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


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!


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!


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.