Tuesday, 16 December 2008

December update

The more astute among you may have noticed that there hasn't been a Before Hollywood update in a while. That's because Gav is currently in China and I'm travelling around Europe/Africa. Normal programming should return in mid-January.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and all that.

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Friday, 21 November 2008

Gigs of the Week - November 21st

It's been kind of a busy week so I've missed a few good gigs that have already occurred. Here's what's on for the remainder of the weekend. I know that Brisbane residents tend to stay indoors at the slightest hint of bad weather, but don't let the rain keep you at home!

Friday 21st:
Dead Letter Chorus (NSW), Little Scout, Conor MacDonald (The Gin Club) @ The Troubadour
Strange Attractors, DZ, Comic Sans, Biff Co @ Tongue & Groove
The Red Paintings @ The Arena

Saturday 22nd:
Texas Tea (Album Launch), Timothy Carroll, Jacob S Harris, James McCann (Vic) @ The Globe
Common People: To The North, No Anchor, Fickle Beasts @ Rosie's (Upstairs)
SixFtHick, Gentle Ben & His Sensitive Side (7" Launch), Slug Guts, The Narwhals @ The Troubadour
4ZzZ's Dub Day Afternoon: The Upsteppers, Surgeon General Sound, Fyah Walk, Elephant Wise, Dubmarine, Rhythm Collision Sound, Kingfisha, Champion Sound, Gregwise, Samedi Sound System, Hell of a Hat, Selecta Bing, Lao Mirador, Potato Master @ Step Inn
Game On: Yeo & The Freshgoods @ State Library
Jason Elliott, Tom Hall, Colin James @ GoMA (1pm) - Providing a live score to Fritz Lang's 'Spies'. Part of the German Expressionism & Beyond festival.
Buddkiller, Kewpie Doll, The Busymen @ Clarence Corner Hotel

Sunday 23rd:
Live Spark: Ranger, Let's Go Naked @ The Powerhouse (3pm)

Monday 24th:
Blue Trial Records, Princess Rodeo @ Ric's Bar

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Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Review: The John Steel Singers - In Colour EP

The John Steel Singers are doing some pretty big things these days - I can't imagine them fitting into Ric's anymore. After their debut EP (which was re-released with some extra tracks as The Beagle And The Dove) and some significant tours with bands like The Polyphonic Spree and The Grates, they've released a new EP in the form of The John Steel Singers: In Colour.

The EP can be fairly evenly split into two conceptual halves - the end of the record features two indie-country/pop songs that could have easily fit on The Beagle And The Dove, while the first half of the EP sees the band exploring a more 'spacey' sound than their previous release (and as such contains the more successful offerings in my opinion). In Colour opens with its best cut, the repetitively psychedelic 'Rainbow Kraut'. Built mostly around a repeating fuzz-bass riff it's one of the more interestingly structured songs that band have written, and certainly the most aggressive sounding (probably most akin to 'Smashing The Speed Of Sound' from the previous EP). The repetitiveness of the song's central riff seems to stretch it out for much longer than its 4minute running time, which is probably a good thing. Below is the equally psychedelic (and fairly cool) video clip for the song.


Track two features one of the bands oldest numbers, 'Luxembourg'. The song continues the moody feel of 'Rainbow Kraut', having traded some of the bounce and energy of its original live version for space and atmosphere, becoming the dreamiest song in the bands ouvre (personally I prefer the earlier, more dynamic live version, but this particular recording makes it somewhat more unique and probably fits more with the sound of In Colour). I do like the way that they've slightly dirtied up the end of the songs with some ever-so-dissonant guitars.

Returning to the slightly countrified 60's pop found on The Beagle And The Dove, 'Mother' (as with 'Luxembourg') is another song that the band have been playing for a while now. This song features incongruously poppy verses (with their pseudo-murder-ballad lyrics) against a bridge riff ripped from The Flaming Lip's 'Be My Head' - I should also note the really cool little distorted guitar part in the chorus. The recording makes it sound kind of like a My Morning Jacket song, such is the liberal use of reverb over the whole track. It kind of robs the track of some of its impact - those big riffs in the middle of each verse don't quite have the impact that they once did. Still, the requisite string-and-horn filled epic outro is successful.

'Harlequin Maid' is kind of a strange one - on paper it should be a killer song, it contains all of the ingredients for a great pop number: a clever melody, colourful harmonies, a good bouncy rhythm. Despite that it just fails to engage somehow - as a friend put it, the song is great while you're listening to it but once it's done it can be difficult to remember how it went. Perhaps it's a matter of the song being too clever and polished for its own good? Again, the reverberant recording seems to rob the song of some of its power - it's so light and airy that there's nothing left to really grab a hold of. There is a pretty killer guitar riff in the chorus though, the chamber-pop middle-section is quite fantastic (and the one example of the music really benefiting from the spacious production), and the outro reminds me of Blur (in a good way), so perhaps it's just more of a grower than the others.

'Rainbow Kraut' is definitely one of the most accomplished numbers in the JSS songbook, but personally I don't find the rest of In Colour to be quite as strong (which isn't necessarily to say that the other tracks are weak by any means). I would LOVE to see the band go in and record a fairly live sounding album next, forgoing some of the bells & whistles and extra polish that they've had on their two releases so far (two if you count the initial self-titled EP and The Beagle And The Dove as one release). They have 6 members on multiple guitars, multiple keys, horns, 3 singers, mandolin... they're certainly not lacking for instrumentation, so pretty much anything they put down is going to sound pretty massive and lush. I'd like to see them to take a 'less is more' approach every now and then, so that those really big, orchestrated moments have a chance to seem as huge as they should. Well, that's my preference.

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Gigs of the Week - November 12th

Lots on this weekend. Too much, even.

Wednesday 12th:
Grasshopper @ GoMA (4pm) - Soundtracking 'Alraune' as part of Out of the Shadows: German Expressionism & Beyond.
Buildings Melt, Monster Monster @ Ric's Bar

Friday 14th:
Secret Birds, Mr Maps, Loomer, Deux Garcon @ The Hangar (151 Musgrave Rd, Red Hill)
The John Steel Singers, Cuthbert & The Nightwalkers (NSW), Major Major (Vic) @ The Zoo - JSS launch their 'In Colour' EP.
Wine In The Teacups Variety Show: Vanessa Hodgins, Emma Hales, Madeleine Johns, Laura K @ The Valley Studios
The Bakelite Age (Vic), Vegas Kings, The Z-Rays, The Heels @ The Step Inn

Saturday 15th:
Mass Migration (EP Launch), Tom Cooney, Nikko, Monster Monster @ The Hangar (151 Musgrave Rd, Red Hill)
Crux (NSW), Scum System Kill (NSW), No Anchor, Septic Surge @ Club Russia (15 Trafalgar St, Woolloongabba) - All Ages.
The John Steel Singers, Little Scout, Blue Trial Records @ Bon Amici's (Toowoomba)
Hungry Kids of Hungary, Flamingo Crash, My Fiction @ The Valley Studios
Jamie Hutchings (NSW), Tim Steward, Ben Salter @ The Troubadour
Major Major (Vic), Tragic/Athletic @ Ric's Bar
The Estates, Les Modernaires @ Ric's Bar (4pm)
Common People: Ninety Nine (Vic), The Rational Academy, Land What Land (USA) @ Rosie's Upstairs
Pocket Music: Collapsicon, Dot.AY, 10k Free Men (NSW), Emergency! Emergency! (NSW) @ Tongue & Groove

Sunday 16th:
Live Spark: The Daisycutters, My Fiction @ Brisbane Powerhouse (3pm)
Ninety Nine (Vic), Do The Robot @ Ric's Bar
Trevor J Ludlow & The Hellraisers, Greg Brady @ Ric's Bar (4pm)

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Sunday, 9 November 2008

Review: Brisbane Sounds 2008

I don't like to get self-referential in a review, but I feel that I can only talk about the Brisbane Sounds 2008 compilation in relation to Before Hollywood's own compilation. Though I have to point out that it should be seen less as a competitive relationship and more as a companion piece of sorts. Indeed, Brisbane Sounds 2008 manages to only cross paths with Stranded on the inclusion of 6 bands; an incredible indication of the depth on Brisbane's music talent given the breadth of each compilation.

Brisbane Sounds 2008 is the brainchild of one Blair Hughes. The Brisbane music afficianado is currently travelling through Europe, using Brisbane Sounds 2008 as a launch pad to advertise and advance the cause of local bands.

The twenty-four bands featured on Brisbane Sounds 2008 mostly flit around the vague genres of pop/rock and alternative rock, but there are a number of widely varying inclusions. Andrew Morris' 'Here You Are, There You Go' opens proceedings with Morris stealing some of Josh Pyke's more commendable traits, while managing to still keep things interesting. The song flows on nicely to The Gin Club's '10 Paces Away' (My previous comments on this song can be seen here), followed by a trio of decent pop/rock songs from Kate Bradley And The Goodbye Horses, The Westminsters, and The Boat People. 'Macy And Me' is Texas Tea doing what they do best (i.e. country-rock); the wistful yet fast paced song is somewhat reminiscent of some of Emmylou Harris' recent work.

Dick Desert & The Shotgun Country Club start to take proceedings in a more rock direction with the surreal 'George Bush's Chicken'. Intercooler and Regurgitator deliver with a brace of pop-punk tunes, while Sixfthick's 'White Light, Wet Heat' is exactly what you'd expect from a band that lists smashing beer glasses on their faces as a hobby. Little Vegas & The Fuzz Parade's contribution, 'Gift Horse', isn't quite on par with their current material, but entertaining none the less. The Butcher Birds' 'The Deal' is a rumbling grunge number, followed by the Warm Guns' unique 60's girl band/garage rock combination, and Black Mustang's ultimately forgettable Stereophonics/T.Rex mashup, 'The One'.

The Vegas Kings' witty 'I Great Ape' is one of the highlights of the compilation, but it rubs up against the frankly horrible 'Sense Of Falling'; Upsize's contribution sounds like a karoake version of a forgotten Cold Chisel song. I Heart Hiroshima thankfully rescue things with the excellent 'Punks' (Previously reviewed here), and Gentle Ben & His Sensitive Side maintain the quality. Big Red Candle's 'Tropic Of Cancer' is a strange mix of The Fall and Black Flag, which, amazingly, they manage to pull off successfully. Butterfingers' serve up a slice of their unique brand of hip-hop with 'Nothin' Much Happens'. Personally I'm not a fan, but they definitely have their audience; basically if you like Hilltop Hoods, Blink 182, and Eminem, you'll probably enjoy this.

The Whats' 'Ants' is next, and, I have to say, I was pleasantly suprised by this song. The almost 8-bit track has an excellent set of lyrics, but it fits uncomfortably between Butterfingers and the next act, Kissy Trouble Company, who provide an interesting take on the current blue-eyed soul revival (i.e. Amy Winehouse, Duffy, Adele, etc.) by taking the voice and backing it with an electronic sound akin to Jamie Lidell or Fujiya & Miyagi. The Late Great Russian Revolution's 'Gettin Lucky' is an interesting instrumental punk track, but it feels somewhat like filler here at the end of the compilation, whereas the closing song, 'Alcohol' by Spitfireliar, is just downright dumb Oi! punk.

The drop in quality towards the end of the compilation doesn't detract too much from the overall experience, however. Brisbane Sounds 2008 is an interesting and rewarding take on one of the many spectrums of Brisbane's musical output. Hughes has made a valiant effort here, and he can only be wished luck in his mission to spread the gospel of Brisbane sounds.

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Thursday, 6 November 2008

Gigs of the Week - November 6th

Here's a smattering of shows for the weekend.

Thursday 6th:
Yeow Meow, Lionbird @ Ric's Bar
Smoke Or Fire, The Gifthorse, Jet Set Ready @ Rosie's

Friday 7th:
2 High Festival: Wind & Brackets, Travelling So & Sos, Idle Cranes, The Faze, Golden Sound @ Brisbane Powerhouse
Respect #3 Soul Club: Grand Atlantic, Villains of Wilhelm, Drawn From Bees @ The Troubadour
Fickle Beasts, Mt Augustus, McKisko, Anonymeye @ Tongue & Groove

Saturday 8th:
2 High Festival: Butcher Birds, Stature::Statue, Skinny Jean, The Cairos, My Fiction, Chocolate Strings @ Brisbane Powerhouse
Arrows, To The North, In Sepia, Willows @ Fat Louie's Pool Hall

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Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Gigs of the Week - October 29th

There's a lot on all through this week. Plenty of Halloween gigs if you want to get your dress up on.

Wednesday 29th:
Benjamin Thompson & Matt Jonas @ GoMA Cinematheque (4pm) - Another show in the German Expressionism And Beyond series. The film at this show will be 'Asphalt', with music performed by Ben Thompson (Rational Academy, Yeow Meow) as well as ex-Brisbane resident and ex-Shuriken member (R.I.P.) Matt Jonas (aka Aoi if you want to see his other shows this weekend). Free Entry.
Dead Riot, Del Toro, DZ @ The Zoo

Thursday 30th:
Charge Group (NSW), Tragic/Athletic, Chalk & Cheese @ The Troubadour
Decline of Modern Civilisation: Cleptocleptics (NSW), Aoi, Baaddd (NSW), Joel Saunders @ Tongue & Groove
11th He Reaches London (WA), Paper & The Plane, To The North, Art Vandelay @ UQ Red Room

Friday 31st:
No Anchor, Yeow Meow, Influenza, Loomer @ Tongue & Groove - They're giving away a BMX to whoever has the best Halloween costume.
The Quickening, Hollow, Mouthguard, SpireFireLiar, Team Dickhead, Perhaps Maybe?!?, Spank Sinatra @ The Troubadour
Vegas Kings, Zebra Rodeo, The Drowning Kittens @ The Globe - with burlesque and more. I missed this one somehow, so sorry for the last addition.

Saturday 1st:
Cloud Control (NSW), Little Scout, Swaying Buildings @ The Troubadour
Aoi, Cleptocleptics (NSW), Prince Nod, Monster Monster @ Step Inn
Camilla Hannan & Thembi Sodell (VIC) @ GoMA Cinematheque (1pm) - Another German Expressionism show, this time to 'Moulin Rouge' (the 1928 silent version, not the Baz Luhrmann one).
Edward Guglielmino, Megaphone Diplomacy (UK), Seaplane, Fox And Arrow @ The Hangar
The Black Market Rhythm Company, Skinny Jean, Fasttrak Euphoria @ The Globe
Black Mustang (Album Launch), Little Vegas & The Fuzz Parade, The New Jack Rubies, Stratton @ The Zoo

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Monday, 27 October 2008

Eat Laser Scumbag, Violent Soho, Dick Nasty, Turnpike, No Anchor @ Step Inn (24.10.08)

On paper this looks like some sort of dream local lineup... and that's pretty much how it was in actuality - two of Brisbane best noise-rock bands (Turnpike and No Anchor), two of its most respected punk acts (Dick Nasty and ELS) and the city's premiere early 90s revivalists. What more could any volume loving music fan ask for in a local show?

At the start of the night a friend commented that any one of the five bands on the bill could have been headliner and noone would have complained. As it was, No Anchor were the 'unlucky' band who were given the job of opening the evening. At about 8:30PM, with the venue still largely empty, No Anchor took to the stage and began their aural bombardment of the audience. The set contained a mere three songs yet went for around 30minutes - the opening song was a comparatively laid back (for No Anchor) number that sounded somewhat like Kyuss jamming on a multitude of variations of the one riff for 10minutes, the middle track was a more dynamic number with some fantastic riffs, and the closer was probably the heaviest song the band have yet created (which means it's damn heavy). None of the songs were from the band's debut Fire Flood And Acid Mud from a few months back; instead, all three will be featured on a soon to be recorded album set for release in the new year (full disclosure: I recorded No Anchor's debut album and will be doing the same for their next... and damn if I'm not super excited about hearing those songs over and over for a few days).

On the flipside, not everyone seemed so impressed by No Anchor - while the majority of the crowd were totally into the band's crushingly heavy stoner/doom rock, I did see one audience member turn to his friend at the end of the set and remark 'I just don't get it' to his friend.

By the end of No Anchor's set the crowd was starting to swell, and by the time Turnpike hit the stage the room was nicely filled. I'm sure there were a number of people in the audience who thought that Turnpike could have easily headlined this show, and the band put on a performance that I'm sure had a few more people thinking this by the end of their set. I had seen the band play a smaller show the previous week at Club Russia (with Mr Maps), and that show was one of the better that I've seen from Turnpike. Friday's was even better. As is usually the case in the band's sets recently, most of the material was unreleased - I think there was 'Selling This Century' from their split with Del Toro and 'Do The Broken' from Humans Find Patterns, with nothing from prior to that. It didn't really matter, the new songs have been in their sets for long enough that they've become quite familiar to most fans, and the band plays them with such ferocious energy that it wouldn't matter if noone had ever heard them before. Adam King plays with such energy and intensity that it seems a wonder that he's able to fret a single chord, such is the way that his body thrashes around on stage - by the end of the set there would not have been a single square inch of his shirt that wasn't saturated with sweat. Even in the last song, where the strap kept coming off his SG, he barely missed a beat.

Dick Nasty are not a band that I would profess to having an intimate knowledge of - I've seen them around town quite a number of times over the years (what regular indie/punk gig-goer in Brisbane hasn't?) but I don't own any releases of theirs. That said, they're a hugely solid punk band with few peers in this city. Unlike the previous bands, who both preferred extending their songs well past the 6minute mark (I think there had been a total of seven songs performed between the two bands prior), Dick Nasty's set consisted of track after track of short, concise and precisely played punk rock. With two guitarist/singers flanking the supremely tight rhythm section, Dick Nasty blasted through their set like a finely tuned machine (with just the right amount of chaos thrown into the mix).

Violent Soho were the 'name' band of the evening, and this showed in the packed crowd who stood around to watch (though it wasn't long before people were doing much more than merely standing around, with things escalating to a bit of crowd surfing by the end of the set). I have to admit that I don't hold the band in the same esteem as a lot of other local music fans, but there are two things that are fairly inarguable: 1) they can write a damn fine song around an early 90s guitar riff, and 2) they put on a pretty fantastic show. The band pulled out the majority of their crowd-pleasers: 'Jesus Stole My Girlfriend', 'Muscle Junkie', their cover of God's 'My Pal', 'My Generation' (not The Who song), 'Son of Sam'... actually, they do have quite a number of good songs, don't they?

One other notable thing about their set: it was heart-warming (in a tough, masculine way) to see the band so clearly appreciative of the people who have been supportive of them through their four year existence, with many thanks going out to the other bands on the bill, the crowd, the venue, and Brisbane music supporters in general. This was best exemplified when the band leapt (quite literally) to the defense of some of their friends who were being ejected from the venue for being excessively rowdy (I guess). While the lead guitarist and bassist left the stage for a few minutes to negotiate with the bouncers and venue staff, the drummer and singer were left to entertain the crowd with the opening riff of 'Jesus Stole My Girlfriend' (I *think*) repeated ad infinitum. Eventually the rest of the band returned with the news that everything had been sorted out and that the perhaps overly enthusiastic audience members had been let back in. I can't think of another time where bouncers have changed their mind over such an incident, so kudos to both sides, and extra kudos to Violent Soho for not being tempted to have a go at the bouncers from the stage after the incident.

Eat Laser Scumbag were a last-minute addition to the lineup, with half the band coming up from Melbourne in order to play the show. Although the members Eat Laser were operating on various degrees of lack of sleep and a limited amount of rehearsal, for the most part you wouldn't have picked it. They sounded like they pretty much always did - lively punk rock that's a bit rough around the edges delivered by four guys who seem to be having a hell of a lot of fun on stage. Bassist Adam Scott provided some humour to procedings after a request came to from the audience for the removal of various clothing items from the band, in the end being the recipient of one young lady's underwear (hi Jess!). Even though they weren't the 'biggest' of the bands to play on the night, they were the perfect way to end things - songs that were energetic enough to capture people's attention even as the time crept towards 1am, a relaxed and fun vibe, and the return of one of Brisbane more loved groups.

I can't think of the last time I saw this many local bands putting on such great performances in the one evening. Luckily for you, you can either relive the evening (if you were there) or experience it for the first time (if you weren't) by heading over to Turn It Up To 10 and downloading the audience recordings of all five sets. Thanks Brendan!

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Sunday, 26 October 2008

Apologies, Promises and Requests from China

Like the title says. First, apologies; it's been quite some time between posts from me. My enthusiasm had temporarilly lapsed, but now it's back, an hopefully for good. As you might know, I'm currently living in central China, but I've brought with me a decent supply of Brisbane music. This brings me to my promise; I plan on posting an article weekly. At least until I run out of albums to review!

Finally, the request. One of our readers, Stuart, has been kind enought to post a review of 'Stranded' on Rate Your Music, and we were hoping to hear feedback from more of you. If you go to the page for the compilation you can post any comments; be they positive or negative. You can also rate 'Stranded'. Currently it's sitting at #474 for 2008 releases, but with a little help we could possibly hit the top 100! The general consensus when putting the compilation together was that if we got an enthusiastic enough response, we would try to do it again in the future. So if you are anticipating a 'Stranded:2008-2009', then you're going to have to put a little effort in!

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Review: BigStrongBrute - Gardens In The Gutter

I've been meaning to review this album for months now (along with a number of others), so I apologise for it being a little late. BigStrongBrute is a five piece led by singer/songwriter Paul Donoughue (who has also been a member of The Rational Academy, Tragic/Athletic, and Yeow Meow), and they have proved themselves capable of chanelling the spirit of bands such as those found on Elephant 6 and K Records. Indeed, Gardens In The Gutter could be described as pleasantly lo-fi, at least as much as something can be called lo-fi in this digital age.

'Marriage' is a brief, opening track; a simple acoustic number with layered vocals. While the song isn't all that remarkable, Donoughue's refrain, "I complain too much", manages to set the mood for the album quite well. 'Annulment', on the other hand, is an enigma to me. Every part of the song seems wrong, from the rhythm section lifted from Le Tigre's 'Deceptacon', to the ridiculously corny lyrics ("I'm getting hungry like a small pack of wolves"), yet BigStrongBrute somehow manage to pull it off.

Even if 'Annulment' was the car crash that it really should be, the next track, 'Children', would be the jaws of life that saves the day. Donoughue's lyrics are at their best here ("Cross my legs like a child/Sit straight back and just fucking smile."), as is the rest of the band. The track is a dense pastiche of acoustic guitar, reverbing drums, panning vocals, and rusty brass soloing. The slow, stomping "Everything All At Once" follows on; the sound is almost Gallic, calling to mind Beirut's The Flying Club Cup. "Don't Sweat It, Honey" is another standout. The rhythm section feels to be constantly teetering on the edge of collapse, at least until the song hits the chorus. At this point every aspect of the song comes together to create a simple, yet effective sound.

The somewhat underwhelming title track is next. While Donoughue's lyrics are only slightly below-par here in comparison to the rest of the album, 'Gardens In The Gutter' is musicaly lacking. It also feels like BigStrongBrute knew this, resulting in a minute of jamming and electronic trickery being tacked onto the end of the track; the outcome being that the song detracts from the coherency of the album as a whole. 'Birds And Elephants' sees the quality of the album picking up again, with its slow, rolling, almost country sound mixing well with the 'bunch of drunk mates jamming'-vibe the song exudes (Quick disclaimer: This song was featured on the compilation, Stranded, that we recently released). The untitled closing track sees Donoughue dueting with bandmate Nadia Aguilar-Hernandez. The song is simple, yet effective, with Donoughue showcasing his playful lyrics ("I don't need no rocking chair/I can rock most anywhere, darling"), as well as a suprising dislike for Baltimore (The Wire fan maybe?).

Gardens In The Gutter can be a little shaky in places. As mentioned, the lyrics can verge on cliched and corny, the music can be patchy and even bland in places, and the recording style may put off some listenets. But the lows are not so low that they detract from the highs, and the latter outnumbers the former here. Donoughue is a promising lyrical talent, and, with time, BigStrongBrute may grow to meet his potential. For a self-recorded debut, Gardens In The Gutter is an excellent effort, and hopefully a launching pad for further releases from the band.


Update: Apparently the closing track is a cover of an Entrance song. Thanks Joel for pointing that out!

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Thursday, 23 October 2008

Gigs of the Week - October 24th

Friday 24th:
Eat Laser Scumbag, Violent Soho, Dick Nasty, Turnpike, No Anchor @ Step Inn - Recommendation of the week.

Saturday 25th:
Connect Four Art Party: Hungry Kids of Hungary, Restream, Do The Robot @ The Valley Studios - With added DJs, burlesque, art and more.
Rock Against Chicks: Girl With Cake, The Old Order, Legions of Mary, Flying Squad @ Clarence Corner Hotel
Secret Birds, No Anchor @ Ric's - No Anchor's myspace doesn't list this show, the street press has them under a psuedonym, and the Ric's website has them listed as a definite.

Sunday 26th:
Teleprompter, Velociraptor @ Ric's Bar (7:45pm)


And that's about all that catches my eye this weekend, as far as local shows go. Note that there's a show at Tabu on Friday night featuring Nikko - this show has been cancelled.

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Friday, 17 October 2008

Review: Blue Carousel - Mussee EP

Blue Carousel have been playing their mix of synth and guitar driven indie-rock around Brisbane venues with pretty great regularity for the last couple of years, and have now dropped their first proper release in the form of the Mussee EP. With a sound that contains equal measures synth-rock grooves and sinewy guitars, the band have less in common with the indie-dance fad of a few years back than they do with such bands as Mercury Rev, The Flaming Lips and Sunset Rubdown. The comparisons are extended when the high-pitched, breathy (and usually double-tracked) vocals of lead singer Valdis are thrown into the mix. He has one of those 'love-it-or-hate-it' voices, much like the singers from the three previously mentioned bands.

Compared to the band's demos which have been floating around (you can hear some via their myspace, along with the first four tracks from this EP), the recordings on Mussee are very dense; there's barely a moment where there isn't an extra synth (or three) burbling away in the background. They're a five piece band so their sound is going to be relatively busy in any situation, but I often find myself thinking that perhaps some of the recordings on this EP are slightly overcooked. Additionally, in many cases the guitars have been relegated to backing the synths instead of the other way around - their lead guitarist, Adam (last name unknown) is an especially interesting player, so I would have liked to have heard more of him. Listening to the demo of 'Kanashii Uta' the band sounds like a band, while on the EP it's much more of a synth-rock exercise (except for a noisy effects-laden guitar in the breakdown, which is admittedly very cool and probably suits the band better than the previous guitar solo, which always came across as a little too 'smooth'). The following track, 'Portrait From Memory' is similarly keys-dominated, though much mellower - it does feature some interesting instrumental additions, such as glockenspiel and what seems to be a banjo joining about halfway through the song.

Things change up for fourth track 'Mr Zian Is A Lonely Boy', definitely the most aggressive song on the EP and probably also in the band's overall repertoire (and the only song that sounds vaguely like The Killers et al). Starting with reversed feedback and other assorted sounds, soon enough the song proper punches through with guitars buzzing around the central synth hook, with some nu-post-punk-esque guitar stabs filling the choruses. It's an energetic, exciting track but as a song it seems somewhat slight (or maybe it's just that I want the band to keep rocking out for another minute or so). Fun live, in any case.

EP closer 'Snappy Tom' has been a live staple for Blue Carousel for a good while, frequently closing their sets. With its steady build from plodding atmospherics to eventual guitar cacophony and woozy synth climax, it certainly ticks the 'epic closing track' box, and numbers amongst the band's best songs - it's certainly my favourite on the release. The moment where Valdis sings 'I see the river up ahead / jump in' as the band crashes back in after a brief pause is one of the more effective dynamic shifts produced recently by a local band.

Blue Carousel are a good band with a developing ear for pop hooks and an interesting musical vocabulary. Similarly, Mussee is a good EP and well worth a listen. With that said, I expect that their next release will likely be a considerable improvement. I would like to see the band either produce a really good recording of how they sound in a live context or go all out in the studio. Mussee kind of sounds like the band had some good songs that they had been playing for a while and wanted to spice up in the recording, but that they didn't have the time / resources / experience to do so to the extent that they wanted, and as a result there's something indefinably messy about it in parts. The good news is that the band have a number of songs up their sleeve for a second EP / album, and from what I've been able to gather it seems that they've saved their stronger material for that. I look forward to seeing what they come up with.

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Gigs of the Week - October 17th

There should be a record review up this afternoon, but for now here's the weekend's gig guide.

Friday 17th:
I/O3 @ GoMA Cinematheque (6pm) - Instrumental improv band provide the score to the classic silent film 'Metropolis' as part of the 'Out of the Shadows: German Expressionism and Beyond' series. The whole timetable is here.
Mr Maps, Turnpike, Kings of Red Lions, Piers @ Club Russian (15 Trafalgar St, Woolloongabba) - All Ages, BYO. Relaunch of the Russian Club.
The Holidays (NSW), Yves Klein Blue, Little Scout @ The Zoo
Doch @ The Powerhouse (7:30pm)
Texas Tea, Marty Brown, Comes To Where The Carpet Stops @ The Troubadour
The Vignettes (NSW), Table & Chair, Go Go Go Go Go, Marl Karx @ The Valley Studios

Saturday 18th:
Mr Rascal, Carry Nation @ Ric's Bar
Ohana (NSW), Tragic/Athletic, Quiet Steps @ Rosie's Upstairs
Pineapples From The Dawn of Time, The Ripz, Last Nite's Tea @ Tabu Bar
The Valley Transmission: Hungry Kids of Hungary, Sunflower, Fawn, The Figures @ Lower Brunswick St Mall (7:30pm) - All Ages, free.
Doch @ The Powerhouse (7:30pm, 11:30pm)
Kings of Red Lions, LameExcuse (ACT), The Kettleheads, Jet Set Ready, Piers @ Fat Louie's Pool Hall - Free.

Sunday 19th:
4ZzZ's Little Day In: Map Formosa, Comic Sans, Wearing Rosco, Danger Bunnies, Brad McCaw @ The Valley Studios (2pm, Free) - All Ages show put on by 4zzz's Youth Show.
Live Spark: Greg Brady, Tim Steward @ The Powerhouse (3pm) - All Ages
Doch @ The Powerhouse (6pm)
Violent Soho, Wind & Brackets, Stature:Statue, A Year To Remember @ Kuraby Skate Park - All Ages.

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Friday, 10 October 2008

Gigs of the Week - October 10th

While Gav is away in China I've been trying to keep the articles to gigs posts at around a 1:1 ratio, but unfortunately I've been pretty busy this week so here we have another Gigs of the Week without a more substantial article preceding it. In any case, there's a fair bit this weekend to see.

Friday 10th:
Clue To Kalo (SA), Tragic Athletic, Idles Cranes, Restream @ Lofly Hangar - All Ages (I'm pretty sure).
The Rational Academy, Split Sombre (Vic), Little Scout, Ambitious Lovers @ The Valley Studios - Not all ages. My mistake.
Blue Carousel, Des Peres (Vic), My Fiction @ Tabu Nightclub

Saturday 11th:
Joel Saunders & Crazy Hearse, Yeo & The Fresh Goods @ Ric's Bar
Split Sombre (Vic), Mr Rascal, Laura K, Mt Augustus @ Old Museum (6:30pm) - All Ages.
In Sepia, Quiet Steps, Kings of Red Lions, To The North, Let's Not (But Say We Did) @ The Troubadour - This would be my recommendation of the week.
My Disco (Vic), Marl Karx, Loomer @ The Valley Studios - Southern state math-rock band has two new local bands play with them.
The Boat People, Hungry Kids of Hungary @ QPAC Cascade Court - Free and all ages.
Sounds of Spring Festival @ RNA Showgrounds - It's a big festival, there are bands like Cog and Rocket Science as well as local acts like The Butcher Birds, Resin Dogs, The John Steel Singers, The Gin Club, Vegas Kings, etc. Check out the website for details.

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Thursday, 2 October 2008

Gigs of the Week - October 2nd

It's a big weekend, this. If you're not planning to spend all of your time and money at one of the many shows for the bands who are coming down for the cancelled Great Escape festival, you could attend one of these shows:

Thursday 2nd:

Greg Charles, Benjamin Thompson @ GoMA Cinematheque (12pm, 3pm respectively) - Continuing the 'Out of the Shadows: German Expressionism and Beyond', Charles will be providing the soundtrack to 'The Golem', while Thompson will be playing over 'The Hands of Orlac'. If you run you might make it.
Room 40 Open Frame Festival @ The Powerhouse - although most of the acts are actually from overseas, it's been put together by local label Room 40 so I thought I'd give it a plug.
SixFtHick @ Ric's Bar - they're heading overseas again, so this will be a long set by all accounts.

Friday 3rd:
The Grates, The Vasco Era(Vic), The John Steel Singers @ The Arena.
Del Toro, Nova Scotia, Fickle Beasts, Restream @ Tongue & Groove - Free entry.
At Sea, Ridgeback Country, Young Liberals, Z-Rays @ The Troubadour
Room 40 Open Frame Festival @ The Powerhouse - although most of the acts are actually from overseas, it's been put together by local label Room 40 so I thought I'd give it a plug.

Saturday 4th:
Mt Eerie (USA), BigStrongBrute, Let's Not (But Say We Did), Mt Augustus @ Lofly Hangar (151 Musgrave Rd, Red Hill) - This is an international show, but it's being held at Brisbane's best DIY venue, it's all ages and it features three local bands. $20 on the door.
The Rocketsmiths (EP Launch), Wind & Brackets, The Gallant, Turtle Creek @ The Zoo
Mexico City, Andrew Morris, The Fricken Hecks @ The Troubadour
No Anchor, Spartak (ACT) @ Ric's Bar
Table & Chair, Idle Cranes @ Rosie's Upstairs
Stature::Statue, The Kidney Thieves, The Gallery Kiss, Pure Velour, Avabaree @ The Valley Studios

Sunday 5th:
I/O3 @ GoMA Cinematheque (3pm) - Another 'Out of the Shadows: German Expressionism and Beyond' show, this time featuring I/O3 (Heinz Riegler, Tam Patton, Lawrence English) soundtracking 'Nosferatu'.
Seagull (Vic), McKisko, Touch Typist (Vic), Otouto (Vic) @ The Troubadour
Audiopollen: Black Vitamins, Spartak Quartet (ACT), Secret Birds, Black Birches @ 101 Merthyr Road, New Farm (7pm) - mmm, noisy.

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Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Review: Jane Woody - Big Breaths Little Lungs

Mel Ralph has been playing around Brisbane under the moniker of Jane Woody for a few good years now, ever since she left I Heart Hiroshima and DIY-heroes Kicks in the middle of this decade. A few months ago she released her debut album Big Breaths Little Lungs on the local Valve label, and... well, that's about it. I've barely heard anything from her since then (I think she perhaps played a few shows around the time of its release, and her myspace indicates that she has since been out of the city / in Alice Springs?).

The one mention of her I came across was a lukewarm review of the album in a local street press, which essentially said that the record was perhaps overly lo-fi and samey. Because of this I first listened to Big Breaths Little Lungs expecting something consisting mostly of rough acoustic guitars, tape hiss and timid vocals; what I actually found was quite an accomplished sounding indie-pop record featuring drum machines, punk guitars, keyboards... and timid vocals. It's not Sergeant Peppers, but neither is it a Daniel Johnston cassette. The nearest comparison I can come up with is An Horse backed by Baltimore's Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - introspective, lovelorn pop that mixes the ramshackle nature of DIY with something a little bit more tech-savvy.

The album starts out with it's most overtly DIY sounding track in the 47 second long 'Coblers Pegs', which features vaguely out of tune guitars playing a rudimentary 4-note melody over a cheap sounding Casio beat. 'Decide' follows up with something more substantial, all driving Ramones-punk guitars and a simple drum beat. It's a subtly catchy number that finds the middle ground between I Heart Hiroshima and Sekiden (with Ralph's Angie Hart-esque vocals). On the other side of the coin, third track 'Now You've Fucked It Entirely' is a more downbeat, electronic sounding track. From there the album continues with most of the elements introduced in those first three tracks, most songs consisting of various combinations of guitars (sometimes strummed and acoustic, sometimes driving and distorted, sometimes nimble and clean), synth-pop keys and drum machines moving along at a medium tempo plus or minus a few bpm. My personal favourite track would be 'Bruises', a song that starts out as just guitar and vocals but gradually introduces sheets of guitar noise and rhythms, eventually building to something that almost sounds like it could fit on My Bloody Valentine's Isn't Anything. Penultimate track 'City' is notably different from the rest of the album - while it starts out with another Casio drum beat, instead of introducing a pop melody it does away with vocals entirely and places the focus on some slinky synth lines and guitars for the first half, before finishing with some interestingly treated electronic drums. It sounds more like some IDM/post-rock thing than bedroom pop.

The minimalist tendencies of Ralph's previous bands (the aforementioned I Heart Hiroshima and Kicks) are still very evident in Jane Woody Big Breaths Little Lungs, with most of the songs clocking in between 1:30 and 2:30 and rarely consisting of anything more than a verse riff and a chorus riff. Indeed, the album itself is somewhat short, but in a good way - I imagine that if it were any longer its charms could well start wear thin and it may become guilty of the accusations of being somewhat samey. As it is, this certainly isn't an 'exciting' album in any way, it won't get you pumping your metaphorical (or actual) fists, though if you give it the chance it will probably make you do an awkward little dance around your bedroom on a Sunday morning. That's the sort of record this is, it's a charming little piece of pop that's perfect for lazing around at home with on the weekend.

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Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Gigs of the Week - September 23rd

My computer was having difficulties last week so there was no gig guide (and there were some good shows on, too). This week I thought I'd put the gig guide up a fraction earlier to make amends.

Wednesday 24th:
Kahl Monticone @ GoMA Cinematheque (12pm) - performing a live score to the movie 'Das Wachsfigurenkabinett (Waxworks)' as part of the 'Out of the Shadows: German Expressionism and Beyond' exhibition (apologies to Kahl for initially misspelling his name).

Thursday 25th:
Mr Maps, To The North @ Ric's Bar - the best word to describe this night would be 'precise'.
The Quills, Andrew Taylor, The Figures @ The Zoo

Friday 26th:
Rollerball, Sonofabitch, Shelfin, Little Vegas & The Fuzz Parade, The Young Poisoners @ Rosie's
Black Mustang, Wind & Brackets, The Gallant, The Pretty Boys, The Cairos @ Valley Hotel Bar 388
The Medicine Show, The Jim Rockfords, The Working Girls @ Clarance Corner Hotel
Re:Enactment, Toy Balloon, Deux Garcon @ Tongue & Groove

Saturday 27th:
Celibate Rifles (NSW), Community Cervix, Del Toro, Slick 46, The Pints, Black Mustang, Boondall Boys, Neighbourhood Swine, Sonic Porno, The Wayne Keys Show, Lords of Wong @ Jubilee Hotel (4pm) - 4ZzZ fundraiser.
The Gin Club, Tim Steward Band, James Grehan @ QPAC Cascade Court - QPAC's weekly free all-ages show.
Ben Ely's Radio 5 @ Ric's Bar

Sunday 28th:
Live Spark: The Cairos, Fasttrack to Euphoria @ The Powerhouse

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Friday, 12 September 2008

Review: Tragic/Athletic - Brakes

I remember seeing Tragic/Athletic starting out as a noisy little three-piece back in the days of 610 and Jamie's carpark. They were like a little version of Turnpike (which is no bad thing). Who would have thought that a few years later, with a couple of releases under their belt, they'd come out with something like their new 10" EP Brakes? While there are certainly still echoes of that past band, their sound has grown to encompass a wider range of instruments and moods, no doubt influenced by Paul Donoghue's country-infused BigStrongBrute and Ollie Mackay's time in the shoegaze-esque The Rational Academy. I mean, who would have thought that an entity like MTV would one day pick them as one of their five favourite up-and-coming Brisbane bands (as they did just recently as part of the MTV Kickstart competition)?

The first thing you'll notice on purchase of the 10" is the packaging (obviously). It must be said, it's a beautiful looking piece of vinyl (and for those of you who prefer your sound in digital formats, it comes with a copy of the EP on CD too). The second thing you'll notice, once you've placed it on you turntable, is that it sounds really good - clear yet warm and dynamic. It's not 'hi-fi' per se (ie: you're not going to mistake it for a Magoo recording, or perhaps not even a Bryce Moorhead recording), but it nails that slightly raw indie-rock sound that albums like Funeral or You Forgot It In People have popularised. I think it's the best thing I've heard from local Recording Engineer Todd Dixon.

But onto the songs (which will collectively be the third thing you'll notice). 'We Set Sail When The Wind Came' is notable in it's opening slot for not containing any of Tragic/Athletic's previous trademark guitars until 35seconds into the song - instead the band have chosen to open the EP with synths, keys and rudimentary drums. A brief four-bar guitar interlude gives way to the full band entering the song in full bombast, with multi-tracked vocals half singing, half chanting the lyrics. The song has a decided sea-shanty feel, helped along by the accordion that drones away through the majority of the song. It's certainly a strong opener, and a definite favourite in the band's discography.

'Three Months At Sea' is next up, starting with some sort of ambient sound effect and a two-chord, single strum guitar progression. Lethargic vocals enter, then bass and drums, the song gradually building in energy before falling back to how it began. Eventually the band breaks into a more rollicking section, still utilising the same two-chord progression. Once more a short breakdown featuring dissonant guitar introduces the final section of the song, where the band picks up speed and finally brings in some new chords, along with a horn section and a truly joyous, celebratory feel. The end effect is a song that is strongly reminiscent of the previously referenced Broken Social Scene, though the recording doesn't quite capture the live power of the song (see the YouTube video at the end of this review to get an idea of that).

'Make For The Hills' is probably the most straight-forward and upbeat of the tracks on Brakes, wasting no time on building up a head of steam. Instead it plunges straight into a tense riff for the first 45 second of the songs, then heads into Tragic/Athletic's version of the disco-punk thing that was ubiquitous a few years back. Another spacey, introspective middle section follows, before the band races to the end of the song with the previously introduced disco rhythm. It's *probably* my least favourite track, but that's not really much of a slight given the consistency of this release.

The final track of the EP, 'Four Decades', initially might seem more akin to the Tragic/Athletic that many may be more familiar with. With its insistently jagged bass riff and rhythm it sounds more like the noise-rock that the band was initially known for. However, even in this song they show progression, with the minimalist feel of the track sounding closer to something My Disco's Paradise album than anything else. And again, the band throws a sudden change into the song when they switch from repetitive post-punk to a woozy reverb-washed guitar 'chorus', before again faking us out by introducing a middle section featuring subdued group chanting over the top of a simplistic drum part. The EP closes out on a decidedly ambiguous note - this definitely isn't the stereotypical 'big rock finish' that most bands opt to end a release with.

I like this release, if for no other reason than it's heartening to see a band like Tragic/Athletic stick around when other bands of their era (eg: Frou Frou Foxes) petered out and died; seeing progression and maturity in a band like this is such a rare thing in Brisbane. It's also heartening to see a band like Tragic/Athletic being unafraid of introducing more 'populist' elements into their music - too often bands in Brisbane seem to think you either have to be as mainstream-courting as Yves Klein Blue or as underground-embracing as On-Oxx (not having a go at either of those bands). There IS a middle ground, which bands like I Heart Hiroshima and Iron On have shown. It also helps that Brakes is a genuinely good collection of songs, one that holds its own surprises and moods and that is as cohesive a release as you'll find in its genre (an aspect that The Rational Academy's A Heart Against Your Own could be criticised for, as much as I love it). That said, as much as the band is making admirable steps toward a more accessible sound while still retaining their original aesthetic, this is still music that requires a pre-existing disposition to raw indie-rock to enjoy. The vocals parts are certainly a lot more melodic and 'catchy' than they were previously, but your average JJJ listener will still probably find them too rough.

Then again, if MTV likes them than I don't see why Richard Kingsmill and his followers can't.


Three Months At Sea @ The Troubadour:

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Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Gigs of the Week - September 10th

This is a busy week. There's Valley Fiesta, Big Sound and plenty of other shows. I'm not going to list the shows related to those two events, since you can check them out via the links and there's too many for me to be bothered typing out (although I will make mention of the Ups & Downs show on Saturday night in the Chinatown Mall, I'm definitely going to that since I missed the Pig City Festival - was in Melbourne at the time).

Wednesday 10th:
Idle Cranes, Deux Garcons @ Ric's Bar - The opening of Idle Cranes' own Jon Weber's art exhibition.

Thursday 11th:
Heinz Riegler & Lawrence English @ GoMA Cinematheque (2pm) - Heinz has been invited by GoMA to curate the Contemporary Music Program for their German Expressionist Film Festival. Throughout the next three months various artists will provide improvised soundtracks to the silent films. This first show features Heinz himself and local experimental music king Lawrence English backing the following two films: 'The Life And Death of 9413 - A Hollywood Extra' and 'La Chute de la Maison Usher'. Entry is free.
Qua, The Rational Academy, Panoptique Electrical @ Judith Wright Centre - This will be the last show for Meredith McHugh and Ollie Mackay in tRA.
Blue Carousel, The Soma @ Ric's Bar
The Hungry Kids of Hungary, Steve Grady, Kissy Trouble Company, Joe Barbaro, Benjamin Hooper @ Bar Soma

Friday 12th:
Bastard Experimental Music Festival: Monster Zoku Onsomb!, The Tango Saloon, Silent Partners, The Cunt Offensive, Crab Smasher, Sugar Logic @ The Globe
Mono: Lucas Abela, Robin Fox, Blank Realm, Tim Olive (Japan) @ IMA, Judith Wright Centre (7pm)
Violent Soho, Straight Arrows (NSW), Slug Guts @ Rosie's
Kim Salmon & The Surrealists (WA), Gentle Ben & His Sensitive Side, The Butcher Birds, Kewpie Doll @ Step Inn
Steve Grady & The Wild Pidgeons @ The Hive

Saturday 13th:
Heinz Riegler & Lawrence English, DJ Olive (USA) @ GoMA Cinematheque (11am) - same deal as the Thursday show, except that the film for this show will be 'Warning Shadows'.


Coming in the next few days: reviews of releases by Tragic/Athletic and Jane Woody.

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Sunday, 7 September 2008

Review: Little Scout - The Dead Loss EP


Back at the start of the year I posted a list of bands to keep an eye on in 2008. One of those bands was Rooftop Nightwatch, who played a number of excellent gigs last year, but have since slipped beneath the waves. Fortunately, the band lives on in the guise of Little Scout, which features Rooftop Nightwatchers Mel Tickle and Pat Elliott, as well as new additions Kirsty Tickle and a part-time drum machine.

The result of this collaboration is The Dead Loss EP, which features 5 songs, some which are old Rooftop tracks and some that are newer ones. The opening track, 'Festival' is part of the former group. The graceful tale of love and loss at a carnival begins with understated electric guitar and beautifully subtle vocals, before moving into a chorus reminiscent of Broken Social Scene's more upbeat moments. Trombone and backup vocals from Elliott help to give the song a misleading amount of size, with the song segueing between the quieter and louder moments with ease.

The second track, 'Dead Loss' starts of with a minutes worth of Eno-esque synth swirls before the motorik-style drum loop kicks in. Mel Tickle's vocals swerve 'Dead Loss' in a direction other then Berlin, however, and by the time the extra drums appear halfway through (actual drums, not a machine this time) Little Scout have stamped out their own little slice of pop. The result is that the impressive 'Dead Loss' comes off as the perfect middle ground between the twee rave-up of Belle and Sebastian's 'Electronic Renaissance', and Slowdive's shoegaze come down 'Catch The Breeze'.

The last three tracks of the EP come close to reaching the potential of 'Festival' and 'Dead Loss'. 'Train On Time' is the best of the three, with Elliott and Tickle splitting the vocal duties for this wistful ballad full of chimes, glockenspiel, and even a bit of a capella towards the end. 'The Dress' is another duet, but this time with a bit more pace, and is reminiscent of The Lucksmiths (but again with extra glockenspiel!). 'Seven Day Week' works well as a closing song, with the production leading the song to sound somewhat distant, and, combined with Tickle's resigned vocals, the song manages to convey quite a lot of emotion.

It will be interesting to see what future course the band takes. While the majority of the EP sticks to the acoustic twee pop that Rooftop Nightwatch came up with, Little Scout's dip into electronica on 'Dead Loss' results in the strongest song here, and if the bands recent live shows are anything to go by then that might be the direction they are headed in. But in the meantime the Dead Loss EP provides a nice combination of both styles, and any fan of indie pop will certainly enjoy this release.

N.B. You may have noticed that I haven't posted much in recent times. Well that's because I'm now living in China! I plan to continue writing, however, as I have about half a dozen albums I still havent reviewed. This review might also seem a bit disjointed as well. I began writing it a month and a bit a go, but due to the move I had to put it on hold.

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Thursday, 4 September 2008

Gigs of the Week - September 4th (Plus Rave's Stranded Review)

You know how we've been promising to have some substantial posts soon? Well we should have a few posts on some relatively new local releases in the near future. Anyway, here are some shows to see over the next few days:

(This will be more useful than this week's Timeoff, which actually has the gig guide for MELBOURNE printed in it. Nice work Street Press Australia.)

Thursday 4th:
MTV Kickstart: Tragic/Athletic, Little Scout, The Rocketsmiths, The Cairos, Villains of Wilhelm @ The Troubadour - You have to go to this page to sign up for entry. It's free, and it starts at 7:30pm. The bands all play two-song sets.
The Art of the State, My Fiction @ Ric's Bar

Friday 5th:
No Anchor, Turnpike, Grasshopper @ Tongue & Groove - recommendation of the week.
Underlapper (NSW), The Rational Academy, Mr Maps @ The Valley Studios - co-recommendation of the week.
The Vegas Kings (Live Album launch), King Automatic (France), DZ @ The Troubadour - co-co-recommendation of the week. It's just a shame that they're all on at the same time.
Nikko, Dos Hell, Une Garcon @ Tabu Nightclub
Neil Young Tribute: Chris Pickering, Dan Parsons, Dextor's Conscience, Steve Grady & The Hillsides, The Wells @ The Globe

Saturday 6th:
Underlapper (NSW), Tragic/Athletic, McKisko @ Lofly Hangar (151 Musgrave Rd, Red Hill) - can I have four recommendations in a week?
The Z-Rays, Nikko
@ Ric's Bar
The Oyster Murders, Idle Cranes, Twist Oliver Twist, Loomer @ The Valley Studios
Pineapples From The Dawn of Time, Kamikaze (SA), Blowhard, Crackwhores (Vic), The Busymen, Chucknee @ Step Inn


Also, Rave reviewed the Stranded Compilation this week. Thanks guys. Here's the review:
"Local music blog releases three discs of awesome.

Reviewing Stranded is rather obvious. Anyone who has an interest in the Brisbane music scene needs to own this. Anyone who claims to represent the Brisbane music scene abroad needs to have this stapled to their forehead. Any band who aren’t represented here, had better hope there’s another one. Personally, my only wish is that they manage to encompass a greater spectrum of genres next time. That would trump anything Brisbane City Council could ever hope to do. But then ... so does this. Bravo.

JAKEB SMITH"

Remember, you can buy copies of Stranded via credit card or Paypal by clicking on that little button on the right and we'll post one out to you (payment is all done via Paypal, so it's totally secure). You can also buy it from Rockinghorse. Triple CD, 42 bands, all profits to Red Cross Queensland, etc. There's the plug.

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Friday, 22 August 2008

Gigs of the Week - August 22nd

Friday 22nd:
ii (Vic), Blank Realm, Yeow Meow, Lawrence English / Leighton Craig / Eugene Carchesio @ Tongue & Groove
The Boat People (Album Launch), The Rocketsmiths, Skinny Jean, Dash & Will @ The Zoo
Hungry Kids of Hungary, Little Scout, Buick Six @ The Valley Studios
Mr Rascal, Mojo Webb, Doug Wilshire & The Tailspinners @ The Globe

Saturday 23rd:
Tragic/Athletic (EP Launch... Mk II?), Stature::Statue @ Ric's Bar
DZ, The Shrewms @ Ric's Bar Cheeseboard (4pm)
The John Steel Singers, The Gallant, Yeo & The Fresh Goods @ QPAC Cascade Court
Hungry Kids of Hungary, The Grove, Little Vegas & The Fuzz Parade @ Tongue & Groove

Sunday 24th:
Live Spark: Ben Stewart (Album Launch), Mt Augustus @ The Powerhouse (3pm)

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Monday, 18 August 2008

Stranded Launch Wrap-Up

We launched our Brisbane Music compilation 'Stranded' at The Zoo on Friday night. The evening was a great success, all of the bands played fantastic sets (I believe I actually used the phrase 'everyone brough their A-game' on the night, which I'm pretty sure I nabbed from a Dark Knight review). Brendan aka Ex-King-John recorded the majority of the night (with the exception of Monster Monster and the very start of The Rational Academy's set), so head over to his blog to download the mp3s and read his thoughts on the evening.

For those who couldn't attend but still want a copy of the compilation, there's a 'Buy Now' link on the right-hand side of the blog. That'll take you to a page where you can either pay by via your Paypal account (if you have one) or Credit Card (if you don't). We will then send your CD out in the mail. The CD is $20 from now on (though if you're in one of the contributing bands then send us an email and we'll get one to you at the launch price). It should also be in stores such as Rockinghorse pretty soon.

Again, thanks to everyone who helped with the CD, whether they be the bands who contributed, the people who helped with art and photography, 4zzz and the street press for the promo, The Zoo for giving us the night, and of course everyone who come to the launch and bought a copy. Also, special thanks to Ash, Dan, Nathan, Ben and Amy (I think that's everyone?) for helping us with madly putting the discs together backstage on the night.

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Thursday, 14 August 2008

No Anchor, Lawrence English, Innig, Secret Birds @ The Hangar (08.08.08)

This is the sort of night that The Hangar is made for. Four local acts with a central core aesthetic but that each have their own unique sound. Two of the bands were launching new albums - in one corner there was Lawrence English, the old stalwart and Brisbane's ordained king of all things glitchy and synthetic, while in the other corner were the new kids on the block (at least in terms of their current project, though in truth both members of the band have been a part Brisbane's music community for many years) in No Anchor.

Secret Birds started the night with gradually increasing volume. I've already written about this band a few times recently, so I'll keep this brief. The group on this occasion consisted of the seemingly regular guitarist and bassist, two drummers (this time being Susie of I Heart Hiroshima and Ross of The John Steel Singers) and a dude on keys and electronic noises (Tom Hall I believe, though I may be incorrect on that). Friday's set seemed to lean more on the band's recent fixation on classic rock noodling, instead of the more sludgy and 'experimental' sound that they showcased earlier on. Nonetheless, it was still a long way from Wilco, with plenty of repetition and noise which resulted in some slight prodding of the rock'n'roll envelope.

Innig followed, and it was my first time seeing them (indeed I'd never heard of them until they were announced on the lineup). After being warned off them with the remark 'they sound like what people who don't know what experimental music sounds like think experimental music sounds like', I decided to check them out regardless. And I didn't hate them. Far from it, in fact. While I didn't love them either, but they did their ambient soundscapes pretty well and provided an interesting atmosphere. They reminded me of the bits of Set Fire To Flames records where there are no strings, all scrapes and drones and quietly minimalist percussion.

Lawrence English was up next to launch his Kiri No Oto album (Kiri No Oto translates to 'Sound of Fog' in Japanese, a pretty apt moniker). Huddled over his machines to the side of the room, he started so subtly that I didn't even realise he'd started until 30 seconds into his set. Gradually the PA filled with layers of tones and drones and textures. The volume was wonderfully high, but the nature of the sounds English was producing was far more soothing than piercing. The end result was incredibly calming, and one look at people's faces around the room was enough to raise a smile; people staring blankly into space, people leaning back with their eyes closed, people with their heads resting in their hands. All totally still. All in a trance. I can't imagine that anyone would have attempted to have a conversation at that point in time, but it would have been a fruitless exercise if they had, so loud was the music coming from the speakers.

Towards the end of the set another sound entered the pallet that English had created - a cymbal wash. Turning to the main stage, one saw Alex Gillies of No Anchor adding extra texture to English's compositions. As Gillies began to increase the volume of his cymbals and added some tom rolls to the mix, Ian Rogers joined in on bass, strumming out a single chord with increasing vigour. As the band gradually began to overtake the electronic artist in volume, all noise suddenly stopped for a second or two before No Anchor launched into the extreme air-pushing power of 'The Seam', the closing track from their debut album 'Fire, Flood And Acid Mud'. It's about the most intense song you'll hear from ANY band this year, and here it was, blasting out from a couple of speakers and a drum-kit in a DIY venue in Red Hill. The rest of the set continued in kind, whether the band was playing breakneck punk songs ('A Complicated Web Of What-The-Fuck-Ever'), extended stoner-rock jams (the new song which I can't remember the title of) or the show-stopping 13 minute closer, 'Drone Me Out'. It wasn't a perfect performance - there were various times where the band stumbled for a moment or two before correcting themselves, and Rogers' Adam-King-esque mic technique meant that his vocals fluctuated wildly in the mix - but the band gave so much energy that it didn't really matter. They had the kind of intensity that only Turnpike, The Night Crash and To The North (and maybe Stature:Statue) have regularly displayed in recent years, which is no mean feat considering how lethargic their music can get at times. And it all ended with a touch of humour - Rogers looped the final riff of the 'Drone Me Out', while Gillies pushed over an item of his kit with each iteration of the riff. When one solitary cymbal remained, he picked it up and walked through the crowd and out of the room, playing it the whole time. Rogers remained for a few seconds before picking up his amp and attempting to follow... until the still-plugged-in power chord rudely stopped him in his tracks.


Full Disclosure: I recorded No Anchor's album. I did it after offering my services after seeing them play for the first time. I thought they were amazing then, I think they're even more amazing now. I don't think my recording their album affected my opinion of them in that regard, other than the fact that I have a pretty all-encompassing knowledge of the songs on their record.

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Gigs of the Week - August 14th

Ok, it's the weekend of the big gig.

Thursday 14th:
Adelle, Art Vandelay, Ryu Vs Ken @ The Zoo

Friday 15th:
Stranded Compilation Launch: The Rational Academy, Tragic/Athletic, Nova Scotia, Ambitious Lovers, Monster Monster @ The Zoo - It's the launch of our triple-CD Brisbane Band compilation. Entry is $8, CDs will be $15.
Robert Forster @ The Powerhouse - I suppose that this is an acceptable reason to miss the Stranded launch (although this starts pretty early so you could well do both).
Blackmilk (WA), Granite Lakes, Idle Cranes @ The Troubadour

Saturday 16th:
Little Scout (EP Launch), Idle Cranes, Fun At Sea @ Rosie's Upstairs
The Lifted Brow Magazine launch: Joel Saunders & Crazy Hearse, Blue Carousel, The Estates, Monster Monster @ The Troubadour
Little Vegas & The Fuzz Parade, Blackmilk (WA), The Fricken Hecks @ The Valley Studios
SixFtHick @ Ric's Bar
Calvara, Tim Loydell @ Rics's Bar Cheeseboard (4pm)

There's also the Sideshow Valley thing at The Jubilee on Saturday.

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Friday, 8 August 2008

Cam's Gigs of the Week - August 8th

Woah, it's the 8th of the 8th of the 8th. That almost never happens!

Also, it's the Ekka holiday next Wednesday so there are a few shows the preceding night.

Friday 8th:
No Anchor (Album Launch), Lawrence English (Album Launch), Secret Birds, Innig @ The Hangar (151 Musgrave Rd, Red Hill) - GotW.
Kill Devil Hills (WA), Halfway, At Sea @ The Troubadour
8 Ball Aitken (Album Launch), The Reversals, The Long Green Beans, Jackie Marshall & The Black Alles Band @ The Globe

Saturday 9th:
Gentle Ben & His Sensitive Side, Houlette (Vic) @ Ric's Bar
Bonefinger Masked Ball: Grand Atlantic, Idle Cranes, Skinny Jean, Drawn From Bees, The Surgeons @ The Zoo
Dirty From Dusk: The Fumes (NSW), Little Vegas & The Fuzz Parade, Black Mustang, The Hits, At Sea, Numbers Radio, The Blackwater Fever, The Fuss @ Step Inn
My Fiction (EP Launch), Captains (NSW), Art of the State, Impossible Odds @ Valley Studios

Sunday 10th:
Houlette (Vic), Table & Chair, To The North, Dan Van Zutphen, McKisko, Mapletons @ The Old Musem (3 - 8pm) - there have been a few changes to this lineup so I'm not totally sure who's playing as of right now. It's a cool venue and there are some cool bands though, so head along.
Live Spark: The Bell Divers (Album Launch), Carry Nation @ The Powerhouse (3pm)

Tuesday 12th:
Twist Oliver, Twist (EP Launch), Hunz, Blue Carousel, The Repetition @ The Zoo
Wind & Brackets, Deux Garcon @ Ric's Bar
Q Song Awards: The Gin Club, 8 Ball Aitken, The John Steel Singers, Asa Broomhall @ The Tivoli
Pineapples From The Dawn Of Time, Last Night's Tea @ The Pineapple Hotel

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