Bishop Allen - The Broken String

I couldn't help but laugh when I heard a radio DJ make this statement not too long ago...."that track came off Bishop Allen's brand new album, The Broken String. They haven't released anything since an EP they put out in 2003, so it's good to hear from them again". Now I'm not normally one to pull up others' mistakes, but the enormity of this one just couldn't be overlooked. Firstly, in 2003 they released an LP, it was called Charm School and I really enjoyed it. Secondly, they have released material since then. Lot's of it. In 2006 they embarked on the ambitious task of producing an EP for every month of the year. I didn't follow the project completely, but what I did hear impressed me. The songs occasionally sounded rushed or bare, but there's plenty of great material there. So you can see how being told they hadn't done anything would be quite amusing. This new record is actually composed of 10 tracks from the EP project plus a couple new ones, so is a nice alternative for those who, like me, are a little daunted by the idea of listening to twelve EPs. At first I thought the rushed nature in which many of these songs were written hurt them, but the more I listen, the more this impression fades. Bishop Allen have proven themselves as incredibly adept song writers. Their innovative take on indie rock music continues to enter new territory as they build a diverse collection for all to enjoy. If you're new to them, I'd probably recommend Charm School as a good starting point, but this album is definitely a worthy follow up.

Rain - The energetic mood of this song quickly led it to become and remain favourite.

The News From Your Bed - I remember hearing this one over a year ago when it came out on an EP (February was it?). It's still as enjoyable as ever.

Released: 24/07/07 | Website | Myspace

Lazy Tuesday Mix #2

Be Gentle With MeThe Boy Least Likely To
It’s always nice to come back to an old album you’d forgotten about; especially one this joyful. I came across The Boy Least Likely To rather early in my musical ‘enlightenment’ and they were probably my first foray into the tweeish side of indie music.

Tonight I Have To Leave ItShout Out Louds
I’ve been enjoying the Shout Out Louds of late, though not as much as I’d have hoped. They seem to be sitting just below the point of greatness and just can’t cross it. In time perhaps. This song, however, is definitely doing it for me. That little intro riff is brilliant.

Candy CutI Heart Hiroshima
I Heart Hiroshima are one of those bands I’ve always known of, but never known. In fact I couldn’t even have told you what they sounded like if I hadn’t found this mp3 sitting on my computer 2 days ago. Not quite what I had imagined, but still enough to prick my attention. If all goes to plan, I should get to see them this Sunday.

Don’t FallThe Chameleons
Finding The Chameleons has alerted me to the fact of just how many bands there are out there. I don’t know whether to be excited or depressed by the fact that I will never come close to knowing them all. There are people out there whose favourite band of all time hasn’t even entered my consciousness. That IS depressing. It’s kind of like that conundrum people face of whether or not they’ll meet their ‘perfect match’. For me it’s the perfect band that I worry about. Actually that’s a lie. Until ten minutes ago, I hadn’t even contemplated such a possibility, let alone been affected by it. I much prefer to bask in my own arrogant belief that I know everything. Ignorance is bliss.

The New SunRichard In Your Mind
I'm yet to be blown away by Richard In Your Mind’s recorded work and probably wouldn’t have featured this song had I not known how great they are live. That is where they thrive and that is where you should experience them. No questions. Just do it.

Weezer - Weezer

The problem with having so many new albums to listen to is that often it means your attention gets divided and none of them get the time they require. So when it came time to do a review and I had about 5 albums which showed some promise but hadn’t yet proven themselves, I decided to go for a classic. And what better classic then Weezer’s self-titled debut album (the blue album). I was exposed to a few songs from this album early in my life, thanks to my older brother, but it was until about year 9 that I truly embraced it. For me, this album epitomises the nineties. Not because it is in some way all-encompassing, but because it’s the only sound I really listened to back then. That alternative rock sound and garage band image was so perfectly defined by Weezer and this album. I can vividly remember coming to school each day and having passionate discussions with a friend about which song was our favourite and why. The funny part is that pretty much every song occupied that spot at one point or another. As I listened more and more, I would discover merit in songs I previously ignored, until eventually I realised that the whole album was brilliant from start to finish. Etched in mind, these songs will forever have an impact on me.

The World Has Turned And Left Me Here – For some reason thing song is separated from the rest in my mind. It’s as if they’re all just songs, but this has some higher purpose. I dunno, it’s weird. But whatever the case, I love it.

In The Garage – I can remember a time my friend was obsessed with this song and I just couldn’t understand how. Or maybe it was the either way round. Either way, there’s something special about this song.

Released: 10/05/94 | Website | Myspace

Super Furry Animals

Super Furry Animals were part of the first post I ever unleashed unto the internet. I hadn’t really listened to them much, but a bizarre instrumental track called Oi Frango managed to catch my attention. Thankfully this led me to devote more time to their then-new album, Love Kraft, which I discovered to be equally bizarre. But in a world saturated by reused formulas, it is the bizarre who reign supreme. Their different approaches are what keeps music fresh and interesting. They add colour to our drab lives. I think this is why I’ve come to enjoy Super Furry Animals so much. They are so invigoratingly odd! For this reason, I’m not going to even bother trying to describe their sound. They come from Wales, but that probably won’t explain much more than their accents. Across their many albums, they’ve experimented with countless styles and I’m only just beginning to get to know them. 2005’s Love Kraft remains my favourite, but then again, it’s the one I’ve listened to most so who knows. They have a new one (Hey Venus!) coming out very soon and early indications are good. If you’ve never entered the land of Super Furry Animals, now is the time. Either they’re out this world or out of their minds; I’m yet to decide.

Run Away – This track comes of Hey Venus! and I must admit that I am totally and utterly consumed by it. Something about that chorus just drags me in everytime. It’s a little tame by their standards, but great nonetheless.

Lazer Beam – While it may not be my all time favourite, this song seams to epitomise their sound. It’s full of whacky sounds yet still maintains a somewhat solid structure.

Back On A Roll – This is another of the sing-along songs which they do so well. They have a knack for crafting melodies that seep into your consciousness and take control.

Monday Mix #19

Single DaysPale Young Gentlemen
For the record, this ISN’T Franz Ferdinand. They may share similarly deep vocals, but that’s where it ends. Still, I’m quite impressed with my Mum for hazarding such a guess. Next she’ll be telling her friends about Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Getting back on track, Pale Young Gentlemen make a quirky blend of music that seams to combine foreign flavours, circus themes and radio pop into formula that quite bizarrely, works.

SalvadorJamie T
Jamie T is a bit TOO English for me to take. At least with Lilly Allen, the underground themes were polished beyond recognition. Here, it’s raw and in your face. With slurred vocals that make Arctic Monkeys look proper, it can sometimes get a bit much. Still, underneath all the grime there’s plenty of energy and if you’re not quite as soft as me, you may well find something you like.

Lovers Who UncoverThe Little Ones
A while back, The Little Ones released a VERY impressive EP called Sing Song. They were so perfectly indie that they looked destined to reach a heavenly status amongst the likes of The Shins and Belle & Sebastian. Since then however, I haven’t heard much at all from them. But rather than investigating, I’m posting this song and hoping it will prompt me (and you) into seeing what they’re up to.

The Year Of The RatThe Whitlams
I’m currently giving The Whitlams’ latest album, Little Cloud, a thorough listening in preparation for when I see them this September. Being at The Sydney Opera House and with a 100 piece orchestra, I get the feeling it is going to be nothing short of spectacular. Expect me to come back raving about how much of a god Tim Freedman is.

Wicked Light SleeperThe Joggers
This one comes straight from the archives. Not archives as in old, but archives as in didn’t quite make the cut. I think that sums up the Joggers pretty well. Their album showed so much promise, but it always fell short in some way. However, I still like to put it on every now and then and enjoy the bits they did get right.

Assorted Musings

I finally got to see The Shins the other day. I loved it. It was kind of odd because it wasn’t one of those shows that ‘went off’ and yet I came out thoroughly satisfied. They played a perfect mix of new and old and played it all brilliantly. Even if their drummer did happen to be asleep…..

MP3: Turn A Square

Quarter Acre
I’m gonna do something out of the ordinary here and recommend a band. That band is Quarter Acre and they put on one of the best shows you’ll ever witness. I saw them last night and didn’t stop smiling the whole time. It’s a well known fact that main man Andrew Burgess is insane, but it's the GOOD type of insanity. The whole show is just him and his antics and it's brilliant. They’ve been around for a while now and I can’t understand why they aren’t better known. The songs are all good in their own right, but live they are simply amazing. People of Sydney, write this down somewhere. Go. See. Quarter Acre.

MP3: Castle Hill
America Sucks
I’d always found it funny that Americans couldn’t drink till they were 21, but it wasn’t until ten minutes ago that I thought about the consequences. It’s not the lack of alcohol that is significant, but the inability to go to licensed events. In Australia, nearly every venue you go to sells alcohol and because of this, 95% of gigs are overage only. How you could live through this period with such limited gig access is beyond. These are the years when you’re carved into an indie connoisseur or a brain-dead clone. The implications for young musicians are even worse. Just recently I was thinking back to some of the unforgettable nights I had had since coming of age and how much better life gets when you turn 18. What are Americans doing during these years? I can only hope that underage gigs are far more frequent or they at least have a healthy fake-ID trade because otherwise it would be a very bleak outlook. Sucks to be them.

MP3: Who’s Ya Daddy? (Gerling)

Gerling were my first such gig. Very memorable indeed.

Stars - In Our Bedroom After The War

When I think back to Star’s previous album, I’m always reminded of the emotional, climatic moments they produced so well. Through a combination of duel vocals and rich instrumentation, they always managed to create music that was positively uplifting. For a moment, I thought they’d lost it with this new album. If I had trusted my own instincts, I would have pushed it aside. But sure enough, as I began to immerse myself in it, the beauty soon emerged. When Stars make music, they do so to make an impact. This album is no exception. The lead vocals of Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan bounce off one another playfully, allowing them to create such special moments; from serene tranquillity to thrilling intensity. This is album is still yet to surpass 2003’s Set Yourself on Fire, but it is quickly gaining ground.

Take Me To The Riot – Note how seamlessly the female vocals kick in at the 20 second mark; you can barely notice it. It’s the perfect example of how very well they gel together. And then the chorus kicks in and things just keep getting better!

Today Will Be Better, I Swear! – It was tempting just to pick powerful moments such as the one above, but I felt someone a little slower was more appropriate. This song is particularly good for stirring up some warmth.

Released: 10/07/07 | Website | Myspace

Melbourne Mix #18

As I was compiling this week’s mix, I noticed that I was using a number of Melbourne artists. Seeing it as a good excuse to look for more, I decided to do an all Melbourne feature. In no way is this list exhaustive or comprehensive. If anything, it represents my need (and desire) to get to know Australia’s ‘other’ music scene a lot better.

The Laughter Across The StreetNed Collette
Once upon a time, my underage self stumbled into a seemingly uninhabited building, climbed a few sets of dodgy staircases and entered a room occupied by no more than 15 people. I was then treated to music by three artists, all of which were then unknown to me. Their names were Dave Rennick, Jack Ladder and Ned Collette. It was a special experience to say the least.

Hush PuppySummer Cats
If I was an unsigned Australian artist and I had a track reviewed on Pitchfork, you can bet I’d be bragging about it too. This Summer Cats song certainly has me craving more. Apologies about the poor quality, but it was taken from Myspace. If you want better, I guess you’ll have to buy it. Perhaps there is method in their madness.

BackwardsThe Motifs
I almost considered having two Motifs songs just to fill the time. Their (or should I say, her) music is renowned for being incredibly short (we’re talking 1 minute short) and incredibly cute. These bite-sized pop gems are right up my alley.

Telecom were the first band to ever send me something in the mail. It was the day I knew starting this blog was the right thing to do. It’s about time I gave them something in return. Their EP, especially this song, was quite impressive (almost as impressive as the stickers).

Appetite For DestructionJulian Nation
Here’s some more twee-ish indie-pop that Melbourne is so famous for creating. While I’ve only heard two of his songs, Julian Nation has really grabbed me and I hope to hear more of him soon.

Honourable mentions go to Oh Mercy and Eddy Current Suppresion Ring who just missed the cut.

Also, as thanks for helping me compile this post, I’d like to give a shout out to the kids over at Off The Record. While only one of these songs came from them, they had a number of other artists I was after. In terms of quality, quantity and frequency of mp3s, you can’t get much better.

Architecture In Helsinki

I must say that my initial impressions of Architecture In Helsinki's latest album were less than favourable. In fact they were awful. But having learnt my lesson from the lead single, Heart It Races, I decided to stick at and see if things improved. After about the tenth listen, things were certainly getting better, but I still wasn't loving it. It was crazy. It was energetic. But it lacked that sense of pure joy that originally brought me to them. Why had they changed? Were they now appealing to a crowd far cooler than I could ever hope to be? These were the thoughts going through my mind as I wallowed in my disappointment. But then I realised that I really didn't know Architecture In Helsinki at all. My listening experience with them had been patchy at best. And so I decided to go back and really get to know them. The result was a number of interesting conclusions. Firstly, Places Like This is, unlike my previous convictions, a perfectly natural progression of their sound. Secondly, I had been missing out on some excellent music from their earlier days. And finally, I am a complete idiot for not going see them at bargain prices, not once, but twice in the last few months.

In Case We Die (2005)
I'll start here because until recently, it was solely responsible for my image of Architecture In Helsinki. Just like I thought I knew them, I thought I knew this album. In reality, I'd mostly listened to it selectively, picking my favourites and putting them in mixes while the others went unnoticed. Going back and listening to it in full, I've really come to appreciate it as a whole piece, even enjoying the moments that I previously considered nothing more than filler.
Fingers Crossed (2003)
I dismissed this album far too quickly. Once I realised all my favourites were on their next album, I pushed it aside, even dropping it from my mp3 player. I now realise what a mistake that was. This is Architecture at their most pure. When I listen to it, I hear a bunch of musicians excited about making noise. It's an infectious feeling that makes you smile with every quirky little sound they try out.
Places Like This (2007)
I'd be lying if I said this album had won me over. I would happily trade this rawer, ‘tribal’ (for lack of better word) sound and rougher vocals for the whispery innocence of before. They've streamlined their line-up, cut out the frilly bits and produced a far more accessible album. For this I'm not bitter. It's opened their colourful sound up to a whole audience and that's great. I do enjoy quite a bit of it, I think I'll always prefer their earlier music.

Monday Mix #17

Mad World - Gary Jules
I must admit that it was a bit of a shock to discover that the dirty 80s electro version of this song was actually the original. I, however, will always prefer this cover version, commonly known as the Donnie Darko version, largely because that film had such an impression on me.

Tread EasyThe Bank Holidays
I was trawling through all my old songs, trying to get them sorted, when I discovered this gem. The Bank Holidays are from Perth (I think), but I haven’t heard of them in over a year so who knows what they’re up to.

Cool It DownThe Velvet Underground
I never have been much of a Lou Reed / Velvet Underground fan, more because of laziness than dislike. However thanks to persistent friends, I am slowly being introduced to his world.

Her Hairagami SetThe Brunettes
The Brunettes latest album is as polished as they come and home to some excellent pop sounds, but the more I come to like their music, the more I despise their lyrics. Why must you be so lame? It’s gone well beyond the cute factor. Still, there’s enough on this album to keep me coming back.

CrumbleDinosaur Jr.
Considering there was a 10 year gap, Dinosaur Jr’s latest album is quite impressive. It’s actually the first I’ve heard of them and it will probably lead me to check out one of their more celebrated releases.

The Harry Potter Trilogy

Now I’m not one who would normally go around proclaiming this, but there’s no denying that the Harry Potter books are pretty damn addictive. So when the latest one arrived, I was amongst the millions doing pretty much nothing but reading it. However there was a slight twist to my story…..around the same time I had acquired a heap of albums and was in the process of evaluating them. Amongst these were three albums by bands beginning with the letter S, all of which I had never heard of. This combination of unfamiliarity and similarity was posing particular problems and I could never tell them apart. To solve this dilemma, I decided to whack them all in a playlist and let them play through while I attended to the far more important task of reading my book. By the time I finished it, I would have listened to each of these albums at least 6 times, yet I felt like I was even further from getting to know them. That was, of course, until I listened to them in a different context and I discovered that, not only had they been drilled firmly into my head, but they had become intrinsically linked to the book. This was last thing I needed, at time when I was trying to shift my attention back to the real world, but it did add a bit of extra dimension to how I felt about these albums. I wouldn’t call them my favourites, but they’re all decent, with their own sounds that I’ve really come to enjoy. However, to save myself from insanity, I think I’m going to put them aside for a month or two. And so I present to you, the Harry Potter Trilogy: An enjoyable collection of new music with a title relevant only to myself.

Shapes and SizesSplit Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner

This is an album of extremes. I’ve already talked about the intimacy they sometimes display, well at other times, they also venture of into fits of hyperactive lunacy. It certainly keeps things interesting, even if it can occasionally fall apart. This song has earned the spot of equal favourite, not just because it’s bursting with energy, but because it manages to stay reasonably together the whole way through.

MP3: Head Movin'

Sister Vanilla - Little Pop Rock

This band is as erratic as the last. For every moment of brilliance, they walk off the track a little too far. However, when the dust settles, it’s the good parts you remember and there are more than enough of those here. Their sound seems to hark back to some prolific movement, but I can’t think what. Whatever it is, it has an ‘epic’ feel to it. This song is particularly grabbing, I just wish they’d ended it earlier.

MP3: Jamcolas

Of the three, this is probably my least favourite album. It’s also the one I’ve listened to least so I’m not sure what caused what. Either way, it is still a good album. It has a nice sense of tranquillity about it and something the other two don’t: consistency. However, this is probably also its downfall, because in the end, I can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed by it. As for this song, I think they got it just right.

The Ocean Floor

Ahhhh. Listening to this band is such a soothing experience. It empties your mind, makes you feel light. But The Ocean Floor aren't like any other band I've previously described as soothing. They don't have the smooth, harmonious sound that usually warrants such a description. Rather, their music is simply unassuming. You'd don't have think hard to enjoy it. The musicians all seem relaxed whilst playing and it really rubs off. I'm not saying their music is simplistic, it's not, just that the shambolic style allows you to drop your guard and just sit back and enjoy it. The other day I was having lunch with my head phones around my neck, whilst this album was playing. It was loud enough to be audible to my little brother and sister, both of whom stared at me wondering what on earth I was listening to. My brother even compared it to elevator music which I found rather amusing. Their oddity is one the main reasons I've come to like them. As I've said, the band just don't seem to be care (though I'm sure they do), which makes their music sound great. Have a listen if you're looking for something a bit.....different.

Bed Bugs - Haha, I love how misleading that intro is. The strings make it seem like something big is coming up and then it just launches into a bongo rhthym. Brilliant.
Down The Drain - This song nicely highlights the variety you get with this band. Different paces, different instruments, it's all good fun.