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