Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

The Arcade Fire are the next in a long line of indie heavyweights to release a highly anticipated follow-up album this year. I’m starting to get the feeling that all these bands (see: The Shins, Of Montreal, CYHSY) are somehow in cahoots because yet again this album appears to be ‘good, but not as good as previous work’. But in each of this cases, I’ve gotten enjoyment out the album, because regardless of what they’ve done before, this music is good. When a band I love releases something new and it sounds great, it I’m not about to start complaining. This was especially so for Neon Bible, because after all, how could you possibly surpass Funeral? It was, in my opinion, the most significant album of the decade. It may have taken 10 listens to like and upwards of 30 listens to fully appreciate it, but I got there. Boy was it worth it. The emotion conveyed within that album is simply breathtaking and the way it flows seamlessly from one extreme to another left me in awe. Yes, if you never listened to Funeral, I suggest you do it right now, repeatedly. While Neon Bible may succeed in recreating The Arcade Fire’s signature powerful sound, it does so inconsistently and leaves you feeling somewhat distant. As I said before, it’s great, you can’t take that away from it, but it’s not Funeral. While it will only get better with repeat listens, I doubt it will ever reach the same level.

Black Waves / Bad Vibrations – One of Arcade Fire’s biggest strengths has always been having male and female vocalists who are equally capable. This song highlights this perfectly. It’s also quite similar to their older material which can’t hurt.

(Antichrist Television Blues) – I really like this song for it’s sense of movement. And those background vocals…they are not human.

Neon Bible should appear in stores somewhere between 3rd and 6th March. A deluxe edition will also be available, featuring special packaging and a 32 page booklet.

The Playground Weekender

Speaking of festivals, The Playground Weekender is also due to take place very soon. It's part of the increasingly popular trend of festivals that are geared as much towards the atmosphere as they are towards the music and it promises to be a rich cultural experience. Taking place over 3 days and situated 1.5 hours out of Sydney, it definitely seems to be marketing itself as a nice, relaxing escape. But regardless of all the frilly extras, a festival will nearly always boil down to the music and here The Playground Weekender does not disappoint with a formidable collection of local and international acts, spanning a diverse range of genres. If you're poor like me, you'll be glad to hear that the folks over at Twelve Major Chords have 10 double passes to give away. The rest of you 'employed' people can get your tickets over at the official website.


In just one week the Laneway Festival will be arriving in Sydney. It’s about as close as Australia will ever get to an indie goldmine and if you haven’t already got your ticket, I strongly suggest you do. The line-up is pretty much blemish-free, which is quite amazing, with a great mix of local and international acts. Unfortunately this means there’ll be plenty of clashes, especially with 3 stages all operating independently. For those who are attending, you may be interested in this timetable I put together that allows you to visualise such clashes and plan your day.

Below is a collection of mp3s that approximately represents what my day will consist of. Many great bands will have to be ignored, but there is just so much competition. I’ll mainly be attending the international acts as you can never guarantee they’ll come back. Dappled Cities Fly, you can live without me. For more information about this festival (bands, tickets etc.) try the official website. It all takes place at Circular Quay on March 4. Hope to see you there!

The Crayon FieldsImpossible Things
Dan KellyGet High On Your Own Supply
The Temper TrapSirens
Love Is AllBusy Doing Nothing
Camera ObscuraSuspended From Class
Youth GroupForever Young
The WalkmenGood For You’s Good For Me
SnowmanYou Are A Casino
Peter Bjorn & JohnAmsterdam
Yo La Tengo Mr Tough

The Temper Trap

If festival bills are anything to go by, The Temper Trap are Australia’s newest hype band. With barely an EP released, they were among the first to be called upon some pretty significant upcoming events, including Laneway and the inaugural V Festival. Normally this may sound out of the ordinary, but having heard them live, I can perfectly sympathise with the decision. It was a dark and stormy night (perhaps not stormy) and I was down in Wollongong to catch Dappled Cities Fly. The Temper Trap hit the stage and at the time, they were completely unknown to me. As they played I knew there was something special about them, but it wasn’t until the following days that it really sunk in. That voice; it was incredible. My cravings increased and I found myself drawn to their myspace in a bid to re-live the experience. But what I found were four decent recordings that didn’t quite live up to what I remembered. Despite this, I still found enjoyment in them, as they reminded me of that inspiring performance I’d witnessed a few months back - the lead singer moving about on stage, mouth wide open and screaming into the microphone – it’s an image that will probably stick with me until the next time I see them. If you happen to be attending either of the festivals above, I highly recommend you check out The Temper Trap; every last bit of their hype is warranted.

Sirens – Their formula for making music is anything but complex. It usually consists of a simple melody, maybe two lines of lyrics and of course a wailing chorus, but it’s a formula that sounds so good, depth becomes irrelevant.

Sunday Painter – This song always seems to give me mixed signals. I have this nagging feeling that structure is somehow flawed and yet I can’t help but think back to how good it sounded live.

Menomena - Friend & Foe

2007 is well underway and I’ve been fortunate enough to have plenty of excellent albums to review. However all these albums seem to be from bands I already knew, or else left-overs from 2006. Midway through February I still found myself waiting for the first band that would go down in my mind as truly unique to 2007. While Menomena may have been kicking around since 2003, they are new to me. And of all the bands I’ve discovered this year, they are the first to get me excited. Originating out of Portland, Oregon (who doesn’t these days), Menomena (not Mah na mah na) create a sound that ranges from rich compositions to stripped-back ballads. Their music is rather experimental, in the sense that they incorporate a number of weird sounds (whistling, horns, etc) and try their hand at a variety of different styles. The album starts off with the poppy yet heartfelt ‘Muscle'n Flo’, which is then followed by ‘The Pelican’, a darker number driven by deep piano chords, crashing percussion and powerful vocals; all reminiscent of TV on the Radio. But then this is quickly followed by the almost childish ‘Wet and Rusting’, complete with glockenspiels and high-pitched vocals. This sort of evolution continues throughout the entire album and means there’s never a dull moment. In fact even the descriptions above are inadequate as each of those songs progress within themselves towards completely different sounds. Friend and Foe is an album full of fresh ideas and perfect for anyone who, like me, was waiting for their year to be kick-started.

Rotten Hell – Like many that have come before, this song is here on the the assumption that if I find myself singing it all the time, it must be worthy of inclusion.

Evil Bee – It would appear that the less intense songs have one out when it came to choosing favourites. Then again, this song does pick up by the end. There's just something special about it that seems to strike me every time I hear it. Have a listen for yourself!

Klaxons - Myths Of The Near Future

I made a very conscious decision not too look closely at Klaxons until their debut album arrived. This was not only to avoid the plethora of singles that were due to be recycled, but also to separate myself from all the hype they were generating. They seemed to polarise opinion between those who loved their fresh new sound and those who despised their image (or as some may put it, those who hated their music and those who loved their image). But in the end their story appears to all boil down to one phrase: new rave. It’s the movement that Klaxons have been swept up in and whether they like it or not, it’s the movement that will forever define them. Centred on an electronically influenced blend of rock music, it also spawns images of trendiness, remixes and puppeteering record labels. It’s a movement that makes me sick in so many ways, but if we can just stop and appreciate the music for what it is, there’s a lot to be gained. This electro-rock combines the dancability of electronic music with the sing-along anthems of rock to create a very infectious dance floor atmosphere. We’ve been busting out to The Presets for years now but if NME wants to hail Klaxons as the pioneers of a new era then good for them; I’ll just be happy to enjoy the music. After giving their album a thorough listen, my suspicions of manufactured fame have disappeared. This is a genuinely quality album which strengths lie in its accessibility and the ease at which it gets you moving. It’s a fast paced onslaught filled with vocal harmonies and sci-fi allusions that is solid throughout. With an album as fun as this, I’m willing to give Klaxons the benefit of the doubt.

Two Receivers – I’ve always had a soft spot for falsetto vocals and this song (along with the rest of the album) is dripping with them. It opens the album and does so in style

Totem Of The Timeline – It’s a promising sign when two of the album’s best tracks (these two) are previously unreleased. It shows the band isn’t just relying on its early singles. This song falls more under the category of short, fast and straight to the point.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Some Loud Thunder

When I heard that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah had a second album on the horizon, I didn’t get too excited. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I wanted them to fail, just that I expected them to. Their debut album, however brilliant, was very much a novelty. The sound was so obscure that repeating it would just sound stale. And they had struck such a delicate balance of perfection that it seemed any deviation would result in disaster. Well having now heard the album, I’m proud to admit that I was wrong. It may not live up to their debut, but Some Loud Thunder is great. I really should be ashamed of myself for having so little faith. After all, they were my #1 band to name-drop when demonstrating my ridiculous music tastes and they always went down well when I wanted to release some energy. Some Loud Thunder does differ from their debut, feeling a lot slower, less intense and lacking the tightly packaged pop pieces, however this doesn’t detract from the listening experience, as the band has returned with a richer, more emotional sound which works equally well. While I enjoy the album now, it wasn’t always this way. In what seems to be a common experience, I actually hated it at first. This album is definitely a grower and one you’ll have to stick by for a while before you’ll appreciate it.

Satan Said Dance – This song really stands out as one of the album’s more obscure songs. It’s the perfect evolution of CYHSY’s quirky sound

Mama, Won't You Keep Those Castles In The Air & Burning – I was caught between this and Love Song No. 7 as the best song to use as an example of their slower sound; evidently this won. That little tweak he does when singing ‘morning paper’ always gets me.

For a perfect example of why I hated the album at first, look no further than the title track (try Hype Machine). For the first few listens, I couldn’t even bear to listen through to the end, I had to skip. In fact it sounds so bad that I thought my copy of the album was broken. The problem is that it features very heavy distortion, to the point where the song underneath is barely distinguishable. It wasn’t until I heard the original that I was able to appreciate the energy that this distortion brought. It’s still a bit dodgy though. See how this version makes you feel.

Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?

I think I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoyed Of Montreal’s ‘Satanic Panic In The Attic’, but let me just reiterate. Full of insanity from start to finish, it remains as one of my all time favourite albums. It introduced me to the weird and wonderful sounds of this incredible band and I’ve never turned back. For those who haven’t heard Of Montreal before, it really is hard to describe them. This is not only because there is no other band that even comes close to their sound, but because each of their songs is vastly different from the last. I think I’ll just leave it at saying they’re nuts and you really must check them out for yourself. This album definitely returns Of Montreal to their former glory (after 2005’s so-so ‘Sunlandic Twins’), but I still don’t think it matches the brilliance of SPITA. It is different in the sense that it doesn’t maintain the same level of euphoria and perhaps this detracts from it a little. But the good news is that their quirky sound is back in force and in the end, that’s all matters. It kind of reminds me of The Shins’ latest album. It may not be as brilliant as their previous work, but it’s incredible and I’m loving it so who cares!

Gronlandic Edit – This song starts off fairly slow and gives you the impression that it’s just a filler, perhaps with a stronger lyrical basis….and then it comes in….the voice…incredible.

A Sentence Of Sorts In Kongsvinger – This song is a nice example of Of Montreal’s dreamier side, though that doesn’t mean it’s not as hyperactive as ever.

2006 - Top 10 Albums

It's only a month late, but here is my attempt at a top ten list. To be honest with you, I'm not the biggest fan of list-making (I'd rather read others' and steal their selections), but seeing as I'm planning on talking about the albums of 2006 I DIDN'T like, I thought it would be appropriarte to at least do some form of sumation. Choosing 10 albums was hard enough, ranking them would have just been impossible. So here are my favourite albums of 2006, in alphabetical order.

Belle & Sebastion - The Life Pursuit
2006 was the year I got into Belle & Sebastian and while the experience was more about the band in general, this album sums in up perfectly. It’s full of variety and full of their signature charm.

MP3: To Be Myself Completely

The Crayon Fields - Animal Bells
The moment I saw these guys live, I fell in love with them. A bunch of nerds making twee pop is surprisingly cute. This album is brimming with joy and sure to keep your spirits up.

MP3: Impossible Things

CSS - Cansei De Ser Sexy
I really shouldn’t like this album as much as do. Since when has dirty electro pop been my thing? My only regret is that I never got to see the album translated into a live show.

MP3: Alcohol

Dappled Cities Fly - Granddance
This album proved that Dappled Cities Fly are more than just an awesome pub band. With its quirky creativity and dual falsettos, it will finally gain them the attention they deserve.

MP3: Granddance

The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
I really didn’t like The Decemberists’ last album so had very low expectations for this one. Not only did it meet these expectations but far surpassed them. It’s folk music with a refreshing twist.

MP3: The Landlord's Daughter

Figurines - Skeleton
Scandinavians fared quite well in 2006. This particular album quickly became a favourite thanks to its mix of exciting changes and heartfelt ballads.

MP3: All Night

Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
One very clear evolution of my tastes over the last year has been towards slower music. This album is the perfect example and I would describe it as nothing less than heavenly.

MP3: Roscoe

Peter Bjorn And John - Writer's Block
What makes this album so enjoyable is the sheer level of charm. It’s a challenge not to fall in love with it. It turned out to be so different to what ‘Young Folks’ suggested and impressed me greatly.

MP3: Let's Call It Off

Red Riders - Replica Replica
This band is yet to disappoint me. Every song they release, every show they put on just reinforces my respect for them. This debut album is bursting with energy and sure to get your feet moving

MP3: Scream

The Sleepy Jackson - Personality
I haven’t enjoyed this album anywhere near as much as I should have. With each listen I gradually appreciate just how beautiful it is. Luke Steele would not have settled for anything less ridiculous.

MP3: Devil Was In My Yard

Sparklehorse - Dreamt For Lightyears...
This is another album where my like for it surprised even myself. Soft and slow generally isn’t my thing but Sparklehorse managed to transcend this trend with this very special album

MP3: Don't Take My Sunshine Away

Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon
Never before has an album grown on me so much. I have no idea why I kept giving it more chances but I’m glad I did because I eventually came to realise why everyone else raved about it.

MP3: Cowbell

Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid Of You...
I can’t believe I lived without this band for so long. This album simply blew me away. I've never heard a band attempt so many varying styles on the one album and pull I off so successfully

Mp3: The Room Got Heavy

I think that was 13. Oh well...

2006 - A Year In Review

Sure it’s a bit late, but I thought that nothing would be more appropriate than to review the entire year of 2006, seeing what music I listened to and how I felt about it. It is also an opportunity to take a look back at this blog’s first year, even if it did only begin in May. This list may be rather extensive but in no way is it a complete snapshot of the past year. It’s missing EPs, albums I’m yet to discover, albums I’ve forgotten, albums I ignored and of course old albums that I only just discovered. But at least it will at least give you a general idea of what were some of last years biggest albums and which you should perhaps check out. Click the band name to find out more (courtesy of myspace) and click the album to see what I wrote about it.


Belle & Sebastion - The Life Pursuit
The Crayon Fields - Animal Bells
CSS - Cansei De Ser Sexy
Dappled Cities Fly - Granddance
The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
Figurines - Skeleton
Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
Peter Bjorn And John - Writer's Block
Red Riders - Replica Replica
The Sleepy Jackson - Personality
Sparklehorse - Dreamt For Lightyears...
Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon
Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid Of You...


...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - So Divided
Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am….
Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
The Capes - Hello
The Chalets - Check In
Evangelicals - So Gone
The Grates - Gravity Won't Get You High
HilotronsBella Simone
Islands - Islands
The Kooks - Inside In / Inside Out
Lily Allen - Alright Still
The Long BlondesSomeone To Drive You Home
The Lovely Feathers - Hind, Hind Legs
Maritime - We, The Vehicles
Mates Of StateBring It Back
Oh No! Oh My! - Oh No! Oh My!
The Panda Band - This Vital Chapter
Phoenix - It's Never Been Like That
The Pipettes - We Are The Pippettes
The Rapture - Pieces Of The People We Love
The Strokes – First Impressions Of Earth
Tap Tap - Lanzafame
TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
Wolf & Cub - Vessels


Augie MarchMoo, You Bloody Choir
Be Your Own Pet – Be Your Own Pet
Beirut - The Gulgag Orkestar
Ben KwellerBen Kweller
Candy Bars – On Cutting Tigers In Half…
Camera ObscuraLet’s Get Out Of This Country
Cold War Kids - Robbers & Cowards
The DearsGang Of Losers
Danielson - Ships
Delays - You See Colours
Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds
The Futureheads – News & Tributes
Gerling - 4
GuillemotsThrough The Window Pane
The Hidden Cameras - Awoo
Howling BellsHowling Bells
I’m From BarcelonaLet Me Introduce My Friends
Jack Ladder – Not Worth Waiting For
Jet - Shine On
Joanna Newsom - Ys
Kasabian - Empire
The Killers - Sam's Town
Love Is All - Nine Times That Same Song
The Mint Chicks – Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No!
Muse – Black Holes And Revelations
The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers
Razorlight - Razorlight
Starlight Mints - Drowaton
Sure Juror - Smut
The VinesVision Valley
The Walkmen – A Hundred Miles Off
Youth GroupCasino Twilight Dogs
The Zutons – Tired Of Hangin’ Around


Beck - The Information
Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies
Girl Talk - Night Ripper
Hot ChipThe Warning
Junior BoysSo This Is Goodbye
Liars - Drum's Not Dead
Scissor Sisters - Ta-Dah
Sunset RubdownShut Up I Am Dreaming
Swan LakeBeast Moans
The ThermalsThe Body The Blood The Machine
Thom Yorke - Eraser
Thunderbirds Are Now!Make History
Xiu XiuThe Air Force

Ah finished. Finally I feel like I can put 2006 behind me and concentrate on the new year. Not only was that 83 albums, but even more ridiculously, it was 83 myspace links. If you missed some of these albums, CHECK THEM OUT. And I know it should go without saying, but if you find something you like, consider buying the album or going to a show and keep supporting those artists!!

2006 - Best?

Once upon a time I looked at end-of-year lists as an easy way find the best new music. These days I’m considerably more up to date and these lists are now populated mostly by albums I’m already familiar with. Now the only really purpose of these lists (though still relevant) is to give me an interesting insight into the tastes of others. It is around this time that I begin to notice all the albums that received plenty of praise but which I never liked. I usually go back to make sure I didn’t miss something, but many of these ‘best of 2006’ albums remain as duds in my mind. Over the course of the year, you’ve found out what albums I did like, now it’s time to see what I didn’t like. You may have thought I’ve missed quite a few of this year’s biggest albums; perhaps I just hated them? There’s various degrees of dislike here, from ‘enjoyed it but was lacking something’ to ‘what couldn’t anybody possibly see in that’. I should also note that none of these albums have just been heard once and then dismissed. I have listened to each of them many times, tried my hardest to like them, but just been unable to. And the losers are...

CONTROVERSY WILL ENSUE! While I hope this feature will challenge peoples' perceptions of what this year's best albums are, it really is more about me noting some of the albums I didn't like. This doesn't necessarily mean they're bad, and if you liked them, feel free to challenge my challenge. To each his own...

Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds

To win the title of best artist is an achievement in any country. But to do it in Canada is monumental. As anyone who follows the indie music scene would know, Canada has become a hot spot for up and coming musicians, even beginning to challenge the USA’s dominance. Well this year a number of Canadian blogs got together to choose their favourite; the winner was Final Fantasy. I had found the first Final Fantasy album enjoyable at times, but ultimately too unorthodox for my liking. I basically feel the same way about this year’s He Poos Clouds. Sure I’ve been branching out into more and more obscure territory of late, but with Final Fantasy I don’t feel the same level of attraction that I’ve had with other bands. I think the problem is that this music appears to lack depth. The combination of vocals and violins works well, but at times it seems to be missing something. I crave a richer sound, with a bit more variation and I think that’s why the song below is my favourite. Don’t get me wrong, there are some brilliant moments on this album, but as a complete package, it fails to excite.

MP3: This Lamb Sells Condos

Joanna Newsom - Ys

I’d never heard of Joanna Newsom before this year and then all of a sudden she was receiving rave reviews and topping year end lists. While I found her album brilliant at times, it’s not the kind of CD I can see myself listening to much in the future. Her voice is incredible; there’s no questioning that. And the harp, backed by an orchestra is most definitely impressive. Yet despite this, it’s not for me. It’s like I can see this excellent record in the distance but something’s preventing me from getting close. This barrier is almost identical to the way I felt towards Sigur Ros. That was until I saw them live and had one of the best experiences of my life. This gives me feeling that I really need to see Joanna Newsom live before I'll fully appreciate her; Sean’s review only confirms this. Until then I guess I'll have to keep working away at the cd. I'm getting there, even if it is taking me a while.

MP3: Emily

Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies

Destroyer…what’s with this guy? Has anyone else noticed that he doesn’t actually sound that good? I mean there are plenty of singers out there with dodgy voices, but most of them manage to make it work in their favour…he just annoys me. While his songs were usually my least favourite with The New Pornographers, I don’t remember them being that bad. The music on this solo album however just sounds awkward and lost. From what I’ve read, many of the people who like his music point to the lyrical content. For me, lyrics play second fiddle. If I like the sound of a song, the lyrics can tip the balance between love and hate. But if I don’t like the music to begin with, the lyrics mean nothing. I fail to see how he is so revered; to me he just comes off as a b-grade musician. Am I missing something?

MP3: Painter In Your Pocket

Cold War Kids - Robbers & Cowards

I always find it a bit dodgy when bands reuse popular songs from old EPs in an album. While it may in fact make the album more enjoyable, it always gives me the impression that they struggled to write new material and paints a rather bleak picture for the future. So when Cold War Kids decided to take their two successful EPs, lump them together and call it an album, I wasn't the least bit impressed. I couldn’t help but think that the title, Robbers & Cowards, was a fitting description of their action. It’s no surprise that they made such a decision; these EPs both received quite a bit of positive attention, especially from the blogging community and I guess the band didn't want these songs wasted on the often overlooked EP format. But as it stands, I have absolutely no respect for this ‘album’. I found the EPs enjoyable at times, but they were far perfect. I would have much preferred to wait for a debut album composed of new material; that would have been the true test. Clearly they weren't prepared for this and it leaves me wondering what hope the future holds for this band.

MP3: Passing The Hat

Thom Yorke - The Eraser

There is no doubt that Radiohead have incredible pulling power. There seems to be only two types of fans; those who have a limited experience with them and think they’re alright (myself included) and those who border on obsession. It’s a sign of an incredible band when anyone who actually takes the time to listen to their music, falls in love with them. Yet despite these obvious signs, many people who absolutely adore OK Computer and have all the other albums sitting on their computer (myself included), never bother to listen to them. Disappointing, I know. But I wonder whether this trend of obsession hasn’t tainted the judgement behind some of the praise directed towards this Thom Yorke solo project. Because from my position (a fan who isn’t yet obsessed), I found it rather unspectacular. Was this album brilliant in its own right or was it just good enough to quench the thirst created by previous Radiohead greatness? I probably haven't listened enough to either to give a valid opinion but at the moment I’m leaning towards the latter .

MP3: Cymbal Rush