Join me in a weekly journey to discover something decent to listen to.
Join me in a weekly journey to discover something decent to listen to.
When I started this blog I was writing to my ‘pen pal’ in Germany (ie a Last.fm friend). He said he was looking forward to seeing what the good Australian was. At the time my response was that he wouldn’t see any because I wasn’t really into the Australian music scene. Well how things change. I am so impressed with the what is being produced these days. Not since the nineties when Regurgitator and Custard were around have I been so ready to splash some cash with band from the main land.
Band like Boomgates, The Drones and Big Scary are just a start.
So to Hungary Kids of Hungary, a band from my very own home town of Brisbane! I was never attracted to listen to these guys before but an appearance on Rockwiz piqued my interest.
I know this one might be too pop oriented for some, but I think you can’t deny this catchy set of friendly tunes.
Yesterday’s Gone with stuttered muted strumming and matching vocals, pipes over the top is the standout.
If you like Grizzly Bear you might notice something like a thousand references, but this is Ken Done to their Banksy.
I loved my week with the Hungry Kids … listen to this for just the pure fun and joy of it all.
If you like your music from the more off-centre, bizzare and even a little avante garde side of life then brace yourself, this week we have a gem.
Even if I didn’t like the music I’d have to be satisfied with the cover art!
It kinda says, you want the strawberries you have to run the risk of being eaten…. right?
The album is a story told in ten parts. Unlike the Besnard Lakes’ Until in Excess Imperceptible UFO, you can digest this in parts. Disentangled, each song is a ripping rock tune and nothing to disappoint.
The story is a helenistic journey from the ancient world and with notable omissions plays out like this:
I came down from the Mountain - the journey has begun, full of expectations I set out to make my fortune attracted by the bright lights and excitement of a far off destination.
Toe Cutter-Thumb Buster is (surely the best titled song for the year) - it blasts for 20 seconds then invites me to settle down, a slow deliberate drawl emerges an undercurrent of menace then suddenly ratchets up the upset.
No Spell - A siren’s song, the title is devilish - this is a calming magic trick, a deception, there is a trap hidden ahead but I have started now, it’s too late to turn back.
Strawberries - A bowl with a sign sits atop saying ‘eat me’. They should be softer, sweeter but it’s aggressive and saccharin. I’m on edge again- have I been poisoned.
Maze Fancier - now I’m trapped and lost in the labyrinth, it’s too late but by now I don’t care about my fate, I carry on (keep turning left, I’m bound to come to the end).
Minotaur - My plan fails and I reach the very centre of the maze where the fabled Minotaur comes to finish me off!! Argghhh the horror!
What a journey, but all I want to do is turn around and do it all over again!
I didn’t know quite where to place this one when I first heard it. Where I landed is this is somewhere between Phosphorescent and Low. Driven to the core by complex sounds and big and scary harmonies this is a big departure from the last few weeks. Intense, lush piano melodies, thumping drums, strings, guitars and lots more besides. I’m in love.
If your not convinced (I’m talking to you Spotify subscribers), go straight to Twin Rivers. The track list is dizzying, I am scared to listen to Phil Collins , but I wasn’t when I listened to it, and they shouldn’t be scared of losing fans by calling a song Why Hip Hop Sucks in ‘13 (not a hip hop song), a soaring triumph and the best track on the album.
I’m convinced! This is art , not not art.
Week 22 - Smith Westerns, Soft Will
Another excellent week where the music inside matched the promise of the cover art. Put the album on repeatedly, neck about 4-8 standard drinks (as defined by the Surgeon General) and while you do that binge out on some Smith Westerns at high volume. Wake up with your ears ringing and you have just recreated 90% of my Friday nights from the heady days of my youth.
I haven’t heard their first album, but the Smith Westerns have to be happy with their second effort … the so called difficult second album has been dispatched with ease.
Probably more for the boys this on and it follows the trend of the recent past by being a bit Indie Pop, a bit Psychedelic, a bit Garage. Smith Westerns are straight down the middle and I must resist making lazy comparisons to the likes of Oasis and the Beatles because you can make that link to so many bands these days and I think the point is worn now.
Smith Westerns are no one trick pony though, each song on Soft Will are well crafted , nearly perfect pop songs, and I’m taken to more places than I can name. I love the 70’s style guitar riffs and I can’t even choose which one I like the most.
Zooey Deschanel… sigh….
She’s been picked on by Portlandia and has a TV show I don’t like…but…sigh. And your singing and cute keyboards….sigh.
oh and M.Ward is really good too.
You Tube Promo, [Kurt Vile]
Performance and interview included. The performance of the album’s title track is pretty faithful to the recording.
I’d forgotten all about Metacritic, it’s interesting to look at how the world at large have rated an album.
I had Kurt filed into the ‘artists I should have known about but never got around to’ box, but no more as I have finally found time for him.
I’m pretty glad about it, Walkin On Pretty Daze fits nicely as a mid winter warmer.
The most interesting thing about this is Kurt’s ability to create seemingly simple tunes that want to glide right passed you, but give them some time and you’ll realise the full extent of the level of skill used.
Each song develops at a steady pace over the life of the album. The songs reveal themselves at the start putting you on good terms immediately. There aren’t many gimmicks used to hook you in, not many highs or lows, sudden turns or key changes - they are there, but used sparingly and to good effect.
There is plenty of excellent instrumentation, it drives through the whole album, but be ready for a lot of gentle finger style guitars with fingers sliding up and down the fret board at regular intervals. It’s not all the same all the way through though, Shame Chamber breaks a run with some electric work that didn’t seem terribly out of place, the ‘woohs’ pierced through my massaged eardrums and scared the bejesus out of me. I had to get up and check the house was properly secured before I could get back to it.
The biggest burst of creative energy since Screamadellica in the early nineties with the most intense deployment of saxophone since Radiohead’s National Anthem. Interesting anecdote to set the scene. It’s mid to late 1990’s. Primal Scream are in town to promote their Give It Up But Don’t Give In album. There is a good sized audience in, no support act and a DJ who couldn’t be bothered playing anything but the same acid jazz album in rotation until the band’s eventual appearance at 11.30pm. The doors opened at 7 and we got there at 8 and it’s all we can take so it’s off to the bar to dull the senses. So the band comes out, does 4 or 5 numbers, the crowd are loving it, but the band suddenly have a punch up on stage and stagger off. Fifteen minutes or so later, half the band come back on stage to start the set off again. The rhythm section starts, followed by some backing vocals, but singer and lead guitarist never show up again that night. The non beaten up half of the band continue on for a few more minutes than needed as it was obvious that that was it for the night. The band is done. So rock n f’ing roll.
Talk about silver linings, I thought us humble citizens of Brisbane, Australia had witnessed the last tortured flailing of a band that had had enough. That would have been worth the price of admission. Thankfully it wasn’t to be, because we wouldn’t have had More Light to marvel at this week.
As my 40+ mind slowly begins to whither, It gives me heart really that some of the elder states-people of music (if you can call them that) can produce such fantastic music. Bobbie Gillespie and group have come out with the most interesting piece of music for the year. These last few weeks have been incredible.
There surely is a temptation for bands as they get on to borrow from their past, but Primal Scream seem to me to have thrown everything away and come up with something entirely original. Mixed structures, strange noises, soft/loud singing, loud guitars, repetition, it’s all there for you to try and make sense of. This is how I like my music. Tenement Kid is a standout among many standouts for it’s rolling baseline and soft shoe shuffle friendly drums. Oh and see if you agree with my National Anthem reference when you listen to Hit Void.
I’m relatively new to The National, High Violet was their last album and my first. I first got into them at Harvest festival here in Brisbane a couple of years ago. The Flaming Lips had attracted a crowd so large I couldn’t penetrate the 50 metre line despite my best efforts and my friend convinced me to give up and get a good spot for The National. It was well into the night, but I definitely came to see the silver lining. I didn’t even know the new album was out having gotten caught up in a record store day backlog, I nearly missed it altogether (thanks Shannon from Jet Black Cat Records).
If you don’t know about The National, they are a deliberately slow moving machine that have painfully honest lyrics at their core. It’s music that suits night time, concert halls and big stages even though it’s so introspective. Despite their approach the performances match. And so to this album. I’m not going to make big comments about record of the year even though there is potential for that. I’ve had a little over a week with this new album and it seems to be a bit of a sleeper. It will be interesting to come back at the end of the year and see what I think then.
It’s another one that is hard to break up, the songs on the first couple of listens tend to run into one another, but slowly they begin to reveal themselves. I think this is an Opus, a huge piece of work, that you need to invest in to get anything out of and if you do there will be a good pay off.