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.