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'.


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.


Friday, 28 September 2007

Cam's Gigs of the Week - September 28th

More gigs. This week is a fair bit busier than last, which is a good thing.

Friday 28th:
Del Toro, Butcher Birds, Hits @ Rosie's on Edward - Promises to be loud and distorted. Big Muffs a-plenty.
Johnny Casino & The Secrets, The Dangermen, Hell Crab City @ The Troubadour - Dangermen unleash 7".
Veya, Matchless Armada, Blue Carousel, Soma, We Become Ghosts @ The Jubilee Hotel - Friends' bands play pub.
Aleks & The Ramps (Vic), Shakes @ Ric's Bar - These Victorians are reportedly hugely energetic on stage. Don't miss them (like I did last time they came... not this time though!).

Saturday 29th:
Warm Guns, The Sips, Teeming With Wildlife @ The Troubadour - Lots of melodic indie rock that doesn't forget the 'rock' bit.
Toy Balloon, Capital @ Ric's Bar Cheeseboard, 3pm - Sweet moves and grooves and hooks and whatnot.

Sunday 30th:
The Kindness of Strangers, Texas Tea @ The Powerhouse - Not a bad way to wind down at the end of the weekend. At least before you go to...
Aleks & The Ramps (Vic), Potential Falcon (Vic), Let's Not (But Say We Did) @ The Troubadour - If you missed them on Friday, here's a second chance. Pretty sure I'll be at this show.

There, that's not a bad selection at all. Re: Before Hollywood, there should be a few posts in the next few days that AREN'T just gig recommendations. Some reviews, some reminiscence, maybe even some misc.


Thursday, 20 September 2007

Cam's Gigs of the Week - September 20th

So, who got out to Fiesta last weekend? I have to admit that while I was in the Valley on Saturday afternoon I spent most of my time at Ric's seeing Carry Nation and Rooftop Nightwatch, and then my evening was spent at the Lofly Hangar in Red Hill (which is a really cool place, by the way). All I saw was Tim Steward and Silversun Pickups (who I'd first heard of one week prior) on Friday night.

Anyway... that's the past, here's the future.

Friday 21st:
Vegas Kings, Hits and Rocket Parade @ The Troubadour - Raising money for Vegas Kings' forthcoming European tour.

Saturday 22nd:
The Shake Up, Jump 2 Lightspeed @ Ric's
Dizzy Gotheca - Metro on Gipps be honest that's about all that catches my eye this weekend. There are a few other things going on this weekend but nothing substantial or relevant enough to list here (eg: Butcher Birds with Something For Kate at The Zoo, Blue Carousel at Rosie's, etc). I guess that this is the lull after last weekend's storm.

Oh, you could go to the Moon Festival if you want.

More substantial posts coming soon. Promise.


Friday, 14 September 2007

Review: Texas Tea - Whiskey and Wine EP

Texas Tea's latest effort, 'Whiskey And Wine', doesn't stray far from the bands previous efforts, but when the duo of Kate Jacobson and Ben Dougherty come up with songs like this there's no need to tamper with the formula. 'Whiskey And Wine' takes in the whole spectrum of Texas Tea's influences. From the Dylanesque intro, the quiet singer/songwriter verses, and the blues-drenched chorus (half-attempt at a gospel choir included), Texas Tea takes us on an aural journey through middle America. Lyrically 'Whiskey And Wine' is a run of the mill heartbreak song, and Kate's vocals are reminiscent of any number of country singers. All up, 'Whiskey and Wine' is a good song, but the band is not breaking any ground here.

The band follows the lead track with a trio of covers. The first of these, 'One Silver Dollar', is a lacklustre folk song which leaves the mind as quickly as it enters. Much better is the live cover of Mary Gauthier's 'Our Lady of The Shooting Stars'. Ben's work on the guitar stands out on this track, as it does on the cover of Gillian Welch's 'Look At Miss Ohio'.

Continuing with the live tracks is Texas Tea's own 'Winner Makes The Graves'. Featuring vocals by both Kate and Ben, 'Winner Makes The Graves' is the standout track on the EP. The song is much removed from the straightforward love song of 'Whiskey And Wine', with the lyrics being deeply in debt to the work of Nick Cave.

Following this is another live cover, this time of Aretha Franklin's 'I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You.' Texas Tea take this old R'n'B song, remove the rhythm (most likely necessitated by the lack of a rhythm section of any sort), and amp up the blues. The result is a steamroller of a track which showcases the amazing vocal abilities of Kate. Listening to this cover makes you realise how much more Texas Tea are capable of.

The band finishes off with another recording of 'Whiskey And Wine', this time with only Kate and Ben playing. This version doesn't improve on the first in any way and should definitely be put in the 'filler' pile.


Thursday, 13 September 2007

Cam's Gigs of the Week - September 13th ... FIESTA!!!

Yes, it's that time of year again. The time when thousands of people flock to the Valley for a few days... causing a whole horde of other people to STAY THE HELL AWAY. Yes, it's the annual Valley Fiesta. Maybe you'll decide to brave the crowds, maybe you'll decide to look for entertainment elsewhere. Either way, the following may come in useful...

First, the non-Fiesta gigs:

Thursday 13th:
Stereo Total, Sekiden, Do The Robot @ The Zoo
Idle Cranes, Carry Nation, Steve Troy, Des De Mona @ Bar Soma

Friday 14th:
Dave McCormack, Intercooler, Fi Claus @ The Zoo - The launch of the soundtrack for the movie 'All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane'.
SixFtHick, Loene Carmen @ The Troubadour - SixFtHick raise money for Europe.
Stature::Statue, Re-Enactment @ Ric's Bar
The Gin Club, The Rocketsmiths, Wind & Brackets, The Shrewms, Confessions, The Ten Fours @ Rosie's On Edward - A pretty big lineup, and it's in the City, far from the Valley.

Saturday 15th:
The Smallgoods, Laura K & The Aeroplanes, The John Steel Singers @ The Troubadour - A really great pop gig, I wish I could go.
Rooftop Nightwatch, Carry Nation @ Ric's (Cheeseboard, 4pm)
To The North, Ohana (NSW), Drowned Out, All & Sundry, Yeow Meow, Carry Nation, Deer Folk, Genevieve Graves @ Juggler's Art Space - Launch of The Lifted Brow zine. One of many recommended gigs this weekend.
Greg Brady & The Anchors, Bell Divers, Teeming With Wildlife @ Fat Louie's
Turnpike, Buildings Melt, Aoi, Joel Edmonson @ Lofly Hangar, 151 Musgrave Rd Red Hill

Sunday 16th:
Mercy Dolls, Little Vegas & Fuzz Parade @ Ric's Bar (3pm)

And now my personal favourites from the Fiesta Gigs:

Grand Atlantic - 5:50pm, Chinatown Stage
Tim Steward - 7:10pm, Chinatown Stage

Warm Guns - 1:10pm, Tooheys Stage
Butcher Birds - 2:00pm, Chinatown Stage
Scul Hazzards - 3:40pm, Chinatown Stage
Iron On - 5:00pm, Chinatown Stage
Violent Soho - 6:55pm, Tooheys Stage

Yves Klein Blue - 3:10pm, Tooheys Stage
Ed Kuepper - 4:10pm, Tooheys Stage

Jesus Christ, that's a lot of music for one weekend.


Monday, 10 September 2007

Review: Mt Augustus - Monolith EP

Mt Augustus, if you don't know already, is the creative vehicle of Cameron Smith, a.k.a Cam, a.k.a 50% of this blog. The band, which also consists of Pat Elliott, Daniel Denton, and Simon Pearlman (although only Pat appears on the EP, and in only two of the songs), are purveyors of an eclectic blend of folk-rock, lo-fi, and plain ol' indie rock, which throws up numerous reference points but manages to maintain its own unique flavour throughout all six songs on this EP.

The first track, 'Lost and Found', is an acoustic number in the confessional vein of Nick Drake or Elliott Smith. The track showcases a knack for lyrical simplicity; the song conveys the need for independence and the feeling that some problems need to be face alone. At no point are proceedings overdone and Cam manages to create a song which contains a lot of pure emotion.

Next up is 'Club Soda', a song that careens along with joyous regret of a Jeff Magnum song. At 2 minutes and 40 seconds length, 'Club Soda' leaves the listener wanting more. The song has a glorious sounding accordion, a mandolin providing an excellent melody, and a large serving of fuzzed up bass driving the song along. All this is made even more impressive due to the fact that all instruments on the track are played by Cam.

'You Were The Last One To Reply' is the first track on the EP to feature outside help, and this doesn't serve to hinder it one bit. The song is a moving duet between Cam and Melissa Tickle (of Rooftop Nightwatch and Roman History), and also features the work of Kat McAulay on violin. The tale of a relationship slowly falling apart would leave the listener thinking they were listening to a 16 Lover's Lane-era Go-Betweens outtake (a comparison made all the more apt due to Kat's violin) if it wasn't for the haunting banjo accompanying the song.

The fourth song, 'Edith', was the standout track of the EP for me. Again the comparison of Jeff Magnum and Neutral Milk Hotel comes to mind at first, and while this may be true of the musical component of the track (I can't actually name any other bands that use musical saw!), it is the lyrical prowess of Cam that stands out on 'Edith'. The song is distinctly Australian, and almost twee at some points ("gets a complimentary lesson in elocution/followed by a 'how are things wiht you?' "), leading to a song that comes off sounding like the Lucksmiths in over-drive (I've made the Lucksmiths comparison in a previous live review of the band and it was most likely 'Edith' that led to the connection).

Cam continues to prove his musical diversity on 'Symbiosis', a haunting take on failed relationships. The song features off-kilter drums, an acoustic guitar, and the restrained use of the musical saw again, which serve to showcase Cam's emotionally-charged vocals until a dirge like accordion serves drives the song to its conclusion.

The final track on the EP, 'You're Not Hopeless', is what Cam refers to as the band's "token emo-folk" song. That said, the influence of Conor Oberst is nowhere to be seen in the track thankfully, and Cam's portrayal of the feeling of social ineptitude sweeps from depression to joy during the five minutes of this track. The banjo, utilised so well on 'You Were The Last One To Reply', returns, as does Kat's violin and the backing vocals of Melissa, this time joined by Pat McDermott (also of Rooftop Nightwatch and The John Steel Singers). The only sleight I have against the song is the key change in the last thirty seconds which reminds me of Simon & Garfunkel, although the fact that this is the biggest issue I have with the EP just shows how good a record Mt Augustus have put together.

Just in case you haven't been persuaded yet, here is a live version of Edith recorded back in June at the Troubadour.

Mt Augustus - Edith


Sunday, 9 September 2007

Brisbane Releases That Changed My Life #1: Rival Flight - Bewildered Beyond All Hope of Remembrance

I thought that I ('I' being 'Cam') would write about some of the releases from local bands that have been somewhat important to me over the last few years. All of these releases I'm going to write about in this section were released after I moved to Brisbane in 2001, which means no Go-Betweens or Saints or Screamfeeder or anything like that. These will be somewhat self-indulgent posts, and pretty much completely devoid of any worth to anyone except for myself. It's a total vanity project. I hope you enjoy reading it 1/10th of what I imagine I will writing it.

Anyway, I thought I'd start with what was probably the first local release I ever bought, Rival Flight's 'Bewildered Beyond All Hope of Remembrance'. Not a bad start. For me, along with Perth band Adam Said Galore, Rival Flight epitomised that 'Australian Indie-Post-Rock' sound that was so popular just after the turn of the century (along with other bands like Purplene and Mukaizake). Their music was dry, spidery and subtle, more in debt to Slint, Papa M and a sort of Built-To-Spill-ified Tortoise than to the delay-filled monstrosities created by your Mogwais and Godspeed You! Black Emperors (a style of post-rock that locally seems to be more popular these days than it was back during the genre's prime). There was a restraint and a songcraft in this group of bands that is missing in many of the more arty local post-rock bands. Really, the music created by these acts was just standard indie-rock with a predilection for intertwining guitar lines, long songs and huge crescendos - it was barely 'post-rock' at all, but somehow they were tarred with that same brush. Hell, most of these bands had vocals in almost every song.

Anyway, the music. 'Bewildered...' started with the mighty 'Knife In The Eye', with intricate guitar lines giving way to massively distorted chords, bellowed vocals and double-time drumming just after the halfway mark. It was a great opening to a great EP. Following up was one of the two instrumentals on the album, 'Ockham's Razor'. Restrained all the way through, it was the EP's shortest track at only 4:10. Third off the rank was 'Midnight Tulip Dancing', one of the most beautiful songs I've heard come out of Brisbane. After gradually building in stature over the first 4 minutes of the song, all of the instruments save for a lone guitar and some mellotron strings dropped out for a short breakdown, before the band re-entered with massive drums and a build to a group singalong, complete with falsetto 'ooooooh's. The song proper finish at around the 7 minute mark, but a 2 minute reprise gradually faded in, consisting of those same massive drums from before, but replacing the guitars with strings and keys.

'The Day Everything Was Cut In Half' was THE song of the EP. Hell, it was THE song of Brisbane for most of 2001 and 2002, according to me. It was a truly immense composition, clocking in at 8:48 minutes (although really only consisting of two riffs). It spread its shadow over the rest of the EP, with its massive distorted chords and spine-tingling yelled vocals. After building up a repetitive staccato riff for the first 2 minutes, the guitars and drums burst into the song's main riff, with 3 or 4 voices half singing, half yelling the refrain 'danced off that night, came back broken'. After another 2 minutes of this the song fell back to it's original (comparative) lull, before incrementally adding each element back into the mix, building up to a climax even more satisfying than the first. Big Muff pedals were switched on, drums were pounded, and larynx's shredded.

The final song was 'Muesli For Swallops'. To be honest, it's the only blemish on an otherwise pretty awesome release. To be brutally honest, I usually pressed stop on my music player of choice before the track started. It's the most ridiculous mix of programmed beats and sounds I've ever heard, and is completely at odds with the rest of the release. Better to just remember this one as a four-song EP with an ill-considered bonus track.

I only managed to see Rival Flight once before they broke up. It was at the old Woollongabba Hotel, supporting American post-hardcore band The Icarus Line. It wasn't the most amazing show I've ever seen, but when The Day Everything Was Cut In Half started... well, there was never a more apt title.