Guilty Pleasures

**MP3s removed until I find out why the IFPI is complaining**

Considering this blog recently passed the 300,000 visitor milestone (!!!) and we're right in the middle of the Christmas/New Year period, I think it's appropriate to do some indulging. You know those songs that you put on, and love, but only you and friends appreciate them, because only you know the back-stories behind them? Well these are some of my songs. And the back-stories. Cause with all the serious music journalism I've been doing this year, it's about time I had a break.

Will Smith - Gettin' Jiggy With It
Ah the Will Smith phase. This was entertaining. At one point we made plans to transform our living room into the 'Will Smith Room', plastering the walls with giant posters of this undeniably cool man. Sadly, the furthest we got was a newspaper clipping on someone's door, but it was all worth it for the utterly bemused looks and remarks of 'You mean you ACTUALLY like Will Smith?'

Toto - Africa
I missed out on Toto the first time round, but recently someone stumbled across this song and we had our own private revival. I think we liked it purely for its excess. With lyrics such as 'Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti', you know you're onto a winner. It's even better live, with drum cages, epic choruses and flashing lights. This song is the definition of spectacle. I especially love how the falsetto singer aged from a token 80's guy into a Hillsong preacher. Brilliant!

Custard - Love Measurer
Custard are without doubt a great Australian band. Anyone who doesn't agree is fooling themselves. But amongst all the hits, this song became a house favourite. The original reason was its rarity. The album it came from, Weisenheimer, couldn't be found on the internet or in shops. So when a live version was found, excitement followed. The signature riff evoked plenty of fist shaking and jumping about. Antics that went straight over the heads of everyone else who wasn't listening to it 5 times a day.

Frenzal Rhomb - You Can't Move Into My House
As I walked to Kings Cross one night and a friend began singing a song about missing a lung, I was reminded just how much I love Frenzal Rhomb. I'm not sure if its the pent-up energy, the simple song sturctures, the hilarious lyrics, or perhaps rebellious allure of excessive swearing, but something makes this band consistently awesome. I'll always remember a road trip to Melbourne, when one of their songs came on and the whole car spontaneously sung along. What ensued was an hour of non-stop Frenzal Rhomb, our voices wearing thin well before their list of hits.

The Real Tuesday Weld - Last Words

I present to you a single-listen blog. It's always a special occasion when you hear a song for the first time and instantly feel attached to it. The feeling is one of warmth and satisfaction, but also quiet anticipation of what more could await. It's a feeling that happens far too rarely for me, so I had share it while it lasted. Sadly though, the very nature of a 'single-listen' means I can't offer much in the way of description. However I do remember the chorus having some great vocals. They had power behind them, but at the same time were soft and reserved. Check it out for yourself so I can stop mucking around actually give it another listen.

Last Words

p.s. i can't say i'm the biggest fan of the band name...

Howling Bells - Into The Chaos

It's been well over a year since I've even thought of this band and then all of a sudden, BAM, this song comes on the radio. One round of the chanting opening riff and I was hooked. The slow, haunting vocals took over in the chorus and the Howling Bells memories came flooding back. It's been so long that all I can really remember about their last album is that it was good. With a second album on the way, the band couldn't have found a more perfect lead single than Into The Chaos. My attention is well and truly theirs.

Into The Chaos

Seekae - The Sound of Trees Falling On People

Another album which I've been listening to lately is the debut release by Sydney electronic outfit, Seekae. So early in their career, I would hardly have expected them to have an album, let alone one with 18 fully developed tracks. Their music is some sort of dramatic techno, mixing strange electronic clippings with looping keyboard melodies. I'm only just getting into it, but already I'm discovering an incredibly diverse array of sounds. My current favourite, Void, sees them really live up to 'Shoegaze' tag that they use on their myspace. I've always appreciated the way good electronic artists can build emotion without the need for lyrics and Seekae do just that. I'm not quite sure what they're doing in terms of distributing this album (anyone?), but they have a launch on Dec 10th at the Hoey, so I'm sure you'll be able to find out then.


And just as I was writing this, I discovered another favourite (perhaps I should have listened more before writing this!). This one features some truly awesome keyboard sounds coming from every direction. I hope you guys don't mind me posting two tracks.

Halley Wars

The Motifs

After listening to Jay Reatard, I don't think I could have stumbled across a starker contrast than The Motifs. As 'Matador Singles 08' finished, iTunes moved into 'Matches', easily the indiest indie release I've ever bought. You really can't fault it, with a mini CD, cover made of glued-on pieces, hand-drawn insert, individual message, sticker and even a sleeve hold it all. Believe it or not, the music is even cuter. The 6-track EP comes in at just 10 minutes, but offers an abundance lovely melodies. I think I did this exact post when I bought it a year ago, but the rediscovery was too good to let slide.

Tell Me More

Laneway Listenings

As with every festival I go to, it begins with research. Ever since the fateful Big Day Out '04 when I missed The Darkness, Muse, The Flaming Lips, Kings of Leon due to ignorance, I've been sure to get to know the bands BEFOREHAND, so I know who'll be worth seeing. Laneway 2009 has an interesting lineup, which to be honest, didn't strike me at first. But the more I look at it, the more I get excited. It's not so much a selection of bands I do love, but should love. Hence the research. Here's a few of the bands I've listened to recently.

Girl Talk
Jay Reatard
Born Ruffians
The John Steel Signers

1 - Girl Talk

The first album was a novelty. The second album is.....also a novelty. But its a damn fun novelty. The insane variety of samples, mashed together so effortlessly, is almost too much for the mind to comprehend. But whilst the last 50 years of music are competing for a cameo, there's wicked beats flowing through every song. I'm looking forward to this live show so much that it will also be my first sideshow for the year.

In Step

2 - Jay Reatard

I haven't listened to much, but then it doesn't take much to realise that this will be a performance not to miss. Short, fast punk-pop can never fail.

Always Wanting More

3 - Born Ruffians

I've been pleasantly surprised to discover that this band are more than just one-hit wonders. The rest of their album may not match the brilliance of Hummingbird, but it's got plenty more of their signature slurred vocals, jagged guitars and edgy rhythms. I'm expecting good things when they swing by.


4 - The John Steel Singers

I wouldn't exactly call this Brisbane band a highlight on the Laneway bill, but after seeing them live recently, I can testify for their worthiness. The first time I saw them, they were a fun six-piece with a sit-down keyboardist (meh). Now they're a rockin' troupe with some killer songs and great live energy. If only their album didn't come in a Jeans pocket.....hehe. Shame on you Levity.

Rainbow Kraut

John Columbus Residency

This Sunday will see the final installment in a Hopetoun residency by my good friends, John Columbus. The band (not a person) have recorded their second EP and will be offering it exclusively at these shows. This new EP was recorded live and is slightly quieter and more reserved than their last release. Give it a few listens and you'll begin to see that its strength lies in its subtleties. John Columbus create some of the most soothing and finely crafted music in Sydney. Catch them from 8.30, but get there early to catch The never-disappointing Statics and The recently-revived Crustaceans.

MP3: Skinny Dipping

Decoder Ring

Last Saturday, Sydney band, Decoder Ring played as the feature act of the Riverbeats festival, a multicultural arts celebration on the banks of the Parramatta River. The location was certainly out of the ordinary, as far as gigs go. The stage was set up on one side of the river, with audience on the other. Above the stage was a giant white dome, with images being projected onto it. As you went down the river in either direction, there was an assortment of lights and candles and two more giant domes. It was certainly worthy of being called spectacle.

Such a setting could not have been more perfect for a band like Decoder Ring, whose music is truly epic. Sure, this term gets tossed around alot, but I'm talking about the expansive, emotional sounds you hear coming of bands like Sigur Ros and Mogwai. The sweeping soundscapes, compounding layers of instrumentation and descents into chaos. This is where you'll find Decoder Ring. And just like Sigur Ros, they know how to use visuals to build on the impact of their music and create that complete experience.

This particular Decoder Ring experience began with a visual montage, soundtracked by them and projected on to the giant domes. It was a fast-paced stream of images that featured, amongst other things, raindrops, monsters and giant sets of teeth. It kept things interesting while the band set up and really built the atmosphere for when they arrived on stage. Their actual set was even better. The lighting, location and nature of their music made for a very awe-inspiring show. The highlight was the final track, Welcome Shoppers, which builds with immense power and then progresses into an awesome rock-out. And if that wasn't enough, fireworks erupted as the final notes were played. It was pretty hard not to be impressed.

Welcome Shoppers

Decoder Ring recently traveled to America to record their new album. Expect to hear more of them very soon.

Top Australian Artists of 2008

Oh how I hate compiling these lists. They are damn near impossible to sit back thinking 'Yes, that accurately represents my tastes'. You just can't do it! For starters, how do you compare an awesome live show with a solid album? Does it count if I got into an album this year that was released last year? I can barely remember back to the start of the year, let alone try to piece together which bands had the biggest impact! And so the list comes to you with so many faults. Missing bands, strange orderings and plenty of bias. You name it, it's here. But I had to walk away from it because no amount of tweaking could have produced a satisfying list. 2008 was a strange year for me. There were no really stand out bands. The bands I loved had a fairly quite year, whilst many new bands entered my affection. And so I was left with about 40 bands, all on level footing. Perfect for compiling an ordered list! I used the criteria of 'Which bands delivered the most enjoyment in 2008' and the result is quite an interesting one. I've certainly discovered a few trends (and holes) in my listening habits which may indicate some exploring is in order. Feel free to post your own list in the comments. Away!

1. Youth Group

2008 was the year I came to appreciate Youth Group. Not just their latest album, but their entire catalogue. The vocals, the melodies, it's all so incredibly beautiful.

2. Cloud Control

The band I have seen more than any other. No releases this year, but more than enough memorable moments. The addictive hooks and swooning harmonies are just too good to resist.

3. Dappled Cities

It's Dappled. Enough said. Three mighty fine performances was more than enough to thrust them right up here.

4. Theredsunband

The year began with a Laneway performance, moved on to some great singles and culminated in a sophomore album. In every case, Theredsunband delivered rich, powerful music.

5. The Devoted Few

After getting a taste this year, I can tell you quite confidently that 2009 will be a big year for The Devoted Few. Both live and recorded, these guys rock!

6. Charge Group

When it comes to creating immensely powerful, vastly expansive soundscapes, Charge Group has no rival. Their music reaches such emotional highs, you're left in awe.

7. The Seabellies

This year, The Seabellies proved what I had always believed; their multi-instrumental ways are not a gimmick, but a defining strength. Their incredible single, Heart Heart Heart Out, is just a taste of whats to come.

8. Cuthbert & The Night Walkers

Bands pretty much don't come any funner than Cuthbert & The Night Walkers. In their stripped back format, they are more colourful, lively and entertaining than ever before.

9. Sparkadia

Sparkadia's speciality is in super sweet indie-pop, filled with toe tapping rhythms and luscious crooning choruses. Their debut album was no exception, earning them a much-deserved place in the global spotlight.

10. Parades

Of all the new Sydney bands that emerged in 2008, Parades are the ones who got me genuinely excited. Their songs move in complex, ever-changing directions, their instrumentation is refreshingly diverse and their vocals are incredibly refined. They've found such a great mix and its only just the beginning.

11. The Temper Trap
12. Flamingo Crash
13. Pivot
14. Bluejuice
15. Deep Sea Arcade
16. Papa vs Pretty
17. Firekites
18. The Curse of Company
19. The Boat People
20. Philadelphia Grand Jury
21. Augie March
22. Bird Automatic
23. Mercy Arms
24. The Straight Arrows
25. British India

Homebake Incentive 2008 Grand Final

I know I've gone on about this competition, quite a bit, but if you're looking for a sample of rising talent in Sydney, you won't find much better. The grand final will be held over two nights, at The Hopetoun Hotel, with 4 bands playing per night. Here's a quick overview of who made it to the final 8:

Night 1 - Monday 3rd Nov

Jordy Lane
Jordy Lane's music has two very distinct sides. There's the warm, soft and downright gorgeous side, seen on tracks like Gallileo, and then there's the erratic, often-confronting electronic side. I'm not sure if he's found the right balance yet, but already he's produced some impressive music. Here's a track that showcases both his sides.

The Neighbours


Songs For Surgery
Songs For Surgery may only just be starting out, but I can already sense big things. Their demos already show they can deliver in a variety of styles, including fast-paced, edgy rock, melodic indie riffs and even slower, building songs. On stage, this translates to a great show. They've been picked up by a highly regarded Sydney engineer and will be putting out some tracks soon. Look forward to them.

Sunny Afternoon


Papa Vs Pretty
You can't talk about Papa Vs Pretty without mentioning the amazing talents of Tom. This guy can write, he can sing, he can play guitar, he can play keyboards and he can do them all insanely well. You have to come see them just to see him in action. As a band, they have an incredibly mature sound for a bunch of high school kids. It's a dark style of rock, with the occasional electronic flavouring. Though I wish they would move away from their Joy Division cover (which is actually good) because they have such excellent original material.

Citizen No. 1


Sui Zhen
Sui Zhen speicalises in mega-cute pop music. Her delicate vocals and soft instrumentation can be deceiving because she can also be quite powerful. When joined by her band, the sound is a lot fuller and together they produce a fun-filled show that will have you smiling without fail.



Night 2 - Tuesday Nov 4

Seekae make instrumental electronic music. Such a fact would normally put them well out of band competition chances and beyond my personal interests. And yet in this case, neither is true. Seekae's music has a certain charm about it. It's like a warmer, friendlier version of Pivot. When Seekae are on the ball, they're outstanding. But they still have some improving to do, because when they're not on, they can be pretty boring.



The Statics
As far as raw energy goes, The Statics take the cake. The enigmatic Pat Delohery, with his wild on-stage persona and sudden falsetto outburts, really manages to bring the band alive. Their music, which a is mix of sloppy, Pavement-esque rock and electric dynamism, always entertains.

Space Unicorn


Deep Sea Arcade
Deep Sea Arcade's quirky blend of pop music has been working wonders in and around Sydney. Through a steady supply of shows they've managed to build a decent following and gain fairly widespread respect. It's no surprise though. This is intelligently layered music, moving in such strange and foreign ways. It's truly worthy of the title 'unique'.

Crouch End


Elana Stone Band
Elana Stone is the only one here that I'm still yet to see. As such, I can't really offer much of an opinion. But the two things I do know, that she is the sister of Jake Stone and has an incredible voice, have me very intrigued.

Beautiful Sound



Most Likely: Papa Vs Pretty
If I was organising Homebake, this is the band I'd want most out of these 8. Their youth and their energetic set make an instantly lovable combo that would undoubtedly win over early arrivers. They've already played Parklife so they're no strangers to the festival scene.

Most Deserving: Deep Sea Arcade
Deep Sea Arcade's music is like nothing else. It's a little bizarre but its also awesome. They put meticulous thought into the sounds of their guitars and vocals and the result is some highly addictive music. It's unsuspecting, but there's definitely an audience out there. If anyone deserves a big break, it's these guys.

Left-field Chance: Seekae
It really depends on the tastes of who's judging, but if Seekae put on a stellar show, I have this niggling feeling that they could sneak through. When done right, their music is the sort that everybody loves. It's got character, it's got direction, and of course, its got plenty of cool sounds.

Download all 8 tracks

a normal amount of stars

ok, just to fill people in. ‘Shoplifting from American Apparel’ is a novella written by Tao Lin and published by Melville House. Tao is giving shit away to people who write 1500+ word blog posts about him and/or his book (relevant link here). If you live in Australia you have to write 2000+ words to cover postage from North America. Peter has let me hijack his blog for this because I told him I wanted to “win shit on the internet where you need a blog and I don’t have a blog”.

What you are about to read is 2000+ words about Tao Lin/’Shoplifting from American Apparel’ that I will have to belt out pretty fast because there are only 26 winners worldwide and slots are going fast; I will probably mention, Brandon Scott Gorrell and Soren Kierkegaard as well, and possibly L. Wittgenstein – these last two I usually cringe at when I see them dropped them in non-academic print – I just want people to know that. I may also use first-order logical notation in which case natural language explanations will be provided. If this stuff doesn’t interest you, you can get out right now by clicking here; although I hope to make it interest you enough to possibly buy Tao’s book or at least google him: this does seem to be the purpose of the whole exercise after all.

Chances are that if you do buy and read SFAA you might find it boring. I guess this depends upon what else you read and how often, and also whether you have a particular front to keep up somewhere; but still not much really happens in this book (…although the main character Sam does get arrested twice and the first holding cell scene with the drunk man is very funny and I’ve read it aloud to four people, which I don’t ever do…). Not that ‘nothing happening’ and getting bored is necessarily bad, boredom is an aesthetic decision/response same as any other after all, and the process of getting bored while reading SFAA does allow you think smug little things like, ‘man, what a relief to be reading something that doesn’t want to wow me about life all the time’. And, ‘man, most people are always trying to be 100% interesting in their facebook/twitter updates when life, man, life just doesn’t work like that. Life, life is misguided Gchat conversations’, and other similar things. Plus embracing boredom is eternally hip/anti-mainstream in any decadent culture, so reading SFAA and cultivating your boredom will make you cool/hip, aware, and accepting of how ‘nothing ever happens’ and how twitter/facebook allows everyone to build 100% interesting narratives about themselves that are false compared to their real lives, which are probably boring.

So anyway, say you did read SFAA and it was mostly boring but still insightful and helped you grow your boredom and was possibly even ‘a mirror’, what are you going to do next? This is an important question in general, and particularly important, I think, to Tao Lin and SFAA.

I’m going to start with the “in general”. Caveat lector.

I think it is safe to say that boredom is quite possibly the most authentic state of existence for people living in developed nations. As far as I can figure out The Greeks didn’t get bored, they didn’t have twitter/facebook/Gchat + hi-tech gadgets but they still found things interesting, in particular they found existing interesting. Imagine being an ancient Greek, waking up, looking at shit and going what makes this work? what is motion? what is change? Really deep things. Imagine, lying down at night, looking at the stars with minimal-to-no light pollution and thinking “well, this is a mindfuck. what are those things up there? how do they move? is there an underlying pattern – like, overall? where do I fit in this ‘cosmos’ everyone is talking about…….” There are subtle inconsistencies in this image, but you get the picture.

After the Greeks and before the invention of the internet there was enlightenment science. Enlightment science answered heaps of shit The Greeks had begun asking themselves however many years before – well, it at least re-framed them. The cosmos was no longer layered top to bottom like the original Donkey Kong with man merely on the earth, and was instead found to be massively 3D, like Mario 64, and man, sorry, ‘Man’, like Mario, was the centre of the universe/cosmos/order of things. You think the stars were a mindfuck to The Greeks, well try self-consciousness to enlightment/post-elightement thinkers, OMFG, imagine sitting at your mahogany desk, popping/unscrewing an ink bottle, picking the crust from yesterday’s quill and sitting down to descibe the dialetic of your insides – the universe within. Imagine self-reflexivity/self-consciousness still being new, still being interesting. Imagine having to know Latin and wait for months/years to receive replies to your ideas from friends across Europe. Imagine having the inkling that the whole of existence was made up of atomistic ‘monads’ and not being able to wikipedia it. OMFG. You’d just have to go with it.

Today existing/existence is fairly passe. Everyone does it. There is nothing special about it anymore. You can split existing between yourself and people like you, and people who Heidegger would have called Das Man, “The They”; people who construct 100% interesting life-stories about themselves via social networking tools/the internet: but then you’re just being smug…

Existing is the level playing field. There are no underlying patterns (…speaking of SFAA there is a very funny chaos theory/polyryhthmns passage which I don’t read to others and just enjoy for myself…), there are no actually existing Gods to fall back on, and if you ‘get self-conscious’ unexpectedly you can always whip out your phone and pretend to text someone. All there is is ‘nothing ever happens’ and ‘immense meaninglessness in the scheme of things’. Let this get to you in any way and everything gets boring, find a book like SFAA and you suddenly get bored + aware = hip/counter-cultural, and on-to-something abt life. And then you have have to do something else…

This now + future = choice, is what I think is particularly important to Tao Lin and his work, and is maybe the main reason why you should google him/buy his stuff. When the general tenor of life is boredom and you know this, how you construct meaning from experience becomes very important. And it is an all the time thing.

Need I mention SFAA is about stealing from a multi-national corporation?

‘Shoplifting from American Apparel’ is a carefully constructed piece; you get that feeling first time through and it becomes even more apparent if you read it twice while keeping the themes from the first reading in mind (which it is possible to do in one day, depending on the day). Everything inside SFAA is meaningful, in and of itself; it is tight. Tao’s main character Sam operates upon life like a mathematical function, selecting, from an infinite range of possible ‘life events’ over roughly two years, a set of happenings big (relatively (‘two parts shoplifting arrest’) and small (relatively (‘five parts vague relationship issues’)), and invests in this set of happenings within the book a carefully constructed meaning, meaning against an otherwise meaningless and arbitary world.

To transcend’ is a loaded concept for almost anyone who cares to use it, but particularly I think for American fiction writers. But say you’ve read through SFAA once and got bored/aware, should you read it again you might see that what it really hits at is transcending boredom, whether it is possible and how to do it…

On the possibilities of transcending boredom however, Tao is mute. This is something I really like about the novella and it is where I think it derives its delicate narrative tension from, more than anything which ostensibily happens within the piece. I think that for all the kudos Tao Lin’s ‘minimalist Millennial realism’ has received on the internet (and he generates a lot of talk on the internet, this itself being a prime example…) the fact that he doesn’t ever claim or seem to have transcended boredom is why his writing strikes such a cord. This is also what separates his writing from other similar types of writing that could be accused of wallowing in depression. I never throughout the two times I read SFAA got the feeling Tao or Sam was smugly enjoying feeling depressed, if anything I felt that each event within the novel is couched in terms of its possibilities to relive depression/boredom, and is assessed according to a set of rules which it is the reader’s job to find out.

Which brings me nicely to the another aspect of SFAA which I also like; it’s porousness. That SFAA is both tight and porous is singularly impressive and evidence of the kind of weird intense labour which must have gone into producing it. There are, within SFAA elements which it would be possible to describe as plot holes. Some of these, as I’ve mentioned before, it is possible to weave into an internally coherent narrative within the text itself the second time through, others it isn’t, and no amount of reading the book will give you any insight into what is going on (Sam emails a popular website a photo of cash, for seemingly no reason…), instead, if you want to know what is happening, which lets face it, being knowledgable about fine points of detail is a central desire of many/most people including myself; whether their/my particular knowledge is ‘meaningful in the scheme of things’ and ‘actually useful’, or not – then you are going to have to do a little googling to find clues as to how/why some of the seemingly loose aspects of SFAA actually fit within the unique set of rules within which Tao’s character of Sam plays the game of existence.

Tao Lin seems to know this; read many of the other entries to this competition and you’ll see they mostly paraphrase a lot of the stuff/information you can easily find out about him on the internet and often use language obviosuly cribbed from, Tao himself, and other similar writers. It’s ridiculous if you actually think about, it is as if Tao Lin has sensed the enjoyment of faithful and discerning research into the whys and hows of his work/net persona, and then got a number of people to collate a lot of the available information in one spot. I think it’s safe to say Tao Lin actually does get this ‘high-concept’ when planning things, especially promotion/self-promotion.

I would like to point out that operations of faithful and discerning research into the life and works of authors is a general concept which also applies to current and historical events, and to people you actually meet in real life – it is not some Tao Lin specific thing. What just might be Tao Lin specific about it, at least in my opinion, is that he is publishing in independent print in an age of omipresent communications technology, and he manages to do so with a moral urgency capable of seducing readers into doing a little work to find out just what this guy is on about. I like that.

This said, you could argue that buying and reading something like SFAA takes on an ethical dimension, which is really what all good/meaningful literature does….

That said, whether I can generalise the above statement in relation to SFAA in particular is debateable, at least in my head; mainly because I don’t want to be too fawning, but also because I don’t really have the word count left to argue it out acutely. I might just leave off on this point.


how i will relieve boredom’ by Tao Lin (if anyone is hanging for Kierkegaard & Wittgenstein stuff I promised at the beginning you should be able to find it in here. If you know where to look…)

‘'the gimmicks of american apparel vs. the gimmicks of urban outfitters’ by Brandon Scott Gorrell (unrelated note: I left out the first-order logic stuff; I think it is discernable within the post, but more as a structural thing)

Some follow for all

Well apparently you can now follow this blog. Look for it in the left sidebar. I'm not quite sure what it means, but hey, you can do it!

Update: More following. Yay!

Flamingo Crash - Triangle Island

Flamingo Crash have been bouncing in and out of my favour for a couple of years now. I saw them once or twice, here and there, but never really followed up. But then I caught them at the FBi birthday gig and was quite impressed. It was a fun, energetic set, filled with some really cool songs. They were like an Australian version of Hilotrons. That probably doesn't mean much to most of you, but for a fanboy like myself, it was great. If these guys had an album, I was buying it. Well that was the plan anyway. Instead, I forgot on the night, and when I went to their myspace I didn't feel the same magic. They were subsequently cast from my mind. Luckily though, things weren't left to me, because a few weeks later my house mate bought the album and I've come to love it.

This album has been fortunate in the attention it has received. It made it into my CD player at a time when I was busy messing around with a new computer. So everytime it finished, I would be so caught up in doing something else that rather than bothering to queue up a selection of albums, or putting on something new, I would just press play again. This happened again and AGAIN. It got to the point where I'd heard it about 15 times in the space of 3 days. I got to know it incredibly well and best of all, I never got tired of it. Flamingo Crash have put together a great selection of 10 tracks, each with its own charm and all combining into a suprisingly killer album.

Beijing Holiday - Possibly the biggest characteristic of Flamingo Crash's sound is the heavy contrast between the sparse rock guitars and the techno keyboards. It's a really jumpy sound and great for getting you moving. I particularly like the way this song builds into the chorus, with a moment of almost heart-stopping silence, before being swept up by some awesome keyboards.

Mountains - Ah the infamous track 8. Everytime it comes on, I snap out of whatever I'm doing and think 'Ooo I like this song. Is it track 8?' And sure enough, it is. There's something really soothing about it, especially in the context of the whole album. A moment of solace in a world of chaos.

This is just a mere snapshot, and to be quite honest doesn't to the album must justice. If you hear anything you like, either here or on the myspace, I'd strongly recommend getting Triangle Island.

Mystery Jets

The previous Mystery Jets album came and went without making much of an impression. But after hearing (and seeing) some of their new songs, I might just have to give them another chance. Haha brilliant.

Ernest Ellis

Ernest Ellis is a relatively new band out of Sydney, playing their first show just two weeks ago. I managed to catch the end of this set, and was quite intrigued with what I saw. What struck me most was the diversity of their sound. Each song seemed to remind me of a different artist. If you head to their myspace, you can hear a TV On The Radio song (Want For Anything), a Sea And Cake song (Holiday) and even a Bit By Bats song (Bad Blood). I don't make these comparisons in a negative way either, because not only the similarities are subtle, but these are all great bands to be channeling. The varying sounds are combined well to create some rather interesting music. It's early days yet, but Ernest Ellis certainly have my attention. They've also got the attention of Dew Process so expect to be hearing a lot more of them soon.

Bad Blood

The Temper Trap

The Temper Trap are one of those bands gifted with an incredible voice. When lead singer, Doug, hits full stride with his singing, the result is a display of immense power. It's crisp, focused and seems to project endlessly. But of course vocals are just one part of a very complicated equation. You need to write music that supports and strengthens them.

About 18 months ago, The Temper Trap burst onto the scene with their debut EP. The songs were solid and catchy, but it was the vocals that were left to hold them up. They played a run of shows and then disappeared as quickly as they arrived. Well now they've returned with a host of new material and this time it looks like they may have got the balance right. As if to make a statement, the old songs have been completely dropped.

I got the chance to see them live last Thursday and was thoroughly impressed. Clearly, this is where The Temper Trap strive. Despite more than 90% of the songs being unfamiliar, they managed to keep me engaged and entertained from start to finish. I loved how it wasn't just left to Doug to capture your attention. The whole band was moving around, singing in choruses and adding to the energy of the show. Jonny on bass is always a favourite. You won't find a more animated bass player anywhere.

The highlight of the show was easily their new single 'Sweet Disposition'. From the few times I had heard it on radio and myspace, I knew it was going to be good live, but on the night it surpassed all expectations. The nature of the song, combined with some well timed lighting led to a build up in energy so intense that when the chorus finally hit, the whole place exploded. I can vividly remember turning to a friend, both of us grinning uncontrollably, lost in the sheer awesomeness of the moment. The crowd applauded for a good minute afterwards and the band had to wait for everyone to stop and get their breath back. Brilliant.

Mp3: Sweet Disposition

They must have done something wrong last time they were around because every second person I've spoken to lately seems to be a hater. To those people, I say forget your issues and go see them with an open mind. Because in terms of music and performance (ie the things that matter), The Temper Trap have the goods.

Peter Bjorn and WHAAAT!?

You may not realise this, but Peter Bjorn and John have a brand new album. Whatever you do, don't go out and buy this record based on the merits of their last one, because I can safely say this album is nothing like it. No, I don't mean that they've changed their style. Instead, they've gone out and created something that can only be described as utterly bizarre. The album is entirely instrumental, other than occasional snippets of foreign-language speech. Apparently the homelands of all three members are represented. In fact, the whole thing feels more like a soundtrack to an obscure foreign film than the work of a modern pop band. I'm not saying you shouldn't buy it, just be prepared for a shock. It can actually be quite enjoyable at times, especially as breezy background music, but in the end, most people will find it far too weird. It has had a limited release in the US, with a few other areas getting it soon. Track it down if you dare.

There is one track that could almost be considered 'normal', but featuring it would mask the album's true nature. Instead, here's a couple of the more obscure tracks. They nicely demonstrate what's in store for you.

Say Something (Mukiya)
Next Stop Bjursele

No, this isn't a joke. It really is Peter Bjorn and John.

New Devoted Few

A few months back, I got my hands on an unreleased album and was told that should I leak it, I would die a horrible death. Not being too keen on such a scenario, I obeyed and kept it to myself. That album was the long-awaited third release by Sydney band, The Devoted Few. It's titled Baby, You're A Vampire and it's grown to be one of my favourite albums of the year. With it's release fast-approaching, I reckon it's about time everyone started paying attention.

The Devoted Few have had some success in the past, largely thanks to their killer single, Sleepless, but with this new album, I'm sensing something more. When I first saw them live, about 6 months ago, I was highly impressed by a set filled with unfamiliar songs. As it turns out, nearly every one of those songs appears on this album. The Devoted Few are well and truly looking forward and they've got the substance to back it up.

Look out for a full album review closer to the release date. In the meantime, check out their website and myspace page for an assortment of content, including previews of tracks from the new album. I believe they only stay up for a short period before being rotated, so get in quick.

Here's their brand new single: The Death Of Us

The Middle East

The beauty of music in today's age is just how easily it spreads. Once upon a time it took money and major support to get your music heard. Such forces still exists, but the internet has changed the game. Music can spread purely on its own merits, independent of the band's efforts. If a song is good enough, the listeners will do the promoting. Take, for example, the song 'Blood' by The Middle East. By all logical explanations, I shouldn't know it exists. The band is based in Townsville, over 1000km away. I had neither heard or heard of them before today. The friend who recommended them, discovered them on an indonesian blog. An INDONESIAN blog! How that blogger came across them is anybody's guess. For all I know, there could be dozens more links in the chain that has carried the music from the band and on to me. But again, thanks to the internet, I probably won't be the last in this chain. Spread, music, spread! It just goes to show that promotional efforts pale in comparison to the importance of composition. Write a good song and it will do the rest.


This song has an immense power to it. It starts soft, with smooth, honest vocals, accompanied by a subtle array of colourful instrumentation. This builds gradually, finally culminating in a rich vocal chorus, swelling with emotion. It's the sound of a truly great band, entering their element. Who are The Middle East? If only I knew.

I can't keep up!

OK, now I don't want to write merely for the sake of it, so I'm taking a bit of a break. Content might be a bit thin over the next month, as I traverse the musical landscape in search of more treasures to share. Time has simply gotten the better of me. I need to sit back and take in what's happening without having to worry about posting. Material will still trickle in and I'll be back in full swing very soon. See ya then!

Of Montreal (again)

Ah, there's no better time to be alive than when Of Montreal is in season. The sun is out, the flowers are blooming and there's a buzz of activity in the air. You can almost smell the excitement in the air. No? Ok so I may be talking rubbish, but a new album by the band has me swept up in Of Montreal fever.

Gallery Piece
Skeletal Lamping is due for release in under month and sadly, early impressions aren't good. I've listened through more than enough times, but I'm not feeling anything. It reminds me of 2005's The Sunlandic Twins. Barring the occasional standout, that album lacked the quality I had come to expect and these days I barely acknowledge it. Hopefully this album doesn't go down the same road. Gallery Piece is the first song to grab me so far. I'm wary of posting it in isolation though, because much of its strength comes from its contrast to previous songs. It certainly gets my attention when it kicks in, but on it's own, it might just seem annoying. Consider that a disclaimer.

Eros' Entropic Tundra
Even if it does turn out that Of Montreal release albums on good-bad cycle, we at least have two things to be happy about. Firstly, the NEXT new album will be absolutely brilliant (even if it is a tad early to get excited). And secondly, we still have the old albums to enjoy. This song comes from 2004's Satanic Panic In The Attic, which remains my favourite album to this day. This is the first Of Montreal song I ever loved and also has some similarity to the above song, by flaunting the delicate line between annoying and heavenly.

Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse
At least with Of Montreal I have an excuse for not remembering the track names. Thanks goes to my housemate for bringing this song, off 2007's Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?, back into the spotlight. The moment when that beat drops is so powerful, so euphoric, that it's impossbile not to get swept up.

Odds and Ends

It's been far too long since my last mix so here's a selection of tracks that bear no relation to one another, other than the fact that they've been on my mind and in my ears.

Cassius - Foals
What a deliciously addictive song this is. I would put it right up there with MGMT's Kids, in terms of having a rhythm section that gets you moving without fail. Resonant beats anyone?

Pounding - Doves
I was told to listen to Doves' album The Last Broadcast because apparently it sounded like my own band. I can't say I agree, but at least I found a great album in the process.

To Me Now - Mercy Arms
"Why did Mercy Arms make me think they were fuckwits. Their music is actually good." These are the words of my housemate and I couldn't agree more. Mercy Arms' debut album is actually quite impressive, especially the slower songs. But something about this band has pushed me to the point where I struggle to enjoy them. Shame

Heart of Chambers - Beach House
Beach House make such mellow and relaxing music. I never got to learn the words, because from the second time through their album, I've found myself wailing along to the melodies. They're just too inviting. I would also recommend seeing them live. The epic use of reverb makes for a rich, dreamy atmosphere.

Lights Out - Santogold
I heard song this once and had an instant urge to blog about it. It came right out of left field. I like some of the other Santogold songs, but they can certainly be a little irritating. This song, however, is model in pleasantness. It features smooth vocal medleys, peaking brilliantly and moves along at such a nice pace, never trying to be too much. Love it!

The Little Ones - Morning Tide

A couple of weeks back, I was reminded of a relatively unknown Californian band called The Little Ones. What were they up to I wondered. After all, they had once held a special place in my heart. They were one of just two international bands that have released an EP that I really got into. The other was Voxtrot. I'm not saying that Australian bands are the only ones capable of producing good EPs. That would be ludicrous. But with a local band, an EP holds more relevance, because you can go out and see that band live. International EPs just depress you by the fact you won't get to see them for a good few years. It's not a very sensible argument, but still, I have a tendancy to wait for an album before judging a band and getting all excited. But with The Little Ones, the lure was just too much. Their EP was a brilliant collection of pop gems that had me seeing a summery visions of The Shins. But many months went by and I forgot about them. That's why it was such a pleasant surprise to look up what they've been up to and discover that they've just released an album, called Morning Tide. I can very happily report that it takes off where the EP left off. It took me a few listens to really fall in love (when doesn't it?), but I am well and truly there now. The same, impressive consistency of their EP remains. Every song has it owns bubbly charm and has me singing along. They may not have truly outstanding tracks here, but they've got an album full of great ones. I'm yet to hear a disappointing song by this band. If you haven't heard them yet, get to it!

Morning Tide

Charge Group - Escaping Mankind

Charge Group are a local Sydney outfit, producing sprawling, experimental rock music. The members have being playing with respactable bands for years, including Purpelene and Firekites, but together they form Charge Group and deliver something truly special. Their sound feels almost tightly wound, moving slowly in an effort to contain the emotion, before letting it all out and exploding spectacularly. This powerful effect is primarily produced by the pairing of violin with some stunning lead vocals. Both have the ability to guide the listener subconsciously, leading them through eery, deserted soundscapes and into epic moments of hear-wrenching awe. For such a deeply involving sound, I will admit that it isn't for everyone and does require you to be in the right mood, but when you do connect with Charge Group's music, it's a invigorating experience. I was surprised to learn that just the other day saw the launch of Charge Group's debut album, Escaping Mankind. Not least because I had just missed an opportunity to see them live again, but also because I've been listening to this album for a good six months. I'm not quite sure how it ended up in my possession, but I can assure you that it is of the utmost quality. It's now out for all to enjoy, so get stuck in.


Homebake Incentive: Round Final 2

A few months back I reported on the first round final of the Homebake Incentive program. It was a great lineup of Sydney bands and saw Papa vs Pretty and Seekae advance through to the final. This Monday (25th)sees the second round final and another great selection of talent. Forget the competitive nature of these nights, they allow you to see some of Sydney's best emerging bands, on the same bill and at a reasonable price. It's only $6 for 5 bands and all happens at The Hopetoun Hotel. Here's who'll be playing:

The sounds of Sui Zhen center around the sharp, almost childish vocals of Becky Freeman. Combined with some lovely, subtle instrumentation, she is able to move from soft and delicate to moments of immense power. It's all wrapped in a warm atmosphere and is quite intimate when you see it live.


The last time I saw The Ringleaders, I walked away incredibly impressed by everything they did. They were one of those straight-up rock bands, who had good songs and played them well. But that was a long time ago, and after listening to the songs on their myspace, their sound seems to have much more of a distinct flavour than I remembered. Should be interesting to see them again.


I've spoken about Songs For Surgery before and I definitely think they're one to watch. They're young and they make some great music. What more do you need? I only caught the end of their set last time I saw them, so I'm looking forward to seeing a whole set.

Sunny Afternoon

Jordy is a singer/songwriter with an electronic flavouring. His combination of a laptop, electric guitar and his own strong vocals always make for entertaining performances. Especially when he plays the absurdly brilliant Galileo. He may have other good songs, I don't know, I don't care. This one is just too good to get past.


Out of this bunch, Captain Nemo are probably the band I'm least familiar with. I've seen them once, and I remember enjoying it, but that's about it. For some reason, their music sounds like its coming out of the 90s, from one of those seminal, under-appreciated bands. Hardly an adequate description, but it will have to do for now.

Breaking Records

The Basics

For those who don't know, The Basics are a band out of Melbourne who are simply oozing with 60s pop charm. Every song they produce is a little gem, filled with swooning harmonies and predictable hooks. Yes, their music may be relatively simplistic, but it doesn't matter when it's this addictive. If you ever need a fix of "come ons" and "oooh babys", The Basics know how to deliver.

This month, they are in the middle of conducting a two-state residency. Every Tuesday, they play in Sydney, at the Hopetoun Hotel and every Thursday, they play in Melbourne, at The Evelyn. If you live in either of these towns, I'd highly recommend going along. The Basics are one of those bands who really shine when they play live. The catchy songs and brilliant voice of Wally (Gotye) would have been enough, but their charm takes the show to a whole new level of entertainment. Catch them while you can!

P.s. Sydney-siders get the added bonus of seeing Cuthbert & The Night Walkers this Tuesday (19th). Woo!

Little Red

The first time I saw Little Red live, I was blown away. Simple, fun pop songs about love? Four vocalists singing their hearts out? What was this!? Little Red are a band who would have fit right in in the 60s, but here in 2008, there's nothing quite like them. Their set was so refreshing, so unexpected, that I walked away with a great big smile on my face, eager to find out more about this bizarre Melbourne band.

Coca Cola

Sadly, the euphoria didn't last long. After buying their debut album, I only got through 2 songs before a friend intervened and turned it off. We were both in shock. The vocals were rough, the instrumentation cluttered and the whole thing just sounded sloppy. How on earth did this make it to record? I was disappointed to say the least.

Thankfully though, as time has passed, things seem to have evened out and I'm beginning see where Little Red truly stand. Subsequent listens of their album have shown that it really isn't all that bad. And besides, it was never meant to be perfect. Part of Little Red's charm is that there's four regular guys up there having a ball. Don't get me wrong, they can sing, but there's a trace of amateurism that keeps them grounded and in a way adds to their appeal because you can identify with them.

It's Alright

And as their album has gained some ground, their live show has been knocked back a peg or two. Not because its particularly bad, but more because the initial effect wore off. Their show is all about atmosphere. If you're in the mood to have some fun, they know how to deliver. But if you're merely sitting through their show, waiting for a headline band, they can be a bit of drag. It's really up to you.

Little Red may have fallen on middle ground, but I still think they're a great band. Their songs are catchy and performances entertaining. Bands like this will always have a place in the music scene. If you ever get tired of serious music appreciation, turn to Little Red, they'll know how to treat you well.


Tonight Pivot will be launching their second album, O Soundtrack My Heart. Why am I telling you this only hours before the show? Why am I not waiting until its over before reporting? Well because its sold out. For those of you who got tickets, you'll already be on your way. The rest of you are stuck with me. At least we all get our fix of Pivot tonight.

In The Blood

UPDATE: Check out the crazy video for this song.

If you didn't already know, Pivot are an instrumental band out of Sydney. They're sound is centered around the insane talents of brothers Richard and Laurence Pike. To put it in perspective, I would probably rate Laurence as one of the finest drummer I have ever witnessed. He was actually the first to make me really appreciate the art of drumming. As for Richard, he may not be the most technical guitar player, but he certainly has an ear for when to play and what sounds good. These two are joined on stage by Dave Miller who plays a rather unorthodox role. Armed with a laptop and control desk, he's in charge of samples and some live mixing of the others' feeds.

Their new album is quite an impressive release. I listen to very little instrumental music, so its out of the ordinary for me, but within a few goes I was hooked. It's defintely not your average, easy-listening album. Everything from erratic drum beats to strange computer noises have you guessing. But this experimental side is then given some of direction when they lock into a particular riff, building just enough before moving on. There's also a number of more spaced out moments which I enjoy. Rather amusingly, the keyboard sounds in the final track always seem to remind of the movie Bladerunner. It's not often you get hear the sounds of Vangelis being channelled by a modern band. This album is a compelling listen, and one I'd highly recommend, but I'm still unsure how well it will stand once the intrigue wears off.

In live the department, I'm in two minds. On the one hand, its awesome. These are top class musicians performing top class music. I saw them the other night when they supported Sigur Ros and was fully engaged the whole time. It was only the second time I'd seen them and I knew none of their songs, but something drew me. I think the lack of vocals means you aren't distracted and can really focus on where all the sounds are coming from. Its quite a diffferent experience. But on the other hand, the use of samples really bugs me. There's alot going on in these songs and yet there's only two people up there playing instruments. At one point it seemed like a lead guitar part was being sampled, while Richard was playing the occasional note. This just disappoints me. I dunno, perhaps I'm missing the point, but I would like to see them scrap the computer guy and play with a full band, as they did when they formed.

O Soundtrack My Heart

One way or the other Pivot are making some interesting music which you should definitely look into. Hopefully they'll play again soon before being whisked off overseas.

Vampire Weekend

In just over a year, Vampire Weekend have gone from being a little-known New York secret to a worldwide phenomenom. The extent of their rapid rise to fame hits you in the face when you go to see them live and realise they barely have enough songs to fill a headline set. But it really is no suprise that their music is so widely loved. Their clean, African-infused pop is so simple, so catchy, its just too good to resist. Their debut album is an exhilarating display of music that doesn't disappoint for a moment. Sure, the effect has worn off a little, but I can still remember how fresh every song felt when I first discovered it. I'd say this video, which is absolutely brilliant, nicely sums up the fun and energy that comes with Vampire Weekend.

Seeing them live was a whole new experience. I was a little hesitant going in, but they delivered in spades. The first thing I noticed was the crowd response. The show sold in days, but this was months ago, at the height of their spectacular rise. Perhaps the enthusiasm had worn off? Not at all. The venue was packed and they were singing every word. It was pretty cool in songs like M79 where Ezra stood so far back from the microphone for the chanting bit that he was barely auidble, but all he had to do was open his mouth and the crowd sprung to life, singing it for him.

The other thing that struck me was just how sparing the instrumentation is. Watching the musicians, you realise that the guitars and keyboards are only being played half of the time. This means that along with the rhythm section (drum and bass), the vocals are left to drive the song. There's not many other bands out there that are leaving themselves so open and still coming away strong. It's what allows them to achieve such nice clean sound. Their songs are solid enough that all Vampire Weekend had to do was come out and perform them and everyone would have been happy. Instead, they delivered all their charm and put on a great show.

Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa

Sparkadia: Jealousy Video

Sparkadia have put out a video for their current single, Jealousy, and it's quite an interesting one. In tune with the song's lyrical content, it features the ceremony and subsequent celebrations of a couple getting married, whilst the best man looks on enviously. This wouldn't be anything special, but for the fact that these parts are played by the band members themselves. Alex (lead) and Tiffany (guitar) are the happy couple, while Nick (bass) plays the dejected outsider. Is it reflective of the bands true relations or is it merely a marketing ploy to get people lick me to spread it? Probably the latter. But its a good clip either way. Not sure what Nick thought of the idea of being made to look like an idiot, though I bet Alex wasn't complaining. And best of all, the clip features a cameo by the always amusing 'Fast Eddy' from The Seabellies.

Levity Liasons

I'm not sure if they've always existed, but the presence of 'fashion bands' seems to be rapidly expanding. These are the bands whose popularity derives not just from the quality of their music, but from the sense that it's somehow cool to like them. It's not the fashion side of things that bothers me. If bands want to dress weird and fans want to copy them, good for them. It's the fact that certain members of these bands seem to think they're so damn hot that they're actually better than others and can do and say whatever they please. What's almost worse is that people keep coming to see these jerks, fueling their egos and widening the gap between their music and their image. Don't do it people! These individuals need help. Watching and supporting them is only going lead to a greater inflation of their sense of self and even more pain when they realise just how shallow they are. Do what's best for them and for the wider musical community. Quietly turn away.

Alright then! Sorry for the rant. The actual topic of today's post are the two bands signed to Levity Records: Mercy Arms and Cut Off Your Hands. Now when a band is signed to a label that grew out of a jeans brand, I can't help but yell "fashion band!" (hence the tie-in). But I know both of these bands from earlier days and I know they are capable of making good music. There is hope. By pure coincidence, I've had the chance to see both these bands in the last week. Did their music stand up on its own or were people just there for the social pages?

Mercy Arms
Cut Off Your Hands

Cut Off Your Hands

Cut Off Your Hands are another band who have been sitting in the back of my consciousness for a while. Hailing from New Zealand, their furious blend of pop music has seen them rise to international fame at great pace. I've always liked their music, but it's never been enough for me to follow them closely. Perhaps it was because I was yet to see them in their element, performing live. Well the other day I got my first chance to see them play and what an interesting experience it was. From the very beginning they were all guns blazing and by this I mean going totally insane. Lead singer, Nick, was jumping of the stage, writhing around the floor, running wherever he found space and even spitting into the crowd (he sure knows how to win fans). And this was all in the first ten minutes! It really was quite an onslaught. But then he either got tired or bored and the rest of the set was played out in a lower (but still insane) gear. It was an ironic reflection of how I feel about their music. Their songs are incredibly catchy, but they lack a certain depth. They are masters of immediacy, grabbing your attention in an instant, but sadly it doesn't last. I think half the problem is that their songs all sound quite similar. Whenever I hear a song in isolation, I think its great. But if I listen to them one after another, they begin to blend together. COYH have plenty of promise, but as it stands, they are a band best enjoyed in short bursts.

Still Fond

Mercy Arms

When I went to see Mercy Arms last Sunday, it was after a long and gradually drift away from their music. Two years ago, I thought they were great. Half Right was a killer track and I was excited to see where they were heading. Unfortunately, apathetic performances, a disappointing EP and a general sense that they were more concerned with their image had begun to turn me off. But I was willing to give them another chance. Hopefully I had been imagining things.

Sadly, their live show did nothing to change my mind. They seemed to go through motions, failing to really capture the audience. Their music may have an experimental nature to it, but that's not an excuse for the lack of connection I felt. Even the songs I knew well failed to have an impact. But it wasn't all bad news. One of the newer songs, where the chorus repeated a girls name (i think it was susana), sounded great and I look forward to hearing it again. But by the same token, another new song, which had Kirin howling and doing spoken word, was just woeful (I'd be quite impressed by his guitar work if he didn't act like such a freak).

Everything good about this band seems to be followed by a 'but'. If only they stopped messing around they might be capable of becoming a great band. I'm yet to hear their new album, though I must admit I'm quite doubtful. The new recording of Half Right is sounding as good as ever, BUT the cover art is atrocious. Lets hope the but stops here.

Half Right