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


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.


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)


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.


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