Of Montreal

Of Montreal are not new. Nor have they just released an album. But the risk that somebody reading this hasn’t heard of them is so great that I HAD to make this post. Of Montreal are just one of those special bands that everybody deserves to hear. The genius behind them is Kevin Barnes and man is he talented. Not only can he do incredible things with his voice, but he somehow manages to channel this into highly polished pop songs. Each song contains a vastly different sound and will often contain a variety of ‘arcs’ within. How this guy manages to come up with so many fresh and quirky ideas is beyond me. The beauty of this music is it’s largely experimental, trying just about every vocal style imaginable. The result is music that is extremely fun to listen to, as you are constantly amazed at what they do. They have a new album due early next year, but here’s a song from each of their last two albums to win you over.

Lysergic Bliss – Satanic Panic in the Attic, released in 2004, can only be described with one word, perfection. To be honest it did take me a while to fully appreciate this band, but the more I listened to that album, the more I fell in love with them. There is never a dull moment on it and each song is awesome in it’s own special way. Listen to this song and you’ll begin to understand what they’re capable of.

I Was Never Young – Their next album, Sunlandic Twins, did not quite live up to the same standard. However that doesn’t mean it was ordinary, it just didn’t create the constant sense of awe produced by the above. This song however proves they still have it in them and there’s much to look forward to in the new album.

I have no idea why, but the album art appears to have inverted all the colours...you'll just have to use your imagination I guess

Independent Sydney Bands...are coming

I’ve decided that my site is shamefully lacking in music from my home town, Sydney. So to rectify this problem I’ve decided to do a MASSIVE feature on Sydney Bands. I use the term ‘Independent’ rather loosely because to be honest, I’m not 100% sure what it means. I like to think of it as being the opposite of mainstream. These are the awesome bands that while they have many devoted fans, are unknown to the average Joe on the street, as they’re yet to appear on Video Hits. Over the next few weeks I’ll be scouring the Internet and cd stores in search of these bands and will present to you a fairly comprehensive guide to the booming Sydney music scene. I am however rather busy at the moment and considering it will take a while to sort through all the music and then actually write the post, it won’t come for a while. In fact, I think I’ll set a date, both to keep me on track and to give you something to look forward to. It shall be arriving Wednesday 30th August so write it down in your diaries. Until then you’ll have to put up with the regular content i.e. some of the best music from across the world. Hang in there!

Bands currently being considered include: Red Riders, Expatriate, Dappled Cities Fly, The Tucker B’s, Van She, Starky, I [Love] Space, Belles Will Ring, The Paper Scissors and more. If you love a band and think everyone should know about them, leave a comment and I’ll check them out. If you’re in a band, the more generosity you show towards me, the greater your chances of inclusion. So stay tuned for this momentous event…..

Danielson Ships

Never has an album’s first listen blown me away as Danielson’s Ships did. Usually I require multiple listens in order for an album to have an impression on me. But this album broke that rule and that’s impressive in itself. The sound is so unpredictable, so obscure and so intense that it has your heart racing. Now that the shock has worn off, I need to give it my regular treatment of repetition to see if it’s truly great but it’s off to a good start. The band is led by Daniel Smith who is accompanied by a number of family members and for this album, a number of guests. In fact, over 20 musicians contributed to this album. Notably, these guests include Sufjan Stevens and members of Deerhoof. Either these people had a large influence on the album or Danielson’s sound attracted them because there are definitely similarities. A pretty accurate description of Danielson’s sound would be a mix of Deerhoof’s craziness and Sufjan’s pleasantness. Similarly, the feelings they invoke are a mix of confusion and happiness, also produced their respective guests. But whatever influence these guests may have had, no credit can be taken away from Daniel. For without incredible his voice behind these songs, the album would just be ordinary. No amount of words can do this band any justice. You really need to hear them for yourself. So do it!

Ship The Majestic Suffix – I think it’s only fair that the first song you hear be the first song I heard i.e. track one. For ultimately, it was this song that knocked me over with it’s quirkiness. It lulls you into false sense of security in the slow sections, but I warn you, you won’t be there for long!

Did I Step On Your Trumpet? – I simply cannot sing enough praise for this song. I love it so much. His voice, the excitement it creates and the general obscureness makes this track a must hear.

Band of Horses - Everything All The Time

I’ve been wanting to use this band, for a while now, in fact before the site even existed. It’s been so long that I actually forgot about them. But don’t worry, I was recently reminded of their existence and now you are finally being introduced to them. Band of Horses make very clean music. In terms of the guitars, they go for a crisp sound rather than distorted and just generally their music sounds polished. In terms of genres, you would probably sit them under a light rock category, though it occasionally feels like some country elements work their way in (don’t fear, it sounds good!). But what really drives this band and sets them apart are the vocals. I’m finding it hard to describe it but I guess you could say it’s kind of slurred, along the lines of Clap Your Hands Yeah but much smoother. These vocals really shine when he hits the high notes or when the intensity heats up. The album is a mix of the slow and the fast, the big and the small. There are the epics, slowly building to their climax and the novelties, offering a fresh new sound. I’ve tried to give two songs that cover all these areas.

Great Salt Lake – As usual, I present to you the first song that stood out for me. This is probably due to opening guitar riff, which is sure to grab anybody’s attention. Overall it is one of those aforementioned epics, something that doesn’t always suit me, but it has me singing along so it can’t be too bad.

Weed Party – This song managed to make it here, despite starting with ‘Ye ha!’. For if you look beyond that, it really is quite a pleasant song to just sit back to and appreciate. The vocal variation is ever present here and it is perfectly complemented by the strong melody.

The Tah-Dahs - Le Fun

I had this album for few weeks and had listened to it heaps. I liked it but still wasn’t sure whether it was worthy of featuring here. But just now I put it on and was blown away. I couldn’t believe how good it was. Something just clicked and now I absolutely love it. In fact, I was so moved by this particular listen that I immediately stopped what I was doing (procrastinating) in order to write these words. The Tah-Dahs, yet another band with a stupid name, create music with such a high level of energy that you’re simply overwhelmed. Then again, why didn’t I feel this on the first 5 listens? It just goes to show that music cannot be based on first listen, or even 5th for that matter. So when you get these songs (when, not if), don’t judge them straight away, but rather let them sink into your sub-conscience with the occasional listen and I guarantee you they will soon explode! Phew, got that out of the way. Secondly I have a message to all the well-tasted Australians (and VERY well-tasted foreigners). Does anyone else notice that the album cover is almost identical to Expatriate’s EP!? I wonder which came out first……I’m too lazy to find out. What’s even stranger is that both of the albums in question contain the word ‘le’. I feel it’s definitive proof that the French are weird.

Mix Tape = Love – Forget poetry or chocolates, what better way to show someone you care about them than to make a mix tape? While a bit of the love may have been lost with the transition to CDs, such as ensuring the songs stopped perfectly at the end of each side, the effort required to compress your entire musical tastes into just 90 minutes makes for some impressive sentiment. This song celebrates this fast fading past time, and in a fun and catchy manner no less.

Chix – This is one of the really intense songs I was talking about. While it follows an overall fast-paced rhythm, it darts off it unpredictable directions dragging you along with it. The music is played with a certain force behind it and the lyrics sung with genuine feeling, all making for a rather compelling listen.

The Sleepy Jackson - Personality (One Was A Spider/One Was A Bird)

I’ve found it hard to form my own opinion about this band. Of the two people I talked to before getting this album, both of whom I respect theirs tastes, one told me they were utterly boring and the other utterly brilliant. But after listening to it a few times, I think I’m starting to warm to it. Though it definitely feels like the kind of album you either love or you hate (and yet I just said I was ‘warming’ to it, suggesting a position in between love and hate……). The Sleepy Jackson is basically Luke Steele, with the help of a few other musicians. Now I may have gotten a wrong impression somewhere along the line but to me Luke Steele just seems weird, eccentric even. To make it clearer, he reminds me of Willy Wonka, Johnny Depp style. And just so you know, that half-naked guy in the album is him…….cradling……..himself. I think that’s more than enough evidence to support my hypothesis. Then again, he lives in Perth so you can’t blame him for having a few screws loose.

God Leads Your Soul – This was the first song I heard, the first single if you like. My first impression was that the sound was rather grand. They don’t use that many instruments and yet they still manage to make music that somehow seems significant. I thought this might have been a novelty track of sorts but no, I was wrong. It appears this guy likes being grand. In fact, I wouldn’t classify them as rock or pop, but rather as grand! Yeah.

Devil Was In My Yard – I don’t think these guys are religious. Though that’s just a hunch, a hunch up against the fact that 4 song titles refer to either God, Hell or the Devil. But moving on, I really love what he does with his voice in this song, it elevates it to easily my favourite on the album.

The Horror The Horror - The Horror The Horror

That’s a lot of horror. I’ve always wondered if we’ll ever get to the point where every possible band name gets used. There’s a limit to what can follow the word ‘The’ and eventually all the creative names will get used. Well if this band is anything to go by, that time has arrived because in all honesty, The Horror The Horror is a horrible band name (pun not intended but I’ll take it). It’s so bad that it almost warrants ignoring them completely. They could have saved us all the grief by being plain old, The Horror, or at least not self-titling their album. But no, they were unrelenting with their name choices. But of course, what is more important than the name is the music. And here the music shines. While bands everywhere are looking to create brand new sounds in order to differentiate themselves, this band sticks to a fairly standard garage pop sound and it works. It makes their music accessible to all and they manage to do it without sounding stale. In short, they-who-shall-not-be-named have produced a collection of fresh and interesting songs that’s well worth a listen.

I Blame The Sun – This was the first song to take my liking. I’d say it’s most likely due to the fact it’s the most diverse. It starts off relatively restrained before gradually progressing to the more upbeat chorus. And of course I can’t go without mentioning the….err….‘hooing’ that is so pleasant to the ear.

Ipanema – I found it very hard to pick a second song to use here. I was constantly changing my mind and re-listening to songs in order to work out which I liked most. In fact when I came to write this, I had to check which song I’d uploaded because I’d already forgotten. But this song is clearly good for it’s the one I eventually chose, I just can’t remember why.

The Kooks - Inside In/Inside Out

The Kooks only just scraped through the selection process. With the backing of a big record company and major music magazines (a connection I wonder?), the last thing they need is any promotion from me. They’re sound fits in perfectly with the other bands to explode out of the UK in recent years, that of Maximo Park, Futureheads, Kaiser Chiefs, etc. In fact The Kooks sound borrows from all of these bands in a way. Come to think of it, they sound like a ridiculous number of bands, at different points. But this doesn’t distract from the experience in any way, instead it results in great deal of variety. Each song has its own personality and is instantly recognisable. The problem with this is it makes it hard to pick stand out songs, hardly something to mark an album down for. If you don’t like these songs, you won’t like the album. Or, if like me, you get caught up in the distinctly British charm, there’s a great new album out their waiting for you.

Eddie’s Gun – The simple accuracy of it means I can happily call this album a roller coaster ride without feeling like an idiot. They can play at both extremes in terms of pace and noise and they’re not afraid to juxtapose. This song was quick to establish itself as the best candidate for a ‘fast’ song. It bursts on with excitement and confidence reminiscent of We Are Scientists.

She Moves In Her Own Way – Listening to this song, it really isn’t as slow as I’d imagined. Those maracas can be deceiving. Nor is soft in any meaning of the word. But either way, it does demonstrate that they’re singing ability is such that they don’t need guitars to drown the inadequacies. In what seems to be a trait of theirs, it’s also quite catchy.

Oh No! Oh My! - Oh No! Oh My!

I seem to have a thing for bands with weird names. It’s always fun trying to convince someone that a band actually went and named themselves ‘Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!’. Well now I have another to add to my collection, ‘Oh No! Oh My!’. Their style is a blend pretty standard indie sounds, incorporating a variety of instruments and even going electro at times. But what sets them apart I think is they’re ability to create a certain intimacy in their music.

I Have No Sister – This song is far from perfect, most times it just seems pointless, mostly due to the awkward lyrics. Yet listening through, it was quick to stand out. Clearly the quirkiness and variation are enough to keep it afloat. It touches on the electro I mentioned earlier and also features sounds ranging from glockenspiels to acoustic guitars to a sleazy bass riff. It all combines to form a decisively weird song but one which I quite enjoy.

Lisa, Make Love! (It’s Okay!) – I haven’t felt this much for a song character since Millencolin’s ballad. Here is a prime example of the intimacy I mentioned earlier. In contrast to the last song, this time the lyrics are a strong point. Again the variation of sounds adds to the songs value, they even manage to make the flute sound cool.


Expatriate - The Spaces Between

Either by coincidence or by destiny, countless bands are poised to unleash new albums in the coming months. I don’t know whether to look forward to it or dread the ensuing task of reviewing it all. Who am I kidding? It will be great. Amongst these bands are many local Aussies ready to release their debut album. I’ve already mentioned Red Riders and British India and Expatriate are yet another. I’m yet to have the chance of seeing them live but their EP, ‘Lovers le Strange’ is promising to say least.

Of the 5 songs on the EP I’ve listened to three in detail and all I like. But there is one song, this one, that I truly love. It is just so well-rounded and pleasant that it never gets old. From the opening riff to the uplifting chorus it has quality written all over it. If this is any sort of indication, the album should be great. Be sure to keep an eye out for Expatriate.

Email Notifications

Slack. There’s really is no other word to describe it. I could try and use the excuse that I haven’t actually been at home the past week but I’m sure I could have posted if I really wanted to. No, I have been getting lazy and it’s got to stop. The real victims here are the readers. I know how frustrating it can be returning to a site only to find it just as you last left. So, for those who are interested, I’m gonna start sending email notifications whenever I update. This means you know straight away when a new post has arrived or more importantly you want have to keep checking in, only to be disappointed. Of course, I’ll try to keep the posts coming as frequently as possible and you probably don’t need this, but if you do, the option is there. Just send me a email at owiseone@gmail.com and let me know you’d like to receive some good news.