Terrible Year', which again shows some interesting new ground being explored by the band, this time in the form of a sludgy two-chord riff in the verses. It's interesting, it works in putting an slightly new spin on the Iron On Sound... and then the choruses come in and just completely jar with the verses. Two chords, upbeat, it's like they've been ripped from a completely different song. Not necessarily a bad different song, but... it just sounds weird. I've had about a month to get used to the changes and they STILL sound strange.

I love Iron On. I don't love this EP, but I do love bits of it. I like the fact that it shows the band covering some new ground. I think it shows promising signs for their forthcoming sophomore album. I like Iron On when they're a little bit weirder (which is why I like Everybody Calm Down the most), and The Verse shows them being a little bit weirder. I just think that on a few occasions they've chosen to be a little bit weirder in a weird way. Still, I'd rather see them try something new and maybe come up slightly short than to just blindly continue on with the sound that they've pretty much mastered.

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Friday, 14 December 2007

Weekly News - December 14th


  • We have naught but sad news this week, with the announcement that Skinny's will be closing its doors on Christmas Eve. The store has been in the game for around three decades so it is sure to leave a hole in the cultural heart of Brisbane. There is a silver lining to this cloud however, as Skinny's is planning on going out with a bang in the form of an in-store concert featuring Iron On, Little Lovers, Mary Trembles, Intercooler and An Horse on December 22nd.

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Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Robert Forster & Band @ GOMA (08.12.07)

Hats off to Robert Forster and his band for an excellent set at the GOMA's Andy Warhol Exhibition opening. The band covered three of the Velvet Underground's albums with 'I'm Waiting For The Man', 'All Tomorrows Parties' and 'What Goes On' the stand out tracks. For those who didn't make it on the night you can have a look at some photos here, as well as the video below.



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Friday, 7 December 2007

Weekly News - December 7th


  • Its December and that means end of the year lists, and locally there's none bigger then 4ZzZ's Hottest 100. Anyone can vote, however 4ZzZ subscribers go in the running to win 10 CD's. Entries close Christmas Day, so get in quick and vote here.
  • Undertow, the Gold Coast's resident street press, is releasing a compilation showcasing the city's musical talent. The featured artists cover the spectrum of the Gold Coast music scene, ranging from the internationally and nationally recognised (Operator Please, Winnie Coopers), to local favourites (The Daisycutters, The Presidents Bush). Proceeds from sales of the CD go to charity so make sure to pick up a copy when its released next week.
  • Garage-punks The Busymen are launching their debut album this week (a decade after they formed!). Distort All Levels is being released on Turkeyneck Records and promises to serve up a uniquely 'Brisbane' take on the proto-punk sound of the 60's.
  • Things are on the up and up for Del Toro. The band have recently finished recording their debut album, Hydra, with veteran producer Casey Rice (Tortoise, Veruca Salt, Dirty Three). The first evidence of this is the stellar track 'Unlimited', available to hear on the band's Myspace. The trio have also scored support slots in January for US alternative heavyweights Low and Built To Spill.
  • Brisbane's very own supergroup (of sorts), Rooftop Nightwatch, have unleashed a bunch of demos. Don't let the tag put you off though, these are excellent quality recordings so be sure to check them out.
  • For those lamenting Brisbane's prodigal instrumental hip-hopper's Briztronix (Who have recently released their debut LP), I suggest having a listen to the latest release from Monster Monster. The track 'Nine Minutes And Fifty Something Seconds' is to be released as a single in the future, but for now you can listen to part of it in the Monster Monster's myspace.
  • Bit of a public service announcement to finish off. Mary Trembles bassist Tanzie had three guitars stolen last Saturday in Bowen Hills and would probably like them back. Check out the details here if you know anything.

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Thursday, 6 December 2007

Cam's Gigs of the Week - December 6th

Things aren't quite as crazily busy as they were last weekend, but there's still a few things to choose from.

Thursday 6th:
Teeming With Wildlife, Candy Falls @ Ric's Bar

Friday 7th:
Television Records Christmas Party: Edward Guglielmino & Tim Carroll, Jackie Marshall, Carry Nation, Lucien Simon, Cameron Elliott, CometowherethecarpetstopS @ The Troubadour
Dizzy Gotheca, Twist Oliver Twist @ Ric's Bar
Busymen, Pineapples from the Dawn of Time, Kewpie Doll @ Rosies Upstairs

Saturday 8th:
Iron On (EP Launch), Violent Soho, Butcher Birds @ The Zoo
Capital, Hot Liquid Sex @ Ric's Bar
4zzzFM Birthday Bash: The Meanies, Blowhard, SixFtHick, Dick Nasty, Suspect 7, Nova Scotia, Nightillion, Afro Dizzi Act, Dub Doubt, The Dangerman, Elation, Lao Mirador, Bazmati, Dementia 13, Timber & Steel Sound System @ Jubilee Hotel - Starts at 12pm, just the one stage. I saw a timetable somewhere but can't find it right now... if it turns up I'll post it here.
Euripides Berserker, Ryu Vs Ken, Quiet Steps, Collisions @ Fat Louie's

Tuesday 11th:
Dew Process Christmas Party: The Grates, Dr Dog, Whitley, Yves Klein Blue @ The Zoo

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Friday, 30 November 2007

Weekly News - November 30th


New segment coming at y'all! This one's fairly self-explanatory.

  • Post-punk revivalists Yves Klein Blue have signed to Brisbane's foremost independent record label, Dew Process. Apparently the label was attracted by Yves Klein Blue's "clashy blend of classic pop, old punk, gypsy jazz and indie rock." Personally I'm a little skeptical about Yves Klein Blue's "gypsy jazz" origins, but you can find out for yourself December 11th when the band plays The Zoo alongside The Grates, Dr Dog, and Whitley for the Dew Process Xmas Party.
  • Virgin has announced the first lineup for 2008's V Festival. The list is short but sweet, including luminaries like Smashing Pumpkins, Jesus And Mary Chain, Queens of the Stone Age, Duran Duran, and Air. Unfortunately the only Australian acts announced are Sydney's The Presets, and Melbourne's Plug In City, so fingers crossed some Brisbane acts fit into the final lineup. The local leg of the tour occurs March 30th on the Gold Coast, with tickets on sale next Thursday.
  • December is a month of birthday celebrations for Brisbane's musical institutions. 4ZzZ is in line for a mid-life crisis at 32, while The Zoo ups the ante with some teen angst 15 years after they opened their doors. Both 4ZzZ and The Zoo will be holding shows to celebrate so keep an eye on Cam's gig recommendations.
  • Local folk-poppers Rialto Decibal Choir are set to drop their debut release, The Parade EP, in January next year. Head over to their MySpace page to check out the first offering from the EP, 'Four Posts'.
  • Tragic/Athletic are also gearing up for their latest EP, Brakes, which will be available sometime in December (or possibly June/July 2008 as I've heard elsewhere, I'm going to give December the benifit of the doubt though). Two of the four tracks, 'Three Months At Sea' and 'We Set Sail When The Wind Came', are available on their MySpace so I recommend investigating.
  • If you can't wait for the above two releases then be sure to pick up Joel Saunders Girly Music EP which will be launched at Lofly Hangar tomorrow night. The EP features Joel covering songs by female artists, including an impressive remake Rihanna's 'Umbrella' (To the point were the song is no longer annoying!). As a lead up to the launch Joel has been blogging about his favourite cover songs, among which sits local band Shakes' cover of Cyndi Lauper's 'Time After Time'. I recommend having a look at the post here.

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Thursday, 29 November 2007

Review: Yeo - Trouble Being Yourself

No, you haven't imbibed to much cough syrup, the above image features the multi-talented Yeo who has just dropped his debut album. Yeo has been steadily making a name for himself locally and nationaly as a prodigous talent (Zan Rowe of Triple J has touted him as Australia's answer to Phoenix and Cornelius) and, with Trouble Being Yourself, Yeo has definitely stepped up to meet those expectations.

The album is a fresh change from the usual fair coming out of Brisbane, combining a number of influences not usual touched on by local artists. Yeo tackles genres as diverse as R'n'B, French touch, reggae, funk, and electro-clash. While this may seem to be a course for disaster, Yeo never feels out of water on any of the tracks. From the basketball-sampling 'The Score' and the Specials meets Architecture In Helsinki 'Fishin' With Aidan', to the twee acoustic number 'My Greatest Fear' or the electro-funk freakout that is 'Backflips In The Kitchen', Yeo has crafted a sensationally eclectic album. There is no doubt that there are tracks on Trouble Being Yourself to suit any musical taste.

On stage Yeo employs a backing band, The Fresh Goods, to recreate his expansive sound. While no future gigs are confirmed at the moment, keep an eye out for an album launch in December. In the meantime you can grab Trouble Being Yourself from Rockinghorse, Butter Beats, or The Outpost Store. As a primer here's 'Study Buddy' of the album. It's a track that sits somewhere on the scale between George Clinton and Prince, so you're sure to enjoy.










Yeo - Study Buddy off Trouble Being Yourself

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Cam's Gigs of the Week - November 29th

Apologies to Chris Perren & The Wicky Massive for not posting your gig last night. Err, I'm sure it would have had a massive effect on the turnout.

*cough*

Thursday 29th:
Tim Steward, Fi Claus @ Ric's Bar
The Bell Divers, Rooftop Nightwatch, Capital @ The Zoo

Friday 30th:
HumanSixBillion, Greg Brady & The Anchors @ Ric's Bar

Saturday 1st:
Joel Saunders (EP Launch) - featuring Fickle Beasts (but not Illage anymore), Ned Collette (Vic), Pikelet (Vic), Simulcast @ Lofly Hangar (151 Musgrave Rd, Red Hill) - all ages
Laura (Vic), Do The Robot, The Last Great Russian Revolution @ The Zoo
Ramone-a-thon: See the poster @ Step Inn
Sub-Audible Hum (Vic), The Night Terrors (Vic), Stature::Statue, Blue Carousel @ The Troubadour
The Rocketsmiths, Idle Cranes @ Ric's Bar (9pm)
The Westminters, Dan Parsons Band @ Ric's Bar (4pm)
Diamond Sea, Shiver Like Timber, Feathers @ Spring Hill Baths - all ages

Sunday 2nd:
Little Vegas & The Fuzz Parade, Legions of Mary, La Cosa Nostra @ The Troubadour
Heavyweight Champion @ Ric's Bar

Monday 3rd:
Buildings Melt, Blendher @ Ric's Bar


That's a pretty busy weekend, especially Saturday night. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Cam's Gigs of the Week - November 21st

Wednesday 21st:
Do The Robot, All & Sundry, Space Between Trains, Blendher @ The Troubadour

Thursday 22nd:
Golden Circles, Pear & The Awkward Orchestra @ Ric's Bar

Friday 23rd:
SixFtHick, Gentle Ben & His Sensitive Side, Scul Hazzards, Butcher Birds @ The Zoo - SixFtHick album launch
Re:Enactment, Toy Balloon @ Ric's Bar

Saturday 24th:
Federal Election @ nearest polling centre
The Horse You Rode In On @ The Powerhouse - EP Launch
The Scare, Regular John, Veya @ The Troubadour

Sunday 25th:
Live Spark: Ponyloaf, Del Toro @ The Powerhouse (3pm)

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Monday, 19 November 2007

Review: Warm Guns - Warm Guns EP



John Lennon once said happiness was a warm gun. Well it turns out he may have been wrong. The Warm Guns' debut release is a 9-track EP released by those local supporters of all things head banging, Mere Noise Records. The Warm Guns are a four piece consisting of Amy Dzufer on guitar, Kellie Lloyd (better known as a member of Screamfeeder) on bass, Mel Lathouras on keyboards, and Murray Pas providing a backbeat. Vocal duties are split evenly among the band, lending a distinctively poppy vibe to the EP.

Opening track 'Even If I Could' starts well enough with grungy guitar and Rhodes keyboard making for an excellent intro but, once the vocals kick in, the song becomes an exercise in mediocrity. 'Bullet For Stu' follows a similar pattern, though the multiple vocalist aspect comes into its own, making for some nice melodies. Again though there is nothing to push the song above average.

'Irene Ballstein' doesn't mess with the band's formula. While musically the track is a little tighter than the previous two, its lyrical subject of rock and roll excess comes off as a failed attempt at irony. 'Breakdown' is more cannon fodder in this musical battle, with its hard rock riffing and 'yeah yeah yeah'-ing coming off a little tediously. The next track 'Gustav Bladivostock' is a little better. Rather than being stuck in the same gear as the previous tracks, the Warm Guns decide to mix up the pace a little here, and it pays off.

'Mr Sleaze' is the redeeming track on the EP. The song takes an entirely different tact to the previous songs. The vocals are brilliant and the track ends up sounding like the Stooges fronted by Aretha Franklin. Musically the track ups the ante as well, with a searing guitar solo mid-song attempting to steal the show. The Warm Guns' return to their old ways on 'Wanna Meetcha', though the song is decidedly improved on the first five tracks, with the vocals again dragging the track across the line.

'Turkey Neck' moves dangerously close to power ballad territory, with a chorus consisiting of the lyrics "Are you ready to die?" repeated constantly. The result is a very forgettable song. The appallingly named 'Suck My Cockney' is the last track on the EP and is almost as uninspiring and repetitive as the previous track. Ultimately the Warm Guns EP is a very shaky start for the Warm Guns. While the band definitely show talent on some tracks ('Mr Sleaze','Wanna Meetcha'), the rest of the EP falls flat.

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Thursday, 15 November 2007

Teeming With Wildlife, Do The Robot @ Ric's Bar (9.11.07)

I figured that I should write about this gig today, else it will have been a week since the show which officially makes it old news in the fast-paced world of Brisbane's indie-rock scene. But fear not! For we are nothing if not timely.

I first saw Do The Robot... oh, I don't know... a while ago. Let's say it was about 9months previous. Anyway, I distinctly remember being really impressed with them, especially considering it was one of their first shows. Their shoegaze-inspired guitar parts mixed with interesting, energetic drum parts to create a really catchy sound that, while it wasn't really original per se (in fact it's actually very 'retro'), certainly had enough of its own character to help the band stand out as One To Watch. Fast forward to around 2 months later and I was watching the band play sans-drummer at Ric's Bar. It was... really boring. Without the energy provided by the drums things just seemed to drag on and on, compounded by the fact that most of their songs consist of one or two variations on a single chord progression.

After a few months break I had the chance to see them again this past Friday, this time in full-band mode. The consensus? They're really good, and certainly one of the more promising acts in Brisbane. I still think their songs are a bit long for what they are (stretching things out is great, but 5 songs in a 35 minute set when said songs are pretty much straight-forward pop songs is maybe pushing it a bit), but other than that there's a lot to like about the band. As I mentioned moments ago, their songs are pretty catchy and their sound is engaging. One thing I really appreciate about the band is their realisation that good 'shoegaze' isn't built solely on one man, a fender guitar and a whammy bar. In fact, while the whirling guitar parts in their songs have a certain lethargy, the drums and vocals are often quite insistent and lively. In summary, I'm really looking forward to seeing the band develop over the next year or so - I'm hoping that they can turn into a really interesting pop group. There aren't enough of those in Brisbane, most of our indie-rock bands seem to either be pop in a really obvious way, or they're completely un-pop (exceptions being bands like I Heart Hiroshima and The Rational Academy, who tend to do a good job of balancing the two elements).

Teeming With Wildlife mine similar territory to Do The Robot, but they replace the previous band's shimmering grace with huge amounts of fuzz and massive riffs. They have a real love of effects (mostly distortion), and a wall of amps to deliver them through. They also have that burried vocals thing going on - in fact, the vocals were so burried that I don't think I heard them once in the entire set. Most of their songs were either of the linear-build or the verse-chorus-verse varities, so being able to hear some vocal lines might have added a beneficial extra dimension. They're enjoyable if you're into listening to really really big riffs being played really really loudly. I don't think they're going to blow anyone's mind (well, they might do so through pure volume and guitar tone, I guess), but I don't think they're really aiming to rewrite any rulebooks. In fact, I'm pretty sure they've achieved exactly what they wanted to, that being to write songs that involve (as I said just two sentences ago) playing really really big riffs really really loudly. Basically, if you're into that sort of sound (and a lot of people are, myself included) they're a fun band to see.

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Cam's Gigs of the Week - November 15th

Thursday 15th:
Warm Guns, The Confessions @ Ric's Bar - Warms Gun have a new CD out, in case you weren't aware.


Friday 16th:
Ohana (NSW), To The North, Let's Not (But Say We Did) @ The Troubadour - Intricate post-hardcore meets intricate folk. Not as uncommon as you might think.
Ghosts of Television, Secret Birds @ Ric's Bar - Bands playing at Ric's.

Saturday 17th:
Seaplane (video shoot), Nova Scotia, Teeming With Wildlife, ReStream @ Lofly Hangar - Gig of the week.
Dick Desert & The Shotgun Country Club, The Re-mains, Bob Weatherall, Sue Ray @ The Troubadour - Country/rock at The Troubadour. Can anyone notice a pattern?
Mass Migration, The Strange Attractors @ Ric's (4pm) - 'Art rock' (apparently), but coming at the term from completely different directions.
Idle Cranes, Wind & Brackets @ Ric's Bar (9pm) - It's, like, psychedelic, man.
The Pints (CD Launch), Sydney City Trash, The Disables, Spent Shells, Bad Moon Company, The Black Market, The Wayne Keys Show, Jack Flash, Insurgents, Ringpull, Seedy Gringo @ Jubilee Hotel - That's one hell of a lot of garage rock.

Sunday 18th:
Agreeable Kids Social Club: BigStrongBrute, Joel Saunders, Monster Monster @ Brisbane City Library (4pm, All Ages) - Thoroughly nice kids, in name and in nature.
Live Spark: The Boat People, The John Steel Singers @ The Powerhouse - pop music on a Sunday afternoon.

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Andy Warhol Exhibition

The Queensland Art Gallery isn't usually part of our territory but, with the event of the forthcoming Andy Warhol exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art, they have managed to catch our eye with something a little special.

As part of the opening night celebrations for the exhibition Robert Forster (of the Go-Betweens if you didn't already know) will perform a set featuring the music of the Warhol-associated band, The Velvet Underground. Accompanying him will be fellow Go-Between Adele Pickvance on bass, Dylan McCormack (brother of Dave and member of his band, The Polaroids), Susie Patten of local favourites I Heart Hiroshima on drums, and Karin Baeumler (of Baby You Know, who I've never heard of, please enlighten me if you could). Unfortunately they are only scheduled for a thirty minute set, which is a little bit restricting considering the length of some of The Velvet Underground's music ('Sister Ray' clocks in at 17 and a half minutes!). Nonetheless, this is sure to be an unmissable event.

Tickets go on sale on Monday (19th November) for $25, which gets you into the Andy Warhol exhibition also. For those in the dark about The Velvet Underground I have to say shame on you. But we all have to learn from our mistakes, so here's a live cut to listen to.










The Velvet Underground - Some Kinda Love off 1969: The Velvet Underground Live

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Friday, 9 November 2007

Cam's Gigs of the Week - November 9th

Friday 9th:

Teeming With Wildlife, Do The Robot @ Ric's Bar - I hope they're wearing interesting shoes.
Exile: Witch Hats (Vic), Scul Hazzards, Violent Soho, Liars Hate Liars @ Rosie's (Upstairs) - Some loud rock music of the indie persuassion.
Butcher Birds @ QPAC Courtyard - You know, where that restaurant thing is, next to the bus stop. Convenient!

Saturday 10th:
Twangfest: Halfway, Inntown, Texas Kate, Sugartown, Duke Wilde & The Shotgun Hillbillies, Marty Brown, Cori Scanlon, Chris Dale @ The Troubadour - alt.country festival.
Schlockfest - Darling Downs (Vic), The John Steel Singers, Mercy Dolls @ The Globe - Brisbane's Best B-Grade Short Film Festival. Apparently.
Glasshouse, Rocketsmiths, Black Market Rhythm Co, The John Steel Singers, Black Mustang @ Keating Park, Indooroopilly - a whole day of fun, starting mid-morning.
Lime Spiders (NSW), Hell City Glamours (NSW), Pineapples From The Dawn Of Time, Devilrock Four, Hits, The Sips @ Step Inn - Seminal?

Sunday 11th:
Space Between Trains, In Sepia, Shakes, Carrs Park, Dan Rogan @ The Alley

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Sunday, 4 November 2007

Review: New Jack Rubys - Death To The Weird

The New Jack Rubys' debut LP is a strong, yet eclectic, beginning. The band is named for Lee Harvey Oswald's killer (which makes me curious as to who they believe to be the new Lee Harvey Oswald) and this, along with the album title, Death To The Weird, lays the groundwork for a doom-laden heavy rock affair.

The opening track, the eponymous 'Death To The Weird' is unashamed desert rock, from the slightly corny, slightly ambiguous lyrics ('The banshee screams for buffalo meat') to the surprisingly melodic chorus which is reminiscent of some of Josh Homme's best work.

The title track sets a strong pace for the album, a pace picked up by 'Miss Teen USA'. The spirits of long forgotten punks are somewhat-ironically evoked in a sleaze-ridden 3 minutes. The New Jack Rubys clean up the act for the slower 'Silver Tongue', which drops the faux-punk act to return to the favoured stoner rock genre. While 'Silver Tongue' drops the ball a bit lyrically, the grinding guitar solo towards the end of the track drags it kicking and screaming across the line (not to mention some sweet harmonica action). Simple yet effective.

'Warship Colossus & Me' is next, and here the band takes a stab at imitating Black Sabbath. They do well until the chorus kicks in and things get a lot too Wolfmother-y. The manage to salvage the shipwreck with a grimy brass section and some face melting guitar work.

The appropriately titled 'Speed Queen' puts Death To The Weird back on track. Moving and at a breakneck pace and kicking off with a couplet as irreverent as 'I'm hunting for white goods babe/You wanna get out of my way', 'Speed Queen' sets the stage for a run of the album's three best tracks. The final minute of the song which begins with a key change and ends with a screaming thrall of dirty noise is the aural equivalent of a molotov cocktail being thrown at your face. Its only fitting that the next track is the ominous 'Tesla Coil'. Only a fool would not think of Nick Cave on first hearing this song, but to say that the New Jack Rubys are simply aping Cave on this track would be entirely unwarranted. An organ plucked straight out of hell drives the song along, with cryptic lyrics ('The dead can laugh 'cause they are well fed/At least thats what the dead man said.') making the song even more frightening. The upbeat 'Swallow My Pride' switches things around with its 60's garage rock sound and a chorus that for some reason reminds me of Robbie Williams (no, really, thats not such a bad thing).

'Eight Ball' is a slow starter, but its fuzzy psychedelia (though i'm not sure that I know any gurus or mystics that would recommend actually using a magic eight ball) eventually pulls through and results in a cloudy chorus (we're talking good clouds, like rain clouds after a decade of drought) which would almost be at home in a shoegaze or post-rock bands repertoire. 'Roaming Eye' brings back the reliable heavy rock riffs that the band seems to favour. 'Roaming Eye' showcases the New Jack Rubys penchant for the morbid and bizarre, and it appears to be a anthem to the AWACS plane(thus winning my prize for most unique song topic of the year).

'I Am Big Time' is the closing track, and a track that (I hope) contains four tongues fully in cheek. The lyrics are boiling over with self-importance ('Come on and sign/I am big time.'), but I'd like to think that it is reference to the song itself. 'I Am Big Time' contains a chorus that is musically bigger then Ben Hur/Titanic/Lord Of The Rings. A perfect end to an impressive debut album.

If you'd like a second opinion then check out these live recordings, courtesy of our reliable bootlegger Brendan.










New Jack Rubys - Speed Queen (Live At The Troubadour)










New Jack Rubys - Tesla Coil (Live At The Troubadour)

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Saturday, 3 November 2007

BigStrongBrute, All & Sundry @ Ric's (2.11.07)

Due to ordering too much freakin' food at The Alibi Room (something I seem to do EVERY time I go there), I missed the first half of All & Sundry's set. This turned out to be a bit of a shame, as the performance of the 4 songs that I caught was much stronger than the previous time I'd seen the band (at Fat Louie's last month) - and this with the band being one member down, since their violinist was unable to make the show. All & Sundry's sound is a ragged alt.country/folk inspired brand of indie-rock that still manages to squeeze in a bit of that post-punk thing (mostly thanks to their guitarist/vocalist's style of playing) - it's kind of like rockier Songs:Ohia/Magnolia Electric Co mixed with The National, with the rhythm section (drums, bass, guitar) laying down a foundation that ranges from that modern 'angular' thing through to something more rustic, while lap-steel guitar and (usually) violin add a rough-hewn quality to the songs. Sometimes it all comes together, with the disparate elements melding into a uniform sound. Other times it can come across as though the music is pulling in two separate directions. This was, however, only their 4th or 5th show, and with the improvement evident between this and the last show I saw I have confidence that they'll be able to reconcile the different elements in their sound to create something more consistent. They already have a not-insignificant number of songs that have been able to achieve just that.

I haven't seen BigStrongBrute in a long time. In fact, I had no idea that the (as far as I was aware) predominantly electronic solo project of one Paul Donoughue (of Tragic Athletic / Rational Academy / Yeow Meow fame) had recently morphed into a full band, complete with guitar, live drums, keys, trumpet and female backing vocals. I've been informed that this is a very recent change, so I don't feel quite so out of the loop. Anyway, I like this new setup a lot more than the previous. As with All & Sundry, BigStrongBrute's sound is country influenced indie rock with a modern twist; in BigStrongBrute's case it's a slight noise-rock bent. To be honest I'm not really too sure what to say about their music. There was a gospel song. There was indie-pop. There was a noise song. There was a country duet. There was all of this mixed into the same song. There was certainly a lot of energy on stage - Donoughue in particular came across as a sort of amalgamation of Johnny Cash, Nick Cave and Tim Harrington, though the band's keyboardist/trumpet player seemed to hold his own off to the side of stage.

So, BigStrongBrute... I arrived not really knowing what to expect from them. I got something I wasn't expecting. I'm still not quite sure what to expect from them next time. I just know that I am fairly keen to see them again.

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Thursday, 1 November 2007

Cam's Gigs of the Week - November 1st

Friday 2nd:
Bigstrongbrute, All & Sundry @ Ric's

Saturday 3rd:
The Rocketsmiths, The Gin Club @ Ric's
The Gonzo Show, Mass Migration, Chris Perren, Idle Cranes @ Fat Louies
Tim Steward @ Tongue & Groove

Sunday 4th:
The Narcotics, Idle Cranes @ Ric's (4pm)
Ed Kuepper @ Judith Wright Centre

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Sunday, 28 October 2007

Review: Turnpike / Del Toro Split EP

This particular EP has been out for a while now, but since there are still some copies floating around (and I haven't written anything substantial in about 2 weeks) I thought that I would finally put together a write-up for it. So here it is.

A bit over a year ago local go-getters 'Del Toro' won the 4zzz Radiothon band prize, said prize entailing a weekend's recording at Airlock Studios. Being the community minded people that they are, Del Toro invited Brisbane indie-noise-rock stalwarts 'Turnpike' to join them in this endeavour, the idea being to released a Split EP featuring one song from each band. Strangely enough, that's exactly what ended up being released.

Side 1 (or Track 1, since it's a CDR release as opposed to the original idea of releasing a 7") belongs to Del Toro's track 'Hinge & Pluck'. It's vintage Del Toro (or as vintage as you can get from a band that hasn't yet released an album... although that's coming next year, courtesy of one Mr Casey Rice). It's Ennio Morricone as played by Love of Diagrams. There's that trebly-as-fuck guitar tone, all delay and wah and washes of distortion. There's the awesome bass part that pretty much drives the song. There's the rock solid drumming that slithers between the immovable bass and the piercing guitar. Yep, Del Toro. Actually, there is one notable aspect to this song which differentiates it from every other one of the band's tracks: 'Hinge & Pluck' is... well, it's sexy. It will make you want to shake your post-rocking booty. Or at least nod your head while sitting in a darkened corner with your arms folded.

Where Del Toro's offering will make you want to get your skank on like some dread-locked hippy, Turnpike's 'Selling, This Century' is more likely to get you to do some emo-kid thrash-moshing*, complete with windmill kicks, etc. Any regular readers may know that Turnpike are pretty much my favourite Brisbane band, and this track is a pretty good example of why. The song starts with a classic Turnpike riff, alternating between (relatively) subdued verses and all-out choruses that essentially utilise the same riff. About one third of the way through the song the band goes into a breakdown that leads to a tense buildup-and-windown-again, taking us to the final third. At this point the band kicks into top gear, with the noisey riffing and screams being joined by a delightfully dissonant piano. Adam King is one of the most energetic guitarists I've ever heard/seen, and the rhythm section behind him is able to give him the base that he requires to go off and let rip with his dissonant math-rock shredding (and similar shredding of his vocal chords). Both bands on this release really seem to rely on their bassists to keep the song rooted, with the guitarists riffing over the top while the drummers find some sort of middle ground between the two.

This EP was recorded by local engineer Emerson, who also recorded The Butcher Birds' EP. While I was somewhat critical of the sound of that recording in my review of it, I think that Emerson's slick style actually works a bit better with these two bands. Del Toro have possibly the thinnest guitar sound in history, paired with one of the thickest bass sounds - Emerson makes the two components work together better than in any of the band's previous recording, while giving the drums a welcome step up in power. Turnpike, on the other hand, have one of the most chaotic sounds around, with the guitar tone approaching white noise at times. The extra sheen that this recording gives the band suits them well, as it reins in their noisier elements while still capturing their crazy energy, making the band sound tighter than ever. I don't quite think that it equals Bryce Moorhead's recording of their Not Lost EP (still my favourite sounding Brisbane release, and probably Turnpike's high-water mark), but Turnpike's sound has changed a bit since then, with a much greater emphasis on repetition and noise.


* yes, at 24 I am completely out of touch with 'youth culture'.

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Friday, 19 October 2007

Cam's Gigs of the Week - October 19th

Yes, there are more gigs.

Friday 19th:
Cuthbert & The Nightwalkers (NSW), The Rocketsmiths, Plastic Plastic Alice, McKisko @ The Globe
Cloud Control (NSW), Mt Augustus @ Ric's Bar
Lords of Wong, Hits, The Dangermen, New Jack Rubies, Subcity Smack @ Rosie's Upbar

Saturday 20th:
Doch Gypsy Orchestra @ The Powerhouse
Beer & Loathing In Bris Vegas: The Gonzo Show, Aheadphonehome, The Sea Shall Not Have Them, Come To Where The Carpet Stops, Premier Nights, Swaying Buildings @ The Troubadour
Toy Balloons, Tragic/Athletic @ Ric's (3pm)
Peabody (NSW), Yeow Meow @ Ric's (9pm)

Sunday 21st:
Doch Gypsy Orchestra @ The Powerhouse
Regurgitator, New Pants (China), I Heart Hiroshima @ The Met

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Friday, 12 October 2007

Cam's Gigs of the Week - October 12th

Gigs. There are some of them on this weekend. You should go to one. Maybe even multiple ones. Which ones? I don't know. Maybe the No Culture Festival at Ahimsa House on Saturday? Or Del Toro & Scul Hazzards at Ric's that very same night? Roshambo/R.A.D. at The Troubadour?

But... pictures speak louder than words. Here are them now...

Oh wait, don't have any.






STAT!

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Saturday, 6 October 2007

Review: Regurgitator - Love And Paranoia


Regurgitator have always been known as a bit of an amorphous band, but with their latest album Love and Paranoia they have certainly outdone themselves. This time around Quan Yeomans, Ben Ely and Peter Kostic have been joined by Seja Vogel (of local popsters Sekiden). Recorded in Rio De Janeiro, Love and Paranoia stands up to Regurgitator's formidable back catalog.

'Blood & Spunk', the opening track, is classic Regurgitator, blending a shouty, pop-punk verse with a good dose of electronic instrumentation. The excellently titled second track 'Drinking Beer is Awesome!' continues in the same vein, but this time exchanging the lyrics for a subtlety poignant comment on the culture of fear in contemporary Australian society (something that is present throughout the album). Next up is Love and Paranoia's highlight, 'Romance of the Damned',
a track co-written and sung by Quan and Seja. The new wave-style love song, written from the perspective of a stalker, has some of the creepiest and most humorous lyrics("I was lost in your eyes/I knew you were mine/The first time I Googled you") that I've heard in a while. Following this is the grunge-tinged title track, and Quan's emotional lyrics can really only be described as being about love and paranoia (funnily enough). The musically upbeat but lyrically depressing 'Hurricane' is next, and the track again raises the spectre of paranoia and fear. The trademark 'gurge humour raises its head again on 'Destroy This Town' in one of the couplets of the year: "Phil Collins is a fucking genius/Who knows if he really means it." Other than that, however, the track falls flat on the ears. 'Psychic Dirt' is next, and while its rockabilly riffs would definitely entertain in a live show, they come across a bit tame on record. The short interlude of 'Sun Comes Through My Window' is the only track on Love and Paranoia with its samba drumming is the only evidence of the band having recorded in Brazil. 'Magnetic', written and sung by Seja, is the first Regurgitator song to not have any lyrical input from either Quan or Ben. Anyone who is familiar with Sekiden will know what to expect; a joyful combination of keyboards and pop-punk guitars. The love songs continue (quite unexpectedly for anyone familiar with Regurgitator) with 'Michelle', a song that, apart from Seja's keyboards and the (hopefully) ironic cock-rock solo in the middle, brings to mind some of the band's earliest works. The closing track, 'Armageddon Premonition', is the unlike anything the band has previously recorded. Returning to the paranoia side of the album, 'Armageddon Premonition' combines vocodered vocals from Quan with music that sounds like the lovechild of Can and Radiohead. The result is a track that operates as a perfect closer to an engaging album, and one of Regurgitators' best to date.

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The John Steel Singers, The Rocketsmiths @ Ric's Bar (5.10.07)

The Rocketsmiths have never really interested me. They just never really seemed like 'my thing'. I'd heard some tracks on 4zzz a year or two ago (back when they were called The John Citizens) and hadn't really thought much of them. I'd resigned them to being one of those bands that existed outside my sphere of music. However, when it was announced that they were going to be playing with The John Steel Singers at Ric's, on a Friday night, for free, I decided that I might as well check them out. In the time that had passed since I had handed down my initial judgement on them they'd become one of the better known Brisbane bands, so I figured I should give them another chance.

I'm somewhat glad that I did. While I don't think I'd go so far as to say that they are, in fact, 'my thing', they're definitely not 'not my thing' either. If I were to sum them up with a quick one-liner, I'd say that they were Brisbane's ultimate bar-band. They're like The Hold Steady but with more of a rootsy feel and less poetic pretensions. They're energetic, with a big sound that's perfect for drinking to (I guess...). There's shades of country, rockabilly and plain old classic rock in their sound, with bar-room piano and rock'n'roll guitar solos a-plenty. Lead singer Dom works the crowd like someone who is used to playing venues much larger than Ric's, while the rest of the band supports him with some pretty tight playing. Ultimately, while they're probably not a band that I'd actively seek out, if they were added to a bill that I was 50/50 on, they'd most likely influence my decision towards going rather than the opposite.

The John Steel Singers. I've already reviewed them twice since we started this blog, so there's not really much point doing a hugely detailed review of them here again (additionally so when considering that there will probably be reviews of this show in next week's street press). So, to quickly sum things up, I thought that this was perhaps the best show of theirs that I'd seen (with the possible exception of their EP launch at The Troubadour). They're getting much more energetic on stage while actually increasing their tightness, which I guess comes down to how often they're playing these days. There are no doubts that they're a well rehearsed band, but thankfully they're turning into a well rehearsed band that hasn't wrung all energy and spontaneity out of their performance, which is something I was admittedly somewhat concerned about. I guess that I needn't have worried. It's also reassuring that a lot of their best songs are the ones that weren't on their EP (eg: the popular set closer, 'Poor Rich').

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Friday, 5 October 2007

Cam's Gigs of the Week - October 5th

Friday 5th:

The Rocketsmiths, The John Steel Singers @ Ric's Bar - Classic guitar pop.
Brindle, Wind & Brackets, Flaminga Crash, Liam Griffin @ The Globe
Johnny Cash Tribute Night @ The Troubadour - I shot a man in Brunswick St Mall, just to watch him die... and because I didn't like his man-bag.

Saturday 6th:
Del Toro, Rialto Decibel Choir, Mass Migration, Chris Perren & The Wicky Massive @ LoFly Hangar - Should be atmospheric
Gentle Ben & His Sensitive Side @ Ric's Bar (3pm Cheeseboard)
Flaminga Crash, Do The Robot @ Ric's Bar (9pm)
Intercooler, Mary Trembles, The Gallant @ Step Inn - Intercooler and Mary Trembles are attempting to raise money to head overseas.
Jacob S Harris, Mexico City, Texas Kate (ie: Kate from Texas Tea), Chris Dale @ The Troubadour - mellow out.
Ryu Vs Ken, Willows, Space Between Trains @ Fat Louies
Turtle Creek, Dead Stock Circa, Mt Augustus @ The Alley - early in the evening (6pm). Hardcore/metal bands take over for the second half of the evening. I have no knowledge of them so I neither recommend nor un-recommend (???) that part of the night.

Sunday 7th:
Iron On, Do The Robot @ The Powerhouse (3pm) - a free show, as part of the Live Spark series.
We Are All Aliens Showcase @ Tongue & Groove - a showcase for the forthcoming 'We Are All Aliens' compilation CD (featuring a selection of Brisbane 'indie' artists). Unfortunately I've heard that Blue Carousel and Tricycle Fair have had to pull out, but there's still Joel Saunders, Illage, Mark Zian, Chloe Turner, Veya, Mt Augustus and a whole heap more. Starts at 6:30pm.

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Thursday, 4 October 2007

The Rational Academy, Kate Bradley @ Ric's Bar (3.10.07)

This particular show was part of the 2007 Big Sound showcase (and will probably be the only show I see from said event). As such there were plenty of 'industry bigwigs' (I guess?) strutting around with entry cards attached to green sashes hanging from their respective necks. However, Ric's was about as full as it usually is on a Wednesday night, ie: not completely empty, but still with plenty of room to find a space to watch the band / get through to the bar without bumping into anyone.

Glasshouse were the first band to play, but since I didn't really have a huge interest in them I preferred to spend my time during their set sitting outside. In any case, they had really well kept hair, with fashion sense and upbeat songs to match. They may well have been great, I really don't know.

Kate Bradley filled the middle spot. My first time seeing her was when she first started playing solo after quitting from The Autumn Giants (I only got to see said band after she had left). Back then she used to play with a drummer as her only backing, and her music had a really interesting grit and edge to it; it was somewhere between earlier PJ Harvey and Jeff Buckley. Shortly after this she employed a full 3-piece backing band (to go along with her own guitar-playing), which I never really enjoyed as much as her early live format. It sounded too slick for her songs, which benefitted from a more raw approach (or maybe that's just my own preferences coming into play). Theses days she's travelling with a 2-piece rhythm section, giving her the standard guitar-bass-drums lineup. In other words, she's split the difference between her two band formats. I think that for the most part it works - her new bassist isn't afraid to hit the old Big Muff distortion every now and then, while at other times he and her rather metronomic drummer give everything a polished shine during the less rock moments. I still find myself longing for a bit more of that old rawness, but it's a pleasing step in the right direction as far as I'm concerned. As for the actual songs played on this particular night, I especially liked the somewhat atmospheric closing song, which seemed to be built on variations of the one chord progression. She also played two songs from her EP, 'Alexander & All Your Daggers' and 'Any Day Now' (which was also an ex-Autumn Giants song).

The Rational Academy played to a fairly receptive Wednesday night audience, sans their (moderately) new bassist. The biggest thing I'm finding about their new lineup is the comparitive simplicity of the parts played by their new drummer; with all of their previous drummers having been quite busy on the kit, it's strange for me to listen to these songs that I've come to know so well being played with such (at times) rudimentary drum parts. Maybe it's just the drummer in me that notices it, and everyone else is blissfully unaware. On some songs the new drum parts fit perfectly - the set closer being a good example of this (I *believe* the song is called 'Pretend It's The Sea'... that's not quite the right name but it's close). However, on an old favourite like 'Pop Repeats' some of the dynamics and power of the song seem have been lost to an extent. Overall, though, I think the new members have slotted in well; it's just one or two songs where I think I just preferred the old way that they were played. I guess that sort of thing is inevitable when a band goes through such a big change in membership.

In any case, the important thing is that the songs are still as good as they ever were. 'Beach Party' will likely be the best local song released next year (if the band stays true to its January 2008 album release date), and all of the other songs that are regulars in their set are also of high quality. I really like their song '2004', however I'm not quite sure why the band insists on singing along to a backing track for that particular number. Surely Ben Thompson has enough guitar pedals to approximate the recorded sound? As far as I can make out it only consists of some pitch-shifted down guitar/bass drones (with some liberal use of delay), some cleanly picked guitar lines, a simple kick drum beat and vocals. Again, I guess that's just my personal preferences coming into play. Certainly, when the song is actually being performed I'm thinking less about the backing track than I'm thinking about how good the song is. They're definitely in my top few favourite Brisbane bands, so I guess my (hopefully fairly minor) criticisms stem from a desire for them to be perfect, which I suppose is a bit of an unfair request. In any case, they're a great band, this was a really enjoyable show and I can't wait for their album (hopefully) early next year.

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Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Fortitude Valley Walk Of Fame

The Brisbane City Council has finally realised what a dearth of musical talent this city has and is now planning to create a 'Walk Of Fame' consisting of ten Brisbane artists. In light of Grant McLennan's passing away last year they've decided to name the Go-Betweens as the first inductee. The public, however, has the final say on the nine other artists joining them. Head over to the website to pick your favourite Brisbane artist from a shortlist of 25. Personally I'm hoping for the other nine artists to include Custard, Kev Carmody, Regurgitator, Resin Dogs, Screamfeeder, The Saints, and the Ups and Downs. More likely, however, it will include Savage Garden, the Bee Gees, Powderfinger, and Keith Urban, so it's up to you to get your votes in.

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Sunday, 30 September 2007

Valley Fiesta Friday (14.09.07)


Bit late on this one sorry. I missed most of Valley Fiesta this year due to work and moving, but I did manage to catch some bands on the Friday night.

The first of these were Grand Atlantic who were, aside from some standard classic rock maneuvers and poses, pretty lacking in all departments. Also playing on the Chinatown stage was Tim Steward. While Tim is definitely a solid performer and he solo work is some of his best, I just can't help wishing that I was watching Screamfeeder instead.

Next it was off to Rics for Stature::Statue and the Re:Enactment. This was the first time I'd seen the Re:Enactment and they definitely proved that colon's in band names are good thing. The band's take on electro-rock (or electroclash, or indie dance, or nu-rave, or whatever you would like to refer to it as) was refreshing with the goal obviously being to keep the rock at the fore. Stature::Statue are proving how consistent they are by playing yet another wild and exciting set. That said it is only a matter of time before Dion impales an audience member with his guitar. The bands stage antics are definitely outgrowing the small Ric's stage.

The final band I caught was Dave McCormack at The Zoo. The gig was a launch for the soundtrack to the film All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane, and the CD has an excellent array of local artists. Dave played an excellent set as per usual, with the majority of the songs picked from his work with Custard.

To make up for the lack of a review for the Saturday and Sunday of Valley Fiesta here's a very shaky recording of Tim Steward performing Screamfeeder's 'Modern Morning'.

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Saturday, 29 September 2007

Del Toro, Butcher Birds, Side Effects @ Rosie's (28.9.07)

This marked my first visit to the new Rosie's, and I liked what I saw and heard - at least in the downstairs area where this particular gig was held (upstairs contains a smaller room for more 'intimate' shows). The venue certainly has lots of volume at its disposal, something that definitely came in handy for this show.

Opening to a sparsely filled room were The Side Effects. I had never seen them before, but was aware that they contained members of SixFtHick, so I had an idea of what to expect - big, bluesy punk riffs covered with distortion. That's pretty much what I got. The band opened with a song built on a repetitive and rhythmically minimalist riff held down by the rhythm section, while the guitarist played over the top and spat out (what I imagined to be) lyrical bile. It didn't really convince me - the singer didn't really have the necessary vocal gravity to pull off such a song, with the end result being a kind of plodding garage rock number that aimed at something bigger than its actuality - not necessarily bad per se, but not really engaging either. With the second song, however, the band kicked things up a gear, and as long as they kept the tempo to a relatively high level they were definitely entertaining. The drummer especially was great to watch, all flailing limbs, twirled sticks and lupine grimaces. The bassist attempted to match him with pure solidity and power, and came pretty close to doing so. While they're not a band I'd actively seek out, that's probably more to do with personal musical preferences than anything else. If that whole bluesy, swampy garage punk-rock thing is your bag then you should check them out.

Butcher Birds followed on from Side Effects. The band started with their trademark volume and comparitively clear vocals, but something seemed to be missing for the first few songs, some sort of intangible spark. When the band hit the song 'Mower' (from the Eat Their Young EP) that all changed - within the space of one song the volume seemed to increase, the rhythms became more urgent and the band just more energetic in general. I don't think it was simply a matter of it being the first song in the set that I recognised, I think there was a discernible shift in attitude on stage - where beforehand the band had seemed almost distracted, there was now a focus. The rest of the set followed suit, with songs that weren't as content to purely batter with volume. There was an increased emphasis on vocal melodies that provided a counterpoint to the sludgy guitars underneath them, as opposed to being content to merely float along on top. Hell, I even heard some Corin Tucker-esque wailing wedged in between the usually smokey vocals of lead singer Stacey Coleman. There were some nice use of dynamic displayed in the latter songs, which bodes well for any future releases from the band.

Finishing up the night were the dependable Del Toro. If you know Del Toro then you know how they played - I don't think I've seen them play a bad show... although, I'm not sure I've ever seen them play a truly transcendent show either. Still, reliable quality is no bad thing, especially when Del Toro offer a less moody and ultimately more immediately enjoyable twist on the standard epic post rock going around. There were bouncing basslines from their always impressive bassist, combined with solid rhythms and atmospheric guitars. Yep, pretty much another show from Del Toro. As I reported in my previous review of the band, it's good to see that the band is attempting to stretch out somewhat from their usual sound and mood, with some almost 'upbeat' songs sprinkled through the set. They've recently returned from Melbourne, where they recorded their debut album with Tortoise compatriot Casey Rice, so look for that at some stage in the next few months.

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