You may notice that the site now looks considerably different. Well this is because the previous look was flawed. In my effort two have the three coloumned layout, I had ended up with quite a cluttered design. On top of this, I had done so much tweaking and fiddling with the html that it didn't even display properly in Firefox. And so I decided to start from scratch, with a much simplier design that will hopefully be easy to read and will display properly, regardless of your setup. To be honest the (very) simple design was chosen due to the fact that simple is all I'm capable of. Thankfully however I quite like the plain coloured backgrounds so simle will do for now. I also took this opportunity to add in a couple of new features. The most notable of these is the addition of streamable music. While I'm still a strong supporter of the downloadable mp3, I had been overlooking the importance of allowing users to hear the music instantly. Well now you can easily listen to every mp3 on the site, simply by clicking the play button next to it and I've also created a jukebox which makes listening to all my music much simpler. Testamony to my remarkable inefficiency however, the jukebox feature is nowhere near complete and I didn't even get round to writing my rantalicious guides. So expect to see alot more changes in the future, all of which will hopefully make this site much more enjoyable.
When I first heard this band I thought they sounded quite interesting; which was true. I also thought the singer was male, probably of Scandinavian decent; which was horribly wrong. I blame all bands out there with misleading names. After discovering that The Beautiful Girls and The Mint Chicks were filled with anything but, I naturally assumed a band named The Long Blondes were making fun of the common ditz. Well I was right to an extent as none of the members are blonde and a couple are men, but the singer isn’t exactly male or Scandinavian. She (Kate Jackson) is in fact a very stylish and very FEMALE lead lady from Sheffield, England. Add to this the overtly feminist (girly?) lyrics and you’ll begin to see just how off my first impression was. Then again, with all the falsetto male singers out there these days, how was I supposed to know? Listening to The Long Blondes, I am often reminded The Pipettes. Both have glamorous yet strong female singers, both create incredibly addictive pop music and both have horribly cringe- worthy lyrics. Thankfully the first two points are enough to overcome the last and I find their music very enjoyable. While The Pippettes’ sound is heavily influenced by 60s girl groups, The Long Blondes have a much greater punk element to their music. That’s not to say they resemble the hoards of b-grade girl-punk groups out there, instead their music is pop at heart with a refreshing punk tinge. Their music definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you’re after a fresh new sound, The Long Blondes may be just what you’re looking for.
Once And Never Again – “You’re only nineteen, for God’s sake, you don’t need a boyfriend”. This song perfectly sums how much I despise the subject matter of their songs. But as my favourite track, it also shows how easily I can look past this fault and see the highly addictive melodies underneath.
Weekend Without Makeup – Just when I thought radio in Australia was dead, they play this song and introduce me to a great new band. If only this was a common occurrence, I may actually listen more often.
Australia, you disappoint me. One of the greatest bands of all time will be arriving on our shores for the very first time and the festival they’re headlining hasn’t even sold out yet. Who cares if they’re fat and old, the Pixies are just one of those bands that you MUST see. The only explanation for this atrocity is that some of you aren’t aware that the Pixies even exist. Or worse, you do know they exist, like a few of their songs, but have never taken the time to explore the rest of their music and hence fail to appreciate the true extent of their brilliance. Well if you fall under either of these two categories (I refuse to believe a third category of ‘Don’t like them’ exists), pay close attention, because over the next week or so, I’ll be taking a look at why they’re so great. By no means would I consider myself the biggest of Pixies fans, in fact, both my brothers are bigger fans. That’s not to say I don’t love them, just that I don’t listen to them anywhere near as much as I should. So this feature is as much about me preparing myself for their arrival as it is about converting non-believers. So whatever your view of the Pixies, you should find something of interest here; a new favourite band, a warm reminder about an already loved band or a chance to tell me I’m wrong and that you know more. Enjoy!
Pixies are an alternate rock band from USA. They existed roughly from 1985 to 1992 and over that period released 5 albums. In 2004 they reunited and have since been touring extensively. The vast majority of Pixies music was written and sung by rhythm guitarist Frank Black (born Charles Thompson, named Black Francis during the Pixies era and now known as Frank Black) who is generally considered the creative centre the band. Occasional songs were done by bassist Kim Deal and the other members include Joey Santiago on lead guitar and Dave Lovering on drums. The Pixies’ influence stretches from Nirvana to Radiohead and while they never did and never will achieve mainstream success, their fans include some of the greatest musicians of the modern era. For me, one of the reasons I love them so much is that while their songs often sound very heavy, containing distortion and screaming, there’s always an underlying melody, melodies that never disappoint and are up there with the greatest ever written.
Their 5 albums are:
Come On Pilgrim (1987)
Surfer Rosa (1988)
Trompe le Monde (1991)
I will be talking about one every two days. Here’s a live track to keep you happy until Come on Pilgrim arrives on Wednesday.
Vamos (live) – It’s only fitting that song be offered live. Appearing on both of their first two albums with alternate solos, it is a crowd favourite at their live shows. The song’s appeal lies in its hefty solo in the middle where Santiago puts on an erratic performance so that you never know what to expect.
Trompe le Monde was the Pixies' fourth full-length album and it would also turn out to be their last. After its release, tension between band members led them to embark on separate projects, eventually resulting in the band ceasing to exist. The primary reason for the break-up was probably the dissatisfaction felt by Kim Deal. The last two albums had seen an end to her input and while there’s no doubt that it was Frank Black who was driving the Pixies’ success, it would no doubt have been frustrating for Kim, a talented singer/songwriter herself, to just remain idle. On top of this, the hectic pace at which they were operating, releasing album after album and touring fairly non-stop, meant that a break down was almost inevitable. Trompe le Monde sees a continued evolution of Black’s lyrical content. While on the early albums he was fascinated by the violence of early biblical stories, the later albums saw him more focussed on sci-fi and supernatural elements. While personally I couldn’t care less what he sings about, it has been known to turn some people off. The sound of the album is a mix of their various sounds, which is fitting for a finale. While many songs continue the softer sound of Bossanova, others pay homage to louder, rough sounds of Surfer Rosa. Unfortunately however, it bears another similarity to Bossanova in that it too fails to reach the same level of brilliance as the Surfer Rosa and Doolittle. Instead it is just great. Yes, you know you’re dealing with a special band when their lesser records are still considered great. And so the Pixies’ career ended without them releasing a bad album. Their existence may have been brief but in that short time they had an incredible impact that lasts to this day.
U-mass – While Trompe le Monde may not be the best Pixies album, that doesn’t stop it from containing some of their best songs. This song is very similar to their early work and it is one of the first Pixies songs I ever heard.
Distance Equals Rate Times Time – This song isn’t even really a song. It’s an unused chorus from another song turned into a song. And yet despite this, I am always drawn to it.
Bossanova, the Pixies’ third album, is similar to Doolittle in that its sound represented a new direction. The term Surf Rock is thrown around quite a bit and I guess it’s pretty valid. That doesn’t mean they sound anything like The Beach Boys, rather the term refers to a heavier blend of such music. Calling it Surf Rock also seems to make sense in relation to the album’s sense of movement, something that really stands out for me. Unlike their previous two albums, Bossanova failed to achieve glowing critical acclaim. In some ways this is a bit unfair. Surfer Rosa and Doolittle were just so brilliant that nothing short of a masterpiece could have lived up to our expectations. If any other band had released it, it would have been revered; but because the Pixies released it, it was seen as a step backwards. This really is a shame because it’s often forgotten how great it is. It contains some of my very favourite songs and listening to it is always a pleasure. However there is some truth in the negative reactions. For one, it contains the occasional unmemorable song, something previous unheard of for them. This may have been due to exhaustion from extensive touring, rushed song writing or simply Black running out of ideas. Another problem with the album is that it largely abandons the formula of soft/loud, slow/fast changes, a formula so integral to their success. But all issues aside, Bossanova is a great record and it’s more Pixies. What’s to complain about that?
Dig For Fire - In a very un-Pixies manner, this song is surprisingly calm. Instead of relying on pure energy, it uses a soothing melody to win you over. Again, it’s an example of their incredible diversity.
Allison – Nearly all of the Pixies’ material is short and sweet. Well this song is one the shortest and in my opinion, also one of the sweetest.
Doolittle is easily the Pixies’ most accessible album. With its more polished sound and pop influences, it is much better suited to the mainstream audiences. It’s no surprise then that it is also their most successful album. But don’t be fooled into thinking that the Pixies sold out. None of their flair was sacrificed and Doolittle is as dark and weird as any of their other material. It just shows the depth and variety of their talent, especially highlighting Black’s creative genius. You’ll still find him screaming, going off on tangents and recounting utterly obscure stories, but there’s a certain simplicity in most of the songs that make them far more inviting than the norm. In stark contrast to Surfer Rosa, Doolittle feels more like a collection of individual songs than a complete package. But the album doesn’t suffer from this in the slightest because the songs are just so brilliant. While I love all their work, I would definitely rate Doolittle as my favourite. It’s so great that I find it near impossible to pick just two songs (honourable mentions go to Hey, Gouge Away and Monkey Gone To Heaven). If you’re new to the Pixies, this is the ideal place to start.
Debaser – This song would have to be up there in amongst my all time favourite Pixies songs. It’s just so well-rounded and incorporates so many of their varying styles that it’s the perfect song with which to introduce someone to this fantastic band.
Here Comes Your Man – This song is so seductively simple that it could have been written by a 15 year-old. Well as matter of fact, it was. Black pulled it out of his pre-Pixies archive and it turned out to be one of their most popular songs. Being so catchy, this is hardly surprising.
Surfer Rosa marked the Pixies’ first full-length album (coming in at a massive 33 minutes) and the first time their music was easily available in their own country. Despite being an American band, the Pixies were signed to UK label 4AD and so had nobody to distribute their albums in the USA. This changed shortly after the release of this album when Surfer Rosa and Come on Pilgrim were combined and offered to American audiences. This was rather fitting as the two are quite similar in sound. While each of their future albums would see a different approach taken, these first two are remarkably similar. Surfer Rosa continues the hard and fast garage rock sound of Come On Pilgrim, whilst building on it in a number of ways. For me, this album is much more about the overall package than individual songs. With the exception of ‘Where Is My Mind?’ and ‘Gigantic’ (one of the few songs written and performed by bassist Kim Deal), all of the songs seem to be working for the good of the album rather than trying to stand out. Testimony to this is the inclusion of various spoken word segments and instrumental numbers, which help to increase the flowing nature of the album. It’s an interesting album that jumps, jerks and juxtaposes (look it up), pushing the conventions of rock music. Fans of Nirvana should definitely find something they like as Kurt Cobain has admitted that ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was his attempt to copy this album. It’s home to some killer songs and definitely worth a listen.
Where Is My Mind? – What a song. If you close your eyes and eliminate all other distractions, it can have quite an impact. It’s an impact that’s perfectly captured by the movie, Fight Club. The dystopic, “world’s gonna end” feeling. Who cares if it’s actually about scuba diving; it’s brilliant.
Bone Machine – I like this song because it’s just so unorganised. It’s a barrage of weird and wonderful sounds that often don’t seem to fit. But despite this, it’s got plenty of personality, enough to make it more than enjoyable to listen to.
While it is features only 8 tracks and goes for just 20 minutes, Come On Pilgrim is generally considered an album rather than an EP. It was the Pixies' first and it set the tone for the greatness that would follow. Song after song comes on with its own hard-hitting sound and there isn’t a dud in sight. It’s a trend lasted throughout their career and they continue to amaze me with their success ratio that’s up there with likes of The Beatles. It’s testimony to their brilliance but it also makes it annoyingly hard to choose just two songs for sampling. Unlike many bands, their first album doesn’t under-produced, though this is because the rough edge you hear is signature to the Pixies’ sound. If you don’t love it yet, you soon will. The album sees Frank Black flex his creative muscle and show us what he’s capable of. The sound ranges from loud screaming to softer, heartfelt crooning, often within the same song, as well as so much more. On top of all the familiar Pixies sounds, it’s also filled with wacky lyrics and irregular changes; both staples of their later work. These 8 songs are all terrific in their own right and as a package they form an incredibly formidable debut effort. It was a warning to the world that something very big was on the horizon.
Caribou – This song really highlights the depth of Black’s vocal work. One moment he’s reaching the higher notes with ease and the next he’s yelling with every last breath. For such an unlikely mix, it works surprisingly well.
The Holiday Song – I am in love with this riff. Every time it comes on, I become that little bit happier. I’m even more favourable to it because I had a live copy on my computer (which unfortunately has disappeared) that sounds even better. Fingers crossed they’ll play it when I see them.
I really don’t know where I should stand when it comes to Ben Kweller. When I hear his music, I get the impression that it’s exactly the sort of thing people with horrible taste would enjoy. The people who have no opinion of their own, listening only to what ‘classic hits’ radio and The O.C. tells them to. Does this mean I should I be steering well clear him? Are Ben Kweller’s fans really the mindless idiots I so despise or am I just being overly paranoid? Well whatever the case, Ben has won me over with his latest album and I’m prepared to support it, even it means joining an undesirable crowd. Despite being only 25, Ben Kweller has been playing music for more than 10 years. He led the band, Radish, at the age of just 15 and when that didn’t work out, he begun a solo career. He is obviously incredibly talented; one of those people born to create music. His sound has evolved quite a bit from his early Radish days, which resembled the ‘it band’ of the time, Nirvana. On this, his third solo album, Kweller’s music is highly polished, swoontastic (yes I made that up) pop. His voice is by far his greatest selling point, with it always coming off very smooth and casual. While he occasionally picks up the pace, the restrained instrumentation, consisting largely of acoustic guitar and piano, means his sound is always very intimate. This definitely isn’t a perfect album, but it’s got more than enough charm to make it worth a look
Sundress – Being the song that’s currently being played on the radio, this is the most likely song you’ve heard. It sums up his music very nicely, showcasing a variety of paces, sounds and styles in one neat package.
Nothing Happening – Unlike the song above, this song remains fairly soft and slow throughout. This means his vocals are put under the spotlight and it’s here that they strive.
Sample 1 – Worlds Apart
Sample 2 – Will You Smile Again?
Source Tags and Codes (2002)
Sample 1 – How Near How Far
Sample 2 – Relative Ways
So Divided (2006)
Sample 1 – Stand in Silence
Sample 2 – Eight Day Hell
It's not a matter of whether to buy one of these albums, but which. Good luck choosing!
What’s that you say? Every other blog has already posted about this album? They did so two months ago? No I’m not a sheep, I’m just a bit slow. I’ve known and enjoyed this album for as long as everyone else but unlike so many other bloggers I don’t feel the urge to post as soon as an album is released. I like to welcome it into my collection, let it settle in, give it the time it deserves and if it's truly is great, that’s when I’ll tell you about it. As they say, slow and steady wins the race. Except I’m not winning. For those who don’t know, The Decemberists are an indie-pop group from the USA who have found much of their fame thanks to music blogs. Last year they released an album that was quite successful though I didn’t really care much for it. After signing to a major label you may have thought this latest offering may be cramped creatively, but it is far from the case. The Crane Wife is filled with obscure storytelling and an unorthodox structure that includes a 12 minute, 3-part track, clearly designed to discourage uploaders such as myself. The album goes for over an hour but despite this, there isn’t a dull moment on it; each song comes on in a new direction with its own catchy hook. The style ranges from upbeat melodic romps to mellow acoustic ballads, with all coming together seamlessly. Their signature folk sound is still present but the album is also full of other influences, my favourite being the use of organs, which all combine into a rich listening experience. I’m not sure if I just missed something with their last album or whether The Crane Wife actually is a great improvement, but either way, this is a highly enjoyable album that’s definitely worthy of listen (or five).
The Landlord’s Daughter – I had to extract this song from the 3-part track I mentioned earlier but it was definitely worth the effort. It’s funky tracks like this that first grabbed my attention and encouraged me to listen further
Yankee Bayonet – The pace of this song is more in tune with the rest of the album. It’s a shame the female vocals in this song are just a one-off because they sound really great in this little duet
It really is special to watch a band evolve from playing in dingy little pubs, where if it is wasn’t for their loyal (sympathetic) friends, the place would be empty, to making complete strangers actually want to pay money to go see them. The warm feeling you get from the knowledge that you knew them first is almost enough to overcome the disgust you feel when they sell out to hoards of unappreciative new fans. Well whatever the case, Sydney is currently home many of these brand spanking new bands that could very well be the next to break your hearts. Cloud Control is one of them. However you better latch on quick if you want to call them your own, because having already conquered the USyd Band Comp, they’re set to reach a much wider (and of course less deserving) audience. I really am painting an over cynical picture here, Cloud Control are in fact just a bunch of talented kids offering their musical abilities for us to enjoy and we’re all the better for it. If they do end up making it big then they definitely deserve it. They utilise what seem to be two of the latest trends, a male/female vocal combo and a keyboardist. This is very much to my liking because it gives a band a lot of room to move in (not literally of course, it can actually make things quite crowded, but creatively), room which Cloud Control fully explore. Their music is pop at heart and when the tempo picks up, it can get quite engaging. But rather than watch me try and fail at describing their music, have a listen for yourself and save me any further embarrassment.
Community Action – When even crude, early demos sound good, you can’t help but think this band has potential. Add to this a live show that’s equally promising and it’s time to invest. This song is a favourite of mine in both such forms.
Look There – This song was always going to be a hit in my books. From the way each instrument subtly enters, to the sincere, moving vocals and finally to the harmonious ‘ooo’ing. What more could one want?
Lately it seems like not a week goes by where a new music festival isn’t announced. Now I’m not saying this is a bad thing, especially for someone as…economically minded…as myself, but honestly, we seem to be going overboard. Well before there was a different festival every fortnight, there was Homebake, what remains as Australia’s premier local music festival. With an extremely impressive line up announced, I thought it would be fitting to go through some of the fantastic bands that will be showcasing their talent come December 2. Don’t worry if you don’t have a ticket, neither do I (it hasn’t stopped me in the past!). Basically this feature is more about me telling you what I think of a bunch of Aussie bands than the actual festival itself. It was just that so many bands I wanted to discuss happened to be attending so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone. I have analysed the line up, breaking it down into some form of categories and every day from now to Dec 1st I’ll be bringing you all you need to know about this fine collection of Aussie talent. As always, enjoy!
Bands I have Already Written About
- You Am I
- Something For Kate
- Eskimo Joe
- The Buterfly Effect
- Hilltop Hoods
- Kid Kenobi & MC Shureshock
- Mountains in the Sky
- Parkway Drive
- The Vaine
- Angus & Julia Stone
- Bob Evans
- Tom Cooney
- Toni Collette & The Finish
- Jen Cloher & The Endless Sea
- Bjorn Again
- The Models
- The Basics
- Die! Die! Die!
- Tucker B's
- Ground Components
- Something With Numbers
- Children Collide
- Whiskey Go Gos
Jukebox (Coming Soon)
Two of the slots for the Homebake festival were reserved for the Winners of Triple J's Unearthed competition and the Hopetoun Incentive competition. To win either of these comps, a band must be very impressive and clearly show a lot of promise. For this reason you may consider checking them out. However they play early in the morning so you better make sure you're awake and they play at the same time so you can't see both. Which is more worthy? Have a listen and see for yourself.
I must be the only Australian Blogger that is yet to write about Young & Restless. To be honest, this is because I’ve never really liked them that much. For one this because their music is at a dangerous level of heaviness but I also think it is because I haven’t seen them live. So much has said about their thrilling on-stage performances, especially of the exciting antics of front woman, Karina Utomo, that I get the feeling that I haven’t experienced them where they truly shine. Clearly they are a high quality act, otherwise the prudent blogging community would never have embraced them so fully. Even the fact that they’re playing Homebake is a sign of their worth. To get there, they had to win Triple J’s unearthed competition, which meant beating hundreds of other promising young bands (no mean feat!). With all the hints piling up, I have finally gotten around to giving this band a proper listen and I’m finally beginning to see what everyone has been on about. Their heaviness is no long an issue but rather an asset and I am enjoying the melodies that can be found guiding all the noise. I wanted to see this band when I didn’t even like them, now I just can’t wait.
Dirty Kicks – Such screaming and guitar thrashing in a song is usually off-putting to me but Young & Restless manage to get away with it. I think it’s the thought of how great it would sound live that allows me to overcome it
Police! Police! – This song shows that they aren’t just all about big noise. Karens vocals actually sound good when softened down and in isolation. Still, a bit of screaming is thrown in just for good measure.
I really don’t know where to start considering I have never actually watched this band and all I’ve heard by them are the two tracks on their myspace. But what I do know is clearly this band has shown some promise, because otherwise they wouldn’t be here. Regular John made it to Homebake by winning the Hopetoun Incentive competition. While this may not have been as competitive as Triple J’s Unearthed competition, it’s mere format suggests that they may well be worth a look. You see unlike Unearthed, which is largely based on demo’s that bands send in, Hopetoun Incentive is based purely on live performances. The fact Regular John won must mean their live show is pretty impressive. Listening to their music, this is quite easy to imagine. It’s loud and it’s fast and I can see it translating to an energetic live show.
Zommunist Party – At first the noise of this song just washed over me, but the more I listen to it, the more I come to appreciate their appeal. The song ranges from the intense moments where everything seems to be thrown in, to times when the wailing guitars are left to unravel, but what's really important is it would go off live!