Thursday, 27 August 2009

Gigs of the Week - August 27th

Thursday 27th:
Bliss, Half Tail @ Ric's Bar
Secret Birds, TroubleKarmaFlow @ X&Y
Bluejuice (NSW), Skinny Jean, Last Dinosaurs @ The Zoo

Friday 28th:
Alps (NSW), Kitchen's Floor, The Deadnotes, Whyte Lightning (Vic) @ Step Inn (Front Bar)
Extra Foxx, Little Lovers @ Ric's Bar
To The North, Caught Ship (Vic), Soars, The Peel St Band, Birth of Bison @ Via Studios - Free, All Ages.
Mexico City @ The Powerhouse
The Keep On Dancin's @ The Troubadour (1am)

Saturday 29th:
Caught Ship (Vic), Whyte Lightning (Vic), The Swamplords, Sweet Dreams, Loose Grip, Nikko @ Ahimsa House
Cuthbert & The Nightwalkers (NSW), Little Scout, Lion Island @ The Troubadour
The Sunday Reeds (Vic), Kitchen's Floor, The Gonzo Show @ Lofly Hangar


Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Turnpike, Seaplane, Undead Apes @ 4zzz Carpark (15.08.09)

4zzz's Radiothon has come and gone, so I hope that those of you who weren't subscribers prior to this past week have now changed that. In any case, the Zeds started off their yearly subscription drive last Saturday with an afternoon show in their carpark on St Paul's Terrace, something that was relatively common a few years back and has recently returned as a semi-regular event. The Porridge program was responsible for this particular show, and so we had three loud indie-rock bands (of various sub-types) playing in the winter sun.

Local punk rock frankenstein Undead Apes started things off. The band consists of members of Eat Laser Scumbag, Sekiden, Dick Nasty and Gazoonga Attack, and Undead Apes don't really stray too far from what you would imagine a band featuring such musicians would sound like: it's loud, up-tempo, catchy punk (more of the garagey 'pop-' variety than the 'hardcore-'). Although they've only been around for a relatively small amount of time, they're a pretty tight little outfit - again, as you'd expect given their lineage. Aside from one mix up due to attempting to play a song that was only written a day or two before the show, every song was nailed down tight, coming across with great force. I'm struggling to think of anything substantial to really say about them, other than if you like the previously mentioned bands (or just punk rock in general) then you'd be well advised to check them out.

Seeing as Seaplane's co-frontman Stirling Bartlam hosts the Porridge show, it was no surprise to see his own band on the lineup. They're a fine act so I doubt many people had any complaints. Having gone through a lineup change fairly recently (drummer Conwae Burrell being replaced by Nova Scotia frontman Scotty Brique), it's been reassuring to see that if anything the band has become even tighter. Scott is a louder and slightly more accomplished drummer than Conwae, although not to such a degree that Burrell's trademark roughness has been eliminated. Brique provides the perfect middle ground for the band - sturdy enough to provide a solid base from the two guitarists to throw their signature squall over, but loose enough to continue the previous incarnation's character. This show was amongst their better, with all members being able to stretch out at full volume with a supportive and interested crowd (indeed, Dale Peachey seemed quite incredulous that audience members kept asking him to turn up for once). Most of the set was made up of tracks from their recent 12", such as The Soiree, Plastic Jesus and Feather, with a few older favourites added to mix things up.

It's no secret that Turnpike are one of my very favourite Brisbane bands. If you're at all inclined towards their brand of no-wave/math-rock noise then it's a rare thing to witness a bad Turnpike show (indeed, I can't actually remember ever seeing one, though I'm sure it must have happened at some stage... probably). Although they've been playing a set of largely unreleased songs ever since the arrival of their Humans Find Patterns album a few years back (with the only songs to appear since 2007 being 'Selling, This Century' from their split with Del Toro, and 'Easy Choices For Bad People' from Stranded), it seems that the band has decided to start moving onto new areas regardless. Hence we are treated to a lengthy new song, with the promise of more to come. The new track features drummer Chris tweaking electronic noises for the first third of the song, while Tim plays a continuous 5/4 riff on bass and Adam noodles away on guitar. It's like some sort of minimalist version of Tortoise. Eventually the guitar and bass meld together, the drums enter and things work themselves up to a moderate level of 'rock', before everything explodes into something that can only likened to thrash metal. After a comparatively small amount of ear-shredding the songs calms back down and returns to its origin. It's definitely new territory for the band, and represents another shift in their sound (something that seems to happen every year or two). It will be interesting to see if they continue this new, more abstract direction with their other new material. Hopefully we'll see a new release from these guys in the near future.


Thursday, 20 August 2009

Gigs of the Week - August 20th

So there was supposed to be another post in here about something else, but unfortunately there were technical issues and it had to be scrapped, so instead here's a boring old gig guide. There's not a whole bunch on this weekend, though what is on is pretty good.

Also, remember that 4zzz's Radiothon continues until Friday, so subscribe!

Friday 21st:
Greg Brady & The Anchors, Del Toro @ Ric's Bar
Vegas Kings, Undead Apes, Electric Jellyfish (Vic) @ The Troubadour

Saturday 22nd:
Sweet Dreams, Electric Jellyfish (Vic), Turnpike, Dollface, Loose Grip @ Browning St Studios
4zzz Radiothon Finale: Hunz, Blue Carousel, Ball Park Music @ X & Y
Reptiles (Vic), Parties of the Interzone @ Ric's Bar

Tuesday 25th:
The Scrapes, Sounds from the Wall @ Ric's Bar


Thursday, 13 August 2009

Gigs of the Week - August 13th

It's Radiothon for 4zzzFM from this Saturday all through next week, so subscribe to the station so they can stay on air. You can win prizes!

Thursday 13th:
The Lifted Brow Launch: Talkshow Boy (Vic), The Estates, Joel Saunders & Crazy Hearse @ The Zoo - Launch of literature zine, with cheap copies available
Dave Ross, Conor MacDonald @ Step Inn (Front Bar)
Grand Atlantic, Sarakula (NSW), The Stress of Leisure @ The Troubadour
Tycho Brahe, Twist Oliver Twist @ Ric's Bar

Friday 14th:
Mexico City @ The Powerhouse

Saturday 15th:
4zzz All Day Breakfast: Seaplane, Turnpike, Undead Apes @ 4zzz Car Park, St Paul's Tce (2pm) - With a sausage sizzle!
Do The Robot (Album Launch), Carry Nation, BigStrongBrute, Silver Screens @ Lofly Hangar
Mr Rascal, Lion Island @ Ric's Bar

Monday 17th:
Wheatpaste, The Dead Ringers @ Ric's Bar


Idle Cranes, Stature::Statue, Velociraptor @ Fans (11.08.09)

Fans nights have fairly quickly become the hub of a rising new scene of fashionable young indie-rock bands. The audiences they attract reflect that - I don't think I've ever seen such a well dressed, good looking group of people before... except for at the other Fans nights I've attended. They makes the crowds who frequented the old Depot nights (with whom Fans shares a venue - Alhambra, aka No12 - and also the pre-Ekka holiday evening, with The Depot having it's annual reunion just down the road) look comparatively trashy. This particular evening sees Sydney's Talons in town to launch their new album, as well as a record launch for one of Brisbane's own new acts, as well as two other local acts of a similar disposition.

Stature::Statue may have gone through some relatively significant lineup changes in recent times (new drummer, losing a guitarist) but their core sound has stayed pretty much the same throughout their three-year existence - super fast, chaotic post-punk of the 'angular' variety that was very popular a couple of years ago. While many of the bands who appeared around the same time and with a similar sound as Stature have either disappeared or morphed significantly, they've pretty much soldiered on in the same vein. This is no bad thing; they were always one of the best bands around in their chosen style, coming across as more ragged and crazed than their peers.

After seemingly losing their way a little bit a year or so ago when guitarist Dion and drummer Ross left, they seem to be back on track with their newest incarnation. Replacement drummer James has improved by leaps and bounds - where he once struggled to keep up with the rest of the band he now provides a solid backbone. Meanwhile the reduction of the band to a trio has streamlined their sound and allowed one to hear the intricacies of their music much more easily, instead of hiding it all behind a wall of guitar effects and feedback. The result is something that's less At The Drive-In and more like Lightning Bolt being fronted by Steve Urkel (the ATDI comparisons never really fit in the first place anyway - S::S aren't nearly as hooky as that band, and with their explorations of feedback and guitar texture are sonically far more in debt to bands like Sonic Youth and JAMC, albeit with the tempo doubled). I hope they continue with this more stripped back lineup, it suits them well.

Idle Cranes come from similar post-punk stock to Stature::Statue, but with a far hazier, groove-laden feel and generally more variety in musical style. This particular evening they're launching their debut EP, 'Fur Release' (which you can listen to in full via their myspace) - although being 40minutes long I'd be more inclined to call it an album. I've seen the band a few times since the I last wrote about them on Before Hollywood, and they've put on a pretty good show each time - not always mind-blowing but never flat, and always with at least a handful of songs that impress. The usual pick of the bunch is regular set-closer 'Two Horse Race', one of the best shoegazey stoner-rock songs to come out of this city recently (though I can't really think of much competition for them in this category... suffice to say that even if this were a more popular style right now the song would still rate highly). Generally the band puts on their best performances when the atmosphere is somewhat oppressive - hot, drunk and tired is generally the best state in which to appreciate their particular brand of music. This show wasn't the superlative performance that the band might have hoped for in an EP Launch, but I don't think think that was really due to anything that the band did or didn't do. For some reason all of the disparate elements didn't quite gel - the venue, the crowd, the noise, they just didn't come together in the way that one might have hoped for when everything seemed lined up just perfectly. At it's best, though, the sound was all-encompassing, and at its worst it was still better than many other bands could muster.

After Idle Cranes came Sydney's Talons, who put on a pretty great show. I saw and liked them back at the FansFansFans festival a few months ago, so Tuesday's show proved to me that it wasn't a one-off. They don't really fall within the focus of this blog though, so that's all I really have to say about them.

Finishing off the night with a 1am set were local garage collective Velociraptor, a septet featuring members of DZ, The Strange Attractors and Running Guns (and probably a few others). I've seen the band now in three incarnations, ranging from a trio through to tonight's seven-strong lineup. The band seems to think that their music is super primitive rock and roll, but I don't quite know about that. It may not be tech-metal but it's equally not boneheaded two-chord rock, being filled with all manner of stops, starts and breakdowns. For your standard four-piece rock band it might not be massively impressive but given there are seven people on stage (who apparently almost never practice together) it's a pretty good effort. As for the size of the band, there's no real need for that many people in order to play the songs, but that's kind of missing the point - it's all for spectacle, with four guitarists, two drummers and a bassist creating absolute havoc on (and off) stage. There was crowd surfing, audience members being given instruments to play, amplifiers and drumkits being pushed over mid-song, walls of feedback and confusion in between every number. As for the songs themselves, they're pretty damn catchy garage rock tracks, all lead by frontman Jeremy Neale who does a damn good job of attracting interest, especially considering the chaos that surrounds him on stage and the fact that he barely has a chance to address the audience in between songs (and when he does you can't really hear him over the guitar feedback and the conversations of the other band members anyway).

Oh, and they have a song based around the theme song to the original Batman TV series.


Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Gigs of the Week - August 5th

Wednesday 5th:
Suzie Stapleton, Sabrina Lawrie & The Hunting Party, Skritch, Tal Wallace @ The Troubadour

Thursday 6th:
Mt Augustus, Ambitious Lovers, Bud Petal (NSW), The Scrapes @ Browning St Studios
My Fiction, The Oyster Murders, A Horse Darkly @ The Zoo

Friday 7th:
I Heart Hiroshima, DZ, Seja Vogel, Stemford Hiss @ The Zoo
Grand Salvo (Vic), Jessica Says (Vic), McKisko, Lion Island, ChalkAndCheese, JA Core @ Browning St Studios
The Gonzo Show, Wipedoubt, The Young Liberals @ Step Inn - note: This is not the Young Liberals featuring members of The Gin Club, Butcher Birds etc. This is an instrumental, 'post rock' esque Young Liberals.

Saturday 8th:
The Boat People, Dan Parsons, Ball Park Music @ The Troubadour
Local Produce: Mary Trembles, Drawn From Bees, Joel Myles, The Mercy Beat @ The HiFi
Teleprompter, The Arks @ Ric's Bar

Tuesday 11th:
Fans: Talons (NSW), Idle Cranes (EP Launch), Stature::Statue, Velociraptor @ Alhambra

Wednesday 12th:
Idle Cranes (EP Launch) @ Love, Love Studio (1pm, 27 Florence St, Newstead) - A BBQ and art show that is also functioning as Idle Cranes' record launch (in addition to the previous night at Alhambra).
Running Guns, The Kents @ Ric's Bar


Monday, 3 August 2009

Review: The Rational Academy - Swans

The Rational Academy have been one of Brisbane's most respected indie-rock bands ever since their formation in the wake of the dissolution of Benjamin Thompson's Autumn Giants and Meredith McHugh's Delpino. After releasing last year's well received A Heart Against Your Own (why a track like 'The Author' failed to get substantial JJJ rotation is a mystery to me - I suppose the fact that the band pushed the similar but more morose '2004' instead probably has something to do with it), McHugh left the band, leaving Thompson as the sole founding member remaining. While some of the band's first steps after their substantial lineup change left some people wondering if they had lost their spark, Swans should lay any such fears to rest. It's probably a better record than AHAYO, though it moves the band further away again from its guitar-squall origins.

Released on Lawrence English's Someone Good, Swans is the label's second release in a series of records following a strict '10 songs in 20 minutes' format. This restriction seems to bring out some of The Rational Academy's strengths, as it forces them to showcase their melodic abilities - what would have otherwise been choruses are now middle-eights - without surrounding things with minutes on end of drones and feedback; there's no 'The Squid And The Whale' on this record. That's not to say that there isn't a healthy amount of ambience and sonic experimentation here (this is The Rational Academy after all), instead it just means that you only have to wait half a minute or so until the next riff or lead vocal. When the haze of buzzing synths and effects do descend they do so with a greater degree of cohesiveness than they have on previous recordings.

That cohesiveness is the other strength of this record - tracks blend into one another in such a way that you may not realise that you've moved into a new song, while when there is a big dynamic shift between tracks it always feels totally natural (eg: the piano-based 'Summer Husbands' moving into the jagged guitars of 'Satan'). The band perhaps uses this to cheat a little bit in regards to the '10 songs in 20minutes' challenge, as a couple of the 'songs' are really just intros or outros to other, more substantial numbers ('12 Feet In Cheltenham' is pretty much an outro for 'Teen Diethylamide 25', while 'Oak Hill' is 19 seconds of ambience that continues into 'Summer Husbands'). Still, who cares when it gives the record such great atmosphere. As much as it seems like a cheap comparison, it really does call to mind the recordings of The Rational Academy's recent stage partners in Deerhunter. The end result is that songs that individually might seem somewhat slight are bolstered by the music that surrounds them - the record ends up as more than just a sum of its constituent parts.

Perhaps this is why the two most developed and robust songs are the ones that bookend the record: 'Unsolved Mysteries' is perhaps the only song one the album that could be called a 'rock' song, even though it consists of layers of clean guitars and a haze of tremolo and reverb, while 'A New Berlin' is a beautiful acoustic-guitar based number with the most direct production on the record (though it eventually gives way to the ambient outro of 'Yoko I'm Only Dancing', the record's technical closer). In between we have the stately 'Teen Diethylamide 25', the robotically funky 'Hammer' and the wintry beauty of 'Summer Husbands'. My personal favourite is the supremely catchy 'Satan', one of the few traditionally guitar-based songs on the record; I find myself wishing it was twice as long, but I guess the song's brevity increases its potency.

We've been accused of playing favourites with The Rational Academy here at Before Hollywood, but with a record like this... why the hell wouldn't you? It's mature, delicate, meticulously constructed and supremely rewarding. A Heart Against Your Own was a wonderful record but had some fairly conspicuous flaws - despite The Rat Acad being a terrific guitar-rock band, the loud guitar songs on that record sounded kind of strange in their recorded contexts. Swans removes the flawed elements of the last record, edits things down their bare essentials and then polishes the results to a fine shine. While I'd love to hear a Rat Acad ROCK record that matches their old live sound, it's probably not going to appear any time soon (though they apparently have a third album already completed which should be released early next year - a 2009 release date was pushed back due to the band's overseas touring). Swans is a better replacement than one would have any justification in expecting.

PS: Apologies for the lack of a gig guide last weekend, I came down pretty sick at the end of the week.