4. Expatriate

Expatriate sure know how to make catchy music. Screeching guitars, haunting keys, thumping drums and smooth vocals are all combined in a way that’s bound to have an impact on you. It’s no wonder then that shortly after forming they were already being broadcast and playing shows across the nation. Unfortunately I still haven’t gotten the chance to see them live. Then again I’m not exactly sure I want to. On one hand I’ve heard they were positively excellent and on the other, ordinary, painful even. What puts me off I think is that Expatriate aren’t really your typical 3-piece band. They’ve shunted the bass player (though that’s becoming more common these days) and opt to create a lot of their sound through layering done in the mixing in the studio, possibly leading to a ‘push play on the ipod’ live show (though anyone who’s seen the presets knows this counts for nothing). I guess I’ll have to wait and see. But regardless of how their live show pans out, it can take nothing away from their recorded music. Their first EP showed signs of pure brilliance and with an album recorded and waiting to be released, we should all be anticipating their next move.

Expatriate (Previously) - Killer Kat

3. Belles Will Ring

Belles Will Ring are a band who have been causing a bit of a stir lately, despite existing for barely a year and only having just put pen to paper ie recorded music. But make no mistake, their ‘demonstration’ cd sounds like the effort of a very seasoned and capable band. Operating under the banner of a psychedelic rock n roll band, there’s plenty of quirky sounds and random twists to keep you interested and with 6 members more than enough free hands to help achieve this. But don’t get the idea that their music is some sort of unpredictable adventure. For the most part it’s relaxed, harmonious music but has just the right amount of depth and variation to keep you coming back for more. From what I hear they’re great live so if you get a chance, check them out.

Belles Will Ring - The Coldest Heart

2. Starky

Starky’s second album, their first on a major label has received a lot of attention lately, though I must admit I’m yet to get it. For the moment I’m perfectly content with their EP, which I bought just days before realising their album was about to be released (the wounds are still healing). But thankfully the EP was impressive enough to reinforce my affinity, not turn me away and from what I’ve heard on the radio, the new album is similarly impressive. I’ve heard their music described as power pop and I’d have to say it’s a fairly accurate description. Upon giving the EP a spin for the first time I was indeed blown away. The first song, Is This How It Ends (which is also on the album), hits you early on and maintains this high level of energy throughout. It’s testimony to its quality that I was impressed by it after so few listens. When I hear their music I often think of Razorlight (when they’re getting it right) along with a hoard of other notable musicians that I just can’t put my finger on. While at times they come off a bit ‘serious’, Starky have definitely caught my eye and I’m eager to see how their music is translated into a live performance.

Starky - Is This How It Ends?

1. Bridezilla

The first time I saw Bridezilla, I thought nothing of them. It wasn’t bad, but like pretty much every other unknown warm up band, they failed to have an impact. Or so I thought. Over the next couple of months they kept creeping up on me, I’d think back to that gig or hear their song on the radio and I wanted more. After giving them a second thought I found that I in fact really liked their sound. There are three driving factors behind Bridezilla that set them apart from anything you’ve heard before. Firstly are the vocals of singer, Holiday. Apart from having such a cool name she sings with such feeling and energy that it lifts them to the next level. The other two factors come in their instrumentation. Featuring both a violin and saxophone, each played with incredible vigour, Bridezilla make for one unique and exciting live experience. But perhaps what really makes them special is their age. I’d heard they were underage and the last time I saw them, was trying to work which of them might be the culprit; well it turns out they all are. The fact that two of their members are only 15 and none of them exceed 17 is simply incomprehensible. When these guys come of age (literally) you’ll no doubt be hearing a lot more of them.


You thought I was done? Well think again! As testimony to my obsessive nature, I had to make you sure you knew I also liked these bands. So get ready for another four days and 20 bands worth of Sydney music goodness. It took a lot of will power not to write a little blurb on each but thankfully common sense prevailed. These bands missed out for a hoard of reasons:

  • I'd already talked about them
  • They're 'technically' not from Sydney
  • I didn't know enough about them
  • I hadn't heard from them in a while
  • They were well-known enough without me
  • I wasn't 100% convinced of their worthiness
  • I forgot about them until it was too late
  • They're great, but just don't suit my tastes
  • Or perhaps they simply just missed the cut

But what's important is that there's some great music here and you may find something you love. So, I advise you should also have a listen to:

The Devoted Few - An Inch Ahead Of Your Time
Faker - Hurricane
Gelbison - Summer Of Love
Jack Ladder - Not Worth Waiting For
The Mares - Charleston
The Mess Hall - Disco 1
Morning After Girls - Run For Our Lives
Neon (Previously) - Friend
Peabody - The Weight Just Right
The Presets (Previously) - Are You The One?
Quater Acre - Casual vs Fulltimer
Sarah Blasko - Always Worth It
Silverchair (Previously) - The Greatest View
The Small Hours - Another Girl
Soft Tigers - Mr Ice Cream
Sparkadia - Up In The Air
Tokyo Blonde - Megalomaniac
Van She - Mission
The Vines (Previously) - Vision Valley
The Watt Riot - All Or Nothing

Looking back, I've realised there's absolutely no rationale behind some of my choices for talked-about artists. I like some of the bands listed here more than ones I talked about. It really makes no sense. So don't think a picture and blurb means one artist is better than the other. Get them all and see for yourself. Download each file, put them in a playlist and listen to the whole thing at least 5 times. I’m told all the songs go for about 2 hours total so that’s only 10 hours of your time that will be taken up. After doing so you should have worked out who your favourites are and will know exactly who to look for when out gigging or in a record store pondering.

FINISHED!! Finally I can return to my normal patterns of life, sleep would be nice too. Regular posts will resume on friday. Hooray

Mew - And The Glass Handed Kites

Indie. Pop. Rock. Denmark. Psychodelic. High-pitched. Need I say more? There’s nothing I dislike more than having to read 500 words of a review just to try and work what the album sounds like. What’s worse is when you get to this point and find out it’s heavy-metal gothic screamo. A nuisance to say the least. Almost as bad as the couple of times I’ve gotten through entire review and ended up no closer to figuring out if I’d like the music or not. So while my reviews are hardly long enough for such problems to arise, I thought I would accommodate your insatiable demand for instant categorisation, especially as my anecdotes have been getting a bit out of hand lately. Listening through this album for just the first time, I knew I would be using it here. While the majority of it washed right past me (a perfectly normal occurrence), at certain moments it exploded into amazing musical bliss that caught me completely off guard. Whatever the word for the vocal equivalent of a riff is (so professional of me), Mew are incredibly good at it. When they get going, it really is a treat. It’s the kind of music you’ll be singing along to and then for days afterwards without a clue of what the words are. The noise created is just so awesome that it transcends the need for lyrics. I have since listened to the rest of the album and while it could be said that it drops off towards the end, it is great none the less, packed to the brim with creative music. If you don’t usually download these files, now might be the time to start. I encourage you to ignore my pretentious website title just for now, shut out the world and allow these songs to do what they do best, excite.

Apocalypso – I don’t think I could of picked a better song to demonstrate what I’ve just been talking about. When his voice comes in it really gets my heart racing. It could probably be considered one the heavier songs on the album, then again, the triangles kind of contradict that.

The Zookeeper’s Boy – I was tempted to offer you one of the more rounded songs for a bit of variation but that would mean missing out on arguably the best of those ‘bliss’ moments I mentioned earlier. It’s definitive proof that high-pitched vocals will win every time. I can’t help but spontaneously recreate the chorus to this song in all sorts of inappropriate places. It’s great

Sparklehorse - Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain

There’s a thin line between robbing and helping a band in the blogging business. On one hand, what I do could be seen as promotion, telling people about bands they may otherwise have never heard of. In this light, the only results are benefits, in the form records, concert tickets and further word of mouth. On the other hand it could be seen as unlawfully giving away someone else’s property, which in all honesty, it is. Take this album for example, it hasn’t even been released yet (is it hot in here?) and I’m still telling you about it. The chances of my actions leading to someone who would have bought the album saying “I have two mp3’s, I don’t think I’ll buy the album” are innumerably small, especially when compared to the chances of it leading to someone coming to actually like the band. Obviously my aim here is to help the artists, not to rip them off. Of course I will always welcome complaints from any song owner who disagrees with me and wants me to remove them from my site (why am I excited about getting my first ‘cease and desist’? (it means I’ve made it!)). So please, fall in love with this band, if not for them but just to keep me out of jail. That said, you shouldn’t have any trouble developing an affinity for Sparklehorse. As their name is clearly referencing, their sound is gentle yet strong and glistening with beauty. So often they reach levels of intense intimacy and connection with the listener. You feel like you’re right there, in amongst the band, immersed in the music. However they don’t saturate you with such ‘gooeyness’, knowing full well when just to pull back and bring you straightforward, satisfying music. This album has done enough to prompt me to delve into their back-catalogue, always a good sign.

Don’t Take My Sunshine Away – Listening to this song, I can’t help but think of the song of similar lyrics, you know the one. Well this outdoes it in every possible way, even without some little kid with a lisp singing it. On just the second listen I felt like I already knew it so well, something that hardly ever happens with me.

Ghost In The Sky – Songs of this pace really aren’t that common on this album but I just couldn’t resist the temptation. When listening the whole way through, this song bursts on and clearly an impression on me. I guess by offering you two songs from opposite ends of the spectrum, I’m allowing you to guess what’s awaiting you in between.

The Pipettes - We Are The Pipettes

You have no idea how pleasing it was to visit the sacred ground of Pitchfork’s Best New Music section to discover I knew three of the last six recommendations. Gone are the days of haplessly catching up, I’m finally starting to match it with the best. Granted, I’d heard only one song by one of these bands and had simply ‘heard of’ the other but it was progress! Nestled among those two however, was this album, an album that I was more than familiar with and itching to spread the word about. Of course it goes without saying which review is more worthy of your time, while theirs is plagued by an overblown intro and unnecessary wording, designed only to puff up the image of the author, mine is…guilty to a lesser degree. I should probably give you an advanced warning to not listen to this band if you’d feel uncomfortable singing “rest your pretty head” or “your kisses are wasted on me” in public. Because this is exactly what their music will do to you. No prizes here for guessing what kind of music they make. If the cheesy album cover didn’t give it away surely the band name ending in ‘ettes’ did. Yes, The Pipettes’ music harks back to the glory days of 60’s girl groups. It’s infectious pop music that’s blissfully simple and dripping with sexual innuendo. The band consists of three of the self-confessed “prettiest girls you’ve met”, decked out in high heals and spotty dresses accompanied by a backing band which pales into insignificance behind these dancing divas. The Pipettes succeed in all the same ways as their 60’s counterparts, the vocal harmonies, the catchy melodies but their music has a certain edge to it that sets them apart and makes them well worth your time.

Judy – The strong lead voice, soothing backing vocals and finger clicking in this song mean that on first glance it may appear like a traditional girl group pop song, but lines like “the older boys would stop and turn their heads, the older girls wished that she was dead” highlight how it is something very different. It demonstrates the degree of self-awareness and wit so central to their winning formula

Sex – This definitely isn’t the kind of song I’d go around telling everyone I liked……Am I losing it? Probably. Am I concerned? Not slightly. Pop music carries such a stigma due to all the associated commercialism and often questionable lyrics, but on a musical level it is an equally challenging and equally rewarding art.

Blitzen Trapper - Field Rexx

Any good band knows that you can’t succeed without a degree of variation. A mix of pace, an occasional ballad, the short novelty songs - they'll all be found amongst the best of albums. This is because nobody wants an album of 13 identical songs. Well Blitzen Trapper have pulled out all stops to ensure they’re bursting with variety. In fact you could easily mistake this for a compilation. Each song seems to come under a different genre. For every offering they dip their hands into a pool of influences, notably country, rock, folk, blues and pop and emerge with a brand new sound. The band, hailing from one of the united states, are relatively unknown so your chances of finding this record are slim. However if you do come across it, it’s definitely worth the second glance. It contains the slow (concrete heaven), the fast (moving minors over country lines), a ballad (dreamers and giants) the teasingly short (love I explain!) and even random excerpts from some crazy sounding old man – all the hallmarks of a great album. Now just to prove a point I’ve picked two different songs for sampling. While mentioning the names of the songs in brackets may have been a meaningless waste of space, the names of these songs should become familiar to you in no time.

Summer Twin – This is one of those chilled out, soothing sort of songs. It steps up the excitement in small increments, but never gets out of hand. That is of course if you don’t include the instrumental solos, complete with whistles

Asleep For Days – All that talk about variation and then I go and pick two of the more moderate songs. Ah well, at least it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying them. Besides, these songs sound good in isolation. Some of the others sound a bit lost when out of the collective. This song made it in on the sing along principle. If it’s stuck in my head it must have something going for it

Lily Allen - Alright, Still

Can I write this without mentioning her myspace and blog driven rise to fame? Apparently not. But lets just say she has almost as many friends as Tom. Lily Allen is a bittersweet musician, sure to divide opinions across the board. It’s weird how your previous musical interests seem to have no bearing on how you receive her music. She brings together people of vastly different tastes and splits those who think alike. She has even divided my own opinion in a number of ways. One day I love the sound of her layered vocals, next day they’re getting on my nerves. Listening to her lyrics, you could easily be forgiven for thinking she grew up in a trailer park. Her chronicles of breaking up and going to the pub make her seem like little more than white trash. But look at any picture of her and her smile will have you thinking the complete opposite. Her music is a blend of pop and hip-hop, which surprisingly works for me. What makes it special is that this pop music is her own, not some factory produced rubbish. It’s fast, it’s catchy and it’s genuine. Only problem is that in high doses, it can get a bit much, both in terms of repetition and obscenity. Excuses aside, I’m not ashamed to say I like her music. She seems to be having so much fun and it really is contagious. How I’ll feel in a couple months time when the rest of the world finally cottons on is another matter. For now I’ll just enjoy.

Everything’s Just Wonderful – Picking a song here was really difficult. In fact I changed my choice after writing that first sentence. This song would not have won a week ago, but with repeat listens it has risen to the top. It builds up a nice momentum as the cynicism rolls smoothly of her tongue.

Alfie – I simply could not resist using this. It is the textbook definition of a novelty song, but that’s why it’s so great. It provides a poor representation of the album, but that is irrelevant, it is simply too hilarious for it not to be heard by all.

Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther

Some music is just good. You can’t easily describe why or how. You can’t pinpoint it to particular trait. It’s simply a given fact. Midlake are just good. Their music is generally slow, mostly soothing and always a pleasure to listen to. It transcends your consciousness, exploring the darkest corners of your mind before suddenly you realise your eyes were closed and 45 minutes has passed. Has anyone else noticed my only ability seems to be excessively talking up bands? But anyway, their sound seems to roam and meander, occasionally entering Shins territory, an always-welcomed feature in my book, but eventually settling under the umbrella of rather ‘haunting’ music. Give these songs a few go-overs before you judge them, there may be some sense in my words after all.

Roscoe – This is the first ‘single’ off this hot new album and rightly so. It really showcases the beautiful vocals that feature throughout.

Young Bride – I really like the way this song eases itself in, slowly picking up the pace in a very soothing manner. But of course an intro would mean nothing without a decent body. Here the vocals almost seem to weave in and out of the solid rhythm produced by the drums and to great effect

The Panda Band - This Vital Chapter

It has begun. Countless awesome Australian bands have been preparing their debut albums seemingly simultaneously to be released at a time that will forever be remembered as a golden age in Australian music. The pressure has been building and now finally the first of these albums has exploded into our open arms. OK, so perhaps I went a bit overboard on the hyperbole but there really is a heap of albums about to be released and we should all be suitably excited. The Panda Band has really set the bar high with this album. It’s fun, powerful, expansive and easily lives up to expectations. I’ve been hearing a lot of people compare this album to Sgt Peppers and I’d have to agree. If you throw in a bit of Flaming Lips and Sleepy Jackson then you’ll start to get an idea of how they sound. They go beyond what you’d expect from your average four piece, incorporating pianos, horns, a range of wind instruments and quite a bit more. All of this adds that extra dimension to what they create. I’ve gone for the obvious picks in download offerings but if you’ve heard and loved these songs before, than you should need no more convincing from me that this is a great album, an aptly named vital chapter in Australian music.

Sleepy Little Deathtoll Town – While the slowing down is immediately noticeable on first listen, this song still holds all the charm that made me fall in love with it. It’s like a party rolled into 3 short minutes.

Ghosts Have The Best Time – Wow, that intro sure is intense. I literally find myself pumping my fists to it. I never felt it when I heard it on the radio but theres something about listening to it in the context of the whole album that makes it great. Add to that the catchy little melody it breaks out into and you have yourself a winner.

Evangelicals - So Gone

Everybody deserves a healthy dose of quirkiness every now and then. Well Evangelicals are here to bring it to you. Not content with your generic intros and fillers, these guys go all out in bringing you an endless barrage of farfetched and sometimes disturbing noises that are all brought together to create some powerful and surprisingly free-flowing music. Dotted fairly regularly amongst this untamed aural onslaught are the standard song structures, enough to keep all the verse/chorus conservatives content. And speaking of conservatives, I'm quite sure this band isn't religious. Rather they just picked an annoyingly misleading name (an increasing popular trend these days). Speaking of misleading...(ok, so that one was a bit thin), listening to just a couple of songs off this album is not how it was designed to be heard. Each song sort of blends into the next, like what Mars Volta like to do, but slightly less excessive manner. This means the album feels more like it's own product than a collection of smaller ones. Hopefully however, a couple of samples will be enough to whet your appetite and lure you towards the complete package. It is quite filling I assure you.

Another Day - With an intro like that, these songs have a lot to live up to. Well this song delivers craziness in spades. Each time you hear it you notice something new. It is a nice summation of what to expect from the rest of the album: the unexpected.

Goin Down - The name of this song is the basis for my argument that they're not religious. It takes quite a different approach to the rest of the album and it's equally refreshing. It's the kind of music that can steal your attention and take you along for the ride.

Phoenix - It's Never Been Like That

While it’s a bit of a sad fact, your chances of becoming popular are pretty limited if you don’t sing in English. Sure your home country may embrace you but reaching an international audience is a lot harder. English, it seems, is becoming the universal language. The music industry is directly targeting the lazy, uni-lingual Westerners and I couldn’t be happier about it. Phoenix, whilst being French, have, luckily for us, opted to sing in English. For their music really is something of a treat and would really be lacking something if we couldn’t understand it. For those who deal in genres, I would have to put their sound somewhere between alternative and infectious pop.

Consolation Prizes – The beauty of singing is that it transcends accents. Sure you get the British bands who’ll drop the occasional slur that makes them so…charming, but most of the time, nationality seems to make no difference. This is definitely evident here, Phoenix don’t even sound remotely French. Right from the offset you know what you’re in for. It’s the kind of song that won’t sit still.

Long Distance Calls – While the intros to these two songs might be remarkably alike, they each go their own way. This one has a much slower feel to it but stays true the immediate and catchy formula that makes them so successful.