Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Cam's Gigs of the Week - May 2nd

Friday 2nd:
SixFtHick, Jim Rockfords, The Late Great Russian Revolution @ Clarence Corner Hotel, Woolloongabba
The Repetition, Idle Cranes @ Ric's Bar
Tim Steward & Band, The Lovebuckles, Altered States of Being @ UQ Red Room
Chris Pickering, Inntown, The Wells @ The Hive
The Surrogate, Quiet Steps, From Whence It Came @ Rosie's (upstairs)

Saturday 3rd:
Mexico City, Daughters Of The Rum Rebellion, Chris Dale, The Old Order @ The Tongue & Groove
Art Of The State, My Fiction @ Ric's Bar

Sunday 4th:
Nothing really sticks out to me. Perhaps the Caxton St Seafood Festival? On the one hand there's seafood, on the other hand it's Caxton St.


Sunday, 27 April 2008

Weekly News - April 27th

  • The Golden Virtues have released their debut LP this week. The self-titled album is out now on MGM.
  • At Sea are currently mastering their debut EP. The band have a bit of a buzz going at the moment so hopefully the EP can live up to the hype.
  • Self-labelled electro-prog-rockers Pink Bullet have just released their debut EP.


Review: Mr. Rascal - Let It Roll

Let It Roll is the first release from Mr Rascal, the creative vehicle of Christian Duell, and the lead single and two demos on show are a good indication of the quality music Mr Rascal's forthcoming debut album is sure to provide.

'Let It Roll' is an uplifting folk-rock number, with a driving rhythm section, dueling guitars, banjoes, violin, and the prerequisite use of organ necessary to complete such a song. The attraction of 'Let It Roll' is not in the instrumental prowess of Mr Rascal, however, rather it's in the amazing use of melody and harmony, as well as Duell's touching lyrics. The combination of opposing high and low vocal harmonies, Duell's own vocals, and the ever present organ results in a song that sounds absolutely massive for the folk song that it is.

The two demo songs are a little more stripped back, but neither lack the impact of 'Let It Roll'. 'Hands Tied' is especially impressive, with the acoustic guitar and harmonica perfectly matching Duell's vocals. 'Hands Tied' also evokes the style of the late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, but whereas Smith matched uplifting melodies with rather depressing lyricism, Duell goes the other way and combines melancholic music with lyrics that are brimming with positivity. 'The Schoolyard' follows in the same vein, cutting back the sonic side of things to a greater exten while maintaining the harmonies. In this case though the song is a little to bare, although in all fairness the song is billed as a demo and must be treated as a work in progress.

Indeed Let It Roll is a strong indication of what to expect from Mr. Rascal's forthcoming debut LP A Pocketful Of Smoke. The straightforward singer-songwriter harmonies grab the listener and refuse to let go until the song has run its course. Hopefully Duell can keep up the level of quality he has set for himself with this debut release.


Thursday, 24 April 2008

Cam's Gigs of the Week - April 24th

Thursday 24th:
SixFtHick, Jim Rockfords @ Ric's Bar
My Disco (Vic), Secret Birds, Feathers @ The Zoo

Friday 25th:
The Quickening, The Pints, The F1-11s, The Pretty Boys, Dementia 13 @ Step Inn
Vegas Kings @ The Troubadour

Saturday 26th:
Del Toro, Anonymeye (Vic), No Anchor @ Lofly Hangar
Rialto Decibel Choir, Ryu Vs Ken, Space Between Trains, Millions @ Old Museum (Spring Hill)
The Golden Virtues (Album Launch), The Fricken Hecks, Tim Steward, Dick Desert, Mia Goodwin, One Man Hand, Goodboy @ The Troubadour

Sunday 27th:
Blue Carousel, Mt Augustus @ Ric's Bar


Sunday, 20 April 2008

Weekly News - April 20th

  • Violent Soho have finished recording their debut album and plan on releasing it in June. While they've yet to title the LP an upcoming national tour will give them some time to think of one.
  • Hot Liquid Sex have also just finished recording, however in their case its in the guies of an EP bearing the title Unexpect The Expected. Keep an eye for its release next month.
  • At Sea continue the recording theme, but in their case they're only getting started. The band are recording their first release.
  • Teeth Lost, Hearts Won is the confirmed title for The Grates' sophomore album. They're currently recording in Connecticut with a release slated for August.
  • New Music: Scul Hazzards have got the killer 'Counter Empathy' of their LP (I know they're in France now, but we'll claim them like the Bee Gees), To The North go nuts on 'Harms Way', The Gifthorse deliver some pop-punk-pop in the guise of 'Passed The Break', Do The Robot's 'Audrey' off their debut LP Amp On Fire (released last week), and Jim Grundy has a number of cool beeptronica tracks going.
  • Finally some news only vaguely music related, Brisbane has two fine new establishments you should know about. The first is Alibi Jr, a cafe located next to The Outpost (Winn St, The Valley) run by the brainstrust behind the Alibi Room. The second is Tym's Guitars who have moved to 715 Ann St. Make sure to check them both out.


Friday, 18 April 2008

Review: Yves Klein Blue - Draw Attention To Themselves EP

Yves Klein Blue's Draw Attention To Themselves EP has been one of the most anticipated local releases since they signed to Dew Process last year. The four-piece have managed to almost live up to the surrounding hype with a strong first offering that, while faltering at times, shows signs of a real powerhouse of a band in the making.

Yves Klein Blue's debut EP is full of unabashed pop stylings, a fact emphasised by the first minute of opening track 'Blasphemy'. Musically the tracks starts of by utilising the 'world music' rhythm and blues of artists such as Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon (very much like recent critic darlings Vampire Weekend have done). The sound doesn't sit well with the slightly off-kilter vocals of designated frontman Michael Tomlinson, yet at the precise moment that the listener notices the opposing forces at work the distortion kicks in and 'Blasphemy' turns into a blistering garage-pop tune a la The Libertines. From the get go it's obvious how tight Yves Klein Blue are as a band. Tomlinson's and Charles Sale's guitar lines twist around each other without ever clashing, while the backline of bassist Sean Cook and drummer Chris Banham keep things from veering of into chaos.

'Not What I Want' is an upbeat number drawing to mind the songs of early-80s Elvis Costello. Cook's bass keeps the track bouncing around the room, while Sale throws in a pretty decent guitar solo. Its Tomlinson's vocals and lyrics that come to the fore however. While they can teeter on the edge of being overdone from time to time, the lyrics are more often insightful, quick and sharp, ("The institution requires/That every mind can be just what it desires and that/Every mind will desire much the same thing") and are perfectly supplemented by Tomlinson's colourful vocals.

'19' is a slower number, shuffling along with piano and brush snare. Unfortunately the track feels a little overproduced. The song sees the band attempting to pull to many tricks at once and what could have been a excellent Beatlesque pop number, combining upbeat melodies with melancholic lyrics, unfortunately becomes an exercise in mediocrity. Fortunately 'Silence Is Distance' returns the energy to the EP. Another Strokes/Libertines-aping rocker (albeit one that manages to sound quite original), the song is a sees Tomlinson spitting and howling throughout ("If you come any nearer/I'll only be a mirror for your spite") while Sale sprays the song with screeching, distorted riffs.

The second last track is 'Polka', a perfect little pop number which sounds, funnily enough, like a polka. The band has honed the track down to the point where even the most cynical of listeners will feel the urge to dance along. The EP ends with '(a bookend)', which as the title suggests is basically a coda to the EP. The piano and percussion piece is essentially irrelevant, and while such filler could be passed of were this an album, however on an EP, especially one which has already delivered 5 decent songs, it's entirely unnecessary. But don't let that sour note influence you. Yves Klein Blue have pieced together an EP that delivers 5 worthwhile pop gems, most of which are sure to get you jumping around the room when no one is looking.


Cam's Gigs of the Week - April 18th

Kind of late this week. There were some good shows earlier in the week, but... well, they're done with now.

Friday 18th:
The Gin Club (Junk Album launch), Garreth Liddiard (Vic), Mike Noga & The Gentlemen of Fortune (Vic), At Sea @ The Globe - most likely an epic show, to accompany an epic album

Saturday 19th:
Rand & Holland (NSW), Ambitious Lovers, Let's Not (But Say We Did), Rialto Decibel Choir, Monster Monster, Buildings Melt, Chalk & Cheese @ Club Russian (7pm) - I don't know how all the bands are going to fit into the room, let alone anyone else.
Grungefest 2: Sonic Porno, The Pints, Punxie & The Poison Pens, The Whiskey Fists, The Pretty Boys, Attack of the 50ft Woman, Group Therapy, Coping Mechanism, The Wretched Villains, Dirty Boys of the Jungle, Endless Nameless @ Jubilee Hotel - get out your flannel.
Darling Downs (Vic), Texas Tea @ The Troubadour

Sunday 20th:
Fickle Beasts, No Anchor @ Ric's Bar - noise rock duos.
Women In Docs @ Lake Kawana Community Centre (2pm) - not-so-noise-rock duo.


Monday, 14 April 2008

Weekly News - April 14th

  • John Steel Singers have just finished recording for their mini-album, The Beagle And The Dove, and you can check out the new track, 'Evolution', on their myspace. The Beagle And The Dove, will be released before the month is out.
  • Twist Oliver, Twist! are currently undertaking the recording of their debut EP, Ebb And Flow, with local Josh Roche producing. Expect it to be released in June.
  • The Dangermen are offering their Summer Of Danger LP as well as a live recording for free download. Head over to the Swashbucklin' Hobo Records blog to check them out.


Friday, 11 April 2008

Review: The Rational Academy - A Heart Against Your Own

I'm sure there are people out there who thought that this would never materialise. In fact, I may have been one of them. Despite that, as unbelievable as it may seem, it has finally happened... The Rational Academy have released an album, after a mere few years of saying 'oh yeah, our debut album is coming out in a few months'. Featuring contributions from Lawrence English, Ben Frost, John Chantler and various guest musicians and former band members, A Heart Against Your Own puts forth a varied palette of sounds and moods. How does it all stack up? Pretty damn well indeed, I say.

The album starts off with perhaps its strongest track, 'The Author'. The song is propelled by organs, bass synths, electronic drums and Meredith McHugh's subdued vocals. For those who have only seen The Rational Academy in their live guitar-fueled glory, it may come as a bit of a shock to hear the band playing a song that is largely devoid of said guitars (though a few of them pop up in the choruses), but for anyone who has been following the band from the cut-up folk of their debut EP (drums), through to collaborations with Lawrence English and Tujiko Noriko and finally to recent live favourite and Triple-J single '2004', the electronic flavour that pervades 'The Author' (and, indeed, the majority of the album) is not at all unexpected.

'JoJo Planteen' follows with cleanly picked guitars and Ben Thompson's voice on top of a bed of bubbling electronics, and is one of the most straight-forward pop songs on the album - that is, until the end of the song when a wall of feedback and effects gradually rises to envelope all other sounds. The short 'David' features more clean guitars and some very faint washes of delay in the background, and is one of the loveliest songs you'll hear this year (it has a feel that is quite reminiscent of the previously mentioned (drums) EP - quiet, folky, melodic with a hint of experimentalism).

The single, '2004', is next. If you've seen the band in the last year or so, this is the song where everyone moves away from their respective instruments and dances/sways around the stage for 5minutes while Ben's laptop does the work of providing the backing music. It's a great song, though I find it surprising that it was picked up by JJJ over either 'The Author' or 'JoJo Planteen' - not that it matters, they're all worthy songs. Anyway, how can you not like a song in which a band references itself ('Keeping your time with The Rational Academy')? This song always makes me nostalgic for the days of 610 and for bands like Shuriken and Nightstick (although it doesn't really reference any of those things specifically - the song seems to be more of a putdown to a former love interest, putting distance between the narator and the things - in this case bands - he/she used to love but now associates with someone they'd perhaps rather forget. That said, I'm no lyrical expert so don't take my word for it).

'Two Books' has been previously released (as a 7" with the fantastic 'Handwritten Novels'), and on the album it represents the most faithful representation of The Academy's traditional live sound. It's all pounding drums, distorted feedbacking guitars and boy-girl vocals. It's pretty much the same version as the one on the 7", except that now there's over 2minutes of guitar ambience at the end of the song. This ambience leads into the 9minute epic 'Squid & Whale', which starts off with a brief drum machine intro before bursting into another guitar-and-live-drums number.

Where 'Two Books' had its split personality separated into two definite halves (the 'rock song' half and the 'ambience' half), 'Squid & Whale' is a much more multi-headed beast. It starts out as a fairly straight up guitar-pop song before taking a turn into some darker sounding territory. From there it dissolves into synth and guitar ambience, before suddenly returning to a live band sound for an quick guitar workout that morphs into a wall of feedback, and eventually all fading away for the beautiful outro section. Linear, it ain't. For whatever reason it seems to be the most roughly recorded song on the album (I'm guessing it must have constructed piece by piece), but that doesn't really detract from the song in any major way. I must say that I think the recorded version is easily shown up by the band's live performance of the song, but maybe that's just because the live version is so good. Lastly, 'Airport Nation' brings things to calm finish. The song is the folkiest thing on the album, and probably the most beautiful.

At a mere 7 tracks and with a running time of only slightly over half an hour, A Heart Against You Own is no epic (in stark contrast to The Gin Club's Junk). For those who have been waiting 4 years for this album, it might seem a little slight (I would have loved the band to have included their compilation track 'Turin', as it would have fit on the album perfectly). However, I don't think it's really a valid criticism, for two reasons: firstly, every song on the album is great (or to put it in more 'rock' terms, it's all killer, no filler) - this is an album that you can look upon and feel proud that your home town could produce such fantastic music. Secondly, the band has stated that the next album is pretty much done and ready to go, with a tentative release scheduled for October this year (there may also be another release in between these two 'main' releases, but I don't have confirmation and I'm not sure if the band wants it to be widely known yet, so I'll leave it at that). Hopefully the next album will contain some of the 'classic' Rat Acad songs that were conspicuously absent from this album, such as 'Pop Repeats', 'Swimming Pool' and my personal favourite Academy song, 'Beach Party'.

Let's just hope that this time we don't have so long to wait.


Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Cam's Gigs of the Week - April 9th

It's Cam's (Indie) Gigs of the Week!

Wednesday 9th:

Suckafish P Jones, Joel Saunders @ Ric's Bar

Thursday 10th:
The Art of the State, Blue Carousel @ Ric's Bar

Friday 11th:
Off Minor (USA), The Focus (Vic), To The North, The Insurgents, Wheatpaste @ Ahimsa House, West End
Ouch My Face (Vic), The Butcher Birds @ The Troubadour - a 1am show (so technically it's Saturday)

Saturday 12th:
The Pints, Sausage Chopper, The Insurgents, Align @ Fat Louie's Pool Hall
Ouch My Face (Vic), Side Effects @ Ric's Bar

Sunday 13th:

Del Toro (Album Launch), An Horse (EP Launch), Do The Robot (Album Launch) @ The Powerhouse, 3pm - three Valve bands launch their respective releases. Recommendation o' the week.
Francis, Let's Not But Say We Did, In Sepia @ The Troubadour


Sunday, 6 April 2008

Weekly News - April 6th

  • Robert Forster is set to release his latest album, The Evangelist, on April 21. From all accounts (5 stars in Uncut, 4 stars in Q) it's an album on par with his best work. Have a judge for yourself here where you can listen to The Evangelist in full.
  • Singer-songwriter Madeleine Paige is set to release her debut EP this month. You can pick up a copy of Angels In The Architecture this Thursday at The Globe where Madeleine will launch the EP.
  • I Heart Hiroshima are working on some sort of remix album for Tuff Teef, to be released on Valve Records later in the year. I'm a little bit short on details for this one so I'll keep you posted.
  • That's not all Valve are up to at the moment. Apart from debut albums from Del Toro, Do The Robot and An Horse this month, they also have Jane Woody's (Formerly of I Heart Hiroshima and Kicks) first LP, Big Breaths Little Lungs, coming out in May. To top this all off they are going to be the local distributor of the Scul Hazzards' Let Them Sink. Hats off to Valve for being such a cornerstone of Brisbane music.
  • Loud In The Library is an initiative by the Brisbane City Council in support of National Youth Week (as in this week). Held at libraries around Brisbane, they have some pretty sweet programs set up (Learn how to krump!) as well as a number of bands playing for free. Have a look at their website for more information.


Friday, 4 April 2008

SixFtHick @ Brisbane Sounds (02.02.08) - Part 2

It turns out I actually had two videos of SixFtHick from the Brisbane Sounds gig (the other is here). The song is 'The Feel' and, personally, I think it sounds way cooler live then on record.


Cam's Gigs of the Week - April 4th

A couple of shows to keep you busy this weekend.

Friday 4th:
To The North, Arrows, In Sepia, Willows @ Rosie's
Mark Zian, The Oyster Murders, Matchless Armada, Blue Carousel @ Valley Studios

Saturday 5th:
The Rational Academy (Album launch), Turnpike, Do The Robot, Blank Realm @ Lofly Hangar - Recommendation of the week.
Witch Hats (Vic), Secret Birds @ Ric's Bar
Yves Klein Blue (EP launch), Wind&Brackets, The Rocketsmiths @ The Troubadour


Thursday, 3 April 2008

Review: The Gin Club - Junk

The Gin Club have been previously touted as one of Australia's premiere purveyors of folk-rock, but for their third release they have leapfrogged their compatriots with an amazing double album in the guise of Junk.

Double albums are often criticised for being self-indulgent and lacking in substance, or, when they are successful, they to tend involve a vast amount of genre swapping (i.e. London Calling, The White Album, Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness). Instead The Gin Club have avoided both of these circumstances, providing the listener with 26 songs that adhere to the band's take on folk-rock while maintaining a freshness to the sound that holds the listeners attention throughout. In this regard Junk can be seen as a stylistic descendant of albums such as Bob Dylan's Blonde On Blonde or George Harrison's All Things Must Pass.

s strongest facet is the lyricism and songwriting on display, no mean feat when you realise that The Gin Club are operating with six different songwriters. Ben Salter is the first to flex those lyrical skills with opening track '10 Paces Away'. While the song starts of quietly it soon descends into a melting pot of orchestral melody and dirty guitars (this track, and a number of others on Junk, is sonically reminiscent of The Drones). 'Already Gone', penned and sung by Adrian Stoyles, is a much more jangly affair. While musically the track is hard to pinpoint, Adrian's lyrics are a clash of a realist and romantic personality, very much like those of Grant McLennan, and this is evident in the lyrics of 'Already Gone' ("Heartbreaker, cutting off the telephone/Theres a voice just near and familiar out the door.") Ola Karlsson is up next with 'Company Kept', a song which I partially like due to the excellent chorus and partially dislike due to the verse sounding very similar to Pink Floyd's 'Wish You Were Here'.

The Gin Club keep the rotation steady with the Scott Regan penned 'Days', one of the catchier songs on Junk. Musically the song sounds a lot like something from Fleetwood Mac (this is a good thing), at least until the chorus kicks in and it all goes blues-rock. Conor MacDonald's track 'On A Mountain' follows on and goes for an alt-country flavour, a genre the Gin Club seem to excel at. The track is also the first one to distinctly showcase Magoo's excellent production work on Junk. Sixth song, sixth songwriter, this time with Brad Pickersgill singing 'Coming Round', another country tinged song with some excellent vocals and even better lyrics ("The chips on your shoulder got so hard to bear/It's my saving grace, it's my electric chair.") The seventh track, 'Something Rotten' is another Ben Salter number, but this time with help from Angus Agars and vocals from You Am I front man Tim Rogers. Rogers' channeling of Gram Parsons fits in perfectly with the self-deprecating lyrics ("And if apologies sound facile when they rhyme/At least it extricates whats rotten in his mind.") and some excellent pedal steel guitar work.

Up next is one of the highlight's of Junk, 'An Horse', a beautiful combination of Memphis soul and The Band-style folk-rock. Some great organ and horns juxtapose with the guitars superbly (especially during the solo), and, as usual, the lyrics are A class. Junk continues to run the gambit for the rest of the first disc, from the new-folk sounds of Ola's 'Down In The Valley' and the Nick Cave evoking 'Long, Long Time', to the haunting country-rock of the Brad Pickersgill penned 'The Fall' and Ben and Conor's atmospheric acoustic number 'All Your Men' (which features some excellent whistling). The first disc finishes with Ola Karlsson's proper folk (I say proper in that it's a ballad about a ship taking convicts to South-East Queensland) song, 'Abigail'. The slightly out of tune, yet yearning vocals evoke The Pogues at their best, and 'Abigail' serves as a superb ending to a superb CD.

The second disc begins with the title track, 'Junk', which happens to be the only song written by Bridget Lewis. The song's twee lyrics and stripped back sound a reminiscent of the Velvet Underground's 'After Hours', and it serves as a good transition into the next track, 'Tell Me'. The Scott Regan track is the standout song of Junk, no mean feat given the quality of songs The Gin Club have produced. The upbeat pop number combines jangly guitars a la The Byrds (with a touch of Big Star thrown into the mix) and a melody that would be at home on Rubber Soul with Beach Boys-style harmonising and quality lyrics ("Tell me what I want to hear/Instill my fears, distill my tears."). Next up is the country-noir of 'Girl Kills Man', a song as emotive musically (with a cool mariachi-style horn section) as it is lyrically. Adrian Stoyles, the song-writer in this case, seems to have a knack for penning lyrics that are as hopeful as they are despondent. 'White Smoke, Black Heart' is another solid song, featuring a rolling organ and violin, as well as a noticeable amount of reverb, which results in the song sounding like a Born Sandy Devotional-era Triffids song.

'Minnesota' takes a bluegrass route to great effect, while 'Brisbane, 1933' combines piano-driven blues with some Tom Waits-like vocals from Conor MacDonald, but it is the next track, 'Gas Guzzler', that leaves an indelible mark. The Bad Seeds-ish track features a great vocal effort from Salter, as well as organ-work that could almost be described as prescient, carving its way through the peaks and falls of the song. Again Magoo's subtle yet effective production come to the fore, with some great use of acoustics and reverb towards the end of the track. The atmospheric 'Brother' is up next, and it is probably the most avant-garde track on Junk with its undertone of looping noise and feedback evoking Galaxie 500 if they were from Nashville. Adrian Stoyles' 'Waiting In Line' falls somewhere between The Shins and The Flying Burrito Brothers, resulting in a neat little alt-country pop song.

The epic 'You, Me, And The Sea' is another highpoint on Junk. Ben Salter delivers again with some strung lyrics which juxtapose with the skeletal musical side of the track (violin, piano, and drums). The Gin Club keep things downbeat with MacDonald's 'Boat, You've Been Drinking', before speeding things up a little with 'Lies', a song built around acoustic guitar work akin to Elliott Smith. Ola Karlsson steps up to finish Junk with the beautiful 'Julia', a sweeping love song that is part Simon & Garfunkel, part The Band (especially the piano breakdown), and, at the same time, a sound that The Gin Club seize and make their own (Ola's amazingly emotive vocals are the biggest contribution here). It's hard to believe but after 26 songs The Gin Club manage to close with a bang.

Junk has to be one of the most comprehensive albums released this millennium. While it may be an effort for some to listen to this all in one sitting, Junk is a constantly rewarding album, with the listener noticing small lyrical and musical nuances even after a dozen listens. The songwriting prowess is the maker of this album, but The Gin Club also deliver musically. Overall Junk is as close to being a masterpiece as any Brisbane band has come in a long time, and hopefully The Gin Club will receive the attention they deserve for such a release.