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Radio Spectacular opened the stage at Fowler’s somewhere just after 7:30; an early start for the local two-piece ‘Rip It Up band to watch for 2011’. They only played to a relatively small crowd congregating near the front of the room but were tight and will continue to get better with age. The Touch carried on where Radio Spec left off, only to a slightly bigger mass of people now. A ‘mass’ comprised predominantly of the female variety. The band were energetic and, to the legions of girls slipping over each other at the front of the stage, extremely appealing throughout their set. A couple of their more recognizable tracks even caused some light movement with some of the male gender hiding in the shadows toward the back.

As more people streamed into Fowler’s, Jonathan Boulet and his cast took to the stage. A warm reception greeted the Sydney local as he began with 321 Ready Or Not from his debut self-titled album. A touch of witty crowd interaction from the confident and talented singer/guitarist accompanied the introductory period of the set. “Hi, we’re The Touch” Jonathan announced before the band launched seamlessly back into Ones Who Fly Twos Who Die.

As the set wore on it was obvious that a slightly raucous Saturday Night – ‘Let’s get pissed and see some live music’ crowd were maybe not quite suited to witnessing such a polished performance. The bassist tried valiantly to generate some enthusiasm amongst the crowd with a clap that was short-lived, North To South East To You was beautifully played but the (marginally) extended jams between songs were underappreciated by a crowd who got their wish as Monsieur Boulet finally broke out with crowd favourite A Community Service Announcement. An absolute gem of a song! The crowd, instantly electrified by the recognizable melody, began to sing and dance along, and continued to do so into finale You’re A Animal.

A great evening was developing but it was tough to get past the venue choice as the sound is notoriously sub-par. It was bouncing around the walls and providing an overbearing and at times uncomfortable experience. I’m sure it’ll be the last time either of the tourees will ply their trade at such an unfitting venue here.

The night reached its peak as The John Steel Singers ensemble went about creating a stir with the high energy and enthusiastic live show that has become synonymous with the Queensland outfit. Their amusing interaction quickly made JSS a hit amongst the crowd; “JSS have four guitars and they’re all fucked at the moment… Oh sorry, this is an all ages gig… Kids, they’re broken OK?” Scott mused with the audience to a bout of laughter.

The crowd still represented a mix of cultured teens and hapless whatever’s, watching on with keen interest (only at times for the latter) and, without being too politically incorrect; I remember at one point a black dude wearing sunglasses, nestling a cigarette over his left ear holding up a lighter… Now I’m not one to judge too heavily on gig-etiquette but it just seemed like an inappropriate point of the show (I’m not sure at what point in a show like this it does become appropriate).

JSS found their groove mid-way through the show and they began hitting their straps with monster tune Rainbow Kraut, confidently reciting an anecdote about a food outlet they can recommend in Adelaide after. They continued to build momentum into the second half of the set with Masochist, highlighting their ability as ‘indie-funk-rockers’.

People were drunk and dancing along without a care and the hits kept coming with fan-favourite Overpass. The crowd cheered and hummed along with the brass sections and sang in unison with an eagerness that grew as the song did too. After a quick break they finished the set with Evolution and a progressive jam that finished with half the band lying on the stage to a lavish round of appreciative applause.

Two extremely well performed and refined sets from a couple of Australia’s premier performers in the Indie scene at the moment. It’s easy to see why Jonathan Boulet and The John Steel Singers are held in such high esteem with performances like this, it’s just a shame Fowler’s aren’t capable of sharing that same level of esteem as venue anymore.

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Zonoscope is by far the most complete album that Cut Copy has produced to date. That definitely isn’t to insinuate that the album is necessarily better than their past works, just that the whole album has a flow and progression to it that their previous records haven’t. They aren’t relying on standout tracks like In Ghost Colours did with “Hearts on Fire” and “Lights and Music” but rather letting the album speak for itself as a whole; a mature and exciting development for the Melbournites.

This record signifies that the band has progressed from being the festival regular, producers of dance floor anthems to an established outfit, now capable of delivering a more absolute and deeper musical journey; highlighted by the slow-burning, surging sound of lead single “Where I’m Going”. “Pharaohs & Pyramids” and “This Is All We’ve Got” emphasize this hour-long journey with their astronautical sound and classic Dan Whitford vocals.

Opening track “Need You Now” is the perfect beginning for Zonoscope, gradually building and setting a nice pace for hit single “Take Me Over” to do just that, and the entire record to subsequently develop. “Blink & You’ll Miss A Revolution” is aptly titled as it is a hidden gem which could easily get lost and missed amongst all the crazy sounds and effects but is a crucial midpoint of the record. These background sounds are so reminiscent of the Donkey Kong Country trilogy on SNES sometimes that Cut Copy will no doubt engulf many a nineties gamer with overwhelming feelings of nostalgia (for the past, not future).

It is a tense third album that builds and then is released on “Alisa” and again on the album’s closer “Sun God”. My only qualm with the record is the fact that it never really manages to peak. It contains moments where it comes so, so close to reaching that desired climax but always leaves you needing a tiny bit more.

While Zonoscope more than meets expectations, being the brilliant all-around album that it is, the feeling of anticipation the band build so well is never quite satisfied, leaving you needing to listen to the album ‘just one more time’ in the hope of finding that elusive apex through the maze of painfully tempting crescendos.

Cut Copy – Alisa

Cut Copy – Take Me Over

Cut Copy – Blink And You’ll Miss A Revolution

P.s. Frothing on the cover art!

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Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

 

Mogwai’s career has thrived on the distortion heavy, guitar-driven music that seven albums later has become synonymous with the Scottish five-piece. ‘Hardcore will Never Die, But You Will’ ensures that this mould isn’t broken. Their tenure in the music business has reached a point where they have sculpted and re-defined their own genre (whatever that may actually be – some form of atmospheric, instrumental post-rock?) to such a point where whatever they release will be met with open arms. Don’t let this make you think that ‘Hardcore’ is simply a lazy replica of past productions though.

 

The album as a whole fits together very comfortably and it’s evident how much thought has been placed into every aspect of the production to create this polished feel (you would expect no less from such an experienced outfit). The dizzying, effect-pedal induced rock highs of lead-single Rano Pano perfectly contrast the sullen bass lows and whispered vocals of Stuart Braithwaite on Mexican Grand Prix, while the quiet interlude Letters to The Metro sets the mood for a launch into the powerful George Square Thatcher Death Party.

 

It’s refreshing to see a band that have in the past resisted the conventionalisms of traditional album structure to be willing to, for lack of a better word, conform to this structured style of production, so far into their career. Martin Bulloch’s smooth drumbeat on How to be a Werewolf will be one of the underappreciated highlights of ‘Hardcore’ as it gives a sense of drive and purpose that compliments the classic raw Mogwai guitar sound layered above.

 

Instrumental opener White Noise is a beautiful launching pad for an album that is full of emotional troughs and peaks, thought-provoking instrumentals and is yet another successful chapter in the sixteen year Mogwai story.

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Man do these LA based disco-punk lads know how to write a catchy tune. That’s probably the biggest criticism I have of their debut album to be honest. Well, aside from the fact that they do sound a hell of a lot like so many bands that you almost find yourself naming each and every one of them as the songs progress. But all in all, it is a really catchy, really enjoyable record.

Opening track ‘New York City moves to the sound of LA’ gets the album off on the best possible foot and it really is the highlight of the LP. I have no problem with an album opening with its most stellar track and setting the mood, whereas others find it an utter necessity for an album to build to its climax. It’s quite obvious how much these guys idolize The Strokes too, with many a riff taking you instantly back to a J.Cas and co. record but that’s probably a good thing, right?

As the album progresses the punk vibe of it does too, drawing further away from the likes of The Strokes, Stereophonics and The Rapture and becoming slightly reminiscent of bands like Taking Back Sunday and [at times] dare I say it,  The Used.

So I know this doesn’t sound like I’m too amped on the record but I guess that’s just one of the hindrance’s of (unsuccessfully?) using the electronic medium to convey my thoughts, because I do enjoy the record. A lot. I just think it’s basically what British India would sound like… You know, if they weren’t shit.

download/ listen as always:

Funeral Party – New York City Moves To The Sound Of L.A

Funeral Party – Just Because

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Another incredible year of music, internationally and around Australia. The emergence of some fantastic new acts has been a joy to behold and the return of many  an established band with unbelievably good albums has made for a pleasant auditory experience in twenty-ten.

As all bloggers do at this point, I must remind you that these are not based on any statistical analysis or such. This is simply a list of my favourite twenty songs of this calendar year. It is based on nothing but my opinion so I would love any feedback you have as to what you strongly agree or disagree with. If you like this, share it with ya pals. If you’re unfamiliar with any of the tracks, click on the link at the end of the post to listen/ download. Thanks for checking it, Peace x

(more…)

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“Can we get much higher?”

Kanye West’s fifth studio album was released yesterday and despite having already released a bunch of the tracks during his ‘G.O.O.D Friday’s’ series the record is rippin’. Kanye continues to break the barriers of conventional rap, hip hop, pop and any other genre he decides to dabble his unbelievably talented paws in.

The thing that continues to amaze me about Kanye West and his artistry is the way he progresses and develops. Unlike so many other artists in his field who are afraid to stray too far from what made them initially successful (an understandable and intelligent business decision), Kanye is willing to test the boundaries of the music industry and push his own personal boundaries to the limit. His progression from The College Dropout (2003) and Late Registration (2005), to Graduation (2007) and then 808’s & Heartbreak (2008) was a well publicised and often criticised voyage and with his latest LP now released, the haters will be quick to get on his back again. I doubt this will faze the man though, especially knowing he has an eight digit bank account and millions of devoted fans behind every decision he makes.

Highlights from the album include opening track ‘Dark Fantasy’, ‘All of the Lights (feat. Rihanna)’ and ‘Lost in the World (feat. Bon Iver)’. Tracks like ‘Power’ and ‘Monster (feat. Jay Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver)’ have already received a lot of warranted critical acclaim over the past months as they are amazing tracks. The unconventionally abstract artwork throughout the album is definitely another highlight. Illustrated by George Condo they depict exactly where Kanye is right now.

The album is imaginative, stylish and entertaining from track one to thirteen. A superb supporting cast of artists ensure variety and emphasise the album’s diversity and its complete experience. Another exquisitely constructed window into the mind of Kanye West. 

Listen & download below.

Kanye West – Dark Fantasy

Kanye West – All Of the Lights (feat. Rihanna)

Kanye West – Lost In the World (feat. Bon Iver)

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i didn’t want to waste everybody’s time with consecutive review posts, so i thought i would just do as the spice girls did in ninety-six and let two become one. it was also fitting as both albums were released today and i purchased them at the same time. that actually became quite problematic as i was literally sitting in my car outside jb hifi for a solid three or four minutes, trying to decide which album to listen to first. bag raiders won out; but only because they are playing at parklife in three days and i wanted to learn up on the tracks pronto.

bag raiders – self titled lp

featured this week on triple j as a bit of a sneak preview, i had already heard a few of the tracks and was diggin what i was hearing, so it came as no surprise that the rest of the album lived up to my weighty expectations. catchy synth lines and jaw dropping vocal melodies have been somewhat of a signature for the sydney based duo’s music, with tracks like ‘shooting stars’ and ‘way back home’ rocketing up the australian charts over the past year. during the album the boys showcase their incredible artistry with some mind-bending instrumental tracks and more of what they are fast becoming famous for.

‘snake charmers’ is perhaps the most catchy lick on the record and will no doubt have you humming the tune for hours after you hear it (my family can probably attest to this at lunch today). the whole album just oozes fun in the sun though. a vital october purchase, there’s not a shadow of a doubt you’ll be hearing these tracks on every radio station and in every club for the spring and summer’s entirety. a truly brilliant debut, these lads still have a lot to offer in the future. if you haven’t already done so, grab yourself a ticket to parklife and make sure you’re at the ‘atoll stage’ at 9:05pm to see them doing what they do best!

bag raiders – way back home

bag raiders – snake charmers

bag raiders – not over

 

the naked & famous – passive me, aggressive you

it’s true that not much good shit comes out of new zealand. paul lowe’s heritage, sheep-rooting jokes, ladyhawke and russell crowe are a few of the limited success stories of nz that we like to claim from over the tasman, but there’s now one more exception to add to the diminutive list… the naked & famous. if you haven’t heard of them by now you seriously need to get your head out from underneath whatever rock or nova-induced trance you’ve stumbled into.

they made waves with their debut single ‘young blood’ and have now bolstered their glowing reputation with the freshman album ‘passive me, aggressive you’. to put it simply, it is rock (or indie-rock, or alt-rock, or whatever other rock-based genre best describes it these days) at it’s superlative best. it rises and falls where a mature album should but it is erratic and abrasive at times. it manages to sincerely captivate the listener with it’s soft vocals and powerful beats and the combination of alisa xayalith and thom powers on vocals compliments the band’s sound so well it seems almost effortless at times.

easily one of my favourite new acts of twenty-ten, the band have been billed on the big day out line-up for 2011. make sure you get yourself a ticket (despite my prior hate on the festival) to the bonanza and check these cats out. failing that, i’m sure they will be playing a side-show in adelaide over the summer… this album gets a 4/5 from yours truly.

the naked & famous – eyes

the naked & famous – young blood

the naked & famous – spank

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