Ending To Begin - Mercy Arms
With all the hype and image surrounding this band, it’s sometimes hard to know what to think of them. But after hearing this song a few times and combining it with the brilliant ‘Half Right’, I’d say there’s more than enough reason to keep your eye on them, cool or not.
Cracked and Crazed - Doug Martsch
The story behind this song is quite remarkable. Filmmaker Devon Reed composed the soundtrack to his upcoming movie, Song From The Bigtop, and then went about recruiting prominent musicians to perform it. Not only should he be commended for his song-writing ability, but also his taste. The album, which rarely feels like a soundtrack, includes some very impressive tracks, performed by artists such as The Clientele and this man, the lead singer from Built To Spill.
Sadness And The City - The Smallgoods
The Smallgoods are Melbourne band that have really snuck up on me. This song in particular has grabbed my attention, thanks to the distinctive vocals and short, unorthodox structure, worthy of a comparison to Of Montreal. It also hints towards the harmonies which feature prominently in their music.
Zero Zero – Operative Please
Throughout Operator Please’s rise to fame, I’ve remained rather distance. I had differing opinions coming from every side, yet never bothered to listen to them for myself. Well now I have and I must admit it sounds pretty exciting. They’re not about to become my favourite band, but from the sound of their debut album, it’s clear that they’ve got some great energy and I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing them live. If anything, I’ll listen to them just to annoy the conservative AM radio hosts. When they won an Aria, I laughed as a 2GB host struggled to comprehend that yes, this is music and yes, people like it.
For Science Fiction – Maritime
Maritime re-entered my consciousness when I friend wrote a song remarkably similar to one of theirs. After hearing his demo, I scoured through my entire collection trying to find out where I’d heard it before. Turns out it was Maritime, a band that he (like so many others) hadn’t heard of. I bought their latest album recently and while it probably doesn’t beat their last, it’s pretty good. This song is excellent.
Ending To Begin - Mercy Arms
I came across this on last.fm recently and it caught my interest. Basically they're trying to get a song into the number one spot on the Christmas charts using the collective might of indie music fans. If enough people buy it, it has the potential to rival some of the more traditional chart-toppers, ie Idol has-beens. The song in question is "Lips are Unhappy" by Lucky Soul. I've talked about the band before and considering they started their own label to release an album, becoming a DIY success story, they're quite an appropriate band to be championing.
It really isn't that relevant to me, considering it's all UK based, yet for some reason I felt compelled to get involved. I think the thought of challenging the mainstream charts, which are saturated by mass-marketed artists and fed to the unsuspecting public, is something that was just too good to resist. Besides, it is Christmas, a time when we're supposed to be give generously. What better cause than independent music? (don't answer that)
Then again, all this talk of charity is a bit inappropriate, considering it costs just 40p (less than AU$1). The track is one that comes on the album, but seeing as I never paid for it the first place, I've hardly got anything to complain about. And for those who do actually own the album, you're not completely paying for nothing as you also get an exclusive bonus track.
The best part is that it was so easy to do. Any eBayers out there with a Paypal account will be happy to know that you can have it all done in a few minutes. You don't actually get the tracks yet, as it's just a pre-order, but you get an email with a link to the tracks when they go live in late December. It will be interesting to see how this little experiment pans out. Will indie music triumph or will my 90 cents be spent in vain?
Mp3: The Towering Inferno
Click the picture above to find out more....
....Lucky Soul on Myspace
It’s a bit late, but I’ve finally gotten around to featuring Radiohead’s latest ‘event’, i.e. the release of their 7th album, In Rainbows. I won’t go into the details of its release, because I’m sure you are more than familiar with it. Instead, I’ll just offer my opinion on two important aspects:
1) The Method
There’s no doubting that the release of this album was a spectacle, propelling the future of digital music into the spotlight. Full credit to whoever came up with the idea, I thought it was brilliant little experiment. It spread their music at phenomenal speed, slapped the big record labels in the face and best of all, made the band a fair bit of money in the process. However, despite all this, I doubt it will do much to revolutionise the way we buy music. The ‘pay what you want’ system simply isn’t practical on a larger scale. Perhaps some more big bands may give it a shot, but that’s about as far as I see it going.
The execution of it all was surprisingly well-managed. When you consider how many people would have been accessing the site at once, it’s impressive how quick and smooth the process of downloading it was. And just in case you’re wondering, I actually didn’t pay anything for it. But before you go get your pitchforks, I would like to point out that I had every intention of giving a little donation, all the way up to the point that it asked for my credit card details. But it seems I wasn’t alone in this regard with only 38% of downloaders actually paying anything for it. That's not the only factor to suggest this experiment wasn't all rosy. I also think the band abused the trust of some of their best fans. At no stage did they mention that the CD would be released separately, so many fans thought the mp3s would be all they'd get. As such, they paid a decent amount for it. If they now want the higher quality CD, they’ll have to pay again. I think an upgrade scheme would have been nice, where those who paid a certain amount were sent a free CD. Still, whatever the outcome was, I doubt I'll be forgetting about this little episode anytime soon.
2) The Sound
I suppose I should preface this by saying I don’t consider myself a Radiohead fan. Sure, I love OK Computer, but I’ve never given the other albums enough time to sink in. I have the same problem with Pavement, where I latch on to one great album (Crooked Crooked Rain) and ignore the rest. Trust me, it’s not something I’m proud of. But even with my underdeveloped viewpoint, it’s pretty clear that In Rainbows is pretty special. The power of Thom’s voice is simply incredible and from start to finish the album boldly strides into some pretty brave musical territory (and pulls it off). While I’d still say I prefer OK Computer, there’s no real need to compare them. They’re separate entities that can be enjoyed independently. It’s all the more reason to look further into this great band.
(You really shouldn't need these mp3s, but here they are anyway)
Bodysnatchers – This is the obvious ‘go-to’ track. By far the most accessible, I'd say many would agree in saying it was the first to really be liked. If you’re at a party and want a track from the new Radiohead album, it’s pretty hard to go past this.
Nude – It’s a hard to say anything about this track other than ‘wow’. As far as vocals go, it’s up there with best I’ve ever heard. The emotion is so powerful and I don’t even know what he’s saying.
As you may or may not know (or care), I’m not a very big fan of remixes. More often than not, they just kill the vibe of the original. But that’s a rant for another day. I have, however, discovered a nice little use for these annoying remixes: they point to good music. Any song that’s being remixed must have had something going for it in the first place (you’d hope). So when I heard that Beck had remixed Dr Dog, it got me interested, not in the remix, but in the band. I owe a lot to that remix because I now know Dr Dog. Easy Beats is such an impressive album because within its meagre 9 nine tracks, it actually contains a heap of variety. Throughout it has a fairly happy, upbeat feel to it, brought on by some ecstatic vocals and jumpy song structures. The band seem unafraid to venture off into some rather bizarre musical territory, however this is always rooted in a distinctly beatlesque sound (more than the norm). All in all it’s quite an engaging listen. Easy Beats was actually released in 2004 and I’m still yet to check out their 2007 effort, ‘We All Belong’. If Dr Dog are your thing, they’re actually coming to Australia soon. I seem to remember it costing something like $40 which kind of killed the appeal for me. If their new album impresses me as much as this one did, I may yet reconsider.
Say Something – I think this song sums up their sound pretty nicely. It’s a little rough on the edges, but underneath this is a rather smooth and powerful melody.
The World May Never Know – Originally I was going to pick another light-hearted track, but I thought it would be better to pick something a little more offbeat. Something that highlighted their vocals. Something like this. Just listen to that Beatles bass line at the beginning. Oh yeah.
I’ve found that as I’m continually trying to present new music, it doesn’t always reflect what I’m actually listening to. Though of course there’s plenty of overlap, my music tends to get divided into two categories; firstly is all the new albums that I’m sifting through and secondly is the music that I listen to when around others (in the car, at parties or venues etc.). This post aims to restore the balance between those two equally import musical avenues.
To everyone who attended the Frequency Shift gigs on Friday and Saturday, THANKS! I almost feel guilty at how much fun I had, so I hope you enjoyed it too. Both nights were a big success in terms of attendance and of course, the bands all performed brilliantly. Apart from getting to see all my favourites again, it was also great to see some artists for the very first time….
Something Happens – Straight Arrows
I’d heard plenty about Straight Arrows so I’m glad I finally got to see them. Their show pretty much consists of two leads yelling incomprehensibly into their microphones, strumming their guitars real fast, giving each other a push and then repeating. I loved it. Every song went for under 2 minutes, was powerfully energetic and impossible not like. It was an action-packed experience. I can’t wait for more!
Galileo – Jordy Lane
Jordy Lane is a solo artist or ‘producer’ out of Sydney who’s been making some great music lately. His on-stage setup consists of a guitar, keyboard and vocals, along with a Mac that makes up for the limits of singularity. He handles it quite well and I was surprised at how well his ‘electronically tinged’ pop music translated into a live show. By far his biggest asset is his voice which is quite special and can easily drive a song on its own. Not wanting to pigeon-hole him or anything, but it kind of reminds me of the Death Cab For Cuite singer. All in all I was very impressed.
You know when you walk into your standard night club and they’re playing those songs that EVERYBODY knows? The songs that aren’t necessarily the best ever written, but are just so much fun to dance to? Collectively, these songs are ‘The Hits’. The Hits show that when all is said and done, music is about having a good time. Forget trying to look cool, get on the dance floor and start screaming the lyrics to a 1980’s classic. That’s when you’ll discover the TRUE beauty of music.
Last Nite – The Strokes
Over the last few weeks I’ve been getting more than my fair share of The Hits. In fact I think I’ve got more than body can handle, but that’s beside the point. As I’ve brushed up on my knowledge, I’ve begun to wonder what the ultimate Hit might be. It’s quite a hard choice because a Hits session is rather diverse. How can you compare the pure violence of ‘Killing In The Name’ with the fanatical recitals brought on by Arcade Fire? (You can’t) But if there is an ultimate Hit, I’d have to say Last Nite would be pretty close. Not only is it incredibly addictive and incredibly well-known, but it’s ACTUALLY A GOOD SONG!
Making Plans For Nigel – XTC
While I haven’t always been the biggest fan, Spectrum is proving itself as one Sydney’s best venues for a healthy dose of The Hits. If you’re looking to annoy the promoter, who just so happens to be called Nigel, this is one Hit he’s not particularly fond of. Whilst it began as a joke at his expense, this song has quickly gathered popularity amongst my own circle of friends and now barely a car trip or party takes place without it. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing, but it’s well and truly stuck in my head.
MelbourneI recently took trip a down to Melbourne which was great fun, despite (or perhaps due to) sleeping just 5 hours per day. Ah well, such is the rock n roll life….
Cassandra – The Galvatrons
Seeing The Galvatrons is up there with the most hilarious moments of my life. They took everything good about Journey and Van Halen and delivered the best recreation of a dirty 80’s rock show I have ever witnessed. Just listen to that drum fill! Did I mention he had an axe! I couldn’t believe what I was experiencing. I loved it! And even though a lot of the entertainment came from the novelty of it all, they really did rock. I can’t wait till they come to Sydney. Hahahaha
Sidewalk – Built To Spill
Distant holidays mean long car trips which mean extensive playlisting. One thing that emerged as we explored the depths of our music collections was the sheer brilliance of ‘the big four’. That is, the first four tracks off Built To Spill’s “Keep It Like A Secret”. Together these four tracks make up one of the best 15 minute periods in all of music. I’ve now featured 3 of them, with no doubt that the fourth is on its way.
In other news from across the local blogosphere, Sean from A Reminder has released his annual 'Best Australian Artists' list, compiling the opinions of various bloggers and radio heavies. It 's quite an interesting read. Unfortunately I didn't contribute because a) I'm lazy b) I was busy c) I listen to way too much American music and d) I can never remember whether an artist came this year or last. I'm just disappointed that I didn't get to give the likes of Cloud Control, The Seabellies and John Columbus the boost they deserved (I wonder if it would have made a difference....). Ah well. Also, in case you lost hope, Get Big, Little Kid has come back from the dead. Hooray!
I’m absolutely bursting with new music and yet it doesn’t look like I’ll get a chance to speak about it. Sadly, university exams beckon and my inefficient ways are coming back to bite me. I would love to add to the pile of Radiohead opinions, waffle on about my latest discoveries like Dr Dog and The Forms, report on Jack Ladder’s amazing new offerings, relive The Mint Chicks’ hilarious acrobatics at The Lair, digest the huge first announcement for the Laneway Festival and even plug the gig I'm organising, but alas, it all seems unlikely (somehow I get the feeling I’ll be able to make an exception for the last one). But don’t worry, in two weeks I’ll be free and back to my old ways, hopefully with plenty of catch up material. In the meantime, go watch some Curb or perhaps go follow some of the (not so subtle) links above.